Welcome To One Of The Most Enchanting Cities We’ve Ever Enjoyed Exploring – Budapest

Nestled along the banks of the magnificent Danube River, Budapest is a delightful blend of history, culture, gastronomy, and lively entertainment. Youll be instantly charmed by the stunning architecture, buzzing atmosphere, and the plethora of exciting things to do.

Here are my insider tips, personal recommendations, and favorite experiences from my unforgettable trip to the Hungarian capital. Get ready to fall in love with this vibrant city just as I did.

When visiting…

Before diving into our incredible Budapest adventure, weve got a few handy tips to help make your trip as smooth as possible. First things first.

Currency: Hungary may be in the EU, but they use their OWN CURRENCY – the Hungarian Forint.

To avoid unnecessary fees, we suggest exchanging your money BEFORE your trip or, if you need to withdraw cash from an ATM, opt for a reputable bank like Budapest Bank or Erste Bank (these are easy to find – they are everywhere).

Safety: Safety-wise, Budapest is generally secure, even when strolling around at night but like any other city, its best always to stay aware of your surroundings.

Cost: Remember that accommodation and food can be a bit PRICIER than average, so be prepared to splurge a little.

BUDAPEST PRO TIPS Group

  1. Many of Budapests tourist attractions close their doors on Mondays, so check opening hours and plan your itinerary accordingly.
  2. Budapest History Museum is closed Mondays.
  3. We recommend only visiting Rudas Thermal Bath on a weekend, when both genders are allowed to enjoy the baths together.
  4. The Parliament offer a 45 minute guided tours in 10 different languages so be sure to book tickets in advance.
  5. St. Stephens Basilica: Plan your visit for around 6.30 pm to catch the organ concert, and be sure to get there early as tickets tend to sell out quickly.
  6. Danube Cruise: Opt for the one-hour cruise tour if youre short on time or traveling with a limited budget. This is a great way to see the major attractions without breaking your bank.
  7. Budapest is best experienced if you have 3 or 4 days to explore. You can fully immerse yourself in its history, culture, and charm and explore all the main attractions without feeling rushed.
  8. With so much to see and do, from the stunning Parliament Building and Fishermans Bastion to the thermal baths and the trendy Jewish District, youll be grateful for the extra time to take it all in. Plus, having a few extra days will give you the opportunity to experience Budapests lively nightlife, savor its delicious food and wine, and simply soak up the citys unique style and character. Trust me, you wont regret spending a little extra time in this incredible city.
  9. When To Visit Budapest: Spring (April to June) and Fall (September to October) are the best time to visit Budapest. The weather is mild, and there are fewer tourists compared to the peak summer months.
    • Summer (June-September) is the busiest and hottest, with average temperatures reaching 27°C (81°F). These months can be crowded and expensive, so plan accordingly.
    • Winter (December to February) will be the least popular for international travelers as temperatures can drop to as low as -20°C (-4°F). However, the holiday season can be a magical time to visit with festive decorations and markets throughout the city.
    • Keep in mind that weather can be unpredictable, so be sure to check the forecast before your trip and pack accordingly.

4 Budapest: An Ultimate 4-Day Itinerary

Day 1 – Budapest Castle District, Mathias Church and Fisherman’s Bastion, Thermal Bath

MORNING – BUDAPEST CASTLE DISTRICT

The illuminated main facade of the historic Royal Palace - Buda Castle in Budapest with the statue of Savoyai Eugen - Hungary at night

Kick off your Budapest adventure with a visit to the breathtaking Budapest Castle District. To reach Buda Castle, youll need to cross the magnificent Danube River, and theres no better way to do that than by strolling across the iconic Széchenyi Chain Bridge, built in 1894.

Youll want to cross this beauty both during the DAY and at NIGHT when its illuminated for an unforgettable sight

Once youve crossed the bridge, a footpath leads straight to Buda Castle. If you want to save some energy, hop on the historic funicular for a small fee (around $6 for a return ticket).

As you take in the stunning view of the Danube from the bridge, the castle dominates the skyline, beckoning you to explore its rich history.

