2 Days in Budapest Itinerary – The Ideal Itinerary for Budapest in Hungary
Budapest is one of the jewels of Central Europe and many of my friends have always asked for a Budapest itinerary when they were planning a visit here. I have visited Budapest more than 10 times over the past decade and it has been wonderful to see the city transform. I always find something new to see, do or eat.
I know the majority of visitors come here for 2 days and this is what this 2 days in Budapest Itinerary was based on. If you have only one day in Budapest and looking for a more condensed itinerary for Budapest, this can still be a helpful guide. And if you are spending 3 days in Budapest, I will include some additional places to visit in Budapest and some great day trips.
Before we start with the details of the 2 days in Budapest Itinerary, here are a few frequently asked questions about Budapest.
4 Questions about Budapest:
1. Where is Budapest located?
Budapest is located in the north-central part of Hungary on the river Danube. The river Danube connects 4 European capitals (Vienna, Bratislava, Budapest and Belgrade).
Budapest on the map
2. What is Budapest famous for?
Budapest is known as the city of two cities! In 1873 the two cities (technically three), Buda and Pest formed the new city of Budapest. It’s also known for its thermal spas, nightlife and Danube cruises. Budapest is referred to as “The Pearl of the Danube”.
3. When is the best time to visit Budapest?
The best times to visit Budapest are from April to May and September through October. If you don’t mind the rain and cooler days, March and November can be also good months as there are a lot fewer tourists.
The main tourist season is during the summer months in July and August when Europeans have their school/summer holidays. The temperatures can reach 30+ but it’s not as hot as in southern Europe.
Our two days in Budapest itinerary was based on visiting during the warmer months May-October. If you visit in December, you will enjoy the Christmas Markets.
4. What does this 2 Days In Budapest Itinerary include?
This Budapest itinerary is written as a step by step guide. You can follow it throughout your two days in Budapest. It covers these places to see in Budapest as well as some really cool things to do. Simply use Google maps or Maps.me to get from one place to the next. Or even better, get the app Rome2Rio.com so you know how to get around on public transport too..
Best Places in Budapest to visit
Fisherman’s Bastion, Matthias Church, Buda Castle, Chain Bridge, Budapest Central Market Hall, Vaci Street, Dohany Street Great Synagogue, St Stephen’s Basilica, Heros Square, and Széchenyi Thermal Bath.
2 Days in Budapest – The perfect step by step itinerary
Day 1 of the 2 Days Itinerary in Budapest:
Fisherman’s Bastion (Halaszbastya)
We start the day with Fishermans Bastion which offers fantastic views over the city of Budapest. You’ll be able to see the Parliament Building as well as St Stephens Cathedral from here.
To get to Fisherman’s Bastion, you can walk up the hill and set of stairs (it takes about 15-20 minutes) or you can catch the Budapest Castle Hill Funicular for 1200 FT. It starts at the bottom of the hill Clark Adam Square and you’ll pop out near the Buda Castle from where you walk. Or you can take it down.
Fishermans Bastion is a decorated fortification that was built at the end of the 19th century. The 7 pointy towers represent the 7 leaders of the Magyar tribes that settled here. (Magyars are a nation and ethnic group native to Hungary and Hungarians are descendants of the Magyar tribes). The fortification was actually never used, but today it offers a nice place for views and photos.
Great views and you can walk around the grounds to find a statue of the first Hungarian king St Stephan here and the Mathias Church.
Matthias Church (Matyas Templom)
You can’t miss this church. Once you’ve had enough of the views of Budapest from Fisherman Bastion, you will see a beautiful church with colourful tiles on the rooftops. Today’s church dates from the 1970s as it was destroyed a few times and during the Ottoman (today’s Turkey) occupation of the city of Budapest, it was even turned into a mosque.
A must-see on our 2 days in Budapest itinerary.
2 days in Budapest Itinerary – The Statue of the King St Stephans next to the Matthias Church
Buda Castle / Royal Palace
You might have explored the Buda Castle (also called Royal Palace) first if you took the funicular up the hill. If not stroll over here for more views of Budapest. The castle is home to Budapest History Museum and the Hungarian National Gallery, but I recommend coming here for the views, maybe explore a little and then head down to the Pest side of the town.
