What to see in Budapest

What to see in Budapest in 3 days

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Definitive guide to visit Budapest in 3 days and many useful tips to best organize your trip

Budapest, Hungary’s dynamic and enchanting capital, rewards those who explore it with a wide range of extraordinary sights and experiences. The city’s rich history, architectural beauty and vibrant culture make it an attractive destination in Europe.

I wrote about the 24 places to see in Budapest but in this post I thought I’d go into more detail about what to see in Budapest in 3 days with a detailed itinerary and all the places I recommend visiting. Budapest is a rather large and vast city, but if well organized you can visit its main places in 3 days.

I was lucky enough to spend 10 days in Budapest walking around this splendid city, immersing myself in its charm and appreciating it more every day. From impressive historic structures to relaxing hot spring baths, from bustling food markets to tranquil parks, each site tells a unique story about this fascinating city.

This post arose from this stay in which you will find a detailed itinerary on what to see in Budapest in 3 days, if you are instead interested in all the places specifically read the post on the 20 places to visit in Budapest.

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Read also: 20 top-notch day trips from Budapest

The Best Places to Visit in Europe: Complete Ranking List and Detailed Guide

Take advantage of a free walking tour of Budapest to discover the best of Buda and Pest in a couple of hours . Book the Budapest tour of your choice. If you are looking for a free walking tour in Italian you can consider this one but remember that it is only confirmed if there are at least 5 people booked.

How to get to Budapest from the airport

Reaching the center of Budapest from Budapest Ferenc Liszt International Airport is a relatively simple operation with numerous travel options transport at your disposal.

  • The most convenient method is the taxi, as several companies operate at the airport, including Főtaxi, the official taxi partner of the airport. It’s a quick, hassle-free 20-30 minute ride located outside the terminal and will take you straight to your destination. Then book the private taxi at this link (starting from €12 per person)
  • If you prefer something in between (transfer to the hotel but shared) I recommend the airport shuttle service, miniBUD. It is a shared transportation service that takes you directly to your hotel or chosen location in Budapest. Book the miniBUD (€12 per person)
  • Public buses run with admirable frequency between Budapest Airport and the city center. Bus 100E provides direct service between the airport and the city center in under 40 minutes, while bus 200E runs between the airport and the nearby Kőbánya-Kispest metro station, connecting you to the M3 metro line. Tickets cost around €6 per person.
  • Car rental services are available at the airport. However, if you intend to only visit Budapest, I advise against it. Public transport works well and there is still a lot of walking in the city.

Where to sleep in Budapest

Budapest is a complex and diverse city, made up of various neighborhoods. Each neighborhood has its own unique ambience and charm, offering various attractions, restaurants and accommodation options suited to different types of travellers! Here is a list of some of these neighborhoods:

When to go to Budapest

Budapest is a city that you can visit all year round. But spring (from March to May) andautumn (September to November) strike the perfect balance between pleasant weather and manageable crowd sizes.

During these seasons, temperatures are comfortable, ranging from the 50s to the 70s (Fahrenheit), making it ideal for sightseeing, walking along the Danube, or exploring the beautiful spaces outdoors of the city such as the City Park andMargherita Island. Additionally, you will find lower accommodation rates than during the peak summer tourist season. Despite this, keep in mind that Budapest offers a unique charm in every season, with large Christmas markets in winter and lively open-air festivals in summer.

bazaar Budapest

Buda and Pest – The two faces of Budapest

Budapest is a fascinating city that effortlessly marries the majesty of its past with the charm of modern life. It is a city where the ancient hills of Buda meet the lively boulevards of Pest, united by the Danube River.

Although often referred to as a single city, Budapest is essentially the union of two distinct historic cities: Buda and Pest . These two halves, each with its own unique flavor and personality, create the harmonious blend of history and modernity that defines and distinguishes Budapest.


The oldest and most historic half of the city, Buda is home to the medieval Castle Hill, the Fishermen’s Bastion and Matthias Church. Meandering through Buda’s winding cobbled streets, lined with elegant Baroque-style buildings, you can’t help but be transported back in time. Spectacular views of Buda, from the top of Gellért Hill or alongside the picturesque Danube, offer breathtaking panoramic views of the city. A walk through Buda is a walk through the rich history and heritage of Budapest, where every stone, monument and artisan workshop tells a story of grandeur from centuries past.