View of the Szechenyi bridge and the Buda Castle at night in Budapest, Hungary

Youll find the Budapest History Museum inside Buda Castle, where you can dive deep into the citys past. The castle is also home to the Hungarian National Gallery and the National Library of Hungary, offering you a chance to immerse yourself in Hungarian culture and art.

Remember that the castle is open from 10 am to 6 pm, Tuesday through Sunday, but note that the history museum closes at 4 pm from November to February.
Admission to the history museum is 2,400 HUF (around $8), plus an optional audio guide for an additional 1,200 HUF (around $4). Admission to the art gallery is 2,600 HUF (roughly $8.50).

Budapest, Interior view of Mathias Cathedral, Hungary

AFTERNOON – MATHIAS CHURCH AND FISHERMAN’S BASTION

Matthias Church

In the afternoon, continue your exploration of Budapest by visiting the stunning Mathias Church and the nearby Fisherman’s Bastion. To find them, head north from Buda Castle, keeping the river to your right.

You’ll soon arrive at Holy Trinity Square, where Mathias Church stands proudly at the center of the Castle District.

Mathias Church has played a significant role in Hungarian history and is named after King Matthias, one of Hungary’s most renowned Hungarian kings.

This architectural gem has witnessed the CORONATIONS and weddings of several Hungarian monarchs, making it a must-see attraction for history enthusiasts.

The church is open Monday through Friday from 9 am to 5 pm, Saturday from 9 am to 1 pm, and Sunday from 1 pm to 5 pm. Admission is 1,800 HUF (around $6), and it’s well worth the price to immerse yourself in this captivating piece of Hungary’s past.

Fisherman’s Bastion

Budapest, Hungary - The guardians of the famous Fisherman Bastion on the Buda Hill in the morning

Next on your Budapest itinerary is the enchanting Fisherman’s Bastion, known for its fairy tale-like architecture and rich history.  The name Fisherman’s Bastion stems from the Middle Ages when the Fisherman’s Guild was responsible for PROTECTING this area of the city.

As you wander through this whimsical structure, imagining yourself in a different time, surrounded by medieval knights and bustling markets is easy.

The balconies of Fisherman’s Bastion are free to enter any time, offering visitors breathtaking views of the Danube and the Pest side of the city. For a small fee of around $3, you can also venture up to some of the upper towers or turrets, where you’ll find even more captivating vistas.

While exploring Fisherman’s Bastion, be sure to take a break and enjoy some refreshments at one of the CHARMING CAFES nearby. Whether you’re craving a cup of coffee, a hot chocolate, or a light meal, there are plenty of delightful options to choose from.

If you’re looking for an affordable and tasty meal, try Ildiko Konyhaja – it’s a local favorite and a great way to experience Hungarian cuisine.

Take your time to soak in the magical atmosphere of Fisherman’s Bastion, and don’t forget to snap some photos to remember your unforgettable journey through this captivating corner of Budapest.

EVENING – RUDAS THERMAL BATH

Rooftop thermal pool Danube River. Rudas Thermal Bath and Spa Budapest, Hungary.

As the evening approaches, it’s time to unwind and treat yourself to a truly unique experience at the historic Rudas Thermal Bath .

Conveniently located at the foot of Castle Hill, this soothing oasis dates back to the 16th century and offers a remarkable blend of ANCIENT architecture and MODERN amenities.

With its stunning swimming pool and six steam pools, you’ll find plenty of opportunities to RELAX and rejuvenate after a day of exploring Budapest.

Rudas Thermal Bath not only provides a SOOTHING ESCAPE from the city’s hustle and bustle, but it also immerses you in a piece of Budapest’s rich history.

As you soak in the mineral-rich waters, let the centuries-old stories of the bathhouse wash over you and transport you to a time when Budapest’s famous thermal baths were first discovered.

So go ahead, indulge in this time-honored tradition, and allow the healing powers of Rudas Thermal Bath to rejuvenate your body and soul – you’ve earned it.

