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 in Budapest, and in this full four-day itinerary I tell you how to distribute the tours to take advantage of every second and get to know a little bit of everything.
Day 1: Explore the east bank of the Danube.
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 architecture and history on the banks of the Danube.
Board the Budapest sightseeing bus
If you are 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. Available in multiple languages including English, the sightseeing bus route usually takes you across the Chain Bridge, to the Great Synagogue, the Millennium Monument and much more.
- Price: starting at approximately 30€.
- Duration: The tour takes 1hour with 40 minutes to complete.
See 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.
- Schedule: From 10 am to 4 pm.
- Ticket price: Guided tours are available from 20 €.
- Duration of the visit: One hour is usually enough to tour the interior.
Visit the Shoe Monument
Leaving the Parliament Building on the banks of the Danube you will come across the Shoe Monument. A small attraction that commemorates the history of the Hungarian Jews who were killed and thrown into the water during World War II.
Take a lunch break
When it's time for lunch, keep in mind that the area around the Parliament is one of the districts in Budapest that offers the most variety. 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
Erzsébetváros is the Hungarian name for this area of the city. It is one of the most eclectic, with an impressive historical load and traditions; the best way to know it is through an excursion, reason why you will find in Budapest different tours of the Jewish Quarter that seek to adapt to every type of tourist.
- Price: This type of experience is available from 32€ for group tours and over 200€ for individual tours.
- Duration: Book about 4 hours for this experience.
Get to know 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. In Hungary you will find many regions famous all over the world for the good quality of their wines, so booking one of your nights for a Hungarian wine and cheese tasting is something you will not regret.
You can take a gastronomic tour of Budapest to learn from an expert guide about the history and tradition of wine in Hungary. You can also visit some of the many bars in the city that offer this experience. I share with you my favorites and their location.
- Kadarka Located at 1068 Budapest, Király utca 42.
- Doblo 1072 Budapest, Dob utca 20.
- Andante Located at 011 Budapest, Bem rakpart 2.
- Dropshop Located at 1072 Budapest, Dob utca 20.
Day 2: Explore the Castle District in depth
Dedicate your second day to explore in depth the Castle Quarter, 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 at Margaret Island
Between the area of Buda and Pest on the Danube 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; dedicate the first hours of the morning to a relaxing walk and don't forget to visit the Margarita Island Zoo where you will find a collection of atypical animals.
My recommendation is to explore Isla Margarita by bike, 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, pay depending on the method of transport.
- Duration: 2 hours will be enough to explore it completely.
Break for lunch
Cross the Margaret Island Bridge to the Buda area of Budapest; this is the name by which the west bank of the Danube River is known; you can take a leisurely stroll along the riverbank and take advantage of an early lunch. Some suggestions of good establishments are:
- Kacsa Étterem Traditional Hungarian food restaurant, the establishment offers views of the Danube River.
- Hanoi Restaurant Its specialty is Vietnamese food; it 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 by 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 to the Buda Castle complex; the funicular stop is right at the foot of the iconic Chain Bridge so if you want to know it on foot this is the perfect time. This bridge offers the best pictures of the Parliament Building.
The access to the gardens and the Buda Castle is free but if you want to visit some of the museums you will have to pay the entrance fee. The museums of the castle are: The Budapest History Museum, the Hungarian National Gallery and the National Library.
- Where to board: Chain Bridge.
- Opening hours: Every day from 7.30 am to 10 pm. See the official website for the schedule and days of maintenance.
- Price: 3€ per trip approximately.
See St. Matias Church
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 and is 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; Saturdays only in the morning and Sundays only in the afternoon.
- Admission fee: Approximately 3,5€ per adult ticket.
- Duration of the visit: 30 to 40 minutes are enough.
See 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. Currently it works as a cultural attraction, so you can walk about 1,200 meters of subway paths and admire 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.
Watch the sunset at the Fisherman's Bastion
You cannot leave Budapest and the Castle District without climbing the Fisherman's Bastion. This space is a commemorative viewpoint 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. Relax and enjoy before making your way back down the hill to the castle, my recommendation is to walk down the hill to see the beautiful streets that you didn't get to explore on the way up.
