Budapest (boo-dah-pesht) is Eastern Europe's grandest gem.
As Hungary's capital, and a favourite destination for weekenders and festival-goers, Budapest is famed for offering something to suit all tastes. A hotchpotch of classical and grungy, ancient and modern, historical and contemporary—you will, beyond any doubt, fall head over heels for this city.
Formed by the union of 3 cities: Buda, Óbuda, and Pest. This jewel by the Danube, unceasingly glows all day, all night. A city where you expect to encounter great things but end up with an even more spectacular experience.
Best time to visit: Spring (Late March-May) or Autumn (Late September-October) for pleasant weather and lower prices. Avoid August as it is the most crowded and the most expensive. December for Christmas Markets.
Currency: Hungarian Forint (Ft)
Where to stay: Hotel Parlament
Budapest Franz Liszt Airport (BUD) is the main international hub of Budapest. BUS 200E is the Airport shuttle that will take you to Kobanya-Kispest metro station in 30min. Fare: One way 350Ft
While BUS 100E connects the airport directly to Deák Ferenc tér central metro station in 35min. Fare: One way 900Ft
ICE, InterCity and EuroCity trains are also top choices for getting in the city, especially when part of a bigger trip.
Tip: Interrail and Eurail (for non-EU residents) are great options when planning to visit a number of European cities by rail.
Visit their website for more info https://www.interrail.eu/
Getting around: Most of Budapest’s crowd-pullers are walkable. And the city’s public transit
system is also very efficient and convenient, albeit a tad run-down.
Card Perks: Unlimited use of all Public Transport, Free 2h guided tours for Buda and Pest, Free entrance to 7 main attractions, Discounted rates and entrance fees (over 60partners)
Thank you : Köszönöm (ko-so-nom)
Hello : Szia (si-ya)
Yes : Igen (ee-gen)
No : Nem
Excuse me : Elnézést (el-neh-zesht)
Cheers! : Egészségére (eh-ge-shey-ged-reh)
Do: Visit at least 1 Bathhouse; Go to the Ruin Pubs; Eat Lángos; Drink homemade Pálinka
Don’t: Exchange money at the ‘orange’ offices; Withdraw from Euronet ATMs
So here are the amazing things you can do and see for 2 days in Budapest.
Hungarian Palace Complex
Let’s start with some staple Budapest. Sitting on the southern part of the Castle Hill—the nucleus of the city’s history—is Buda Castle. Built in the 1200s, the castle has undergone many changes and had been rebuilt multiple times, with the dome as its last add-on in the 1960s.
Nowadays, the palace serves as Budapest’s cultural heart, where you can visit the Hungarian National Gallery, Budapest History Museum, as well as the National Széchenyi Library, and seasonal festivals.
Go around the complex and be overwhelmed by 8 centuries of history confined in its walls.
By Buda Castle Bus or a sporty hike up the river banks, are the 2 ways to reach Castle Hill.
8:30AM FISHERMAN’S BASTION
For a Faux Medieval Castle
The Fisherman’s Bastion is part of the famous Buda Castle, and prominent for its 7 turrets and spires. Don’t be fooled by its medieval look, as this part was only built in the late 19th century. And the main reason why tourists flock this Bastion is because of its regal views as well as the plentiful photo ops one could take.
Entrance Fee: Lower parts are FREE. Upper towers 1000Ft and FREE admission from 8pm-9am.
Opening hours: Open Daily.
Tip: Use your Budapest Card for a 10% discount.
Extra: St. Michael Chapel is a hidden chapel under the Bastion where you can watch a 3D show about Hungary’s history.
11AM SZÉCHENYI CHAIN BRIDGE
The First Permanent Link of Buda and Pest
Head down after taking hundreds of photos at the castle grounds, then cross Széchenyi Chain Bridge to reach the bank of the Danube on the Pest side. Named after Count István Széchenyi who proposed its construction after getting stuck on Pest despite his urgent wish to go to Vienna. In addition to its main purpose, the Chain Bridge has its fair share of history—its destruction in 1945 being the most notable one.
Regardless of its masculine structure (stone and suspension), the bridge is of elegant and sophisticated design. When you cross it, delight in all its small details, the Danube flowing underneath you, and the gorgeous panoramic view of Buda and Pest.
Tip: Take the Funicular for remarkable vistas on your way down to Chain Bridge.
12PM SHOES ON THE DANUBE
For a Moving Memorial
After fancying the features of the Chain Bridge, saunter northwards just before the Parliament Building, and you’ll notice about 60 pairs of iron shoes. These shoes—trails of different styles and sizes—were sculpted in memory of WWII victims shot into the Danube. The tribute is one of many across Europe, constantly reminding us that war only brings death and suffering.
