Visiting Budapest, the Hungarian capital for the weekend and wondering how to spend 2 days in Budapest? Stop right now because you’ve found the ultimate Budapest travel guide made by a local. I’ll show you how to explore Budapest and its must-see places like Fisherman’s Bastion, Great Market Hall, Parliament, St. Stephen’s Basilica and more. Furthermore, don’t forget to eat traditional Hungarian dishes, drink specialty coffee in local coffee shops, discover the ruin bars and the nightlife of Budapest. A Google Map with a suggested walking route is also included, and you can check out the prices at the end of the post.
Let’s dive into this 2-day itinerary for Budapest!
Is it enough to spend 2 days in Budapest, Hungary?
Spending 48 hours in Budapest is ideal, though it won’t be enough to see “everything”. This Budapest travel itinerary will show you the best things to do in the Hungarian capital in 2-day, including coffee time, relaxing and walking. If you wish to follow this self-guided tour, it’s suggested to wake up around 8 am.
On the following map (My Maps by Google Maps), you can see the attractions, cafés, restaurants, ruin bars and the self-guided walking route for 2 days. By clicking on the tab next to “2-day Budapest travel itinerary, Hungary”, you can see the actual points. It’s also possible to turn off and on layers. Furthermore, you can also save this map (if you have My Maps account) by pressing the star next to the map title.
2-day travel itinerary for Budapest
Day 1 – Exploring the historical Buda and Pest
- Breakfast at Szimply food (or around your accommodation)
- Castle District with Fisherman’s Bastion & Matthias Church
- Hungarian cakes at Ruszwurm Confectionery
- Royal Palace & Castle Garden Bazaar
- Souvenir shopping in Bomo Art or Prezent shop
- Gellért Hill with Gellért Statue & Citadel
- Crossing Liberty Bridge
- Great Market Hall & eating lángos
- Relaxing in Károlyi Garden
- Coffee time at fekete
- Dohány street synagogue
- Traditional Hungarian dinner at Gettó Gulyás
- Having fun in ruin bars
Day 2 – Discovering the Pest side
- Breakfast and specialty coffee at SixLetter Coffee Co.
- Walking along the Danube & Shoes on the Danube bank & Chain Bridge
- Ice cream at Gelarto Rosa
- St. Stephen’s Basilica
- Lunch at Pörc & Prézli restaurant
- Wandering on Andrássy Avenue & coffee at Flow Specialty Coffee Bar
- Travelling by metro line 1
- Heroes’ Square, City Park and Vajdahunyad Castle
- Széchényi Thermal Bath
- Dinner in the city centre
- Discovering the nightlife of Budapest
1st day in Budapest – Exploring Buda and the foodie Pest side
Breakfast at szimply food (or around your accommodation)
Let’s start the day with breakfast and coffee to have enough energy to discover Budapest.
One of my favourite breakfast places is Szimply food close to Astoria. Every food looks like a piece of art. Just take a look at this avocado toast and porridge, beautiful and tasty too.
To have more options to choose from, check out my post about Budapest’s best breakfast & brunch places around Deák Ferenc square and Astoria.
Castle District with Fisherman’s Bastion & Matthias Church
For exploring the Buda side of Budapest, you have to go to the other side of the river. Just take bus 16 or 16A from Deák Ferenc square and take off at Szentháromság square.
There you’ll pop up into the magnificent Matthias Church (Mátyás templom) and the Fisherman’s Bastion (Halászbástya). The 78 meters high Matthias Church obtained its final look according to the plans of Frigyes Schulek in the early 19th century after occupations, wars, fire and reconstructions. The 7 bastions of the Fisherman’s Bastion represent the 7 settled down Hungarian tribes from the 9th century. The upper part around the equestrian statue of St. Stephen can be visited with an admission fee (1000 HUF). Go a bit further, and for free you can go up in the biggest bastion.
These attractions get busier after the morning, so it’s better to start your day here, especially if you wish to have a photo with the arches and the Parliament in the background.
Hungarian cakes at Ruszwurm Confectionery
After taking some photos, go to Ruszwurm Confectionery and try out some Hungarian cakes and desserts. They have an impressive selection of sweets, and the prices are friendly despite its location in the Castle District. It might be busy through its popularity, but it’s worth waiting.
Royal Palace & Castle Garden Bazaar
Wander along Tárnok street, which is lined with charming historical houses and head to the
Sándor Palace (State Government Office) and Funicular. The funiculars go up and down in every 5-10 minutes.
Enjoy the view from the Royal Palace’s terrace and discover the yards and fountain of the museum.
