This European city has a fascinating history to uncover, thermal baths to dip into, and quirky ruins bars to drink at. If you’ve only got 3 days to spare, you’ll need to plan your Budapest itinerary well to pack in all the sights.
Here’s how to maximise your time and do all your Budapest sightseeing in 3 days…
The Hungarian capital boasts dramatic architecture and medieval ruins at every turn. You could spend weeks exploring everything the city has to offer. But, if you’ve only got a few days, make sure you tick off Budapest’s must-sees.
Spend your first day getting to know the city and visiting the most famous landmarks. A hop-on, hop-off bus tour will whizz you around the sights and give you the option to stop at as many attractions as you fancy.
Start your day off by visiting Heroes’ Square and seeing the iconic statues of the seven tribes that founded Hungary up close. The Museum of Fine Arts and the Palace of Art are nearby, so you can get your culture fix early on in the trip. Then, hop back on the bus and you’ll be taken to the beautiful Hungarian Parliament Building, St Stephens Basilica, Chain Bridge and many more landmarks. Spend some time getting a closer look at the stunning interiors of St Stephens Basilica, strolling across the Chain Bridge that connects Buda and Pest, and watching the changing of the guard at Parliament.
Budapest Red Route
Budapest’s Jewish Quarter is famous for its ‘ruin bars’ which are drinking spots in the ruins of abandoned buildings. These bars look understated from the outside, but once you step across the threshold, there are quirky, artistic interiors to enjoy. The most famous and original ruin pub is Szimpla Kert, which is decorated with graffiti, bric-a-brac and plants, and full of hidden corners, and secret hideaways. There are loads of rooms to explore here with a mix of cocktails bars, live bands and dance music – something for every partygoer.
Spend your second day in Budapest exploring its historic castle and seeing the city from a different perspective.
If it’s a sunny day, why not swap walking around in the heat for a relaxing cruise along the Danube? Book a Silverline Cruise and you can landmark-spot from the river while enjoying the leisurely 75-minute journey across the water. You’ll get amazing views of the Hungarian Parliament, the Citadel, Chain Bridge, the Royal Palace, with the opportunity to hop off and explore if you fancy.
The towering castle that you’ve probably spotted on your tour of the city is Buda Castle – spend the afternoon getting a closer look and exploring it properly. You can take the funicular railway up to the castle from the Chain Bridge or book a shuttle bus from Clark Adam Square. Once you’re at the top, stroll around the spectacular domed building, take a few snaps of the city below and pop into the Hungarian National Gallery and the Budapest History Museum which are within the complex.
Ötkert is one of Budapest’s most popular bars, located just a few minutes away from the Basilica and the Danube Promenade. The bar doubles up as a restaurant and there are regular concerts, exhibitions, live bands and DJ sets that take place here too. Toast a successful day of sightseeing with palinka – a special Hungarian brandy.
You can’t visit Budapest and not take a dip in one of the thermal baths. The city boasts over 100 natural springs and 15 public baths for you to choose from. The Szechenyi Baths are the most popular. This complex consists of 18 pools, both indoor and outdoor, plus 10 saunas. There are also ‘spartys’ every Saturday where the baths turn into a giant club complete with light shows and DJs. You’ve also got the Gellart Baths which features a thermal spring that dates back to the 15th century, plus an outdoor wave pool. And, the Kiraly Baths, one of the oldest in Budapest. For more options, check out our Guide to Budapest's Thermal Spas.
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Red Route, Stop: Heroes Square
You’ve probably had your fill of city sights by now. So why not spend the rest of the afternoon on Margaret Island – Budapest’s very own tranquil, green oasis. The 2.5km island is located in the middle of the Danube, and it’s covered in parkland and recreational facilities to enjoy. There are pedal carts available to rent so you can explore the huge space with ease. Make sure you visit the gorgeous rose garden, which comes into bloom in early spring, and the Japanese garden, which features a waterfall, dwarf trees and a koi carp pond. You’ll also find a musical fountain in the south of the island plus a petting zoo and medieval ruins tucked away in the middle of the park.
Blue Route, Stop: Margaret Island
Ready to see the best of Budapest in just 3 days? Follow our itinerary above and you’ll cover the city’s best sights, spend some time relaxing in the thermal baths and doing some ruin bar hopping too. The perfect way to experience Hungary’s capital city.