The Perfect 2, 3 or 4 Days in Budapest Itinerary

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by Maggie Turansky

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Planning out a Budapest itinerary is one of the highlights of mapping out a trip to Central Europe. As one of the most beautiful and interesting cities on the continent, planning to spend 2, 3 or 4 days in Budapest is never a bad idea.

Whether you only have a short amount of time and want to ensure you see all of the highlights on both the Buda and Pest sides or you have a number of days to dedicate to exploring this lively city, you’re sure to fall in love with the Hungarian capital.

It’s a city that truly has something to offer everyone – whether you’re interested in history, spa and relaxation or partying into the wee hours of the night.

So if you’re planning a trip to Budapest, read on to figure out how to spend a few days in this incredible city along the banks of the mighty Danube.

How Many Days in Budapest?

If you’re wondering how many days to spend in Budapest in order to do the Hungarian capital justice, you’re certainly not alone. In general, plan to spend at least 2 full days in Budapest in order to get a good feel for the city and to see all of the top sites.

With only 2 days in Budapest, you will be able to check off all of the highlights and top tourist sites, however, it won’t really be enough to dig deeper and really get under the skin of this exciting metropolis. You may find yourself planning another trip in the near future!

Spending 3 full days in the city is really the sweet spot. With 3 days in Budapest, you can build upon what you will have done in days one and two while also getting a bit further off the beaten tourist trail or having enough time to go at a slower pace and still see all that’s on your list.

If you’re fortunate enough to be able to spend 4 days in Budapest, then this is absolutely ideal. With a fourth day, you have the opportunity to head out on a day trip to another Hungarian town or spend a bit more time in the city itself.

Budapest's Chain Bridge
Budapest’s Chain Bridge

Getting To & Around Budapest

Located in Central Europe, Budapest is quite easily accessed via bus and rail from nearby cities. There are direct bus and train connections between Budapest and all major capitals nearby such as Vienna, Zagreb, Prague, Belgrade and Ljubljana. Both Budapest’s central train station and bus station are easily accessed from the city centre. You can view schedules here.

Budapest is also home to its own international airport that serves countless destinations across Europe and further afield. Hungary is the base of budget favourite WizzAir, so there are also lots of budget flight options to the city, making it an appealing option for a quick and affordable city break.

The city itself is quite walkable in the centre, however, there is an extensive public transport network that’s made up of a metro, trams and buses. It is easy to navigate and reliable and it is a great option if you need to get from one side of the city to another.

If you choose to purchase a Budapest Card, this includes unlimited travel on the public transport system along with entry into countless attractions in the city. This can be a great option if you’re looking to save some cash on your overall Budapest travel budget.

Parliament Building in Budapest
Parliament Building in Budapest

2, 3 or 4 Days in Budapest Itinerary

Day 1 – House of Parliament, Dohány Street Synagogue & More!

Hungarian House of Parliament

The perfect place to begin any Budapest itinerary is at the iconic House of Parliament. Situated on the banks of the Danube on the Pest side of the city, this gorgeous building is a classic focal point of the Budapest skyline and is one of the largest houses of parliament in the world (in the company of the Palace of Parliament in Bucharest).

Take the time to wander around this architectural wonder and also take in the views of the Buda Castle and the lovely bridges across the Danube. There is also an option to take a guided tour of the building, that interests you.

Shoes on the Danube

After taking in the parliament building, it’s time to take a stroll along the Danube promenade toward the Shoes on the Danube sculpture.

Designed to commemorate the Hungarian Jews murdered during the fascist occupation in WWII, this memorial represents the shoes the people were ordered to leave behind before being shot and dumped into the river. A harrowing but well-done memorial, it is one of the more sombre things to do in Budapest.

Shoes on the Danube
Shoes on the Danube

St Stephen’s Basilica

Heading inland from the Danube, the next stop on your first day in Budapest should be the imposing St Stephen’s Basilica. This neoclassical Roman Catholic church is a focal point in the Hungarian capital and a must-visit when taking in the highlights of the city.

Completed and opened in 1905, this is one of the tallest buildings in the historical centre – equal to that of the parliament building. This was intentional upon construction in order to symbolise the equal importance of the government and the church.

If you’re looking for somewhere to have lunch around this time, consider heading to Hummusbar – a fantastic Middle Eastern joint with a few locations around the city.

Dohány Street Synagogue

After the basilica, take the time to visit the Great Synagogue and the Hungarian Jewish Museum. Also referred to as the Dohány Street Synagogue, it is well worth touring it to gain a more broad understanding of Judaism in Hungary.

In the heart of the Jewish Quarter, touring the Great Synagogue is one of the best things to do in Budapest. At 1,200 square meters, it is considered to be the largest synagogue in Europe and among the largest in the world.

The temple itself is impressive, but please note that men are required to cover their heads upon entering (paper kippahs are provided).

There is also a garden in the grounds housing a hauntingly beautiful memorial to the Hungarian Jews who were murdered in the Holocaust. Note that the synagogue is not open for visitors on Saturdays. You can purchase tickets in advance here.

