Budapest is one of the most beautiful and picturesque cities in Europe and can be almost entirely explored if you have only 2 days in Budapest. It is the capital city of Hungary and is full of rich and tumultuous history and a prosperous future. Some of the best things to do in Budapest, that is included in this Budapest itinerary are view the stunning Buda Castle, walk across the iconic Szechenyi Chain Bridge, relax at Széchenyi thermal bath, and much more!
One of the best things about Budapest is that there is no central location that attracts all the tourists. The whole city is an attraction of amazing sights and historic places, therefore, the tourists are spread all around the city and not all shoved together in one place. However, there are still some places that are pretty full of tourists, but the nice part is you can visit the most popular places in the morning, and visit the less popular ones during midday.
Budapest is a relatively large city with attractions spread all across the city. Most attractions are within walking distance and the walk between them will bring you through some additional beautiful sights of the city. However, there are some attractions that are a little bit out of the way and transport, whether it be a car, bus, tram, needs to be taken in order to get there. But this should not pose any issues.
Clearly there is a lot to do and see, and with just 2 days in Budapest, you will be able to see almost all of what the city has to offer. Just be prepared to do a lot of walking and a lot of historic learning, because there is no shortage of this within this Budapest itinerary!
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2 Days in Budapest
In This Post
Day 1 in Budapest
Day 1 in Budapest is the day for seeing most of the main attractions of the city. Upon arriving in Budapest you will most likely be anticipating seeing the famous parliament, the chain bridge, Fishermans Bastion, and more which is why doing it during the first day is a must.
Admire the views from Fishermans Bastion
Fishermans Bastion is one of the most popular tourist attractions in Budapest, and for good reason. It offers some of the most stunning views of the city and the Danube river from above. In addition to the view, the building is made of white stone and is one of the most breathtaking and unique buildings in Europe. The building looks like a castle but it is actually just a neo-Romanesque style terrace that was built in the late 19th century. This is an extremely ornate piece of architecture that is a reminiscence of medieval days and a must-see while in Budapest!
However, as mentioned, it is one of the most popular tourist attractions in Budapest and as a result, it gets extremely busy. This is why it is the first thing on day one itinerary! In order to beat the crowds of people, it is important to get here early in the morning. Otherwise, the whole building is packed with people, which ruins the authenticity of the building and prevents you from viewing the beautiful structure in its entirety.
One of the main things people come here to do is take photos of themselves and the city views. The whole structure is packed with people trying to snap the perfect shot of the city and the building’s white stone pillars, which can be a little overwhelming! But, it is a stunning photo spot in the city and it would be a wasted opportunity to not get a photo. If you find a spot and wait your turn you can get some beautiful photos with no other people in them, just be patient.
Visit the Gorgeous Matthias Church
Matthias Church is basically a part of Fisherman’s Bastion as it is located within the grounds of the building, and with its towering height, you can’t miss it! Matthias Church is a stunning Roman Catholic church that was built in the 14th century in the gothic style, but later in the 1800s, the church was updated to the Austro-Hungarian style. The church is made from white stone and is elaborately decorated! It truly is a wonderful sight to see.
Visitors are also able to enter the church for a price of 1000 Hungarian Florint, which equals 3€. A visit here is one of the best cheap things to do in Budapest.
Enjoy a Sweet Treat at Ruszwurm
Ruszwurm Confectionery is located just 60 seconds from St. Matthius Church and is home to some of the best and most famous pastries in Budapest. This bakery has been baking and selling pastries for over 200 years and has perfected the art of dessert making. The most famous pastry from here that you must taste is the cream cake, which is a crunchy pastry covered in a mountain of cream! It is delicious. However, if this is not for you, they have a ton of different sweets to choose from that are to die for!
Stroll Around Buda Castle
While in the area, it is nice to walk over to Buda Castle to explore the castle grounds. Buda Castle is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and is full of a rich history as it used to be the palace for the Hungarian kings! Today, the castle is home to two museums, the Hungarian National Gallery and Budapest History Museum.