This time you will see the Szecheni Chain Bridge below along with the St Stephen Basilica. You can take the steep stairs down or use the funicular.
Széchenyi Chain Bridge
You will arrive at the Clark Adam Ter (Ter is a square in Hungarian ). It’s named after the Scottish engineer who completed the work on the adjoining Chain Bridge. He also saved the Chain Bridge from being blown up by the Austrian army attempting to suppress the Hungarian Uprising of 1849.
The Chain Bridge is the oldest suspension bridge in Budapest. Before it was built in 1849 (it took 20 years to complete) there were no other bridges across the river Danube. This is also why two different cities: Buda and Pest were located at the Danube and developed separately.
Walk across and continue until you reach the Pest side and turn right into Dorotaya which becomes Vaci Street.
You will be close to St Stephen’s Cathedral as well, but it’s better to continue across Vaci St and head to Central Market Hall so you can have lunch there.
This is THE tourist street of Budapest and you will eventually end up here so I have decided to include it in your 2 days in Budapest itinerary.
It’s a typical pedestrian street filled with cheap souvenirs, some main shopping brands (think H&M and ZARA), and many not-so-good restaurants. But if you need a quick coffee on the way to the Central Market Hall or a fridge magnet, it’s fine.
It will take about 20-25 minutes to walk across the street and arrive at the Central Market. If you need a coffee, Kuglof Bistro might be a good choice.
Vaci Street will lead you to the Central Market Hall in Budapest
The Central Market Hall (Nagycsarnok)
Get ready for an amazing experience. The Central Market Hall is the largest and oldest market in Budapest. At some point in its history, it was completely closed. Today it’s one of the main attractions and a must-see and do on our 2 days in Budapest itinerary.
The market is open every day except Sunday and of course, the busiest day is Saturday. You can also pick up some Hungarian souvenirs; from a paprika spice, Tokaj wine, Palenlka (Hungarian brandy), or Hungarian salami!
You can also do some tasting and there is a food section where you can try one of the most popular Hungarian snacks, langos! Essentially, langos is a flat round deep-fried doughnut covered in garlic, you can choose your own topping. Trust me on this – Tartar sauce (or sour cream) and grated cheese are the best combos. Locals also like it with ketchup and cheese.
Central Market Hall vendor
Dohany Street Great Synagogue
After you have refuelled at the market you can stroll along the street. It will lead you towards the Jewish area of Budapest where you find the main Great Synagogue.
Located in the former Jewish Ghetto, the Great Synagogue is really unique. It was built at the end of the 19th century and the style of the architecture is known as the Moorish style. Almost 3000 people could be seated inside and the Great Synagogue is the second largest in the world after the synagogue in Jerusalem.
The Great Synagogue in Budapest
During WW2 the Nazis created a Jewish Ghetto around the Great Synagogue. This was later transformed into a concentration camp, from where many Hungarian Jews were sent to the extermination camps.
On the synagogue’s north side, the Holocaust Tree of Life Memorial presides over the mass graves of those killed by the Nazis.
Another excellent option is to do a guided tour of the Jewish Area with food that focuses on the area’s history and culture, with a special emphasis on exploring and tasting Jewish-Hungarian cuisine in several styles!
Do come hungry, as the tour will include tastings of several Hungarian-Jewish specialties which could be (depending on the day): sausages, matzo ball soup, gefilte fish, Jewish eggs, cholent, roasted goose, and flódni. It starts at 11 am, so you would want to book it for your day 2 and swap a few things around.
Continue further along the street to finish at your final sight of today – the famous St Stephens Basilica.
St. Stephen’s Basilica in Budapest is one of the key attractions
St. Stephen’s Basilica
Dedicated to the first king of Hungary, St Stephen this basilica is the main attraction in Budapest and one not to miss on your 2 days in Budapest itinerary.
The gorgeous cathedral houses the most revered relic: the mummified right hand of King Saint Stephen. When you enter walk to the main altar and on your left-hand side you will see the Holy Right Chapel where the mummified hand is located. You can also climb the dome if you have the energy.
This is your final attraction on Day 1. Time to head to your hotel for a quick freshen up and change of clothes to head out for the evening Danube river cruise with dinner.
