Budapest is a year-round city break destination. Spending 3 days in Budapest is just about enough to visit its most interesting sights, fall in love with the food and get to taste some local drinks and specialities.
We spent a year in Budapest to learn everything there is to know about Hungary's capital city. In this article, we put together the sights, experiences, and foods you have to try if you have only three days to spend in Budapest.
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3 days in Budapest itinerary
Our 3-day Budapest itinerary will take you to some of the most beautiful places in Europe. You will visit castles and churches with 1000 years of history and sample traditional Hungarian foods and wine. And when you feel that you can't walk any more, you will take a break in the most relaxing spa and enjoy a candle lit dinner cruise on the Danube.
Highlights of your 3 day Budapest itinerary:
- Day 1 in Budapest: "Pest" Side, St. Stephen's Basilica, Parliament, Ruin Pubs
- Day 2 in Budapest: "Buda" Side, Fisherman's Bastion, Buda Castle, Spa, Wine tasting
- Day 3 in Budapest: "Pest" Side, Heroes' Square, Vajdahunyad Castle, Danube Cruise
Getting to Budapest city centre from Liszt Ferenc Airport
Getting from Liszt Ferenc Airport to Budapest city centre can be a bit confusing. Find the ticket machine located just outside the Terminal 2A and get an Airport shuttle bus single ticket - 1500 HUF ($3.40). Look for the staff in blue uniforms, they will be happy to assist you if you get stuck.
Bus 100E leaves right in front of the terminal building and takes only 35-45 minutes to Budapest City Centre. Get off at the Deák Ferenc Square for the city centre. There are announcements for each stop in English.
The 100E bus operates every 7-10 minutes every day, during the day and every 30-40 minutes at night, between midnight and about 3:30 in the morning.
Airport shuttle bus only stops at three stations, the Kálvin Square, Astoria (Square) and the Deák Ferenc Square, both are in the city centre.
Tickets cannot be purchased from the driver. For more information, take a look at our Budapest Airport to city centre guide.
- At Kálvin Square change to the Blue (M3) and Green (M4) subways lines.
- At Astoria, change to Red (M2) subway line.
- At Deák Ferenc Square change to Yellow (M1) and Red (M2) subway lines.
Tip: Avoid getting fined whatever public transport you travel on! Always keep your validated tickets until you left the station building. Ticket inspectors usually wait at the exits to check your tickets.
Budapest Itinerary - Day 1
Deák Ferenc Square
Start the morning at the Deák Ferenc Square (Deák Ferenc tér). There are market stalls on both sides of the quare with local produce from Hungarian vendors during most major holidays like Easter, Christmas, etc.
Mornings are typically quiet, but by the afternoon, the place gets packed with locals and tourists who drink beer, wine or enjoy the food from the various street vendors. So if you want to meet like-minded individuals, remember to come back in the evening.
There is a Tourist Information Centre where you can pick up more info about the city. Pick up your Budapest card here or at many locations across Budapest.
From Deák Ferenc Square make your way towards the St. Stephen's Basilica (5mins walk).
St. Stephen's Basilica
St. Stephen's Basilica is a Roman Catholic place of worship, built from 1851 to 1905, with regular concerts. We recommend that you book your concert tickets in advance, as seats fill up quickly, especially during holidays and special events.
The entrance to the Basilica is 1200 HUF ($2.70) for adults and free for children. Reduced fees are available for students (international student card required) and families.
|Ticket Type||Church only||Towers & Treasury only||All in One|
|Adult||1200 HUF ($2.70)||2200 HUF ($5.00)||3200 HUF ($7.30)|
|Student||1000 HUF ($2.30)||1800 HUF ($4.00)||2600 HUF ($5.90)|
|Family (2+2)||4000 HUF ($9.00)||7200 HUF ($16.30)||11000 HUF ($25.00)|
|Budapest Card||20% discount from full price|
For up-to-date opening times and entrance information, visit the official St. Stephen's Basilica website.
Spend some time around the St. Stephen's square and discover a variety of shops, restaurants, and cafes. It's a great place to take a break and eat a Hungarian cake with a cup of coffee or have a gelato at Gelarto Rosa Grande (Address: Hercegprímás street 9, 1051).
From the St. Stephen's Basilica, make your way towards the Parliament (10mins walk). Don't take the main road by the Danube, but take the smaller streets like Október 6 street or Sas Street. It will be much quieter, and you can admire the Hungarian architecture.
Tall buildings with high ceilings and beautiful decorations all around. Cross the Liberty Square (Szabadság Tér) which is a nice park surrounded by gorgeous buildings, including the USA Embassy and the Hungarian National Bank.
