Budapest is undoubtedly one of the most beautiful cities in Europe – and trust me, I’m not just saying that because I’m a local! I’ve been living in Budapest for more than 5 years now and it still amazes me to this day. If you’re looking for gorgeous architecture, romantic castles, world famous thermal baths, cool ruin bars and delicious cuisine – and all of that for a reasonable price – you need to visit Budapest!
This 2 day Budapest itinerary will be perfect for you if you only have a weekend in Budapest but still want to see the best of the city. So, what are you waiting for? Give this local’s Budapest 2 day itinerary a try and I promise, you will not regret it.
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Is it enough to spend 2 days in Budapest?
There are so many amazing things to do in Budapest that you can easily spend weeks there without getting bored. The optimal amount of time for a first visit would be around 4-5 days. However, if you only have limited time it’s still better to plan a Budapest 2 day itinerary than not to go at all!
A weekend in Budapest is enough to visit the main attractions, try some of the best cafes and restaurants, get a drink in a ruin bar and experience the vibe of the city.
Since 2 days in Budapest is not a long time, get ready for a jam-packed itinerary! If you prefer a more relaxed pace and you have an extra day, then you can spread this itinerary out and create a 3 days in Budapest itinerary as well.
Useful info for visiting Budapest
How to get to Budapest
Most tourists visiting Budapest arrive to the Liszt Ferenc International Airport (commonly referred as Ferihegy), located 16 km (10 miles) southeast of the city centre of Budapest. There are no other airports nearby so if you want to arrive to Budapest by plane, this is your only option.
Getting to the city centre from the airport is quite easy and you have multiple options to choose from. The most budget-friendly way is to use public transportation. Busline 100E is a direct airport shuttle operating between the airport and Deák Ferenc square. Please note that you need to purchase a special ticket for the bus, you can’t use a normal BKK ticket or a Budapest travel card. A one-way ticket for bus 100E costs 900 HUF (3 USD).
Busline 200E is another option. You can use this bus with a normal BKK ticket but it only runs between the airport and Kőbánya-Kispest metro station where you can change to metro line M3 to get to Deák Ferenc square. Please note that part of the M3 metro line is currently under renovation, so the 200E bus now runs to Nagyvárad tér metro station which is the temporarily terminus of the M3 line.
Best time to visit Budapest
Summer is the peak tourist season in Budapest and it’s easy to see why. The weather is usually nice and sunny, however, it can get extremely hot with temperatures above 30°C (86°F), especially in late July and August.
You can use the longer days to do more sightseeing in a day, which is great if you’re only planning to spend a weekend in Budapest. Visiting in the summer is a great choice if you want to enjoy outdoor concerts, sit on the terraces at cafes or attend a festival. On the other hand, be prepared for crowds and higher prices!
If you want to avoid the tourist crowds but you still want to enjoy warm weather, plan to spend your 2 days in Budapest in late spring (second half of April and May) or early autumn (September and the first half of October). The weather is usually perfect for sightseeing but you should also be prepared for a little rain.
Spending a weekend in Budapest in late November or December is also a great idea. The city looks breathtaking with the festive lights and you can find many amazing Christmas markets in Budapest as well.
Unfortunately the weather in winter is usually grey and cold, often with temperatures dropping below freezing, so make sure to bring lots of layers and warm clothes with you! Although Budapest looks utterly romantic in the snow, the city doesn’t get so much snow and even when it does, it usually melts away quickly.
How to get around Budapest
Luckily Budapest is a totally walkable city so the best way to get around in the city is actually by foot! Most of the tourist attractions are located in the city centre, quite close to each other. If you follow this 2 day Budapest itinerary, you will see how easy it is to get around without public transportation.
If you don’t fancy walking that much or you would rather see the tourist attractions in a different order, you can use the public transportation. Budapest has 4 different metro lines and countless tram and bus lines operated by BKK (Budapest Közlekedési Központ), which is really helpful when it comes to getting around in Budapest.
A single ticket costs 350 HUF (a little over 1 USD) if you purchase them in advance, or 450 HUF (1.5 USD) on site. It’s also possible to buy a block of 10 tickets for 3,000 HUF (10 USD). You can find ticket vending machines all around the city, especially around metro or tram stations so it’s easy to buy your tickets in advance. If you’re planning to buy your tickets on site, make sure to have cash with you, preferably in smaller value.
