Awesome 2 days Budapest itinerary with all the highlights (2021 update) - Travelling Sunglasses (2023)

Table of Contents
Travel tips for Budapest Budapest basics What is the currency in Hungary? What should you wear in Budapest? What is the best time to visit Budapest? Where to stay in Budapest How to get around Budapest Budapest itinerary for 2 days Day 1 of 2 days in Budapest Morning (9-12): Explore Pest downtown The Hungarian Parliament The Shoes by the Danube Promenade The Danube Promenade between the Parliament and Chain Bridge Take a break Saint Stephen Basilica Vörösmarty Square, aka Pest city centre Vaci utca, the Fashion Street Ferenciek Square and Parisi Udvar The Danube Promenade from Erzsebet Bridge to Liberty Bridge The Great Market Hall Lunch break in the Great Market Hall area Afternoon (14h – 18h): Discover Buda Castle Hill How to get to Buda Castle Hill Climbing Buda Castle Hill Buda Castle Buda Castle Hill Enjoy a snack on Castle Hill Matthias Church The Fisherman’s Bastion The best view of the Parliament from the Danube Evening (19-23): Enjoy Pest centre and the 7th district Day 2 of 2 days in Budapest Morning (9-12): Climb Gellert hill How to get to the Citadel and Liberty Statue What to see on Gellert Hill Lunch break back on Pest side Afternoon (14-19): Culture at Varosliget Park and relaxation at Szechenyi thermal bath Andrassy Avenue and the Opera house The historical Metro 1 line Heroes’ Square – Hősök tere Vajdahunyad Castle Szechenyi thermal bath Enjoy a snack at Varosliget Park Varosliget Park Evening (20-23): Budapest nightlife like a local More things to do in Budapest in 2 days Final thoughts on how to spend 2 days in Budapest FAQs Videos

Are two days in Budapest enough? As an expat in the Hungarian capital for over 7 years, I think that a weekend is barely enough to see the highlights of this wonderful city. There is so much to see in Budapest, and if you follow this 2 days Budapest itinerary, you will be able to see many historical landmarks, admire gorgeous panoramas, discover the local cuisine, relax at the famous thermal baths, and enjoy some nightlife.

Compared to my 1-day itinerary in Budapest, this itinerary for 2 days is a bit more relaxed, but still jam-packed with cool spots and interesting attractions.

Keep reading to learn what to see in Budapest in 2 days, how to get around Budapest, what Hungarian dishes to try, and lots of useful travel tips for your holiday in Budapest.

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Travel tips for Budapest

Before the detailed itinerary of your 2 days in Budapest, there are a few important things to know. You can find more essential travel tips by locals here and a few important Hungarian words to learn here.

Budapest basics

  • The capital of Hungary is a city of approximately 2 million inhabitants.
  • It is split in two parts by the river Danube.
  • To the West is Buda, the hilly part of the city (main attractions: Buda Castle Hill and Gellert Hill).
  • To the East is Pest, the flat part of the city (main attractions: downtown Pest, the Hungarian Parliament, the Market Hall, Varosliget park)
  • The Danube banks, Castle Hill, and Andrassy Avenue with Heroes Square are recognised as Unesco World Heritage areas since 1987.

What is the currency in Hungary?

The currency in Budapest and in Hungary is the Hungarian Forint. Cards, especially Visa and Mastercard, are accepted almost everywhere, so it is better to have some cash with you too.

I always recommend getting the awesome Wise multi-currency debit card:

  • First, you add some money in your own currency;
  • Second, you exchange it to Hungarian Forints from the app or on the website, at the official rate and with a very low fee;
  • Done! You can now pay everywhere with Hungarian Forints, or withdraw Forints in cash from an ATM. Start by withdrawing just 10000 HUF (that’s 27 EUR or 33 USD) so you don’t risk going back home with a lot of Hungarian cash.

In my opinion, Wise is the best card for travel to countries with a different currency. Here is my full review, and I’ll get a small commission if you order your card from here – thank you!

Although some restaurants, shops and hotels accept also Euro and sometimes US Dollars, it is not convenient because the exchange rate they apply will make you spend more than what you would spend in Hungarian Forints.

What should you wear in Budapest?

Seasons can be pretty intense in Budapest: we can have freezing winters and scorching summers. Make sure to check the weather forecast before you pack.

Locals like to dress fashionably but comfortably: you’ll see jeans and leather jackets, nice tops and bags, but nothing too high-couture nor too sporty.

  • During the summer, especially in July and August, you’ll need light fabrics, shorts and t-shirts, dresses and skirts. Pack also a a cotton cardigan or a light scarf, just in case of a summer storm or some windy days.
  • During the winter, especially in January and February, bring a warm coat, plus scarf, hat and gloves. Layers of long-sleeve shirts and sweaters will be useful.
  • Luckily, in the spring and autumn, the weather is usually warm and welcoming. Pack layers that you can easily take off: jeans or comfy pants, a shirt, a light jumper and a jacket will work perfectly.

Budapest is a city to discover on foot, so always bring comfortable shoes, whether they are sandals, sports shoes, or waterproof boots. There’s a lot to walk in Budapest!

What is the best time to visit Budapest?

Because of the extreme temperatures in the summer and in the winter, I always advise travelling to Budapest in May-June, or in September-October.

However, it all depends on what you want to do! This itinerary is suitable for all seasons: you could add some Christmas markets to it, or some drinks at one of the summer rooftop bars. Check out this post for more ideas on what to do in Budapest in the different seasons.

Where to stay in Budapest

Even though Budapest is not too large, I recommend staying on Pest side (the flat part of the city, east of the Danube river), because there are many more things to do in Pest than in Buda.

Choose a hotel relatively close to the Parliament, Deak Square, Ferenciek Square, Kalvin Square, Oktogon Square.

