2 Days in Budapest: Itinerary for a Magical Weekend in Budapest

Budapest is one of my favorite cities in Europe, and that’s saying something – I’ve visited over a hundred cities on the continent and of them all, Budapest still stands out as one of the best.

It’s one of the most beautifully photogenic cities I’ve ever seen.

And despite having had its big break tourism-wise, the city somehow never feels overrun with tourists – even when I’ve visited in the highest of high season.

 Planning your trip to Budapest at the last minute?

Here are my quick picks on what to do & where to stay!

🍷 Top Budapest Experiences:
1. Budapest Food Tour (try over twenty samples!)
2. Hungarian Parliament Tour (#1 attraction in Budapest)
3. Szechenyi Baths Entry (gorgeous thermal bathhouse)

🏨 Best Budapest Hotels:
1. Aria Hotel (most classic luxury option in Budapest)
2. D8 Hotel (eclectic, modern hotel with a fun personality)
3. Maverick City Lodge (boutique hostel with a peaceful vibe)

✈️ Flying in? Book an airport transfer with Welcome Pickups — they’ll greet you at the airport, help with bags, & bring you into the city, all pre-booked!
Note: This post contains affiliate links, which means I may receive a small commission if you purchase something after clicking. Thank you for supporting the free content on this independent site! For more information on affiliate links and cookies, see my disclosure page for more details.

I think one of the reasons why Budapest feels so much less touristy than other cities is that there is no “Old Town” so to speak.

The entire city is steeped in history, yet it’s not concentrated in certain hot spots the way, say, Prague is. 

While there are certainly places that will be packed with tourists – Fisherman’s Bastion in particular is Instagram Hell – I found that Budapest still never feels that crowded.

Allison Green in Budapest drinking a glass of red wine
On my latest trip to Budapest, enjoying a food and wine tour!

I spent two weeks in Budapest relaxing and enjoying this beautiful city, but I know most people don’t have the luxury of having such an extensive amount of time to see one city so thoroughly.

I’ve then returned twice, once again in the summer and once in the winter, and I’ve updated this Budapest itinerary to include even more of the things I love so much about this unique city.

As a result, I’ve crammed about three weeks worth of research and suggestions into this 2 day Budapest itinerary.

I hope it’s the perfect guide for those who only have time for a quick Budapest weekend trip or a quick two day stop in Budapest on their larger Europe itinerary.

Day 1 in Budapest: Markets, Views, & A Cruise

While there is certainly a lot to see in Budapest, I think that 2 days in Budapest is a good place to start — 1 day is simply not enough.

If you have 3 days, even better, as this Budapest itinerary is pretty jam-packed, and you could easily spread it out so your visit is slower-paced.

Have strudel for breakfast at the Great Market Hall

The Great Market Hall is one of Budapest’s most interesting landmarks, a beautiful covered market hall building bustling with produce vendors, bakers, souvenir sellers, butchers, and spice vendors on the ground floor.

If buying some Hungarian paprika – Budapest’s most famous souvenir – is on your list, here is the place to buy it. The volume they sell spices in here all but guarantees the freshest spices.

Don’t miss the delicious plum strudel in the downstairs bakery, pretty much smack dab in the center of the market – their strudel is truly out of this world.

I stayed in an Airbnb not far from the Market Hall and I ate strudel for breakfast no less than 6 times!

Go up to the 2nd floor for a better view of the market, and you can also stroll around looking at the restaurants and clothing stalls, selling a mix of traditional Hungarian garb and cheap foreign-made souvenirs.

Location:  Vámház krt. 1-3, 1093 Budapest, Hungary

Hours: Closed Sunday, 6 AM – 5 PM Monday, 6 AM – 6 PM Tuesday-Friday, 6 AM – 3 PM Saturday

Cost: Free to enter

Take the #2 tram to Budapest Parliament for a tour

The bright yellow number two tram running along the Danube in Budapest with a view of the famous Szent Gellert hill in the background and a statue.