In contrast to the historic charm of Buda, Pest is a bustling hive of energy and innovation. Here, the famous Andrássy avenue stretches wide and long, lined with luxury boutiques, modern cafes and a treasure trove of architectural jewels. Pest also boasts the magnificent Hungarian Parliament building, the Great Market Hall and the historic St. Stephen’s Basilica a>. As the sun sets,

Pest undergoes an exciting transformation, revealing a pulsating nightlife filled with eclectic bars, trendy clubs and bustling pubs filled of works of art that come alive with sound and movement. Pest is the vibrant, cosmopolitan center of Budapest, with a heartbeat that reflects the city’s ever-present modernity.

Budapest, with its harmonious embrace of Buda and Pest, forms a captivating symphony of old world charm and contemporary style . This fascinating union is embodied in its beautiful bridges, the veins that connect these halves, serving as a reminder of how the city’s unique blend of history and modernity come together into one whole.

Budapest vista

What to see in Budapest in 3 days

Here we arecomplete three-day itinerary in Budapest. Drawn from my personal experience and packed with essential details, this itinerary aims to guide newcomers through the best the city has to offer.

Straddling the beautiful Danube River, Budapest, the enigmatic capital of Hungary, is as enchanting as it is rich in history. With this itinerary you will explore iconic monuments spanning both Buda and Pest, from the spectacular heights of Castle Hill to the intricate landscapes of Heroes’ Square. You’re just as likely to find yourself delving into the rich historical narratives of the Jewish Quarter as you are to unwind in the soothing hot springs that dot the city.

Each day is designed to guide you through different neighborhoods to ensure you get a balanced flavor of Budapest’s eclectic tapestry. Take a leisurely stroll along Andrássy Avenue, immerse yourself in the vibrant nightlife scene, savor delicious local cuisine, all while enjoying picturesque views of the city.

So whether you’re a history buff, a food enthusiast, a culture seeker or a night owl, this three-day trip to Budapest aim to create an adventure that excites, delights and will make you appreciate it.

view of parliament from budapest castle

Day 1 in Budapest – Visit to Buda: Breakfast at New York Cafe or Parisi Udevar – Gellert Hill hike – Bazaar – Buda Castle – Fisherman’s Bastion – Matthias Church – Gillert Thermal Baths – Danube Cruise

Start your discovery of Budapest with an exploration of the Buda neighborhood a>Parisi Udvar, setting the tone for an exciting day. or the exquisite opulent New York Cafe, a treasure chest of historical sites and scenic spots. The day begins with a delicious breakfast at the

After breakfast, challenge yourself with an exhilarating hike up Gellert Hill, where panoramic views of the city will reward your efforts. Continue your adventure with a visit to glorious Buda Castle, a symbol of Hungarian royalty.

Don’t miss the iconic Fishermen’s Bastion and Matthias Church, both complement each other in their architectural grandeur. As dusk falls, cap off a fantastic day with a serene cruise along the Danube River, a perfect way to immerse yourself in the city’s magnificent skyline.

Immerse yourself in your first day in Budapest with a mix of adventure, culture and breathtaking views. Let’s get into the details of what to expect on day one.

To make sure you don’t miss the best of the castle I recommend you book a guided group tour in Italian of Buda Castle . The tour lasts 2/3 hours and costs €13 per person. 

Morning: breakfast at New York Café or Parisi Udvar

Start your day with ahearty breakfast at the New York Café, known as the “the most beautiful café in the world” with its refined furnishings and theatrical interiors, or at Parisi Udvar, another golden café with a spectacular glass-roofed portico.

Both places offer a wide variety of breakfast choices, from traditional Hungarian sausages to more continental options. At the time of my visit, October 2023, it was not necessary to book in advance for the Parisi but it was necessary for the New York, I recommend booking at least 3 days in advance. You can do it directly from the official website.

parisi cafe budapest

Late morning: walk up Gellért Hill

After breakfast take a walk to Gellért Hill. The hill offers a scenic hiking route that rewards you with spectacular panoramic views of the city. It’s the perfect location for some memorable photo opportunities. Here you will find the Statue of Liberty and the Citadel, both rich in historical significance (not accessible at the time of my visit because they are being restored).

I recommend you take the bus 110 or 112 from New York café to Sanc Utca. From here walk up the hill (it’s a bit steep) and head along the route. since I had difficulty finding it, on the map published above you can find the complete route including this route. I guarantee you that apart from the first tiring climb, everything will then be downhill.

From the hill you will have one of the most beautiful views of the Danube narrow between Buda and Pest.

Budapest vista

Early afternoon: Buda Bazaar (Várkert Bazaar) and Buda Castle

From Gellért Hill head to Várkert Bazaar at the foot of Castle Hill. Restored to its 19th century splendor, the bazaar offers a variety of shops, exhibitions, cafes and a beautiful garden. But above all this place is strategic because from here you can get to the castle walls with a free lift.