Avoid the area around Nepszinhaz street, as it’s a bit dodgy at night.

How to get around Budapest

It is very easy to get around Budapest on foot and by public transport. You won’t need a car. It is quite unlikely that you will need a taxi (but if you do, DO NOT call a taxi from the street, as they charge more. Use the Bolt App, or get your restaurant/hotel reception to call one for you).

Google Maps is usually quite accurate with public transport itineraries in Pest. Unfortunately, the hills of Buda side mess up the suggested itineraries, so that Google Maps thinks it’s bringing you close to the destination, but it’s actually making you climb the freaking hill in the worst spot 🙂

Most of this Budapest itinerary is on foot, so that you may enjoy the city as much as possible. However, I also suggest public transport that is time-saving, view-admiring, and feet-resting 🙂 You will need 2-6 tickets, so I recommend buying a pack of 10 tickets for 3000 HUF (8,40 EUR / 10 USD) at a metro stop station or at one of the vending machines at most tram/bus stops – if you are 2 people, this is the most convenient solution. Otherwise, you have to buy single tickets for 350 HUF (1 EUR / 1,15 USD) before you board.

There are also Travelcards valid for one or more days: the 24-hour pass costs 1650 HUF and the 72-hour pass 4150 HUF.

Budapest itinerary for 2 days

Let’s get started with your itinerary for 2 days in Budapest. Most highlights are included:

  • Matthias Church
  • The Fisherman’s Bastion
  • Buda Castle
  • The Hungarian Parliament
  • St. Stephen’s Basilica
  • The Great Market Hall
  • Gellert Hill and the Citadel
  • Vajdahunyad Castle at Varosliget Park
  • Szechenyi thermal baths

Plus, you’ll find a few more gems for your night strolls – Budapest by night is gorgeous!

This itinerary is optimized for days of good weather: it focuses on the exterior of monuments, and it doesn’t include much time to visit the interior of buildings. If you want to visit the churches or the Parliament (or hide from the cold and the rain), you may want to adjust the itinerary with less walking and more public transport.

Day 1 of 2 days in Budapest

Wake up bright and early on your first day: you’ll discover the most beautiful landmarks of Budapest.

Morning (9-12): Explore Pest downtown

During the morning, you will walk on Pest side from the Parliament, through the inner city centre, to the Market Hall.

The Hungarian Parliament

Start your self-guided tour of Budapest at the iconic Hungarian Parliament. The light is better in the morning on the side of Kossuth Square (and it’s better in the afternoon on the side of the Danube, as you will appreciate later).

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Built between 1885 and 1902 in neo-Gothic style, all materials used came from within the borders of theHungarian Kingdom at the time (part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire).

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The 96-meter-tall dome is the star of the building: make sure you snap some shots from the sides, and from further away in the square.

Furthermore, you can walk down the stairs on the side of the Danube for some more impressive pictures!

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It is possible to visit the Parliament with a guided tour, but it takes 1 hour. It is beautiful and interesting, but I don’t think it’s worth it when you have only 2 days in Budapest. If you decide to visit, buy the tickets in advance on Jegymester and bring your passport with you.

The Shoes by the Danube Promenade

Just 5 minutes away on foot, down the stairs by the dock and across the road, is the most touching memorial sculpture in Budapest: the Shoes by the Danube Promenade (map here).

During World War II, Jewish people were forced to line up here by the Nazi forces together with the Hungarian Arrow Cross. They were ordered to remove their shoes and valuables; afterwards, they were executed, and the bodies fell into the river.

The memorial sculpture is simple and striking: 60 pairs of iron shoes, for men and women, straight and toppled. Often they have white rocks and pebbles inside and around them, the Jewish sign of commemoration of the dead.

The Danube Promenade between the Parliament and Chain Bridge

The promenade right by the Danube is agreat spot for pictures of Castle Hillon the other side: you can see the Fishermen’s Bastion, the colourful roof of Matthias Church, and Buda Castle.

It’s wonderful to walk by the bushes and benches, on the soft sand and pebbles. During spring and summer, many river cruise ships dock along here. Unfortunately, Chain Bridge is closed for renovations from 2021 until 2023.

Walk towards Chain Bridge. When you reach the tram stop on the left, cross the tracks, climb up the stairs, walk around Szechenyi square and take Zrinyi street to the left.

Take a break

Until now, you should have walked approximately 1 hour. The next stop is Saint Stephen Basilica: especially if you don’t wish to visit the interior, you have time to take a short break – and I recommend a snack.

  • Try a rétes, the typical Hungarian “strudel” cake, at Első Pesti Rétesház – the first strudel house in Budapest. The most traditional fillings are the sweet turó cheese, sour cherries, and poppyseed.
  • Cute and delicious squared donuts await you at The Box Donut, as well as a great view of the Basilica.
  • You can trust Akademia Italia Budapest with a tasty coffee and a pastry.
  • Looking for a fancy stop? Hold on until the next stop, Vörösmarty square, and go to the historical Gerbeaud Café for some delicious Hungarian cakes.

Saint Stephen Basilica

St. Stephen Basilica(Szent István Bazilika) is the second-largest church in Hungary. With its 96-meters high dome (same as the Parliament), it towers over the old town of Pest and on the relatively small St Stephen’s Square (map here).

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Its construction began in 1851 with architect Jozsef Hild, in Neo-Classical style; unfortunately, it stopped in 1868, when the dome collapsed. The plan was updated byMiklos Ybl, and Emperor Franz Jozsef finally inaugurated it in 1906.

Theinterioris richly decorated with bright colours and lots of gold. Pay attention to the main altar: it is dedicated to St. Stephen, the first Christian king of Hungary, instead of Jesus. The relic of his right hand is kept in a chapel to the left of the main altar.