The Hungarian National Gallery is an art museum and the Budapest History Museum highlights the stories of Hungary over the centuries. Both museums are great to visit if you want to learn about the extensive 2000 year history of Hungary.
The entrance costs 2400 HF which is around 8 euros.
Walk Along Szechenyi Chain Bridge
The Szechenyi Chain Bridge is the most famous and frequented bridge in Budapest. It was built in the 1800s and was the first bridge to connect the two sides of the city that are separated by the Danube River, Buda and Pest. This bridge was completely destroyed in World War 2 but was quickly rebuilt, however, the lion statues that welcome you to the bridge are the original statues from the 1800s.
The bridge itself is lovely, and the walk across is the best way to get from Buda to Pest.
Enter St. Stephen’s Basilica
St. Stephens Basilica is a beautiful Roman Catholic church and is the largest one in Hungary. The exterior of the building is ornate and very easy on the eyes, and its towering size makes it even more impressive. The best thing about this church is that it is free to enter!
The interior is stunning! The whole church is embellished with paintings, murals, statues, and stone designs, from floor to ceiling. A visit inside the church is a must to see the beautiful designs and artworks.
The church also has a bell tower that is open for visitors to climb. The 364 steps bring you high above the other buildings in the city and offer beautiful views of the Pest side of Budapest. The cost to climb the bell tower is 600 HF, which is around 1.80 euros and if you think you have time during your 2 days in Budapest, head on up!
Get a Rose Ice-cream
Everyone loves ice-cream and there is no better time to get ice-cream than in the middle of your Budapest explorations. Even better, is when the ice-cream is a rose shape! Head to Gelato Rosa for this tasty and unique ice-cream treat and enjoy it while admiring the beautiful church. This is one of the more off the beaten track things to do in Budapest that will not disappoint.
Enjoy Central Market Hall
Budapest’s Great Market Hall is one of the most interesting attractions in the city. It is the best place to see and experience Hungarian culture, foods, and traditions. the hall is full of vendors selling souvenirs, baked treats, meats, and more! This is the best place to buy Hungary’s most famous souvenir, paprika. The sheer amount of fresh paprika at the market hall will surely lure you in.
Eating is one of the best ways to immerse yourself in the ways and cultures of other countries. Trying the different traditional Hungarian foods will give you further insight to the ways of Hungarian people!
Have a Drink along the Danube River
Sitting along the Danube River at a nice restaurant enjoying a cold drink (or warm) drink is a must. There are a ton of lovely cafes that line the river that serves food and drinks and offer lovely views of the Buda side of the city. Head to Jersey Italian Bistro for some tasty Italian food and drinks! This is a great place to relax and regroup before heading out on some more adventures.
There is nothing better than a good drink and an even better view!
Pay Respect at the Shoes on the Danube
The Shoes on the Danube is a touching memorial for the victims of anti-Semitism during World War 2. The shoes represent the 20,000 innocent Jewish victims who were murdered in the span of two months. During the war, the victims were ordered to take off their shoes before they were shot beside the water, so the river would take their bodies away. The shoes on the ledge represent the shoes left behind by the victims.
Please be respectful here and remember that this is a very significant memorial and many people come here to pay respect to passed loved ones. Although these 2 days in Budapest are packed with things to do and see, it is important to take a moment to respect this memorial.
Visit the Hungarian Parliament
Parliament is the grandest building in Budapest and it is very impressive, to say the least. The Hungarian Parliament is built in the classic gothic style and is the most photographed building in Budapest. The Parliament is beautiful to see at sunset when the sun turns the building golden and bright.
Visitors are able to view the huge building from the outside, as well as, go on tours of the inside. Tours last 45 minutes and give you a full history of the building and other historic facts. Adult admission tickets are 8 euros. If you are looking for some great Parliament tours that also include others, check out the ones below!
