48 Hours in Budapest: Where to Stay, What to Do & Where to Eat Walking the streets of Budapest, you soon get a sense of that you are in a former Communist country. Hungary may still be Central Europe, but it has a much grittier vibe than you’ll find in Vienna. You’ll find lots of teens and 20-somethings smoking on the street corner, congregating in parks, or slipping in and out of the city’s famous bars. There will also be those plain Soviet-style buildings tucked in between beautiful examples of classical architecture featuring colorful Hungarian tilework. However, if you dig deeper, you will get a sense for the deep Hungarian pride — from the symbolism on St. Stephen’s Cathedral to modern displays of nationalism. Budapest is a city of many stories, of an empire that fought its way out of occupation again and again. Uncovering this rich history takes some time. But if you only have 48 hours in Budapest, let this be your guide on what to see and do during your weekend in Budapest. Where to Stay in Budapest The first step is figuring out where to stay in Budapest and we could not have landed in a better spot that the Aria Hotel Budapest (affiliate link.) Conveniently located on the Pest side of the city, the Aria is half a block away from St. Stephen’s Cathedral. It is easy to walk to many of Budapest’s top attractions, including Parliament, the Chain Bridge and the Synagogue. The Aria Hotel Budapest is entirely music themed, from the piano keyboard adorning the walkway through the lobby, to the live music during the free wine and cheese happy hour that is offered to guests daily. Each wing of the hotel aligns with a musical genre — opera, classical, jazz, and contemporary. And each room or suite features a specific composer or artist. You can even borrow music CDs or DVDs from the hotel’s musical director to play in your room during your stay. Even if you aren’t a music buff, the service and style of the Aria is bound to impress.What made an impression on me was also how many suite and adjoining room options there are for families. Even if it is hard to leave the comfort of your room, you should build in time to relax in the spa. The spa is open for all guests and features a sauna, steam room, whirlpool, swimming pool, and fitness center. All that relaxing gets you ready to head up to the High Note Sky Bar. This rooftop lounge and 360 degree terrace offers stunning views of the dome of St. Stephen’s Cathedral and across the city to the Buda side. It is a happening night spot but hotel guests do get seating priority. We loved our stay at the Aria Hotel Budapest and highly recommend it if you are visiting Budapest. Where to Eat in Budapest For me, food is also a priority. We spent a lot of time researching where to eat and came up with three winners that you should add to your itinerary. Manna Lounge Located on the Buda side, this is a great place for lunch when you are visiting Buda Castle. It is just down the hill but tucked away enough that it is hard to find and completely off the tourist track (we had the place practically to ourselves.) There is an outdoor terrace and very hip, spacious interior as well. I started with the smoke flavored pressed pork belly spring rolls and for our mains we had the chicken paprika and confited lamb with mini eggplant and tzatziki. Everything was delicious. Highly recommend this hidden gem! Located at 17 Palota Street, Budapest 1013 Hungary, +3620/9999-188, email@example.com, http://mannalounge.com Tama Our best dinner in Budapest was at Tama — hands down! The presentation was beautiful and the food delicious. But our favorite part was the wine pairing. For each course, our attentive server presented two wine options that paired well with each dish so that we could choose our favorite. I have never seen that level of accommodation. We started with the shrimp carpaccio with mango — so fresh and flavorful — and trio with foie gras — also so succulent. For main courses, we went with the Mangalitsa (pork) cheek and porcini risotto, the Angus beef tenderloin, and the home-made tagliatelle with pine nuts and goat cheese. Everything was superb, not a bad bite (or wine) to be had! Located at H-1051 Budapest, Bajcsy-Zsilinszky street 22, +36 1 227 22 27, firstname.lastname@example.org, http://tamabudapest.hu Spinoza Cafe At the Spinoza Cafe, the food is authentic and good, but you really want to go for the atmosphere. Especially on Friday evenings, when a live klezmer band takes the stage. It is located in the Jewish quarter and is a perfect lunch stop after visiting the Synagogue. The goose matzoh ball soup will warm you up on a chilly day and we finally got to try some authentic Hungarian goulash (not the soup, but the main dish) with spätzle. Located at Budapest, Dob u. 15., +36 (1) 413 7488, email@example.com, http://spinozahaz.hu/index.php?lang=en What to do with 48 Hours in Budapest There is a lot to fit in with 48 hours in Budapest, so here is what I would suggest: Day One Morning Walking Tour – Kick off your time in Budapest with a walking tour of the city to get the lay of the land. We started with the Intro to Pest tour from Context Travel. It was a great introduction to the city, its architecture, and its very interesting history. Plus, with a Context guide, you know you are getting a highly educated scholar that can lead to such interesting discussions about politics and history. Make sure you pop into St. Stephen’s Cathedral while you are on the tour and have the guide point out some of its unique features. Lunch at Central Market – Have the guide leave you at Budapest’s Central Market. This huge food market has a little bit of everything, including handicrafts and local foods like lángos (just bring cash.) Afternoon visit to Parliament – After the Market, take the tram along the Danube to Parliament. I just couldn’t get enough pictures of this stunning structure from every angle. But if you want to go inside, you need to book a tour in advance. The English tour books up quickly so plan ahead (at least a few weeks.) Dinner with Locals – Want a traditional