  • Technically, access is free of charge, but a donation is expected (a dollar, or a euro, or a 200 HUF coin).
  • The view from the dome is nice, but in my opinion, the panoramas from the Fisherman’s Bastion and from Gellert Hill are better, so my advice is to skip it.

Vörösmarty Square, aka Pest city centre

From the Basilica, walk to the green Erzsébet square, pass by the Budapest Eye, and reach the central Vörösmarty Square in 5-10 minutes.

Vörösmarty Square can be considered one of the most central squares in Budapest. In December and on other special occasions, handicrafts and food stalls open here, creating a very festive atmosphere.

Vaci utca, the Fashion Street

If you’re looking to do some shopping, this is the place for you: Vaci utca is basically an open-air mall with international brands such as Zara, H&M, Mango, Tezenis, Springfield, etc. There are also a few souvenir shops that you can start browsing.

Not interested in shopping? Some of the buildings are still worth a look, such as the Art Nouveau façade at Vaci utca 11.

Ferenciek Square and Parisi Udvar

Even though it doesn’t really look like a square, Ferenciek tere is a hub of gorgeous, historical buildings turned stunning 5-star hotels.

Take a peek inside the lobby and café of the Parisi Udvar Hotel (enter from this access for maximum effect): renovated and reopened in 2018 after many years of decay, it is now a shining gem of Art Nouveau decor. Afterwards, cross the street to the Lidl supermarket: it’s the best spot to admire the gorgeous façade.

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If you love luxury lobby hotels like me, make sure you visit also the freshly renovated, 5-star hotel Matild Palace, on the left. Here, the historical Neo-Baroque and Art Nouveau style is updated with a luxurious modern touch.

The Danube Promenade from Erzsebet Bridge to Liberty Bridge

Keep the white Elizabeth Bridge on your right and walk towards the Danube. Cross the tram tracks and walk to the left towards the green Liberty Bridge.

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This is my favourite stretch of the Danube Promenade: I love the contrast between the elegant buildings on the left, and the wild forest on the imposing Gellert Hill on the right.

Yes, tomorrow you’ll admire the view from the Liberty Statue, up there!

The Great Market Hall

When you reach the intricate Freedom Bridge, you’ll find the attractive building of the Great Market Hall on your left, on Fővám Square. The colourful rooftop tiles are just as beautiful as its spacious, impressive interior.

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Budapest locals go grocery shopping here: take a few minutes to wander around the vegetables and meat stalls. Here is where you could buy a cute little bag of paprika for your grandmother.

Lunch break in the Great Market Hall area

I bet you’re hungry! It must be around mid-day now: you walked for 2-3 hours!

The eateries I recommend around the Great Market Hall are:

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  • For Hungarian food, especially street food, stay at the first floor of the Market Hall for some langos bread, goulash soup, sausages, and more. It’s a popular spot, so it may be hard to find a seat. The restaurant Fakanal is also good.
  • Find more international cuisines at the nearby Kalvin square – Spanish, Asian, Greek, as well as affordable gyros kebab sandwiches.
  • Relax and taste Hungarian dishes at Epitesz Pince, a peaceful restaurant in an underground cellar with a beautiful courtyard covered in vines.

Afternoon (14h – 18h): Discover Buda Castle Hill

Feeling better? It’s time to head off to Buda Castle Hill! You’re going to see three of the most famous landmarks in Budapest: Buda Castle, Matthias Church, and the Fisherman’s Bastion.

In my opinion, the best time to visit Buda Castle Hill is the afternoon and at sunset. The sun illuminates perfectly Matthias Church, as well as the Parliament façade that you can see from the Fisherman’s Bastion; furthermore, most of the groups and tourists leave at around 5 pm. However, professional (and less professional) photographers are always looking for good shots at sunset, so you’ll never find the area empty.

Normally, I’d advise walking across Chain Bridge – both a historical Budapest landmark and the quickest way to reach Buda Castle. However, due to the renovation plans until 2023, it’s necessary to take another way.

How to get to Buda Castle Hill

Now that Chain Bridge is closed, some bus routes have changed. These are the most panoramic and quick ways from the Great Market Hall to Buda Castle:

  • Walk across Liberty Bridge to Buda side, and catch tram 19 or 41 until Clark Adam ter, the roundabout at Chain Bridge. From there, proceed on foot up the hill. Very panoramic. Approx. 15 minutes.
  • Walk along Vaci utca or along the Danube until the white bridge, Erzsebet híd. Catch bus 105 until Clark Adam ter, the roundabout at Chain Bridge. From there, proceed on foot up the hill. Also quite panoramic. Approx. 15 minutes.
  • Don’t feel like walking? At Clark Adam ter roundabout, catch bus 16 until Disz ter, on Castle Hill, and then walk to Buda Castle from there.

Climbing Buda Castle Hill

Even though Chain Bridge is closed, you can still admire the beautiful scenery from the trail leading to Buda Castle.

From Clark Adam ter roundabout, take the street right of the tunnel and then the stairs on the left, towards the trees. Follow the zig-zagging path to the bridge passages above the funicular: it’s much more entertaining to watch it move, instead of being inside it!

There are a couple of panoramic spots and a terrace in the key locations.

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In some 15-20 minutes, you will reach the terrace below Buda Castle.

To your right is the massive statue of the Turul Bird, a mythical Hungarian creature. You can climb the stairs and reach that terrace: the view of Pest side is spectacular.

To your left, of course, is the Royal Palace, aka Buda Castle.

Whichever way you take, the walk around the Palace is a circle. Let’s start by taking the left, along the Buda Castle terrace.

Buda Castle

As you have noticed, Buda Castle doesn’t look like a medieval castle with towers and moats, but more like a Royal Palace with hundreds of halls and a large dome.

After lots of destructions, expansions and modifications over the centuries, nowadays it hosts theHungarian National Gallery, theBudapest History Museum, and theNational Library.

Walk until the bronze statue of Eugene of Savoy on his horse overlooks the Danube. The view is wonderful from here too!

