3 days in Budapest: the best 3 day guide

3 days in budapest

If you go on a trip to Budapest, you probably want to make the most out of it without running around stressed in order to see all the highlights. So you might want to plan some things so you know at least you saw the absolute must see. To help you out you can check this handy schedule for 3 days in Budapest. It’s meant to cover three full days. Adjust and shuffle it in any way you like.

Day 1

On your first day in Budapest it’s best if you start to know the city and where to go. This is what the schedule of this day is based on.

Take a guided tour

The first thing you want do when you arrive in Budapest is take a guided tour through the city. Thanks to a tour you will get to know the city and the layout straight away. So after the tour you can decide more easily want to do next and where you need to go.

There are lots of tours in Budapest so I will give you 2 suggestions. The one is a ‘free’ walking tour (which is not really free, because in the end you will pay a tip) which brings you primarily to the castle side of the city. The other one is also primarily on the Buda side of the city. The nice thing about this tour is that you will go to Géllert Hill to see the view.

After the tour it’s time for lunch. But maybe safe some space to eat a nice cake later in Ruszwurm.

Walk around Fisherman’s Bastion

3 days Budapest

After lunch you can explore the Buda side (or the castle side) on your own. Walk around the beautiful Fisherman’s Bastion and take some nice pictures. If you want you can visit Matthias Church which is next to it too. Matthias Church is in my opinion the most beautiful church in Budapest, but unfortunately it’s not to cheap to get in. So you have to decide for yourself if you think it’s worth it.

Drink a coffee in Ruszwurm

If you now feel like a coffee in a special place: go and visit the oldest confectionery in town: Ruszwurm. Also this is really close to both the bastion and the church. They are said to serve the best cakes in town. I can you tell from my own experience that the ‘Ruszwurm cake’ is really delicious. You can also come back later to take a nice coffee and cake.

Address: 7 Szentharomsag Street

Walk around buda castle & gardens

Now enjoy the small cobblestone streets in the castle districts and walk your way up to the Buda Castle. Here you can enjoy the view on the city too and if you walk a bit further you will just enjoy a nice walk and end up.

End of the afternoon options

Depending on how you are feeling now there is couple of options now:

1. You can go to have a drink.
2. You van have a rest in the hotel or refresh yourself.
3. You can go to visit the Great Market Hall (check the opening hours here, because it’s not open every day and also it’s open not too late).

After that it’s time for dinner.

Evening: Walk the chain bridge or take a night cruise

I think walking the Chain Bridge after the sun has gun down is such a nice experience. The buildings next to the Danube, like the Hungarian Parliament and the Buda Castle are so nicely lighted. You can’t miss out on that. If you feel like it you could also take a night cruise on the Danube. Now you have the time to sit back, relax and enjoy Budapest from a very nice point of view.

Drink Palinka in a ruin bar

The Ruin Bars in Budapest are one of a kind. So what exactly are ruin bars? Those are bars situated in abandoned building, a ruin, or an unused outdoor spot. Off course they are converted and safe places now. You will find an eclectic and alternative interior in most of them. And mostly they are a feast to the eyes. The open early and you can just go to have a drink. Choose Palinka, a traditional fruit brandy, if you want the true Hungarian experience. There are also great rooftop bars where you could drink a nice wine or a cocktail.

Day 2

The list with things to do which you see below is an example of what you could do on your second day of your 3 days in Budapest.

Visit Saint Stephen’s Basilica and its viewpoint

St. Stephen's Basilica

You can start your day with a visit to St. Stephen’s Basilica, the biggest church in Budapest. It’s not only a nice church to see though. It also has a panoramic viewpoint on top, which offers a great 360 degree view on the city. You can reach the top of the church with stairs or elevator. To go to the viewpoint you do need to pay a small amount.

Stroll along the Danube & tour the Hungarian Parliament

three days in Budapest

Once you leave the basilica you could go for a coffee and a nice Strudel in the oldest Strudelhouse in town. And after that, I suggest you make a stroll past the Danube heading towards the Hungarian Parliament Building. There you will also find the famous ‘Shoes on the Danube Bank’, a very impressive memorial to honour the Jews who were shot at the banks of the river during the Second World War.

Also you will pass the Hungarian Parliament building now. If you want take a tour inside. It’s not only very impressive from the outside, but also from the inside. You can only visit it with a tour and during this tour you will get to know more about both Budapest and the building.

Margaret Island or Liberty Square

If you have some time left until lunch and you didn’t go on a tour in the Parliament Building either walk up to Margaret Island where you can escape the city for a bit. Go take a look at the waterfountain and just enjoy the environment. I would only do this if you really have some time to spare and enjoy the extra walk and if you don’t go on a day cruise one of this days (since you will end up on Margaret Island in that case). Or walk to Liberty Square close to the Parliament Building.

