Budapest is one of the most gorgeous cities! And I am so happy to have finally ticked it off my travel list.
I visited Budapest back in August last year, so obviously, this blog post is a little late. But better late than never!
My visit was 4 days, but unfortunately, on one of the days I was in Budapest, it rained, which kind of threw a spanner in the works when it came to our travel plans. Each day we had roughly planned out in a little Budapest itinerary of what we wanted to do, but because of the rainy day, it meant we had to compress everything into three days. Nevertheless, we still managed to do and see absolutely everything we wanted to.
So with that in mind, I thought I would put together an ideal travel guide for Budapest to help you plan and put together an itinerary for when you visit – which of course, you must!
- How long to stay in Budapest
- Getting to Budapest city centre from the airport
- Where to stay in Budapest
- Day 1: The Pest Side
- Day 2: The Buda Side
- Day 3
How long to stay in Budapest
Three days is most definitely a good amount of time to spend in Budapest as it gives you enough time to visit all the main sites. So here is a 3-day Budapest itinerary which you can use as a rough guide for your visit. If your stay is longer or shorter, you could work things around to make it into a 1-day itinerary or 2-day itinerary for Budapest.
Getting to Budapest city centre from the airport
Getting to the city centre from the airport was a lot easier than I had anticipated. You just need to pick up a ticket from either the transport desk (probably the easiest option) or from the machine located just outside the terminal. There is an airport shuttle bus (100E) that takes approximately 35 minutes to get to the centre. The bus stop is located literally just outside the airport exit to the left.
Where to stay in Budapest
Hannah and I got super lucky and ended up in the most beautiful hotel for a really good price. We stayed in the Hotel Museum Budapest, which I would highly recommend if it is within your budget. It is located on the Pest side of Budapest, in the Jewish Quarters so we were very close to the centre, which meant it was easier to walk everywhere as it was all in close proximity.
Day 1 of the Budapest Itinerary: The Pest Side
Vintage Garden Cafe
This is just the most instagrammable cafe you have ever seen. The Vintage Garden Cafe is a great place to stop at for breakfast. Filled with loads of blossom and cute details, if you are a blogger you are definitely going to want to pay this place a visit.
I have to recommend the pancakes (ask for added bacon with maple syrup). These were quite honestly the best pancakes I have ever eaten in my whole life – no exaggeration. They were just so, so yummy! I also had a cappuccino with my breakfast, and it came to in total around £7, which is really cheap. You will quickly learn just how cheap everything is in Budapest!
The Great Synagogue
The Great Synagogue is the largest in Europe and the second largest in the world – so definitely worth a visit. The entrance fee is HUF 4000, which works out around £10.
Once you have queued and picked up your ticket, you can walk through to the Jewish Museum, which I would recommend going to first. It houses a good collection of different religious objects and also gives you a chance to read and learn about some individual stories from the Holocaust.
After visiting the Jewish Museum, you can walk through to The Great Synagogue itself and sit down to admire the absolutely incredible interiors. The Synagogue is so intricately decorated with the most impressive ceilings.
During WWII, many Jews took refuge in the Synagogue, and sadly the harsh winters meant that few survived. The courtyard, now a mass grave, is next to the Holocaust Memorial which honours the Jews that lost their lives. Designed as a metal weeping willow tree, each leaf on the tree reads the name of one of the individuals buried in the mass grave.
Shoes on the Danube Memorial
As you walk up the river, you will find yourself by the ‘Shoes on the Danube’ memorial, which commemorates those murdered by the Arrow Cross militiamen in WWII. There were approximately 3,500 people, children included, taken to the river where they were ordered to remove their shoes, and were then shot before being disposed of in the river.
Honestly, it is very hard to comprehend what actually happened in this exact spot while standing next to the memorial. The memorial itself is such a striking feature to serve as a reminder of such a horrific event.