From here, turn right to the inner courtyard (behind the statue) to reach the other side of the Castle. The large statue by the wall depicts King Matthias as a hunter and a girl who fell in love with him.

Fans of Homeland may recognize the inner courtyard as the set of a Russian building in Season 7: Claire had to climb the façade and enter through a window to kidnap the French-Russian spy!

Turn right again to leave Buda Castle, and right again to go back to the lookout terrace with the Turul Bird statue.

This lookout point at the arrival of the funicular is one of the best of Budapest, in my opinion. I love how Chain Bridge, the Four Seasons Gresham Palace, and the Basilica dome line up. The Danube flows peaceful, with cruises navigating up and down. It’s one of my favourite spots to sit and rest.

Buda Castle Hill

Make your way towards the small square Disz ter and continue on Tárnok street.

This street is already a postcard of what Middle-Age Buda looked like: itsgolden age was the 15th century, when it became an important European city, a melting pot of different nations.

Thedeclinestarted in 1541 with the Turkish invasion; afterwards, the Baroque reconstructions during the Habsburg era did not really survive the following sieges, wars and bombings. There were 31 sieges in total.

Nowadays,Buda Castle district is very peaceful. The reconstruction made space for museums and residential flats, behind the colourful, historical facades.

Enjoy a snack on Castle Hill

I bet you must be tired after the climb.

  • Sit at the popular café Korona Kávéház, and enjoy a slice of cake and a coffee.
  • Find the hidden Buda Rétesvár for authentic rétes “strudel” cakes, cocoa rolls, and more Hungarian pastries. No space to sit here.
  • Fans of the Empress Sisi should taste the kremes cake at Ruszwurm: it was one of her favourites.

Matthias Church

Finally! Here you are, at one of the most famous and popular landmarks in Budapest: Matthias Church.

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Originally built through the 13th to 14th centuries, Matthias Church isnamed after King Matthias, who got married twice here.

What you see now is actually therestorationby Frigyes Schulek, which took place between 1873 and 1896. With its 80-meter tower, it is a masterpiece of Neo-Gothic grace. Thecolourful roof, composed of famous Zsolnay ceramic tiles, brings such life to the light stone of the church.

Theinterioris painted with eclectic frescoes, with oriental, floral and geometric motifs: a wonderful and unexpected surprise.

I strongly recommend visiting it, especially if the queue at the ticket office is short. Here are the opening hours and the prices.

The Fisherman’s Bastion

Right behind Matthias Church is the Fisherman’s Bastion, another iconic landmark of Budapest.

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These walls and towers took the name of thefishermen’s guild, who used to protect Castle Hill in the Middle Ages and run a market nearby. However, this bastion was built only between 1890 and 1905 as a lookout terrace, its 7 towers a tribute to the 7 tribes who settled in Hungary and conquered the Motherland in 896.

The part of the Bastion right behind the statue of Saint Stephen requires a ticket to access it. In my opinion, it’s not worth it: the balconies and arches behind the Church are perfect for pictures, and the view from the top of the largest tower is just gorgeous.

The best view of the Parliament from the Danube

If you still have some time, the rest of Castle Hill is very picturesque, and the panorama of the Buda hills from Toth Arpad setány is really pretty.

Otherwise, it’s probably late afternoon now. Head down the stairs from the Fisherman’s Bastion. Yes, take some more pictures!

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Walk down the hill towards the Danube. Keep the left and allow yourself to get a little lost: take some stairs, walk along a street, some more stairs… (or head here for a magical peek of the Parliament!)

The destination is Batthyany Square, the perfect place to admire the majestic Parliament from the Danube. If you like it in the afternoon, make sure you come back at night, when it’s illuminated!

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That’s it for your first day in Budapest.

On your way back to your accommodation, let me recommend crossing Margaret Bridge on foot to admire the stunning panorama from the centre of the bridge. It’s just incredible to have the Parliament, the Danube, Gellert Hill and Buda Castle Hill all in the same view.

Evening (19-23): Enjoy Pest centre and the 7th district

What to do in Budapest on your first evening? Well, discover the Pest nightlife, of course!

Let’s start with dinner:

  • For delicious Hungarian cuisine in a classy but modern environment, try Vígvarjú Étterem.
  • Special evening? Have a luxurious experience at the New York Café or at the Salon, its fine dining area.
  • If you’d rather follow your nose and decide on spot, the Gozsdu Udvar gallery and the surrounding streets of the 7th district are full of restaurants, eateries and street food of every type of cuisine. My favourites are Ramenka, Pizzeria Il Terzo Cerchio, and Hummus Bar.

Then, admire the stunning night illumination of Budapest:

  • The Danube promenade is definitely the most gorgeous and memorable place for the night illumination. The bridges, the Castle, the Parliament… It’s easy to stroll peacefully surrounded by such beauty. Tired? Use the tram lines on the Danube sides, tram 2 on Pest and trams 19 and 41 on Buda.
  • Or, relax on an enjoyable night cruise, such as the Legenda cruises.
  • Other pretty buildings at night are the Basilica and the Dohany Sinagogue.

Finally, check out the most epic ruin pub in Budapest: Szimpla Kert!

It’s impossible not to be fascinated by this abandoned factory turned hip bar, thanks to mismatched chairs, eclectic furniture, a half Trabant car in the courtyard, and a room full of old computer screens and mysterious buttons (of course, I tried them all, and I suggest you do too!). Explore, then grab a beer or a cocktail from one of the numerous bars, and enjoy the atmosphere.

Day 2 of 2 days in Budapest

Your second day in Budapest will bring you to a gorgeous viewpoint, to a historical attraction, and finally to some well-deserved relaxation.