Option 1. Go for a cruise on the Danube

3 days in budapest

After lunch you might want to do something a bit more relaxing. If you haven’t done a cruise on the first night, I would take it now. Going a cruise on the Danube is a must in my eyes. You see the city from such a nice perspective, you will learn a lot about the city thanks to the audiotour and it’s a good way to just relax and enjoy the fact that you are on a trip. There is an option to get of Margaret Island and spend some time there. If the weather is nice and you want an extra walk or to sit down and read a book I would go for that options.

Option 2. Visit a thermal bath

winter in Budapest

You might know it already, but Budapest is famous for its thermal baths. The city is founded on many hot water springs. So it’s no wonder that there are over 125 thermal baths in the city. From small and unkown to big and more touristy. The most famous bathhouse is the one you see above in the picture, Széchenyi. This is also a popular bath for locals. It’s a great and unique place to just go and relax and enjoy a bath.

End of the afternoon options

If you did the cruise on the Danube you have the same options as yesterday: go for a drink, take a rest and get refreshed or, depending on what time it is and your energy level, you could go to see Heroes’ square and the city parc. The city parc is situated behind Heroes’ Square and is a great place to go for a walk and admire Vajdahunyad Castle. If you chose to go to the spa this afternoon you might want to spend a bit extra time here. Allthough, both the city parc and Heroes’ Square are around the corner so check them out either before or after your relaxing bath.

Dinner in a special place

In Hungary the food is actually outstanding. There are 5 restaurants in Budapest with a Michelin Star, of which one of them even has 2 stars. And the goods news is that you can eat here fairly cheap. So it’s a good option if you like to have dinner in a special place. Another interesting option is to have dinner on a cruise with live music. But if you have done the cruise today it might be a bit too much.

In the evening

3 days in budapest

After dinner you could go to a ruin bar, drink something on one of the roof terraces, visit a thermal bath, if you just want to spend around 2 hours there and you didn’t go during day.

Other options are:

1. Go for a walk in Margaret Island and see the musical water fountain.
2. Go see a movie in the beautiful Urania Cinema.
3. Visit the Fisherman’s Bastion again to see the beautiful view after sunset (much less tourists and a great view).

Day 3

On day three in Budapest you can do the things underneath. Or you can take a Hop on Hop off bus and create your own schedule so you can see as much as you can from the city. If you take this bus, don’t forget to go and see: The Great Market Hall, New York Café, Géllert Hill, Heroes’ Square, the Great Synagogue and if you haven’t been to the Hungarian Parliament or Saint Stephen’s Basilica, please go and see them. You could also take a tour in the Hungarian State Opera for example.

Walk through the Jewish Area

If you haven’t been in the Jewish Area yet, it’s a good idea to go for a walk over here. This is such a nice and vibrant neighbourhood that you just can’t skip it. Walk through the Goszdu Udvar passage, walk Kiraly street, go and see the Great Synagogue (recommended to go in for a tour!). Just stroll and enjoy the area.

Drink a coffee in New York Cafe

new york cafe Budapest

If it’s up to me New York Café is a must see in Budapest. It is an old coffee house where you feel you will step back in time. It feels like being on a movie set of Titanic. But than it’s real. Okay, it’s really touristy, you might have to queue up for a while and the coffee is expensive but it’s a very special place.

Go see the view on Gellert Hill

climb gellert hill

When it’s raining or really warm. maybe it’s not the best idea to walk up Géllert Hill. But if the weather allows it the walk up to Géllert Hill is a very nice one. And you will have some amazing views over the city.

Great Market Hall

great market hall Budapest

If you haven’t seen the Great Market Hall it’s a good thing to combine it with Géllert Hill since it’s on walking distance (about 20 to 25 minutes if you are on the top). This market is once officially announced as The most beautiful market in Europe and it has several awards for its architecture. Be aware that it’s closed on sundays.

End of the afternoon & evening program

Check out the suggestions above and see what there is left to do. And make sure to enjoy your last night in this amazing city.

Make sure you don’t miss….

If you want to make your own schedule. Make sure to see and do all of the following things during your three days in the Hungarian capital:

  • See the Hungarian Parliament
  • Take a guided tour to get to know the city
  • Cruise the Danube
  • Walk the chain bridge
  • Walk around the Fisherman’s Bastion and Matthias Church
  • Drink coffee in New York Café
  • Go have a drink in a ruin bar
  • Stroll along the Danube
  • Take a dive into a thermal bath
  • Walk around in the Jewish Area

If you can tick off this list, you can say that you’ve seen all the highlights of Budapest.

Need to read for your 3 days in Budapest

When you go to Budapest it’s good to know the following information:

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