Three days in Budapest: What to see and do

28 April 2019

Straddling the River Danube which divides the city into two parts – green and hilly Buda and the urban centre of Pest – Hungary’s capital has so much to offer visitors. Whether you are into rest and relaxation, a keen historian or you’re simply looking for a new European city to discover, why not give Budapest a try? Here is our recommendation of what you can see and do on a three-day trip to this Eastern European marvel.

“Budapest is a relaxed and fun city. There is plenty to do and see with a great food and drink scene. I have been before, and I would absolutely go back. Budapest is one of Europe’s finest value-for-money destinations – I couldn’t recommend it enough.”

Vanya, Travel Counsellor

Day 1

Morning: Make a beeline for the less urbanised part of the city – Buda – and explore the beautiful stone architecture that overlooks the River Danube as it pokes its head out of the hillside greenery. The best way to get there is by funicular, where you’ll get a sneak peek of the city’s skyline as you ascend Castle Hill.

Your first stop in Buda should be Buda Castle – the 14th-century structure that was once home to Hungarian kings. Today, it houses two museums – the National Gallery and the Budapest History Museum – both of which are worth visiting. The National Gallery focuses on Hungarian art through the ages, while the Budapest History museum retraces the city’s history from Roman times to the present day.

Afternoon: Walk along Buda’s cobbled streets and be taken in by one of the dainty restaurants along the way. A nice helping of goulash soup – one of Hungary’s national dishes – should satiate your appetite, and you can find this tasty treat at excellent eateries such as Meat Boutique or Marvelosa Restaurant.

Spend the rest of the afternoon discovering everything else that Buda has to offer including Matthias Church, with its colourful tiled roof, and Fisherman’s Bastion, a terrace and lookout point with incredible views across the Danube and over Pest. As one of the city’s premier photo opportunities, be sure to have your camera at the ready.

Evening: Once night has fallen, kick off your evening with a stroll along the river’s bank and see the grandiose architecture illuminated including the Chain Bridge and the Parliament Building. Then it’s time for more food, and if you’re looking for fine dining, Budapest is the place to be as it boasts six Michelin-starred restaurants. Boasting two Michelin stars, Onyx takes centre stage with its opulent dining room featuring crystal chandeliers, white-gloved waiters and a European foodie experience that sets it apart from the rest.

Day 2

Morning: Start the day early with a trip to Heroes’ Square – the largest square in Budapest which was laid out at the end of the 19th century to mark the 1,000th anniversary of Hungary. Just behind Heroes’ Square, you’ll find the elegantly-designed Vajdahunyad Castle, which sits alongside a boating lake. Admire this romantic castle with a mid-morning pitstop at one of the lakeside cafés.

Afternoon: Only a five-minute walk from the castle and square, the famous Széchenyi Baths are the perfect place to spend a relaxing day. With 15 indoor baths and three grand outdoor pools which are geothermally heated. In addition to bathing, you can enjoy a range of massages, use one of the facility’s saunas or take part in one of the free aqua fitness classes.

Evening: After soaking in the spa baths, explore Budapest’s thrilling nightlife scene with a trip to one of its ruin bars – once dilapidated pre-war buildings now rebranded as unique watering holes which have been taking the Hungarian capital by storm.

Day 3

Morning: Head back down to the banks of the Danube for a look at Budapest’s most iconic landmark, the Hungarian Parliament Building. Admire the gorgeous neo-Gothic architecture up-close and go inside the building where the National Assembly takes place on a 45-minute guided tour taking in the main entrance hall, the old House of Lords and the Hungarian Crown Jewels.

After that, it’s time to visit the Holocaust Memorial Center. Housed inside a renovated synagogue that dates back to the 1920s, this museum recounts the Hungarian Jews that were killed in the Holocaust, whilst also documenting the country and city’s rich Jewish heritage. At the end of the exhibition, you’ll be able to see inside the main hall of the synagogue itself.

Afternoon: For a spot of lunch, taste your way through Budapest’s Great Market Hall. Feast on fresh food and local delicacies including Hungarian paprika, fantastic salamis, pickets, fresh fish and Tokaji wine. Spend the rest of the afternoon exploring Margaret Island – a 1.6-mile stretch of land which sits in the middle of the Danube. A popular recreational area, Margaret Island also hosts swimming pools, a water park, a Japanese garden, a musical fountain and the UNESCO-listed water tower. You can also hire kayaks and paddle along the river.

Evening: For your final evening in Budapest, why not take a foot tour and sample some of the city’s wonderful culinary delights? Join a specialist foodie guide who will share their expertise on Hungarian food at a range of traditional and contemporary venues. Try local cheese and an aperitif at a wine show, taste award-winning, handmade chocolate bonbons from Budapest’s top chocolate manufacturer or learn about Jewish culture during a tasting at a traditional Jewish restaurant.

“Budapest is famous for lashings of goulash and dumplings, but the food scene in this wonderful city has a lot more to offer than just the traditional dishes. Have a wander around the indoor food market at the Great Market Hall and you will see a huge array of fresh produce on offer. There are also a number of excellent Hungarian wines that are worth a try.”

Charlie, Travel Counsellor


Useful information

Time zone: GMT +2

Currency: Hungarian Forint (HUF)

If you’re ready to discover the beauty of Budapest for yourself, contact your Travel Counsellor and take advantage of exclusive benefits including full financial protection and a 24-hour duty office ready to support you before, during and even after your trip. 

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