Perfect Weekend Trip: How to Spend 2 days in Budapest

Welcome to Budapest, the beautiful capital city of Hungary! Here’s how you can spend 2 days in Budapest making it the perfect weekend trip. From thermal baths to ruin bars and breathtaking landmarks, Budapest will steal your heart. Although 2 days in Budapest may be a tightly packed agenda, we’ll cover the must-see sights, where to eat, and how to make the most of your time in this incredible city. So, let’s dive in and explore Budapest together!

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Quick Facts before visiting Budapest:
💱 Currency: ft, Hungarian Forint (HUF). Depending on what the conversion rate is currently, you can divide roughly by 380 to convert ft to euro.
💶 Budget for a trip to Budapest: On average, a budget traveler can expect to spend around €52-49 per day, a mid-range traveler around €84-127 per day, and a luxury traveler around €210 or more per day.
💜 Is tipping required in Budapest? Tipping is generally expected in Budapest for good service, although it is not mandatory. In most restaurants, it is customary to leave a tip of 10-15% of the total bill. It’s worth noting that in Hungary, prices are usually inclusive of tax and service charges, so tipping is considered an extra gesture of appreciation for good service rather than an obligatory charge.
💳 Budapest Card: I highly recommend getting the Budapest Card. It allows you free transportation across all metro and buses as well as grants you access to tons of tourist attractions FREE such as entry to Lukács Thermal Bath, This makes it well money spent. You can purchase yours here starting at €29.
☀️ Best time to Visit: March to May if you want to avoid peak tourist time and very hot summers or September to October when the weather is mild.
🏥 Travel Insurance in Budapest: I recommend SafetyWing which will cover you in case of trip cancellations or any accidents during your travels.

Is 2 days in Budapest long enough?

While you can certainly see some of the highlights of Budapest in 2 days, it may not be enough time to fully experience all that the city has to offer. With only two days, you’ll have to prioritize what you want to see and do.

Some of the top attractions to see in Budapest include the Parliament Building, Fisherman’s Bastion, Buda Castle, St. Stephen’s Basilica, and the Széchenyi Thermal Baths. You may also want to take a stroll along the Danube River or explore the trendy District VII neighborhood with its “ruin bars” and street art.

In addition to sightseeing, Budapest is also known for its foodie scene, so be sure to try some of the local Hungarian dishes and wines.

Overall, while two days in Budapest is certainly doable, you may find that you want to come back again and explore in more depth. This guide will take you through the essentials for a short city break to Budapest.

Where to Stay in Budapest

Hilton Budapest

I chose to stay at Hilton Budapest. I knew I wanted to wake up super early at sunrise to see the magical Fisherman’s Bastion but I didn’t want to commute far. So what better thing to do than to stay literally one minute from Fisherman’s Bastion and have the whole area to myself.

Waking up to a view of Fisherman’s Bastion with this epic breakfast setup was a dream come true. 

Watch my video on TikTok so you see how amazing the view was from this room at sunrise and my video on Instagram to see this epic breakfast spread I had!

I also loved the service and hospitality at Hilton Budapest as well as the comfortable beds.

You can see these views from their rooftop bar, breakfast restaurant, your very own room, and even the fitness center! 

Day 1 in Budapest

Sunrise in Fisherman’s Bastion

The number one thing to do in Budapest in 2 days, is visiting Fisherman’s Bastion, one of the most iconic European landmarks. It is a beautiful place to see views of the city. Built in the late 19th century, the Bastion was designed to commemorate the 1000th anniversary of the Hungarian state. You’ll want to go here 30 minutes before sunrise. I know it’s early and you’re on vacation, but trust me, you won’t want to miss this! The sky was brightly lit with orangey hues and it was one of the most magical sunrises I’ve witnessed. Plus, you get to have this place nearly to yourself! This is a quite busy place during the day too. The other advantage of going early (before 9am) is that you will get free entry to the upper tower which is normally 1000 HUF (around €3).

🌅 Watch my video on Instagram here to see how magical the sunrise was here.

Matthias Church

Matthias Church is a stunning Roman Catholic church situated right next to Fisherman’s Bastion. Originally built in the 13th century, the church has undergone numerous renovations and restorations throughout its history. Its architectural style is a unique blend of Gothic, Renaissance, and Baroque elements. The church is known for its colorful roof tiles, intricate carvings, and beautifully painted interior walls.

It is considered one of the most important and beautiful churches in Hungary. Its historical and cultural significance has earned it a place on UNESCO’s World Heritage list.

Just note, if you do the sunrise at Fisherman’s Bastion, you will find you can’t enter the church til 9am. On Sunday, it opens even later at 1pm.

Entry is around 7 for adults and 5 for students.

Breakfast at Home of Franziska

About a 10-minute walk from Fisherman’s Bastion, you’ll find Home of Franziska, a great cafe to have breakfast or brunch.

Buda Castle

Buda Castle, also known as the Royal Palace, is a historic castle complex in the Buda district of Budapest, Hungary. It is situated on a hill overlooking the Danube River and the city of Pest. No wonder it’s a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The castle complex has a complex history, with the first fortress on the site dating back to the 13th century. Over the centuries, the castle was modified by various rulers and has served as the home of kings, emperors, and governors.