Situated right next to the Danube is the Hungarian Parliament building, which is absolutely massive! Being such an impressive building, and also sitting alongside the Danube, it is a great location to get some good photos.
The Chain Bridge is the famous bridge that connects the two sides of Budapest. From the bridge, you can get a really great view of the Buda castle and other bridges running along the river. Be sure to stop on the bridge and take in the view as it really is beautiful.
St. Stephens Basilica
Whilst Hannah and I didn’t actually go inside St. Stephens Basilica, we were still able to admire it from the outside, enjoying our delicious rose ice creams from Gelarto Rosa.
The building is incredibly beautiful and while we were there we were lucky enough to witness a wedding taking place. All the guests had balloons, while the bride and groom stood in the middle and a photographer worked their magic. I can only imagine how incredible the photos are!
Szimpla Kert (Ruin bar)
In the evening head to Szimpla Kert, one of the famous ruin bars. This place has a great atmosphere with live music. There are multiple bars located throughout the building, with different themed rooms to sit. The place has been decorated with loads of eccentric details, making the most of the fact that is was once an old factory.
They also have a number of things going on here in the daytime too. Hannah and I visited the farmer’s market during one of the days of our trip. Well worth a visit if you are in the area!
Day 2 of the Budapest Itinerary: The Buda Side
Buda Hill Funicular
Instead of walking up the massive hill, I would definitely recommend getting the Buda Hill Funicular. It only costs HUF 1700 (about £5) for a return ticket. You might have to queue for a little while, so try and get there early if you want to avoid this. It opens at 7.30am if you are considering heading out before the queues begin.
If you have followed this itinerary on your trip to Budapest, you will have already admired the Buda Castle from across the river. This truly impressive castle is where the Kings in Hungary used to live – and with the views from the top of the hill, I don’t blame them!
The castle is now home to the History Museum and Art Gallery. At the time of visiting there was a Freida Khalo exhibition in the art gallery, which I would have absolutely loved to visit. So be sure to check out what is happening in the gallery at the time of your visit.
A short walk from the Buda Castle is the Matthias Church. Tickets for this are 1800 HUF (about £5) and the Fisherman’s Bastion (1000 HUF – approximately £2.70) can be purchased directly opposite the church.
Before you enter the Matthias Church, just ensure that your shoulders are covered. I would recommend taking a scarf or cardigan in your bag if you do plan to visit.
Upon entering, this church is unlike anything you have ever seen before. It has the most beautiful, bright stencilled prints along every interior wall, matching the gorgeous bright coloured tiles on the roof. It really is quite spectacular!
Now here is where you get the real views of Budapest. The Fisherman’s Bastion is a terrace with seven towers. You can get some absolutely incredible photos of Budapest from up here as it is so high up – so if you are scared of heights, don’t look down!
Day 3 of the Budapest Itinerary
Széchenyi Thermal Baths
Hannah and I both prebooked our tickets ( approximately £17 each) for the Széchenyi Thermal Baths so we could avoid any queues. But we ended up getting up early and heading straight there so there weren’t really any queues anyway!
The baths are a really cool place to visit and just chill out at for a while. There are around 18 different baths there including three outdoor ones. Our favourite was definitely one of the end pools that had a whirlpool feature so the current would keep you floating round in a circle! There is also an ice bath you can take a dip in, before hopping straight into one a little warmer.
Just a few minutes walk from the baths is Heroes Square. It is one of the major squares in Budapest, with its iconic statues of the famous Hungarian National Leaders.
Having a 3-day itinerary definitely gives you a good amount of time to explore Budapest – however if you did go for longer, I’m sure you will find some fun things to do in such a lively, but also very chilled out city. You will end up doing a lot of walking unless you decide to catch the trams. But I think part of the experience of it all is walking through the streets and just admiring everything around you. Budapest is honestly such a beautiful city, which I hope to one day visit again. And I hope that you find my 3-day Budapest itinerary useful!
Have you ever been to Budapest? What was your favourite thing about the city?