Day 2 – Parliament, Shoes On The Danube, Margaret Island, Wine Tasting

MORNING – HUNGARIAN PARLIAMENT BUILDING

Parliament building in Budapest, Hungary at sunrise

Rise and shine, it’s time to kick off another amazing day in Budapest by visiting the stunning Hungarian Parliament Building, the third largest of its kind in the world.

Located in Kossuth Lajos Square, just across the river from the Castle District, this majestic and intricately detailed building is an architectural marvel you won’t want to miss. Designed in the Neo-Gothic style and opened in 1902, it’s an ICONIC SYMBOL of the city’s rich heritage.

As you wander around this magnificent structure, take a moment to appreciate the grandiosity of its 691 rooms, 12.5 miles (20km) of stairs, and towering 96-meter height.

The Hungarian Parliament Building is not only an awe-inspiring sight to behold, but it also serves as a reminder of the country’s storied past and its enduring spirit.

AFTERNOON – SHOES ON THE DANUBE & MARGARET ISLAND

Shoes on the Danube

Shoes on the Danube Bank in Budapest, Hungary

Once you’ve finished exploring the Parliament Building, take a leisurely stroll along the riverbank, heading 300 meters south to encounter a poignant and thought-provoking memorial: Shoes on the Danube.

This somber installation commemorates the tragic events of late 1944, during the Holocaust, when Jews were forced to remove their shoes before being shot into the river.

As you approach this POWERFUL MEMORIAL, you’ll find 60 old-fashioned pairs of cast iron shoes in various sizes and styles, each representing the lives lost during World War II. 

The simplicity of the display is what makes it so eerily effective, evoking a deep sense of reflection and empathy.

When we visited this place, the sun was setting, casting a golden glow on the shoes and creating an even more poignant atmosphere. Allow yourself a moment to contemplate the significance of this place, and honor the memory of those who endured such unspeakable acts of cruelty.

Margaret Island

Flower display on Margaret Island, Budapest

Take a 20-minute walk or a 10-minute taxi/Uber ride northwest from Shoes on the Danube, and you’ll find yourself at Margaret Bridge, the gateway to the beautiful and serene Margaret Island.

This oasis in the heart of Budapest stretches 1.5 miles long and 500 meters wide, offering a delightful escape from the bustling city.

One fun way to EXPLORE THE ISLAND is by hiring a quad go-kart from Go Mobility or another local bike company – we absolutely loved using the quad go-kart to zip around and discover all the hidden gems on the island.

Margaret Island is filled with various ATTRACTIONS and activities to enjoy. You can visit the mini zoo, relax on the big open grassy areas, listen to the enchanting tunes from the musical well, or wander through the peaceful Japanese garden.

If you’re in the mood for some aquatic fun, head to the aquatic center, or if history is more your thing, explore the famous water tower and the Franciscan monastery.

There’s truly something for everyone on this charming island, making it a MUST-VISIT destination during your time in Budapest.

EVENING – WINE TASTING

As evening approaches, there’s no better way to UNWIND after a day of sightseeing than indulging in some delicious Hungarian wine. We highly recommend going on a wine tour to truly appreciate the local flavors.

Hungary is a wine country, boasting four main regions: Eger, Villány, Somló, and Tokaj. During our trip, we had the pleasure of attending a wine tasting with Miklós, which was an unforgettable experience.

Miklós’ passion for wine and extensive knowledge about the different regions and varieties made the evening enjoyable and EDUCATIONAL (trying 6 different wines along the way may have contributed to this unforgettable evening).

Trust us, a wine tasting with Miklós is a must-do while in Budapest. So, raise a glass and toast to the perfect way to end your day in this enchanting city.

Day 3 – Downtown Budapest, Take a Cruise on the Danube River, Ruin Bars

MORNING – DOWNTOWN BUDAPEST

St. Stephen’s Basilica

Interior of St. Stephen's Basilica in Budapest, Hungary

Begin your day with a visit to the magnificent St. Stephen’s Basilica, an architectural marvel standing 96 meters (315 ft.) tall. This impressive Neo-Renaissance structure dominates the skyline and is an essential stop on your Budapest itinerary.

