Things to do in Budapest in 2 days
Budapest is a resplendent gem that lies right in the heart of Europe. Because of its strategic location to the river, Budapest is also known as the Pearl of the Danube. Renowned for its stunning cityscape and the rich history, tourists flock to this city just like ants towards honey. There are so many things to do in Budapest that you will never have enough time for it. If you have just 2 days, let’s find out what to do in Budapest in 2 days and still get a wonderful experience!
DAY 1: What to do in Budapest in 2 days
Chances are, you will be staying at the Pest side (the side with the Parliament building) as there are more accommodation options available.
I will curate this itinerary based on that. If you are not staying on the Pest, modify this itinerary slightly and you will equally enjoy Budapest in 2 days.
This list of “What to do in Budapest in 2 days” are carefully curated. You can walk the whole city without having to pay for transport most of the time (except when you’re going to Szechenyi bath which will be discussed).
If you are staying in a central accommodation, you won’t need to use the public transport much. Even if you have to use it, it’s very affordable.
Forget about the Budapest Card as they do not offer a significant discount that will make the card worth it. What I recommend getting is just individual tickets as Budapest not too big – it’s walkable.
If you are not keen to walk a lot, get a block of 10 single ticket (3000 HUF), or a daily travel card (HUF 1650 at the time of writing).
Without further ado, let’s bring you the best on “What to do in Budapest in 2 days”!
1. Szechenyi Bridge
What to do in Budapest in 2 days? Start your first day by walking along the most important artery of the city centre – Szechenyi Bridge!
There are many bridges in Budapest so if you have a bridgeporn tendency, your camera and you are gonna have a great time. Szechenyi bridge is the prettiest and most grandiose of all. Walk from Pest to Buda across Szechenyi Bridge while watching the ferries idly cruising on the water.
Besides, you can also have a wonderful view of the castle when you are on the bridge.
2. Fisherman’s Bastion
Start your first day by getting your bearings right at Fisherman’s Bastion.
Located on Castle Hill, you will be granted with the most mesmerising view of the Pest side of the city from here, including the world-renowned Parliament Building.
Tips: Come here in the morning as it gets really crowded as the day goes by. There are many things to see around the area so if you come early, you might be able to see them all.
3. Matthias Church
Matthias Church is located just next door.
Make a quick visit and you will soon find out why this church has been selected many times to host royal weddings and coronations.
There’s an admission price to the church – 1800HUF for full paying adult and 1200HUF for concession including students.
If you are on a budget, skip it because looking at the church from outside is equally impressive.
After that, you will be walking towards Buda Castle. You will pass by the labyrinth and Honvéd Szobor (a statue).
4. Buda Castle
The Castle Hill is a whole castle complex with many things to do in Budapest.
The Buda Castle no longer serves as a castle. It’s now a gigantic museum featuring the turbulent history of 2000 years of this opulent city.
If you are interested in visiting this museum, make sure you allow more time in the morning to see other things before the museum opens.
Opening time: 10am
The citadel is another place with many things to do in Budapest all clumped together.
You can get a hawk-eye view of a different part of Pest. The best viewpoint for the Liberty Bridge (the green bridge) is from Gerard of Csanád Monument or Vyhlídka. With a short hike (15-30 minutes), you will reach the Liberty Statue.
On your way to Liberty Bridge, there’s a cave church called Gellért Hill Cave. I visited it and thought that it was pretty interesting.
6. Liberty Bridge
Walk back to the Pest side using Liberty Bridge. Liberty Bridge is a much newer bridge with a starking difference in design – I mean it’s painted in green. It’s the other important bridge in Budapest. You will be able to appreciate the difference between both bridges.
Alternative: If you are tired of walking, take the metro from Szent Gellért tér to Deák Ferenc tér/ Astoria. Make sure you have a valid ticket as they have many officers and ticket coordinators walking around. If you wish to make a quick stop to see a historical shopping centre, make a stop at Ferenciek Tere to visit the opulent Paris Courtyard.
