There is so much to do in Budapest and it can be hard to know where to begin. Whether you’re in the city for a few days or much longer, these plans will help fill your trip with truly memorable experiences. These loose itineraries take you both to the most famous sights, as well as off the beaten path; to sites of historical importance and to the modern capital’s newest features. Criss-crossing to the best bits of Budapest, we hope you have a truly magical time, and then we hope you return again to see all the things you might have missed. Welcome to Budapest!
Take a break at the Ruszwurm patisserie and indulge in a delicious cake or two – after all Hungary is famous for its confectionery. This cafe is amazing because it’s been operating since 1827! Afterwards, continue on to Matthias Church and the Fishermen’s Bastion for one of the best views in Budapest.
On day 2 explore District VI and visit the St. Stephen’s Basilica: we recommend heading up to the dome for the breathtaking vistas. Then walk down the exclusive World Heritage Listed Andrássy Avenue until you reach Heroes’ Square, where you’ll find the Museum of Fine Arts (currently closed for renovations and it’s scheduled to reopen in March 2018) and the Kunsthalle modern-art hall. If you didn’t get a chance on day 1 you could walk around City Park and then visit the Széchenyi Baths. Alternatively, during winter there’s the City Park Ice Rink, while at any time of year it’s worth visiting the Vajdahunyad Castle here too.
In the late afternoon take the M1 millennium metro from City Park to Vörösmarty Square, from there walk along Váci Street and indulge in some shopping. Here you could visit the Gerbeaud House, or the Szamos Gourmet House patisseries. For dinner we recommend heading to Oktober 6th Street to see the St. Stephen’s Basilica lit up at night and to try excellent Hungarian food at the Kispiac Bistro or the Michelin-starred Borkonyha. Alternatively you could enjoy a Danube dinner cruise and see the city lit up at night. You’ll know what we mean when you see it – when the sun goes down Budapest really brings it!
If you have 3 days
Follow the suggestions for days 1 and 2, then on the 3rd day visit the Great Market Hall to try some traditional Hungarian food. After you have filled up on lángos or some other tasty Hungarian treat, you’ll want to walk it off. We recommend crossing Liberty Bridge and then climbing Gellért Hill to the Citadel. In the afternoon walk through the Jewish District (in VII District) soaking up both the history and the modern progress of the area. Don’t miss Europe’s largest Jewish temple – the Great Synagogue on Dohány Street. For dinner try a restaurant in the Jewish Quarter such as Macesz Bistro or Spinoza. For a touch of tradition, visit the Hungarian Heritage House to see a Hungarian folk dancing show. If you’re in Budapest in the warmer months visit a rooftop bar, like the 360 Bar and Gozsdu Sky Terracefor a drink or two.
On day 5 visit the Budapest Zoo, and if you have the extra budget take a step back in time to the old-world charm and service at the Gundel Restaurant, which is right next to the zoo. In the afternoon try to squeeze in anything you might have missed from the aforementioned suggestions or you could jump on the BKK public boat and head to the Kopaszi Dam or Római Part to relax by the Danube. Kopaszi Dam is more upmarket, with designed green spaces and a variety of lovely restaurants, while the Római Part is more homely with plenty of fried fish vendors and outdoor bars in the warmer months. Both are great to have a more unique Budapest experience as not everyone finds their way to these two locations. After dinner check out the live-music scene at Akvárium Klub at Elizabeth Square.
If you have more days
For those with more time to spare we recommend visiting János Hill. This is a great activity all year round: in summer take a picnic or go for a walk, while when the snow falls it’s popular for sledding. Getting there and back is half the fun! Take the Cog-wheel Railway and Children’s Train up and return to downtown Budapest using the scenic Zugliget Chairlift. You might also like to explore other cities in Hungary if you have a few extra days. We wrote about some popular day trips and weekends-away here. To explore more of Budapest on foot we recommend the palatial milieu in District VIII – read our article that reveals secrets of the palace district here. Alternatively take a walk down Pozsonyi Road and Hollán Ernő Street in District XIII or Bartók Béla Avenue – all three have a unique feel with many cafés, smaller galleries and unique shops. Finally if you need a guide we recommend joining one of these walking tours or these alternative tours.