Morning (9-12): Climb Gellert hill

Gellert Hill is the 140-meter-high hill on the Buda side of the Danube, famous for the Citadel fortress and for the Liberty Statue located on top. It is also the place to enjoy one of the best panoramas of Budapest – it’s particularly pretty also at sunset.

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How to get to the Citadel and Liberty Statue

There are many ways to reach the top of Gellert Hill:

  • You can walk up the path starting from Elizabeth Bridge and passing by the St. Gellert monument. This takes at least 20 minutes.
  • You can walk up the path starting from Liberty Bridge – and you could stop at the fascinating Rock Chapel. This also takes at least 20 minutes.
  • By public transport: reach Moricz Zsigmond körtér by tram, bus or metro, then take bus 27 until the stop “Busulo Juhasz”, and walk a few minutes to the fortress and the viewpoints. Bus+walking takes approximately 20 minutes.

What to see on Gellert Hill

Gellert Hill is the perfect place to admire the view of all of Budapest, and to learn some more about the history of this city. However, unfortunately there isn’t a proper exhibition, so make sure you read up in advance in order to enjoy this special place.

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  • Stroll along the promenade to see Budapest in its entirety: from the Buda hills to your left, to Buda Castle, then the Danube and its bridges, and finally the endless Pest side.
  • Pay attention also to the massive Citadel on your right: this fortress was built in 1848-49 by the Austrian Empire.
  • Finally, you will reach the impressive Statue of Liberty, placed there in 1948 by the Russians who did, in fact, liberate Hungary from the Nazi regime. The 14-meter-high statue stands on a pedestal of 26 meters, and it looks very stern and majestic.
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Whatever way you choose to go up, I recommend going down towards Liberty Bridge, because the view from the terrace of the Cave Church is just gorgeous.

I wrote a detailed post about Gellert Hill, which you can find here.

Lunch break back on Pest side

Cross Liberty Bridge and go back to Pest side. Since the afternoon itinerary starts at Deak Square, you have quite a large area where to have lunch!

  • If you walk along the avenue to Kalvin Square, to Astoria, and then to Deak Ter, you’ll pass by the imposing Hungarian National Museum and by the beautiful Dohany Synagogue.
  • Otherwise, Kecskemeti Street and Egyetem Square are more peaceful and equally pretty.
  • Tired? Take trams 47 or 49 from Gellert Hotel to Deak ter.

My favourite restaurants around here are:

  • Pata Negra Pest – delicious tapas, some with Hungarian influences
  • Padthai Wokbar – choose the ingredients and make your own padthai
  • Madhouse Bistro and Craft Beer Bar – behind a corner, away from the crowd, tasty dishes and great beers.

Afternoon (14-19): Culture at Varosliget Park and relaxation at Szechenyi thermal bath

This will be a relaxing afternoon, with some easy sightseeing and a little time soaking in warm thermal waters.

We will start with the first half of the beautiful Andrassy Avenue. Then, before heading to Varosliget, you should pick up your swimsuit and a towel to go to Szechenyi spa.

Andrassy Avenue and the Opera house

With high-couture boutiques and expensive shops in elegant buildings, the tree-lined Andrassy Avenue is very pleasant to stroll. Especially compared to the nearby Kiraly utca, busy with bars and parties, the contrast is really strong!

The first part, from Bajcsy-Zsilinszky metro stop to Oktogon metro stop, is the nicest. Half-way is the impressive Opera house: Austrian Emperor Franz Joseph I requested that it not exceed the size of the Vienna Opera… But he didn’t say anything about not making it more beautiful!

I haven’t been inside the Vienna Opera House, but I can confirm that the whole Budapest Opera, from the façade, to the foyer and the auditorium, is absolutely stunning.

The Opera has been closed for renovations since 2017, and it should finally open again in March 2022.

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The historical Metro 1 line

At Oktogon Square, walk down the stairs and take the metro 1 line in the direction of Mexicoi ut. Get down at Hősök tere, the fourth stop.

You’re riding the oldest metro line in Europe! Technically, the London underground is older, but you know, Brexit 🙂

The Millennium Underground Railway was built for the Millennium celebrations in 1894 to 1896. Since its inauguration on May 2, 1896, it never stopped operating. Most of the stations are elegantly decorated with white tiles and green metal pillars; the trains are very cute and vintage.

Heroes’ Square – Hősök tere

As soon as you emerge from the underground, you will be shocked by the size of Heroes’ Square and its dramatic looks.

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Wide and spacious, a 36-meter-high pillar stands in the centre, topped by Archangel Gabriel holding the Hungarian crown and the double cross. At its feet are the statues representing the leaders of the seven Magyar tribes that conquered Hungary in 896: hence the construction of Heroes’ Square in 1896, to commemorate 1000 years of Hungarian Motherland. A symbolic tomb to the unknown fallen soldiers lays in front of the pillar. All around, between the columns, are important kings and leaders of Hungarian history, while the neoclassical Fine Arts Museum and the Contemporary Art Museum stand at the sides.

I love the massive size of the square and the striking monuments. This is where you can feel the respect for the origins and the history of the Hungarians. Sometimes I wish Heroes’ Square was more central, as it would easily become the most stunning landmark in Budapest.

Awesome 2 days Budapest itinerary with all the highlights (2021 update) - Travelling Sunglasses (16)

Vajdahunyad Castle

Cross the bridge behind Heroes’ Square: depending on the season, the spacious area to the right could be an ice-skating rink, a lake with paddling boats, or it could be empty and ready to host a special event.

As soon as you enter Varosliget park, you’ll certainly notice a medieval-looking castle on the right. Prepare yourself for a little bit of geographic and time travelling: at Vajdahunyad Castle, you can see replicas of buildings from the Austro-Hungarian Empire, in a journey of architectural styles (official website here).

Awesome 2 days Budapest itinerary with all the highlights (2021 update) - Travelling Sunglasses (17)

The complex was built for the Millennium celebrations in 1896, and it was originally made of wood and cardboard! But the public liked it so much that it was later built in a permanent way.

