Budapest in three days

Budapest in Three Days: A Perfect Itinerary

Discover the enchanting city of Budapest in just three days with us as we explore the rich history, culture and cuisine that Hungary has to offer.

Budapest, the capital city of Hungary, is a captivating destination that attracts millions of tourists each year. With its rich history, stunning architecture, vibrant culture, and thermal baths, Budapest offers a unique and unforgettable experience.
In this article, we will provide you with a perfect itinerary to make the most of your three days in Budapest. Whether you are a history enthusiast, a food lover, or simply seeking to delve into the city’s charm, this itinerary will guide you through the must-see attractions and hidden gems of Budapest.

Buda Castle
Buda Castle Budapest

Day 1: Exploring Buda

Buda Castle and Panoramic Views
Start your day by visiting the iconic Buda Castle, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Perched on Castle Hill, this magnificent complex offers stunning panoramic views of Budapest. Take your time to explore the castle grounds, which include the Royal Palace, the Hungarian National Gallery, and the Budapest History Museum. Marvel at the architectural beauty and immerse yourself in the rich history of this historic landmark. The vernacular costs around €6 for a return ticket, but the walk is not strenuous for those wishing to take the stairs. Unfortunately as we found out, one is not able to purchase a one way ticket, so we had to walk down too.

Fisherman’s Bastion and Matthias Church
While still on the Buda side of the river, make your way to the nearby Fisherman’s Bastion, a fairy-tale-like terrace with seven towers that offers breath-taking views of the Danube River and the Pest side of the city. This neo-Gothic and neo-Romanesque structure is not only a popular tourist attraction but also a great spot for photography enthusiasts. Adjacent to the Fisherman’s Bastion is the Matthias Church, a stunning medieval church known for its colourful tiled roof and intricate interior. Step inside to admire the beautiful stained glass windows and ornate decorations.

Gellért Hill and Citadella
To end your day of exploring Buda, head to Gellért Hill, located on the Buda side of the city. Climb up to the top and be rewarded with more breath-taking views of Budapest.
At the summit, you’ll find the Citadella, a fortress built in the 19th century. Take a moment to appreciate the panoramic vistas of the city, including the Danube River, the Chain Bridge, and the Parliament Building.
Gellért Hill is also home to the famous Gellért Baths, where you can relax and rejuvenate in thermal pools.

Parliament Building
Parliament Building Budapest

Day 2: Discovering Pest

Begin the day by exploring the iconic Hungarian Parliament Building
Start your second day in Budapest by visiting the magnificent Hungarian Parliament Building. This architectural masterpiece is one of the city’s most iconic landmarks and a symbol of Hungary’s rich history. Marvel at its grandeur and intricate details as you take a guided tour inside to learn about the country’s political heritage. (As magnificent as it is during the day, its even more magical when lit up at night, so you could also end your day with this iconic landmark.)

Walk along the Danube Promenade and Across Chain Bridge
After exploring the Parliament Building, take a leisurely stroll along the Danube Promenade. Enjoy the scenic views of the river and the stunning architecture that lines its banks. As you walk, you’ll come across the famous Chain Bridge, an elegant suspension bridge that connects Pest and Buda. Take a moment to admire its beauty and capture some memorable photos.

Visit St. Stephen’s Basilica and climb to the top for a panoramic view
Next, make your way to St. Stephen’s Basilica, one of Budapest’s most impressive churches. Step inside to admire its stunning interior, including the intricate mosaics and the famous Holy Right Hand relic. For a breath-taking view of the city, climb to the top of the basilica’s dome. From there, you can enjoy a panoramic vista of Budapest’s skyline.

Explore the vibrant Jewish Quarter and visit the Great Synagogue
Continue your exploration by venturing into the vibrant Jewish Quarter. This neighbourhood is known for its rich Jewish heritage and lively atmosphere. Take a walk through its charming streets, lined with trendy cafes, unique shops, and colourful street art. Don’t miss the opportunity to visit the Great Synagogue, the largest synagogue in Europe. Explore its beautiful interior and learn about the history of Budapest’s Jewish community.