Day 2 in Budapest
Day 2 in Budapest is for exploring the iconic sights and attractions of Budapest that require more driving/transportation to get too. Plus some additional ones in the city that you didn’t have time to go to during day one. Depending on how fast or slow of a traveler you are, you may have some extra time during today’s itinerary to explore more of Budapest!
Relax at Széchenyi Thermal Bath
Budapest is a city built over thermal hot springs and these hot springs have been turned into thermally heated pools scattered around the city. While the most popular and famous thermal bath is Szechenyi, however, there are more amazing thermal baths in Budapest than just this one. This is the perfect place to relax in the healing waters after your busy day yesterday and before another day of exploring today. If you are not one for sitting around and relaxing you and also play chess on one of the floating chess boards or swim in the circular whirlpool.
Admission for the thermal baths is 6400 HF which is around 20 Euros. This price also includes a towel rental. Spend a few hours at the thermal baths to just admire the stunning surroundings and soak in the unique thermal experience. It is the perfect relaxing break from a crazy 2 days in Budapest. For more information on the baths check out this website.
Wander the Jewish Quarter
The Jewish Quarter is one of the most famous areas in Budapest for its street art, trendy cafes, and ruin bars. The Jewish Quater was desolate after the Holocaust but started to revitalize itself a the turn of the 21st century. At this point, a ton of quirky and unique cafes popped up and the area started to come alive.
Today it is a trendy area that is well worth a visit and walk around.
View the Dohány Street Synagogue
While in the Jewish Quarter a visit to Dohány Street Synagogue is a must. This is the largest synagogue in Europe and can seat up to 3000 people at a time! The synagogue was built in the 1800s and its architecture is in the Moorish Revival style. This building was heavily bombed during WW2 but was restored in the 1990s to its glory.
Tickets to get inside are on the more expensive side, around 15 euros, but if you want to see the beautiful interior and appreciate the Jewish history in Budapest I urge you to enter.
Watch the Sunset from Citadella
Citadella is the name for the large, stone fortification that sits on top of Gellért Hill. This is one of the most amazing places to visit in Budapest that has the best views of the whole city. With only 2 days in Budapest you can probably only head up here once, so make sure you go for either sunrise or sunset. When the sunsets from up here you can watch the sky turn pink and a golden hue spread across the city! It is a magical and peaceful sight.
To get to the top, you must either walk up or take some sort of transport. The walk up can take some time but the surroundings are beautiful and make the walk much more bearable.
Admire Hero Square
Hero’s Square is one of the most famous squares in Budapest that is always bustling with people. At night the statues are all lit up and look hauntingly beautiful, which is why I suggest heading here after sunset. Within the square, you will find ornate and complex statues from various Magyars and Hungarian National Leaders, and well as the Tomb of the unknown Soldier.
Take an evening Danube River Cruise
The Danube River is the river that divides Buda and Pest and taking a cruise down it is one of the best ways to see the city from a different perspective! It is also very relaxing to cruise down the river after sundown and enjoy the city lights in the dark. A few great river tours are below.
Where to stay in Budapest
Below is a list of some of the best places to stay in Budapest for 2 different price ranges!
When to go to Budapest
Budapest is a great travel destination year-round. Like most travel destinations if you go during the summer months there are significantly more tourists. So if you don’t mind cooler temperatures you can go during the off-season so there are fewer people.
If you are planning on spending a few more days in Budapest be sure to follow a 5 day Budapest itinerary to guide your stay!
Tips For Visiting Budapest
- The currency used here is the Hungarian Forint
- The city is easy to explore by walking so bring good walking shoes
- Buy tickets for any attractions you want to enter beforehand
- Be prepared to drink and taste some of the local alcohols
If you are heading to Budapest or thinking about heading here I hope this itinerary helped you out. It doesn’t seem like a long time but 2 days in Budapest is the perfect amount to see the city and scratch the surface of its rich history.
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