If you want to pick up a snack, stop by the Hold Street and Downtown Market (Hold utcai Vásárcsarnok és Belvárosi Piac) a small but authentic market with a few places which sell food.
Important: the Downtown Market is closed until further notice (since January 2021).
Alternative to the market for a quick snack, cake and coffee is the Szamos Cafe (Address: Kossuth Lajos Square 10, 1055) right next to the Chocolate museum. They serve some delicious, traditional Hungarian cakes. Try the "Kremes" or the "Dobos torta". Read more about traditional Hungarian foods here to be prepared for your Budapest trip.
Once you reach the Hungarian Parliament, walk around it and take your time to snap as many pictures as you wish. Enjoy the Gothic Revival–style building, the park, the monuments and surrounding buildings.
You can visit the House of Parliament Visitor Centre, photograph the Kossuth Monument and enter the Museum of Ethnography. Just behind the Parliament, there is also the Memorial Park (Véres Csütörtök Emlékhely).
The Parliament is open for visitors every day between 8am-16pm. The self-guided (audio guide provided) or tour guided visit last 45 minutes.
|Ticket Type||Price (HUF/USD)|
|Adult (EEA citizen)||4200 HUF ($9.50)|
|Student (EEA citizen, age 6-24)||2100 HUF ($4.80)|
|Adult (non-EEA citizen)||8400 HUF ($19.00)|
|Student (non-EEA citizen, age 6-24)||4200 HUF ($9.50)|
Discounts are available for families (2+2). Please have your EEA citizen card or passport with you. For up-to-date ticket prices and opening times, visit the official Parliament website.
Lunch at Hungarikum Bistro
It's time for lunch! Head to Hungarikum Bistro (Address: Steindl Imre street. 13, 1051), a family run small restaurant which sells truly authentic Hungarian food. Furthermore, the service is wonderful, and the dishes are delicious.
Order a goulash soup followed by a Hungarian main dish. Don't forget to order some Unicum, a traditional bitter made with a secret recipe.
As an alternative, we recommend booking a food tour with a local guide. The tour is about 4 hours long and includes lunch. You will try wine, liquors, pastries, and other tasty foods.
District 7 - Ruin Bars
In the afternoon, walk towards Astoria, but take a left at the Dohány street Synagogue onto Wesselényi street. Turn right onto Kazinczy street to arrive to the famous ruin pub area in Budapest.
Szimpla Kert (Address: Kazinczy street 18, 1075) is perhaps the most famous ruin pub in Budapest. Not many locals go there any more as the place became a little too touristic.
We still recommend it, as Szimpla Kert is atmospheric and unique. Next to Szimpla Kert there is the Street Food Caravan where you can order food and drinks whilst enjoying a lovely evening outdoors.
Best Ruin Bars In Budapest
- Szimpla Kert - Pub (Address: Kazinczy street 18, 1075)
- Rácskert - Pub (Address: Dob street 40, 1072)
- Instant & Fogas Ház - Nightclub (Address: Akácfa street 51, 1073)
- Mazel Tov Budapest - Upscale bar & restaurant (Address: Akácfa street 47, 1072)
- UdvarRom - Pub (Address: Klauzál street 21, 1072)
Party District - District 7
District 7 is the party district in Budapest. Depending on what you expect from your Budapest trip, you can either opt for a quiet night in a bar or have an explosive night in a club. You will find various places where you can meet locals and expats, so don't be shy and explore the quarters.
Budapest Itinerary - Day 2
After breakfast, we wanted to take you on a short walk crossing the Széchenyi Bridge. However, the Széchenyi Bridge is currently under renovation and won't be open to the public until 2023.
If you are staying on the "Buda" side, head to toward the Fisherman's Bastion. If you are on "Pest" side, make your way north to the Margaret Bridge. You can take tram 4 and 6 if you don't fancy walking. Switch to tram 19 at "Margit híd, budai hídfő" station (there usually are English announcements on the tram. If not, check with the tram driver). The station name literary means, Margaret Bridge, "Buda" side. Get off tram 19 at Halász street.
We recommend tram 19 for a nice and easy sightseeing ride along the Danube.
From the tram, make your way up hill toward the bastion. It's a 10mins easy hike.
Fisherman's Bastion (Halászbástya) is a beautiful terrace located on the "Buda" side. It has seven towers, each representing the seven Magyar tribes that settled in the Carpathian Basin back in 895 AD. There are several cafes and restaurants in the area if you wish to enjoy a late brunch.
This is a really great location to take incredible pictures of Budapest and the Parliament. Part of the bastion is free, but the best parts are paid for.
|Adult||1000 HUF ($2.30)|
|Children under 14, seniors||500 HUF ($1.15)|
|Free entry all day for everyone on these dates: 15/March, 20/Aug, 23/Oct|
Fisherman's Bastion opening hours 9am-19pm, daily.