- Hours: Always open.
- Admission fee: Access to the viewpoint is free, you will have to pay if you want to access the towers.
Take a cruise on the Danube.
During the evening you can take a dinner cruise 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.
- Price: Available in a wide range of prices, if dinner is included you should reserve about 30€ for the experience.
- Duration: approximately 2 hours.
Day 3: Explore the Northwest side of Budapest
On the third day we went to the northwest area of Budapest with the intention of visiting some of the most beautiful buildings of the 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 and it is estimated that an average of 8,500 people can be accommodated inside. Its great dome of 96 meters high (the same height of the Parliament) is impressive to say the least.
- Opening hours: From 09h to 17h from Monday to Friday; Saturdays in the morning and Sundays only in the afternoon.
- Admission fee: Access to the temple is free but visitors are asked to make a voluntary contribution for its maintenance and care.
- Duration of the visit: 40 to 50 minutes are usually enough to explore everything important.
Walk along Andrássy
A 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 all of Budapest. On Andrássy 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.
Walk to Heroes' Square
Andrássy ends at the foot of Heroes' Square. Before continuing your exploration of Budapest take a few pictures of the city's most important Public Square; 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 of 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 most outstanding are:
See the Budapest Opera building
This is the most impressive neo-Renaissance style building in the city. If you are interested in architecture and classical interiors, it is a sight not to be missed. It is located in the same Andrássy Avenue, to know 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 the start time of the performances.
- Entrance fee: The entrance fee for the tours is approximately 9€.
- Duration of tour: Approximately 40 to 50 minutes.
See 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 charming 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: Approximately 3€.
- Duration of the visit: 30 minutes for the tour of the museum.
Take a tour of Budapest's Ruin Bars
Budapest' s Ruin Bars are a sensation; a sample of the vibrant and appealing nightlife of the city's Jewish Quarter. Since you can't leave the city without experiencing these lively and youthful spaces, I recommend spending the evening of your third day exploring the best of them. If you visit the city in summer visit Anker't and enjoy the experience of dining and having a drink on its terrace under the starlight.
Day 4: Explore the south side of Budapest
If you have followed the itinerary to the letter this is an area that you have not yet explored so it is worth dedicating your last day to see a few important places mainly for the locals who make life in the city.
In the morning explore the Central Market
The most important market of the city 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 admission.
- Duration of the visit: As long as you want.
Break for lunch
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 break to eat some delicious food and continue exploring.
Head to the Holocaust Memorial
After lunch head further south to visit one of the most moving museums in the city: the Holocaust Victims Memorial; in addition to the impressive exhibition, the amazing and carefully designed architecture of its interiors make it one of the best museums in the world dedicated to the Holocaust. A must-see if you are interested in history, especially the history of World War II.
To get there from your location at the Central Market you can take the BKK bus route 83 at the Üllői út stop, you will have to get off only three stops later at the Fővám tér M stop, the Museum is only 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 to visit the museum.
Spend the rest of the day at the spas
The spas of Budapest are one of the unmissable attractions when you visit a city like Budapest. Famous for having the most beautiful and traditional public baths and pools in Europe. My recommendation is to spend the rest of the afternoon and evening of your last day in one of these relaxing destinations.
Gellert Spa: The most famous of all the spas in the city, the main pool is truly spectacular.
- Location: At the Geller Hotel in the southern part of the city, on the west side of the Danube.
- Opening hours: From 06h to 20h.
- Entrance fee: 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, today it is allowed at specific times.
- Location: In the Buda area, west side of the river very close to 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: 13,50€ per person approximately.
**The biggest spa in Budapest, the most beautiful and best equipped. It is worthwhile to visit it at any time of the year.
- Location: In the Városliget Park, northeast area of the city.
- Opening hours: From 06:00 am to 10:00 pm.
- Entrance fee: Approximately 17 € per person.