Culture, fun and relaxation during 3 days in Budapest
Welcome to the metropolitan city Budapest!
On a visit to this popular central European capital city you can get overwhelmed by its many attractions and hoards of visitors.
Where do you want to go and what do you want to see?
You want to see a lot but you also want to relax.
Figuring out a route to follow can be very time consuming. That’s why we created this 3-day Budapest itinerary for you.
Following this route you see all the top attractions in the city combined with some relaxation time in a thermal spa and on top of that you do some nature exploring too.
Day 1: Top attractions Budapest
ST. STEPHEN'S BASILICA
This Neo-classical Roman Catholic Church, which is named after the first King of Hungary Stephen, is one of the famous landmarks in Budapest that attracts many tourists.
When you look at it from the outside you see a big dome flanked by two bell towers. The right tower houses the biggest bell of Hungary weighing over 9 tonnes.
Together with the Hungarian Parliament, which is also 96 meters high, this is the tallest building you see when you gaze at the Budapest skyline. Both buildings are equally high as an illustration of the equal importance of religion and government.
If you are up for it, you can climb the 364 steps of the Dome to get some very panoramic views over Budapest city. But don’t worry, you can also take the elevator.
Walk about 2 km to the Danube for the next stop on this Budapest itinerary
SHOES ON THE DANUBE
The shoes on the Danube are created to pay respect to the Jews who were killed here by the Hungarian fascist militia during World War II.
Prisoners had to take off their shoes and were shot in cold blood, their bodies falling into the Danube making the river their final resting place.
You can find the memorial close to the Chain Bridge with the Parliament building a few 100 meters further down the bank.
Address: Between Széchenyi tér and Kossuth tér
SZéCHENYI CHAIN BRIDGE
The iconic Chain bridge is one of many bridges that connects the two parts of the city, Buda and Pest, that are separated by the river Danube.
Pedestrian zones flank the vehicles zone on the left and the right, so you can safely get from one side to the other on foot.
On the Pest side, big lion statues ornament the entrance of the bridge that starts right in front of Széchenyi square. It ends on the Buda sight at Clark Adam square where you find the Funicular to take you up Buda Hill.
Walk this iconic bridge to the Pest side of the city to continue your sightseeing.
This cable car rides steeply up Buda Castle Hill and drops you off at the Royal Palace. A ride in the funicular makes you feel like you are transported back in time.
This feeling will only get stronger when you explore the Royal Palace once arriving up the hill.
The Magyar call it Budavari Palota, and it is also known as the Royal Palace or the Royal Castle.
It stands majestically on top of Buda Hill surrounded by the Castle District and once was the palace of the king of Hungary. Whereas now it houses the Budapest History Museum and the Hungarian National Gallery.
Buda Castle is a very attractive and popular touristic landmark and it’s even on the list of UNESCO world heritage sites.
For us, the best thing about it is the stunning views you have from up the castle walls over the Pest side of the city. You can take amazing photos from the Chain bridge with the mighty Danube streaming underneath it.
Walk to Fisherman’s Bastion.
FISHERMAN'S BASTION & MATTHIAS CHURCH
When you reach Fisherman’s Bastion you will see it surrounds the Matthias Church. So we’ve put these two historic landmarks in one stop.
Fisherman’s Bastion is built on what once where the fortification walls of the Buda District. Now, it is a terrace in Neo-Romanesque and Neo-Gothic style that offers superb views over the Danube and the Pest side of the city.
The Bastion looks exactly like a Disney Castle with all the cute towers and ornaments.
On the square between Fisherman’s Bastion and Matthias Church, you see a statue of the first king of Hungary, King Stephen, who is mounted on a horse.
Matthias Church lies straight behind the Fisherman’s Bastion and it is a Church like you never have seen before.
If you choose to explore just 1 church in Budapest, then make it this one.
The look of the beautifully colored diamond-tiled roof already gives away that this is quite a special building. It was first built in the 11th century and got destroyed and rebuilt several times over decades following.