There is a lot to see in the Castle District and the place is packed with history. We strongly recommend that you book a guided tour that takes you to each important location and explain more about the history.
Matthias Church (Mátyás Templom) is a Roman Catholic Church in a florid late Gothic style. The first church on the site was founded by Saint Stephen, King of Hungary in 1015. This building was destroyed in 1241 by the Mongols, and the current building was constructed in the 13th century.
The Matthias Chrich can be visited every day between 9am-17pm.
|Ticket Type||Church Only||Church & Tower|
|Adult||2000 HUF ($4.50)||2200 HUF ($5.00)|
|Children (under 14)||Free||Free|
|Family (2+2)||4750 HUF ($10.70)||5250 HUF ($12.00)|
Tickets can be purchased on the official Matthias Church website.
The Buda Castle is a historical castle where the kings of Hungary used to reside. The Castle is located on the Buda Hill, and it is part of the Budapest World Heritage Site since 1987.
The Buda Hill is linked to the Széchenyi Bridge and the Castle Hill Funicular. You can walk down from the castle towards the Garden Bazaar or take the Funicular. You can enter the castle, which now houses the History Museum and the Art Gallery.
Buda Castle opening times: 10am to 18pm every day except Monday.
|Ticket Type||Castle only||Castle & St. Stephen Room|
|Adult||2400 HUF ($5.50)||4500 HUF ($10.00)|
|Student, senior||1200 HUF ($2.70)||2250 HUF ($5.10)|
Tickets can be purchased on site.
Castle Garden Bazaar
The Castle Garden Bazaar is a beautiful complex with exhibition halls, gardens, restaurants, and theatres. It's a 19th-century Neo-Renaissance complex. It offers free entry, and it is a gorgeous place for those interested in beautiful Instagrammable places in Budapest.
Whether you decided to take the Funicular or walk down via the Garden Bazaar, it's now time to continue your journey towards Elizabeth Bridge and Gellért Hill. Once you reach the bridge, start making your way up towards the Citadella. See the Gerard of Csanád Monument on your way up.
The Citadella is a Hapsburg fortress with postcard-perfect views of the city. At the top, you will find some stalls selling traditional Hungarian crafts. You can also photograph Budapest in all its splendour. At the top, you will find the Liberty Statue.
Descend on the Gellért side and finish the afternoon with a swim in the Gellért Spa. Gellért Thermal Baths and Swimming Pool is a bath complex in Budapest with a unique interior. You can use the swimming pool as well as the thermal baths, known for their great properties.
The spa opens at 9am and closes at 19pm daily. Summer opening times may vary.
|Adult||7100 HUF ($16.10)||8200 HUF ($18.60)|
Cross back to "Pest" side via Liberty Bridge, a green metallic bridge which has tram tracks on it. The Liberty bridge is my favourite Instagrammable spot in Budapest.
Wine tasting in Budapest
Hungary has an array of amazing wines and no better way to try them than by going to a wine tasting. We went to two different wine tasting since we moved to Budapest and really enjoyed our time. We didn't know that much about different types of wine produced in Hungary, except for the famous Tokaji wines, of course.
There is a really nice half-day excursion to Etyek wine country from Budapest that we recommend. They will show you family-run cellars, give you different varieties of wine to try, and serve you delicious dinner.
Budapest Itinerary - Day 3
Central Market Hall
No better way to start the day than by enjoying Hungarian local specialities in the Central Market Hall (Nagy Vásárcsarnok, Address: Vámház krt. 1-3, 1093). In the main hall, you can find a variety of fruit and veg stalls, but if you make your way upstairs, several food stalls selling traditional dishes from morning until early afternoon. You should try langos here or if you have time, head over to the best langos in Budapest.
Opening times: 6am-18pm every day, closed on Sunday.
Tip #1: Most sellers go home after 14pm, so the market gets quiet. The best time to visit the Central Market Hall is between 9-10am.
Tip #2: Only touch what you want to buy. Taking pics is ok. The sellers are usually a friendly bunch, most will speak English. The market is cash only. The old ladies sell the best produce - they mostly grow the seasonal fruit & veg themselves.
Cross the main road from the Central Market Hall and onto Váci Street. The Váci Street is a long shopping street. It used to be the most expensive street in Hungary, so much so that there are countless songs and jokes were made about it.
Dotted with boutiques and restaurants, as well as souvenir shops the street is now more of a tourist hotspot. The street stretches all the way to Vörösmarty Square. It's a good place to shop for almost anything, but you will mostly find souvenir shops, clothes, shoes, and restaurants.