Today, the Buda Castle complex includes several buildings, including the Royal Palace, the National Gallery, and the Budapest History Museum. From the castle grounds, you can enjoy stunning views of Budapest from the terraces and courtyards.

Climb to the top of St. Stephen’s Basilica

St. Stephen’s Basilica is a beautiful cathedral named after the first king of Hungary, St. Stephen. It is one of the most significant religious buildings in Hungary, dating back to 1905. Inside you’ll find impressive neoclassical architecture and be amazed by all the ornate detail. You will also find a holy relic inside, the mummified right hand of St. Stephen.

Don’t miss climbing to the top of St. Stephen’s Basilica for breathtaking views of the city. The 96-meter-high dome provides a panoramic view of Budapest’s landmarks, including the Danube River and the Parliament Building. There is an option to take an elevator to the first level and then you will need to climb 64 steps to the top. The entry fee is around €8. With the Budapest Card, you can save 20% off!

Lunch at the Most Beautiful Cafe in the World

New York Cafe has proudly earned the status of “The Most Beautiful Cafe in the World.” As soon as you step inside, you’ll see why. This gorgeous cafe is part of Anantara Hotel which I definitely recommend staying at if you can!

The cafe was opened in 1894 and quickly became a favorite destination for writers, artists, and intellectuals of the time. The interior of the cafe is simply breathtaking, with ornate decorations, gilded accents, and a stunning chandelier dominates the ceiling.

The decor of the New York Cafe Budapest is inspired by the Italian Renaissance, with beautiful frescoes, marble columns, and elaborate moldings that adorn the walls and ceilings. The atmosphere is just as grand too!

Most of these instagrammable places lack good food I was equally impressed by the food. I tried a club sandwich and an Iced Latte which I enjoyed. The dishes were beautifully presented. Of course, the prices are going to be high but that’s part of the experience of dining at such a beautiful place.

To get a spot in this popular place, you can book ahead via their website. Otherwise, walk-ins are welcomed, however, expect long wait times even as long as an hour! If you can’t snag a booking, you can show up at opening time for the best luck. It is open daily from 8am to 12am.

Check out my Instagram video here to see more of what New York Cafe looks like inside!

Relax at Széchenyi Thermal Bath

Széchenyi Thermal Bath is one of the most famous and largest thermal baths in Budapest, Hungary. If you have only 2 days in Budapest, you have to make sure to visit here! Built in the early 20th century, the bath offers a variety of indoor and outdoor pools. There are also many different saunas and team rooms. There are massage services you can book separately too. The natural hot spring waters in the Széchenyi Bath are believed to have healing properties and are rich in minerals such as calcium, magnesium, and sulfate. The bath is open every day of the year, and the outdoor pools are especially popular during the winter months when steam rises from the hot water in the cold air. If you like to participate in nightlife and are in Budapest over a Saturday, you can attend Sparty where the baths transform into a big party. Be sure to reserve tickets ahead and get locker space to store your stuff with these tickets here.

Danube River Cruise

Taking an evening cruise along the Danube River in Budapest is one of the best things to do during 2 days in Budapest. Soak in the breathtaking views of the city’s iconic landmarks and monuments.

You can go at any time of the day, but I chose to go in the evening so I could see the most famous landmarks like the Parliament lit up at night in front of the water!

The river cruise really allows you to see the city from a unique perspective. On my cruise, you could have prosecco and there was also live music. You have the option to sit inside if it’s too cold or outside if the weather is nice.

The cruise starts at the pier near the Elizabeth Bridge and takes you on a leisurely one-hour journey along the river. You’ll see sights like Buda Castle, Fisherman’s Bastion, Matthias Church, and other notable landmarks along the riverbanks.

Dinner at Twentysix

Twentysix is one of the hottest restaurants in Budapest right now. This Instagram paradise, has not only impressive decor but delicious food too. The stylish and chic restaurant is covered in green plants and unique lighting. Many Mediterranean-inspired dishes are featured on the menu here. The tapas-style menu items allow for easy sharing so you get to try a variety of dishes. The cocktails are also delicious too! The ambiance is perfect for an evening out in Budapest. They even have a separate lounge area where you can enjoy cocktails after dinner.

Cocktail at High Note SkyBar

There are many amazing rooftop bars with views of the city in Budapest. So during your 2 day itinerary to Budapest, don’t miss one of these. One I highly recommend is High Note SkyBar. You’ll find the most impressive panoramic views here over some nice craft cocktails and there’s even a piano lounge.

Day 2 in Budapest

Go inside the Parliament 

The Parliament Building is one of the top sights in Budapest and it’s a symbol of Hungarian independence and democracy. It is located on the banks of the Danube River and is the largest building in Hungary, with over 691 rooms and a stunning exterior that features neo-Gothic and Renaissance Revival architectural styles. The building was completed in 1904, after almost 20 years of construction, and serves as the home of the National Assembly of Hungary.

One thing I almost skipped when visiting Budapest was actually going inside the Parliament of Budapest! It’s something a lot admire from the outside but it is even more stunning inside. I definitely recommend going inside and discovering its beauty! 

