Budapest is the capital city of Hungary. It is the most populous city in Hungary and one of the largest cities in the European Union. Budapest has a city vibe with an old-world charm that is hard to resist. Continue reading to find out how we explored the Hungarian capital city of Budapest in 2 days. This is your perfect 2 day Budapest itinerary covering historical sites, iconic sites, and an amazing dinner cruise.
When I think of Budapest, the picturesque River Danube comes to mind. And rightly so, the entire city gets its character and personality from this River, dividing the city into Buda and Pest.
2 Day Budapest Itinerary: What to do in Budapest in 2 days itinerary
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Budapest is a beautiful city with amazing architecture and delicious cuisine. At a glance here is what you can explore in 2 days in Budapest:
- Day 1 of 2 days in Budapest Itinerary – Hungarian Parliament, Dohány Street Synagogue, Ruin Bars, Heroes Square, Museum of Fine Arts, Széchenyi Baths, New York Café
- Day 2 of 2 Days in Budapest Itinerary – St Stephen’s Basilica, Buda Castle, Budapest History Museum, Fisherman Bastion, Central Market Hall, Bridges of Budapest
Now, let’s go over some planning tips for your trip
How to get to Budapest Hungary? Arriving in Budapest
Budapest is served by Budapest Ferenc Liszt International Airport (BUD). Budapest airport is about 16 kilometers (9.9 miles) away from the city centre.
There are many ways to reach the city centre from Budapest Ferenc Liszt International Airport.
- Airport Taxi – Airport taxis (Fö Taxi) will cost around 30-35 euros and it takes 35 minutes to arrive at the city centre
- Or book a minivan shuttle for almost half the price. Book your airport transfer here
- Public Transportation – Buses also operate from the airport to the city centre, every 30 minutes and takes about 35 – 45 minutes. You will be taking the bus and exchange to a metro station to arrive at the city centre (Bus 100E, get down at Kobanya-Kispest railway station, then take the Metro line 3 to reach the city center)
Quick tip for sightseeing in Budapest
If you are planning to use public transit extensively during your stay in Budapest, then consider purchasing the Budapest Card, which offers FREE transit rides including free access to 17 museums and discounts to many sightseeing attractions. Definitely a cost-saver.
If you are not flying to Budapest, and are driving instead, you can get into a car and reach Budapest from Vienna, Austria in 2+ hours!
Best Places to Stay in 2 day Budapest Itinerary
When we arrived in Budapest, it was raining. On our first day of arrival, we checked into our hotel in the Pest area – Ibis Style Hotel. Prices for accommodation and food are cheaper in Pest area as compared to Buda.
The river Danube divides the city into Buda and Pest. Typically, hotel room prices range from 52 Euros and above. Most Downtown hotels start at 127 Euros.
Here is a list of hotels that we recommend for your Budapest 2 day itinerary –
🖤 Budget to Mid Range Hotels in Budapest
- Ibis Styles Budapest Hotel – This hotel is located on the Pest side. We stayed in this hotel and had an amazing stay.
- New hotel rooms. They are clean and pretty (like Mario images)
- It is a great place to stay and is located very close to the New York Cafe
- They have a restaurant, a souvenir store, and a bar on site
- Very pocket-friendly!
- Book your stay here
- Casati Budapest Hotel Superior – Located in an 18th-century building, this adults-only hotel is a stunning hotel.
