The Ultimate Weekend Guide to Budapest

Travel Itinerary
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Becky  Hunter-Kelm
Itinerary by: Becky Hunter-Kelm
2 years ago
Duration: 2 days

Itinerary Introduction

If you're considering a weekend in Budapest, you've come to the right place! Before we delve into our two day Budapest city-guide, let's start with an introduction to the city, local etiquette and customs. An architectural treasure, Budapest, the Capital city of Hungary, is the perfect weekend city break for everyone. Nestled between its neighbors Slovenia, Croatia, Austria, Slovakia, Ukraine, Romania, and Serbia, Hungary is one of today's current top 15 travel destinations. With breathtakingly beautiful natural landscapes (think wide mountain ranges and sparkling lakes), sprinkled with traditional quaint villages, Hungary is a largely undiscovered tourist destination. Family values and hospitality are forces to be reckoned with in Hungary, and you’ll find the Hungarian people’s vibrant, charming welcoming vibes irresistible. If you let yourself, I can guarantee you the acquisition of some new friends! Photo by Dan Novac on Unsplash

Useful information about Budapest

The history of Budapest

Approximately 10 million people live in Hungary. Historically a nomadic people, Hungarians still celebrate this heritage by keeping keen horsemanship skills. If you like horse riding, you can find opportunities galore for a trail ride in the beautiful countryside of Hungary. When it comes to traditional music and celebrations, the Hungarian's primary influence stems from the Roma people. Embroidery and pottery are also primary art forms that are carried out with love and precision. 

The language in Budapest

Hungarian is a Finno-Ugric language, and it is famously tricky to learn and starkly different from the Slavic languages of its neighboring countries. English is commonly spoken in Budapest as a second language, closely followed by German and Russian. You can expect most people in the cities who work in the tourism sector to speak English, but it will go a long way to ensure a brilliant trip if you learn a few basic phrases before you go.  Hi/hello/bye (informal) : Szia (see-ya) / Sziasztok (see-ya-stock)  Yes/No: Igen / nem (eeghen / nehm) Thank you: Köszönöm (kew-sew-newm) / Köszi (kew-see) Jot those down on a post-it note or set them as your screen saver on your phone and learn them on the plane- they're relatively short words and should be able to stick in your mind and at the tip of your tongue as you meet people throughout your fabulous weekend in Budapest.

Local cuisine in Budapest

The national drink of Hungary is Pálinka- a potent 40%-70% ABV sweet fruit brandy. Served everywhere and commonly enjoyed as a pre-dinner tipple or after a meal, it's worth a try- it will warm your cockles if you're visiting during the winter. Hungarians also make excellent wines and craft beers- Egészségére! (Pronounced: 'Egg-ee-sheg-ee-rah'). Cheers!

Local customs in Budapest

Even if you're only going to Budapest for the weekend, as with going somewhere new, it's worth learning a little about the culture and people you're about to visit before you go. Hungarians practice incredible hospitality. You'll be asked questions about your life and where you come from, offered delicious meals, helped in every way you can imagine, and shown around with love and enthusiasm. An excellent way to ensure you're also ready to reciprocate that warmth and acceptance is to learn a few Hungarians' customs and greetings and a bit of their history.
 Greetings for friends and family are a kiss on each cheek, and Hungarians can show deep affection by touching an arm or walking hand in hand while talking and socializing. Hungarians love punctuality, so make sure you're not late if you meet some locals that extend an invitation to you. It’s also worth taking note of a few do's and don'ts- yawning without covering your mouth is considered rude, as is whistling or singing in public. When eating with Hungarians, make sure the topics of conversation stay on the formal side of things - it would be considered disrespectful to talk about anything too personal unless you are very close friends. You might be surprised at the effort locals make to welcome you and help you feel at home. You might find yourself being ushered through doorways first, and you'll find yourself being fed and watered continually (which is no bad thing, believe me!).

Where to stay in Budapest

Whether you fancy a getaway with a group of friends, a quiet weekend with a loved one, or a family adventure, you won't be able to resist the charms of this vast yet historically rich European city. To get right in amongst the action of this European gem, choose a hotel right in the heart of Budapest. From high-end luxury establishments to boutique self-catering apartments in grand neoclassical buildings, there's something to suit every budget. Formerly two cities, Buda and Pest, most of the sights are accessible on foot, so you're going to want super comfortable shoes for all that pavement pounding. The Buda side of the city is hilly and has a more fancy feel, whist Pest feels a bit more modern and lively (and it’s flat!). 

