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Day Trips and Excursions from Budapest

If you have enough time, I recommend you to visit the surroundings of Budapest. I tell you which are the best getaways

Alex Grande

Alex Grande

17 min read

Day Trips and Excursions from Budapest

The Hungarian Parliament | ©Keith Yahl

Budapest has history, corners and monuments to discover, and to hire a guided tour to visit every corner of the city is undoubtedly one of the essential things to do on your trip to Budapest. With round-trip tours in the same day, you can get to know its surroundings, which have even more to offer to the visitor.

1. Three-hour guided tour of Budapest

State Opera House| ©Alistair Young
State Opera House| ©Alistair Young

Since I am a fan of city tours, this walking tour of Budapest is one of my favorites because, being longer than average (three hours as opposed to the usual two), it not only covers more areas of the city, but also covers a greater number of stories about the city and its customs.

This tour is ideal if you are looking for a complete overview of the main points of the city without focusing on any particular aspect.

Itinerary of the three-hour guided tour of Budapest

  • The Gellert Hill Viewpoint
  • The fishermen's bastion and its view of the beach
  • Matthias Church (must see the interior)
  • Elisabeth Bridge
  • Andrasy Avenue and its aristocratic mansions
  • State Opera House
  • Heroes Square
  • St. Stephen's Basilica
  • Hungarian Parliament Square

Book a guided tour of Budapest

2. Budapest night tour

The Hungarian Parliament illuminated by night| ©Héctor Martínez
The Hungarian Parliament illuminated by night| ©Héctor Martínez

At least for me, the city of Budapest is beautiful during the day, but when night comes the illumination of its streets and monuments make it an equally beautiful city worth touring again. That's what this two-hour night walking tour in Spanish is for, in which a professional guide will take you around the city's emblematic places at dusk so you can see them illuminated.

What are the main buildings in Budapest worth seeing illuminated? The Parliament, the State Opera House and the Chain Bridge are at the top of the list, but Budapest at night is not only about its illumination. In the city there are many alternative pubs with a groundbreaking decoration that will also be part of this tour.

This tour is ideal because, although Budapest is one of the safest cities in Europe, its low temperatures (especially in winter) added to the fact that it gets dark early, make that during the night you will not see many people on the street, so you can get disoriented easily. For this reason a guided tour is the best way to see the city at night.

Book a night tour of Budapest

3. Sissi's Gödöllo Palace guided tour

Gödöllo Palace| ©David Spender
Gödöllo Palace| ©David Spender

The Gödöllo Palace is located inside Budapest about half an hour away from the center. When you book this tour and choose the day you want to do it, you will receive an email with information about the meeting point from where your air-conditioned vehicle will depart in the center of Budapest. There you will meet the driver, the rest of the group and an expert guide who will accompany you throughout the tour.

The visit to the Gödöllo Palace lasts about three hours, is available in English, French, German, Italian, Spanish and French and, in addition to the transfer and the services of the guide, the entrance fees are included.

What will you see at the Gödöllo Palace?

Impressive and manicured gardens and luxurious rooms decorated in the style of the Hungarian aristocracy of the eighteenth century, but more important than what you will see is what you will learn. This palace is known for being the favorite of the Queen of Hungary and Empress of Austria, Sissi. History has made this character to reach our days surrounded by a multitude of anecdotes among which stand out her love for Hungary, her beauty or her desire for freedom, but there are many more.

During the tour of the Gödöllo Palace you will know that part of the history of Sissi that does not appear in period films: the tragedy that befell her with the death of her daughter, the fights with the emperor's mother, the lovers of the marriage or her problems with food. If you are not yet familiar with the story of this non-conformist empress, you will end this excursion absolutely fascinated by her figure.

The best part of this tour is the stories you will learn about the Empress Sissi, considered one of the most important historical myths of Europe.

Book a Sissi Palace Tour

4. Budapest Jewish Quarter Tour

Budapest streetcar tour
Budapest streetcar tour

The Jewish tradition in this city is very strong and throughout the city there are different tributes to all the Jews who were killed during the Second World War. This walking tour through the Jewish quarter of Budapest, about two and a quarter hours, focuses on the history of this people.