Even though the architectural details included come from 21 buildings, at least 4 styles are very visible:

  • Gothic: the welcoming gate and turrets belong to the Gothic Castle of Vajdahunyad – the original one is in Transylvania and Vlad the Impaler was imprisoned there.
  • Romanesque: the church to the left is actually a huge basilica located in Jak, a town close to the Austrian border.
  • Renaissance and Baroque: they are blended together in the building which hosts the Agricultural Museum, a combination of palaces from Hungary and Austria.

Apart from admiring such a unique combination of buildings in a small space, make sure you take a picture with the mysterious statue of Anonymous, the notary hidden under a dark hood.

When you’re ready to continue, take the left and come around the small lake – hello, ducks! – back to the main road.

Szechenyi thermal bath

The massive, yellow building on the other side of the road is the famous Szechenyi spa!

With 2 million visitors every year, it is easily the most famous spa in Budapest (together with Gellert spa, and maybe Rudas spa).

Awesome 2 days Budapest itinerary with all the highlights (2021 update) - Travelling Sunglasses (18)

The part towards the park was built in 1909-13 and the entrance hall features a gorgeous, enormous mosaic on the ceiling. The larger part towards the road was built in Neo-Baroque style later, in 1927.

Inside Szechenyi baths, you’ll find two huge outdoor pools with hot thermal water, one outdoor pool for swimming, and numerous indoor pools with waters of different types and temperatures, as well as saunas and steam rooms. There’s plenty to try and enjoy – you can even play chess on the boards in the outdoor pool!

I always recommend visiting Szechenyi spa in the late afternoon or evening: when the air is fresh and the sun is setting, the water feels even warmer on your skin 🙂 it’s more fun to hop from a pool to another, and the saunas feel relaxing and invigorating at the same time.

Going to the spa can also be quite tiring, especially if your blood pressure is already low. A couple of hours can be enough – and then it will be time for dinner!

Enjoy a snack at Varosliget Park

Between the spa and the lake, you’ll have a wide choice of Hungarian snacks at the pretty kiosks: fried langos bread or palacsinta crepes with different fillings, the kürtőskalács chimney cake, ice cream and drinks.

Before going into the Szechenyi bath, but also if you plan to continue exploring, enjoy some traditional food in this beautiful and relaxing setting.

Varosliget Park

Not in the mood for a bath? You’ll find lots to see in Varosliget Park, as well as pretty spots to relax and unwind.

As of 2021, the park is bustling with the construction of music halls and other venues. It’s pretty exciting!

Also, the House of the Hungarian Millennium Café and Restaurant was recently renovated: this beautiful Art Nouveau building is decorated in the front, and features a small elegant garden in the back.

In the late afternoon, you may find the super cool playground still full of kids running around. I wish I had a hot air balloon to play on when I was little!

Evening (20-23): Budapest nightlife like a local

Your 2 days in Budapest are almost over! I suggest enjoying your last night here by discovering the nightlife with the locals.

Yes, the Gozsdu Udvar gallery and the 7th district is fun and buzzing, but there’s much more to Budapest by night. Head to these areas and venues to see more locals and fewer tourists.

  • Ráday street, even though still quite popular, features nice restaurants and bars, even with live music – like If Café.
  • At the modern whale-like complex Bálna, by the Danube near the Great Market Hall, you’ll find bistros and bars with terraces.
  • As opposed to the crowded Szimpla, Instant and Fogashaz bars/clubs, Potkulcs is a truly traditional pub with a special charm, extremely basic and away from the crowds.

More things to do in Budapest in 2 days

In case you aren’t interested in the activities I suggest, these are some other things to do in Budapest which could take 2-3 hours:

  • Explore the Jewish area of the 7th district: besides visiting the fascinating Dohany Synagogue, in the nearby streets you will find unexpected murals and Art Nouveau hidden gems, like the Continental Hotel.
  • Walk around Margaret Island: leave the city behind you and relax on this huge island on the Danube! Rent bikes or a quadracycle, stop by the Musical Fountain, find the ruins of a convent and rest at the Japanese garden.
  • Head to the picturesque town of Szentendre, the Artists’ Village! While I think that with just 2 days in Budapest, it’s not really a top place to visit, it is certainly a lovely little town. Find here my detailed post.
  • Do activities that are probably more expensive everywhere else in the world: enjoy a massage or a manicure, have fun in an escape room (there are sooo many), or take a cheap cruise on the public ferries.

Final thoughts on how to spend 2 days in Budapest

Excited already? If you follow my Budapest itinerary for 2 days, you’ll experience the most beautiful sights and activities! I’m sure you will enjoy exploring the Hungarian Capital – and you will book a longer weekend here soon 🙂

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Here are more related posts to help you plan your trip to Budapest and Hungary.

Awesome 2 days Budapest itinerary with all the highlights (2021 update) - Travelling Sunglasses (19)

FAQs

Is 2 nights in Budapest enough? ›

If you are wondering how many days in Budapest you need, two days is adequate to see the whole city, as long as you're efficient. Three days will allow you to get to more of the top attractions at a slower pace and maybe give you a chance to relax and soak in one of the thermal baths.

Can I see Budapest in 2 days? ›

Budapest is one of the best European capitals to discover in two or three days. We have created a 2-day itinerary for those of you that land in Hungary's capital on Friday afternoon and leave on Sunday afternoon.

What should I not miss in Budapest? ›

Best attractions in Budapest
  • Buda Castle. Things to do. ...
  • Széchenyi Baths. Take a plunge in Budapest's most famous thermal bath. ...
  • Children's Railway. ...
  • Memento Park. ...
  • Dohány Street Synagogue. ...
  • St Stephen's Basilica. ...
  • Hungarian Parliament. ...
  • Heroes' Square.
16 Jul 2022

How much spending money do I need for 2 nights in Budapest? ›

You should plan to spend around Ft26,380 ($65) per day on your vacation in Budapest, which is the average daily price based on the expenses of other visitors. Past travelers have spent, on average, Ft6,559 ($16) on meals for one day and Ft3,122 ($7.72) on local transportation.

