My first time to Budapest was enchanting. This historic city was grand and gorgeous and while strolling through the city and on the Danube River banks, my stress from work and my “real life” quickly evaporated. I definitely liked Budapest more than I had expected to. It was charming and vibrant and I could definitely see myself staying here for an extended amount of time. Here’s my guide for 3 days in Budapest! Hope you all enjoy 🙂
Where to Stay: I stayed at an Airbnb in Liszt Ferenc Square where I had the most charming balcony overlooking the restaurants in the square. It was such a convenient location! Walking distance EVERYWHERE (though granted I like to walk) and seriously so close to the Jewish Quarter where there are a TON of bars and restaurants.
Things to See:
Day 1: Spend the day on the Buda side of the city
On the first day of 3 days in Budapest, do something active!
Citadella – Even for a semi-active person, this hike was quite strenuous. Short, but strenuous. I was out of breath and breaking a sweat by the time I got to the top. But the views were well worth it!
Buda Castle and Buda Hill – When you’re done with the Citadella, stroll over to Buda Hill. On top of Buda Hill is Buda Castle. This is the historical castle and palace complex of Hungarian kings. However, now, it houses the National Gallery and Budapest History Museum. Buda Hill is peaceful and quiet especially as the sun goes down. To get onto the hill, there is a lift. However, I recommend you walk up. It’s much easier than the Citadella and only takes about 5 – 10 minutes. There are lots of charming streets and gardens on the hill as well. Although I didn’t actually go into the castle, I really enjoyed walking around the courtyards and exploring the streets nearby. Since I went in spring, the flowers blooming were absolutely gorgeous!
Fisherman’s Bastion – If you keep walking from Buda Castle into the Buda Castle district, you’ll soon come across Fisherman’s Bastion. This was top on my list of places to visit before I got to Budapest! I got here on my first day around sunset and it was gorgeous! I spent over 2 hours just sitting and watching. Tip: Get there at sunset after the ticket sales offices have closed so you don’t have to pay. Though even at full price, it is less than $5.
Mattias Church – Next to Fisherman’s Bastion, I thought the exterior of the church was very unique. The roof is tiled and very colorful and the structure is not symmetrical. There are a bunch of little cafes and restaurants nearby, including Ruszwurm which is a cute little bakery specializing in cakes.
Since I got to the church late (post 5pm) I didn’t go in, but I wish I did!
Chain Bridge – Walk over the Chain Bridge to get back to the Pest side. At night, the bridge is lit up and offers spectacular views.
Night River Cruise – We did a 1 hour night cruise to see Budapest lit up majestically. Buda Castle, the Parliament, all the bridges! It was wonderful. However, I do not recommend Silverline cruises. The boat was old and did not have the best seating for good views. Do your research (unlike me) before hand to look at the actual boats the different companies use.
Day 2: Spend a day on the Pest side
On day 2 of 3 days in Budapest, check out the amazing architecture and windy small streets on the Pest side.
St. Stephen’s Basilica – I skipped the interiors, but did the climb up to the tower. It offers great panoramic views of the city and close ups of the bell towers!
The Danube River bank – Stroll around the river bank with ice cream in hand. It is gorgeous and you’ll come across the Parliament area where there are a lot of statues and you can admire the intricate designs on the Parliament building. The building itself is huge! In fact, it’s the largest in the world. I did not go inside, just the outside was enough for me 🙂
Side note: when you’re walking around Budapest, notice the different statues around. To me, these did not seem like the typical statues. They depicted more parts of everyday life, and seemed to encompass more human emotion than most. But hey, I’m no art historian 🙂 just my observations.
Andrassy Ave – Once you’ve explored the river banks to your hearts delight, walk up Andrassy Ave to get to City Park. This is a major street in Budapest. The buildings along the street are gorgeous and represent several different architecture styles.
Heroes Square – At the end of Andrassy Ave you’ll find yourself in Heroes Square, also home to the Millennium Statue and entrance to City Park.
City Park – It’s a nice park with lots of trees and paths. Is it just me or do most cities have something like this? We strolled around for a bit but didn’t do much here. We came mainly to see…
Szechenyi Baths – This is within City Park. It’s actually quite expensive to spend a day here and I wouldn’t do it unless I had time to actually spend a day. They also offer spa services. I just walked around the building and admired it’s history and style since I had gone to the “Sparty” before (a “spa party” held at Szechenyi mainly targeted to tourists. See “Other things to do”)
Day 3: wander
On the final day of 3 days in Budapest, just wander and let time slow down a bit.
A day should be reserved for wandering through the intricate streets of Budapest. I did most of my exploring in the Jewish Quarter, where there is a ton of food and drink and lots of little shops to explore. Budapest is also full of street art and it was great to wander and look around.
Places to Eat & Drink
Jewish Quarter – so much tucked around here! Restaurants, bars, shops, definitely recommend!
Gozsdu Udvar – now known for it’s cafes, bars and restaurants, this building complex is actually a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Spiler Burger – Located in Gozdu Udvar. The burger here was great! But honestly the ramen looked tasty too…
Ruin Bars – these are bars in the Jewish Quarter built in abandoned buildings – the most famous being Szimpla Kert. I really liked Szimpla Kert for the eclectic mix of decorations and the different bars in the different rooms of the building.
Ruszwurm – if you’re looking for cake, check out Ruszwurm in the Buda Castle district. Be warned: it gets crowded and the most popular cakes go early in the day.
Outdoor Cafe near Mattias Church and Fisherman’s Bastion – serves “Hungarian food” such as stuffed cabbage, pork knuckle and potatoes, layered potatoes, sausage, langos, etc. A little overpriced, but the picnic setting is great on a sunny day.
New York Cafe – “The most beautiful cafe in the world” – GORGEOUS interior! Can’t say it enough! I had a coffee here and it was good, but also about 4x the price of other coffee in Budapest. Definitely worth a visit, but maybe don’t plan on having a full meal here.
Opera Cafe – right on the side of the Opera House. It has a nice outdoor patio where I enjoyed some Hungarian Goulash.
Other things to do:
Central Market Food Hall – crowded and touristy – though its a nice walk along the river!
House of Terror – unique and controversial museum containing exhibits around the fascist and communist regimes in Hungary in the 20th century.
Gellert Baths – A bathhouse that is supposed to resemble swimming in a cathedral.
“Sparty” – a party at Szechenyi held many Saturday nights of the year. I went, and I had fun. However, entrance fees alone are around 50 euros and you must buy a drink card for 10,000 HUF. And if you lose it in the pool ( like I did), those are expensive drinks haha.
Wine Tasting – Make a reservation at some of the wine cellars across town such as the Faust Wine Cellar on Buda Hill or just make it a point to do this at a restaurant! I sampled multiple wines at different restaurants and they were super tasty.
Dohany Street Synagogue – the largest synagogue in Europe and second largest in the world! Unfortunately it was closed for Easter holiday when I was there
Hungarian State Opera House – I only ate at the Opera Cafe (which was a gorgeous street side cafe), but if you like Opera I imagine it would be a cool experience!
Hope you enjoyed my 3 days in Budapest guide! If you have any other suggestions, I would love to hear them in the comments!! xx