In the Jewish quarter of Budapest you will see monuments such as the Great Synagogue (one of the largest in Europe) or the memorial The Tree of Life on whose silver leaves are written the names of the victims of the Holocaust. However, one of the most moving tributes to this people is not in this neighborhood but on the banks of the Danube; it is a long row of shoes carved in iron representing the murder of thousands of victims.

This tour is ideal if you are interested in the history of the Jewish people and the Second World War, because, beyond the tour itself, the real value of this tour is in the explanations of the guide.

Book a tour of the Jewish Quarter

5. Tour of the cities of the Danube Bend

Esztergom Basilica| ©zolakoma
Esztergom Basilica| ©zolakoma

The Danube Bend is one of the main excursion areas near Budapest. It consists of three small towns: Esztergom, Visegrád and Szentendre. In this tour you will visit all three of them with a professional guide. If you do this tour between the months of May and September you will also enjoy a boat trip in Szentendre.

If you are looking to escape the hustle and bustle of Budapest and get to know the Hungarian landscapes and customs of its inhabitants, this full day tour (available in English, Spanish, French, Italian and German) is for you. The best thing about this tour is the variety of places you will visit during the tour, which will give you a broader perspective of the Hungarian landscape and the surroundings of Budapest.

Itinerary

  • Esztergom Basilica: you will enter what is the largest cathedral in Hungary. It is also known as the Cathedral of St. Adalbert and was built between 1822 and 1869.
  • The citadel of Visegrád: from here you will enjoy magnificent views of the city.
  • The center of Szentendre: you will have time to stroll through its cobblestone streets full of baroque houses and artisan stalls where you can buy all kinds of things as well as chat with the owners.
  • Views of the Danube: if you go between May and September you can take a short boat ride on the Danube, but otherwise you can also take a walk along the shore and enjoy the relaxing views.

Book an excursion from Budapest

6. Buda part of the city tour

Fisherman's Bastion| ©Dennis Jarvis
Fisherman's Bastion| ©Dennis Jarvis

Budapest is divided into two parts corresponding to the two banks separated by the Danube River: Buda and Pest. This two-hour walking tour focuses on the Buda side, the bank opposite the Parliament.

This tour is ideal to see the city in more detail because in the time when other tours go all over Budapest, this one focuses only on one part. Then you can always complement it by a tour focused on the points of interest of the opposite bank.

Itinerary of the Buda tour

  • The Gellert Citadel, from where you will get spectacular views of the city.
  • The fishermen's bastion, a neo-Gothic terrace.
  • The Matthias church, whose interior is one of the most beautiful churches I have ever been in.
  • The Elisabeth Bridge, dedicated to the Empress Sissi (you will also discover a lot about her on this tour).
  • Váci street, the most important street (utca) of Budapest.

Book a guided tour of Buda

7. Budapest Bus Tour

Margaret Bridge| ©Osbornb
Margaret Bridge| ©Osbornb

A local guide will pick you up at your hotel and take you on a sightseeing bus tour of Budapest with panoramic views. Throughout the tour the guide will show you the different points of interest of the city explaining the significance of each of them and will take advantage of the key locations to tell you about Hungarian customs.

This tour of Budapest by bus has a duration of two hours. There will be several stops along the way where you will be able to get off the bus for a closer look at the site and take pictures. At the end of the tour the bus will drop you off at a central point and from there you will return to the hotel by your own means. This option is ideal to get a first overview of the city, including the sites that are farther from the center, before visiting it at your own pace.

Itinerary of the Budapest bus tour

  • Hungarian Parliament
  • St. Stephen's Basilica
  • Margaret Island
  • Margaret Bridge
  • Heroes' Square
  • Gellert Citadel
  • Danube River

8. Guided tour of the Gödöllo Palace and horse show

Gödöllo horse show| ©julie corsi
Gödöllo horse show| ©julie corsi

With this option in addition to the guided tour of Sissi's summer palace, you will also enjoy a horse show known as the Magic of Hungary. The equestrian tradition is deeply rooted in this country and in fact it was one of the things that the Empress of Austria shared with her second homeland, the love for horses.

