2 days in Budapest is a great amount of time needed to explore this underrated European city! It is a great addition to any Central Europe Itinerary and a relatively cheaper city to visit compared to others in Europe (think Paris, London, and Barcelona). Budapest has a very interesting history as well, formerly it was divided into 2 cities, Buda and Pest, separated by the Danube River. In 1873, Buda, Pest, and another city, Obuda, were joined together to form what we now call Budapest. And its a Unesco World Heritage Site! Keep reading to find out how to spend 2 days in the incredible city of Budapest.
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Location: Capital City in Hungary, Eastern Europe
Currency: Hungarian Forint (HUF)
Official Language: Hungarian
To Do Before You Arrive in Budapest
- Gather some Hungarian Forint.
- Download the Google Translate App, and add Hungarian to your offline library.
- Hungary is a part of the Schengen Zone – if your country requires a Schengen Visa to travel Europe, make sure to apply for this beforehand. Most nationalities can stay in the Schengen Region for 3 months without requiring a visa (Canada, USA, UK…). If you do not require a visa then don’t worry about applying for one, as long as you’re travelling the Region for less than 3 months.
2 Days in Budapest at a Glance:
A quick summary of how you can spend your 2 days in Budapest.
- Fisherman’s Bastion
- Matthias Church
- Parliament Viewpoint from the Danube (Aussichtpunkt Parlament on google maps)
- Buda Castle
- Gellert Hill
- See the Danube at Night and Széchenyi Chain Bridge
- Hungarian Parliament Building
- Shoes on the Danube Promenade
- St Stephen’s Basilica
- Flower Ice Cream at Gelarto Rosa
- Ferris Wheel of Budapest
- Lunch: New York Cafe
- Heroes Square
- Vajdahunyad Castle
- Széchenyi Thermal Baths
Budapest 2 Day Itinerary:
Now to dive in deeper on the best way to spend your time here!
Day 1 in Budapest
Day 1 is going to be spent mainly on the Buda side of the river. There are fewer stops on day 1, mainly because I spent a lot of time at each of these places and therefore budgeted more time to allow you to explore these attractions at your own pace and not feel rushed.
Make sure your camera is charged because today is all about incredible architecture and amazing views of the city!
If you’ve looked up Budapest on Pinterest or Instagram, you have probably seen photos of Fisherman’s Bastion! It’s a beautiful spot to visit and provides one of the best views of Budapest – in fact, that is the reason it was originally built! The Fisherman’s Bastion was originally a lookout tower, and today it is a beautiful building providing a great place to look out over the city and also a great spot for incredible photos.
I spent quite a lot of time here, exploring the different viewpoints and spots.
Tip: Get here early as it gets super busy as the day progresses.
This church is located right beside Fisherman’s Bastion, making it the next stop on your first day in Budapest. The rooftop of this church is so beautiful and unique. This is a quick stop unless you go inside the church, but either way, it’s worth a look from the outside at least.
Parliament Viewpoint from the Danube
One of the best places to view the Hungarian Parliament Building is at the riverbank of the Danube River, across the river at a viewpoint called Aussichtpunkt Parlament on google maps. This viewpoint is a 20 minute walk from Matthias Church and is a nice way to see the Hungarian Parliament Building (which we will explore up close tomorrow!).
Lunch: Depending on the time you started your adventure today, you may be feeling hungry for lunch! To save money, I like to pop into a grocery store and buy some food for a picnic. Or, pop into one of the many restaurants or cafes when you start to get hungry.
Buda Castle is a large castle over Budapest’s skyline, and has a lot inside to explore! It is fairly high up on Buda Hill, which means you’ll have to either do quite a few stairs or pay to ride the Buda Hill Funicular to the top. Once at the top, explore the castle and grounds where the Hungarian Kings once lived, and admire more incredible views of the city below!
Inside Buda Castle is the Budapest History Museum and the Hungarian National Gallery. Make sure to budget some time to visit these two places if you’re interested as well.
As you either climb or ride back down Buda Hill, make a stop at the Szechenyi Chain Bridge. It is right by Buda Castle and was the first bridge to connect the former two cities of Buda and Pest.