Hungarian meal? Why not arrange an authentic meal in someone’s home through Withlocals.com? Night Danube Cruise – Seeing the Parliament building and Buda Castle lit up at night is a must to when visiting Budapest. Be sure to book a night cruise with an open air upper deck for the best pictures. Day Two Morning in the Jewish Quarter — If you have an interest in Jewish history, I’d highly recommend a Jewish Heritage walking tour with Kata Nadas. As the granddaughter of four Holocaust survivors, she is an amazing and passionate resources that keeps the information flowing in an engaging way. Even if you don’t take a tour, be sure to the stop by the Dohány Street Great Synagogue. The largest in Europe, it is unlike any synagogue we have seen before and the Memorial Tree out back is a beautiful tribute to Holocaust victims. Another must-visit site is the emotionally impactive Shoes on the Danube Memorial. This memorial, which features 60 pairs of bronzed shoes, pays tribute to the 600,000 Hungarian Jews killed in the Holocaust and the 10,000 Jews marched from their homes in the city, told to strip, chained together, shot and then thrown into the Danube. Give yourself time and space to take in the full impact of this powerful memorial. Lunch in the Jewish Quarter — end your tour in the Jewish Quarter for lunch at Spinoza or one of the other many fun restaurants in that area. Or, head across the river to Manna. Afternoon in Buda — After lunch and a rest for your feet, head across the famous Chain Bridge to the Buda side of the city. You can either take the funicular to the top, or head to the left to the market and then make your way up the hill through a series of stairs and ramps. Buda Castle is home to an art museum, but locals said it is ok to skip it and spend the time just enjoying the architecture and the views. Afterwards, walk over to Matthias Church and Fisherman’s Bastion for more views of the bridges, Parliament, and Pest. Dinner at Tama followed by drinks at the High Note Sky Bar at the Aria Hotel Budapest, or check out some of Budapest’s ruins bars. Budapest Travel Tips If you are traveling with kids, you may want to visit on Monday-Wednesday, as many young Europeans come to Budapest to party on the weekends so mid-week is a bit calmer Make sure you convert your currency. They do not take Euro (although some vendors may), so you will need Hungarian Forint. We were told by multiple locals not to trust the cab drivers, just take public transportation instead, it is very easy. There is not Uber in Budapest but if you really need a taxi, there is an called Fötaxi for ordering a standard taxi. If you are going to be using the trams, you may want to download the BKK Futar app for maps and schedules. Plan this trip! Check rates and availability at the Aria Hotel Budapest If you are looking for budget accommodations ,get up to $40 off your first stay on Airbnb with my referral link Get ideas for what to do with 3 days in Budapest Get Help Planning This Trip PIN THIS FOR LATER Note: This post contains affiliate links. If you click a link and make a purchase, I may receive a small commission to support this blog. I received a complimentary stay at the Aria Hotel Budapest. All opinions are my own. SaveSave Find this useful? Share it!PinShareTweetFlipboardWhatsAppEmail Written by We3Travel and was last updated on April 17, 2020. Read more about Hungary, Europe, Family Trips, Destinations Related Posts Campground Living at the KOA in Mystic, CT Bears, Bison and Elk…Oh My! Where to Find Wildlife in Yellowstone Counting Beans in Beantown: A Guide to Boston on a Budget 6 Comments on “48 Hours in Budapest: Where to Stay, What to Do & Where to Eat” Leave a Reply Cancel replyYour email address will not be published. Required fields are marked * Name * Email * This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed. Great article! As a local from Budapest, I would share some additional tips: – When you want to withdraw some money from an ATM, NEVER use EURONET’s ATMs. Not only they would give you a very bad rate, but they would also charge you a fee. It’s very easy to spot them as they’re only marked with “ATM” sign. Instead, use any other Hungarian Bank’s ATM, e.g. CIB, OTP, Erste, K&H, Budapest Bank, Raiffeisen. – Unfortunately, many official taxi companies often trick the meter (but they will never admit it) and/or try to drive on the longest (and most expensive) route. Never pay by cash for a taxi in Budapest. Since there is no UBER anymore, as a local, I always use Bolt (formerly Taxify) a lot. They’re the only ones I can trust. Their app is really similar to Uber and it has many advantages. It has a route estimation and you don’t need to pay by cash if you connect your credit card to the app. Bolt offers the cheapest taxi rates. You can track down the car if you forget something… and so on 🙂 Reply thanks for your tips! Reply […] An estimated 30 ruin pubs are now in the city, each one of them with its own personality. But they all have a few things in common: an old abandoned building, raw-brick walls covered in graffiti, mismatched furniture, funky props and a bohemian atmosphere. Some of these bars are so inconspicuous among the buildings that they are difficult to spot. From the outside they look like regular homes. There are no signs pointing the way, no long lines at the door. But once you get into the inner courtyard, you are in the middle of a funky bar. All around you people are dancing, drinking, talking and having fun. The ruin pubs don’t take long to visit, so make sure you drop by even if you only have one or two days in Budapest. […] Reply […] Their latest adventure took them to Central Europe. Read further to learn how they chose to spend 48 hours in Budapest as a […] Reply I’d love to take the munchkins to budapest. My sister visited last year and loved it. Great tips on transportation and currency too. Reply I hope you can get there sometime! Maybe one of those Adventures by Disney river cruises would be a great way to go. Ping me for info. 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