1PM HUNGARIAN PARLIAMENT
For Neo-Gothic Architecture
Walk a bit more towards the North and you’ll notice an imposing, symmetrical structure to your right. This is the seat of the National Assembly of Hungary. When the 3 cities united to form the present Budapest, the Hungarian Diet wanted a new building to express the sovereignty of the city as well as the nation.
The Parliament Building’s main façade look out onto Danube, creating a stately image. Not only is it magnificent on the outside but also its interiors boast of equally grand designs and decor. You could spend hours appreciating every single furnishing, but don’t dawdle too long as you still have plenty to see and do!
2PM CAFE PARISI - LOTZ HALL
For a Fanciful Coffee Break
Recover from the melancholic memorial and the vastness of the Hungarian Parliament by sitting in Budapest's most sumptuous café. Situated in an old Casino turned Art Nouveau Department Store, Café Párisi has such a pristine setting you’ll feel like royalty enjoying high tea.
Where else would you go for this plush experience? Their menu, served on special porcelains, offers everything you need for a cozy yet opulent coffee break. Take all the time you need here, ogle at the chandeliers, mirrors, and paintings while munching on your chosen cake.
Business hours: 9am-9pm. Open Daily.
3:30PM SZÉCHENYI THERMAL BATH
The Largest Medicinal Bath in Europe
Move on to your next stop for further pampering. Thanks to more than a hundred thermal springs in Budapest, its early occupants (the Romans and the Turkish) dimmed it wise to make proper use of these bath waters. Széchenyi is one such bath, the biggest and the most complicated among all its counterparts. With 15 thermal baths rich in calcium, magnesium, and other minerals, coupled with temperatures reaching 40°C, this particular place has been an all-time favorite of visitors. It is indeed a water wonderland, good for your health and joints.
Do: Bring your own swimwear; Play Chess on the water
Business hours: 6am-10pm. Open Daily.
Price: Check here http://www.szechenyibath.hu/prices
10AM IPARMŰVÉSZETI MÚZEUM
The World’s 3rd Oldest Applied Arts Museum
It’s safe to say that Budapest is an architecture-haven. You’ve had a sampling of several styles on your first day ranging from Baroque to Neoclassical. As for your 2nd day, you’ll be visiting the most extravagant Hungarian Art Nouveau building. Built in the 1890s, with designs influenced by both western and eastern culture, the architect was able to create an impressive structure like no other.
Tip: Pay close attention to the porcelain roof tiles as they were manufactured by the same company providing tableware to Café Párisi.
Update (Sept2019): The Museum is temporarily closed for renovations, although you can still adore its exteriors.
1) Take M3; 2) Alight at CORVIN-NEGYED station; 3) Follow ÜLLŐI ÚT street westward.
12PM URBAN BETYÁR
For Hungarian Folk Food and Culture
Urban Betyár is a newly opened restaurant in the heart of Pest. In their endeavor to present Hungarian food in the most mouthwatering way, the place’ focal point is the dishes’ presentation. It is ambitious since Hungarian food is closely associated with the rustic, countryside.
But you’ll see, once inside the space is definitely inviting and feels modern, adorned with unique fixtures. You can definitely expect to be treated with famous Hungarian dishes with a refined twist.
1) From the Applied Science Museum, Take M3; 2) Alight at ARANY JÁNOS UTCA station; 3) Follow ARANY JÁNOS street westward; 4) Turn LEFT on OKTÓBER 6 street.
2PM HUNGARIAN NATIONAL GALLERY
Hungarian Art in All Genres
Lodged in Buda Castle, the Hungarian National Gallery showcases local artwork from the Middle Ages to the 20th century. While the collection mainly features paintings, there are also a number of sculptures on display.
The Gallery could be another excuse for you to go back to Castle Hill, and a chance to retake some photos for your Instagram ;)
6PM SZIMPLA KERT
For the Grungiest Bar Ever
Located in the Jewish Quarter, with an obscure entrance especially hard to locate in the dark, Szimpla Kert is the king of ruin pubs. Its popularity led to numerous new ruin pubs popping up in Budapest. Originally started to offer cheap drinks in a somewhat relaxed vibe, Szimpla has grown as a top tourist destination, drawing in a young crowd.
Szimpla’s aesthetic is out of this world. The owners literally saved a ruined factory building from demolition and kept it as is. So when you use the loo, you’ll wonder if you’re in the right place since everything is in a state of decrepitude. You could spend years reading the graffiti covering every centimeter of its walls. You could spend eons wondering what could the original object a piece of ‘decoration’, or furniture have been—a bathtub being the easiest one to guess.
Irrefutably, the bar is the epitome of beauty in chaos. No need to ponder over why the owners let the walls crumble, why the toilets leak, or why there is no flush. Just look for that door with a mermaid and enter the rabbit hole for a night full of wonder. There’s simply no other way to conclude your stay in Budapest.
Business hours: 12pm-4am. Open Daily.
For Special Events check here https://szimpla.hu/
St Stephens Basilica