Return to Buda Castle at night if you’re interested in a Buda Castle Vampires & Myths Evening Walking Tour.
Exploring Gellert Hill and the surrounding area is another great way to get incredible views of the city. There’s quite a few statues and little things to explore in this area, but the main goal is to get to the top of the hill for amazing views and different monuments.
At the base of Gellert Hill is the Gellert Hotel and Baths. If you’re interested in checking out a Thermal Bath, this is an option for you (although the more famous bath is on the itinerary for tomorrow)!
Note: This is a hike, so if you’re not interested in hiking, I would recommend adding a different activity to your day. Check out The Hungarian State Opera House, Central Market Hall, or take a Danube River Cruise!
See the Danube at Night and Széchenyi Chain Bridge
Budapest at night is something you cannot miss during your 2 days in Budapest. I was so tired during my only night in the city, but I drug myself out of bed to go see everything we visited today lit up at night, and it was so worth it!
Head to the Széchenyi Chain Bridge for a great spot to admire everything. From here, you can see this awesome bridge lit up and Buda Castle glowing from above. If you have more energy, wander over to the Hungarian Parliament Building to see this glowing as well.
Looking for a fun night out? Check out one of the Ruin Bars that Budapest is famous for.
Day 2 in Budapest
On your second day here, most time will be spent exploring the Pest side of the city during a jam-packed day!
Hungarian Parliament Building
This is my favourite Parliament Building in all of Europe, and it only takes one look to see why! The architecture is absolutely incredible and so unique. Start your day by admiring this building up close and sign up for a tour if you’re interested in exploring inside!
Shoes on the Danube Promenade
This memorial along the Danube River near the Parliament Building was established to represent grim events that took place in Hungary during World War II. There are 60 pairs of shoes, including men’s, women’s, and children’s shoes, representing the roughly 20,000 Jews that were lined up and shot along the river. Because shoes were valuable during the War, the victims had to remove their shoes before meeting their death.
This is one memorial that I wouldn’t skip during your 2 days in Budapest.
St. Stephen’s Basilica
Named after the first King of Hungary, St. Stephen’s Basilica is a beautiful church. The nice thing about the area the Basilica is in is that it is a pedestrian only zone out front. This makes it a great spot to snap photos or to grab a coffee at a cafe and people watch while enjoying just being in Budapest and Europe in general.
You can enter the Basilica for free, but there is a charge to go up to the dome for views of the city, and a charge to visit the Treasury. Visitors can also book a tour of St. Stephen’s Basilica as well.
Only in Budapest can you get your gelato in the shape of a rose! On your way from St Stephen’s to our next stop, the Ferris Wheel of Budapest (5 minute walk), stop at the ice cream called Gelarto Rosa, for a nice and unique treat that I’ve only seen in Budapest!
When I visited there were three spots all near St. Stephens Cathedral to get your flower ice cream, so be sure to scope out the area. The main store right in front of the cathedral had a mile-long line, but just down the road was another pop-up store with a much shorter line, and around the corner from the main store was another stand with almost no line at all (at the time), and all by the same company.
Ferris Wheel of Budapest
This is a fun little activity to squeeze into your second day in Budapest, and it’s a budget activity for amazing views! Go for a ride on the Ferris Wheel of Budapest before stopping for lunch and heading to a new part of the city.
Lunch at the New York Café: This is one of the most stunning cafes in Budapest. It is quite fancy inside and an experience in itself! Stop here for lunch by taking the M2 line from the Ferris Wheel, or take a 20 minute walk through the city.
Around a 20 minute ride or 30 minute walk from the New York Cafe is Heroes Square. It is quite cool as this is the plaza that has the 7 chieftains of the tribe that founded Hungary. Unfortunately, when I visited Heroes Square, it was pretty blocked off due to a concert happening. But nonetheless it was so still cool to visit the square and the surrounding area.
This castle was built to celebrate the 1000th anniversary of Hungary and combines different architectural styles, including Gothic, Renaissance, and Baroque styles. There is a lake surrounding this castle, which is a fun place to paddle boat in the spring, summer, and fall, and a unique place to ice skate during the winter.