- This hotel has won, the “Hotel of the Year award” in a three-star hotel category in the previous years
- Main attractions and landmarks like the State Opera, and Saint Stephen Basilica are a short walk away
- Book your stay here
🖤 Mid to Luxury Range Hotels in Budapest
- Boutique Hotel Victoria Budapest – Located in the old historic town of Budapest on the Buda side, this hotel offers the best views of the Buda Castle and the Danube River
- Stay here for amazing views. The hotel also offers spa and sauna services
- Located very close to most of the tourist areas like – the Hungarian Parliament, Chain Bridge, Danube River, Matthias Church
- The hotel is rated as one of the best in Budapest. The hotel also offers complimentary tea in their lovely restaurant
- Book your stay at the Boutique Hotel Victoria
- Hilton Budapest – This Hilton hotel is located in an amazing area – in the heart of a UNESCO World Heritage site
- Located 15 minutes from the centre of Pest, with easy access to most tourist areas including Buda Castle
- In their ICON restaurant, you can savor Hungarian cuisine, whilst enjoying breathtaking panoramic views
- Book your stay here at Hilton Budapest
- Corinthia Hotel Budapest – Corinthia Hotel is a 5 star rated hotel in Budapest. The hotel building is very stunning.
- The hotel has a spa and a multi-cuisine restaurant
- There is an indoor pool as well
- Best value for money – by staying in the heart of the city
- Book this hotel today
More Accommodation: Hotel deals in Budapest
Visit Budapest in 2 days: Best things to see in Budapest two days + Google Maps
- Hungarian Parliament
- Dohány Street Synagogue
- Budapest Ruin Bars
- Heroes Square
- Museum of Fine Arts
- Széchenyi Thermal Bath
- New York Cafe
- St. Stephen’s Basilica
- Buda Castle
- Budapest History Museum
- Fisherman’s Bastion
- Central Market Hall
- Bridges in Budapest
- Danube River Cruise
Read: More time in Budapest? Here is a 4 days in Budapest itinerary
Day 1 of 2 days in Budapest Itinerary – Hungarian Parliament, Dohány Street Synagogue: the largest synagogue in Europe, Ruin Bars, Heroes Square, Museum of Fine Arts, Szechenyi Baths, New York Café
On our first day of arrival in Budapest, we explored some of its famous landmarks. We started with the best – the stunning Hungarian Parliament.
The Hungarian Parliament is not only an iconic landmark but it is also one of the most photographed buildings in Budapest. It is built in a classic Gothic architectural style.
Did you know? The Parliament Building is the largest building in the city!
The Parliament attracts millions of tourists to its complex, especially during springtime and late evenings.
You can tour the Hungarian Parliament building, learn about its rich history, and enjoy the interiors. The adult entry tickets start at 8000 HUF or about 21 Euros.
There are tons of options for tours, with a guide, pick up, and drop off services included, and you can easily spend 2-3 hours at the Parliament building.
We highly recommend this tour to the Hungarian Parliament which includes a hotel pick-up so that you can start exploring right away.
Located close to the Parliament building, is the Dohány Street Synagogue. Also called the Great Synagogue (or Tabakgasse Synagogue), this is the largest Jewish house of worship in the world (the other one is in New York City).
Built in the mid 19th century (1859), the synagogue has both Romantic and Moorish architectural elements.
There is a Holocaust Tree of Life Memorial on the north side of the Synagogue, built over the mass graves of those murdered by the Nazis. The synagogue also has a Jewish museum inside.
The Jewish quarter houses the quirkiest side of Budapest. Have you heard about ruin bars?
A few years ago, a group opened up a bar in one of the dilapidated buildings in the 7th district in Budapest and started selling cheap drinks. Slowly more and more ruin bars started to crop up everywhere.
Eventually, some of them were closed due to safety concerns and stayed on. Szimpla Kert was the first ruin bar in Budapest and it continues its legacy even today.
If you are looking for a walking tour to explore the Jewish synagogues and taste some coffee or a drink at the ruin bars, then check out this tour.
This 3 hour guided tour covers the Jewish quarters with a historian, a drink at the ruin bars, and an awesome street art exploration.
Next, we explored Heroes Square in the heart of Budapest. Heroes Square or Hősök Tere is one of the major squares in Budapest and is also a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It is known for its iconic statue complex featuring the Seven Chieftains of the Magyars and other important leaders.
The color of the columns and the green statues shine even brighter with the raindrops, adding a melancholic charm to the square’s history. This complex also hosts the Museum of Fine Arts and the Műcsarnok.
