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3 Days in Budapest: The Perfect Itinerary For Your First Visit

Budapest is one of the world’s most enchanting destinations and my favorite city in Eastern Europe. It seems suspended between centuries, imperiously displaying elements of past and present. With its architectural wonders, colorful hills, grungy atmosphere, healing thermal waters, and a mix of old and new, Budapest has a lot to offer. 3 days in Budapest isn’t nearly enough time to explore all the city has to offer but gives you enough time to get a good overview of the city. Here’s our lowdown on some of the best things to do in Budapest over the weekend.

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Is 3 Days in Budapest Enough?

Yes, three days in Budapest is usually a good amount of time to get a good feel for the city and see many of its main attractions. 

However, to fully immerse yourself in Budapest and to also explore some of its lesser-known attractions and neighborhoods, you might want to spend around four to six days.

Getting To Budapest

Assuming you’re traveling to Budapest by air, you’ll be flying into Budapest Ferenc Liszt International Airport (BUD), which is located about 16 km (9.9 miles) southeast of the city center.

The most reliable way to get from Budapest Airport to the city center with public transport is by taking the 100E Airport Express shuttle bus from the airport to Deák Ferenc tér in the city center. The journey between Arlanda Airport and Deák Ferenc tér takes about 35 minutes.

Buses operate around the clock, every 7-12 minutes during the day, every 15-20 minutes in the evening, and every 30-40 minutes late in the night and early morning. Remember that you need to buy a special ticket for this bus as regular tickets or travel cards do not cover it. 

A single ticket for the 100E Airport Express shuttle bus costs 2,200 HUF. You can conveniently purchase your ticket with your bank card, smartphone, or smartwatch using the onboard Budapest Pay&GO device. 

A maximum of five tickets can be purchased on your card. The Pay&GO device can be found by each door on the 100E Airport Express bus.

Alternatively, to get from Budapest Airport to the city center, you can take bus 200E to the Kőbánya-Kispest metro station, and then take the M3 metro line towards Újpest Központ, getting off at the appropriate stop for your destination. On this bus, you can use BKK tickets (scroll down for more info).

There’s no direct train connection from the airport to the city center, but you could take a bus to Ferihegy train station and then a train into the city. This is a bit more complicated and may not save much time or money compared to the other options.

Official airport taxis are available from the airport. The journey from Budapest Airport to the city center takes about 30-40 minutes, depending on traffic. The official taxi company for the airport is Főtaxi, and you can find their kiosks just outside the terminals.

Private/shared transfers are the most comfortable and convenient way to get from Budapest Airport to your destination in the city. They are especially useful if you are traveling in a group, have a lot of luggage, or want to ensure a smooth and hassle-free journey.

Private transfer services typically offer door-to-door service, meaning they will pick you up at the airport and drop you off directly at your hotel or other specified location.

How to Get Around During Your 3 Days in Budapest

Walking is one of the best ways to explore Budapest, particularly the city center and historical districts, where many of the key attractions are located. The city has a rich history, beautiful architecture, and vibrant street life, which is best appreciated on foot.

Walking tours, either guided or self-guided, are another great way to explore Budapest on foot. These often focus on specific themes or areas of the city, such as history, architecture, or food and drink.

Pro Tip

As you stroll across Budapest, be sure to look up at the buildings even if you have to stop for a minute. There is a wealth of missed treasures above normal views that go unnoticed by many. Take time to seek out the gargoyles and decorative motifs that adorn the multitude of impressive late 19th and early 20th-century buildings.

However, the best way to get around Budapest is by using the well-functioning public transportation system, especially if you have only 24 hours in the city. Budapest has a well-developed and diverse public transportation system, which includes buses, trams, trolleybuses, the metro, and boats along the Danube River.

Tickets for public transportation are valid for all modes of transport in the city and can be purchased from ticket machines, newsagents, or online. Budapest also offers travel cards (for 24 hours, 72 hours, 7 days, etc.), which allow for unlimited travel within the specified time period.

A single ticket (350 HUF) is valid for 80 minutes and the ticket is valid for a single ride without transfers. You can also purchase time-based tickets (30 min/530 HUF or 90 min/750 HUF) which allow you to make multiple journeys within their time period. A 24-hour Budapest public transport ticket costs 2500 HUF whereas a 72-hour ticket costs 5500 HUF.

Make use of the very useful intermodal Journey Planner for getting around Budapest with public transport.

N.B. Just make sure to validate your ticket at the start of your journey in one of the validation machines. Periodic checks are carried out by plain-clothes ticket inspectors and you’ll incur a hefty fine if you don’t.

Budapest has been steadily improving its cycling infrastructure and cycling is also an alternate option for getting around Budapest. If you’re keen on cycling in Budapest, you can check out the MOL Bubi bike-sharing system.

In case you’re interested in seeing the highlights of Budapest on bike, check out this excellent Budapest Bicycle Tour.

Electric scooters have become quite popular in Budapest and are a fun way of sightseeing in the city. In case you’re interested in seeing the top-rated attractions of Budapest on an e-scooter, check out this popular Budapest MonsteRoller E-Scooter Tour.

Segways provide an exciting and quick way to get around Budapest. In case you’re interested in seeing the key sights of Budapest on a segway, check out this highly-rated Budapest Segway Tour.

For those craving an audio guide and extra comfort, you can also get around the city with Budapest Hop-On Hop-Off Tour.

I wouldn’t recommend using taxis unless it’s absolutely necessary. It’s very difficult not to get fleeced unless you speak Hungarian or know the terrain. Taxis can be hailed off the street but to avoid problems it is often better to book from your hotel or by phone.

Is the Budapest Card Worth It For 3 Days?

The Budapest Card can be a valuable tool for tourists, especially for those planning to visit multiple attractions and use public transportation during a three-day stay. 

The Budapest Card offers several benefits, including unlimited travel on public transportation. Many museums and attractions also offer free entry or significant discounts with the Budapest Card. Additionally, you get discounts at certain cafes, restaurants, and shops.

The Budapest Card saves you the hassle of buying individual tickets for public transportation and attractions, making it a time-saver as well.

If you plan to use public transportation frequently and visit several of the included attractions, the Budapest Card for three days could be a worthwhile investment. If you’re more interested in exploring the city at a leisurely pace, mainly on foot, or if your interests lie in attractions not covered by the card, it may not be the best value for you.

Your 3 Days in Budapest Itinerary

For this three-day itinerary of Budapest, I have included almost all the must-see sights in the city. It is also possible to follow this itinerary if you are spending a weekend in Budapest. I’ve split the itinerary in such a way that it gives you a multifaceted view of the city.

For your convenience, this post includes a free map of the top sights in Budapest. You can find the addresses of the attractions by clicking on the icons in the map.

Naturally, everyone travels at a different pace so feel free to choose the destinations according to your own pace. The earlier you start your day the more time you’ll have to see the attractions.

Below I have compiled a list of the best things to see (or eat) in Budapest over the course of three days:

Day 1 in Budapest

Day One of this ‘3 days in Budapest’ itinerary will mostly focus on the classical sights in Buda, i.e. the hilly part of Budapest which lies on the western bank of the Danube River. Spread across several green hills, Buda is full of narrow winding streets that form the ancient core of Budapest.

It feels more suburban and oozes a serene classical quality. Buda is also home to some of the major points of interest in Budapest, sights that conjure up the most vivid and romantic images of the city.

