Budapest in 4 Days: everything you need to know

Four days in Budapest is all you need to get to know the city in depth. Do you want to know how to organize your tours to make the most of every second? Read on!

Katherine Betances

Katherine Betances

12 min read

Budapest in 4 Days: everything you need to know

Train in Budapest | ©Joseph Sun

When you are planning a trip of several days to a new destination it can be very easy to fall into the error of not distributing correctly the times and routes.

Budapest is a city with a lot to see and do, and in this full four-day itinerary I tell you how to distribute the routes to take advantage of every second and see a little bit of everything.

Day 1: Explore the east bank of the Danube River

Big Bus Tourist Bus| ©megabus13601
Big Bus Tourist Bus| ©megabus13601

The east side of Budapest is characterized by its completely flat terrain and very easy to explore. Start your city tour by walking among the most impressive works of architecture and history on the banks of the Danube.

Hop on the Budapest sightseeing bus

If you're visiting Budapest for the first time, the best way to start your tour and get in tune with all that this wonderful destination has to offer is aboard the Budapest sightseeing bus. The route usually takes you across the Chain Bridge, visit the Great Synagogue, the Millennium Monument and many more.

  • Price: from 37€ approximately.
  • Duration: you can choose between 1, 2 or 3 days pass.

Book the Budapest sightseeing bus

Visit the Parliament Building

Located on the banks of the Danube River, the Parliament is one of the most important and beautiful monuments of the city; so it is one of the mandatory stops on any visit to Budapest.

To save time and money it is best to buy your tickets to the Parliament in advance; although I consider that the best way to know it is through a guided tour of the Parliament of Budapest that always includes the tickets in the price.

Book a visit to the Budapest Parliament

Visit the Shoes Monument

Leaving the Parliament Building, on the banks of the Danube, you will come across the Shoe Monument. A small attraction commemorating the history of the Hungarian Jews who were killed and thrown into the water during World War II.

Take a lunch break

The area around the Parliament is one of the most varied gastronomic districts in Budapest. Some options to consider are:

  • Salaam Bombay: specialists in Indian food.
  • Élelem Étterem: international food with a healthy approach; perfect for people with food allergies.
  • Budapest Bistro: top quality Hungarian food, worth a visit for its garden terrace.
  • Szamos Café: offers a varied menu accompanied by the best views of the Parliament building.

Take a tour of Budapest's Jewish Quarter

Inside the Great Synagogue| ©Heracles Kritikos
Inside the Great Synagogue| ©Heracles Kritikos

Erzsébetváros is the Hungarian name for this area of the city. It is one of the most eclectic, with a load of history and impressive traditions.

The best way to know it is through an excursion, which is why you will find in Budapest different tours of the Jewish Quarter that seek to adapt to every type of tourist.

  • Price: from 32€ for group tours and over 200€ for individual tours.
  • Duration: reserve about 4 hours for this experience.

Book a tour of the Jewish Quarter of Budapest

Meet Váci Uta

After your tour of the Jewish Quarter you will find yourself in the heart of the city with one of the most important shopping streets and one of the most picturesque. Visit it not only to see beautiful shop windows of multinational brands, but also to admire the beautiful traditional architecture of Budapest.

Enjoy an evening of wine and cheese.

As you know, getting to know and exploring a new city is not only about monuments and architecture, gastronomy is an important part of the experience.

Hungary is known for the good quality of its wines, so booking one of your nights for a Hungarian wine and cheese tasting is something you won't regret. And one of the best ways is through a gastronomic tour of Budapest to learn from the hand of an expert guide the history and tradition. But you can also visit some of the many bars in the city that offer this experience on your own:

  • Kadarka at 1068 Budapest, Király utca 42.
  • Doblo at 1072 Budapest, Dob utca 20.
  • Andante at 011 Budapest, Bem rakpart 2.
  • Dropshop at 1072 Budapest, Dob utca 20.

Day 2: Thoroughly explore the Castle District

Margaret Island| ©Cristian K
Margaret Island| ©Cristian K

Spend your second day thoroughly exploring the Castle District. This area of Budapest is characterized by its steep hill on which stands the majestic Castle. All the ancient and medieval architecture of the city is concentrated around it.

Start the day on Margaret Island

Between the area of Buda and Pest, on the Danube itself, you will find one of the largest and most beautiful garden areas of the city: Margaret Island. Start the morning of your second day in the city getting to know this beautiful area through a relaxing walk.

And don't forget to visit the Margarita Island Zoo, where you will find a collection of very atypical animals.

My recommendation is to explore Isla Margarita by bicycle. The rental costs about 3€ for two hours, but you can also take the tourist train tour for about 2€ or rent an electric car for four people for about 13€.

  • Price: free if you walk.
  • Duration: 2 hours will be enough to explore it completely.