Visiting the Square is absolutely free.
This square has witnessed many political rallies and movements in Hungary. The location of this monument is also unique – it is a mix of a Communist neighborhood and a new edgy city.
Take a walk around the square, and look at the beautiful sculptures and figures.
If you have some more time, you can surely visit the Museum of Fine Arts and Palace of Arts located by Heroes Square. The buildings are beautiful to look at.
From the Heroes Square, head to the Széchenyi Medicinal Bath, which is the largest medicinal bath in Europe (and located just a few minutes away).
Enjoying a relaxing time at the Széchenyi Thermal Bath is one of the must-do items in Budapest. These baths have medicinal properties, other than being of relaxation and entertainment value. They promote health and wellness.
The ticket price of the entrance fee to the thermal bath is very affordable as compared to the Blue Lagoon in Iceland (shhh). Get your 1 day pass to the Széchenyi thermal bath here
Budapest has tons of options for thermal baths. Other notable baths include – the Gellért Baths, Király Baths, Lukacs Baths, and Rudas Baths.
From here, we drove over the river Danube. As you drive across the river, you will notice that Budapest has beautiful bridges. Each bridge has its own long history and legacy.
There are about fourteen bridges built over the river Danube in Budapest, connecting Buda with Pest.
Of them, seven are the most notable – Szechenyi Chain Bridge, Elizabeth Bridge, Margaret Bridge, Arpad Bridge, Liberty Bridge, Petofi Bridge, and Racokzi Bridge. Széchenyi Chain Bridge is the oldest of them all.
On the Danube banks, there is a shoe memorial called the Shoes on the Danube. The history of this memorial site can be traced back to 1944-45 when the Arrow Cross military shot Budapest Jews.
Years later, film director Can Togay and the sculptor, Gyula Pauer built this memorial consisting of 60 pairs of shoes, in exact size and shape/style, and made out of iron.
If you have additional time on your hands it is worth taking a stroll at the Danube banks. The memorial is free to see.
As mentioned Budapest is made up of Buda and Pest. All of the major historical sites are located in Buda, across the Danube. Pest, on the other hand, is cheaper in terms of living expenses. It has a lot of residential buildings.
From Pest side, you can see wonderful buildings in the faraway land. That faraway land is the Gellert Hill. Gellert Hill is a high hill overlooking the Danube in Budapest. It is named after Saint Gerard who was thrown to death from the hill.
Again from the Pest area, you can see the Liberty Monument – this monument was built to honor the lives and sacrifices of the people for fought for Hungary’s freedom. Hungarians were the prime revolutionaries who wanted to break away from the Socialist umbrella.
The Liberty Monument was first erected in 1947 in remembrance of the Soviet liberation of Hungary from the Nazis. This monument has undergone many changes, including its inscription, which has been altered to reflect the freedom from Communism.
And currently, this is what it says, “To the memory of those all who sacrificed their lives for the independence, freedom, and prosperity of Hungary”.
Its location on top of the Gellért Hill makes it a prominent feature of Budapest’s cityscape (and also gives great photography options). The entrance to the monument is free.
As we explored Pest, we decided to spend some time in the world’s best cafe – New York Cafe. We decided to spend the evening there as it started to rain. Rain makes this city even more beautiful and serene. New York Palace Cafe is considered one of the world’s most beautiful cafes.
Check out the interiors to know why.
New York Café was built in the late 19th century. It was built in Renaissance style and has a hotel included in its vicinity (the hotel is called Boscolo Budapest Hotel). The New York Café was very popular among writers and influential people of the early 20th century.
The cafe was ignored during the 2nd World War. Once the war ended, the cafe was used as a sporting goods store and later was renovated and restored to its original splendor. Since 1954, the cafe has remained open.
We spent a few hours in this beautiful cafe, with cappuccino and cookies. We ordered SacherTorte (sweet) and it tasted okay. The menu has multicultural cuisines, including Hungarian classics like Beef Goulash, Chicken – Paprikash, and Wiener Schnitzel.