1. Central Market Hall

Exterior of the famous Central Market Hall in Budapest. PC: Yury Dmitrienko -

What better way to start your 3 days in Budapest than at the Central Market Hall (Nagyvásárcsarnok), one of the city’s must-see sights! Opened in 1897, it remains the largest and oldest indoor market in Budapest.

The market was designed by Samu Pecz, and the building showcases elements of Neo-Gothic architecture combined with features of the industrial era. One of the most striking features of the market is its colorful roof, which was restored to its original colorful Zsolnay ceramic tiling. 

The Central Market Hall spans three floors, covering an area of 10,000 square meters. The basement houses fishmongers and various specialty shops, the ground floor hosts fresh produce and meats, while the upper floor has eateries, souvenirs, wines, and folk art.

Fun Fact

Speaking of wines, the Hungarian Tokaji wine is the world’s original sweet white wine and the Tokaji wine region also has the distinction of being the first in Europe to be classified.

Budapest attractions: Numerous food stalls in the cavernous Central Market Hall. PC: Carlos Soler Martinez -

The interior is characterized by its use of iron, with metal beams and columns that create a spacious and airy feeling, typical for market halls built during the industrial revolution. The fabulous ironwork is reminiscent of the Eiffel Tower in Paris. 

The Central Market Hall is a vibrant hub for both locals shopping for fresh Hungarian produce and tourists seeking a glimpse into Hungarian culture. The balcony overlooking the market hall is great for people-watching and an experience you shouldn’t miss.

Being an avid fan of spices and sausages, one of the things I loved about the Central Market Hall were the ubiquitous strings of hanging dried paprika and spicy Hungarian kolbász salami.

Budapest Central Market Hall: Food stall selling paprika along with strings of hanging red chillies and garlic. PC: (Elena Pominova/

Hungary is one of the world’s main paprika-producing regions, with several varieties that differ in pungency and color. You will find everything from mild, aromatic paprika that adds a special, sweet flavor, to a deep, red hot one that will truly smolder your innards.

The Central Market Hall is open from 06:00–17:00 (Monday), 06:00–18:00 (Tuesday–Friday), and 06:00–15:00 (Saturday).

2. Gellért Hill Cave Church

Must-see Budapest: Exterior of the Cave Church on Gellert Hill

Gellért Hill Cave Church (Gellért-hegyi sziklatemplom), also known as the Cave Church, is one of the most fascinating and unique attractions in Budapest. It’s located within a natural cave system on Gellért Hill, overlooking the Danube River.

The Gellért Hill Cave Church was founded by a group of Pauline monks in the 1920s. The cave was originally used by a hermit named Ivan, who used the thermal waters that seeped into the cave to heal the sick.

Unlike traditional churches, the Cave Church doesn’t have typical architectural features. Instead, it utilizes the natural cave system, with chambers carved into the dolomite rock of Gellért Hill. 

During the Communist era in Hungary, the church was closed down, and its entrance was sealed with concrete. The church’s leaders were arrested, and one was even executed. After the fall of communism in 1989, the Cave Church was returned to the Pauline order and reopened for worship.

Inside, there’s a main altar and various side chapels. The natural rock walls and dim lighting create a unique, intimate, and slightly spooky atmosphere. 

Things to see in Budapest: Main altar and rock wall of the Cave Church. PC: Mikhail Markovskiy/

You’ll find various religious icons and hand-carved wooden statues. One of the highlights of the Cave Church is the replica of the Black Madonna of Czestochowa which is said to possess miraculous powers.

If you want a break from seeing churches with high ceilings, ornate domes, and towers, the Gellért Hill Cave Church is definitely worth visiting.

Practical Information For Visiting the Gellért Hill Cave Church

The Gellért Hill Cave Church is open from 09:30-19:30 (Monday-Saturday). It is closed on Sundays. Tourists are not permitted in the church during holy mass which takes place at 17:00 during opening hours.

The entrance to the Cave Church costs 850 HUF (discount for students/seniors, and free for children under 10).

3. Gellért Hill & Citadel

The impressive Liberation Monument on Gellert Hill in  Budapest


Gellért Hill soars majestically above the Danube River, to a commanding height of 235 meters. The hill is covered with parks and walking paths, providing a natural escape from the bustling city streets of Budapest.,

The hill is named after the Italian bishop and missionary Ghirardus (Gellért in Hungarian), who converted pagan Magyars to Christianity at the behest of Hungary’s first Christian king, Stephen I.

After his royal protector’s demise, vengeful pagans converted through the force and violent nature of Stephen’s proselytism, strapped Gellért to a barrow, and toppled him off the cliff, where a larger-than-life statue of St. Gellért now stands.

The Citadel (Citadella) is a fortress that sits atop Gellert Hill. It’s a massive structure built by the Austrian Habsburgs between 1850 and 1854 in order to better govern Budapest after the Hungarian national uprising in 1848-1849.

The Citadel played a role in various conflicts, including World War II, where it served as a shelter. Today, the Citadel has been transformed into a tourist destination

On the summit of Gellért Hill, you’ll find the Liberation Monument (Felszabadulási emlékmű). It was built in 1947 to commemorate the Red Army’s liberation of Budapest from Nazi occupation.

The grand monument shows a female figure brandishing the palm of victory over 30 meters aloft. To her sides are statues representing progress and destruction.

Budapest Viewpoints: Jaw-dropping vista of Buda Castle, the Danube, Chain Bridge, and Hungarian Parliament

Offering one of the best viewpoints in Budapest, Gellért Hill provides stunning views of the Danube, the Parliament Building, Buda Castle, and much of the rest of the city.

You can reach the summit of Gellért Hill and the Citadel by walking or by taking a bus. The walk is steep and can be exhausting but is totally worth the effort. There are several spots to rest and enjoy the view. The hike up Gellert Hill takes approximately 15-20 minutes.

4. Széchenyi Chain Bridge

Budapest attractions: View of the majestic Szechenyi Chain Bridge in the evening

The Széchenyi Chain Bridge (Széchenyi Lánchíd) is one of the most iconic landmarks in Budapest. Though there are several bridges that connect Buda and Pest, the Széchenyi Chain Bridge holds a special place in the city’s history and culture.

Completed in 1849, it was the first permanent link across the Danube River between Buda and Pest, which were separate cities at the time.  The Chain Bridge thus played a vital role in Budapest’s economic and social development by enabling easier movement and trade between Buda and Pest.

Designed by the English engineer William Tierney Clark and built by the Scottish engineer Adam Clark, the bridge is a marvel of 19th-century engineering. The Széchenyi Chain Bridge is named after Count István István Széchenyi, a 19th-century Hungarian reformer who funded its construction.

The bridge spans a length of 375 meters and its design includes massive chain links, imposing towers at each end, and a central span supported by two large arches. It is adorned with beautiful decorations, including the famous lion statues at each end, which add to its grandeur.

Things to do in Budapest: Pair of imposing stone lions of the Szechenyi Chain Bridge

During World War II, the Wehrmacht blew up the Chain Bridge in 1945 (just like all of Budapest’s bridges) in a bid to thwart the progress of the Red Army. The bridge was subsequently rebuilt after the war and opened in 1949.

The bridge has become a favorite subject for photographers and artists. Whether strolling across it on foot or viewing it from a boat on the Danube, the bridge offers an unforgettable sight, especially when illuminated at night. It’s a must-see for anyone visiting Budapest.

