What To Do In Budapest If You Have 1 Or 2 Days

Katherine Kooistra

By Katherine Kooistra
06 Jan 2020

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Immerse yourself in the bustling hub of Hungary: Budapest. Spend your days meandering around the streets taking in the architecture and relaxing at the baths and spend your evenings making new friends at ruin bars and enjoying the amazing nightlife. Here’s an idea of how to spend your time in this beautiful Eastern Europe capital.

1 day in Budapest | The Must-Do's

Budapest has a lot to offer, so start your day early and be ready for lots of exploring! Begin with a traditional Hungarian breakfast of cold cuts in fresh bread and some coffee. Next, chuck on your walking shoes and head to Buda Castle, the former palace complex of the Hungarian kings. The courtyards are free to wander around and open 24/7. If you want to check out the inside, buy a ticket for the National Gallery or the Budapest History Museum which are located within the Castle. For an epic view of the town, either walk up Castle Hill or catch the funicular to the top.

Less than 15 minutes walk away is Fisherman’s Bastion. This fortification is just over 100 years old and was built to celebrate the 1000th birthday of Hungary. People flock to Fisherman’s Bastion to admire the views and walk along the terraces. From here, walk over the Széchenyi Chain Bridge to check out the other side of the Danube River.

For a local’s lunch, check out Kek Rozsa (The Blue Rose) Restaurant, located in the Jewish Quarter. With an extensive menu including a variety of meats, traditional goulash and soups and typical pancakes for dessert this place is an absolute must. This restaurant is known for being one of the cheapest in the city and is popular with workers during the week.

Whilst you’re in the Jewish Quarter, explore the area. Check out the narrow streets and synagogues which are quintessential to the quarter. Then, head back towards the Danube and pay your respects at the ‘Shoes on the Danube Bank’. This memorial is in honour of the Jews who were killed in Budapest during World War II.

Continue along the Danube Promenade to the Hungarian Parliament Building. This building is the country’s largest and the third largest parliament building in the world covering an area of 18,000 square metres. It is also said to be the heaviest building in the world. Every hour on the hour watch the changing of the guard outside the building! It is possible to book a 45 minute tour of this building online, which you should book in advance to avoid disappointment.

Satisfy your cravings by having dinner at Karavan, aka street food heaven! There is something here for everyone with vendors specialising in everything from Mexican and Indian to vegan burgers. It’s also home to some of the best lángos in town. Lángos is deep fried bread, classically covered in sour cream, garlic and cheese. Whilst here, try a traditional chimney cake - sweet bread traditionally coated in cinnamon, nuts or chocolate.

No trip to Budapest is complete without experiencing the ruin bar scene. Former abandoned buildings are now the perfect place to enjoy a drink or two. They are all uniquely decorated and closely resemble a bric-a-brac store, with some even complete with bathtubs and cars! The original ruin bar to check out is Szimpla Kent, right next door to Karavan. Maybe indulge in one or two palinka – Hungary’s traditional spirit. If you’re after more of a boogie than a chit chat, head to Instant club for dance floor heaven.

If you have more time | local experiences

The perfect way to spend your second day is relaxing at the Szechenyi Baths. You’re on holiday after all! This complex makes up one of the largest thermal baths in Europe. Be sure to hire out a locker for your stay to make sure your belongings stay nice and safe.

On your walk either to or from the baths, be sure to check out Heroes’ Square. This impressive square is one of the most visited squares in Budapest and famous for its Millennium Monument.

To get a fix of nature, head to Margaret Island either by bus, tram or boat. This island is filled with parks and many notable attractions. One of these is the Musical Fountain. On the hour every hour from 11am till 9pm, watch an explosion of light and water when the fountain performs to songs ranging from Guns N’Roses “Sweet Child O’ Mine” to Vivaldi’s Four Seasons. Explore the ruins, gardens and pools scattered around the island.

Plan your trip to Budapest and a bunch of other epic Europe destinations using our online Adventure Planner! You'll be able to create your own fully customised adventure which includes all your must-see spots!