The next stop is in fact Buda Castle which you can reach by lift from the Bazaar (on the right side, looking at the hill, you will find the escalators that lead directly to the lift) or on foot with a short but steep hike to the top right next to the funicular ( you can also take this one but it costs €10 return and you have to queue a lot. In my opinion it costs too much for what it offers).

The castle houses the Budapest History Museum and the Hungarian National Gallery. Stroll through the Castle District to enjoy its quaint cobbled streets filled with historic buildings. Take advantage of the beautiful walk along the walls to take wonderful photos of Pest.

Castle palace

Late afternoon: Fisherman’s Bastion, Matthias Church and Hospital in the Rock

A few steps from the castle are the Fishermen’s Bastion, the Matthias Church hospital in the rock and the

The Fishermen’s Bastion, or Halászbástya in Hungarian, is one of the most important monuments of Budapest . It is an iconic structure famous for its exclusive neo-Romanesque panoramic terraces, the bastion offers apanoramic view of the city.

The bastion is a collection of corridors, towers and courtyards, with the Telegraph Bastion called the northern tower. Despite its fortress-like appearance, the Fisherman’s Bastion was never intended for defensive purposes. Its construction began in 1895 and was part of a series of developments organized for the millennium celebration (the 1000th anniversary of the Hungarian state). Then, it was completed in 1902.

Continue with a visit to Matthias Church, an elegant and historic Roman Catholic church facing the ramparts. The church is named after King Matthias Corvinus , a 15th-century Hungarian monarch who held two of his weddings there. Known for its diamond-patterned tiled roof and richly decorated neo-Gothic interior, the church is a true symbol of Budapest’s architectural heritage.

Continue to the hospital in the Rock, Sziklakórház Atombunker Múzeum, is a unique hospital founded in the caves beneath Buda Castle in the 1930s, in anticipation of the Second World War. During the war it served as a vital medical refuge, safe from bombing. Today it functions as a fascinating museum, preserving and exhibiting its history, its rooms and the tales of its clandestine and under-siege operations.

Evening: cruise on the Danube

As evening falls, head to the pier for an enchanting cruise along the Danube River. From the boat you can admire the dreamy cityscape of Budapest, the perfect way to understand the layout of the city’s neighborhoods and collect memories covered in ethereal beauty. I recommend booking the boat with departure just before sunset so you can see Budapest in daylight and illuminated.

parliament budapest at night

Evening: Gellért Thermal Bath

If you prefer to end the day in total relaxation, opt for a regenerating bath at the Gellert Thermal Baths, one of the most beautiful places in Budapest. Like an elegant water palace, the Gellért Baths offer a variety of pools, saunas and treatments that will provide ample relaxation after a long day of exploration.

Note: Always check the opening hours of each attraction to ensure they are open during your visit. Some locations may also offer online tickets, which we recommend purchasing in advance to skip any queues.

Day 2 in Budapest – Visit to Pest: Hungarian Parliament – Along the Danube – Great Synagogue – Central Market – Chain Bridge – Vaci Utca – Jewish Ghetto and Great Synagogue – Ruin Bar and Street food at Karavan

The second day in Budapest takes you to explore Pest, the flat, eastern part of the city, full of vibrant life and architectural wonders. It is also where the cultural, political and commercial heart of the city resides.

Start your journey with the majestic Hungarian Parliament building. I recommend you visit it inside and to do so you must book tickets in advance (they sell out quickly) or you can go very early in the morning and queue (but I can’t guarantee if you will definitely get in).

Continue your visit with a peaceful walk along the Danube promenade. Marvel at the largest synagogue in Europe, taste local delicacies at the Central Market, cross the iconic Chain Bridge and experience the #39;energetic buzz of Budapest’s shopping street, Váci Utca.

The evening takes place in the charming Jewish quarter, home to the iconic “Ruin pub” of the city. A visit to the elegant Karavan street food court concludes your eventful day. Now, a more detailed look at day two.

Morning: visit to the Hungarian Parliament Building

Start your day with a visit to one of the oldest legislative buildings in Europe, the impressive Hungarian Parliament Building. The stunning Gothic Revival architecture, along with the glittering backdrop of the Danube, make it one of the most picturesque places. Be sure to book a guided tour to experience the grandeur from within and get a peek at the Hungarian Crown Jewels.