Dedicated to Hungary’s first king, St. Stephen, the Basilica took over 50 years to complete, finally opening its doors in 1905.

To fully appreciate its grandeur, we recommend taking advantage of the elevator that whisks you up to the top. For just $4, you’ll be treated to some of the most breathtaking PANORAMIC VIEWS of the city.

As you gaze across the landscape, take a moment to soak in the beauty of Budapest and its rich history, all while standing atop one of its most iconic landmarks.

Inside the Basilica, you’ll find stunning frescoes, intricate mosaics, and the sacred relic of St. Stephen’s right hand, known as the Holy Right. This cherished relic is housed in a small chapel within the Basilica and is an important pilgrimage site for many Hungarians.

The Basilica also hosts regular organ concerts and other MUSICAL EVENTS, so be sure to check their schedule ahead of time.

Whether you’re there for the architecture, the views, or the cultural experiences, St. Stephen’s Basilica is an unforgettable destination that’s not to be missed during your Budapest adventure.

House of Terror

House of Terror in Budapest, Hungary.

After visiting St. Stephen’s Basilica, make your way to the House of Terror, a museum that poignantly captures the dark and tumultuous history of Hungary during the 20th century.

This thought-provoking museum, located in the former headquarters of both the Hungarian Arrow Cross Party and the Soviet Secret Police, serves as a MEMORIAL to the victims of these oppressive regimes.

As you walk through the exhibits, you’ll be transported back in time to an era when Hungarians endured unimaginable suffering and fear.

The museum displays chilling artifacts, personal testimonies, and multimedia presentations that provide a comprehensive history lesson on Hungary’s past.

The House of Terror offers a somber and enlightening experience, drawing parallels with the profound impact of the Anne Frank House in Amsterdam.

While visiting the House of Terror may not be the most uplifting part of your trip to Budapest, it’s important to take the time to understand and APPRECIATE the resilience and courage of the Hungarian people who lived through these difficult times.

By bearing witness to their stories, we can honor their memory and ensure that past lessons are not forgotten.

Andrássy Avenue

The Millennium monument at the Heroes' Square in Andrassy Avenue

After your visit to the House of Terror, take some time to unwind with a leisurely stroll along Andrássy Avenue, one of Budapest’s most iconic boulevards. This elegant, tree-lined street stretches for over 2.5 kilometers (1.5 miles) and is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

As you meander along the avenue, you’ll be surrounded by stunning architecture, stylish boutiques, and inviting cafes.

Andrássy Avenue connects the city center with the lush City Park, offering a delightful blend of urban sophistication and NATURAL BEAUTY.

Along the way, you’ll encounter some of Budapest’s most important landmarks, including the Hungarian State Opera House, the House of Terror, and the magnificent Heroes’ Square.

Whether you’re in the mood for window shopping, sipping on a cappuccino at a sidewalk cafe, or simply soaking in the city’s VIBRANT atmosphere, Andrássy Avenue is the perfect place to immerse yourself in the best that Budapest has to offer.

AFTERNOON – DANUBE RIVER CRUISE

View of Budapest with the river Danube in Hungary in a beautiful summer day

As the afternoon unfolds, treat yourself to a memorable experience by embarking on a Danube River cruise [16]. Gliding along the river is arguably the best way to take in Budapest’s most iconic sights, all WITHOUT the pressure of navigating through crowds.

As you float past the city’s majestic landmarks, you’ll gain a unique perspective on Budapest’s rich history and stunning architecture, all from the comfort of your cruise ship.

However, be mindful that many river cruise tours can be OVERPRICED, especially if you book them on the spot. Based on our experience, we’ve found that the most cost-effective approach is to book your tickets in advance online.

This way, you can secure the best deals, choose the most suitable time slot, and ensure that your river cruise experience is as enjoyable and hassle-free as possible.

EVENING – RUIN BARS

Inside a Ruin Bar in Budapest, Hungary

As the evening sets in, it’s time to experience one of Budapest’s most unique and exciting nightlife attractions: the city’s iconic ruin bars.

