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Budapest What to visit

Budapest – What to Visit: 3 or 5 days itinerary (map included)

Budapest – What to Visit: 3 or 5 days itinerary (map included)

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I enjoyed Budapest so much on my first visit in 2018 that I decided to visit Budapest again in 2020 🥰. So you can expect lots of tips in this post about Budapest!

Budapest at night

Throughout this blog post, you will find a lot of useful information to plan your trip to Budapest such as the best time of the year to visit Budapest, how many days you need in the city, what to visit in Budapest, accommodation and restaurant suggestions and much more.

What is the best time of year to visit Budapest?

Budapest is known for its harsh and snowy winters. So I suggest avoiding the colder months, such as from November to February.

Budapest Margaret Island
Japanese Garden on Margaret Island

💡 EXTRA TIP: Coincidence or not, both my visits to Budapest took place in March. The temperatures were still quite low, but already warm enough to make my visit to the city more pleasant. Anyway, if you are planning your trip to Budapest in the colder months, get all the tips on how to prepare your suitcase to survive the cold weather.

Ideally, to ensure milder temperatures, you should visit Budapest in the warmer months, such as from May to October.

How many days do you need to visit Budapest?

Budapest is a very interesting city and there is plenty to visit. For a first visit to the city, I suggest you set aside 3 days to get to know Budapest. In fact, the main itinerary I will talk about in this post is for that travel duration.

Budapest What to Visit St Stephen Basilica
View from St. Stephen’s Basilica

However, if you have more days available, don’t worry. There is much more to visit in Budapest! In fact, you can even enjoy a day trip to two places relatively close to Budapest – Visegrád and Szentendre. So, at the end of the post, you can also find an alternative version of this itinerary for 5 days in Budapest.

How to get to Budapest?

Budapest has an airport – Ferenc Liszt International Airport – with good connections to other European cities. Here are some examples of cities in Europe with direct connections to Budapest:

  • Italy (Milan, Bari, Rome, Bologna, Venice, …)
  • Germany (Nuremberg, Cologne, Berlin, …)
  • Belgium (Brussels)
  • Spain (Madrid, Barcelona, Alicante, …)
  • United Kingdom (London, Belfast, Birmingham, …)
  • France (Paris, Marseille, Nice, Bordeaux)
  • Switzerland (Basel, Geneva)
Budapest Buda Castle
Views from Buda Castle

How to get from Budapest airport to the city centre?

The cheapest way to travel to and from Budapest Ferenc Liszt Airport is by bus and there are a few options:

  • Bus 100E: very frequent and direct, with stops at some central points in the city (Kálvin tér M, Astoria M and Deák Ferenc tér M). The ticket costs 1500 HUF (~3,7€) and it is a special ticket (i.e. different from the other transport tickets in the city). The journey takes about 40 minutes.
  • Bus 200E: bus only travels to Kőbánya-Kispest M station, where you can then change to another bus or metro to other points in the city. On this bus, it is already possible to use the normal public transport passes, thus being cheaper.
Budapest What to Visit Buda Castle
View from Buda Castle

📝 USEFUL INFORMATION: I suggest you check the most up-to-date information on prices, timetables and routes available here.

Is it necessary to have a public transport pass in Budapest?

Since Budapest’s points of interest are sometimes a bit distant from each other, it can make sense to buy a public transportation pass.

For those who do not plan to use public transport, you can buy a set of 10 journeys, which costs 3000 HUF (7.45€). This option turns out cheaper than buying individual journeys (350 HUF). You can find all the updated information here.

📝 USEFUL INFORMATION: There is an App – BudapestGO – that allows you to buy individual tickets, multi-day passes, as well as the shuttle bus to the airport directly on the App. Find out more here.

Budapest Margaret Island
Margaret Island

However, there are also passes with unlimited trips with different duration: 24 hours, 72 hours or 7 days. You can check the various options available, as well as the prices, here.

