The capital of Hungary, Budapest is getting more and more popular, no matter what time of the year is. Its charm lies in many cultural influences and long history that affected the city. Budapest has won many titles as ‘’the most beautiful European city’’ which is no wonder once you see the incredible mix of styles in its architecture. It is impossible to see everything in 3 days but if you’re planning to visit this ‘’Paris of the East’’ any soon, check out our guide for an amazing weekend!
Buda and Pesta are divided with Danube river, so dedicate your first day to thoroughly explore the western bank, Buda. Start your day with breakfast such as coffee and cake to prepare yourself for the day full of sightseeing.
After that, your first stop is the Buda Castle Hill, a breathtaking sight on a list of UNESCO World Heritage Site, standing tall (170 meter) like a crown above the Danube. Here you can spend an entire day, so stroll around in your own pace, no rush. Walk to the beautiful Habsburg Gate, an entrance to the stunning Royal Palace, once a residence of Hungarian Kings, today an impressive mix of architectural styles. Before you enter, stop to admire Eugene of Savoy monument, hero of the Turkish wars. In the palace you will find Budapest History Museum (check official website) and Hungarian National Gallery (check official website). In the courtyard of the palace you will find a lot of significant monuments such as the Matthias Fountain and the Statue of the Horseherd.
After all the impressions in and around the palace, walk to the Sandor Palace, a home to the president, a Hungarian ‘White House’. If you’re lucky enough, you will get to see the changing of the guards.
Next stop is Trinity square with a Trinity Column, a symbol of the end of a plague epidemic. Nearby lies one of the most beautiful sights, Matthias Church or The Church of Our Lady where many significant historical figures were crowned.
Next you can visit the impressive Fisherman’s Bastion with one of the most unique terraces where the most amazing view stretches, including the best view on the famous Parliament Building which is on your schedule for tomorrow. The bastion probably got its name after the guild of fishermen who defended the area from the invaders in the Middle Ages.
Have in mind that there is an entrance fee for most of these places. Also you can decide to take a break or simply round up your visit to Castle Hill in any on the numerous cafes and restaurants on the hill.
Although you might feel like you’ve had enough for the first day, we will add up one more sight in Buda which is worth visiting. 40 minutes walking by the river Danube or 20 minutes via public transport takes you to Citadella, a 19th century massive fortification and another UNESCO Site. It is located on a hill, in a beautiful green area with a cafe and restaurant, so you can enjoy the nature and explore the surroundings and the most stunning views from the fortification.
Day 2 is reserved for Pesta, the eastern bank of the river Danube. Start the day with one of the most recognizable sights in Budapest, the grandiose Parliament building. It is over 100 years old and its exterior is simply stunning, mixing Neo-Gothic, Renaissance and Baroque styles. You can take a guided tour of 45 minutes which is available in several languages. Since this is a huge attraction, the best option is to buy the ticket in advance online (you can find several options and prices, but check the official website of Hungarian National Assembly).
Take a walk to your next stop and take time to stroll the famous Danube Promenade, extending from Széchenyi Chain Bridge to the Erzsébet Bridge, a very popular pedestrian zone among both locals and tourists, famous for its sculptures such as Little Princess and Shakespeare’s carvings. Back in 19th century, the Promenade was home to several famous hotels and cafes that created a luxurious atmosphere that is today re-establishing again. The gorgeous view on all the main sights from the previous day will excite you, but this is not just another promenade, this one has a touching memorial to Jewish victims of WWII – a row of iron shoes.
From the Promenade you can easily get to the Hungarian National Museum dedicated to the history of Hungary, tracing it back to the early days of the Arpad dynasty up to the end of Communism. This oldest museum in Budapest has over one million items and the main collection is displayed on the second floor. Have in mind that some rooms might not be open at the time when you arrive, so make sure you check that before on their official website.