How much cash do you need in Budapest? ›

If you're on a budget you can visit the city with just as little as 10.000 forints a day excluding accommodation. From this budget you will get access to public transportation and have some simple, but delicious Hungarian meals.

What is the best month to go to Budapest? ›

In spring and fall — May, June, September, and early October — travelers enjoy fewer tourist crowds and milder weather. This is one of the best times to visit Budapest. However, it's also prime convention time (especially September), when hotels tend to fill up and charge their top rates.

Is Budapest better or Prague? ›

Prague is generally considered more picturesque than Budapest, thanks to the many medieval buildings that are still standing today. Particularly around the historic city center surrounding the Old Town Square. Prague is smaller and has an intimate charm that Budapest doesn't have.

Do you need to wear masks to go to Budapest? ›

Travel in Hungary

Wearing a face mask remains mandatory in hospitals and social institutions. Social distancing rules are currently not in force. The full details are set out on the Hungarian government website.

Do and don'ts in Hungary? ›

DON'Ts
  • Don't be careless, and hold onto your valuables! Even though Hungary is considered to be one of the safest places, crowded places attract pickpockets.
  • Don't hail a cab on the street. ...
  • Don't exchange money at the airport! ...
  • Don't expect everyone to speak a foreign language. ...
  • Don't make the cheesy Hungary-hungry pun.

What food is popular in Budapest? ›

10 Best Local Dishes from Budapest
  • Lángos.
  • Gulyás.
  • Rakott krumpli.
  • Töltött káposzta.
  • Lecsó
  • Húsleves.
  • Főzelék.
  • Pörkölt.

Where should I not go in Budapest? ›

TOP5 most dangerous areas of Budapest that you should avoid as a tourist
  • Hős street (Hero Street) ...
  • Budapest's 8th district (Józsefváros) ...
  • Budapest's 5th district (Lipótváros) ...
  • Underpasses in Budapest.
4 Aug 2022

Do I need to carry cash in Budapest? ›

Only a few banks are willing to cash traveller's cheques, so it is recommended to bring your debit or credit card when you visit Hungary. Smaller shops or country guesthouses may only accept cash.

Are you supposed to tip in Budapest? ›

Although not mandatory, tipping in Budapest is considered courteous and is followed by locals as well. It is considered polite to tip in hotels and concierge services. A 10% to 15% tip can be applied to restaurant bills as well unless service tax is already added.

Is tap water drinkable in Budapest? ›

Tap water is safe to drink in Hungary so be sure to bring a reusable bottle to fill up before you start your day. If you decide to buy bottled water pay attention to the coloured lids, you will notice different coloured caps.

How much is a cup of coffee in Budapest? ›

The price of the espresso is around 1,5 Euros and a cup of cappuccino costs 2-2.5 Euros. If you prefer new wave/specialty coffee shops they charge notably more (a cappuccino is around 3 Euros).

How much is a Coke in Budapest? ›

Family of four estimated monthly costs are 2,059$ (805,776Ft) without rent. A single person estimated monthly costs are 591$ (231,490Ft) without rent.
...
Cost of Living in Budapest.
RestaurantsEdit
Coke/Pepsi (12 oz small bottle)431.41Ft
Water (12 oz small bottle)358.63Ft
MarketsEdit
Milk (regular), (1 gallon)1,566.10Ft
62 more rows

What should I budget for in Budapest? ›

For budget-minded travelers, it costs around $25-$50/day to visit Budapest. These prices are based on what you'll need to visit the city comfortably as a budget traveler. If you want to stay in a nicer hotel or rental apartment you should add an extra $40-$80/night to your budget.

What is the best way to pay in Budapest? ›

Even Hungary is part of the European Union, you pay there with Forint, the Hungarian currency. However, many shops and restaurants in Budapest accept payments in cash or by credit card in Euros but applied rates are unfavorable. Therefore we recommend you to pay in Forint, in cash or by credit card.

Can I use my debit card in Budapest? ›

You should not have any significant problems with card payments in Budapest since it's the capital. However, there might be a few exceptions as in any other country you might travel to. Many places such as restaurants, larger or smaller shops, petrol stations and spa facilities are very card friendly.

What is the best area to stay in Budapest? ›

The 5th district is the best overall neighborhood to stay in Budapest for tourists. Plenty of attractions, and loads of restaurants and cafés to enjoy. While it isn't exactly a nightlife hub, the 5th is well-connected by public transit – you'll be able to hop over to the Jewish Quarter if its bars you crave.

What is the coldest month in Budapest? ›

The cold season lasts for 3.5 months, from November 21 to March 3, with an average daily high temperature below 46°F. The coldest month of the year in Budapest is January, with an average low of 26°F and high of 37°F.

Why is Budapest so cheap? ›

The Hungarian capital is one of the best-value cities to travel to in Europe. The cost of food and drink is consistenly low and as Hungary doesn't use the euro, the exchange rate in Budapest is also strong. As well as being cheap, there are plenty of things to see and do to make your trip go with a swing.

Does it rain a lot in Budapest? ›

In Budapest, 525 millimeters (20.7 inches) of rain fall per year, with a minimum from January to April and a maximum in June. Here is the average precipitation. In Budapest, there are around 2,100 hours of sunshine per year.

Which is cheaper Prague or Budapest? ›

There is a wide spectrum of choice for both cities, from hotels to apartments. Budapest tends to be 30-40% cheaper than Prague. Just keep in mind to avoid the restaurant and bar areas. A few streets can be quite noisy, especially in the Old Town.