The view from the Dome of St Stephen’s Basilica
Danube River Cruise with dinner
There is no better way to finish your first night than a dinner cruise on the Danube. Dinner combined with experience, you can’t beat that. Simply board, sit back and relax.
Here are three Danube River Cruises to choose from depending on your budget :
Day 2 of the 2 Days Itinerary in Budapest:
Hungarian Parliament Building
We are starting the second day of your 2 days itinerary in Budapest with the main attraction: The Hungarian Parliament building. But don’t forget to pack your swimming suits (flip flops and a towel) for later on as today we visit the famous Thermal Baths in Budapest.
The Parliament Building has been completed in 1902 and it has almost 700 rooms! This is the third-largest parliament building in the world and one of the most recognised landmarks of Hungary.
The only way to see the building is as part of a 45-minute long tour which you can book here at the official site.
A guided tour of Budapest Parliament is a must-do.
The House of Terror
After you visit the Parliament Building take the metro M2 from Kossuth Lajos tér (Square) to Blaha Lujza tér (Square) – it’s only 4 stops and it will save you 40 minutes of walking. Then walk to The House of Terror.
You can choose to skip the museum and continue onto the Thermal Baths, in that case, Bus 70 or Metro again is your best option.
The House of Terror is my one recommended must-see museum on this 2 days in Budapest itinerary. The main reason for that is that you won’t find a museum like this elsewhere.
The House of Terror is dedicated to the memory of the victims of the fascist and communist dictatorships in Hungary. This building was the headquarters of the dreaded ÁVH secret police. The exhibits focus on the 1950s and the brutality that followed the 1956 uprising. It is a chilling experience, but important to learn more about the past.
If you wish to have a guided tour here with a professional private guide for an even better understanding, check out this tour.
Heroes Square (Hősök tere)
Next up is Heroes Square to be followed by our thermal baths visit. Once you arrive at Heroes Square you will be surprised just how big it is.
In the middle of it is the Millennium Memorial, a 36m-high pillar topped by a golden Archangel Gabriel, holding a cross and the Hungarian crown. This is because, according to the legend, Stephen, the first king of Hungary was prompted by the Archangel in a dream to convert to Christianity and crown himself.
At the bottom of the column, there are 7 statues representing the different leaders of the Magyar clans (or chieftains) that settled here in the 9th century. Today’s Hungarians are descendants of these tribes.
This monument was created in 1896 to mark the 1000th anniversary of the Magyar conquest.
Széchenyi Thermal Baths
Budapest has 118 natural and artificial springs, from which flow 70 million litres of hot thermal spring water (between 20°C and 80°C which is 68°F and 176°F ) every day.
There are a few thermal baths you might visit (Gellert Thermal Bath, Rudas Thermal Bath), but the Széchenyi thermal baths are the most famous ones.
It’s believed that the idea of thermal baths goes all the way to the Roman Times (Budapest was as far as the Romans got in Central Europe). With the arrival of the Ottomans (today’s Turkey) in the 16th century, more baths were built in the city.
Enjoy the afternoon here, it is a nice way to relax and since these baths are mixed gender you can enjoy it with your travel companion.
To finish your second day in Budapest, I recommend going up to the Geller Hills/ Citadella on top of the hill of Buda. Amazing views and a really wonderful place to watch the sunset over Budapest.
The entry is free and you can walk around the Citadella until you reach the Freedom Monument or Liberty Monument. The 14m tall bronze statue of a woman holds a palm leaf.
Gorgeous Sunset in Budapest from the Citadella
Where to Stay in Budapest
For first-time visitors to spend 2 days in Budapest, I’d recommend that you stay in the heart of the city. This is the most central part of Budapest, with beautiful buildings, shops, and many cafes and restaurants. You will be near metro stations and public transport to get around the city and reach the most popular points of interest.
Alternatively, you could also book the Hop-On Hop-Off Bus Tour which allows you to visit many major sights and attractions in Budapest.
See the list of accommodations options below for every budget:
Situated in the heart of Budapest, this luxury hotel is stunning! Beautiful rooms, excellent facilities are the staff and customer service here are exceptional. They even have a coffee machine in every room. This will be an experience you won’t soon forget when spending 2 days in Budapest.