Taking a ride along the #2 Tram is equal parts convenient and scenic.

Nominated by National Geographic as one of the most scenic tram rides in the world, the bright yellow #2 tram clacks nostalgically along the edge of the Danube, connecting many of Budapest’s most iconic landmarks.

For a touch of sight-seeing and to give your feet a break, hop on the tram and enjoy the Danube and epic views!

However, do note that Tram 2 is really popular as a tourist attraction and as such, it does attract the attention of some pickpockets!

Keep very aware of your belongings while on the tram, especially if it’s crowded.

Another option is to take a one-hour Budapest segway tour that runs along this part of the city.

While travel in Europe is safe, pickpocketing is a major issue. Thwart would-be pickpocketers with a chic, sleek backpack with double-interlocking zippers, slash-proof construction, & RFID blockers! I’ve carried this PacSafe backpack to 30+ countries with me, and it’s my #1 travel companion. Pick from one of seven colors — I have and love the classic black one!

Location: Fővám tér tram stop, right across from the Great Market Hall

Hours: Daily from 5 AM to midnight

Cost: 450 forints if bought on board ($1.60) or 350 forints if bought in a station. Free with an active Budapest Card.

Check out the Hungarian Parliament Building

Autumn trees and the detail of the Budapest parliament from the behind of the building, with domes and ornate building work

The Hungarian Parliament Building is one of the most beautiful pieces of architecture I’ve ever seen in the world, a true work of art.

During your 2 days in Budapest, you’ll get the chance to see it from a variety of different angles (the best views are from across the river on the Buda side).

However, you also should check it out up close and personal to truly appreciate the fine attention to detail of this beautiful building.

As the Budapest Parliament is a functioning government house, you can’t exactly waltz in and visit – you must visit on a guided tour.

If you have the budget for it, I highly recommend doing a tour, which you must book at least a week in advance, especially if you are looking for an English-language tour.

Prebooking allows you to skip the line and simply pick up your tickets at the Visitor Center before your designated tour time.

beautiful interior of the budapest parliament with ornate staircase and gilded ceiling work

The tour of the inside of Budapest Parliament lasts about an hour minutes and includes seeing the great vaulted hall and the ornate central staircase, drooling over the Hungarian Crown Jewels, and checking out the Hungarian Holy Crown.

If you don’t have the money to spend on a tour, though, the building itself is gorgeous to visit, and Kossuth Lajos Square is a great place to relax and enjoy some beautiful views.

You’ll have plenty more opportunities to see the Budapest Parliament building in all its glory on other places on this 2 day itinerary.

Location: Kossuth Lajos tér 1-3, 1055 Budapest, Hungary

Hours: 8 AM – 6 PM Monday-Friday, 8 AM – 4 PM Saturday & Sunday (must go with a tour)

Cost: Free from outside, check tour prices here.

Pay your respects at the Shoes on the Danube memorial

Photo of different brass boots and shoes at the edge of the Danube River in a touching tribute to lives lost during WW2 and the Holocaust

The touching memorial, Shoes on the Danube, pays homage to the victims of anti-Semitism in Hungary who lost their lives to hate.

It’s located a short walk from the Budapest Parliament and is definitely worth a stop on any Budapest itinerary.

During World War II, the Arrow Cross Party – a fascist, far-right party influenced by Nazis – murdered 20,000 innocent Jews in the span of two months.

Their Jewish victims were ordered to take off their shoes before they were shot by the side of the river, so their bodies would fall in the river and get carried away by the tide.

The shoes sculptures on the bank represent the shoes left behind by the dead.

I shouldn’t have to say this, but apparently, I do: please be respectful when you visit this monument.

I saw a clueless tourist posing as if she was putting her feet into the shoes, throwing up peace sign hands.

As someone whose uncle’s parents survived the Holocaust (and whose siblings did not), I found this deeply upsetting.