The result is an amazing combination of styles and colors that will leave you in awe.
What to do in the evening of day 1?
DANUBE RIVER CRUISE
Embark on this 1-hour cruise on the mighty Danube and get to see Budapest’s top sites illuminated by thousands of lights! Enjoy a welcome drink and take in the views along the river banks. This Budapest evening sightseeing cruise is the perfect way to start your evening.
If you are looking for a special place to have dinner then this Danube river cruise is a good option. Taste delicious dishes from the various buffet while you enjoy the marvelous views of Budapest by night. This 2-hour Budapest Danube dinner cruise passes under 6 bridges and past many top attractions. In the meantime, you can try out some of the best Hungarian specialties accompanied by the serenades of a Hungarian string quartet.
Maybe you like to soak up some more Hungarian culture with attending a folklore dancing show in a historical setting. Afterward, you embark on a cruise on the Danube river and enjoy your dinner while you enjoy the beautiful panoramas of Budapest. Then this 3-hours Folklore show and dinner cruise is the right option for your night out in town.
Get to know Budapest and Hungary by its food. This 4-hour trip leads you in a small group to 6 culinary venues to taste Hungarian dishes and beverages. At the same time, you explore the Jewish quarter and get information about Hungarian history. This Budapest dinner walk can be a very delicious and fun night out.
Map: day 1 of our 3 days in Budapest
Day 2: Parks, markets and thermal baths
Day 2 starts with a metro trip to the 14th district. Take the yellow line M1, get off at the stop: Széchenyi Baths / Hosok Tere and walk towards Heroes Square.
Created to celebrate the 1000 year anniversary of the Hungarian Kingdom in 1896, Heroes squareis the largest square in the entire city and it attracts loads of visitors.
In the middle, you see a large pillar with the Angel Gabriel standing on top of it holding a cross and a crown. Below are the chieftains depicted who lead the original seven tribes of the Magyar to Hungary.
The statues on the arches left and right of the Angel all represent important historical figures and kings.
If you are a fan of museums, you can visit the Museum of Fine art on the left of Heroes Square. On the right side of the plaza, you find the Contemporary Art Building.
Standing on Heroes square you can see the towers of Vajdahunyad Castle emerging from the City Park. Walk to the City Park.
CITY PARK & VAJDAHUNYAD CASTLE
This enchanting Castle in Budapest’s City Park looks like it comes straight out of a fairy tale. Built on Széchenyi island on an artificial lake it houses the museum of Agriculture of Hungary where you can visit multiple exhibitions about old trades, customs, plants, animals and many more.
If you don’t want to visit the museum, just stroll around outside the castle courts and observe the different architectural styles merge together. Influences of Gothic, Romanesque, Baroque and Renaissance are well-balanced to create this masterpiece.
Take the yellow metro line M1 again to Vörösmarty tér. Walk about 2 blocks to Gozsdu weekend market.
GOZSDU WEEKEND MARKET
This touristy and colorful market can be found in a cozy alley. Lots of nice restaurants flank this weekend market so you can take a nice break on a terrace or have lunch. Shop for a cool souvenir or just stroll through it to experience the vibe.
Get to the next stop by heading over to the metro stop Astoria M on Rakoczi Utca. Take the 49 and get off at the second stop at Fovam tér. From here you walk away from the Danube and you see the Great Market Hall appear quite soon.
GREAT MARKET HALL
The Great Market Hall is also called the Central Market and it is the largest indoor market in Budapest. Dating from 1897 it is also the oldest one.
The central floor is full of local vendors selling their produce of vegetables, fruits, meat, and many other items.
On the second floor, you can buy souvenirs, clothes, bags, and other non-edible products. The food corner is also upstairs, so if you want to grab a snack this is the place to be.
Even if you’re not interested in buying anything, it’s just nice to walk around and feel the vibe of this place. The setting takes you back in time and it also creates some cool photo opportunities.
Cross the Liberty Bridge to get over the Danube. From there you can walk to Gellert Hill.