5. Castle Hill Funicular

Budapest Points of interest: Vintage wooden carriage of the famous Castle Hill Funicular

The Castle Hill Funicular (Budavári Sikló) is a unique and historic mode of transportation in Budapest. The funicular, which dates back to 1870, is the second-oldest funicular in Europe (only preceded by the Funiculars of Lyon). 

When it was first built, the funicular was a significant technological achievement, utilizing steam engines for power. It was later modernized, but it still represents an early example of public transportation technology.

The Castle Hill Funicular spans a length of 95 meters and its two wooden carriages are now lifted by an electric winch rather than a steam engine.

I love the design of the funicular, with its wooden carriages and vintage appearance. It reflects the architectural style of the late 19th century and gives you a sense of stepping back in time.

As it ascends or descends Castle Hill, the funicular offers panoramic views of the Pest side of the city, the Danube River, and the iconic Parliament Building. 

The Castle Hill Funicular has become a symbol of Budapest and has been featured in numerous films, photographs, and postcards of the city.

Practical Information About the Budapest Castle Hill Funicular

The Budapest Castle Hill Funicular is open daily from 08:00-22:00. A return ticket costs 4000 HUF.

The funicular is closed biweekly on Monday for maintenance during odd weeks. The cars run at an interval of every 5-10 minutes.

6. Buda Castle

What to see in Budapest: The imposing Buda Castle on Castle Hill

Occupying a commanding position on top of Castle Hill, the Buda Castle (Budavári Palota) is an imposing presence.

The castle has endured a turbulent history and has been razed and rebuilt six times in the last seven centuries mirroring the ups and downs of Hungary’s fortunes. Today, it is also sometimes referred to as The Royal Palace (Királyi Palota).

The first fortifications and dwellings of Buda Castle date back to the mid-13th century and subsequent kings added to it. The castle experienced its glory days in the 15th century when it was one of the grandest Renaissance palaces in Europe.

After the long Turkish occupation, which had left the complex completely in ruins, the Habsburgs built a smaller Baroque-style palace. The present form of Buda Castle was rebuilt after suffering heavy damage in World War II.

It’s a loose rebuilding of previous versions and is rather austere and soulless compared to its predecessors. Nonetheless, the castle’s more than 300-meter-long façade facing the Danube is quite impressive as is its imposing Neoclassical dome.

Buda Castle is now home to the National Library and two museums, the National Gallery and the Budapest History Museum. Its walking terrace provides some of the best views of Budapest.

Over the centuries, numerous legends and myths have been woven into the fabric of Buda Castle’s story, reflecting both historical events and cultural imagination. 

7. Matthias Fountain

Budapest attractions: The ornate Mathias Fountain on Castle Hill

Located in the northwest courtyard of the Buda Castle, the ornate Matthias Fountain (Mátyás kút) is one of the most famous and visually stunning fountains you’ll see. It was created by sculptor Alajos Stróbl in 1904 and is considered one of Hungary’s great sculptural masterpieces. 

The Matthias Fountain is dedicated to the great Renaissance king, King Matthias Corvinus (Mátyás), generally considered to be the greatest of all Hungarian kings. 

The fountain depicts a hunting scene and shows King Matthias disguised as a hunter, holding a crossbow in his hand and standing proudly near a slain deer. At his feet are three large hunting dogs accompanied by Matthias’s trumpeting shield-bearer and gamekeeper. The scene symbolizes a legendary hunting episode from the king’s reign.

Stróbl’s attention to detail and lifelike representations give the fountain an extraordinary artistic quality. Its compelling beauty and intriguing background make it a must-see for anyone visiting Buda Castle.

Matthias Fountain is often referred to as the “Trevi Fountain of Budapest”. Popular legend says that anyone wishing to revisit Budapest should toss some coins into the fountain to be granted a safe return to the city.

Budapest Museums: Exterior of the renowned Hungarian National Gallery

Situated within the Buda Castle complex, the Hungarian National Gallery (Magyar Nemzeti Galéria) is one of Hungary’s most significant cultural institutions and the largest public collection documenting and presenting the rise and development of the fine arts in Hungary. 

The gallery houses an extensive collection of Hungarian art, spanning from the Middle Ages to the present day. Permanent exhibitions include works from various periods such as medieval and Renaissance lapidaries, Gothic wood carvings, Gothic winged altars, Renaissance, and Baroque art. 

Particularly impressive are the works of art by 19th and 20th-century artists. Watch out for several works by two great Hungarian Realist painters, Mihály Munkácsy and László Paál; and paintings by the enigmatic Post-Impressionist Tivadar Csontváry Kosztka.

Budapest attractions: Several impressive artworks inside the Hungarian National Gallery. PC: Milan Gonda -

Some of the highlights to look out for at the Hungarian National Gallery include:

  • Recapture of Buda Castle in 1686 by Gyula Benczúr
  • Women of Eger by Bertalan Székely
  • The Yawning Apprentice by Mihály Munkácsy
  • Birdsong by Károly Ferenczy
  • Pilgrimage to the Cedars in Lebanon and the vast Ruins of the Greek Theatre at Taormina by Tivadar Csontváry Kosztka 

While not quite a Budapest must-see, the museum is the best place in Hungary to appreciate the works of homegrown artists. It is well worth visiting if you’re into art.

The Hungarian National Gallery is open from 10:00-18:00 (Tuesday-Sunday). The last admission is at 17:00.

The entrance to the museum costs 4200 HUF. Tickets can be purchased on-site or online through the museum website.

Pro Tip

The size of the museum can be overwhelming meaning you can’t see it all, so pick a focus (e.g. artist, time period, genre).

9. Matthias Church

Budapest must-see sights: The eclectic architecture and famous tiled roof of the Matthias Church

Matthias Church, or Mátyás-templom in Hungarian, is one of the most notable points of interest in Budapest. Named after King Matthias Corvinus, who ordered its construction in the 15th century, the church has witnessed coronations, royal weddings, and other significant historical events.

The church dates back to the 11th century and has frequently been restored, repaired, and remodeled in whatever architectural style was in vogue at the time. Today’s version is the Neo-Gothic structure from the 19th century.

Matthias Church is renowned for its stunning architecture, blending Gothic, Baroque, and Neo-Gothic styles. Its ornate spire, colorful diamond-patterned tiled roof, and intricate stonework make it a visual masterpiece.

Budapest churches: Sumptuous interior inside the nave of the Matthias Church. PC: Mikhail Markovskiy /

The church’s interior is adorned with rich frescoes, stained glass windows, and finely crafted wooden pews. The artworks and decorations tell stories from Hungarian history and Christian tradition.

Other highlights of the church interior include the elaborate tomb after the mortal remains of King Béla III and his first wife Anne de Châtillon and the Neo-Gothic gilded main altar.

Red marble statue of the Madonna and Child inside the ornate Matthias Church in Budapest. PC: Mikhail Markovskiy/

Beneath the south tower, is the Loreto Chapel, containing a red marble statue of the Madonna and Child. It stands out for its meticulous attention to detail and the artistry involved in its decorations.

Practical Information About Visiting the Matthias Church

Matthias Church is open from 09:00-17:00 (Monday-Friday); 09:00-13:45 (Saturday); and 13:00-17:00 (Sunday). The entrance to the church costs 2500 HUF. You can buy your tickets online here.