To reach the Castle Garden Bazaar, take the elevator or walk down the stairs. The Castle Garden was beautifully renovated in 2014 with its Neo-renaissance garden, colourful ceramics and mosaics.
Souvenir shopping in Bomo Art or Prezent shop
Do you like to buy souvenirs when visiting a new city? On the way to Gellért Hill, you can stop at Bomo Art or Prezent Shop to look around. In Bomo Art you can purchase artistic stationeries and travel-related souvenirs. In Prezent Shop you’ll have a chance to buy design souvenirs, as well as green products and delicacies.
You can read more about these souvenir shops in my post called Budapest design shop guide to best Hungarian souvenirs.
Gellért Hill with Gellért Statue & Citadel
Before climbing Gellért Hill, take a look at Gellért Statue and the waterfall (operates during the warm season) from Erzsébet Bridge’s beginning.
Now it’s time to climb 😉 First, let’s check the statue of Gellért from close, just walk next to the waterfall, every road leads up there. You can also go behind Gellért and the colonnades, there’s a hidden path from the Castle’s direction, just mind your head.
To reach the top, just walk, walk and walk, and you’ll get there. The amazing view will compensate for climbing! Gellért Hill stands 130 meters above the Danube. From that height, you can see the contrast between the hilly Buda and the flat Pest, where only the landmarks emerge from the skyline like the Parliament, St. Stephen’s Basilica, Budapest Eye and Great Market Hall.
The Citadel on its top is a fortress built in 1851 by the Habsburgs after the Hungarian Revolution. Its original goal was to frighten the citizens instead of protecting the city. Today it symbolises freedom with the 40-meter high Statue of Liberty.
After you enjoy the view from the panorama terraces, go down on the other side of the hill (to the direction of Liberty Bridge). Follow the path close to the river, where you’ll find more panorama terraces.
Before walking through the Liberty Bridge, enter Gellért Thermal Bath. It’s free to visit its foyer, so don’t forget to take a look at its marvellous mosaics.
Crossing Liberty Bridge
Cross the bridge, from where you can see your previously visited landmark like Castle District and Gellért Hill and head to the Great Market Hall on the other side of the river.
Visiting Great Market Hall & eating lángos
The Great Market Hall (Nagy Vásárcsarnok) is visited by locals and tourists alike thanks to its fresh products and remarkable architecture. The ground floor offers fresh fruits, vegetables, cheeses as well as pastries. You can buy a pretty package of dried or powdered paprika and sausage as a souvenir. The upper floor awaits with even more souvenirs (handicrafts, embroideries and Budapest themed products), and the food stalls serve Hungarian dishes. Be aware that it can be quite busy during lunchtime.
Stop at the lángos place and try out this traditional Hungarian street food. The fried bread dough is served with different kinds of toppings. The most traditional (and my favourite) version is topped with sour cream and cheese. If you’d like to experiment with the flavours, you can choose from many options, sweet and salty alike (a few of them look very weird…).
If you’re still hungry after the lángos, ask for a strudel on the ground floor.
Relaxing in Károlyi Garden
After the busy market, let’s go to a quiet place and eat that strudel 😉
Instead of the crowded streets, walk on the narrower streets like Bástya street (opposite, then right after exiting the market’s main entrance) till Kecskeméti street and then Károlyi Garden.
Walk around, sit on a bench and look for the big bunny next to the toilet.
Coffee time at fekete
If you’re ready for a 2nd coffee, stop by fekete on your way to the Dohány street synagogue. The coffee shop can be reached from a courtyard, where seats wait for you to enjoy your chosen drink in the warm season. During winter the cosy indoor area is there for you.
Dohány street synagogue
From fekete, Dohány street synagogue is only a few minutes walk. This is the biggest synagogue in Europe. Its construction was finished in 1859 and was built in Moorish Revival style.
Better to buy your ticket in advance to avoid queuing. On the website, make sure to check the opening time and closed dates!
Free guides are included in the price. Enter the synagogue and search for the flag (or language) of your country and the guide, who will tell you interesting facts about the history and symbols of synagogues, Jewish religion and habits.
And girls, wear appropriate clothes, which cover your shoulders and knees 😉
Traditional Hungarian dinner in Gettó Gulyás
After this cultural experience, let’s have dinner and try out some Hungarian dishes!
My favourite Hungarian restaurant, where I always bring my foreign friend is Gettó Gulyás on Wesselényi street. The food is super tasty for an affordable price, and the wine selection is just perfect. I always book a table in advance to secure seats. If it’s full, check out other nearby restaurants like Mátka or Fülemüle.
Or read my Budapest’s best Hungarian restaurants for more recommendations.
