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Budapest in 3 Days: tips, what to see, and much more

If your next trip includes three full days to enjoy Budapest, congratulations! well organized this time is enough to see the most important parts of the city and here I tell you how to do it.

Katherine Betances

Katherine Betances

11 min read

Budapest in 3 Days: tips, what to see, and much more

Lukács Spa | ©Victor Malyushev

Considered in the top 10 of the most beautiful cities to visit in Europe, Budapest is a destination that will leave you amazed; however ... What to see and do in Budapest during three days of travel? Here I tell you how to organize the travel itinerary to take advantage of every second and fully enjoy everything this beautiful enclave has to offer. Let's get started!

But first... The itinerary I present below includes three full days starting the morning after your arrival. If you want to see shorter itineraries, I recommend exploring the following guides:

Day 1: Explore the BUDA side of Budapest.

Aerial view of Buda Castle| ©alex.ch
Aerial view of Buda Castle| ©alex.ch

The first day will be dedicated to getting to know the most historic and ancient part of the city. Located on the east side of the Danube is the hill that houses some of the most beloved architectural gems in the city such as the impressive Castle Quarter.

Explore the Buda Castle

One of the symbols par excellence of the city, theRoyal Palaceor Buda Castle was for centuries the official residence of the royal family in Hungary. Today the majestic complex is used to house the History Museum, the Gallery and the National Library. You can spend the morning walking around, and if you like art, take a tour of at least one of the museums.

The castle is located on what is known as Castle Hill, a limestone plateau that rises some 2.3 kilometers above the city.

Making the hike up to the castle will take about 30 minutes walking, but you also have the option of the Buda Castle funicular. This wonderful means of transport travels 95 meters high in a few minutes ride aboard a vehicle that offers a panoramic view of the city. The stop is located right next to the Chain Bridge.

  • Hours: Every day from 7.30 am to 10 pm. Check the official website before the trip to know the schedule and maintenance days.
  • Price: 3€ per trip approximately.

The Castle Museums

-Hungarian National Gallery: Although its interiors are not as impressive as the facade, the National Gallery houses a collection of local works of art dating from the Middle Ages to the present day.
-History Museum: You will find all the history of Budapest concentrated in one place and with very old objects on display. The best part is the basement area, reconstructed in the middle of the last century.

  • Opening hours: The museums inside the Castle are open to the public from 10 am to 6 pm.
  • Entrance fee: Exploring the gardens and areas around the Budapest Castle complex is free of charge, if you want to visit any of the interior museums the price to pay is approximately 9€ per person per museum.
  • Duration of the visit: If you make the tour of the museums reserve at least 1 hour to see the most important in each of them.

Take a lunch break

Leaving behind the Buda Castle complex do not take the Funicular back, I recommend you to spend the rest of the day exploring the historic Castle District of Budapest; first looking for a good place to have lunch. In this area you will find many alternatives, here are some recommendations just in the vicinity of the Castle.

Visit the labyrinth of the Budapest Castle

Inside the Buddha Labyrinth| ©Camilo D
Inside the Buddha Labyrinth| ©Camilo D

Around the Buda Castle you will find several areas of historical interest, spend the afternoon exploring to see the best of Budapest's Castle Quarter.

A small attraction located under the Castle Hill and that the locals have enabled as a tourist attraction. In former times the passageways served a variety of uses, today it is an intriguing and frightening tour, at least a little.

  • Hours: From 10 am to 7 pm. The last tour at 6.30 pm is done with gas lamp in hand.
  • Entrance fee: Approximately 3€.
  • Duration of the visit: 30 minutes are enough.

Visit the Matias Church of Our Lady

In the Castle District is the most famous catholic temple of Budapest and one of the most beautiful; its beautifully ornamented facade in Gothic style and adorned with colorful ceilings is only a reflection of what you can find inside. This temple was for centuries the seat of the royal coronations in Budapest.

  • Opening hours: Monday to Friday from 09h to 17h; Saturday only in the morning and Sunday only in the afternoon.
  • Admission fee: Approximately 3,5€ per adult ticket.
  • Duration of the visit: 30 to 40 minutes are enough.

Climb the Fisherman's Bastion to watch the sunset

Next to the church of St. Matthias is the most important viewpoint of the city Fisherman's Bastion is the best place to have a complete panoramic viewof Budapest. Go up before sunset and get ready to take beautiful pictures of the city.