10. Fisherman’s Bastion

What to do in Budapest: Statue of King Matthias with the Neo-Gothic and Neo-Renaissance towers of Fisherman's Bastion

Visiting the popular Fisherman’s Bastion (Halászbástya) is undoubtedly one of the best things to do in Budapest. The ornate viewing terrace sits on the site of Buda’s old defensive walls and a former fish market.

It gets its name from the fishermen who ran the nearby fish market and supposedly guarded the ramparts in the Middle Ages. The bastion was constructed between 1895 and 1902 and is purely an aesthetic addition to Castle Hill, functioning as a perfect foil to the Matthias Church.

With its round Neo-Gothic and Neo-Romanesque towers and undulating white rampart of cloisters and stairways, it looks like it has been plucked straight out of a fairy tale.

The bastion’s seven white stone towers represent the seven Magyar leaders and their tribes that conquered the Carpathian Basin and settled down here in 896, which led to the founding of modern-day Hungary. Various motifs and reliefs of coats-of-arms adorn the majestic double stairway, which connects the bastion with the streets below.

Fun Fact

The number 96 is very important in Hungary. The crowning of Arpád as the first king of the Magyars (Hungarians) heralded the creation of the Hungarian state in 896. Budapest’s metro was inaugurated on the country’s millennial anniversary in 1896. By law, buildings in Budapest must not exceed 96 meters, and the Hungarian national anthem should be sung in 96 seconds (if sung at a proper tempo)!

Budapest attractions: The impressive towers of the Fisherman's Bastion

As you can imagine, the entire structure is a photographer’s delight and you’ll be presented with ample opportunities for taking great selfies, all the while admiring great views across the Danube into Pest.

Practical Information About Visiting Fisherman’s Bastion

Fisherman’s Bastion is open 24/7 throughout the year except for the upper terraces which are open from 09:00-19:00 (November-April) or 09:00-21:00 (June-September).

It is free to walk around the ramparts and cloisters of the Fisherman’s Bastion. There is a small charge of 1200 HUF to enter the upper-level terraces but it’s not really worth it in my opinion.

11. Danube River Cruise

Budapest sightseeing: Cruise river boats on the Danube River in the evening

The Danube River is a key element of Budapest and the city is probably the best place to take a cruise on the mighty river. 

A Danube River Cruise in Budapest offers one of the most enchanting ways to see the city, providing a unique perspective on its stunning architecture and historical landmarks. It’s a Budapest must-do and adds a special dimension to your adventure.

Budapest’s Danube River Cruises operate year-round, with each season offering a different experience. There are various cruise options to choose from, ranging from short sightseeing tours to dinner cruises with live entertainment.

Three popular Budapest Danube River cruises I can recommend are – 

Day 2 in Budapest

Day Two of this ‘3 days in Budapest’ itinerary will cover the must-see attractions in Central Pest and the area around the Parliament. Central Pest is the city’s commercial hub and is filled with fine buildings, shops, and cafés.

1. Hungarian Parliament Building

The magnificent Neo-Gothic Hungarian National Parliament Building in Budapest in the evening

Few buildings in the world can command the grandeur of the Hungarian Parliament Building (Országház) in Budapest.

I’ve always considered it to be the most beautiful parliament building in the world and it should be on top of almost any list of global architectural sites. It’s an unmissable focal point in Budapest and the façade of the Hungarian Parliament Building is possibly the city’s defining image.

This Neo-Gothic masterpiece is the third-largest parliament building in the world. London’s Houses of Parliament served as inspiration for the building’s design and no expense was spared during its construction. An average of 1,000 workers toiled on it daily for over 17 years.

Seeing the Parliament Building up close gives you a good idea of how immense it really is. It sprawls for 268 meters along the Danube embankment and measures 118 meters in width.

The sumptuous main staircase and ornate furnishings of the Hungarian Parliament Building in Budapest

The ostentatious interior is definitely worth seeing and is filled with extraordinary murals, paintings, statues, and ornately crafted floors, walls, and windows. One of the standouts is the sumptuous main staircase which is decorated with three outstanding ceiling frescoes.

The Parliament Building also holds the Hungarian Coronation Regalia, whose centerpiece, St Stephen’s Crown, has symbolized Hungarian statehood for over a thousand years.

The Deputy Council Chamber of the Hungarian National Parliament Building in Budapest

Other highlights of the interior are Domed Hall and Deputy Council Chamber. The massive pillars that support the building’s 96-meter-tall central dome are adorned with figures of some of the rulers of Hungary.

Whether you are a history buff, an architecture enthusiast, or a curious traveler, a tour of the interior of the Hungarian Parliament Building will definitely be a highlight of any trip to Budapest.

Fun Fact

Both runner-up designs for the Hungarian Parliament were built facing the Parliament Building. One is the Palace of Justice and the other is the Ministry of Agriculture. They are very impressive in their own right.

Practical Information For Visiting the Hungarian Parliament Building

The Hungarian Parliament Building maintains the following hours for visitors – 

1st January – 31st March: 08:00–16:00 (Monday-Sunday)

1st April – 30th April: 08:00–16:00 (Monday-Thursday) & 08:00-18:00 (Friday-Sunday)

1st May – 31st October: 08:00-18:00 (Monday-Sunday)

1st November – 31st December: 08:00–16:00 (Monday-Sunday)

The interior of the Hungarian Parliament Building can only be enjoyed on a 45-minute guided tour. The extent to which the interior is accessible to visitors depends on the Parliament’s activities.

However, you will at least get to see the Grand Staircase, the Cupola Hall, and the Lords Chamber.

3. Shoes on the Danube Bank

Pairs of cast-iron shoes of the "Shoes on the Danube Bank" Memorial in Budapest

When spending 3 days in Budapest you will undoubtedly spend some time walking along the banks of the alluring Danube River.

While walking you will come across a memorial consisting of pairs of cast iron shoes. The ‘Shoes on the Danube Bank’ Memorial in Budapest is one of those places that will stir the heart of the very soul. 

During 1944-1945, Hungarian Jews and other minority groups were rounded up by the fascist Arrow Cross Party (Hungarian Nazi Party). They were ordered to remove their shoes before being shot at the edge of the water. 

Their bodies fell into the river and were carried away. The shoes were valuable commodities and were often confiscated. At the time, shoes were a prized commodity and the murderers were quite aware of that, so they would trade the shoes on the black market or wear them themselves.

The memorial consists of 60 pairs of iron shoes, scattered along the river’s edge. The shoes are modeled after the styles of the 1940s and include men’s, women’s, and children’s shoes to symbolize the victims of all ages.

The Shoes on the Danube Bank memorial was created by sculptor Gyula Pauer and film director Can Togay, and it was unveiled in 2005. You’ll be struck by the tangible sense of melancholy and solitude which emanates from the absence of human figures and the emptiness of the shoes.

4. Liberty Square

Budapest sights: The impressive Soviet War Memorial in Liberty Square

Budapest’s spacious Freedom Square (Szabadság Tér) aka Liberty Square was laid out in the 19th century. One of the major squares in Budapest, it is a site of great historical significance and the spot remains essential to understanding Hungary’s past.

The square became a symbol of repression after the Hungarian Revolution in 1848-1849 when many Hungarians were imprisoned and executed there. It later became the focus of public sorrow over the tragic Treaty of Trianon, which led to Hungary losing at least two-thirds of its former territory and its inhabitants.