Budapest - Travel Itinerary

Day 1

Day 1 in Budapest

Start your day like a local with a tasty breakfast of kakaós csiga (chocolate rolls), Hungarian scrambled eggs, or even körözött, (a delicious and fresh homemade sour cream and cheese spread- mouthwatering slathered on some fresh crusty bread)!
09:00 - 09:30

Széchenyi Bridge

Budapest, Széchenyi Chain Bridge, Széchenyi Lánchíd, 1051 Hungary
A stroll across the mighty River Danube by crossing the breathtaking Széchenyi Bridge is a great way to start your day in Budapest. Built in 1849, it was the first permanent bridge established across the Danube and connected Buda and Pest. It makes a stunning picture at night so keep an eye out on your return home in the evening. Photo by Yuki Matsukura on Unsplash
Article By: Becky Hunter-Kelm

Travel time
0 hours 2 minutes
10:00 - 11:00

Buda Castle

Budapest, Szent György tér 2, 1014 Hungary
If you’ve crossed over to the Buda side of the city from Pest, trek uphill to the Buda Castle, or for a small fee, jump on board the vintage Buda Funicular and enjoy the views as you make your way up to Buda Castle. There might be some long queues for the funicular, but don't let that put you off- the funicular runs every 10 minutes, and you'll find yourself quickly moving to the top of the line. Although it's only a short ride, you get magnificent views of the entire city. You’ll be able to see an island in the middle of the River Danube called Margaret Island. This green oasis serves as the ultimate escape for Budapest locals- from flower gardens to fountains; it's the top recreation spot during the summer months. When you get off the funicular set off towards the impressive Buda Castle.   You can buy a Budapest Card for around €20 that will get you free entry to Buda Castle at and other sites, so it's worth preordering one online before you go. The castle itself is immense and is a Unesco World Heritage Site. Built during the 13th Century, it's a critical historical landmark of Budapest from which you'll learn a lot of the countries history. Give yourself at least a few hours at the castle; there's a lot to see - you can also join a guided tour if you wish. Photo by Tomasz Abramowicz on Unsplash
Article By: Becky Hunter-Kelm

Getting there

Buda Funicular

Travel time
0 hours 20 minutes
11:00 - 12:00

Hungarian National Gallery

Budapest, Szent György tér 2, 1014 Hungary
While in Budapest, be sure to spend some time at the Hungarian National Gallery, which exhibits striking masterpieces of 11th Century Hungarian art. There's sculpture, altars, and remarkable panel paintings from the Neo-Renaissance Period and Gothic artifacts. Even if you're not typically an art gallery lover, I challenge you to leave without finding one piece that catches your eye. Photo by Birmingham Museums Trust on Unsplash
Article By: Becky Hunter-Kelm

12:00 - 12:30

Mátyás Church 

Budapest, Szentháromság tér 2, 1014 Hungary
Mátyás Church with its gorgeous dramatic and colourful interior is well worth a visit. The 14th Century Roman Catholic Church is Gothic in style and was a site for the coronation of two kings of Hungary. Listen out for the charming sound of its church bells (which were renewed in 2010) chiming out across Holy Trinity Square.  Photo by Zoltan Kovacs on Unsplash
Article By: Becky Hunter-Kelm
Price covers: Entry
Prices for Mátyás Church 
Category Price Restrictions
Standard 1000.00 EUR
Students 700.00 EUR
Kids 0.00 EUR Under 6
Seniors 700.00 EUR

12:30 - 13:30

Hospital In the Rock Nuclear Bunker Museum

Budapest, Lovas út 4, 1012 Hungary
For some real insight into the cold-war days of Budapest, be sure to stop by the Hospital In the Rock Nuclear Bunker Museum. Enter the preserved cave hospitals which are still standing since the siege of Budapest with reference and respect for Hungary’s heartbreaking past. An ode to those who helped and tended to the sick and injured during WWII, you can see original medical articles and realistic wax figures. Photo by Artem Maltsev on Unsplash
Article By: Becky Hunter-Kelm

13:30 - 15:30


Budapest, Lánchíd u. 13, 1013 Hungary
For a mouthwatering Hungarian lunch, stop by the Marvelosa for a nourishing paprika-laden traditional Hungarian Goulash. Photo by Ting Tian on Unsplash
Article By: Becky Hunter-Kelm

15:30 - 20:00

Fisherman's Bastion

Budapest, Szentháromság tér, 1014 Hungary
Fisherman's Bastion is nestled on the bank of the Danube in Budapest. The striking bastion was built in the late 1800s to help celebrate Hungary’s 1000th birthday. Enjoy sitting in one of the turrets of the Neo-Gothic construction and watch the world go by, and the boats bob by on the magnificent River Danube below.  Photo by Elijah G on Unsplash
Article By: Becky Hunter-Kelm

20:00 - 21:30

Gundel Restaurant

Budapest, Gundel Károly út 4, 1146 Hungary
Saturday night in Budapest is truly something to be experienced. Go to Gundel Restaurant just off of City's Park for classic Hungarian dishes and everything in between. Photo by Jay Wennington on Unsplash
Article By: Becky Hunter-Kelm

21:30 - 23:55

Ruin Bars

Budapest, Kazinczy u., Hungary
Take off into the magic maze of Budapest's Ruin Bars- quaint, lively bars set up inside the deteriorated buildings of the city. From outdoor fairy-lit courtyards to Simple Kert on Kazinczy street, the city's first-ever ruin bar (in an ex meat factory). With its electric and friendly atmosphere, Simple Kert is a hive of life with open mic nights, live music most evenings, and a lively international crowd. It has a stunning garden, delicious food and hosts an organic farmers market on a Sunday morning. From here, you can get lost in the maze of the ruin bars - make new friends, learn new pub games, and drink like a local. Have fun ;) Photo by Liam McKay on Unsplash
Article By: Becky Hunter-Kelm