Many Jewish tourists who visit Budapest as a part of discovering their heritage would find this upsetting too.

So, please, be a good person and don’t take foolish selfies here.

Location: Id. Antall József rkp., 1054 Budapest, Hungary

Hours: 24/7

Cost: Free

Have a traditional Hungarian meal

A variety of Budapest treats while eating in Budapest

With only two days in Budapest, make sure you choose your meals wisely so that you can appreciate how simple and satisfying Hungarian food is.

One of the classics you must eat when in Budapest is goulash! I first fell in love with this dish while eating the Czech version when I lived in Prague in 2009.

I was delighted to find that Hungary’s version is different but equally delicious. Chicken paprikash is also another classic dish you should try in Budapest.

Oh, and if you see sour cherry soup on any menu, ever — get it. You won’t be disappointed. It’s the highlight of summer in Budapest.

A few recommendations for lunch near the Parliament include Budapest Bistro, Grey Goose, and Farger.

Check out the views from Fisherman’s Bastion

Allison Green in a blue summer dress sitting outside the Fisherman Bastion viewpoint with a smile and sunglasses, enjoying her Budapest itinerary and sightseeing

The lovely Fisherman’s Bastion is one of the most beautiful buildings in Budapest – and one of its worst-kept secrets.

You have no idea how much strategy and angle-finagling this took in order to get a (relatively) people-free photo!

Still, even with the crowds, it’s one of the most unique buildings I’ve ever seen.

While it looks like a castle, it’s actually just an insanely ornate terrace in the neo-Romanesque style.

Built in the late 19th/early 20th century, it was created to celebrate the 1000th birthday of the Hungarian State.

Thus, the architectural style is a throwback to the early medieval years, during the first Hungarian’s king’s rule.

It was purposely built right near Matthias Church, which was restored by the architect simultaneously with the construction of the Fisherman’s Bastion, meaning it’s extremely easy to visit both sites in tandem.

Location: Szentháromság tér, 1014 Budapest, Hungary

Hours: 24/7

Cost: Free

See the gorgeous Matthias Church

View of a marble church with a brilliant multi-colored rooftop in yellow, orange, and green tile work on the rooftop, at the highest point of the city of Budapest

Almost an extension of Fisherman’s Bastion, you can’t miss the beautiful Matthias Church, a Roman Catholic church with a beautiful roof complete with Zsolnay ceramic tiles.

It was built in the 14th century in the late Gothic architectural but was restored extensively in the late 1800s and updated in the Austro-Hungarian style.

For a fee of 1800 forint (about $5 USD), you can admire the exquisite interior of the church.

While the exterior is neo-Gothic, the interior has a more traditional Gothic feel, with tall windows and pointy arches.

Unique to this church are the breathtaking frescoes and murals that depict various Hungarian legends as well as biblical scenes.
The stained glass windows also feature historical references in addition to biblical stories.

Location: Szentháromság tér 2, 1014 Budapest, Hungary

Hours: 9 AM – 5 PM Monday-Friday, 9 AM – 1 PM on Saturday, 1 PM – 5 PM on Sunday (may change based on ceremonies)

Cost: Free

Eat some cream cake at Ruszwurm

Ruszwurm Confectionary may be right next to one of Budapest’s biggest tourist attractions, but it’s anything but a tourist trap.

This bakery has been churning out delicious cakes for 200 years and much of the interior is intact, despite the building being severely damaged in World War II.

Don’t miss the cream cake, Ruszwurm’s most famous pastry – it is insanely delicious.

It’s like a beautiful fluffy cloud of cream, with just the perfect hit of crunch from the puff pastry.

Not a fan of cream? The sour cherry strudel and the Dobos tort are also delicious.

Location: Szentháromság u. 7, 1014 Budapest, Hungary

Hours: 10 AM – 6 PM Saturday-Monday, 10 AM – 7 PM Tuesday-Friday

Cost: Around 500 forints apiece, about $2 USD.

