2 Days in Budapest: How to Plan a DIY Itinerary

Hugging the Danube River on either side, Hungary’s capital rose from the ashes of communism to become what is now one of Eastern Europe’s most dynamic cities. From extravagant palaces to gaudy cathedrals and synagogues to bubbling hot springs and thermal baths, Budapest truly has it all. If you are visiting Vienna or Prague, consider adding 2 days in Budapest (or plan a long weekend in Budapest.)

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.

You can add a fourth day if you want plenty of time to relax. But if time is limited, follow this guide on what to do in Budapest in two days.

Budapest Parliament at night

2 Days in Budapest Itinerary

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Just keep in mind that if you are visiting on a weekend, it will be crowded and possibly a little rowdy. Budapest is a popular spot for British Hen and Stag Parties (Bachelor and Bachelorette parties for us Yanks), and is known as a party city for young Europeans that want to check out Budapest’s ruins bars.

If you are looking to do Budapest in 48 hours, you will need to plan ahead and follow this itinerary. We will walk you through how to structure your days to fit in all the main highlights. It is important to plan to stay centrally, we recommend the Aria Hotel Budapest on the Pest side of the city.

Day 1 in Budapest

Begin your first day right around the corner at St. Stephen’s Basilica. This lavish neoclassical church never fails to stun. A tedious climb to the top of the northern tower offers excellent views of the city.

After visiting St. Stephen’s, make your way to the Vörösmarty Tér for lunch at one of the food stands which offer cheap but delicious and authentic Hungarian cuisine.

The food in Budapest is delicious — even the traditional touristy food such as the goulash soup and paprika chicken served at practically every restaurant never fails to please one’s appetite.

After lunch, take a stroll down the Váci Utca, a thin street lined with mostly Western merchandise stores, each located in a different, beautiful Neo-Classical building. If you walk all the way down the Váci Utca, you’ll end up at Ferenciek Tér.

A trip inside is worth it — there’s also a small museum with a display of Jewish artifacts from the region, and an impressive Holocaust memorial behind the museum.

From here, if you walk a few blocks to the northeast, it will be difficult not to notice the massive moorish style edifice with two clock towers topped with green onion domes. This is the Dohány Great Synagogue, the second largest synagogue in the world.

Dohany Synagogue in Budapest -- Two Days in Budapest

After a visit to the synagogue, make your way back to the Deak Ferenc Tér metro station, and take Line 1 to the Hösõk Tér, or Heroes Square.

Here you’ll find a massive memorial guarding the entrance to the Varosliget, or the City Park. It is fairly easy to purchase tickets from the machines at the metro stations, just remember to validate the ticket when you get on the metro.

At the end of the day, you can wind down and relax in the park at the Szechenyi Baths, a large, wedding-cake like bathing facility where locals and tourists alike go to relax.

For dinner, consider going back to the Jewish quarter for dinner at Cafe Spinoza. Although there are several Jewish style restaurants in the area, Spinoza is one of the only ones that still cooks it’s food in accordance with traditional Jewish dietary laws — in short, it’s one of the only kosher places left. My personal favorite dish at Spinoza is the roasted goose with plum sauce and potato dumplings.

Day 2 in Budapest

Budapest walking tour Chain Bridge

Begin your second day with a trip to Buda Castle. You can cross to the Buda side of the city via the Szechenyi Chain Bridge, probably the most famous monument of Budapest. The beautiful stone and chain bridge spans the wide Danube River, connecting Buda and Pest. The bridge was rebuilt after the Nazis blew up much of Budapest when retreating, as was the palace.

The palace sprawls across the top of a steep hill on the west bank of the Danube River in Buda. The palace, which was once the royal residence, is now home to the Budapest History Museum, as well as the Hungarian National Gallery, a world-renowned art museum.

Buda Castle -- What to do with 2 Days in Budapest

You can either take the old funicular up the hill, or you can take the healthier option and climb up the hill through the park, which is what I did and midway up the path there’s a great viewing platform to see the city from.