  • Opening hours: Open all day and all hours, even on public holidays.
  • Admission fee: Access to the observation deck is free, you will have to pay if you want to access the towers.

In the evening take a cruise on the Danube.

Walk down the hill of the Buda Castle District to take a night cruise on the Danube with dinner included. This is one of the best activities you can do during your stay in the city since it will allow you to see beautiful monuments spectacularly illuminated. The relaxing walk will allow you to rest and replenish your energy for the next day.

  • Price: Available in a wide range of prices, if dinner is included you should reserve about 30€ for the experience.
  • Duration: approximately 2 hours.

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Day 2: Explore the PEST area of Budapest.

Sunny Day at Parliament| ©Henning Klokkeråsen
Sunny Day at Parliament| ©Henning Klokkeråsen

On the second day you will visit the area known as Pest, located on the west bank of the Danube. Compared to the east bank, whose ancient buildings date back to the Middle Ages, Pest is more modern and at the same time full of fabulous architecture, historical monuments and heritage treasures.

Visit Margaret Island

In the middle of the Danube in Budapest is a beautiful island used as a park and space that is one of the most beautiful green areas to visit in the city. On the morning of your second day try to wake up early and get ready to tour Margaret Island.

You have different alternatives: you can visit it on foot, in the tourist train that costs about 2 €, in an electric car for about 13 € per hour or by bicycle that costs 3 € for 2 hours.

Take a tour to the Parliament building

Leave Margaret Island behind and head to one of the most beautiful buildings of the Hungarian capital: the majestic Parliament building; located about 12 minutes walk from the Margaret Island Bridge and its impressive exterior facade is one of the masterpieces of neo-Gothic architecture. The best way to get to know the building is definitely through a guided tour of the Budapest Parliament or by buying tickets in advance for the Budapest Parliament to skip the queue.

  • Opening hours: From 10 am to 4 pm.
  • Ticket price: Approximately 17€ entrance fee, while guided tours are available from 20€.
  • Duration of the visit: One hour is usually enough to tour the interior.

Budapest's Shoe Monument

A few minutes from the Parliament building and on the banks of the Danube you will find a small historical monument known as the Shoe Monument, which honors the Jewish victims who between 1944 and 1945 were murdered by the Nazis on the banks of the Danube and their bodies thrown into the water.

Take a lunch break

In the surroundings of the Parliament you will find the most varied gastronomic offer of all Budapest. A selection of some of the places of interest are listed below:

  • Salaam Bombay Indian food restaurant characterized by its beautiful wooden tables and dim lighting.
  • Élelem Étterem International and very healthy food with gluten-free options on the menu.
  • Budapest Bistro Rated as one of the best Hungarian food restaurants in the area. Its garden and terrace are truly beautiful.
  • Szamos Café Offers the most fabulous views of the Parliament you could hope for.

Admire the St. Stephen's Basilica

St. Stephen's Basilica| ©Jose A.
St. Stephen's Basilica| ©Jose A.

Continue your exploration of Pest, moving away from the banks of the Danube to see the best of the Jewish Quarter and a bit more of the southern part of the city.

The largest religious building in the city and the country is a 10-minute walk from the Shoe Monument on the banks of the Danube. You can get up close and look at the splendorous neoclassical facade; or marvel at the 96-meter-high interior dome. St. Stephen's, together with the Parliament, are the largest buildings in the center of Budapest.

  • Opening hours: Monday to Friday from 09h to 17h. Saturday only in the morning and Sunday only in the afternoon.
  • Admission fee: Free admission with a donation of the traveler's choice. Access to the tower costs approximately 1,5€.
  • Duration of the visit: 30 minutes are enough to see the interior and the treasures it houses.

Walk along Vaci Utca

From the exit of St. Stephen's a walking tour of less than 10 minutes will take you to Vaci Utca, the most important shopping street in the whole city. It's time to walk along the street, admire the beautiful architecture of the center and the luxurious stores in the area.

Visit the Jewish Synagogue in Budapest

The second largest synagogue in the world can be found in the Jewish Quarter of Budapest. From Vaci Utca another 10 minutes walk leaves you right at the entrance of the temple and in the middle of the Jewish area. It is an architectural building of Moorish style where Gothic influences can be evidenced.