Parliament of Hungary

Mid-morning: Walk along the Danube Promenade, Chain Bridge, St. Stephen’s Basilica and Váci Utca

Next, take a leisurely stroll along the Danube Promenade for an enchanting riverside experience. Along the way, you will pass the moving memorial “Shoes on the Bank of the Danube”, a tribute to the Jews killed during World War II.

Cross the iconic Széchenyi Chain Bridge which spectacularly spans the Danube River. The Chain Bridge is probably the most famous in Budapest thanks also to the fact that it offers splendid views and photographic opportunities.

chain bridge

Return to Pest and continue your exploration by entering the lively Váci Utca, Budapest’s shopping street lined with shops, restaurants and coffee. Before reaching this neighborhood be sure to visit St. Stephen’s Basilica. It is thelargest church in Budapest and can hold up to 8,500 people. With its imposing neoclassical facade, it is surprising both from the outside and the inside.

Completed in 1905 after over 50 years of work, the interior of the church is richly adorned with mosaics, frescoes and sculptures by some of the most celebrated artists of the time. The central dome, 96 meters high, mirrors the height of the Hungarian Parliament: both are the tallest structures in Budapest, signifying that no other building can surpass the importance of spiritual and secular power. A special feature of St. Stephen’s Basilica is thepanoramic view of Budapest from the dome terrace.

St. Stephen's Basilica Budapest

Lunch: Central Market

Head to the central market, where you can catch the pulse of local life. It’s a culinary delight offering a myriad of traditional Hungarian foods, from goulash to stuffed peppers, along with a myriad of stalls selling crafts, souvenirs and spices.

central market in Budapest

Early afternoon: Visit to the Great Synagogue and the Jewish quarter

The Great Synagogue of Budapest, also known as the Dohány Street Synagogue, is an extraordinary testimony to Jewish faith and architecture. Considered thelargest synagogue in Europe and the second in the world, this ecclesiastical building is an example of oriental-Byzantine and Moorish influences, a style which later inspired many other synagogues around the world. The magnificent twin towers and characteristic onion-shaped domes with golden ornaments imitate an oriental Moorish building.

The synagogue, designed jointly by Frigyes Feszl and Ludwig Förster, was first consecrated in September 1859 and can hold almost 5000 people. It is also home to the Hungarian Jewish Museum, which houses a rich collection of religious relics from the Pest Hevrah Kaddishah, Sabbath ritual objects and a special Holocaust room.

The structure of the Basilica includes the imposing, splendidly adorned Ark where there is a hidden organ which once felt the touch of the famous Franz Liszt.

The Great Synagogue is one of the most popular places in Budapest and there may be long queues. I recommend buying your ticket in advance to avoid long queues. Buy the entrance ticket to the Gvrande Synagogue.

As the day grows darker, head to the Jewish Quarter and its old-world charm. This neighborhood preserves the remains of the ancient Jewish ghetto and is the hub of lively nightlife.

Synagogue in Budapest

Evening: Street food at Karavan and end of the evening in the ruin bar

End the day with a visit to Karavan, a trendy street food area near Szimpla Kert. Sample dishes range from traditional Hungarian Langos to a variety of international cuisines. I enjoyed the Langos Burger, which combined the best of both worlds: a Langos and a burger.

End the evening by having a drink in a ruin bar, such as Szimpla Kert which is located right next to the Karavan.

budapest ruin bar

Day 3 in Budapest – Thermal baths and parks of Budapest: Thermal baths – City Park and Castle – Margaret Island by bike – Jazz music concert

On your third and final day in Budapest, prepare for an invigorating encounter with refreshing hot springs, enchanting parks and vibrant culture jazz of the city. Experience the healing power of Budapest’s legendary thermal baths before exploring the beautiful city park and enchanting Vajdahunyad Castle.

Then, hop on a rental bike, easily available and paying by the minute via convenient bike sharing apps. Travel to quiet, car-free Margaret Island, which showcases Budapest’s greener side. At the start of the evening, indulge in the captivating melodies of live jazz in one of Budapest’s famous jazz clubs.

It’s a day full of relaxation, scenic beauty and live music. Now let’s dive into the unforgettable third day in Budapest-

Morning: Spa

Start your third day with an invigorating soak in one of Budapest’s world-famous thermal baths. You could choose between the Széchenyi Thermal Baths, the largest in Budapest located in the City Park, or the elegant Gellért Baths.

To make the itinerary you find in this post work, the Széchenyi spa is perfect because it is located inside the city park. Enjoy a therapeutic bath in the mineral-rich waters as the perfect start to the day.