This excursion to the Gödöllo Palace with horse show lasts approximately five hours and departs from a meeting point in the center of Budapest (they will tell you how to get there and what time you should be there in your email once you make your online reservation). The price is 58 euros and includes transfer, tickets to the palace and the show, regional snacks and the services of a specialized guide.

The horse show is in a farm located in the outskirts of Budapest, so the excursion also includes the visit to this farm, the typical Hungarian refreshments that will be served there and a carriage ride. If you like horses you can not miss this experience; you will be amazed at how excellently cared for they are and the precision of the technique with which they execute the parade.

The best thing about this visit is the overall impression you will get of two symbols of the country: the Empress Sissi and the horses.

Book a guided tour to Sissi Palace

9. Budapest walking and boat tour

Buda Castle| ©Dennis Jarvis
Buda Castle| ©Dennis Jarvis

The main attraction of this tour is that it combines the walking tour with a boat trip on the Danube River. This way you will be able to cover a greater number of places of interest and you will have a different perspective of the Hungarian capital. Both the walking tour and the boat tour have commentary on the landmarks of Budapest in several languages.

The meeting and ending point will be set at one of the city's most central locations near the Danube. This tour is ideal for travelers with little time who are looking for an overview of the city.

Itinerary of the walking and boat tour

  • State Opera House
  • Great Synagogue
  • Hungarian Parliament
  • Chain Bridge
  • St. Stephen's Basilica
  • Heroes' Square
  • Buda Castle
  • Citadel
  • Danube River
  • Hungarian Academy of Sciences
  • Matthias Fountain

Book a guided tour of Budapest

10. Guided tour of the Hungarian Parliament

Hungarian Parliament| ©Anecia Coppack
Hungarian Parliament| ©Anecia Coppack

The Hungarian Parliament is a landmark in the city of Budapest. Located on the Pest bank of the Danube River, is the largest building in Hungary and also one of the most emblematic both for its impressive architecture and the meaning it has. This tour is focused on the visit to the Parliament (tickets included) and its surroundings.

The guide will pick you up at your hotel and take you to the entrance of the Parliament, where you will enjoy a guided tour of an hour and a half. In addition to information about the building itself, you will also learn details about Hungarian politics and enjoy historical narrations that will make this city even more exciting. It is a must to see the illuminated Parliament at some point during your trip.

The great thing about this tour is that it allows you to get close to a very important part of the city's history that would be difficult to get to know on your own.

Book a guided tour of Budapest

11. Night tour with folklore show

Budapest by nightfall
Budapest by nightfall

Hungary is a country of great traditions and folklore is one of them. Few performances you will have seen similar to the one offered by this night tour with show. In addition, you will also have the opportunity to taste typical Hungarian dishes during the folklore show.

The guide will pick you up at your hotel and take you in a vehicle with panoramic views to visit the main illuminated monuments of the city of Budapest. After that it's time for the restaurant with a traditional three-course dinner with drink; during the dinner you will enjoy a typical Hungarian folklore show.

The ideal of this tour is that it is a way to approach the culture of this city both culturally and gastronomically and also includes a tour to enjoy the illumination of the night of Budapest, something you can not miss during your trip.

Book a night tour in Budapest

12. Day trip to Szentendre, an artist's village

Art in the streets
Art in the streets

Many times we visit a big city and we wonder what the surroundings of the country are like, what the Hungarian landscape is really like and the way of life of the inhabitants who do not live in the capital. With this one-day visit to Szentendre you will discover all this and I assure you that the result will not leave you indifferent.

Why this town and not another one? Szentendre is one of the most visited villages of Budapest and is known for the craftsmen who make and sell their products there. Certainly the center of the village is set up for visits, but if you go a little further away you can discover a beautiful lake, mountain scenery and traditional Hungarian houses.