Walk to Buda Castle

The former palatial building of Buda Castle which has now been converted from a residence into two different museums, with a courtyard featuring grass, topiaries and statues on a sunny day.

The once-residential Buda Castle is now no longer a castle at all.

Rather, it’s been converted into two different museums, the Hungarian National Gallery and the Budapest History Museum.

If you’re a big fan of art you definitely shouldn’t miss the Hungarian National Gallery, which features both Hungarian and foreign artists.

I’m not a huge art museum fan so I opted to skip it, but it’s still definitely worth walking around the area around Buda Castle.

Location: Szent György tér 2., 1014 Budapest, Hungary

Hours: 10 AM – 6 PM daily, closed on Mondays

Cost: 1,800 forints, around $6 USD.

Cross the Szechenyi Chain Bridge

The Széchenyi Chain Bridge is the most famous bridge in Budapest.

It’s especially iconic at night when it is all lit up and spanning the Danube, connecting the two sides of the city, Buda and Pest.

After you’ve explored the Castle District in Buda to your liking, head back to Pest by crossing the Szechenyi Chain Bridge, stopping to take photos along the way.

Location: Széchenyi Lánchíd, 1051 Budapest, Hungary

Hours: 24/7

Cost: Free

Go on a dinner walk and learn about Hungarian food and wine

For your first night in Budapest, get acquainted with the city’s incredible food and wine culture.

The best thing I did in Budapest on my recent trip to the city was an evening dinner walk with wine tasting.

I can’t emphasize enough what a good deal this tour is!

We had a plate of Hungarian cheeses and sausages paired with two local wines, an appetizer and soup course (paired with more wine) and then a drink of pálinka at a ruin bar.

eating a bowl of soup in budapest with a matzo ball in it

Afterwards, we ate at a restaurant in the Jewish Quarter and shared several plates of food so we could get a spread of five different Hungarian main courses (oh, and more wine) and capped it all off with traditional Hungarian cake.

If you have only two days in Budapest, it’s hard to get a handle on the country’s food and wine scene, and that’s exactly why you should do a food tour like this.

You get to try more food than any reasonable human would ever get to taste, perfect for FOMO-havers like myself.

It’s also great if you’re traveling solo and have no travel companion’s plates to mooch off of!

This is the exact tour that I went on, but I also enjoyed doing their wine tasting class on another night of my trip, which is more affordable (but note that it doesn’t include dinner).

If you had more time, I’d recommend doing a wine tour from Budapest, but since you’ve only got two days, a tour like this is the perfect compromise.

Day 2 in Budapest: Baths & Beyond

Your second day of Budapest is all about finishing up the best sights – the mineral baths, Budapest’s most famous avenue, the lively Jewish Quarter neighborhood, and the best view over Budapest.

Get your walking shoes on – this day of your Budapest itinerary is a long one!

Start your day at the Széchenyi Baths

Yellow round building with a pool in front of it in Szechenyi Baths a must visit on a Budapest itinerary

You’ve undoubtedly already seen photos of the exquisite Széchenyi Baths, one of the most iconic buildings in Budapest, located in the heart of City Park.

It is the largest thermal bath in all of Europe, with 15 indoor baths and 3 outdoor ones.

The baths are fed by two hot springs, with temperatures of 74 °C (165 °F) and 77 °C (171 °F) respectively.

Of course, the hot springs have been cooled down considerably, to tolerable temperatures that won’t boil you alive – 27 °C (81 °F) to 38 °C (100 °F)!

But more than just being hot, the thermal waters actually have curative properties, chock full of helpful minerals like fluoride, sulphate, calcium, and magnesium that help reduce inflammation and improve joint conditions.

Most importantly, they’re insanely fun to spend some time in – and a great way to rest your feet after all the pavement pounding this Budapest itinerary had you doing yesterday.

They can be quite crowded, so I recommend going in the morning to avoid the crowds.