💡 EXTRA TIP: Although on my first visit to Budapest I opted to buy the pass, the second time around I ended up buying individual trips as I needed them and I think it paid off in the end.

How to pay in Budapest?

Hungary’s official currency of is the forint (EUR 1 = HUF 403). So, in order to avoid exorbitant bank fees, I recommend using a Revolut card. With the Revolut Card you only pay the exchange rate at the time of payment/withdrawal, with no additional fees. Learn more about the Revolut Card here.

How to save some money in Budapest?

As is often the case in many European cities, Budapest has a city card that offers several advantages, both in terms of discounts at the city’s main attractions and on public transport.

Budapest Parlament
Hungarian Parliament

The Budapest Card has several versions available depending on the length of your journey:

  • 24 hours: 29 €
  • 48 hours: 43 €
  • 72 hours: 56 €
  • 96 hours: 69 €
  • 120 hours: 82 €
Budapest St Stephens Basilica
St. Stephen’s Basilica Entrance

In addition to including the public transport pass for the chosen duration, there are other advantages: more than 20 free museums, free access to the Buda funicular, access to the Matthias Church, a boat trip on the Danube River and additional discounts on other attractions.

💡 EXTRA TIP: I never used this card in any of my trips to Budapest, because at the time it was not worth it for the itinerary I had planned. However, I recommend that you plan your itinerary first and then see if it pays off to get this card.

Accommodation in Budapest

The city offers plenty of accommodation options, and many at fantastic prices. In any case, I think it is preferable to stay on the Pest side as it has more options of restaurants, easier access to the metro and most points of interest are on this side of the city. Having said that, I leave here 2 suggestions of two different places I loved:

  • Maverick City Lodge: a very nice hostel that has both shared and private rooms. Having chosen the second option, I really liked this accommodation. Although the room was relatively small, it was very central and offered good conditions.
  • Vagabond Broadway: centrally located, this local accommodation offers a completely renovated set of flats. Apart from the excellent location, the flat has everything you need (including a kitchen) and is quite spacious. If there are more than two people, this option will easily make up for any hotel.

However, there are plenty of accommodation options in Budapest, so here are some other accommodation suggestions in Budapest:

💼 TRAVEL INSURANCE: If you want to have a stress-free trip, then you should definitely look into purchasing some travel insurance. Pretty much anything can happen while you’re travelling, so it’s best to be safer than sorry. Most of the time, I use IATI Insurances, which has one of the best price-quality ratios in the market, a 100% online service and it is very easy to use. Book here your travel insurance and enjoy a 5% discount for being readers of the blog. For digital nomad travellers or longer trips, SafetyWing is another excellent option, with prices that are also highly competitive (insurance from 45 USD for 4 weeks).

IATI insurance with -5% discount
safetywing insurance

Activities & tours in Budapest

What to visit in Budapest – 3 days Itinerary

Before starting the list of places to visit in Budapest, I’ll share a map version of the main points of interest to help you better plan your trip to Budapest.

Firstly, I will present the option of the 3-day itinerary in Budapest. This is an excellent trip length for those who are in the city for the first time. However, if you have more days available, at the end of the post I will also include an alternative version of this itinerary for 5 days.

What to visit in Budapest – Day 1

» Heroe’s Square

Heroes’ Square is one of the most emblematic places in the city that you really must visit in Budapest! It is one of the most important squares in the city and a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Budapest Heroes Square
Millennium Memorial

At its centre, we can find the Millennium Memorial, which honours important national leaders. This square has been the scene of important moments in the country’s history.

Heroes Square Budapest
Palace of Art

It is also on this square that you can find the Museum of Fine Arts and the Palace of Art (Műcsarnok).

» City Park

Right next to the Heroes’ Square, we can find one of the most important green spaces in the city – the City Park (Városliget). The park is very pleasant and worth a leisurely stroll, exploring all its natural beauty as well as the magnificence of its buildings.