7. Central Market Hall
If you prefer walking the Liberty Bridge, you will see Central Market Hall almost immediately after you walk pass the bridge. I love visiting markets because I get a quick overview of the ingredients that are normally featured in the cuisine.
The Central Market Hall is touristy but the things that they sell are what the locals would use (according to my friend), just at a higher price tag.
Get hold of the food for lunch! You know that you will never go wrong with food from the market.
Tips: If the weather is nice, get some bread, cheese and Hungarian salami (téliszalámi) and have a picnic at the small park nearby called Játszótér.
8. Dohány Street Synagogue
After lunch, head to Dohány Street Synagogue which is located just next to the restaurant.
If you haven’t realised, this is the Jewish Quarter of Budapest. However, after the war, this area became deserted as the Jews faced extermination. Those who survived fled to somewhere safer.
The synagogue is very well preserved – it’s worth it to have a look inside and appreciate the many facades of history that this synagogue has persevered. Entrance fees apply.
If you are interested in seeing more synagogues, you can also see Kazinczy Street Synagogue and Rumbach Street Synagogue.
9. Drum Café
Drum Café is my favourite restaurant in Budapest. FAVOURITE.
I normally ask the locals where I can get good and cheap Hungarian cuisine. Of all the restaurants they have mentioned (and I have tried), Drum Café is the best.
Do not be deceived by the cheap menu items – they are insanely good.
If you are new to Hungarian cuisine, just get any of their menu items! Get chicken paprikash, beef goulash, sour cherry soup and share. https://drumcafe.hu/en/menu-english/
10. Experience Budapest's nightlife
What to do in Budapest at night?
Budapest only comes alive at night! It is well known among the Europeans to be one of the best destinations for the flamboyant and never-ending nightlife!
To start your night, head to Szimpla Ruin Bar – the biggest ruin bar of Budapest. If you don’t drink, having a look inside is totally worth it as a lot of thoughts were put into the interior décor of the bars. A floating garden in the middle of a bar? You have it!
Alternative: if you prefer to party harder, you need to go to Instant. This club normally has a long line but if you can get in – I am so sure that you will have the best night!
DAY 2: What to do in Budapest in 2 days
1. St. Stephen’s Basilica
The architecture of this huge basilica is like Anne Hathaway – it’s gorgeous in all direction. A look inside of the church is free but there’s a nominal price of 500 HUF to go up to the dome area.
Tips: I find that the best street to photograph this magnificent building is from Zrínyi street, which is where you can find the Fat Policeman Statue – another attraction!
2. Gresham Palace
Gresham Palace, which is now Four Seasons Hotel, was once an extravagant apartment and office building. I reckon when it was first used in 1906, people must have been wearing tux to work since it looks so grandiose from the outside.
As it’s now fully transformed into a lavish hotel, you can have a quick peek inside for free even if you don’t stay here!
5. Shoes on the Danube bank
Not too far from the parliament building, you will be able to see a memorial on the Danube bank.
The monument is called “Shoes on the Danube Bank” is a memorial to the Jews who were asked to take off their shoes before they were shot by the fascists and fell into the river.
It’s a sorrowful story and it’s important for us to know that this is not the place to take a silly selfie with gestures trying to wear those shoes.
3. Parliament building
About what to do in Budapest in 2 days – this is probably the highlight of your visit to Budapest.
This enormous parliament building has been a star on major social media. It is undoubtedly the most photographed building in Budapest.
If you want to visit the interior, you will have to book at least a week in advance before your visit because tickets run out really quickly! It is especially so during high season.
If your budget allows it, a visit inside the building is really worth it.
Tips: Make sure you see the building from both the front (view from Fisherman’s Bastion) and the back.
4. Danube river promenade
This is entirely optional because by now, you might have walked along both sides of the river on and off.
If you are getting tired, you can always take Tram Number 2 as it goes through a scenic river route, showing off the best of Budapest in 2 days.
6. Lunch at Tüköry Étterem
You probably have had enough of walking, so treat yourself with some authentic Hungarian cuisine!