You can also pre-book your ticket to avoid waiting in line, so if you sleep in in the morning and don’t get here very early, I recommend pre-booking so you can avoid the line.

If changing in privacy is a big deal for you, then I recommend picking a cabin.

If you don’t mind changing in front of people of your same gender, then you can just pick a locker.

That’s pretty much the only difference between cabins and lockers.

Location: Állatkerti krt. 9-11, 1146 Budapest, Hungary (inside City Park)

Hours: 6 AM to 10 PM

Cost: Varies depending on options selected; check prices for skip-the-line entry here.

Visit the interesting Vajdahunyad Castle

Vajdahunyad Castle in the City Park, a unique blend of architectural styles with a fairytale loook

This castle inside City Park is well worth a quick visit if you are near Szechenyi Baths.

While the castle looks old, it was actually built in 1896 as part of the celebrations for the 1,000 years of Hungary’s existence.

Yup, those same celebrations which brought Budapest Fisherman’s Bastion also created this Budapest landmark.

In fact, it was never intended to be a permanent castle! As Atlas Obscura reports:

“Vajdahunyad Castle was originally intended to be a temporary exhibition, and was constructed out of wood and cardboard. However, the attraction proved such a hit with locals and visitors alike that a more permanent structure was built in 1904.”

Walking around the area is free, but to get up close and visit the museum inside costs 1,600 forint ($4 USD).

Since it’s right next to the Szechenyi baths, I think it’s definitely worth a visit.

Location: Vajdahunyad vár, 1146 Budapest, Hungary (inside City Park)

Hours: 10 AM to 5 PM Daily

Cost: Free to visit the area; 1,600 HUF or $4 USD to visit the museum

Go to Heroes Square

Scenic view of Heroes' Square in Budapest, Hungary with lots of statues and pillar and large white pillar with a figure on a horse on it, on a sunny day in Budapest

After enjoying the mineral baths and Vajdahunyad Castle, head over to Heroes Square at the foot of City Park.

This square (tere) connects the large City Park with Budapest’s most famous walking street, Andrassy Avenue.

Composed of one central major pillar and two rounded colonnades, Heroes Square commemorates the 7 chieftains of the Magyars (the leaders who founded modern-day Hungary).

Nearby, you’ll find the Museum of Fine Arts as well as the Palace of Art on each side of Heroes Square.

You could stop in either of these buildings if you are an art fan, but I think there is another, more interesting museum just a little further down Andrassy Avenue.

Location: Hősök tere, 1146 Budapest, Hungary

Hours: 24/7

Cost: Free

Stroll down Andrassy Avenue

Brick building in Budapest on the famous Andrassy Avenue in the city center

Budapest’s most famous avenue, Andrássy Avenue (Andrássy út) is so steeped with history that it itself is a UNESCO World Heritage Site!

It’s home to the Hungarian Opera House, Liszt Ferenc Square, and the Terror House Museum.

It’s also home to a ton of shopping, but be prepared to max out that credit card, if so – it’s full of expensive designer shops wayyyy outside of my budget.

Location: Andrássy út, 1146 Budapest, Hungary

Hours: 24/7

Cost: Free

Check out the aptly-named House of Terror

budapest museum called house of terror on andrassy avenue with an interesting awning made of iron with the museum name written on it

The House of Terror on Andrassy Avenue is a bit under the radar of most tourists’ Budapest itineraries, but I think that’s a shame!

It’s an extremely interesting museum both in design and in execution. It’s very immersive, with sound design that brings you a sense of dread befitting the museum’s context.

The House of Terror is located in the building in which Hungary’s Secret Police used to operate, their equivalent of Nazi Germany’s Stasi or the Soviet’s Union’s KGB.

Hundreds of people were tortured and imprisoned and even killed in the basement level cells.

Meanwhile, here is where the orders were carried out to execute the city’s Jews (as memorialized by the Shoes on the Danube), as well as countless other acts of state-sponsored terror the likes of which are hard to comprehend even when you are faced firsthand with them.