Budapest City Park

There are several monuments you can visit inside the park, such as:

Budapest City Park

» Széchenyi Thermal Baths

It is also in the City Park that one of the most amazing activities in Budapest is located – the Széchenyi thermal baths. Although quite touristy and a bit expensive, this is without a doubt one of the best experiences in Budapest.

Budapest Thermal Baths

In my opinion, this visit is worthwhile, especially in the colder months. Budapest has several thermal baths and spas scattered around the city, but the Széchenyi thermals baths are the most popular with tourists.

📝 USEFUL INFORMATION: The entrance fee to the spa is 7100 HUF (~17,6€) from Monday to Thursday and 8200 HUF (~20,4€) on the other days. This ticket entitles you to use a locker and the common changing room. There is a cheaper option for those visiting after 5 pm on weekdays and 6 pm on weekends. You can check the most up-to-date price list, as well as the opening hours here.

Alternatively, you can opt for the Géllert thermal baths, located on the other bank of the river (Buda). This is the second most popular option in the city for this type of experience.

Having experienced both, I am of the opinion that, although I prefer the outside part of Széchenyi, I prefer the inside of Géllert since the interiors are much more elaborate and quite beautiful. The prices are quite similar.

» Ruin Bars – Szimpla Kert

And after a relaxed moment in the spa, I suggest stopping by one of Budapest’s most quirky places – a ruin bar. There are a few ruin bars in the city, i.e. bars located inside neglected old pre-war buildings.

Budapest Ruin Bars

However, I recommend you visit the best-known of these bars – Szimpla Kert. It is difficult to explain the concept, but try to imagine all and some more objects and several rooms decorated in the most random way with all these objects.

💡 EXTRA TIP: This is one of the best-known bars in Budapest and tends to form long queues at nighttime in order to get inside. I suggest you go before dinner (7 pm-8 pm) in order to escape the big queues and make better use of the space.

What to visit in Budapest – Day 2

» Dohány Street Synagogue

Located on Dohány Street, this synagogue built in the 19th century is the largest in Europe. Its interior can hold more than 3,000 people. Here you can also find the Museum of Hungarian Judaism.

Budapest Synagogue

📝 USEFUL INFORMATION: The opening hours of the synagogue depend on the time of year and day of the week, so I recommend you check the most up-to-date information here. This is also the site where you can buy your tickets in advance online.

» Deák Ferenc Square

Deák Ferenc square is one of the main public transport squares in the city. Apart from the underground metro that runs here, you can also find Budapest’s old trams – great photo opportunities!

» Liberty Square

We continue to Liberty Square, where we can find some Art Nouveau style buildings. Here you can also find some monuments that aim to pay tribute to the country’s history and to those who fought for Hungary, such as the Memorial to the Victims of the German Occupation.

Budapest What to Visit Liberty Square
Memorial to the Victims of German Occupation

» Shoes on the Danube Bank

Only existing since 2005, the Shoe Memorial on the Danube Bank is one of the most beautiful in Budapest. This memorial pays tribute to the Jews murdered during the Second World War.

Budapest Shoes on the Danube

Jews were forced to remove their shoes before being killed by the riverbank, so that the river would then carry their bodies away. Despite the sad image in our minds when we imagine all this, memorials like this are important to remind us that history should never repeat itself. This, without a doubt, is one of the must-visit places in Budapest.

» Hungarian Parliament Building

Right next door is the Hungarian Parliament – one of the largest parliaments in the world. The Parliament is breathtaking, both inside and out. That is why I highly recommend a visit inside.

Budapest Parlament

Visits to the Parliament sometimes sell out, so it is best to buy tickets online in advance. All visits are guided, and you will need to choose the language in which you want to do it.

Budapest Parlament

📝 USEFUL INFORMATION: The visit for residents of the European Economic Area costs HUF 5000 (~12.4€) or there is a 50% discount for students under 24 years old. The most up-to-date information can be found here.