Take a lunch break

Cross the Margaret Island Bridge to the Buda area of Budapest (the name given to the west bank of the Danube River) for a leisurely stroll along the riverbank and an early lunch. Some suggestions of good establishments are:

  • Kacsa Étterem: traditional Hungarian food restaurant with views of the Danube River.
  • Hanoi Restaurant: specializes in Vietnamese food and also offers wonderful views of the river.
  • Cinnamon: the best alternative if you are in the mood for a light meal or simple snack.
  • Vigadó Étterem és Söröző: traditional Hungarian food with an outdoor table area next to the street.
  • Corvin Gastropub: overlooking the Danube River, also the Szilágyi Dezső square and small chapel.

Take the funicular up to Budapest Castle

A few minutes walk along the banks of the Danube is the funicular that will take you up to the Buda Castle complex.

The funicular stop is right at the foot of the iconic Chain Bridge so if you want to see it on foot this is the perfect time. This bridge offers the best pictures of the Parliament Building.

Access to the gardens and the Buda Castle is free but if you want to see some of the museums you will have to pay the entrance fee.

See the Church of St. Matthias

Matthias Church| ©Vesna Vujovic-Utjesinovic
Matthias Church| ©Vesna Vujovic-Utjesinovic

Explore the most beautiful and famous neo-Gothic style temple in Budapest. This is where the royal coronations of Hungarian royalty took place for centuries, so it is well worth a tour to admire its beautiful interiors.

The exterior of St. Matthias is equally charming as a result of the many architectural details and its beautiful colorful ceilings.

  • Hours: Monday to Friday from 9 am to 5 pm; Saturday mornings only and Sunday evenings only.
  • Admission fee: approximately 3,5€ per adult ticket.
  • Duration of the visit: 30 to 40 minutes are enough.

Book a guided tour of Budapest

Discover the labyrinth of the Castle

In the hills of Budapest Castle, thanks to the action of water, a series of caves were formed over time that later its inhabitants would give a number of interesting uses.

Today it functions as a cultural attraction, so you can walk about 1,200 meters of subway paths and admire everything from cave paintings to columns and statues. My favorite tour is at the end of the day, around 6 pm, when the lights go out and the journey must be done with an oil lamp.

  • Hours: from 10 am to 7 pm.
  • Entrance fee: approximately 3€.
  • Duration of the visit: 30 minutes are enough.

Contemplate the sunset at the Fisherman's Bastion

You cannot leave Budapest and the Castle District without going up to the Fisherman's Bastion. This space is a memorial lookout but its strategic location will give you a full panoramic view of the city.

Want to take postcard pictures? This is the perfect place! Arriving for sunset adds an even more special touch to the whole experience. To walk down the Castle Hill my recommendation is to do it on foot to get to know the beautiful streets that you didn't get to explore on the way up.

  • Hours: always open.
  • Admission fee: the viewpoint is free, you will have to pay if you want to access the towers.

Experience a cruise on the Danube.

During the night you can take a cruise with dinner and live music on the waters of the Danube, a two-in-one experience that allows you to enjoy Hungarian cuisine while admiring the beautiful scenery of the buildings that line the viewpoint and that during the night are illuminated in a spectacular way.

Book a cruise in Budapest

Day 3: Explore the Northwest side of Budapest

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

On the third day we drive to the northwest side of Budapest with the intention of seeing some of the most beautiful buildings of Hungarian architecture and historical corners.

Visit St. Stephen's Basilica

Exploring St. Stephen's Basilica is the best way to start the morning of your third day in Budapest. Neoclassical in style, it is the largest religious temple not only in the city, but in all of Hungary.

It is estimated that an average of 8,500 people can be accommodated inside and its 96-meter high dome (the same height as the Parliament) is impressive to say the least. Want to see it? Well, there are two ways: visit it on your own during the day or leave it for the evening to attend an organ concert.

  • Hours: from 09h to 17h from Monday to Friday; Saturday mornings and Sundays only in the evening.
  • Admission fee: free, but visitors are asked to make a voluntary contribution for maintenance and care.
  • Duration of the visit: 40 to 50 minutes are usually enough.

Attend the organ concert at St. Stephen's Basilica

Walk along Andrássy

Just around the corner and a few meters away from St. Stephen's is the beginning of what is considered the most beautiful and historically charged avenue in Budapest: Andrássy.

Here you will find a collection of beautiful buildings with cafes, stores and restaurants. During the Christmas season in Budapest walking along it to see the decorations is something you should not miss.

Get to Heroes' Square

Andrássy ends at the foot of Heroes' Square. I recommend taking a few pictures of what is the most important public square in the city.

Pay special attention to the impressive statues and the beautiful neoclassical building housing the city's Museum of Fine Arts.