Central Market Hall
This bustling market is a food lover’s paradise. Explore the stalls filled with fresh produce, spices, and local delicacies. Don’t miss the chance to sample chimney cake, a sweet pastry cooked over an open fire and coated in sugar and cinnamon. On the second floor you will be able to buy touristy souvenirs at the best price, so don’t be tempted to buy the overpriced souvenirs from one of the many stores in Budapest.

Hungary River Cruise
Budapest River Cruise

Day 3: Relaxation and Culture

Start your third day in Budapest by indulging in the city’s famous thermal baths.
One of the most popular options is Széchenyi Thermal Bath, located in City Park. This grand bath complex offers a variety of indoor and outdoor pools, saunas, and steam rooms. Relax in the warm mineral-rich waters and let the therapeutic properties sooth your body, mind and tired feet

After a rejuvenating bath, take a leisurely stroll through the picturesque City Park. This expansive green space is home to numerous attractions, including the iconic Vajdahunyad Castle. This architectural marvel showcases a blend of different styles, ranging from Romanesque to Gothic, and even Renaissance. Explore the castle’s courtyards and admire its intricate details before continuing your journey.

For art enthusiasts, the Museum of Fine Arts and the Hungarian National Gallery are must-visit destinations. The Museum of Fine Arts houses an extensive collection of European art, including works by renowned artists such as Rembrandt, Raphael, and El Greco. Marvel at the masterpieces spanning various periods and styles as you immerse yourself in the world of art.

Alternatively, the Hungarian National Gallery offers a comprehensive display of Hungarian art from the Middle Ages to the present day. Discover the rich cultural heritage of Hungary through paintings, sculptures, and other forms of artistic expression. From medieval altarpieces to contemporary installations, the gallery provides a captivating insight into the country’s artistic evolution.

Conclude your day of relaxation and culture with a boat cruise along the Danube River.
As impressive as the architecture is during the day, there is something magical about Budapest at night when all the buildings are lit up. We were advised to do the river cruise after sunset and chose Legenda Sightseeing Boats for this amazing experience.
This luxurious vessel offered a one hour tour with commentary in all the major languages and included a complimentary drink.

Indulge in Hungarian Cuisine

Hungarian cuisine is a delightful blend of flavors and influences that reflect the country’s rich history. From hearty stews to sweet pastries, here are some must-try dishes.
Chicken Paprikash: OMG…deevine! Chicken cooked for hours in a creamy paprika sauce. The chicken so soft it was falling off the bone. Served with dumplings. This is a must try dish!
Goulash: Considered Hungary’s national dish, goulash is a hearty stew made with tender beef, paprika, and an array of vegetables. Its rich flavors and comforting nature make it a perfect choice for a traditional Hungarian meal.
If you don’t have the appetite for the main course you could also try a Goulash soup. Soups seemed to be an integral part of the dining experience and the variety of soups offered was amazing. I had a creamy garlic soup served with cheese croquets. Definitely something I’m going to try and replicate at home!
Chimney Cake: Also known as kürtőskalács, chimney cake is a popular sweet treat in Hungary. The dough is wrapped around a cylindrical mold, baked until golden and crispy, and then coated in sugar and cinnamon (or topping of choice). It’s often enjoyed plain or filled with ice cream or Nutella, but best eaten piping hot!
Langos: A Hungarian street food staple, langos is a deep-fried flatbread topped with various savory toppings such as sour cream, cheese, and garlic. It is a satisfying and indulgent snack that pairs perfectly with a cold beer.

Budapest Nightlife and Entertainment

Budapest’s vibrant nightlife scene offers a wide range of options for visitors to enjoy. From trendy bars to lively clubs and cultural performances, there is something for everyone to experience in the city after dark.
Budapest is known for its unique ruin bars, which are converted abandoned buildings transformed into hip and eclectic drinking establishments. One of the most famous ruin bars is Szimpla Kert, located in the Jewish Quarter. This multi-level bar features quirky decor, live music, and a lively atmosphere. Another popular ruin bar is Instant, which boasts multiple dance floors and a diverse music selection.