I recommend getting the audio guide; otherwise, you have to read a lot of informational sheets and it’s hard to feel immersed in the museum. It’s a little expensive, but well worth it.

Location: Andrássy út 60, 1062 Budapest, Hungary

Hours: 10 AM to 6 PM, closed on Mondays

Cost: 3000 forints for an adult ticket (around $11 USD) plus, optionally, another 1500 forints for the audio guide (~$5 USD); you can also visit with a tour like this Communist History Walk with Museum Visit

Have lunch in the Jewish Quarter

A piece of street art in the Jewish District in the Budapest Pest area, with a woman and a sewing machine

Mazel Tov is a ruin bar and restaurant located in the heart of Budapest’s trendy Jewish Quarter and it’s one of my favorite places I ate at in my entire two weeks in Budapest.

Plus, it’s in a great location making it a convenient lunch pit stop that won’t take much time out of your day!

True to its Jewish District roots, Mazel Tov offers delicious Middle Eastern/Israeli-inspired food.

The smoky eggplant salad is absolutely phenomenal, as is the hummus.

Location: Akácfa u. 47, 1072 Budapest, Hungary

Hours: 10 AM to 2 AM Thursday to Sunday, 12 PM to 1 AM Monday & Tuesday, 12 PM to 1 AM Wednesday

Cost: Around 3000 forints for a main (~$11 USD) and 1000-1500 for a starter (~$3-5 USD)

Have an expensive dessert at the beautiful New York Café

The grand, ornate interior of the New york cafe coffee house in Budapest, with gold ironwork and clocks

If you’re on a budget you may not want to sit down at New York Café, but just peep your head in.

However, if you don’t mind splashing out a bit of cash to include this on your Budapest itinerary, I think it’s well worth the splurge.

The New York Café is probably the most beautiful coffee house in a city full of beautiful coffee houses.

Allison Green wearing a blue shirt and glasses, smiling, holding the world's tiniest but very pretty cake

It’s so architecturally ornate that I spent my entire 30 or so minutes in the café looking up in open-jawed wonder.

Sure, my teeny tiny cake cost me about $10 USD for something I ate in a few bites….

… but it was worth it for getting to sit in one of the most beautiful rooms I’ve ever sat in, and the service was great.

Location: Erzsébet krt. 9-11, 1073 Budapest, Hungary

Hours: 8 AM to 12 AM

Cost: I don’t remember exactly but I must had paid around 3,000 forints or $10 USD for a tiny cake. Basically, it’s expensive.

Wander about the Jewish Quarter

Street art in the Jewish district with colorful details

The Jewish Quarter is one of the most famous neighborhoods in Budapest for its ruin bars, trendy restaurants, and street art.

After the Holocaust, the Jewish Quarter was pretty much decimated, as most of Hungary’s Jews had either been executed by the party or sent to concentration camps abroad or, if they were lucky, were able to flee.

This lead to the neighborhood being abandoned and falling into ruin and disuse for several decades.

Around the turn of the 21st century, the neighborhood started to be revitalized with the emergence of ruin bars, old abandoned buildings that were bought for a cheap price and re-done to make quirky watering holes.

This set off a flurry of entrepreneurial spirit, and in time, design shops, street art, and used bookstores began to flourish in the neighborhood.

Now, it’s a popular spot buzzing all day long and of course, well into the night too.

See Dohány Street Synagogue

The details of the Dohany Street synagogue in Budapest from afar with two pillars and red and yellow building

One of the largest synagogues in the world and the largest in Europe, the Dohány Street Synagogue has the ability to seat a whopping 3,000 people inside!

The architecture is in the Moorish Revival style and was first completed in 1859.

It formed the border of the Budapest Ghetto during the early 20th century and was heavily bombed during World War II, leading to a lot of damage.

However, it was renovated beautifully during the 1990s and is now back to its former glory, and it’s a popular tourist attraction as a result.