If you go in winter you will be surprised how few people there are in the streets, something that is due to the low temperatures. Do not miss the opportunity to talk to the artisans and merchants; most of them understand English and are extremely friendly. The best thing about this excursion is the intimate contact you will be able to establish with the local artisans, especially if you go in winter when there are fewer tourists on the streets.

What's included in the Szentendre tour

  • A professional guide who will accompany you throughout the tour
  • Tasting of the famous Lángos, or Hungarian fried bread
  • River cruise if you take this tour between May and September
  • Visits to the ruins of an ancient Roman town

Book an excursion from Budapest

13. Private tour of the cities of the Danube Bend

Sunset on the Danube
Sunset on the Danube

This is the VIP excursion to visit the Danube Bend. During the tour you will have a guide exclusively for you and your group who will pick you up at your hotel and drop you off at your hotel after the full day tour of the three cities that form the Danube Bend: Esztergom, Visegrád and Szentendre.

In addition to the private transfer and guide, the package also includes lunch and a boat ride if you take the tour between May and September. During this day you will visit places of interest such as the citadel of Visegrád or the cathedral of Esztergom, the largest in the country, and you can also visit the craft stalls of Szentendre.

However, the real added value of this tour is the comfort of going at your own pace and having a local guide who will not only explain the different points of the tour, but will also tell you about the customs of the country and its traditions. At the end of this excursion you will have a much more formed vision of Hungary that would be difficult to obtain in other ways.

The best thing about this tour is the personalized attention and the possibility of visiting in an organized way several places that would be very difficult to visit individually.

14. Day trip to Lake Balaton

Lake Balaton| ©Zoltán Bagi
Lake Balaton| ©Zoltán Bagi

Lake Balaton is one of the most beautiful landscapes of Hungary. Located approximately two hours by car from Budapest, the tour is worth it. Both the lake and its surroundings are an authentic landscape of fairy tale and for that reason this excursion of complete day to the something Balatón is one of the best options to appreciate the beauty of the country to the margin of its cities and buildings.

Lunch is on your own and is not included in the 65 euros that the excursion costs; you can take it in any restaurant in Balaton or take a picnic to eat it while you contemplate the lake. The languages in which this excursion is available are Spanish, French, English, German and Italian. The best of this excursion is the contrast that supposes a landscape as hallucinating as the one of the Lake Balaton in relation to the stately streets of the city of Budapest.

What does this excursion include?

  • Pick up from your hotel in Budapest (the return will be from a central point in the center of Budapest)
  • The transfer in a comfortable and air-conditioned vehicle.
  • A visit to the Herend Porcelain Factory where you will learn how traditional Hungarian porcelain is made and, if you wish, make purchases
  • A coffee on a terrace in Herend
  • A professional guide who will accompany you throughout the tour to tell you about the main points of interest you will see during the tour, as well as the local customs of the country and its inhabitants.

Book a tour from Budapest

15. Tour of the Hungarian Great Plains + Horseback Riding Show

Albert Lugosi| ©Albert Lugosi
Albert Lugosi| ©Albert Lugosi

Surely during your trip to Budapest you have seen monuments that have left you speechless and you have discovered legends that have led you to want to know more about this city and its culture. In this case, this excursion through the area of the Hungarian Great Plains is the perfect option to learn that extra lesson about the Hungarian life and customs. How? Knowing closely one of its main traditions: the equestrian exhibitions.

During all these activities a professional guide will accompany you on your one day excursion to the Great Hungarian Plains or Puszta Plains from the meeting point in the center of Budapest (you will be informed by email once you make your reservation). The total price of this experience is 65 euros. The best thing about this excursion is that it is an optimal way to have a closer contact with the traditions of Hungary and with the people who still maintain them today.