For those seeking a more upscale experience, the rooftop bars in Budapest offer stunning views of the city skyline. The High Note SkyBar, located on top of the Aria Hotel, provides panoramic views of Budapest while serving delicious cocktails. Another notable rooftop bar is 360 Bar, situated near St. Stephen’s Basilica, offering a trendy ambiance and a wide selection of drinks.
When it comes to clubs, Budapest has a thriving electronic music scene. Akvárium Klub is a popular venue that hosts both local and international DJs, attracting a young and energetic crowd. Another renowned club is Instant-Fogas, which features multiple dance floors, themed rooms, and a vibrant atmosphere that lasts until the early hours of the morning.

Classical music enthusiasts will find Budapest to be a paradise, as the city is renowned for its classical music concerts. The Budapest Festival Orchestra, led by world-renowned conductor Iván Fischer, performs at the Palace of Arts, offering exceptional renditions of classical masterpieces.
Whether you prefer to dance the night away at a lively club, enjoy a drink at a trendy bar, or immerse yourself in the cultural performances of Budapest, the city’s nightlife and entertainment scene is sure to leave you with unforgettable memories.

Where to Stay in Budapest

When visiting a country for more than a few days we always opt for self-catering apartments. Not only are they often cheaper than hotel accommodation but you have all the amenities and comforts of home.
We stayed with Budapest Sky. They are a property management company that manage an array of holiday letting apartments in the heart of Budapest. Centrally located and within walking distance to all major attractions, metro’s, trams and a variety of restaurants are on your doorstep. Budapest Sky offers their guests a choice of studio, 1 & 2 bedroom modern apartments. We found our apartment “Yellow House” just perfect as it offered everything we could have needed for our five day stay. Our host Petra was a pleasure to deal with and always made sure our needs were seen to.
To see their portfolio of properties or to book click HERE

Transportation Options in Budapest

When exploring Budapest, it is important to familiarize yourself with the various transportation options available.
The city offers an extensive public transportation system, including buses, trams, and the metro. The metro is particularly convenient for getting around quickly, with four lines that cover most of the city. Buses and trams are also reliable and provide a scenic way to travel.
We just LOVE the “Movit” app. It tells you exactly where to go and what form of transportation to use to get you to your destination the fastest. Just make sure you have an eSIM activated.
We found the 24H tram/bus cards the most convenient (about €6 per day).
Uber is not available in Budapest, but the Bolt Taxi app is. Our trip from the airport to central Pest costs us €30. Our return to the Airport on the bus (the E100 bus) costs us just €7 each.

Budapest Card for Discounted Attractions and Public Transport

To make the most of your visit to Budapest, consider purchasing a Budapest Card.
This card offers numerous benefits, including discounted entry to popular attractions, free public transportation, and special offers at selected restaurants and shops. With the Budapest Card, you can save both time and money while exploring the city.

The Budapest Christmas Markets

This was the main reason for us visiting Budapest (also see our article on the Top European Christmas Markets 2023). We just love a good Christmas market, and having seen a few of the top Christmas markets in Europe, Budapest was on the bucket list.
There are two major markets. ‎Vörösmarty Square the “main” market and then the smaller St Stephens Basilica market (our favourite).

Other Things To Do In Budapest

Making the Most of the Itinerary

To ensure you make the most of your three days in Budapest, it is essential to manage your time effectively and prioritize the attractions you wish to visit. Start by familiarizing yourself with the itinerary and the locations of each attraction. Consider grouping nearby attractions together to minimize travel time. Additionally, it is advisable to check the opening hours of each attraction and plan your visit accordingly. By being organized and efficient, you can maximize your time and fully experience the beauty and culture of Budapest.

Budapest’s charm and appeal extend to all types of travellers, whether they are history enthusiasts, art lovers, or foodies. The city’s blend of architectural beauty, cultural heritage, and warm hospitality leaves a lasting impression.

We guarantee you will love it as much as we did 😉 

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