The four small lawns at the top of the square were once each occupied with a statue, representing the land lost to Slovakia, Romania, Yugoslavia, and Austria. Liberty Square is lined with attractive flower beds and benches to relax making it a perfect place for a leisurely stroll.

Due to its central location, the square is a popular meeting place. It also features an interactive fountain designed for kids. The square is surrounded by monumental fin-de-siècle buildings that symbolize Budapest’s growing wealth and importance at the time.

The most prominent monument in Freedom Square is the Soviet War Memorial. Built in 1945, the memorial commemorates the Red Army soldiers who died during the liberation of Budapest in 1944–5.

A life-size bronze statue of former US president Ronald Reagan in Freedom Square, Budapest

Liberty Square is also famous for being home to a statue of Ronald Reagan, the 40th American President. The statue, which was unveiled in 2011, depicts Reagan in mid-stride, seemingly walking forward. It’s larger than life, standing at 2.18 meters (around 7 feet) tall.

Budapest might seem like quite an odd location for a statue of Reagan since he never even visited Hungary during his presidency. But Hungarians are grateful for the former U.S. president’s efforts in bringing the Cold War to a close, which in turn helped to end the Soviet influence in Hungary.

5. Postal Savings Bank

Budapest architecture: The incredibly gorgeous Art Nouveau-style façade of the Postal Savings Bank

Budapest is loaded with a cavalcade of architecturally stunning buildings but the magnificent Postal Savings Bank building (Postatakarékpénztár) is my favorite architectural edifice in Budapest.

Designed by renowned architect Ödön Lechner in 1901, the building is an exemplary piece of the Hungarian Art Nouveau style. Often referred to as the “Hungarian Gaudí,” Lechner integrated traditional Hungarian motifs with more contemporary elements, making the building an architectural gem.

The Postal Savings Bank building is regarded as Lechner’s masterpiece and is a work of art. The roof, adorned with Zsolnay ceramic tiles, is a particular highlight, adding to the building’s vibrant character.

The façade experiments with shapes and ornamentation, combining ceramic, brick, tile, iron, and glass. Watch out for the bees that seem to climb up the building’s green and gold façade toward the yellow ceramic beehives, a great metaphor for saving money and a fitting symbol for a bank.

The Postal Savings Bank’s combination of traditional motifs, innovative design, historical significance, and lasting influence on the architectural landscape of Hungary makes it a Budapest must-see.

6. St. Stephen’s Basilica

What to see in Budapest: The imposing façade of the St. Stephen's Basilica


Not only is St. Stephen’s Basilica (Szent István Bazilika) one of Budapest’s most significant and visually stunning landmarks but it also is the most venerated Catholic Church in the city and indeed, all of Hungary.

The construction of St. Stephen’s Basilica began in 1851 and took a whopping 54 years to complete. Designed in a Neoclassical style, its detailed façade, grand dome, and impressive columns showcase the artistry and craftsmanship of the time.

The basilica holds great historical importance and is named after St. Stephen, the first King of Hungary. King Stephen played a crucial role in converting Hungary to Christianity, and the church stands as a symbol of this legacy.

The incredibly ornate interior of the St. Stephen's Basilica in Budapest

As you enter the basilica, don’t forget to admire the colossal oak front door decorated with medallions that depict the heads of the 12 Apostles. St. Stephen’s Basilica’s cavernous interior is beautifully decorated with frescoes, gilded stucco, and bronze moldings, variegated marble, stained glass windows, and stone-covered columns.

St. Stephen’s Basilica is renowned for its incredible acoustics and the basilica hosts regular concerts, particularly organ and classical music performances. 

St. Stephen's Basilica Budapest: The mummified, jewel-adorned right hand of St. Stephen, known as "Holy Right". PC: Lestertairpolling -

The main attraction inside St.Stephen’s Basilica, however, is “The Holy Right.“ This most unusual relic is a mummified, jewel-adorned right hand of St. Stephen that rests inside an ornate golden reliquary in the church’s Holy Right chapel. Bizarre indeed!

Don’t leave St. Stephen’s Basilica until you have gone up to its cupola which provides a 360° view of Budapest from a height of 65 meters and will provide lifetime camera shots.

Practical Information For Visiting St. Stephen’s Basilica

St. Stephen’s Basilica is open from 09:00-16:30 (Monday);  09:00-17:45  (Tuesday-Saturday); 13:00-17:45 (Sunday). The basilica’s panoramic terrace and treasury are open daily from 09:00-19:00.

The entrance to the basilica costs 2000 HUF while the entrance to the panoramic terrace and treasury costs 3200 HUF. An all-inclusive ticket (basilica + panoramic terrace + treasury) costs 4500 HUF. The ticket office closes 30 minutes before closing time.

7. Hungarian State Opera

Must-see Budapest: Exterior of the famous Hungarian State Opera House

The Hungarian State Opera House (Magyar Állami Operaház) is one of the most beautiful opera houses in Europe. This splendid building took nearly a decade to build and was completed in 1884 in Neo-Renaissance style to rival those of Paris, Vienna, and Dresden.

Since its opening in 1884, the Hungarian State Opera has been a hub for Hungary’s musical and theatrical traditions. Its roll call of musical directors reads like a who’s who of Central European music – Ferenc Erkel, Gustav Mahler, Otto Klemperer, among others.

Designed by Miklós Ybl, one of Hungary’s most famous architects, the building features a two-story symmetrical façade with a portico and a loggia, both of which are embellished with a number of Baroque elements. Statues of great composers, including Beethoven, Mozart, Tchaikovsky, Verdi, Wagner, Liszt, and Monteverdi grace the façade.

Budapest attractions: The sweeping main staircase and huge chandelier of the Hungarian State Opera

The interior of the Opera House is positively breathtaking and is a study in opulence and grandeur. The lavish foyer is festooned with marble columns, a gilded vaulted ceiling, chandeliers, and portraits and busts of Hungarian divas and composers.

I also love the opera’s sweeping main staircase. A red carpet covers the marble stairs beneath a huge chandelier in another classic set piece. The gilded ceiling panels contain nine paintings of the awakening and triumph of music.

Budapest: The gilded, horseshoe-shaped, three-story auditorium of the Hungarian State Opera

The pièce de résistance is the horseshoe-shaped, three-story auditorium whose walls are plastered with several kilograms of gold.

Practical Information For Visiting the Hungarian State Opera

To see the interior of the Hungarian State Opera, you can either take a guided tour or by attending a performance. The 60-minute tour in English starts every day at 13:30, 15:00, and 16:30.

Guided tours cost 9000 HUF. Tickets are available one week in advance on-site or online through the official website.

If you’re not up for a tour or a performance, you can still see the foyer of the Hungarian State Opera.

9. Váci Street

Budapest Shopping: People walking on the bustling Váci Utca

The bustling Váci Street (Váci Utca) is Budapest’s most acclaimed shopping street. It stretches for over a kilometer from Vorosmarty Square to the Central Market Hall.

During the Cold War era, its colorful street life became a symbol of the “Goulash Communism” that distinguished Hungary from other Eastern Bloc states. In the 1980s, Eastern Bloc residents flocked to Váci Street to gawk at Western products before they were introduced elsewhere in the Warsaw Pact region.

The street is loaded with souvenir shops, high-end stores, lodging facilities, entertainment facilities, cafes, eateries, bars, and more. Off the street, there are old courtyards and shopping arcades.