Pick one of the museums to visit, as two will take up two much time. I’m somewhat of a history buff, so I opted for the Budapest History Museum, where there was a great exhibit on the Hungarian Jews that immigrated to Shanghai during World War II.

St Matthias Church in Budapest -- 2 Days in Budapest Sample Itinerary

After a visit to the museums, head north on Castle Hill towards Mátyás Templom (Saint Matthias Church). The roof of the cathedral is adorned with stunning mosaics, and the inside walls of the cathedral are decorated with Catholic relics and opulent walls and windows.

The church was the site of many of the most important religious events Hungary since its foundation.

Next to the church is the Fisherman’s Bastion, a beautiful white arcade located on a hill next to the Church. Today, however, Fisherman’s Bastion is more of a tourist trap, the entrance fee is ridiculously expensive — you get just as good a view from outside the arcade.

After a quick visit to the Church, walk north on Fortuna utca, the main street on Castle Hill, lined with shops and plenty of restaurants to dine at, with both inexpensive and expensive choices.

After lunch, continue north on Fortuna until you pass under the Vienna Gate. From here, make your way back across the river into Pest, for a visit to the Országház (Hungarian Parliament).

The parliament building is one of the most well-known landmarks of Budapest. Tours inside are available in many languages, and there are several English language tours daily.

On your way to your next stop for the day, take a walk on the Danube promenade. There’s an interesting monument near the Parliament made of random bronze shoes strewn about next to the riverbank.

The monument pays tribute to the seventy-or-so Jews that were shot by the Arrow Cross (the Hungarian equivalent of the Nazi Party) and subsequently thrown into the river.

Next, make your way back across the river to Buda to relax and rewind at the Gellért Baths. This bathhouse makes for a very different experience than the Szechenyi Baths, as it was designed in a Turkish rather than Neoclassical style.

Consider a trip up the Gellért Hill to see the Citadel and get some of the best views of Budapest. It’s a tough climb, but the views are certainly worth it.

Food in Budapest is delicious, and it’s easy to find a excellent restaurant and have a nice meal without burning a hole in your pocket. Choose a restaurant that you’ll remember for your last night in Budapest.

If You Have 3 Days in Budapest

If you have a 3 days in Budapest, consider beginning your morning with some climbing on the Gellért Hill and in the neighborhood of Tabán.

The rolling hills are unique to Buda, and the area is one of the greenest in the whole city. From here, make your way to the Batthyány Tér metro station, and take the HEV (Budapest commuter rail) to Aquincum.

Just outside of the station are the impressive ruins of the Roman Aquincum built when Hungary was known as Pannonia and was under Roman influence. The ruins are impressive, so give yourself a few hours. After you visit the ruins, take the HEV back into town.

If you still have a few hours left to sightsee, consider making a visit to Memento Park, a grassy area filled with the communist, Soviet-style statues torn down after the revolution in 1989. The hulking statues away from the city represent dark times past, but a bright future for Hungary.

You could also sign up for a culinary walk or wine tasting with Taste Hungary.

Plan this trip!

  • You may also want to consider a Budapest City guided TourBudapest Sightseeing Cruise, or a Jewish Heritage Walking Tour.
  • Get more ideas for 48 Hours in Budapest
  • Make sure you book your tour to Parliament at least one day ahead of time, especially during peak season. The English tours sell out quickly.
  • Bring your own towels and shower caps to the bath houses. The towels are expensive, and you usually cannot enter the swimming pools at the baths without a shower cap or a bathing cap.
  • Food is very reasonable, even in upscale restaurants.
  • Carry at least 400 forints in coins at any given time, in case you need to use a public bathroom.
  • It’s very difficult to understand what you’re doing at the metro and bus stations, if you need help, find someone who speaks English and ask.
  • Hold on to your shoes and towels at the baths! My shoes were stolen, and my towels were very close to being stolen as well.