You also have the option to buy a Budapest travel card for 24 hours (1,650 HUF/5.5 USD) or 72 hours (4,150 HUF/14 USD) that grants you unlimited access to all kinds of public transportation, except the 100E bus (airport shuttle). This is a great option if you’re planning to use public transportation a lot but honestly, if you follow this 2 day Budapest itinerary, you will not need it!
Of course like in any other major cities, you can find taxis on every corner, so it’s another option for getting around. Unfortunately ride-sharing apps has been banned in Budapest, but you can use an app called Bolt to order a taxi.
Where to stay in Budapest
At first, Budapest can seem like a big and overwhelming city but in reality, it’s far from it. Sure, it occupies an area of 525 km² (200 square miles) but most of the tourist attractions are located relatively close to each other, which makes Budapest a compact and easily walkable city.
Budapest is divided to 23 different districts, similar to the arrondissements in Paris. The 5., 6. and 7. districts are considered as the classic city centre, with most of the popular tourist attractions located in the area. So if you want to stay in a walking distance from the best places to visit in Budapest, try to aim for one of these districts!
Below you can find some of the best hotels to stay in the city centre of Budapest, depending on your budget.
Anantara New York Palace Budapest occupies an elegant 19th-century building in the heart of Budapest, close to the Opera and Andrássy Boulevard. The spacious, air-conditioned rooms feature luxurious Italian furniture and fabrics like silk wallpaper and Murano chandeliers.
Attractively set in Budapest, T62 Hotel features air-conditioned rooms, a bar, free WiFi and a shared lounge. This 3-star hotel offers a 24-hour front desk and a concierge service. At the hotel, rooms are fitted with a desk, a flat-screen TV and a private bathroom. T62 Hotel also offers a continental or buffet breakfast.
Overview of your 2 day Budapest itinerary
If you want to spend a perfect weekend in Budapest, I recommend to arrive the previous evening in order to ensure that you will have 2 full days to explore the city.
Below you can find a summary of the 2 day Budapest itinerary that I recommend for first time visitors.
Breakdown of your weekend in Budapest
DAY 1: Sunrise at the Fisherman’s Bastion, Matthias Church, breakfast at Home of Franziska, Danube riverwalk, Buda Castle, Széchenyi Chain Bridge, afternoon break at High Note SkyBar, St. Stephen’s Basilica, Shoes on the Danube River, Hungarian Parliament
DAY 2: Breakfast at New York Café, Heroes’ Square, Vajdahunyad Castle and City Park, relaxing in the Széchenyi Thermal Baths, Budapest Eye, Jewish Quarter, sunset at the Citadel
Map for your 2 days in Budapest itinerary
Below you can find a customized map which includes all the locations you will visit on this 2 day Budapest itinerary. I marked your 2 days in Budapest with different colors – I used blue for the first day and orange for the second day, so you can easily see which places you’re going to visit each day.
If you open up this post on your phone and you click on the bracket in the upper right corner of the map, it will open up in your Google Maps. This way you can always have it with you and check it anytime to ensure you’re not missing out on anything during your weekend in Budapest.
Day 1 of your Budapest 2 day itinerary
Watch the sunrise at the Fisherman's Bastion
I know, I know, waking up early is always a struggle, especially if you are on a holiday. But trust me, you’re going to love this! Watching the sunrise at the Fisherman’s Bastion is one of the best experiences you can have in Budapest. Since it gets really crowded during the day this is the only way to avoid the crowds.
The Fisherman’s Bastion is one of the most iconic Budapest landmarks, it’s actually a panoramic lookout tower located on the Buda side of the city. It’s definitely one of the most breathtaking buildings in Budapest! Once you enter the area you will feel like you just stepped into a real-life fairytale.
You can see the Danube river and the whole Pest side from the towers including the Hungarian Parliament and the St. Stephen Basilica. Therefore it’s also one of the best photography locations in Budapest so don’t forget your camera at home!
Most part of the Fisherman’s Bastion is free to visit but for the upper towers you have to pay a small entrance fee of 1000 HUF (3.3 USD). However if you’re going early in the morning you don’t need to pay an entrance fee until 9am – another advantage of getting up early! The upper towers are also free to visit in the winter period (between October 16 and March 15) and on August 20 (Hungarian national holiday).