  • Hours: From 10 am to 7.30 pm; closed on Saturdays.
  • Entrance fee: 8,5€ approximately.
  • Duration of the visit: 30 to 40 minutes are usually necessary to visit the temple.

In the evening, visit the best Ruin Bars in Budapest.

The best way to end your second day of exploring Budapest is, without a doubt, getting to know its famous Ruin Bars.

For almost two decades merchants and visionaries took on the task of rescuing old abandoned ones from the center; over the years they have reinvented themselves providing them with a fresh concept and nightlife fun. A guided tour will take you through the best of Budapest's Jewish Quarter.

Day 3: Explore Andrássy and enjoy the Spas

Lukács Spa| ©annefrompau
Lukács Spa| ©annefrompau

Continue your exciting tour of Budapest by getting to know the rest of the western part of the Danube. This is the day to visit the spas and the favorite markets of the locals.

Head to the Central Market at dawn

On the morning of your last day in Budapest, get up early to explore the city's Central Market, which opens every day at 6 am. Famous for being one of the locals' favorite entertainment areas.

The market's busiest day is Saturday, when many people head out to do their important shopping. In this visit you can compare your travel souvenirs and if you did not have time for breakfast on the second floor you will find a food area.

  • Hours: From 06h to 18h, except Mondays when they close at 17h and Saturdays at 15h.
  • Admission fee: Free admission.
  • Duration of visit: As long as you want.

Walk along Andrássy Avenue

Andrássy Avenue is considered **the **most beautiful street **of Budapest and the most historical. Walking through the windows of its stores at Christmas in Budapest is a tourist attraction in itself, even if you don't go to buy anything.

To get there from the Budapest Market, take Tram line 49 from the Central Market Hall station, get off at Deák Ferenc tér M; you will be only 3 minutes walk from the Andrássy- Bajcsy-Zsilinszky intersection. Follow the course of the avenue in a northwesterly direction to find one of the most beautiful spots in the city.

Walk to the Heroes' Square

Walking along the avenue from the vicinity of St. Stephen's Basilica to the Heroes' Square will take you a walk of about 30 minutes. It is one of the most important historical points and the most emblematic square of the city.

In the Plaza you will find one of the *best museums in the city: The Museum of Fine Arts. Its neoclassical façade magnificently complements the Plaza as a whole, and the nighttime views of the entire complex illuminated at night is something not to be missed.

Take a lunch break around the Plaza

Visiting Városliget Café| ©YvonneK
Visiting Városliget Café| ©YvonneK

Before continuing with the adventure take a break to eat at some of the many food places you will find around the Plaza. Below is a list of some of the most interesting ones, but feel free to explore the area and decide for yourself.

  • Paprika Vendéglő Among the best Hungarian food restaurants you can try in this area of the city.
  • Városliget Café Specialists in local food, the restaurant is located inside the Városliget park with wonderful views of the Castles and the lake.
  • Robinson Étterem Located inside the park with beautiful views of the lake is a Mediterranean restaurant.
  • Café Kara If you feel like something more Café Kara is the option for you, it is located on Andrássy Avenue with wonderful views of the Heroes' Square.

After lunch visit the Széchenyi Spa

No matter what time of the year you visit Budapest, Budapest's spas are a one-of-a-kind tourist attraction that should not be missed under any circumstances. Spend the afternoon on your last day in the city relaxing in the waters as a way to experience the full package of all the wonderful things Budapest has to offer.

The enclave is located right next to Heroes' Square in Városliget Park. Inside you will find 15 pools, 3 of them large outdoor pools ideal for enjoying a summer in Budapest and the other 12 small pools that during the winter are transformed into heated pools. The experience is complemented by sauna rooms and massage areas.

  • Opening hours: From 06:00 am to 10:00 pm.
  • Entrance fee: Approximately 17€ per person.
  • Duration of the visit: As long as you want.

Walk along Városliget at sunset

On your way out of the Spa take a moment to walk through Városliget, Budapest's city park. Lose yourself in its paths to find other emblematic buildings of the area such as the local zoo and the beautiful Vajdahunyad Castle. Leaving the park at dusk do not forget to take nice pictures of the Heroes' Square illuminated with artificial light.

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