Having fun in ruin bars
After dinner and sightseeing, it’s time to discover Budapest’s outstanding nightlife and the legendary ruin bars. You’re in the best place in the 7th district to find ruin bars, where the abandoned houses have been filled with life, vintage furniture and a little hipster vibe.
The most famous is Szimpla Kert, and it can be very crowded on Friday and Saturday evening, you have to wait in a queue to get in. Another popular ruin bar is Instant-Fogas, a peculiar party place, but also busy during the weekend.
2nd day in Budapest – Discovering the historic Pest side
Breakfast and specialty coffee at SixLetter Coffee Co.
SixLetter Coffee Co. is a stylish place serving tasty breakfast and specialty coffee. On their breakfast & brunch menu, you’ll find many healthy breakfast and coffee options. During summer, you can even have a seat outside.
For more check out my post called Budapest’s best breakfast & brunch places close to the Parliament.
After breakfast, just walk to the Hungarian Parliament, Europe’s 2nd largest Parliament after the British House of Parliament, which was the inspiration for the architect, Imre Steindl.
The construction was finished in 1896, on the 100th anniversary of the founding of Hungary. It is open for visitors (book your ticket in advance). However, if you’re spending only 2 days in Budapest, you might have time to walk around and adore the neo-Gothic building only from outside.
Tram 2 runs along the Danube and passes by the Hungarian Parliament. Wait for the vintage yellow cars to take a photo 😉
Walking along the Danube till Chain Bridge
It’s time for a little walk along the Danube bank till the Chain Bridge. You’ll see the Buda side with the Castle District from a different angle.
Shoes on the Danube bank
Not far from the Parliament, (where loads of people are standing at the riverside), you’ll find the Shoes on the Danube bank. It’s a memorial to honour the Jews who were killed at the river during WWII.
After taking some photos, continue strolling till Chain Bridge and Roosevelt square with Hungarian National Academy (Magyar Nemzeti Akadémia) and Gresham Palace.
Next to Gresham Palace, you’ll find Zrínyi street (Chain Bridge’s axis), which leads you to the basilica.
Handmade ice cream at Gelarto Rosa
Next to St. Stephen’s Basilica, you’ll find the artisanal Italian ice cream place, Gelarto Rosa, where you can get rose-shaped ice-cream. I asked for the small one, consisting of two chosen flavours (mango + basil lemon for me). Not only instagrammable but tasty too!
St. Stephen’s Basilica & Panorama Lookout Tower
While eating your ice cream, adore Budapest’s tallest church with its dome reaching the height of 96 meters. Three architects designed and redesigned it over 54 years of construction. It was finished in neo-classicist style in 1905.
The admission is free to go inside (donation is optional), where you can observe the interior covered with 50 types of marble and precious stone, and it’s decorated with mosaics instead of frescoes. The basilica is also the Holy Right Hand’s home, the right arm of our 1st king, St Stephen.
Don’t miss the Panorama Lookout Tower, because for 3 euros (1000 HUF) you’ll get a 360 degrees view of Budapest! Climb 364 steps or take the elevators up to the dome and enjoy the view to Budapest.
Lunch at Pörc & Prézli restaurant
After climbing 364 steps, you’ll need some energy to continue your day. On the other side of the basilica, you can find one of my favourite Hungarian restaurants, Pörc & Prézli. The restaurant looks authentic and stylish, the waiters are very kind, and you can enjoy some live music.
In the basilica’s neighbourhood, there are loads of restaurants. However, next to the touristy area, the prices can also be higher. Make sure to check the menu before your lunch.
Wandering on Andrássy Avenue & coffee at Flow Specialty Coffee Bar
After lunch, wander on the impressive Andrássy Avenue, lined with neo-classicist buildings, luxury boutiques, restaurants and theatres. The Hungarian State Opera House is also situated on the avenue, although it’s closed until 2021 due to renovation.
Take a break and have a coffee at Flow Specialty Coffee Bar & Bistro. On summer days, you can cool down yourself with a cold brew or other specialities.
Travelling by metro line 1
Travel by Europe’s 2nd oldest metro line. All of the stations have industrial architecture style and are covered with white metro tiles. Travelling by this cute yellow metro feels like time travelling. Take on at Vörösmarty tér metro station to the direction of Mexikói út and go till Hősök tere (Heroes’ square).
Or continue walking till Heroes’ square (1,3 km) and take the metro on the way back to the centre (to Deák Ferenc square).
Heroes’ Square, City Park and Vajdahunyad Castle
The square was built for the Millennium. The construction began in 1896, on the 1000th anniversary of the foundation of the Hungarian state. The 36 m tall pillar of Millennium Memorial with Archangel Gabriel on its top stands in the middle of the square. On the colonnades, 14 emblematic figures of the Hungarian history stand and represent its long and complicated history.