Széchenyi Thermal Baths
Budapest is known as the City of Baths, which makes this the perfect way to end your 2 days in Budapest. The Széchenyi Thermal Baths are one of the most famous baths in the city, with three beautiful outdoor pool/hot spring, surrounded by yellow architecture, and 15 indoor baths and 10 saunas.
Rearrange your itinerary if you’re interested in spending a full day at the Thermal Baths, along with a tour of the Palinka museum.
Other Fun Things to Check Out in Budapest:
If you have more than 2 days in Budapest, or maybe you want to skip an attraction mentioned above, here are some other popular things you can add to your Budapest itinerary:
- Ruin Bars
- Hungarian State Opera House
- Central Market Hall
- Danube River Cruise during the day
- Budapest History Museum
- Grand Budapest Sightseeing Bike Tour
- Hungarian National Gallery
- Explore the Jewish Quarter
- Hop on-Hop off bus tour of Budapest
Where to Stay in Budapest
To me, the three most important things I think about when booking a place to stay are location, price, and reviews.
- Location – I really value being close to the attractions that are highest on my list to see, because I can get to these places early in the morning to try and beat the crowds, and I can also visit after the sun sets easily. Having a great location also makes returning to your accommodation easier throughout the day, and allows me to walk or rent a bike, instead of having to spend a lot of time on public transportation to get to the city centre.
- Price – The place I stay has to be within my price range. I’m usually travelling on quite the budget and accommodation can be one of the biggest budget eaters! I don’t mind spending a little more on accommodation if it means I can walk to the majority of spots and save money on public transportation.
- Reviews – Sometimes budget friendly places in the city centre have really bad reviews, and I do have a certain standard of the place I want to stay. Take a look at the rating and the amount of reviews to get a good read on the place. Usually I’ll read the reviews other travellers have left about a place, and go from there to make my decision!
Budapest Accommodation Recommendations:
Budget Option: Staying in a hostel is an awesome way to save money while traveling through Europe,. Meininger Budapest Great Market Hall looks like an awesome hostel in Budapest. It’s located next to the Great Market Hall, which makes it easy to fit visiting the Great Market Hall into your Budapest Itinerary. There are beautiful windows in the dining area and overall looks like a great place to stay.
Mid Range Option: Budapest is quite a cheap city to visit, especially if you’re visiting a lot of places in Central Europe. This means you may have a little extra room in your budget to spend a little more on accommodation here. Elizabeth Square Residences is a private apartment in a great location and is where I stayed during my 2 days in Budapest.
Luxury Option: A popular, 5 star hotel is the Anantara New York Palace Budapest Hotel. It is absolutely stunning inside and out, with some rooms having marble bathrooms! Stay here for a luxurious stay during your 2 days in Budapest.
More on Europe Travel:
- 15 Things to do in Vienna: Your Vienna Bucket List
- 20 of the Best Things to do in Berlin, Germany
- How to Plan a Trip to Europe for the First Time
- 40 Things to do in London, England
- Prague Bucket List: 15 Things to do in Prague
Yes, I think 2 days is a nice amount of time to explore the highlights of Budapest. If you want to spend more time exploring each attraction, 3-4 days might be a better fit for your itinerary.
Yes, Budapest is a very walkable city! We only had to take public transportation once, to get to the area where Heroes Square, Vajdahunyad Castle, and the Széchenyi Thermal Baths are.
Budapest is typically a cheaper part of Europe to visit, because it is technically not part of the Eurozone and does not use the Euro as their main currency. The Hungarian Forint (their currency) is weaker compared to other currencies, making Budapest is a cheaper place for travellers to visit.
No, the euro is not the main currency in Budapest, although a lot of places in Budapest will still accept it. The main currency in Budapest in the Hungarian Forint.
Hopefully this 2 Day Budapest Itinerary was helpful in planning your trip to this amazing city! Leave any questions in the comments or reach out via Instagram.
Have you visited Budapest before? What was your favourite part?
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Hey! I’m Kat. Based in Alberta, Canada I love to travel to the Rockies and explore new places around the world. Follow along on my adventures and find inspiration and tips for your own travels.