Some parts of Váci Street can feel a trifle touristy but its inviting promenade makes for a perfect stroll in the evening when it is lavishly illuminated. The street is to be mostly enjoyed for its lively atmosphere and the grandiose architecture of the surrounding buildings.

Pro Tip

Most places on Váci Street tend to be expensive, and some have dubious pricing policies. Be vigilant if you purchase anything. Since there are many tourists strolling here, beware of pickpockets and scammers.

10. Dohány Street Synagogue & Raoul Wallenberg Holocaust Memorial Park

Things to see in Budapest: The Byzantine and Moorish façade of the Dohány Street Synagogue

The Dohány Street Synagogue (Dohány utcai zsinagóga) aka Great Synagogue is one of the must-see attractions in Budapest. With 3,600 seats and a total capacity for over 5,000 worshippers, it is the largest synagogue in Europe and the third-largest in the world after the Belz Great Synagogue in Jerusalem and NYC’s Temple Emanu-El.

The massive synagogue was built in 1859 and oddly enough, Ludwig Förster, the architect who designed it, was non-Jewish. The façade is composed of yellow and red brick and intricately designed ceramic friezes. 

A patchwork of Byzantine, Gothic, and Moorish elements can be seen in its façade. I really like the Moorish towers that are topped with Byzantine onion domes.

After suffering heavy damage during World War II, the synagogue was restored in the 1990s at a cost of over $40 million. The synagogue belongs to the Neolog community, a Hungarian denomination combining elements of Reform and Orthodox Judaism.

The richlly-ornamented interior of the Dohány Street Synagogue in Budapest

The richly-ornamented interior borders on the surreal, an extravagant blend of colors, shapes, and architectural styles. Arabesques and stars of David adorn the ceiling, balconies for female worshippers are surmounted by gilded arches, and the floor is inset with eight-pointed stars. 

Fun Fact

Theodor Herzl, the father of modern Zionism, who sought the establishment of a Jewish state in the Middle East was born within the grounds of the Great Synagogue in 1860. The house where he was born is now the site of the Jewish Museum.

Head upstairs to the Jewish Museum which is devoted to Jewish artifacts, historical relics, Judaic devotional items, and beautifully crafted objects such as Sabbath lamps. The final room covers the Holocaust in Hungary, with chilling photos and examples of anti-Semitic propaganda.

Budapest Great Synagogue: The Holocaust Memorial in the Raoul Wallenberg Holocaust Memorial Park

The Raoul Wallenberg Holocaust Memorial Park (Raoul Wallenberg Emlékpark) in the rear courtyard of the Dohány Street Synagogue, named after the Swedish consul who saved 20,000 Jews during World War II.

The park’s centerpiece is a Holocaust Memorial dedicated to Jewish Holocaust victims in the form of a weeping willow, with names of the dead and disappeared inscribed on the leaves.

Practical Information For Visiting the Dohány Street Synagogue

The Dohány Street Synagogue is open on all days except Saturdays. The opening times of the synagogue vary according to the day and time of the year. The opening hours of the synagogue are – 

January-February & November-December: 10:00-16:00 (Sunday-Thursday) and 10:00-14:00 (Friday).

March-April & October: 10:00-18:00 (Sunday-Thursday) and 10:00-16:00 (Friday).

May-September: 10:00-20:00 (Sunday-Thursday) and 10:00-16:00 (Friday).

The last entrance is always 1 hour before closing time.

The Dohány Street Synagogue has a strict dress code. It is mandatory for men to cover their heads (a hat or a cap will do). Avoid sleeveless tops, short skirts, or shorts.

A ticket to the Dohány Street Synagogue (synagogue + Jewish Museum + Raoul Wallenberg Holocaust Memorial Park) costs 9000 HUF.

11. Visit a Ruin Bar

Budapest Ruin Bars: Funky interior of the famous Szimpla Kert ruin pub. PC: Grantotufo -

One of the must-have experiences in Budapest is visiting one of the city’s famous ruin pubs. Ruin bars are makeshift bars that are located in dilapidated old buildings, abandoned industrial spaces, and deserted parking lots.

These buildings were re-purposed into eclectic, exciting bars, where 19th-century architecture is combined with cars and vintage computers hanging from ceilings. You can also see bizarre paintings hanging upside down on walls, illuminated by funky lighting.

Budapest must-see: The funky interior of Szimpla Kert ruin bar. PC: Arkadi Bojaršinov -

Many ruin pubs offer cheap beer and live music. Nothing defines Budapest’s grungy character quite like ruin pubs. They are the perfect spot to unwind on a warm summer night after a busy day of sightseeing. Take out your phone for some epic Instagram opportunities!

Most of Budapest’s ruin pubs are situated in Budapest’s trendy 7th district, formerly a thriving Jewish community. Each ruin pub is unique, but they all share certain similarities. 

Jacky and I went to Szimpla Kert, the oldest and most famous of the ruin pubs in Budapest. Szimpla came to fruition simply because its owners were reluctant to pay for the ramshackle building’s renovation and they simply just piled it with junk and rebranded it! 

Other popular ruin bars are Kuplung, Instant, and Mazel Tov.

Day 3 in Budapest

Day Three of this ‘3 days in Budapest’ itinerary will cover the main sights around City Park and Margaret Island—a heavenly green oasis.

1. Széchenyi Thermal Baths

Budapest Thermal Spas: The Neo-Baroque exterior of the famous Szechenyi Thermal Baths

Start your day early by heading to the famous Széchenyi Thermal Baths (Széchenyi Gyógyfürdő). Budapest has been called the World’s Spa Capital and is home to more than a hundred springs offering an endless supply of hot water at temperatures of up to 76°C (169°F).

Visiting one of the many baths is a quintessential experience when visiting Budapest and shouldn’t be missed. Along with Reykjavik, Budapest is one of only two capitals in the world to be blessed with thermal springs. 

Most of the city’s thermal waters contain high levels of sulfur and the mineral-rich waters are said to be beneficial in treating rheumatism, arthritis, poor blood circulation, menstrual pain, and even Parkinson’s disease. Even if you are not in need of the health benefits, time spent in thermal baths will boost your spirits.

The Széchenyi Baths are the largest spa complex in Europe and offer a wide range of facilities, including 18 pools, saunas, steam rooms, and massage therapy rooms. The bathhouse, completed in 1913, showcases stunning Neo-Baroque architecture and could be easily mistaken for a palace.

Visit Budapest: People relaxing in the outdoor pools of the Szechenyi Thermal Baths. PC: Izabela23/

One of the things I love about the Széchenyi Baths is that the three outdoor pools are also open year-round. There is just something unique about soaking outside as the steamy, mineral-rich water creates a mist as it mixes with the frigid Budapest air.

Being the most famous thermal baths in Budapest, Széchenyi attracts both locals and tourists, making it a great place to immerse oneself in Hungarian culture.

Practical Information For Visiting the Széchenyi Thermal Baths

The Széchenyi Baths are open daily from 07:00–20:00 (Monday-Friday) and 07:00-20:00 (Saturday-Sunday). The prices for visiting the baths depend on the day of your visit and if you’re including cabin usage (a private changing area) or just a locker. 

Additional services such as massages or wellness treatments cost extra and can vary significantly depending on the service. You can check prices here.