See the beautiful Matthias Church
The Matthias Church is practically part of the Fisherman’s Bastion so it’s easy to visit both of them at once. It was used as a coronation church by Hungarian kings for centuries and it’s still one of the most unique churches in Europe by this day.
The church is free to visit from the outside but if you want to go inside during your 2 day Budapest itinerary, you need to pay 1,800 HUF (5.9 USD) for a ticket. Since it only opens at 9am (and at 1pm on Sunday) I don’t recommend waiting for it, otherwise you will not be able to go through this Budapest itinerary.
Have a breakfast at Home of Franziska
If you didn’t have breakfast at your hotel you must be starving by now, so it’s time to have a delicious breakfast! (If you already ate at your hotel you can skip this point and go straight to the next one.)
You can find countless incredible breakfast places in Budapest but unfortunately there are not many around the Fisherman’s Bastion. However, Home of Franziska is only an 8 minute walk from there and they have a delicious breakfast selection. You can find basically everything from various type of eggs, pastries, waffles to yoghurts, oatmeals and smoothie bowls. You can check their menu here.
They are open from 7.30am on the weekdays and 9am on the weekends so it’s the perfect place to unwind a little after seeing the sunrise at the Fisherman’s bastion. It’s a really popular place so if you’re not planning to go for opening time it’s best to reserve a table in advance.
Admire the Hungarian Parliament across the Danube river
If you’re finished with your breakfast it’s time to take a stroll along the Danube river as part of your 2 days in Budapest! The Danube river divides Budapest into two main parts: Buda and Pest. Walking along the riverside grants you amazing views no matter which side you are walking on.
One of the biggest highlights of walking on the Buda side is that you can admire the Hungarian Parliament across the river. From Home of Franziska, walk in the direction of Batthányi square and when you reach the river, walk a little bit more to the left side.
The best spot is somewhere around the Novotel Budapest Danube Hotel where you can directly face the Hungarian Parliament. Needless to say, it’s also one of the best photography spots in Budapest so don’t forget to take some photos as well!
Visit the Buda Castle
The Buda Castle is one of the most important historical buildings in Hungary and in my opinion it’s one of the most beautiful castles in Europe as well. It was home for the Hungarian kings for centuries but today it’s no longer functioning as a castle. The former castle building is now housing two museums: the Hungarian National Gallery and the Budapest History Museum.
For going up to the castle you have basically two options: walking or using the funicular. Although the funicular looks very cute and it’s definitely a unique experience, I would still recommend walking. The funicular ride takes around 1-2 minutes and it costs 1,200 HUF (4 USD) for one way and 1,800 HUF (6 USD) for a round trip. In comparison, walking up is totally free and it takes only like 10 minutes in a normal pace. And you can get a pretty amazing view during the walk too!
If you’re not a museum person (trust me, I feel you!) it’s still worth going up to Buda Castle. And if you have only 2 days in Budapest I would recommend skipping the museums anyway. But the Castle and the surrounding area looks absolutely incredible and the view is just breathtaking! You can see basically the whole Pest side from up there.
Cross the Széchenyi Chain Bridge
There are 8 bridges in Budapest in total but the Széchenyi Chain Bridge is undoubtedly the most famous of all of them. It was actually the first permanent bridge that was built on the Danube river in Budapest! The bridge is 375 metres long and two giant lions guard both of the bridgeheads. Crossing the bridge is definitely one of the best things to do in Budapest as it offers amazing views both of the Buda and Pest side.
Have a coffee or a light lunch at the High Note SkyBar
The bar offers a wide selection of cocktails and barfood and they have a separate lunch menu between 12pm and 3pm. The food is absolutely amazing but it’s quite pricy. Therefore I wouldn’t recommend having a feast there but it’s a perfect place for having a coffee and a cake.
And let’s talk about the views! As the terrace is pretty big you can have almost a 360 view over Budapest. They have two separate private boxes: one of them offers an up-close view of the St. Stephen’s Basilica and the other one of the Budapest Eye. You can reserve these boxes in advance or if the bar is not so busy you are free to go up there for a photo and enjoy some of the best views in Budapest.
Visit St. Stephen's Basilica
I hope you managed to get some rest at the High Note SkyBar because here comes the second part of your Budapest self-guided walking tour! After you admired the St. Stephen’s Basilica from the rooftop bar, it’s time to have a closer view.