What is included in this tour

  • Equestrian acrobatics show.
  • A visit to the town of Kecskemet including its tourist points of interest such as its synagogue or its art nouveau town hall.
  • A visit to a traditional Hungarian farm where you will taste the typical welcome drink known as "apricot brandy".
  • A carriage ride.
  • A three-course lunch including goulash soup with live music.

Book an excursion from Budapest

16. Private day tour to Brastislava

View of Bratislava Castle
View of Bratislava Castle

Three hours away from Budapest is the city of Bratislava, capital of Slovakia. This is a city of orange roofs, cobblestone streets and huge castles that, for its size, is reachable during a day trip to Bratislava and back from Budapest, you will not regret to know it with this private excursion to Bratislava, which also includes a private local guide who will show you the secrets of the city.

On the other hand, you will have free time to explore the city at your leisure before returning to Budapest and visiting the historic center while listening to street musicians or having a drink on one of its outdoor terraces. The best of this excursion is the personalized treatment of the guide (I advise you to ask him everything you want and "make the most" of it) and the possibility of getting to know a different city and a different country in a comfortable private transfer.

Itinerary

This excursion has two parts: on the one hand, the guide will show you in a guided tour of Bratislava such important places as:

  • Michael's Gate
  • Bratislava Castle
  • Grassalkovich Palace
  • Primate's Palace

What is included in the excursion to Bratislava

  • A private local guide who will be available in excusive for you and your travel companions
  • The private transfer to and from Bratislava with pick-up and drop-off from your hotel in Budapest
  • The guided city tour of Bratislava
  • Lunch

Book an excursion from Budapest

17. Organize your tour in Budapest

Aerial view of Budapest
Aerial view of Budapest

What to bring

Even if you visit Budapest in summer, temperatures are usually quite low and most of the city tours are on foot. In addition to wearing comfortable shoes, I recommend you to bring a good coat so you will not be tempted to abandon the tour in the middle of the tour in order to take refuge in a cafe for a hot chocolate.

Always hire official guides

In central places of Budapest, it is common to find city tours offered by locals. A local person can give you interesting tips about your visit, but keep in mind that many of them are not specialized guides who can put you in the historical context of the city. In addition, some are not fluent in other languages and there comes a point in the tour when this can become frustrating. It is best to make sure you book your tour in advance.

Enjoy the gastronomy

Finally, I advise you to ask your guide for recommendations especially in gastronomic matters. In Budapest it is very cheap to eat well, but the names of the dishes are not exactly intuitive; the guide will be happy to recommend you according to your tastes, something you will be very grateful for when you sit down to eat in a restaurant. Also in the city dealing with the names of the streets can be an arduous task even with Google Maps.

18. If you are interested in making an excursion around Budapest, you will also be interested in

Budapest Spa| ©Alana Harris
Budapest Spa| ©Alana Harris

Knowing the surroundings of the city of Budapest is an optimal plan for when you have squeezed the most of the Hungarian capital, but have you done it? Be sure to plan excursions during your visit, but don't forget that there is much more to Budapest than meets the eye.

If you also want to complete your trip with the most iconic experience of Budapest, which is also super relaxing, I recommend you to visit the Spas of Budapest.

Frequently asked questions

  • What are the best day trips from Budapest?

    Statistically, the best day tour is the Danube Bend with lunch included, with a high score and very positive reviews from visitors. In second place, the day trip to the Etyek vineyards is rated very positively thanks to its excellent guides, delicious wine and the care put into the experience. The Danube Bend tour is probably the best experience because of the visits to various Hungarian cities across the Danube, while the Etyek tour will give you an in-depth view of the Napa Valley and Hungarian Hollywood.

  • What is the Danube Bend?

    The Danube Bend is a picturesque spot along the Danube River, home to the famous Hungarian towns of Szentendre, Esztergom and Visegrád. Many tourists come here because it is the best way to visit the three towns and experience rural Hungary.

  • How far is Etyek from Budapest?

    With just 22 km (14 miles) separating the two locations, it only takes 30-35 minutes to reach the Hungarian wine region from Budapest. This makes it a perfect place for a day trip from Budapest, without excessive effort.