Located in the inner city, and just a stone’s throw from the popular shopping street Váci Utca, this is a popular choice to spend for visitors on 2 days in Budapest itinerary. Ramada by Wyndham offers lovely spacious rooms with all the facilities you need. You are spoilt for choice with some fantastic restaurants and cafes nearby.
This hotel offers good value for money and is situated in an excellent location. Just a 10-minute walk from Budapest History Museum and less than 1km from Buda Castle. A popular choice for couples who want clean, comfortable accommodation in the heart of it all.
Hot tip for sightseeing in Budapest: If you are planning to use public transit during your stay in Budapest, then you should purchase the Budapest Card, which offers FREE transit rides plus free access to 17 museums and discounts on many sightseeing attractions. Get your Budapest Card here.
And use the Rome2Rio app for directions on public transport.
What to eat in Budapest Hungary?
There are a few typical Hungarian dishes you might want to try while in Budapest.
Langos – This deep-fried dough is traditionally topped with sour cream and cheese.
Kürtőskalács (Chimney Cake) – In the photo below. Delicious when hot and dusted in sugar.
Gulyás (Goulash) – That ONE dish you must try, it doesn’t get more Hungarian.
Dobos Torta (Drummer Cake) – A sponge cake layered with chocolate buttercream and topped with caramel.
Chicken Paprikash – Another stew/soup dish. The mild flavour of the paprika, combined with sour cream and chicken.
Kolbász – Hungarian Sausage – Easy to try some at the Central Market.
Halászlé (fisherman’s soup) – Hungarian fish soup.
Budapest Nightlife – Where to go for a drink (Budapest Ruin Bars)
Budapest is famous for its nightlife. There is everything from dive bars, ruin bars, rooftop terraces, and one entry club with all you can drink. However, for most visitors that spent 2 days in Budapest, you definitely want to visit one of the ruin bars as they are truly what makes Budapest cool.
What are ruins bar? There are makeshift bars that popped up in the decayed and run-down pre-war buildings. They were then furnished with op-shop and second-hand bits and pieces to create a unique artsy atmosphere.
Szimpla Kert – The one and only. You probably can’t go to any other bars before you come here.
Instant-Fogas Complex – Former dental office turned into a nightlife complex. So more than just a bar, in fact, there are 7 venues here to choose from. Garden bar Kert or Wine bar Liebling are both great choices.
Mazel Tov – A few people have mentioned this one. It’s more upmarket with a Middle Eastern twist… think meze and cocktails.
Szimpla Kert – the first ruin bar in Budapest opened in 2001
Budapest itinerary 3 days
How many days in Budapest do you really need? Is 1 day in Budapest enough? Or should I stay for 3 days?
But if you are heading to the capital of Hungary and you have 3 days in Budapest then I suggest you follow this itinerary and do a day trip outside of Budapest. Of course, if you want to stay in the city instead there are a few places I recommend.
You can visit other thermal baths, this time on the Buda side. The Gellert Bathsare equally famous.
A great option in the summer is to visit Margaret Island.
Have more time for the museum. with the extra day, you can enjoy the Museum of Terror in more detail or check out the National Gallery in Heroes Square.
What to do in Hungary outside of Budapest?
If you are looking for more things to do in Budapest or are trying to create Budapest 3 day itinerary, here are a few day trips. Personally, I love the Memento Park and for those history buffs, seeing all the old communist monuments in one place is really something.
What’s happening in Budapest this weekend?
There is always something happening in Budapest at the weekend. So if your 2 days in Budapest fall onto the weekend, make sure you check the Events page on the We Love Budapest site or Budapest.com to find out what’s happening in Budapest this weekend.
The Best Group Tours in Europe
If you have more time to spend in Europe after your 2 days in Budapest, a group tour could be the answer. We highly recommend Expat Explore. They offer a variety of group tours around Europe to suit everyone, and you’ll have a fantastic crew to take care of all the details. Your only task is to turn up and have an amazing time.
Check out Expat Explore Tours, and if you see a tour that you want to book, use our promo code VERYHUNGRYNOMADS at checkout for an additional 5% discount off your trip!
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