One of my favorite places in the world, the city I find incredibly romantic and where I would go back at any point in time: Budapest. And because I love it so, I’m here to help you out with the perfect 2 days Budapest itinerary for when you don’t have too much time but still want to make the best out of it.
I know I could easily spend weeks in Budapest exploring every little hidden corner, but when you only have limited time, you will want to make the best out of it. Or at least, that’s how I am.
My husband always tells me I could always come up with huge lists of things to do and see in a place. But I can also perfectly structure them so that everything fits in on a 2 days escape. Thus, here we go.
Note: For the transparency, there are affiliate links in this article. However, there will be no extra costs for people who decide to book via my link.
2 days in Budapest itinerary – do it smart!
Where to stay in Budapest for the first time
In order to answer this question, you will have to decide and choose between the 2 parts of town: Buda and Pest.
To make things a bit easier, here are a few things to have in mind when looking on a map looking for accommodation options:
- Buda – the more quiet part of Budapest, located on the hills, where you will be able to find rooms with great views, still not far from the main attractions in Budapest.
We’ve booked a small and coquet apartment with stunning views from its balcony. On sunny days it is the perfect spot for breakfast with a view. Check it out here!
Hotel Clark Budapest is another great option in Buda, perfectly located next to the famous Chain Bridge it offers rooms with views for days. Imagine taking a long bath at the end of the day with Budapest shining bright behind you. You wouldn’t want anything else! See when they are available here!
- Pest – this is the wild part of Budapest, and where you want to stay when you plan to spend the night partying. However, this is also where you will find plenty of attractions, not only the nightlife of Budapest.
Roombach Hotel Budapest Center – is a great hotel option centrally places, close to all the cool spots in Budapest. This is the greatest place to stay if you are looking to have fun. Check it out here!
Getting around for your 2 days Budapest itinerary
The easiest way to get around Budapest is by public transportation or by walking around. We chose a mix of the two.
Budapest has one of the oldest underground systems in the world, being the first one on the European continent, and if you take the central line you will see how narrow and small the wagons are.
Have more time? See what you can do with 3 days in Budapest!
We went around mainly by bus because that’s how we could also see the city while traveling from one point to the other.
Some of the tram or bus lines make for great itineraries themselves: tram #2 will take you along the Parliament, and the Buda Castle, traveling along the Buda banks. Bus #16 crosses the Chain Bridge up to the Castle Hill.
Other options of getting around in Budapest:
- Book a Fun Segway Sightseeing tour
- Take a 2 hour Small Group Bike Tour
- A hop on hop off bus ride is always a great idea especially when you have little time and want to make the best out of it
- Even more fun could be to rent a Fat Tire MonsteRoller E-Scooter and travel around Budapest quicker and in a fun way
- Would you have thought you could take a ride on a tuk tuk in Budapest? Well, you can even though you are nor in Sri Lanka!
Day 1 – explore Buda
Start your day with a Funicular ride up to Buda Castle. That’s the easiest and fastest way to get to the castle and to the Old Town part – one of my favorite parts of Budapest.
The funicular opens at 7:30 AM and closes at 10 PM, giving you a lot of time to use it. However, if you come early enough you might just get to enjoy the castle hill and its attractions without the crowds. One journey up the hill costs 1200 ft ( 3.8 USD), and buying a round trip will get you a small discount.
Fisherman’s Bastion & Matthias Church
Once you get up the hill, make sure to head directly to the Fisherman’s Bastion and Matthias Church. One of the most picturesque places in town, this is definitely a place worth making the top of the list on your 2 days in Budapest itinerary.
The view you will get from there is simply breathtaking, and of course, the pictures that result from here could be great memories.
While you’re there, make sure to explore the 7 turrets, enter Matthias Church dating from the 14th century with its colorful roof, or wander around on the beautiful streets behind. That might be one of the most charming areas of Budapest, already one of the most beautiful cities in Eastern Europe.
The entrance to Matthias Church is 1800 ft ( 6 USD), while some of the turrets have free access and for others, you’ll need to pay a small entrance fee.
For your next stop in Buda, you can either choose to take a stroll or take the official Buda Castle electric hop on hop off bus. No matter how you choose to get around, know this area is on the hills, thus there will be plenty of stairs to go around. However, the streets are charming.
Your next stop will be at Buda Castle. We could see the imposing landmark of Budapest directly from our window right across a park perfectly colored in fall’s shades.
Nowadays, Buda castle is home to the National Gallery and Budapest History Museum.
Budapest History Museum entrance fee: 7.5 EUR – 8 USD – 2400 HUF
National Gallery entrance fee: 5.5 EUR – 6 USD – 1100 HUF
You can also book a castle visit with a historian and learn all about Buda Castle.
Gellert Hill and the Citadella
Moving forward, there will be yet another part of going down and then up again on the stairs. But that is just the fun part of Buda. You will need all this workout in order to burn all that goulash that you will eat.