The St. Stephen’s Basilica is the largest church in Budapest and it’s an absolute must visit on every 2 day Budapest itinerary. It’s open every day from 9am to 7pm and going inside is entirely free. Even if you’re not that into churches I would still recommend going in because the interior is just breathtaking!
But the most amazing part of the Basilica is that you can go up to the Panorama lookout for 1,000 HUF (3 USD) which grants a 360 view over Budapest! The opening time of the Panorama lookout is different in every season so be sure to check it out on their website in advance.
Tips for visiting in winter
Winter is the only season when you can see the sunset from the Panorama lookout as the sun sets before the closing time, so it might be worth to plan your weekend in Budapest around this fact.
If you are visiting Budapest in November or December be sure to check out the Christmas market in front of the St. Stephen’s Basilica! It’s definitely one of the best Christmas markets in Budapest and there is even a light show projected on the Basilica.
It’s a pretty magical experience and the market has been already voted as one of the best Christmas markets in Europe so it’s definitely worth adding it to your 2 days in Budapest itinerary. If you are planning a family travel in winter, be sure to check out the best things to do in Budapest with kids!
Pay your respect at the Shoes on the Danube Bank
After you finished visiting the Basilica, make your way down to the Danube river once again. But this time you will be walking on the Pest side which offers a whole different view! Make sure to stop at the Shoes on the Danube Bank on your way.
The shoes are a haunting tribute dedicated to all the Jews who lost their lives during World War II in Budapest. Nearly 20,000 of them were killed along the Danube Bank and they were all forced to remove their shoes before the gunfire. Therefore the monument consists of 60 iron-made shoes along the Danube river that stand in memory of those who tragically lost their lives.
Admire the Hungarian Parliament from up close (and go inside if you want)
Continue walking along the Danube river and in about 5 minutes you will reach the Hungarian Parliament building. You’ve seen it already across the Danube river from the Buda side but this time you can have a closer look at one of the most significant landmarks in Budapest.
The Hungarian Parliament is currently the largest building in Hungary and with its 96 metres height it’s also the third largest parliament building in the world. No matter how many times I’m walking past this building, it never ceases to amaze me. There are no words how gorgeous it is in real life!
If you want to see the Hungarian Parliament from the inside as well, then you need to book your ticket in advance. The guided tours are available in many different languages and the duration is usually around 45-50 minutes. Ticket price for EEA citizens is 3,200 HUF (10.5 USD) and 6,400 HUF (21 USD) for non-EEA citizens.
Day 2 of your Budapest 2 day itinerary
Start your day with a fancy breakfast at New York Café Budapest
It’s already the second day of your weekend in Budapest, can you believe it? Yesterday was quite busy so it’s time to pamper yourself a bit! And what would be a better start of the day than having a fancy breakfast at one of the best restaurants in Budapest?
The New York Café is the most beautiful coffeehouse in Budapest. And I’m not exaggerating, not even a bit! Even if breakfast is included in your hotel it’s still worth to make some space for the New York Café on your two days in Budapest itinerary. Trust me, it will blow your mind!
The coffeehouse is located inside the New York Palace building which is one of the most beautiful buildings in Budapest. There is a hotel in the building as well and if you’re staying there you can eat your breakfast in this place every morning! (There is a separate room for hotel guests, just to be correct.) Can you imagine that?
There is a wide selection of food and drinks on their menu, including many famous dishes from the Austro-Hungarian Monarchy like Wiener Schnitzel, beef goulash, Somlói sponge cake or strudels. However, be prepared for the prices because this place is rather expensive. But given the location and that you’re basically dining in a 5-star hotel it’s not surprising.
The New York Café Budapest opens at 8am every day. If you’re not going there for opening time it’s worth to reserve a table in advance to avoid queuing for hours! (Yes, it’s that popular!)
Check out the Heroes Square
Budapest is a totally walkable city and up until now you didn’t have to use any kind of public transportation as you did this Budapest self-guided walking tour. However, your next stop will be the Heroes Square which is quite far away from the New York Café. If you like walking you can still do that – it’s like a 30 minutes walk from the New York Cafe to the Heroes Square. Plus you can walk though the Andrássy Avenue which is an amazing experience in itself!