This is my second favourite of all of the restaurants that I have tried in Budapest. Tukory Etterem is a very relaxed and cosy restaurant serving the most humble home-cooked Hungarian food.
There is a picture menu online http://tukoryetterem.hu/etlap/ – get ready to drool.
7. Szechenyi baths
Spend your afternoon enjoying traditional Turkish spas and baths at Szechenyi Baths!
Every time I go back to Budapest, I will visit Szechenyi Baths at least once. It is not the most affordable thing in Budapest but if you can do it, you totally should!
Just get the cheapest entrance ticket and that should be enough. You have to pay more for massage and spa.
If you have more than 2 days in Budapest, stay in Szechenyi baths for at least half a day. There are many indoor and outdoor pools for you to experience.
8. Ice skate in City Park (if you visit Budapest in winter)
This is the most amazing ice-skating experience that I have had in my life.
It used to be a huge rink going through the bridge during winter but last time when I visited, it became smaller. However, it’s still fun!
The admission for skating here is affordable but they rent the skate in hours. So the longer you skate, the more expensive it becomes. If you just want to get a taste of it, just skate for 1 hour in which the skate rental will be just 800 HUF.
Being able to skate in an open rink with a castle as a backdrop – how often can you do that??
If you need more inspirations on why you should visit Budapest in Winter, check out this https://aarongonetravel.com/travel-guides/visit-budapest-in-winter/
9. Heroes Square
Heroes Square is located just opposite to the city park. Conveniently located just next to a metro station, give it a quick visit before you hop on a train to go back to the city centre.
10. New York Café
If you have some extra cash and still wondering about what to do in Budapest in 2 days, visit New York Café.
Get an overpriced coffee while admiring the plush interior décor of this lavish café. You are not paying for the quality of the beverage but for the opulent ambience and the impeccable service!
8 euros for a coffee – who’s down??
11. Hungarian State Opera
Opera buildings are normally beautiful. However, it’s not cheap to do a tour inside the building.
The best way to visit any opera building in Europe is to just watch an opera and spend the intermission wandering in the building!
Fortunately, I found an insanely cheap ticket online to watch an opera at the Hungarian State Opera when I was visiting Budapest.
Try your luck online in getting a cheap ticket (mine was 1000HUF or 3 euros although the view from my seat was awful) and you’ll get to see the grandeur of this impressive building.
12. Andrassy Ut. and Király Ut.
Along these two streets, you can find quirky cafés, restaurants and shops. If you are sick of Hungarian food (which sounds totally blasphemous to me), there are some restaurants specialising in other cuisines such as Trófea Grill and Paneer Budapest.
13. Retro Langos Bufe
Langosh is this insanely-scrumptious piece of fried fluffy dough topped with sour cream, garlic, cheese and fried onion. It’s also called “True Love“.
You cannot leave Budapest without trying this! Retro Langos Bufe has been known to serve really good Langosh for years and you know it when you see locals around. This would be your supper/ dinner before you say bye-bye to Budapest.
In conclusion: What to do in Budapest
This sums up what to do in Budapest in 2 days. Obviously, I am trying my best to squeeze in the best things to do in Budapest for 2 days, but you can easily modify it by taking something out or put in something that you’d prefer.
Unity Hostel is not a party hostel – which I highly recommend so that you can actually get a good night sleep. It’s clean and has a well-equipped kitchen for you to show off your culinary skills!
For around 42 USD, you will be able to stay in this beautifully decorated apartment in the centre of Budapest. It has received raving reviews on the cleanliness and the friendliness of the host too!
If you could get hold of this room, please get it! For just around 90 USD, you can stay in a suite in this up and coming hotel with chic décor! This is the only place I will stay in Budapest! Click on the photo to check out more!
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Born and raised in Malaysia, Aaron is a medical student who desperately preaches about “Travelling doesn’t have to be expensive” – well, he has a full-on blog about it. When he is free, he checks for the cheapest airfare that would get him out of Australia. Aaron indulges in local cuisine so much that he has to lose some weight before and after he goes travelling. Read more about him here!
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