The Citadella is surrounded by a park and perched on a hill that offers another set of stunning views over the city. Since we visited during the fall, the whole walk both going up and coming down was just remarkable.
Visit the Citadel, the fortress built in 1848-49 serving now as one of Budapest’s tourist attractions, but you should go inside if you have the time. The admission fee is around 1 EUR – 1 USD – 300 HUF.
Other things to visit on Gellert Hill:
- The statue of liberty
- The Cave Church
- The Taban
If you still have time in the day, here are another few ideas for spending your time. All are amazing things you must try while in Budapest:
- I would take a cruise on the Danube once night falls
- A Hungarian cuisine tasting or go on a 3-hour food tasting tour and try all the crazy delicious things from goulash soup to chimney cake (Kürtőskalács)
- Wine tasting – because Hungarian wine is really good
Once night falls head to the party side of Budapest, to Szimpa Kert, and have a drink or two. Or go on a pub crawl to some of the most popular places in town, the ruin bars.
Day 2 – explore Pest
Vajdahunyad Castle & Heroes Square
Start your day like a royal at the castle. Yet another lovely castle in Budapest, one that would make any list of the most Instagrammable spots in Budapest.
Maybe it was because we visited in fall, but I had been there also during spring and loved the place quite as much. There are a park and a lake surrounding Vajdahunyad Castle making it the perfect place to go for a quiet time.
The castle dates from 1896 and is a mix of architecture styles and hosts the Museum of Agriculture. I wouldn’t necessarily go for that, but a stroll inside the garden and around the castle is totally worth a trip.
Right across the street from the Vajdahunyad Castle and the City Park, there’s the Heroes Square. The place is hard to miss because and you will easily know which one is it.
Inside the square, you will see statues of the 7 chieftains of the Magyars and other important Hungarian national leaders set up in a semicircle.
The most iconic building in the whole of Budapest, that one landmark you see everywhere you look for Hungary’s capital.
As always, I recommend visiting the most important point of a town with a guided tour. That’s how you will manage to learn a whole lot about the place, see the Hungarian’s Crown Jewels, and the Hungarian Holy Crown. Book your Parliament guided tour here.
Once finished with your second-day tour, I suggest you cross over to the other side of the Danube’s banks and take a picture with this imposing structure, the 3rd largest Parliament building in the world.
Have you seen the world’s biggest Parliament in Bucharest?
St. Stephen’s Basilica
Another of the attractions that must be part of your 2 days in Budapest itinerary, bearing the name of the first king of Hungary, St. Stephen’s Basilica is a must.
You will recognize it marking Budapest’s skyline from many of the spots you’ve already been to, but seeing it up close is quite as nice.
Book your tour with access to the Basilica’s tower!
One of the best places to enjoy its view, after you have visited it on the inside, is the nearby High Note SkyBar at Aria Hotel.
The rooftop bar is one of the best in town and it offers stunning views over Budapest and St. Stephen’s Basilica in particular.
Once you’ve had a casual drink on the rooftop terrace, walk further and don’t miss out on seeing the synagogues in the Jewish quarter, stroll along the Andrássy Street and admire the architecture (especially the opera house) or do a bit of window shopping, and head towards the Central Market Hall.
Once done shopping for local products and ingredients to take back home from the market, head back to Vaci Street at one of the many restaurants lined up.
Where to eat in Budapest
With such a tight schedule, it will be hard to wander around looking for the perfect place to eat at. Rest assured that in Budapest, there will be something for anyone: meat lovers, vegetarians, vegans, sweet lovers, you name it!
Here are my top choices on both sides of the Danube:
- Kazimir Bistro – $$Found this place by chance, but ate the best goulash there is! Great atmosphere with live instrumental music, delicious wine, everything that makes a dinner unforgettable. It is on the Pest side really close to the party area of Budapest.
Deryne Bistro – $$$
Also by chance, we bumped into this place and decided to have dinner here one evening since it was really close to our Airbnb. From the outside looked totally different than the posh, stylish place we found inside.
Food was delicious and even though they have a large variety of meat, we chose something traditional (wild boar paprikas) and some refreshing white Hungarian wine. The restaurant is in the Buda part of town, and you might want to try making a reservation.
Stika – $$
Another great brunch we savored was at this little (and I mean little) place in the Jewish Quarter of Budapest. They have a few tables outside, but if it’s raining (as it was on both occasions that I’ve visited Budapest) it might not be fun to sit outside.
Come prepared to wait in line for a table (people after us waited even for 30 min), but also to enjoy a great delicious meal and coffee. We were hungry when we got there, so decided to try the Eggs Benedict and share some pancakes with raspberry jam.
All I can say is the food is delicious and worth visiting this hip place!
Other things worth doing in Budapest
Budapest is internationally known for its thermal baths and SPAs, so why not plan for a few relaxing hours at one of the SPAs in Budapest? Book your Full Day SPA here!
Strolling through the park on Margaret Island should be on your list when you are traveling to Budapest with kids. On the island, you can find a beach with water slides and cool pools.
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