The items on the menu were expensive. (Cappuccino was about 9.50 Euros). We went in there for the cafe experience, not for the food. The cappuccino was good, nevertheless.
Day 2 of 2 Days in Budapest Itinerary – St Stephen’s Basilica, Buda Castle, Budapest History Museum, Fisherman Bastion, Great Market Hall, Váci Utca, Bridges of Budapest
Our second day in Budapest was filled with some more exploration (and some more rain). We made a quick stop at St Stephen’s Basilica before making our way to the historic Buda Castle District.
St. Stephen’s Basilica is a Roman Catholic basilica, which is named in honor of Stephen who was the first King of Hungary. The basilica was once one of the largest churches in Hungary. At one point, it was also a theatre.
Today, it’s still the third-largest church in Hungary and often hosts music recitals. The basilica is a MUST visit during Christmas.
From St Stephen’s Basilica, let’s head to the Buda Castle district.
The central area, in Budapest, along the Danube River is classified as a UNESCO World Heritage Site and includes important sites like the Buda Castle, Fisherman’s Bastion, Gresham Palace, Széchenyi Chain Bridge, Matthias Church, Liberty Statue, and the Hungarian Parliament.
When we reached the Buda Castle complex, St Matthias Church welcomed us.
Built in Romanesque style in 1015, St Matthias Church is a roman catholic church. With the rain, fog, and “peek-a-boo” sunrays, the diamond pattern roof tiles and the gargoyles-laden spires sparkled beautifully.
A few steps away and we were at the Fisherman’s Bastion. The towers in the Fisherman’s Bastion refer to the seven Magyar tribes of Hungary.
From these towers and the terrace, you can get a spectacular view of the Danube, Margaret Island, Pest to the east, the Gellért Hill, and of course the stunning Hungarian Parliament.
Many of the balconies and 7 towers are free to enter, while the upper towers have a small entry fee.
The easiest way to get to the free parts of the Fisherman’s Bastion is from the Matthias Church. Just walk to the balconies of the Halaszbastya to enjoy a superb view.
(Tip: You can enter all the areas and towers of the Fisherman’s Bastion for FREE between October 15 and March 15)
At last the Buda Castle. It is the historic castle and palace complex of the Hungarian kings. A massive Baroque palace, this site is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. There are funicular options (Castle Hill funicular) available to reach the top of the Buda Castle.
The Buda Castle is often referred to as the Royal Palace or the Royal Castle, as it was the main seat of administration for Hungarian kings. The first castle was built in the 13th century and since then it has undergone many changes, uncertainties, and renovations.
In the 18th century, Maria Theresia gave the castle to nuns and during World War II, the castle was almost lost, only to be recovered later.
The castle now houses 2 important museums, which speak volumes of the Hungarian history of over 2000 years and they are located within the Buda Castle. They are – the Hungarian National Gallery and the Budapest History Museum.
The Hungarian National Gallery is a national art museum.
The Budapest History Museum (or Castle Museum), on the other hand, highlights the stories, exhibitions, and life in Hungary over the centuries.
Entry to the Budapest History Museum is free with a Budapest Card. Without the card, you pay HUF 2400 (adult entrance fee). They are open Tuesday-Sunday, from 10:00 AM to 6:00 PM. During the winter season (Nov 1 – Feb 28), they operate on a limited schedule from Tuesday-Sunday – 10:00 AM to 4:00 PM.
To learn more about the Buda Castle District, take a guided tour with a historian. Book your tour here.
Other than the historical UNESCO structures, there are souvenir shops and restaurants in the Castle District.
From Buda Castle, we started to the center for souvenir shopping.
Vasarcsarnok: Central MarketHall is a vibrant shopping area. It is a great spot to shop for paprika, embroidered knickknacks, crystals, and fresh produce or local cuisine, and of course, you can get souvenirs for 1-10 Euros.