» St. Stephen’s Basilica

With spectacular views of the city, St. Stephen’s Basilica is a must-see on your list of places to visit in Budapest! In addition to the views of the city, I also recommend visiting the inside of the Basilica.

Budapest St Stephens Basilica

📝 USEFUL INFORMATION: Tickets for St Stephen’s Basilica can be purchased online. The price of the adult ticket depends on what you visit: church only (1200 HUF, 2.98€), towers (2200 HUF, 5.46€), everything (3200 HUF, 7.94€). For the most up-to-date information, click here.

» Adam Clark Square and Széchenyi Bridge

We head towards one of the city’s best known bridges – Chain Bridge or Széchenyi Bridge. This is one of several bridges connecting Buda to Pest and was built by Adam Clark (hence the name of the square just after the bridge, on the Buda side).

Budapest What to Visit Chains Bridge

» Buda Castle

It is from this point of the itinerary that we will explore the Buda side of the city. Next to Adam Clark square, you can find the Funicular that takes us up to the Buda Castle complex. Aside from the incredible views we get of Pest, there is more to visit at Buda Castle.

📝 USEFUL INFORMATION: The funicular that takes us to the Buda Castle grounds runs from 8 am to 10 pm and each ticket costs 3000 HUF (~7.4€) and includes the journey in both directions. More information here.

The Buda Castle complex includes two of Budapest’s most relevant museums: the Budapest History Museum and the Hungarian National Gallery. Although the visit to these museums is paid, the outside of the castle can be visited for free 😉.

Budapest Buda Castle

» Sándor Palace

Close to Buda Castle, you can also find Sándor Palace, which has been the official residence of the President of Hungary since 2003.

Budapest What to Visit Sandor Palace

» Fisherman’s Bastion

And the next spot on this itinerary is one of the most magical in Budapest and one that cannot be missed on your list of what to visit in Budapest. The Fisherman’s Bastion was built between 1895 and 1902 as a celebration of the 1000th anniversary of the Hungarian state.

This is one of Budapest’s most popular attractions and it’s easy to see why. Apart from the place being quite photogenic, this is one of the most superb viewpoints over Pest. I recommend a visit, especially at sunrise or sunset 😍.

Budapest What to Visit Fisherman Bastion

» Matthias Church

Right next to the Fisherman’s Bastion, we find one of the most famous churches in Budapest. The Matthias Church is a Roman Catholic Church built in the 14th century and later rebuilt in the late 19th century.

Budapest Mathias Church

Although, in my opinion, the outside of the church is worth more than just the inside, I still recommend a visit to the inside of the church.

📝 USEFUL INFORMATION: The price to visit the inside of Matthias Church is 2500 HUF (6,2€) and tickets can be bought online. It is also possible to visit the church tower (2900 HUF, 7,2€).

What to visit in Budapest – Day 3

» Danube boat ride

The Danube is one of the best known rivers in Europe, so I couldn’t miss the opportunity for a boat trip to visit Budapest from another perspective. The tour I chose was this one. The trip cost 13.5€ and lasted about 70 minutes. Inside the boat, there are audio guides that allow us to learn a little more about the history of Budapest.

Budapest Boat ride

Some of the trips include the possibility to stop at Margaret Island, located in the middle of the Danube. There are several companies offering this boat service, some of them even do the night tour and include meals:

» Margaret island

Margaret Island is a small island located in the middle of the Danube. It is a very peaceful part of the city, with plenty of green spaces.

Budapest Margaret Island

There are not many attractions on the island, but some of the main ones include the Water Tower, the Palatinus Strand thermal baths, the Japanese Garden or the ruins of the Franciscan Monastery, or the Dominican Convent.

Budapest Margaret Island
Water Tower

💡 EXTRA TIP: If you do not use the Danube boat trip to visit Margaret Island, then the island can be accessed via the Árpád Bridge or alternatively the Margit Bridge.

» Citadella

Located on the Gellért hill, the Citadella is the highest point in the city, having been built in the mid-19th century. Given its altitude, the views over Pest are jaw-dropping.