Lockers are included in the basic entrance fee and are large enough to store a medium-sized bag and additional small items. Personally, I’d recommend getting a cabin as you get more privacy while changing. Plus, cabins are better if you have larger items to store.

As for equipment rental, towels, bathing suits, swim caps, and bathrobes can be rented for a fee, although availability might be limited during peak times. You’ll also have to pay a deposit for these items, which will be refunded when you return them.

2. City Park

Budapest attractions: People ice-skating in City Park

City Park (Városliget) is one of Budapest’s most-visited attractions. This not-so-centrally-located park was once an area of marshland, which served as a royal hunting ground until the mid-19th century when it was opened to the public.

The park was laid out in the English style when it was chosen as the focus of the Millennium Celebrations in 1896, celebrating Hungary’s 1,000th anniversary. 

Today, this vast oasis of green is home to an enchanting castle, a boating lake, museums, a well-kept green area, and a scattering of fantastic restaurants. Its willows and plane trees, attractive walking paths, monuments, and picnic hideaways are sure to enchant visitors with a unique side of the Hungarian capital.

One of the favorites is the artificial lake, used for boating in the summer and which morphs into a huge outdoor skating rink in the winter when it freezes over.

The popular Statue of Anonymous in City Park, Budapest

City Park is also home to some interesting statues and monuments such as the Statue of Anonymous—a popular attraction that shows a seated cloaked monk who chronicled the Hungarian King Béla III in the 12th century.

Other monuments in City Park include a giant, circular Time Wheel, the Anna Lindh Memorial, and the George Washington Statue.

The City Park in Budapest is open 24/7 and is free to visit

3. Vajdahunyad Castle

3 Days in Budapest: The fairytale-like Vajdahunyad Castle in City Park

The fairytale-like Vajdahunyad Castle (Vajdahunyad Vára) lies among the trees at the edge of the artificial lake in the tranquil City Park. Despite its appearance as a Gothic castle from the Middle Ages, the castle wasn’t built until 1896 for the Millennium Celebrations celebrating 1000 years of Hungarians being in the Carpathian Basin.

Vajdahunyad Castle was designed to include replicas of four of the most outstanding buildings in Hungary. These buildings were the Roman Chapel of Ják, the Transylvanian Hunyadi Castle (also called Corvin), the Renaissance Palace of Visegrad, and the Baroque Palace of Gödöllő.

It was originally constructed from cardboard and wood for the 1896 Millennium Exhibition, but the castle’s popularity led to its reconstruction using more permanent materials.

The castle’s eye-catching architecture is a unique ensemble of Romanesque, Gothic, Renaissance, and Baroque styles. This fusion makes the castle a visual feast and provides a tangible journey through Hungary’s architectural history.

The Museum of Agriculture is the only part of Vajdahunyad Castle that is open to the public. We ended up going inside on a whim and were pleasantly surprised by what we encountered.

Antlers of wild animals inside the Museum of Agriculture at Vajdahunyad Castle in Budapest

This rather esoteric museum is famed for its incredible ‘Hunting Hall’. It displays some outstanding antlers and trophies of wild boar, mouflon, fallow deer, and roebuck. The hall itself has beautifully decorated vaulted ceilings and stained-glass windows making it look like a cathedral for deer.

The Museum of Agriculture is open Tuesday–Sunday from 10:00–17:00. The entrance costs 2500 HUF.

4. Heroes’ Square & Millennium Monument

Budapest sights: The Millennium Monument and the triumphal colonnades at Heroes Square

Heroes’ Square (Hosök tere) is one of the best things to see in Budapest. Like so many other things in the city, it was built to commemorate the 1000th anniversary of the Hungarian conquest of the Carpathian Basin in 1896. Over the course of time, Heroes’ Square has been the venue of countless public demonstrations, concerts, and fairs.

The square is characterized by its grand and symmetrical layout. However, the focal point of Heroes’ Square is the Millennium Monument and the triumphal colonnades behind it. 

The 36-meter tall Corinthian column in the middle of the square is topped with Archangel Gabriel who holds the crown of Hungary’s first king St. Stephen in his right hand, and in his left hand.

Surrounding the central column are statues of seven chieftains of the Magyars, and other historical figures, including kings and national heroes. The figures symbolize different eras of Hungarian history and the nation’s enduring spirit.

Heroes’ Square is open 24/7 and is free to visit.

5. Museum of Fine Arts

Budapest Museums. The Neoclassical exterior of the Museum of Fine Arts

If there’s one museum in Budapest that shouldn’t be missed, it’s the Museum of Fine Arts (Szépművészeti Múzeum). Housed in a Neoclassical building that resembles the Parthenon in Greece, the museum’s rich collection encompasses international art dating from antiquity to the 20th century.

Impressive collection of ancient artifacts at the Museum of Fine Arts in Budapest. PC: Peter Csaszar -

The museum boasts an extensive collection of European paintings, spanning from the 13th to the 18th centuries. I love classical art and was delighted to see masters such as Raphael, Titian, El Greco, Velázquez, Rembrandt, and Goya featured here.

If you’re into Impressionism, modern, and contemporary art, there’s also a gallery featuring works from the 19th to the 21st centuries, encompassing pieces by renowned artists such as Picasso, Monet, Cézanne, and Chagall.

The museum also includes a section of Greek, Etruscan, and Roman works, showcasing beautiful sculptures, pottery, and jewelry that reflect the artistry and craftsmanship of ancient Mediterranean cultures. Not to be missed is the fascinating collection of Egyptian artifacts, including mummies, sculptures, jewelry, and other antiquities.

The dazzling Renaissance Hall of the Museum of Fine Arts in Budapest

The Museum’s Neo-Renaissance building, designed by Albert Schickedanz and Fülöp Herzog, is a work of art in itself, with majestic halls, ornate details, and a beautiful main staircase. Jacky and I both loved the Romanesque Hall, with its compellingly rich ornamentation, beautiful murals, and vivid symbolic depictions.

Practical Information About Visiting the Museum of Fine Arts

The Museum of Fine Arts in Budapest is open from 10:00-18:00 (Tuesday-Sunday). The entrance costs 4800 HUF. Tickets can also be purchased online through the museum’s website.

The ticket office closes 1 hour before the closing time.

6. Andrássy Avenue

Budapest: Traffic along Andrassy Avenue, Budapest's grandest boulevard. PC: Xin Hua -

No trip to Budapest would be complete without taking a stroll down Andrássy Avenue (Andrássy út), Budapest’s grandest boulevard, and the city’s equivalent of the Champs-Élysées. Running in a perfectly straight line for about 2.5 kilometers (1.55 miles), Andrássy Avenue cuts through central Pest connecting Erzsébet Square and the City Park.

The avenue is one of Budapest’s primary shopping destinations and is home to a slew of fine cafés, restaurants, and luxury boutiques.

I really love strolling on Andrássy Avenue to admire the eclectic architecture, in particular the spectacular Neo-Renaissance mansions and townhouses. 

As you make your way from Heroes Square towards Central Pest, you’ll notice that its character changes. Initially, you’ll see many stately offices and foreign embassies in sumptuous-looking villas while the latter section comprises Budapest’s high-end shopping area.