After some shopping, we took a quick stroll around the central area. Rains had colored the city with a refreshing luster. We were mesmerized at the stunning bridges on one hand and on the other, were the lovely roadside cafe and historical market-places.
For lunch, we stepped into a restaurant called Casablanca and tried their lunch specials. We tried the Goulash soup. It was good and the menu prices were decently priced.
If you prefer to take a food tour in Budapest, consider doing that at the Great Market Place to savor and try tons of delicacies. Here is a culinary tour.
From here, make your way to Váci Utca, a bustling pedestrian street. This iconic thoroughfare, teeming with life, showcases a blend of history and modernity. Vintage buildings housing high-end boutiques, artisanal shops, and a diverse range of eateries promise an exciting, unique experience.
Hang out here, go shopping, and enjoy your evening before embarking on the dinner cruise.
Not into shopping? Visit the City Park and enjoy the views of the Vajdahunyad Castle. This architectural gem, steeped in history and romance, beautifully illustrates Hungary’s architectural evolution from the Middle Ages through the Renaissance.
The castle, with its Gothic Revival towers, Romanesque turrets, and a charming Baroque-style chapel, is truly an aesthetic delight. The grounds surrounding the castle host a variety of events throughout the year, from wine festivals to classical concerts, adding to its appeal.
An Evening to Remember – Danube River Cruise Budapest
We were excited for our evening in Budapest. We had booked a dinner cruise on the Danube River, isn’t it amazing and romantic?
There are lots of options to choose from when selecting a cruise on the Danube. Dinner cruises are for 2.50 hours. The cost of dinner cruises starts at 85 Euros or about 90 USD.
We enjoyed a 3-course meal including a few glasses of Hungarian Tokaji wine. We stepped outside to the dock and it was amazing. The city of Budapest was lit beautifully.
All the bridges were sparkling with lights. Our eyes were fixed on the Budapest Parliament – it was gorgeous!
Other Sights and things to do in Budapest in 2 days
- Opera House: The Hungarian State Opera House is one of the most beautiful buildings in Budapest. Its facade is decorated with statues of muses and great opera artists like Puccini, Mozart, and Verdi. The Opera House conducts three tours daily.
- Read about more beautiful places in Hungary to add to your bucket list
Budapest Travel Tips
Travel Documents and Visa for Budapest Hungary
Hungary belongs to the Schengen zone in Europe, which means that if you require a travel visa to Europe and it is a Schengen visa, the same visa is sufficient to enter the country. Typically citizens of India, Nepal, Russia, South Africa, etc. require a Schengen Visa.
Schengen visa is not a visa on arrival and should be applied from your country of residence in advance. Allow up to 2 weeks of processing time for Schengen visas. Learn all about Schengen visa application
Visitors with US and Canadian passports do not require a visa to enter the country and stay for 90 days; however, from 2025, an online authorization – ETIAS – is required prior to travel.
Travel Insurance for Hungary
Always, always insure your trip against cancellations, lost or delayed baggage, or any medical emergencies. This is a requirement for Schengen Visa applications (insurance coverage via your credit card may not work for visa applications). Get your insurance quotes here
Currency and credit cards
The official currency is the Hungarian Forint (HUF). Euros are widely accepted. (1 EURO = 380 HUF approx). Please keep cash with you at all times. Most shops and restaurants don’t have card machines.
When is the best time to visit Budapest?
We visited Budapest in Spring (mid-March). Spring is a great time to visit. It does rain though, but tourist places are less crowded (and touristy things a little less expensive).
Summer is festival season and busy. But May and June are notorious for heavy showers and downpours, often without warning.
Autumn is beautiful, just like Spring. Rains are less, unlike the summer months. And as it’s shoulder season, you will experience fewer crowds.
Winter is okay and not very severe, but certain tourist attractions may be closed during this time. Christmas in Budapest is beautiful though.