GELLERT HILL & GELLERT THERMAL BATHS
After all the sightseeing and walking around it is time to relax! You just reached the Buda side of the Danube again so you know you can expect some gorgeous views from up the hill.
Take your time to walk around, breath in the fresh air and enjoy the panoramic views over the city.
You can also visit the Gellert Hill Cave under Gellert Hill. This cave was created more than 300 000 years ago by a thermal spring that no longer exists today. This cave got transformed into a church and has a rich history.
The Thermal Baths of Gellert Hill are the perfect spot to let your muscles relax. It is a popular thermal bath that resembles a traditional Turkish bathhouse. Beautifully decorated with blue tiles and pillars.
The complex is a spa center and you can opt for additional massages to make the relaxation complete.
In summertime, when the weather is too hot to really enjoy the hot thermal baths, you can swim outside too.
What to do in the evening?
Maybe you would like to get your adrenaline pumping trying to beat the clock and solve a mystery! This 1-hour game has as the only goal to get you out of that room before the hour passes. Do you got what it takes and get out of the Escape room in time?
Map Day 2 Sightseeing
Day 3: Ruin bar, Street food, and Margaret Island
SZIMPLA KERT RUIN BAR & VINTAGE STORE NEXT DOOR
Today we counted in some time to sleep in a bit. You probably went out a little late last night and just want to chill today.
Day 3 of this Budapest itinerary starts with a visit to one of the most beautiful ruin pubs in the city. Szimpla Kert is truly stunning and loads of other visitors agree. It can get really crowded here but you just have to see it for yourself.
We started off in the vintage store right next to the bar. This curiosity store sells a lot of cute, decorative items. Also here it gets crowded from time to time which makes moving around a bit difficult. But worth a visit if you like to take a nice souvenir home with you.
The Ruin bar itself is a big complex, with an upstairs, and inside patio, and lots of plants and bright colors everywhere.
When we visited on a Sunday, people were playing music, selling stuff in little stalls, and hoards of other tourists were trying to make their way through the place.
A lot of people were having breakfast upstairs. I’m quite sure you had to make reservations for that.
Almost right next to the Ruin bar you find the Street Food Karavan.
KARAVAN STREET FOOD
Time to get lunch at the Karavan. This formally abandoned piece of land is now home to food trucks and food stalls alike serving a wide range of different types of food.
Take your pick out of Mexican dishes, Italian cuisine, vegan options, cheese, burgers, and more.
he last stop on this itinerary is Margaret Island. A green gem hidden away on an island in the Danube river and a perfect location to get away from the crowded city.
Margaret Island is to Budapest what Central Park is to New York. Citizens come here to relax and enjoy being outdoors.
As a matter of fact, there is more to do here than walking and enjoying the fresh air.
For instance, you can visit the Japanese Garden on the Northern tip of the island or take a dip in the Palatinus swimming pool and Thermal Baths. There even are ruins of an ancient church on the island, a musical fountain, and many more attractions.
It’s also the location of the famous Sziget Music Festival in summer. So visiting during the festival is not a good idea if you don’t want to attend the party and come to enjoy quiet time.
Map Day 3 of our Budapest itinerary
Pro Tip: Get a Budapest card
Save yourself a lot of money
With this card, you can use all public transportation in all zones for free! (The only exception is the Funicular which is a tourist attraction)
On top of that, the card has many extra free perks including 2 Budapest city walking tours, entry to Lucas Thermal Baths, entry to many historical buildings, museums and many more.
It also includes a lot of discounts on entries, like entries to Thermal Baths, entry to for example St. Stephen’s Basilica, and the list goes on.
Together with discounts in many restaurants all over town, for example, the Hard Rock Cafe, this card really is worth its money.
3 Days in Budapest - the itinerary
That was our 3 days in Budapest Itinerary where you visit most of the top attractions in the city and enjoy the healing powers of a Thermal Bath as well.
We hope you love your time in Budapest and that this route is helpful for you.