7. House of Terror

The House of Terror building in Budapest. PC: Adam Szuly/

If you’re into history and are up to seeing another museum, visiting the House of Terror (Terror Háza) would be worthwhile. It is a museum and a poignant memorial to the victims who were tortured, imprisoned, or killed in the building during two terrifying periods of Hungarian history

Situated on Andrássy Avenue, the House of Terror is housed in a soulless blue-gray building that has got to be one of the most recognizable landmarks in Budapest. The ominous black overhang that surmounts the reconstructed Beaux-Arts building has giant stenciled letters cut out into it. 

Starting in World War II, the House of Terror was formerly the headquarters of the Arrow Cross Party (Hungary’s Nazi party). It then immediately turned into the headquarters for the State Protection Authority (ÁVH), the much-feared Orwellian Communist secret police until the Hungarian Revolution of 1956.

Opened in 2002, the museum’s exhibits showcase the dark periods of Hungarian history, focusing on the atrocities committed by the Nazi and communist regimes. The exhibitions are spread over three floors, with each room detailing different aspects of life, repression, and terror under these regimes.

Surveillance equipment inside the House of Terror in Budapest. PC: H.mohammed/

The design of the museum is intentionally dark and oppressive, with haunting audiovisual elements that evoke a chilling atmosphere, aiming to immerse visitors in the feelings of fear and uncertainty experienced by the victims.

While the exhibition is both chilling and fascinating, it has received some criticism for putting more energy into the Communist times over the Fascist regime. 

Practical Information About Visiting the House of Terror

The House of Terror is open from 10:00-18:00 (Tuesday-Sunday). The last entrance is at 17:30.

A ticket to the House of Terror cost 4000 HUF. Tickets can only be bought at the museum and no online option is available.

I would say that the House of Terror is a good museum and definitely interesting for anyone with an affinity for history. If, however, you think that the museum sounds a bit too grim for you, you can skip this and move on to the next attraction.

8. Margaret Island

Wonderful manicured lawns of Margaret Island in Budapest

Cap off your 3 days in Budapest by heading to Margaret Island (Margit-Sziget), a unique and tranquil oasis in the heart of the city. 

Margaret Island is today Budapest’s most beautiful park and the ideal location for a peaceful saunter. The island is renowned for its lush landscapes, beautiful gardens, large open green spaces, and old trees. 

The island has a rich history, and you can find remnants of its past, such as the ruins of a Dominican convent, a prehistoric church, and a beautiful Art Nouveau water tower. 

The popular musical fountain on Margaret Island in Budapest

If you’re visiting in the summertime, you can witness the spectacle of the island’s popular musical fountain. The fountain leaps into action every 20 minutes, emitting water to a classical piece or pop song. Colored lights are added for evening performances.

My favorite spot on Margaret Island is the enchanting Japanese Garden. This lush garden at the northwestern end of the island has giant water lilies, koi carp, bamboo groves, Japanese maples, rock gardens, and waterfalls.

Margaret Island combines natural beauty, recreation, history, and culture, all within a peaceful, car-free environment. Whether you’re interested in history, looking for family fun, or simply want to take a leisurely walk in a serene setting, Margaret Island has something to offer.

Margaret Island is easily accessible by tram or by foot from the Margaret Bridge (Margit híd). It is free to enter.

More Than 3 Days in Budapest?

If you have more than one day in Budapest, there are still several great attractions/activities in the city that are worth doing.  Depending on your interest, other top-rated sights in Budapest we had to exclude from this itinerary are the Hungarian National Museum, the Museum of Ethnography, Memento Park, Gül Baba and Rosegarden, and an assortment of thermal baths.

You could also participate in popular activities such as a Budapest Adventure Caving Tour, a Hungarian Folklore Dance Performance, and a Hungarian Wine Tasting Experience. 

Budapest is also the ideal starting point for excursions to the magnificent Gödöllő Palace, the world’s second-largest Baroque chateau, and scenic Lake Balaton, the largest freshwater lake in Central Europe. 

Also nearby is Szentendre, a charming riverside town known for its Baroque architecture, art galleries, and museums, and the renowned Etyek Wine Region.

What to Eat in Budapest

Hungarian cakes: The yummy Dobos Cake

When spending a long weekend in Budapest, you should definitely try some delectable Hungarian food. The fusion of Magyar, Turkish, Austrian, and Balkan influences has made Hungarian cuisine one of the most interesting and flavourful in central Europe. 

Some foods you should try in Budapest are lángos, chicken paprikash, goulash, Fisherman’s soup (Halászlé), and Dobos Torta. To find out more, check out our article on the 24 must-eat traditional foods in Budapest.

Where to Eat in Budapest

Budapest has plenty of great dining options offering all sorts of cuisines. I can recommend the following establishments during your 3 days in Budapest –

Budapest: The glittering interior of the famous New York Cafe. PC: Chon Kit Leong -

1. Hungarikum Bisztro: a great place for sampling traditional Hungarian fare

2. Rosenstein Vendéglő: an iconic restaurant in Budapest, serving some of the best traditional Hungarian and Hungarian-Jewish dishes in the city.

3. Retek Bisztro: a trendy restaurant near the Széchenyi Chain Bridge offering Hungarian classics.

4. Street Food Karavan Budapest: This hipster-like place with picnic tables has plenty of dining options such as Hungarian, Thai, Mexican, Italian, etc. Carry some cash on you as some stalls don’t accept cards.

5. Retró Lángos: One of the best places in Budapest to try a classic lángos.

6. Comme Chez Soi: An amazing restaurant serving a lovely mix of traditional Italian/French cuisine and Hungarian favorites.

7. Taj Mahal: arguably the best place to get Indian food in Budapest.

8. Élesztő: an excellent gastropub with an excellent range of craft beers.

9. Ruszwurm Confectionery: diminutive confectionery near Matthias Church that is a great place to sample some Hungarian pastries.

10. Café Gerbeaud: Budapest’s most renowned pâtisserie which is a must for coffee and dessert lovers.

11. New York Cafe: Often touted as the “most beautiful cafe in the world”, the gilded Neo-Baroque interiors are astounding with grand chandeliers and marble pillars.

Where to Stay in Budapest

The selection of accommodation in Budapest is vast, and it’s possible to find something to suit all tastes and budgets. The greatest choice of hotels and hostels can be found in Pest where many hotels are literally only a few steps away from most of the major tourist attractions.

Even if you decide to stay in Buda or some of the other outer-lying suburbs, try and look for a place with good public transport connections.

Hostel: Wombats CITY Hostel, a great choice right in the heart of downtown

Budget: H2 Hotel Budapest, a solid option near St. Stephen’s Basilica

Mid-range: Hotel Zenit Budapest Palace, excellent choice on the Danube riverbank, close to the Chain bridge

Splurge: Hilton Budapest, a sumptuous choice on Buda next to Fisherman’s Bastion

Now, what do you think? How would you spend 3 days in Budapest? Share your thoughts with us in the comments below!

About Mihir

Hi there, I’m Mihir! I was born in India, raised there and in Australia before spending nearly a decade in Finland. I suffer from chronic fernweh and am always looking forward to a new adventure. Besides traveling, my other loves are my beloved cats, architecture, art, craft beer, classic movies, history, cricket, and Australian Rules Football (Go Dons!). Oh, there’s also my partner in crime Jacky who’s not too bad either 😉

2 thoughts on “3 Days in Budapest: The Perfect Itinerary For Your First Visit”

  1. @lawyer.traveler.dreamer

    Thank you so much for your article. I am going to Budapest this weekend with my boyfriend and I think your information will be helpful.
    Diana (@lawyer.traveler.dreamer)

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