Cross the bridge to the City Park and explore Vajdahunyad Castle, a reproduction of a Transylvanian castle surrounded by an artificial lake. The lake is used for boating in the summer, and in winter it turns into the City Park Ice Rink.
Széchényi Thermal Bath
The most popular and well-known thermal bath, Széchenyi Thermal Bath, is also located in City Park. It has 21 pools, health and wellness services, saunas, beer pool and Saturday nights it hosts bath parties called Sparty. The outdoor pools have a totally awesome atmosphere, but the indoor area can seem like a maze for the first time. Be patient and discover as many pools as you can.
Dinner in the city centre
I’m sure you’ll be hungry after relaxing in the pools, so let’s have dinner! Take the metro line 1 back to the city centre till Deák Ferenc square.
There are many options in the centre (just check the My Maps above).
You have a very unique dinner experience in Mazel Tov, which is a chic ruin bar. Reservation is recommended if you don’t want to wait and starve 😉
Discovering the nightlife of Budapest
Just next to Mazel Tov, you’ll find the famous Instant-Fogas party place and ruin bar, which has many dancefloors. My favourite part is the 1st floor, which is a home of a separate bar called Larm, where you can enjoy some techno in black and white shades.
Or discover more alter bars like Kisüzem, where you can choose from many whiskeys, rums and wines.
Or if you’re into a party with a view, check out Pontoon at the foot of Chain Bridge (Lánchíd) on the Pest side.
Expenses during my 2 days in Budapest
During my 2 days, I’ve spent money mainly on food, drinks and tickets. Public transportation and food are affordable in Budapest. However, if you try out fancy restaurants and bars as I did, count with extra forints. My 2-day Budapest trip cost 34 800 HUF (~ 97 EUR) for one person (if 360 HUF = 1 EUR).
- Accommodation – 0 HUF (I live in Budapest)
- Transportation and tickets -11 500 HUF (~ 32 EUR)
- Food and drinks – 23 300 HUF (~ 65 EUR)
See my daily expenses below (these were the prices in October 2019):
Total cost for 1st day
- Breakfast at Szimply food: Avocado toast – 3000 HUF
- Flat white at Kontakt coffee – 850 HUF
- Public transport ticket to the Castle District – 350 HUF
- Eszterházy cake at Ruszwurm Confectionery – 700 HUF
- Great Market Hall: Lángos with sour cream and cheese – 750 HUF + Strudel for takeaway – 280 HUF
- Espresso tonic at fekete – 1100 HUF
- Dohány street synagogue ticket – 4500 HUF
- Dinner at Gettó Gulyás – 4500 HUF (main course + wine)
- Drinks – 2500 HUF (depends on you 😉 )
Total cost for 2nd day
- Breakfast at SixLetter Coffee Co.: Smoked salmon open sandwich – 2000 HUF + Flat white – 850 HUF
- Ice cream at Gelarto Rosa: 800 HUF
- St. Stephen’s Basilica Panorama Tower: 1000 HUF (Payments only with cash (HUF). NO CARD!)
- Lunch at Pörc & Prézli: Goulash soup with beef cheek – 1590 HUF + 1 dl red wine (Szeleshát Merlot) – 910 HUF + Service fee – 300 HUF
- Cold brew at Flow Specialty Coffee Bar & Bistro – 600 HUF
- Public transport ticket to Heroes square – 350 HUF
- Széchenyi Thermal Bath: 3500 HUF (Higher price during the weekend!)
- Public transport ticket to Deák Ferenc square – 350 HUF
- Dinner at Mazel Tov – 3500 HUF
- More drinks… – 3000 HUF
Additional cost from and to the airport
- Transfer ticket – 530 HUF
- Airport shuttle bus single ticket – 900 HUF
Here are more Budapest posts for you to make the most of your trip:
- A first-timer’s guide to Budapest – Things to know about visiting Budapest
- 12 mistakes to avoid when visiting Budapest
- Budapest food guide to traditional Hungarian dishes
- A local’s guide to the best chimney cakes in Budapest
- Where to drink the best specialty coffee in Budapest?
- Budapest’s best outdoor bars along the Danube
As you could see, these 2 days were packed with tourist attractions, walking, eating and other fun opportunities. I know, this suggested trip might look a lot, though you don’t have to follow every step of it.
I just wanted to present a roadmap for your future trip and show you how to spend 2 days in Budapest. Have some spontaneity and enjoy your stay in Budapest!
Tell me what your favourite part of Budapest is! Leave a comment below.
Pin the photos for later to have it on Pinterest. Write a comment also on Pinterest and tell me your opinion.