Don't forget to look up at the beautiful buildings as you walk. Many of these building have been here since the 17th century.
From Váci Street take the Deák Ferenc Street and make your way back to the Deák Ferenc Square. From there, cross to District 7 and make your way to the Dohány Street Synagogue (Address: Dohány u. 2, 1074).
The Dohány Street Synagogue, also known as the Great Synagogue or Tabakgasse Synagogue, is a historical building in Budapest, located in the 7th district. It is the largest synagogue in Europe and the second largest in the world.
We recommend a guided tour that includes the ticket to the Synagogue and takes you to all the historical points of the Budapest's Jewish Quarter.
|Adult||8000 HUF ($18.20)|
|Child (6-12)||2900 HUF ($6.60)|
|Family (2+2)||18400 HUF ($42.00)|
Opening Times: 10am every day. Closing times vary based on the season: Winter and Spring: 16pm, Summer and Autumn 18pm. Detailed opening times can be found on the official website.
Andrássy Street is a large boulevard in Budapest, dating back to 1872. It became a World Heritage Site in 2002. We loved walking on Andrássy Street and we did almost every day. There are several notable points of interest along the avenue, including the gorgeous Hungarian Opera House, Pest Broadway, Terror House Museum and Heroes' Square. Don't forget to stop for coffee along the avenue.
Heroes' Square is one of the major squares in the city known for its iconic statues which represent the Seven Chieftains of the Magyars and other important Hungarian national leaders. You can visit the Museum of Fine Arts (Open every day 10am-18pm, except Monday) on the left.
Vajdahunyad Castle was completed in 1896. It now houses the Museum of Agriculture. The castle is surrounded by a beautiful green park, with benches where you can have a relaxing walk or enjoy a late afternoon picnic. On the other side, you can visit the Budapest Zoo & Botanical Garden.
It's free to walk around the caste grounds, but the museum has an entry fee of 2500 HUF ($5.60) for adults and 1200 HUF ($2.70) for children. The tower of the Vajdahunyad Castle can be visited separately for 400 HUF ($1).
The Vajdahunyad Castle is open every day between 10am and 17pm, except Monday. The tower opens at 9am and closes at 19pm.
Széchenyi Thermal Bath
Finish the afternoon with a lovely bath. Hhead over to the Széchenyi Thermal Bath, located just minuted from the Vajdahunyad Castle. Széchenyi also offers an outdoors complex of pools. Skip the queues and enjoy the spa's 18 pools, saunas, and steams rooms for the whole day.
Address: Állatkerti krt. 9-11, 1146
Opening times: Weekdays, 7am-19pm, Weekends, 9am-20pm. Check exceptions on the official site.
|Day ticket with locker||7100 HUF ($16.10)||8200 HUF ($18.60)|
(daily from 5pm, Sunday from 6pm)
|6800 HUF ($15.40)||7900 HUF ($18.00)|
Dinner at New York Coffee House
Head back towards the city and make your way to the New York Coffee House (Address: Erzsébet krt. 9-11, 1073). We recommend booking a table in advance to avoid queuing outside for several hours.
New York Coffee House is a cafe and restaurant since 1894 with frescoes and chandeliers. The interior is absolutely stunning, so expect royal prices to match the beauty of the interior. It is by far one of the most beautiful buildings in the city.
Evening Danube Cruise
Finish off your 3 days in Budapest with a cruise on the Danube. If you decided to skip dinner at the New York Coffee House, enjoy a candlelit dinner cruise on the Danube.
Where to stay in Budapest
One of the main things you want to do before you start planning your Budapest itinerary is finding the right accommodation for you. There are plenty of options in Budapest, including cheap hostels, mid-range and luxury hotels. If you want to be in the heart of Budapest, we recommend staying in a hotel on the "Pest" side. For those seeking quiet options, we recommend the "Buda" side. Budget accommodation can be found primarily on "Pest" side. You will find luxury hotels mostly in District 5. We have a dedicated guide on where to stay in Budapest.
Luxury: Corinthia Hotel Budapest
The 5-star Corinthia Hotel Budapest on the Grand Boulevard offers access to its Royal Spa, 3 restaurants, an elegant café and free Wi-Fi in all rooms.
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Mid-range: Eurostars Danube Budapest
Decorated to reflect the ambience of the 1920s, Eurostars Danube Budapest is located in the centre of Budapest, 250 m from Deák Ferenc Square transport hub.
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Budget: House Beletage-Boutique Hotel
Located in the 8th district also called the Palace district of Budapest this lovely boutique hotel is close to most attractions.
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What do you think of our 3 days in Budapest itinerary? Did we miss something? Do you have any further recommendations? Leave a comment below and tell us all about it.