Tickets are a bit on the pricier side of the spectrum for Budapest, which is generally a cheap destination, but the cost is definitely worth it!

The synagogue is beautiful on the inside, not to mention, it’s an important and resilient piece of Jewish history.

If you visit, I recommend prebooking your ticket to avoid lines!

Location: Dohány u. 2, 1074 Budapest, Hungary

Hours: 10 AM to 6 PM Monday through Thursday, 10 AM to 2 PM Fridays, closed Saturdays and Sundays.

Cost: Around $25 USD (pre-book your ticket here)

See the sunset at Citadella

View of the Budapest landscape with the Danube river in the middle with two bridges in the water, view of Buda Castle and the Parliament lit up

Make your way over to Gellert Hill via the Liberty Bridge by the Great Market Hall, where you’ll climb up to Citadella for some of the most spectacular sunset views over Budapest.

It’s a bit crowded with people but it truly is one of the best views and if you stay past sunset until all the people leave and the city feels on fire with all of its beautiful lights, it is a truly magical place.

There’s also a few benches where you can buy some cheap beer or wine and enjoy the sunset, which is my favorite way to end the day.

I mean, I don’t have to say much else: just look at those postcard-worthy views.

Take a night cruise on the Danube

Of all the things I did in Budapest, taking a night cruise along the Danube was easily the highlight. Touristy, yes, but for a reason!

Budapest is absolutely beautiful from water level: the lights on each bank of the Danube sparkle brilliantly reflected in the waters of the Danube, and watching the city go past at night is pure magic.

This night cruise is affordable and includes one free drink. You can upgrade to an audio guide for a few bucks more, which I recommend as I loved getting a bit of historical context for the buildings I was seeing.

Again, this is a popular thing to do in Budapest, so if you really want to make it part of your Budapest itinerary, I recommend booking in advance.

Location: Dock 42 port, Szent István park, 1138 Budapest, Hungary

Hours: Several departures daily

Cost: Varies; check prices here

Eat and celebrate your last night in Budapest

Person in a ruin bar with a hat on, sitting a table with lots of funky design and interior detail of a ruin bar

For your last night in Budapest make it count with a memorable dinner.

Check out this guide to Budapest restaurants by my friends Darryl & Mindi who spent a month eating their way around Budapest and pick something that sounds unforgettable!

After your final dinner in Budapest, it’s time to enjoy the ruin bars that the city is so known for.

The most iconic is Szimpla Kert, and it was one of my favorites even though there were, of course, a lot of tourists there.

Some other ruin bars I enjoyed were Ellato Kert which had a Mexican theme and served passable tacos and Anker’t, which had a lot of lovely outdoor space.

If you want to party, head to Instant (I’m not much of a partier and stayed home in my pajamas with Netflix and some local Hungarian wine instead).

There’s also a pub crawl of the ruin bars which can be a fun way to see a handful of different bars.

If You Have More Than 2 Days in Budapest

Allison Green in a caving outfit with a blue helmet in Budapest

There are plenty of things to do in the area of Budapest if you have more time! Here are just a few ideas

Where to Stay in Budapest

neighborhoods of budapest in the pest side of the city

Personally, I recommend staying in the Pest side of town.

While Buda has a lot of beautiful sights, I think that Pest is more convenient for walking since it is completely flat and more grid-like than the winding streets of Buda.

Also, there are far better food and nightlife options in Pest than Buda. I spent 2 weeks in Pest and loved being based there.

Budget: For a boutique hostel that combines design, functionality, and affordability, Maverick City Lodge is a great choice.

Each bed has its own privacy curtain, reading light, outlet, etc. – things that should be standard in a hostel but often are not.

Plus, it’s located right in the heart of the Jewish Quarter so pretty much everything you would need is at your fingertips.

Check rates, availability, and reviews here

A traditional book cart selling used books in downtown Budapest

Mid-Range: With distinct personality, fun décor, and an affordable price tag, D8 Hotel is a great modern boutique option.