Mostly located in the Jewish Quarter, within the trendy 7th district, these eclectic bars have transformed abandoned buildings and courtyards into vibrant social hubs, complete with LIVE MUSIC and a chill atmosphere.

The most famous of these ruin bars is Szimpla Kert, which is an absolute must-visit during your time in Budapest. As you explore its labyrinth of rooms, you’ll be immersed in a world of quirky decor, colorful murals, and an INFECTIOUS ENERGY that’s sure to make for a memorable night.

While you’re soaking up the ruin bar experience, don’t forget to try Hungary’s most famous drink, palinka. This potent fruit brandy is a local favorite and serves as the perfect accompaniment to your night out in Budapest.

Day 4 – Great Market Hall, City Park, More Thermal Baths, The Jewish District

MORNING – GREAT MARKET HALL

Interiors of Central Market Hall of Budapest, Hungary

Rise and shine for an early morning visit to the bustling Great Market Hall, an essential stop for any food lover exploring Budapest.

You can either take a leisurely 20-30 minute walk heading south through town, or hop on the blue metro M3 from Deák Ferenc to Kálvin tér and walk just 4 minutes southwest to reach this culinary haven.

Built in 1897, the Great Market Hall is an architectural gem, housing a vibrant collection of food stalls, local produce, and artisan goods.

It’s open from 6 am to 6 pm on weekdays, except for Mondays, when it closes at 5 pm. Keep in mind that the market is closed on Sundays, so plan your visit accordingly.

To make the most of your experience, consider joining a guided food tasting tour, which will introduce you to the DIVERSE FLAVORS of Hungary and provide a fascinating insight into the country’s rich culinary traditions.

As you meander through the bustling aisles, savoring the sights, sounds, and smells, you’ll quickly understand why the Central Market Hall is a beloved institution among locals and tourists alike.

AFTERNOON – CITY PARK AND SZÉCHENYI THERMAL BATHS

Spend your afternoon unwinding in the rejuvenating waters of the Széchenyi Thermal Baths, located within the verdant City Park. As the largest MEDICINAL bath in central Europe, it’s a must-visit destination for relaxation and rejuvenation.

To get there, simply take the subway from Deák Ferenc to Széchenyi fürdő on the M1 Yellow line.

The baths are supplied by two thermal springs, boasting temperatures of 74°C (165°F) and 77°C (171°F) and offering a range of therapeutic benefits.

With 15 indoor baths, 10 saunas and steam rooms, various massage therapies, and even a beer bath room, you’ll be spoiled for choice when it comes to pampering yourself.

As you soak in the healing waters, remember not to stay in for more than 20 minutes at a time to ensure a SAFE and enjoyable experience.

After your visit to Széchenyi, take the opportunity to explore the surrounding City Park, where you’ll find plenty of other attractions and picturesque green spaces to enjoy during your stay in Budapest.

View of the Szechenyi Baths in Budapest, Hungary

EVENING – THE JEWISH DISTRICT

Art displauy in Hungarian Jewish Museum in Budapest, Hungary

As evening falls, make your way to the vibrant Jewish District, where you’ll be greeted by an abundance of style, character, and cool vibes.

This bustling neighborhood, with the highest population density in Budapest, is renowned for its thriving street art scene, trendy ruin pubs, and quirky restaurants.

Take your time to explore the area, soaking in the LIVELY ATMOSPHERE and admiring the imaginative street art adorning the buildings. If you’re feeling peckish, the Jewish Quarter boasts a wide variety of cuisines to satisfy any craving.

For a taste of authentic street food, we recommend stopping by Karavan, where you’ll find an array of mouthwatering options to choose from. 

Don’t forget to visit the Hungarian Jewish Museum while you’re in the district. This important institution offers a fascinating glimpse into the rich history and culture of the local Jewish community, making it a must-see destination during your time in Budapest.

Budapest: WHERE TO STAY IN BUDAPEST

Budapest has plenty of accommodation options to suit all budgets and preferences.

If you’re looking for a central location, District V (Belváros) is the perfect choice. Castle District (District I) is a quieter and greener area in the middle of the city. 