It is true that getting there is not the easiest job in the world, but I assure you that the final views (and also the ones along the way) are worth every second of the effort. At the top, you will find the Statue of Liberty, visible from many points of the city.

💡 EXTRA TIP: It is also on this hill that you can find a cave (Géllert hill cave), which contains an altar inside.

» Erzsébet Bridge

On your way down from the Citadella, stop to appreciate the Erzsébet (Elisabeth) Bridge. This may be a little more modern than the other bridges in the city, but it still has its charm.

Budapest Bridges

» Liberty Bridge

It is then time to return to the other side of the river (Pest) and I suggest you do so via another of the city’s iconic bridges – Szabadság Bridge (Liberty Bridge).

Budapest Bridges

💡 EXTRA TIP: When you get to the Pest side, I also suggest stopping by the Budapest Central Market Hall. Admission is free and it’s well worth it!

What to visit in Budapest – Alternative Version: 5 Days Itinerary

If you have more days to visit Budapest, I will share with you an extended version of the 3-day itinerary described above. Apart from the points mentioned, I will add a thermal bath experience and also a day trip to two lovely cities near Budapest!

My suggested itinerary for 5 days in Budapest is as follows:

  • Day 1: Danube boat trip | Margaret Island | Gellért thermal baths
  • Day 2: Andrássy Avenue | Liberty Square | Shoe Memorial on the Danube River | Parliament | Heroes’ Square | City Park | Széchenyi Thermal Baths
  • Day 3: St. Stephen’s Basilica | Great Synagogue | Váci Street | Central Market | The Whale | Szabadság Bridge | Citadella | Erzsébet Bridge
  • Day 4: Day trip to Szentendre and Visegrád. More information here.
  • Day 5: Deák Ferenc Square | Roosevelt Square | Széchenyi Bridge | Buda Castle | Sandor Palace | Fisherman’s Bastion | Matthias Church | Hospital in the Rock | House of Houdini

Restaurants in Budapest

Since I’ve visited Budapest twice, I have quite a list of restaurants ad cafés that I can recommend:

  • Ruben Étterem (€€): This is undoubtedly the best recommendation I can give you in Budapest. Don’t be scared by the fact that the restaurant is in a dark alley, don’t be surprised by the images of completely outdated models covering the walls of the restaurant… here you will find a variety of good quality traditional dishes at affordable prices.
  • Hungarikum Bisztró (€€): friendly service and a diverse and traditional menu.
  • Rustico Étterem (€): despite the more traditional dishes, I suggest you taste the pizzas that are quite generous.
  • Belvárosi Lugas Étterem (€€): traditional food at affordable prices.
  • Kiosk Budapest (€€€): a very nice and spacious space, this restaurant offers a diverse menu, avoiding the traditional dishes. The list of cocktails is also very interesting.
  • Pasta Bella tésztabár (€): simple and affordable Italian meals.
  • Tereza (€): if you’re looking to escape the traditional Hungarian flavours, this Mexican restaurant is quite good.

And also more suggestions for quicker meals, such as breakfast:

  • Cirkusz (€): perfect for a larger breakfast or even a brunch. The French toast is simply divine! The space, especially at the weekend, fills up quite easily, so be prepared for some queues.
  • Solinfo Café (€): perfect for quicker and more frugal breakfasts.
  • Lion’s Locker (€): in addition to good coffee, you can also keep your bags here.
  • Ruszwurm Cukrászda (€): if you want to try traditional cakes, this is the place.

Disclaimer: this post may contain some affiliate links, which means I get a small commission if you buy something through my links. This doesn’t represent any additional cost to you and you’ll be supporting my work here on the blog😊

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about me

A Ticket To Take Off About Me

I am Mariana from Porto, Portugal. I am truly passionate about traveling and all things travel related. And that’s exactly what led me to create this page: so I can inspire others to travel and help plan all those trips with my tips and itineraries.





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