Dohany Street Synagogue in Budapest
Dohany Street Synagogue

The Jewish Quarter

After touring the synagogue, take the time to explore Budapest’s Jewish quarter, which is packed with its own unique history.

It is worth noting that there are also free walking tours specifically for this neighbourhood, so if you want to dig deeper, this is a great idea. You can also book a tour of the Jewish Quarter that includes entry into the Dohány Street Synagogue.

Along with the Dohány Street Synagogue, you can visit other, smaller synagogues like the Rumbach Street Synagogue and the Kazincky Street Synagogue. You can also take in some of the last remaining sections of the ghetto walls in the Jewish Quarter.

This neighbourhood is also home to the majority of Budapest’s ruin bars and is the prime location for the city’s nightlife. So why not find a good place to have dinner (there are plenty of great options in the area) and then plan to hit the town?

Budapest’s Ruin Bars

These days, Budapest may be known for nothing if not for its world-class nightlife. The crowning gems of this would have to be its ruin bars, bizarre bars set up in abandoned buildings.

Almost all of these are located nearby in the Jewish Quarter, the most famous having to be Szimpla Kert. It is really worth checking out some of the lesser-known bars as well, though. For instance, Liebling is small and has a lovely, romantic outdoor terrace.

Regardless of where you end up, the ruin bars are easily some of the most unusual things to do in Budapest at night.

Ruin bar in Budapest
Ruin bar in Budapest

Day 2 – Castle Hill, Margaret Island & the Rudas Baths

Buda Castle & Fisherman’s Bastion

After spending your first day on the lively Pest side of the Danube, it’s time to head over to the Buda side and visit the famous Buda Castle, Castle Hill and Fisherman’s Bastion.

This is one of the most popular spots to visit in the city and it’s well worth it – if not only for the fantastic views of the city you can get from Fisherman’s Bastion.

The castle was once home to royalty, however, today it houses two museums – the Hungarian National Gallery and the Budapest History Museum along with the National Library. On Castle Hill, you will also find Fisherman’s Bastion – an old fort where you can get great views – and the Matthias Church.

You can reach Castle Hill either via funicular (which is paid) or you can walk up free of charge. The grounds and gardens of the castle district are free to visit, however, you do need to pay entry to any of the museums. You can also take a walking tour of the area.

Buda Castle
Buda Castle

Hospital in the Rock

Underneath the Buda Castle is a truly fascinating and under-visited museum known as the Hospital in the Rock. Budapest is built upon a network of highly complex caves and during WWII, the caves beneath the castle were turned into an underground hospital.

As the times shifted toward the Cold War, the hospital was turned into a bunker. The museum offers guided tours and it is an incredibly interesting way to spend an hour or two. You can also book skip-the-line tickets online in advance!

Margaret Island

After you’ve explored Castle Hill, it’s time to walk across the Margaret Bridge and visit the large, wonderful park that is Margaret Island.

If the weather is nice, this is a fantastic place to spend a few lazy hours soaking up the sunshine and leisurely walking around the beautiful gardens. There are also a number of cafes and ice cream stands, so you won’t go hungry while here.

Margaret Island
Margaret Island

Rudas Baths

No trip to Budapest is complete without visiting one of the city’s famed bathhouses and there really is no better option on this day than the Rudas Baths.

As you may or may not know, Budapest sits upon a lot of geothermal waters and there are countless natural hot bathhouses around the city and it is an integral part of the culture here.

The Rudas Baths are located on the Buda side of the city and while they’re not the most popular for tourists nor are they housed in a historic building, they do have a rooftop pool that provides incredible views over the city.

Sunset is the best time to visit these baths and soak for a bit while enjoying one of the best views in the city. It’s truly an unforgettable experience.

Evening Danube Cruise

If you haven’t already had enough of the beautiful Budapest skyline and scenery, then make your final activity for the day a sunset Danube river cruise.

Here, you can kick back and enjoy some spectacular views from a different perspective while also learning a bit about the iconic buildings and bridges that call Budapest home.

Danube River at sunset
Danube River at sunset

Day 3 – House of Terror, Széchenyi Baths & the Central Market

House of Terror

Day three of this Budapest itinerary sees you exploring more of the Pest side of the city. Begin your day at the House of Terror, a museum housed in the former Nazi and KGB headquarters.

You won’t leave here feeling light-hearted, but the three floors of this excellently curated museum certainly put the horrors that Hungary saw in its recent history into perspective.

Széchenyi Baths & City Park

After the House of Terror museum, it’s time to unwind a bit and visit another of Budapest’s bathhouses – this time to the famous Széchenyi Thermal Baths. From the House of Terror, it’s only a quick jaunt on the metro to get here – or you can walk about 30 minutes if it’s a nice day!

These baths are housed in a beautiful historic building and the surroundings are definitely part of their charm. There are lots of different pools to enjoy and this is truly an unforgettable Budapest experience.