But if you’re feeling lazy after experiencing all of these amazing things to do in Budapest, then you can use the M1 metro to get to Heroes Square. From the New York Cafe you can either walk to Oktogon (approx. 12 minutes) or you can walk back a little to Blaha Lujza Square (2 minutes) and take the tram nr. 4 or nr. 6 for one stop.
The Heroes Square is the largest and most important square in Budapest. You can find a statue of Archangel Gabriel in the middle surrounded by the statue of the seven chieftains of the Magyar tribes and other important Hungarian national leaders on both sides. The monument was built in 1896 to commemorate the 1000 year old history of Hungary.
Stroll around the City Park and visit Vajdahunyad Castle
Right behind the Heroes Square you can find the biggest park in Budapest, the City Park (it’s called Városliget in Hungarian). It’s a nice place to escape from the busy city and take a stroll around in the nature after a hectic 2 days in Budapest.
You can find many interesting places inside the park like the Budapest Zoo, the Gundel Restaurant, a boating lake that gets transformed to the biggest ice-skating rink in Europe during the winter months, the Vajdahunyad Castle, the Széchenyi Thermal Bath and a couple of museums.
Relax at Széchenyi Thermal Bath
Exploring a new city is always exhausting. There is just so much things to do in Budapest in 2 days! But you’ve almost seen everything so you totally deserve a few hours of relaxing. Visiting the Széchenyi Thermal Bath, one of the best thermal baths in Budapest, is the perfect choice for that!
With its iconic yellow building the Széchenyi Thermal Bath is the most famous bath in Budapest and definitely one of the best ones too. Ticket prices are usually between 5,600-6,800 HUF (18-22 USD) and you can buy them online on their website in advance.
You can find different kind of pools inside and outside as well. It’s still worth visiting the outside pools in winter too because the thermal water is always warm. I love the thermal bath in the cold weather the most, it’s such a special feeling to sit outside in the warm water when the weather is crispy!
Go for a ride on the Budapest eye
Did you know that there is a big ferris wheel in Budapest too? It’s called Budapest Eye (how original) and it’s located on Erzsébet Square, right behind Deák Ferenc Square. An adult ticket costs 3,000 HUF (10 USD) but it’s worth checking the other ticket options (like family ticket or children ticket) on their website in advance.
Getting to the Budapest Eye from the Széchenyi Thermal Bath is pretty easy. You just have to walk back to the Heroes Square metro station and take the M1 metro line to the Deák Ferenc Square metro station.
Explore the Jewish Quarter
One of the most interesting part of any 2 day Budapest itineray is the Jewish Quarter. It’s full of historical landmarks like the Dohány Street Synagoge or the Rumbach Street Synagoge and it’s also home to the coolest ruin bars and street food courts in Budapest. You can wander around for hours in this district but if you only have a limited time, try to visit at least the Gozsdu Court and the Szimpla Kert.
Go up to the Citadel for sunset
I saved the best (okay, one of the best) for last: the Citadel! The Citadel is a fortification located on the top of the Gellért Hill and it has one of the best views in Budapest. The views are spectacular during the day as well but if you want to see real magic, go there for sunset! It’s the perfect place to end your 2 days in Budapest itinerary.
It’s possible to go up there with public transportation – you can take bus line 27 and get off at the Búsuló Juhász (Citadella) stop. However, the bus only runs on the Buda side so first you need to get to Móricz Zsigmond körtér with the bus line 7 or tram nr. 47, 48 or 49 and then change to bus line 27.
Honestly, I think walking up is much easier. Although it’s a 15-20 minutes walk which is quite steep so I totally understand if you want to skip that. But in case you want to do this: you need to cross either Erzsébet bridge or Liberty bridge to get to the Buda side (by foot or by public transport) and you can walk up from both points to the Citadel.
Budapest is definitely one of the best cities to visit in Europe. Not only is it super beautiful but it’s quite affordable as well! Don’t believe me? Read this list about all the things you can get for 10 USD in Budapest!
There are so many places to visit in Budapest that you can easily spend weeks exploring the city. However if you only have two days in Budapest you can still cover a lot! I hope this 2 day Budapest itinerary encouraged you to visit this amazing city even if you can only spend a weekend in Budapest.
If you have any questions feel free to leave a comment below or send me an email, I always love helping you out! Is Budapest on your travel bucket list or have you already visited? Let me know in the comments!
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