Here are a few highly recommended places to stay:

This budget-friendly hostel offers private and shared rooms and is just a few steps from the iconic Chain Bridge. Guests rave about the friendly staff and great location

This modern and stylish hostel is situated in the heart of District V and offers a range of dorms and private rooms. The rooftop terrace offers stunning views of the city, and the bar and common areas are perfect for socializing with fellow travelers.

With its laidback atmosphere and friendly staff, this hostel is a top pick for backpackers and budget travelers. The all-inclusive breakfast buffet is a great perk, and the location can’t be beaten – just a few minutes’ walk from the Danube and many of Budapest’s top attractions

Located in the trendy Jewish Quarter, with stylish and cozy rooms, an on-site bar and restaurant, and a welcoming atmosphere.

This hotel is a great choice for those seeking a unique and stylish accommodation option, featuring a mix of modern and traditional design elements.

Luxurious hotel with a panoramic rooftop bar, offering guests a truly unique experience. The rooms and suites are spacious and beautifully designed, while the facilities are top-notch, including an indoor pool and spa.

This boutique hotel is located just steps away from the Buda Castle and offers luxurious rooms with modern amenities. Guests can enjoy the on-site restaurant, bar, spa, and fitness center

Situated in a historic building that used to be a medieval monastery, the Hilton Budapest offers stunning views of the city and the Danube river. The hotel features elegant rooms and suites, a stylish restaurant, a rooftop bar, and a wellness center with a sauna and steam room.

Budapest: WHEN TO VISIT BUDAPEST

Spring (April to June) and Fall (September to October) are the best time to visit Budapest. The weather is mild, and there are fewer tourists compared to the peak summer months.

Summer (June-September) is the busiest and hottest, with average temperatures reaching 27°C (81°F). These months can be crowded and expensive, so plan accordingly.

Winter (December to February) will be the least popular for international travelers as temperatures can drop to as low as -20°C (-4°F). However, the holiday season can be a magical time to visit with festive decorations and markets throughout the city.

Keep in mind that weather can be unpredictable, so be sure to check the forecast before your trip and pack accordingly.

Budapest: GETTING TO BUDAPEST

Getting to Budapest is a breeze with its well-connected transportation system.

Whether you’re coming from other parts of Europe or beyond, Budapest is easily accessible by air, rail, and road.

The city’s international airport, Budapest Ferenc Liszt International Airport, is only a short flight away from most major European cities. For instance, flying from London to Budapest takes only about 2 hours and 30 minutes.

Hungary’s own budget airline, Wizz Air, offers affordable flights to and from Budapest. To find the best flight deals, we recommend using Skyscanner, a top-rated search engine for flight bookings.

Check out Flights at Skyscanner

HOW MANY DAYS IN BUDAPEST?

When it comes to getting around Budapest, plenty of transportation options are available. 

Budapest is highly walkable. Due to its size and beautiful architecture, walking around the city is a great way to explore its many sights and attractions

Central Budapest’s public transportation system is one of the best in Europe. If you’re looking to get around more quickly or want to venture further afield, the combination of bus and metro is a great option. Be sure to check out the historic Metro Line 1, a must-see attraction in its own right.

Purchase metro tickets before getting on board! A single ticket typically costs around $1, but if you plan on using public transportation frequently, it’s best to invest in a weekly pass for $16, which can be purchased from the BKK page.

BKK Website

Budapest: HOW MANY DAYS IN BUDAPEST?

Budapest is best experienced if you have 3 or 4 days to explore. 

You can fully immerse yourself in its history, culture, and charm and explore all the main attractions without feeling rushed.

With so much to see and do, from the stunning Parliament Building and Fisherman’s Bastion to the thermal baths and the trendy Jewish District, you’ll be grateful for the extra time to take it all in.

Plus, having a few extra days will give you the opportunity to experience Budapest’s lively nightlife, savor its delicious food and wine, and simply soak up the city’s unique style and character.

Ultimate Budapest, Hungary 4 Day Travel Itinerary (2023)

Malcolm
Blogger

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