Day 2

10:00 - 10:30

Andrássy út

Budapest, Andrássy út, Hungary
Head for a stroll (and perhaps stop for a fresh coffee and a pastry) along the magnificent and chic Andrássy út. If it reminds you of Paris, there's good reason - it was created to look like Champs-Elysées by Count Gyula Andrássy in the 19th Century. Gaze at the beautiful mansions, overpriced but gorgeous boutiques, impressive embassy buildings, and the State Opera House. Photo by Freestocks on Unsplash
Article By: Becky Hunter-Kelm

10:30 - 10:45

State Opera House

Budapest, Andrássy út 22, 1061 Hungary
Budapest's State Opera House is something else! Take a moment to take in the grandeur of the building, and if you're visiting Budapest during the colder months, it's well worth checking out what performances are happening for a genuinely different night out. From Opera to ballet, you can see the program here. Photo by Giusi Borrasi on Unsplash
Article By: Becky Hunter-Kelm

10:45 - 13:00

Great Market Hall

Budapest, Vámház krt. 1-3, 1093 Hungary
Browse Budapest's bustling Great Market Hall for gifts and souvenirs - from edibles to textiles; you're bound to find something fabulous to take home with you. Some Hungarian paprika or artisan cheese make good gifts for those loved ones at home too. Locals come to the Great Market Hall to get their regular veggies and other local produce. Grab a tasty market stall lunch from the top floor while you're there. If you've got a sweet tooth or need a sugar kick after all that walking, there's a whole stall devoted to strudels on the first floor. Think crispy, flaky pastry with a filling of your choice. Delicious! Photo by Tetiana SHYSHKINA on Unsplash
Article By: Becky Hunter-Kelm

13:00 - 14:00

St Stephens Basilica

Budapest, Szent István tér 1, 1051 Hungary
The beautiful St Stephens Basilica is open Monday-Fridays 9 am-5:15 pm, Saturdays 9 am-1 pm, and Sundays 1 pm-5 pm. Admission is free, and entrance to the panorama tower is 600 HUF. If you've got the energy to climb its many stairs (there is also a lift), the tower boasts some stunning views of the city. The basilica's large neo-Rennaissance dome is quite magnificent, and as the largest church in Budapest, its towers make for an impressive skyline. If you are in Budapest at Christmas, don't miss the Christmas Markets hosted in the St Stephens Basilica for a real winter wonderland experience. For more epic views of the city, there is also the Budapest Eye. A 65m high Ferris wheel, you can find it in the nearby Erzsébet Square.
 Photo by Florin Corbu on Unsplash
Article By: Becky Hunter-Kelm

14:00 - 15:00

City Park

Budapest, City Park, 1146 Hungary
Budapest's City Park is the perfect place to while away a few hours of an afternoon in Budapest. A beautiful green space in the middle of the city, the park is accessible for wheelchair users and families with strollers. It's the perfect place to sit on a bench with a book or watch the world go by. The striking City Lake becomes an epic ice skating rink from November onwards, by the way (thanks to some epic freezing machines!)- and if you're traveling with kids, they can skate for free under age 6. You can glide over the ice rink with Heroes Square behind you. Photo by Nick Night on Unsplash
Article By: Becky Hunter-Kelm

14:00 - 15:00

Heroes Square

Budapest, Hősök tere, 1146 Hungary
Heroes Square is an important place of symbolism for Budapest. The 1000th anniversary of the Carpathian Basins conquest by the Magyar is commemorated by the dramatic Millenary Monument. You'll also find the Museum of Fine Arts here in which you could easily spend a whole day. Photo by Shawnn Tan on Unsplash
Article By: Becky Hunter-Kelm

16:00 - 17:00

Vajfahunyard Castle

Budapest, Vajdahunyad stny., 1146 Hungary
Budapest City Park’s magical fairytale-esque Vajfahunyard Castle is home to the Museum of Hungarian Agriculture where you can learn all about Hungary's native wildlife and flora and fauna. It also hosts music concerts in its open courtyard during its summer months. There is also a Zoo in City Park and an amusement park Holnemvolt Park to check out too.  Photo by Jorge Martínez, instagram @jorgem9
Article By: Becky Hunter-Kelm

19:00 - 21:00

River Danube Cruise

Budapest, Hungary
An early evening river cruise along the Danube is the perfect way to end your day in Budapest. There are loads of sites to pre-book a ticket for a dinner cruise along the Danube. You can check out TripAdvisor for reviews and see some of the best-selling companies for tickets. Most cruises last about two hours, including a glass of house wine and a buffet dinner, incorporating some classic Hungarian dishes. There will probably be some live music, and it is memorable to view both Buda and Pest. You’re going to want your camera to capture the Hungarian Parliament building lit up in all its splendor against the night sky.
Article By: Becky Hunter-Kelm

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About the author

A Brit living in Istanbul Turkey, raising bilingual children and writing as I go along.

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