Head to Városliget Park for lunch

Városliget Park is the most important landscaped area in the city and is located just behind Heroes' Square. Take a moment to walk around the gardens, the lake and pause for lunch at one of the many restaurants in the area. Among the highlights are:

Get to know the building of the Budapest Opera House

Opera Building| ©PDXdj
Opera Building| ©PDXdj

It is the most impressive neo-Renaissance style work of the city. If you are interested in architecture and classical interiors, it is a sight not to be missed.

It is located on Andrássy Avenue itself, so to see it you will have to retrace your steps. The best time to visit the Hungarian Opera building is in the afternoon when guided tours in English are available.

  • Hours: tours are available from 11:00 am to 5:00 pm or at the start time of the performances.
  • Entrance fee for the tours: approximately 9€.
  • Duration of the tour: approximately 40 to 50 minutes.

Visit the Chocolate Museum

From the Budapest Opera House to the Chocolate Museum you will have a walk of about 15 minutes while exploring one of the best areas of Budapest. It is a lovely little museum dedicated exclusively to chocolate, with quite a few works and fun facts around.

The museum is located on the second level of a beautiful two-story building. My recommendation is to sit for a while in the cafe on the second floor and try a slice of delicious cake. Then take the tour.

  • Hours: from 10 am to 6 pm.
  • Entrance fee: 3€ approximately.
  • Duration of the visit: 30 minutes for the tour of the museum.

Take a tour of the Budapest Ruin Bars

The Ruin Bars of Budapest are a sensation; a sample of the vibrant and attractive nightlife of the Jewish Quarter of the city.

Since you can't leave the city without experiencing these lively and youthful venues, I recommend spending the evening of your third day exploring the city's best Ruin Pubs.

Book a tour of the Ruin Bars

Day 4: Explore the south side of Budapest

Top of the Central Market| ©Steve Knight
Top of the Central Market| ©Steve Knight

If you've followed the itinerary to the letter, this is an area you haven't yet explored, so it's worth dedicating your last day to seeing a few places that are important mainly to the locals who make their living in the city.

In the morning explore the Central Market

The city's most important market is located in the southeastern part of Budapest; in the PEST part of the city.

On the morning of your last day you can get up early to explore the hundreds of food stalls, utensils and accessories of all kinds that are sold here. If you need to buy travel souvenirs, this is the right time to do it.

  • Hours: from 06h to 18h, except Mondays when they close at 17h and Saturdays at 15h.
  • Admission fee: free of charge.
  • Duration of the visit: as long as you want.

Take a lunch break

When you get tired of shopping and exploring the curiosities of the Central Market, go up to the second floor where you will find a vast area dedicated to food stalls. Here I recommend you take an early lunch break to eat some delicious food and continue your exploration.

Head to the Holocaust Memorial

After lunch, head further south to visit one of the most moving museums in the city: the Holocaust Memorial. In addition to the impressive exhibition, the striking and thoughtful architecture of its interiors make it one of the best museums in the world dedicated to the Holocaust. It is a must-see if you are interested in history, especially that of World War II.

To get there from your location at the Central Market you can take the BKK bus route 83 from the Üllői út stop and get off just three stops later at the Fővám tér M stop, the Museum is just one minute across Ferenc Krt.

  • Opening hours: from 10 am to 6 pm from Tuesday to Sunday.
  • Admission fee: about €4
  • Duration of the visit: 1 hour is usually enough.

Spend the rest of the day at the spas.

Lukács Spa| ©annefrompau
Lukács Spa| ©annefrompau

The spas of Budapest are one of the must-see attractions when visiting the city, as it is famous for having the most beautiful and traditional public baths and pools in all of Europe. My recommendation is to spend the rest of the afternoon and evening of your last day in one of these relaxing destinations.

Széchenyi SpaGoing to the Széchenyi Spa means visiting the largest spa in Budapest, as well as the most beautiful and best equipped. It is absolutely worth visiting at any time of the year.

  • Location: in the Városliget Park, northeast area of the city.
  • Opening hours: from 6 am to 10 pm.
  • Price of the entrance: approximately 17€ per person.

Gellert Spa It is the most famous of all the spas in the city, the main pool is really spectacular.

  • Location: Hotel Geller in the southern part of the city, on the west side of the Danube.
  • Opening hours: from 06h to 20h.
  • Price of the entrance: 13,50€ per person approximately.

Rudas Spa Qualified as the most beautiful bath of Turkish origin in Europe, has restrictions on use. Until the early twentieth century women were forbidden to enter, but today it is allowed at specific times.

  • Location: in the area of Buda, west side of the river near the Elizabeth Bridge.
  • Hours: from 06h to 20h; Mondays, Wednesdays, Thursdays and Fridays exclusively for men; Tuesdays exclusively for women and mixed on Saturdays and Sundays.
  • Entrance fee: approximately €13.50 per person.

Book your entrance to the Széchenyi Spa