Their rooms are spacious, the design of the hotel lobby and common areas is fantastic, and it’s perfectly located near Szechenyi Chain Bridge.

Check rates, availability, and reviews here

Luxury: If your weekend trip to Budapest is on a luxury budget, then Aria Budapest is what I’d recommend.

This music-themed hotel has beautiful design elements — I love the marble floor with piano detailing and purple accents.

Plus, its 5-star amenities like the sauna and indoor pool are swoon-worthy.

Check rates, availability, and reviews here

26 thoughts on “2 Days in Budapest: Itinerary for a Magical Weekend in Budapest”

  1. This is awesome. Thank you for putting together such a great guide. Will definitely be using this for our trip there soon.

  2. Allison, thank you so much for this.

    I’m actually staying in Budapest for 9 days, lol, (then two days in Győr en route to Vienna), but I wanted to know what the must-sees were. My method is usually to look at the shortest amount of time spent in a place and then gradually add more activities on top of that. I’m tacking on A LOT of museums/galleries as well as brunch places/cafés onto my trip though, but it’ll be great getting to spread everything out and still have some downtime.

    • You’re welcome! I usually do the same but in reverse – spend 5+ days in a destination, then distill it down to its highlights and create a compact itinerary based off what Google tells me is the most common amount of time spent in a destination, so it can be as useful as possible for people 🙂 Since you have extra time, I recommend adding on the Ervin Szabo Library, Central Café (touristy but so beautiful it’s worth it!), Espresso Embassy for coffee and flodni. I also recommend doing a wine tasting class with Taste Hungary (SO GOOD). Have a fantastic time, I’m so jealous of your 9 days in Budapest!! <3

  3. Thanks for this guide, we were in Budapest for just 2 nights, 3 days and followed many of your suggestions. I particularly liked the apple strudel in the market hall! I would never had thought to have gone there

  4. Great guide, great writing. Thank you for this; it will be very helpful when we visit next April (at the end of our river cruise).

  5. You gave me plenty ideas for what to see in Budapest. Will be travelling by myself and using a walker. Hopefully will have no problems. Would like a copy of your newsletter.

  6. Waaaaah I’m so glad I came across your blog. My family and I are planning to visit Budapest in January. This is of great help! I don’t know anyone personally who’s been to Budapest yet, so I don’t really have an idea of what to expect. Your blog post is the first search result I clicked and bam! I now have some ideas on what to write on the letter of intent for my Schengen visa application to the embassy of Hungary (I’m Filipino, we need visas everywhere). Thanks for this and I will be reading more of your blog for sure.

    • You’re welcome Katrina! Budapest is a wonderful place to visit, even in January (and I have a winter post you can check out as well if you check out my Hungary archives – I imagine coming from the Philippines winter may be a bit of a challenge!). Ugh, the visa issue is such a struggle – I am crossing my fingers for you and your family that it goes well. It’s really not fair how difficult it can be for some nationalities to travel. Hopefully, you get a multi-entry Schengen and won’t have to stress about it for years to come, plus you can use it in a lot of other countries to avoid the need for a visa application (like in many non-Schengen Balkan countries – Albania, Montenegro, Macedonia are a few I know for sure)

  7. Allison – so helpful! We will be following your recommendations for sure! A couple of questions….we are in our 60s and I was wondering if you thought a hop on/off bus pass would be helpful to us for transportation? Our joints are not what they used to be…. Also, we do have an extra half day (so 2.5 days) – anything additional you would recommend?

    • Hi Lynne, it may be more helpful, but in general, the trams are pretty low to the ground, don’t require much walking, and they go pretty much everywhere a hop-on hop-off bus would. It’s up to you what you prefer, but I’ve never taken the bus tour so I can’t speak to that. With an extra half day I’d suggest Margaret Island if the weather is nice or exploring some of the museums if the weather isn’t cooperating!


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