Which is colder Prague or Budapest? ›

There is no truly significant difference in weather between Budapest and Prague, but Prague tends to be, on average, around 6 degrees Fahrenheit colder with rainfall around 1 inch less than Budapest, which lies some 280 miles farther southeast.

Is Budapest better than Vienna? ›

Budapest is known for its pre-war architecture, thermal springs and vibrant nightlife. Vienna, on the other hand, is known for its cultural institutes, coffee houses and diverse food scene. Budapest lies on the banks of the River Danube and is very picturesque.

Do you need Covid test to get into Hungary? ›

Travellers fulfilling one of the criteria mentioned above do not need any permission, nor prior PCR tests in order to enter Hungary, they do not need to go into isolation, and their length of stay is not limited,” the statement clarifies.

What time is curfew in Budapest? ›

The curfew is still valid from 8 pm to 5 am. Individual leisure sports activities can be carried out alone or together with people living in the same household, provided that they are kept at least 1.5 meters away from others. You do not have to wear a mask during an individual leisure sports activity.

How do I get Covid test at Budapest airport? ›

The most important information about the airport test center: PCR tests and rapid antigen tests can be performed without an appointment, only online registration is required, which can be completed on a smartphone or computer, at the website https://bud.umedhub.com/.

What should I be careful in Budapest? ›

Crime. Take sensible precautions against petty crime. Bag snatching and pick-pocketing are common, especially in Budapest. Be particularly careful on busy public transport, in train stations, at markets and at other places frequented by tourists.

What is considered rude in Hungary? ›

Hungarians often pride themselves on using proper etiquette and expect others to do the same. Calling someone by their first name before being invited to do so is considered rude. Many Hungarians find whistling, humming or singing in public impolite. Always cover your mouth when yawning.

Can I use my credit card in Budapest? ›

Credit cards (Visa, Mastercard, American Express) are commonly accepted all over Budapest, in most restaurants, bars, and shops. Although in small businesses you can pay only by cash, so it's good to have a little amount of local currency.

What is the famous dessert in Budapest? ›

Zserbó (Hungarian Gerbeaud cake)

One of the most well-known Hungarian desserts is a homemade layered pastry with walnut, apricot jam filling, covered with a shining chocolate glaze.

What is a typical breakfast in Budapest? ›

Breakfast in Hungary is typically large and filling, with both sweet and savoury options on the table. Sandwiches, breads, cheese spreads, cold meats, jams, pastries and more can all be enjoyed first thing in the morning.

Is English spoken in Budapest? ›

Most people know enough English and if you learn to say: hello, please and thank you, in Hungarian "you are in".

How Safe Is Budapest at night? ›

Downtown Budapest (Castle District, districts V., VI., part of district VII. along Grand Boulevard) is fairly safe at night. Safety TIP: Avoid, however the outer part of district s VII., VIII., and IX. As a general rule of thumb avoid poorly lit streets and underpasses.

Which district is safe in Budapest? ›

Safest Areas of Budapest

Anywhere in Buda and District V in Pest tend to be very safe.

Is 3 nights enough in Budapest? ›

You don't want to run out of time, but, three days is considered to be enough. These are going to be an action-packed three days, but this is the general amount of time you will be able to see most of the big sights, as well as having a little time for rest and relaxation at the same time.

Is a weekend enough for Budapest? ›

One of the greatest things about Budapest is that you can explore (the vast majority) the city in a few days, day or night. With, a long weekend being a perfect length of time to visit. This all makes Budapest one of the best European cities to visit for a shorter trip.

Is 4 days too much in Budapest? ›

Four days in Budapest is certainly enough to cover all of the cities highlights. Not only can you cover the hotspots during this time, but you could also squeeze in some of the hidden gems in Budapest. You know, the places you don't often see on most Budapest itineraries.

Is one night enough in Budapest? ›

The capital of Hungary sprawls over about 525 square kilometres; there's no doubt that spending just 24 hours in Budapest isn't long enough to see it all! Budapest is full of landmarks and interesting spots, including 80 geothermal springs and many historical monuments.

Should I bring cash to Budapest? ›

Only a few banks are willing to cash traveller's cheques, so it is recommended to bring your debit or credit card when you visit Hungary. Smaller shops or country guesthouses may only accept cash.

How much do you spend per day in Budapest? ›

For budget-minded travelers, it costs around $25-$50/day to visit Budapest. These prices are based on what you'll need to visit the city comfortably as a budget traveler. If you want to stay in a nicer hotel or rental apartment you should add an extra $40-$80/night to your budget.

What should I be careful of in Budapest? ›

Crime. Take sensible precautions against petty crime. Bag snatching and pick-pocketing are common, especially in Budapest. Be particularly careful on busy public transport, in train stations, at markets and at other places frequented by tourists.

Is Budapest expensive city? ›

One of the biggest reasons that travelers love Budapest is its reputation as a budget-friendly place to visit. Although it has become more expensive over the years, many visitors still find it's still cheaper than other European capitals.

How much is an average meal in Budapest? ›

Prices in restaurants in Budapest.
Meal in a cheap restaurant2,500 HUF (1,800-5,000)
Meal for 2 People, Mid-range Restaurant, Three-course14,000 HUF (9,000-20,000)
McMeal at McDonalds (or Equivalent Combo Meal)1,800 HUF (1,500-2,200)
Domestic Beer (0.5 liter draught)650 HUF (350-1,000)
6 more rows

Should I stay Buda or Pest? ›

Ultimately, deciding whether to stay in Buda or Pest is a matter of preference–if you're on a quiet romantic getaway, for example, you may want to stay in Buda. For most people, though, the best place to stay in Budapest will be on the Pest side of the river.

Is Budapest cheaper than London? ›

Cost of living in Budapest (Hungary) is 58% cheaper than in London (United Kingdom)

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