Opening hours: Weekdays from 7am to 8pm. Weekends from 8am to 8pm
Ticket cost: 9,400 FT (during the week), 10,900 FT (Friday and weekend), 11,900 FT (during holidays) – EARLY MORNING (entry until 9am): 7,500 FT during the week and 8,700 on Friday
Book entry with priority access
Book access without priority entry (€24) I recommend that for this cheaper option select Ticket for adults

Bagni thermal Széchenyi

Late morning: city park, Vajdahunyad castle and Heroes’ Square

After giving yourself a little For spa-style relaxation, head to the spaciouscity park(Városliget), Budapest’s city park also called the “green lung” of Budapest.

Coming from the spa the first stop is at Vajdahunyad Castle it stands with its breathtaking presence. This castle, inaugurated in 1896, offers visitors a historical journey through the architectural styles that have marked Hungary over the centuries.

After crossing the bridge you reach Heroes’ Square, a world heritage site and one of the most iconic monuments of Budapest, crossing the bridge on the right.

For music lovers, a recent addition to the park is the House of Music and the Recently opened Ethnographic Museum which provide insights into the socio-cultural history of Hungary.

castello Vajdahunyad Budapest

Afternoon: M1 Metro and Margaret Island by bike

Once you’ve finished your walk in City Park, take the legendary M1, the oldest metro in Europe which still maintains its original interior. Get off at the Vörösmart stop and rent a bike using one of Budapest’s bike sharing apps (like Bubi or Lime. However, the app informs you if you are cycling in non-accessible areas or are parking in a place where you shouldn’t.I recommend leaving your bikes in authorized car parks or you will incur a fine), which conveniently allow you to pay per minute of use.

Cross the mighty Danube to reach Margaret Island, you can easily get there from the detour on the Margit hid bridge, the green oasis of Budapest. This pedestrian park is perfect for a relaxing bike ride and offers a number of attractions such as sumptuous ruins, a Japanese garden and a musical fountain.

Margaret Island Budapest

Sera: Jazz Concert at the Budapest Jazz Club

End your last day in Budapest with a live jazz concert. Budapest is full of jazz clubs such as the Budapest Jazz Club, theOpus Jazz Club or l’ A38 ship on the Danube (they do little Jazz here but many other concerts, I recommend you check the calendar).

Budapest ed il Jazz

Budapest is renowned for its jazz scene, which dates back to the early 20th century. This rich history began during World War I, when the closing of bars in New Orleans led many musicians to seek their fortunes abroad. Many of these musicians landed in Budapest and began to meet mainly in the basement bar of the Hotel Astoria (which you can visit and have a drink, in fact maintains its vintage style). This marked the beginning of the city’s symbiosis with jazz music.

Over the years, Budapest has earned a reputation for a vibrant jazz culture.

What to eat in Budapest

Budapest’s culinary scene is a delicious fusion of traditional Hungarikum dishes and innovative, contemporary offerings.

  • Gulyás (goulash): the renowned and substantial Hungarian meat and vegetable soup, generously seasoned with paprika.
  • Lángos: a fried flatbread traditionally topped with sour cream and cheese, it’s a must-try street food that offers simplicity and flavor in one bite.
  • Chicken Paprikash: This is a traditional Hungarian dish in which the chicken is slow cooked for a long time with onions and copious amounts of paprika. It is typically served with nokedli (small dumplings).
  • Pörkölt and Nokedli: a hearty stew made with pork, beef or mutton or chicken, seasoned with paprika and other spices. The stew is often served with Nokedli, Hungarian egg noodle dumplings similar to German Spätzle.
  • Töltött Káposzta (Stuffed Cabbage Rolls): This dish features cabbage leaves stuffed with minced pork and rice, seasoned with garlic, pepper and paprika, then slowly cooked in a tomato-based broth.
  • Hortobágy Pancakes: frittelle ripiene di carne
  • Halászlé (Fisherman’s Soup): As the name suggests, this is a hot and spicy paprika-based river fish soup, traditionally prepared with carp. A must try for lovers of spicy food.
  • Budapest is also famous for its foie gras, or goose liver, which is typically seared or made into a terrine
  • Somlói Galuska: for dessert, don’t miss the somlói galuska, a delicious covered sponge cake of chocolate cream, walnuts, rum and garnished with whipped cream.
  • Kürtőskalács, or chimney cake, a spiral of sweet, crunchy dough covered in sugar and cooked traditionally over an open fire. In Prague they even made them filled with ice cream!
  • Budapest is also famous for its foie gras, or goose liver, which is typically seared or made into a terrine
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