Get Help Planning This Trip


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Budapest 2 day itinerary

This guest post was written by Max Levine. I recently met Max and was impressed by his passion for travel and his enthusiasm for planning trips for his family so I asked him to share his recommendations for visiting Budapest. Max Levine is a ninth grader at the Wheeler School in Providence, Rhode Island. Max has been interested in geography and travel for as long as he can remember and traveling is one of his favorite things to do. SaveSaveSaveSaveSaveSave

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22 Comments on “2 Days in Budapest: How to Plan a DIY Itinerary

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  1. Yes, we were there in March and the weather was beautiful and it wasn’t too crowded yet.

    My wife and I will be in Budapest August 5. We will like to have a guided tour of Budapest on those 2 days. Do you do that?

      No, I write about our travel experience but do not provide guiding services. In Budapest, I highly recommend Context Travel tours.


    Thank you so much for such a well explained itinerary ๐Ÿ™‚

    My husband I will be travelling to Budapest this December for two days and will reach Budapest via Train from Prague, an overnight journey. Since most of the places close by 4 during this time, do you have any suggestions as to how I can modify my itinerary, if I replicate yours :). Also, I am taking the the liberty to follow day 2 schedule on day 1 as we will reach Budapest at 9 in the morning and then head to hotel to change and freshen up. So 1/4th of our day will be wasted.

    Also, if any other suggestions or recommendations to visit during this time of the year would be appreciated.

    Thanks much,
    Pooh ๐Ÿ™‚

      One thing I want to do when we go in march is visit the Central food hall and also a boat ride on the Danube.

    My 3 girlfriends and I will be in Budapest for 3 days. Your 2- day itinerary looks perfect for us. Thank you for sharing

    Hello, my3 are travelling in December, do you still think we can follow your itinerary this time of year? Or are their other suggestions for this colder time? Any advise greatly appreciated,
    Thanks Libby

      Most of these sights are good year round. It will be so pretty in December!

    Insightful article indeed. Iโ€™m coming to Budapest on business soon and will have only one day to explore the city. My question would be, what is the best way to get into the city from the airport?


    We were in Budapest a few months ago and we will be publishing a review of Budapest for our blog in the next days. I must agree with you, it’s a fantastic city to spend a few days.
    Just one note, we didn’t have any problem finding people who speak English, and as you said Hungarian is way too difficult to try and learn anything ๐Ÿ™‚


    Fisherman’s bastion is very cheap!! $7 for 4 people to enter. We were just there last month! Also found a great cafe for coffee as we were walking through the city – Central Cafe. Loved the architecture in Budapest. Parliament was amazing!

    Great tips and advice! I’ll be over that way during the summer and I may just have to take advantage of this guide. ๐Ÿ™‚

    I loved Budapest, it’s definitely one of my favourite European cities so far. Excellent article, you really highlight the best bits of Budapest. I would have liked to have explored Buda Castle and spent some more time there, but at the time there was some sort of fayre happening so it wasn’t all open. I think my favourite site was St Stephens Basilica – It was a couple of minute walk from out hotel!

    Great post! We were actually in Budapest for a week in October and absolutely fell in love with it. I agree with everything you said other than not to stay more than 4 days…I personally could have stayed much longer and in fact could see myself living there. I suppose though if you’re touring around Europe and have other places to see 3-4 days could be long enough. We did do everything you had listed including the baths and enjoyed it all.

      Great Sarah! It seems like a few bloggers have stayed there for a year or two.

    Wonderful post! So well written. Budapest is one of those places that just keeps evading me. I actually had flights booked to go there a few years back when I was living in London but they had to be cancelled for personal reasons. One day when I am next in Europe it is top of my list! Thanks for sharing your experience and passion Max and thanks Tamara for showcasing such a talented young man.

      Thank you Jen for stopping by and leaving such an encouraging comment.

    As someone who has lived in in Budapest for a couple of years, this is a really great overview and itinerary that highlights much of what the city has to offer. Great job Max! I’m super impressed that you’re only in the 9th grade. Keep on traveling ๐Ÿ™‚

      Thanks for commenting Adelina and I am glad to hear you approve of Max’s recommendations! Let me know if you have any “must dos” to add.

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