There are Christmas markets set up on St Stephen’s Square, light shows at the basilica and other decorations brighten up the city. River Danube gears up for winter/holiday season glow. The city park also gets ready for ice skates!
Things to pack for 2 days in Budapest
Here are some of the packing items that you MUST take to Budapest for a great trip.
- Rain Jacket – Rains are common in Budapest. Carry a waterproof jacket. > Buy a lightweight jacket for HER and HIM here.
- Comfortable Walking shoes – Carry comfortable walking shoes as you explore the city’s highlights. > Buy cute walking shoe
- Universal adapter– Buy your adapter here to charge electronics overseas
- Converter – If you are carrying hairdryers and shavers, you might need a voltage converter. > Buy yours here
- Anti-theft day pack or handbag – A cut-proof daypack or purse to carry your essentials.> Buy here click for the backpack AND here for the handbag.
- READ: ULTIMATE PACKING LIST FOR EUROPE
Souvenir Ideas: What to buy in Budapest?
Embroidered items (table cloth, mats, mittens, you name it), Crystals, Paprika, Lace Items, Rubik’s Cube, Painted Wood Souvenirs (pencils, toys), and Hair Accessories.
What to eat in Budapest Travel Guide
Budapest is a gastronomic heaven. I was completely in LOVE with the traditional Hungarian soup – Goulash Soup (Beef Stew). I had tried it in different restaurants in Budapest and all tasted slightly different. The soup was not as thick (base) as the one I had in Prague. But the spices definitely had a good KICK to it.
When visiting Budapest, you have to try out some of these foods – Hungarian delicacies: Goulash Soup (Beef Stew), Chicken paprikash (Chicken Paprika), Töltött káposzta (Stuffed cabbage), Lángos (fried bread dough), Chimney cake (Transylvanian specialty, famous as Hungary’s oldest pastry), Winter salami.
Are 2 days in Budapest enough?
With 2 days in Budapest, you can surely cover major attractions like Buda Castle, Fisherman’s Bastion, and the Széchenyi Thermal Bath.
You can also explore the city’s abundant museums, art galleries, and of course, the world-famous ruin bars. But trust me, Budapest has so much more to offer beyond those iconic spots.
And it is a good idea to spend an additional day or two to venture to nearby areas and indulge in experiences!
Oh, and don’t forget to treat your taste buds to some authentic Hungarian cuisine at local eateries while you are here (regardless of your trip duration)!
Is Budapest worth visiting?
Absolutely! Budapest is indisputably worth visiting. Known as the “Paris of the East”, Budapest offers an enchanting blend of history, culture, cuisine, and nightlife. The city split into Buda and Pest by the beautiful Danube River, is home to numerous UNESCO World Heritage Sites, such as the Castle District and Andrassy Avenue.
Thermal baths, vibrant markets, eclectic ruin bars, and mouthwatering Hungarian cuisine are just a few of the many experiences that Budapest offers to its visitors. Despite its rich offerings, Budapest remains one of the most affordable European capitals, adding to its allure.
So whatever your interests may be, Budapest promises a memorable experience that will make you fall in love with its charm and vivacity.
We hope you found our post useful in planning your two days in Budapest Itinerary!
Additional Resources for Europe Travel
- Europe 101 – Our introductory guide to planning a trip to Europe.
- European Bucket list – Epic 101 Europe travel bucket list ideas
- Europe Itinerary Samples – 27 itinerary samples to plan your sightseeing in one or multiple destinations in Europe
- Most beautiful European cities – Top attractions and best cities in Europe
- Visiting Europe in winter – Here are some of the best traveler picks.
- Warm places in Europe? – Here are the warmest places to visit in Europe from December through March
- Europe in February – Best places to visit in Europe in February
- Shoes for Europe (for her): Best walking shoes for women in Europe
- Boots for European winter (Female edition): Top boots to wear in European winters
- Explore Budapest, with Munich, Vienna, Prague, and more – Central Europe Itinerary 2 weeks