The bathhouse is located in the beautiful City Park, one of the largest green spaces in Budapest. So, before or after you visit the baths, take the time to wander through the park if it’s a nice day!

Szechenyi Baths
Szechenyi Baths

Andrássy Útca

After relaxing at the baths, I would recommend hopping back on the metro and heading to Andrássy utca. A UNESCO World Heritage Site, this historic shopping street is often heralded as Budapest’s Champs-Élysées and it’s a great place to stroll along and admire the architecture.

While most restaurants and cafes along this avenue aren’t great to stop at if you’re travelling to Budapest on a budget, the street itself is lovely and makes it even more evident why Budapest is such a lovely place to visit.

Central Market

Spend the rest of your day in Budapest browsing through the Central Market, which is truly a foodie’s paradise.

While it is one of the city’s main tourist attractions, it is still worth visiting this historic marketplace if only to discover more about the unique Hungarian cuisine and to stock up on an ample supply of paprika. This is also a good place to join a food tour if you want to sample some typical dishes of the city.

Great Market Hall of Budapest
Great Market Hall of Budapest


If you’re looking for another great place to watch the sunset (or to get a good view of Budapest by night) then make sure to head across the Danube and hike up to the Citadella.

This old fortress towers over the Danube and provides incredible views over the city. It’s free to head up to and it’s the perfect way to wind up your tour of Budapest in 3 days.

Day 4 – Communist History & Memento Park or Day Trip

Memento Park & Communist Budapest

On the final day, it’s time to head a bit further out of the city centre and learn about the horrors of Budapest’s communist past.

A great way to gain a general understanding of what life in the Hungarian capital was like during communism is to take a communist history walking tour. There are lots of options available, like this free communism tour along with plenty of paid options.

Another interesting place to visit on your fourth day in Budapest is Memento Park. Located southwest of the city centre, it is accessible by public transport, though you may want to opt for a taxi, as well.

This open-air museum houses a collection of Soviet-era artefacts, statues, and memorabilia that were removed from public spaces following the fall of the communist regime.

Day trip to the Danube Bend, Eger or Lake Balaton

If you’re not interested in the former activities, consider spending your final day in Budapest taking a day trip to a nearby area. There are lots of options available to you within easy reach of the capital, so it’s really up to you and what you’re looking for.

For instance, the Danube Bend on the border of Slovakia is a popular option and you can organise a guided tour there. Here, you can visit the town of Esztergom or head to the lovely town of Visegrad. You can get beautiful views of the Danube Valley here.

Another popular option is the town of Eger. This picture-perfect city is accessible in about 1.5 hours from Budapest by train and its compact nature means that it’s easily explored within the confines of a day.

Finally, consider heading to the gorgeous Lake Balaton. A popular holiday spot for Hungarians, this massive lake has a lot to offer visitors and it’s reachable in under 2 hours from the capital by train or you can take an organised tour.

Lake Balaton
Lake Balaton

Where to Stay in Budapest

Butterfly Home Danube – This mid-range hotel in the centre of Budapest’s lively Pest side is an excellent place to base yourself in the Hungarian capital. They have a number of spacious and comfortable rooms to choose from and breakfast available each morning. Click here to check availability

Corinthia Budapest – Travellers looking for a luxury stay in Budapest will love this beautiful hotel on historic Andrassy Utca. Situated in a beautiful Art Nouveau building, they have a range of opulent rooms to choose from, an on-site bar and countless plush amenities available to guests. Click here to check availability

BudaFlats Apartments – Those after a self-catering option will love these great apartments located on the quiet Buda side of the city. Well-located for exploring the Hungarian capital, they have a number of lats to choose from to suit your needs. Click here to check availability

Lavender Circus Hostel – Located on the Pest side of the city, this hostel is an excellent place if you’re looking for a social atmosphere or travelling on a tight budget. They have both traditional dorms and private rooms to choose from along with lots of other perks available to guests. Click here to check availability

Not quite what you’re looking for? Click here to browse more Budapest hotels!

Budapest is one of the most popular and dynamic destinations in Eastern Europe for good reason – it is absolutely beautiful and packed with interesting things to do. Follow this itinerary and you, too, will be raving about what an amazing destination the Hungarian capital is.

Are you planning to visit Budapest? Have any questions about this itinerary? Let us know in the comments!

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Maggie is a co-founder and writer for The World Was Here First. Originally from the US, she has lived in five different countries and has travelled to dozens more, both solo and with her partner, Michael. She particularly loves exploring Spain and spending time in the Caucasus and the Baltics. Read more about Maggie


  1. Hello,
    Further ideas:
    Musical fountain on Margaret Island
    Gresham Palace
    Parisi Udvar (lovely passage!)
    Evening boat trip on the Danube
    Light Art Museum
    Near Budapest:
    Godollo: lovely town with Sisi’s palace (Royal Palace) where you can arrange a VIP tour with Sisi taking you around.

  2. A really nice guide. 🙂 I’ve been to Budapest once and, hopefully, I will have a chance to visit this city again in the near future. And you provided useful tips about what to do there so I pin this article for later. 😉


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