Time to take a break from the sights and visit a place all travellers adore – Central Market Hall ‘Nagyvásárcsarnok’, the biggest and oldest food market in Budapest. On three floors you will find all kinds of Hungarian traditional specialties, fresh fruits and vegetables, all sorts of sausages and perfect ideas for a souvenir such as famous dessert wine Tokaji. Besides shopping, this can be an ideal lunch stop in some of the restaurants you will find on the second floor.
With your bellies full, you will be ready to continue to your next destination, Miniversum. It is a very popular and fun museum featuring miniatures of sights and landmarks of Hungary. In this modern and interactive museum you can learn a lot about the background of each landmark while having a lot of fun. If you’re coming with children, there is a playhouse where they can stay at while you decide to take a break in a cafe. Have in mind it closes at 7:00 pm.
At this point it is time to relax and take a rest from this busy day. We suggest you try some of the best restaurants in this area – Onyx with traditional Hungarian specialties and a good offer of domestic wines, Hungarikum Bisztro where you can find hundred of years old, authentic Hungarian recipes, or Spinoza which offers an interesting mix of Hungarian and Mediterranean cuisine.
For the last day we suggest you grab some quick breakfast and head towards the beautiful green area in the center of Budapest, Margaret Island (Margitsziget). In this park situated on the island, you can find many things such as swimming pool, the Palatinus water park, running track, zoo, music fountain, open air theater and cinema, and a lot more. Depending on your accommodation, you have several options to get to the island, getting to the bridges on foot or by a public transport are some of them, but the most amazing experience is to take a boat across Danube (public boats lines D11 and D12, 750 HUF for adults, 550 HUF for children). The boat ride gives you the chance of sightseeing the most iconic landmarks from a different perspective.
You could stay on Margaret Island for hours but there is a lot more left to see. Get back to Pesta and head to House of Terror, one of the most interesting places in Budapest. Since it is a museum dedicated to the victims of the fascist and communist regimes, it won’t leave you indifferent, especially when you find out that some of the victims died inside of that building.
After absorbing all the impressions, continue to one more special place in this city. Varosliget or City Park is a favorite park in Budapest that can keep busy both adults and youngs. This UNESCO World Heritage Site with a long history became a first public park in the world, and we suggest you dedicate the rest of the day to this area.
Before entering the park, stop at the famous Heroes’ square, a popular gathering point for both locals and tourists. Right next to it, you will find a Museum of Fine Arts (Szepmuveszeti Museum) check out the schedules of exhibitions and other information on their official website.
Continue across the bridge, to the point where is situated Vajdahunyad Castle, a romantic, fairytale-like castle mixing Romanesque, Gothic, Renaissance and Baroque styles, but actually a copy of the castle of the same name in Transylvania. This picturesque castle stands on the artificial island connected with bridges and it is a home to the Museum of Agriculture which we highly recommend to visit.
It is up to you if you want to continue discovering the park but this might be a good moment to take a break and refuel yourself, and you can find some very good restaurants around the park.
This might be a good moment to check your remaining budget and, in case you want to, explore the most famous Andrassy Avenue. You will see that most of the already visited places are located around that street, but it is also perfect for shopping because there you will find hundreds of shops of various brands, including the most glamorous and famous ones.
Since this is the last day of your visit, why not get loose a little bit and experience this city at night. Budapest will surprise you with its diversity when it comes to bars and clubs. From boat parties across the Danube, over hundreds of spots in the city, to even spa parties thrown at the thermal baths. In most of the clubs there is a free entrance, some ask 3-5 euros, depending on the event. For all the alternative souls, check Rocktogon Club, a popular rock club in the center. If you’re up for some chill and jazz music, choose from Cotton Club, Piaf Club and Jazz Garden Club & Restaurant. If you want to hit the dancefloor, there are numerous places such as Alcatraz, Morrison’s and Fat Mo’s Music Club.
Whatever you choose, we are sure you will have a great night and round up this short but sweet trip to Budapest.
NOTE: If Budapest is not your final destination and would like to go somewhere next, you can check the direct routes from main bus station in Budapest.