Ticket fee is €25 for Non-EU citizens and €10 for EU citizens.

You can take a tour which takes you around Budapest and also gets you entry into the Parliament with an audio guide. That tour can be booked here.

The Parliament Building is also beautifully lit up at night, creating a stunning sight along the Danube riverfront. It is a must-see attraction for anyone visiting Budapest and an important part of Hungarian history and culture.

Check out my Instagram video here on what the inside of the Parliament looks like!

Danube Shoes & River Walk

Taking a river walk in Budapest is a wonderful way to explore the city on foot during your 2 days in Budapest. This way you can enjoy the stunning views of the Danube River during your leisure walk. One iconic landmark that should not be missed is the Danube Shoes memorial, located on the Pest side of the river. This moving memorial consists of 60 pairs of iron shoes, each representing a different victim who was shot and killed by fascist Arrow Cross militiamen during World War II. The shoes, which range from small children’s shoes to large work boots, are a poignant reminder of the atrocities that occurred in Budapest during the war and a tribute to those who lost their lives. Visitors can pause at this powerful memorial to pay their respects and reflect on the importance of standing up against hate and oppression.

Lunch at A La Gringa

Not on the typical tourist path for restaurants to try in Budapest, I much enjoyed this break in this adorable Brazilian bakery and cafe, A La Gringa. I tried a variety of empadas and esfiha which is a type of baked pastry or savory pie with fillings. The coffee including the iced latte I got and mocha my friend got was also on point. I really loved chilling here in the nice ambiance filled with plants and pastel peachy pink walls. A short walk away you’ll find the beautiful Budapest University Library so be sure to pop in after.

Gellert Baths

Gellert Baths is not as popular as Széchenyi Thermal Bath but still one of the most famous baths in Budapest. In my opinion, I much preferred this one as it was super aesthetic and although still busy, there were fewer people than Széchenyi.

The baths are housed in an impressive Art Nouveau building, with a range of indoor and outdoor pools, saunas, and steam rooms. Named after the Hungarian saint, Gellert, these baths were built over a natural spring that was discovered in the 13th century. So spend the day soaking in one of these luxurious baths and even get a spa treatment, such as a massage or facial. There is also a cafe and restaurant where you can enjoy lunch.

Sunset at the Citadel & Gellert Hill

One of the best things to do in Budapest is to visit the Citadel and Gellert Hill for sunset to see stunning views of Budapest. Located on the west bank of the Danube River, Gellert Hill is a popular destination for locals and tourists alike.

The hill is home to the Citadel, a fortress built in the 19th century. The Liberty Statue sits up top and represents Hungary’s liberation from Nazi occupation.

During mid-March, the almond tree blossoms for only two weeks, making it a rare and beautiful sight to see during sunset at Gellert Hill. I was lucky enough to be around when it was in full blossom and really enjoyed the scenic walk up and the stunning city views.

Dinner at Tati

Tati Farm to Table is a charming restaurant located in the heart of Budapest, Hungary. The restaurant prides itself on sourcing the freshest ingredients from local farms and markets. They specialize in delicious and creative dishes that showcase the best of Hungarian cuisine.

The interior of Tati Farm to Table is cozy and inviting, with warm lighting, and rustic wooden tables and chairs. The ambiance is perfect for a romantic dinner or a relaxed meal with friends and family.

The menu at Tati Farm to Table changes frequently based on the availability of ingredients and the season, but there are always plenty of vegetarian, vegan, and gluten-free options available. Some of the standout dishes include the goulash soup, the mushroom vegetarian dish with sweet potato mash, and homemade apple pie for dessert. The wine list at Tati Farm to Table is also impressive, featuring a selection of Hungarian wines as well as international offerings.

Drinks at a ruins bar Szimpla Kert

After Tati, head to Szimpla Kert for a drink. It is only a 7 minute walk away. Undoubtedly, one of the coolest activities in Budapest is enjoying drinks at a ruin bar like this one. These bars are unique to the city and are typically located in old, abandoned buildings that have been transformed into edgy and eclectic hangouts. Szimpla Kert is one of the most famous ruin bars in Budapest, known for its quirky decor, live music, and relaxed atmosphere. The bar is filled with vintage items, funky artwork, and mismatched furniture giving a true

Top tip to save money: Get the Budapest Card!

Starting at only €29, the price pays itself to get the Budapest Card. It gives you access to many museums and sights around Budapest FREE. You won’t have to worry about buying a metro ticket or bus ticket as all the transport is included in the card. If you go for the 72 Budapest Card you get access to even more things such as entry into Lukács Thermal Bath.

2 days in Budapest Summary

If you’re more visual, watch some of my Instagram videos on 10 things to do in Budapest as well as the 2 days in Budapest Itinerary video.

Day 1:

5:30am Sunrise at Fisherman’s Bastion, 7am Breakfast Home of Franziska, 8am Buda Castle, 9am Matthias Church, 11:45 Climb to the top of St. Stephen’s Basilica for views of the city, 2pm Lunch at New York Cafe, 4pm Relax at Széchenyi Thermal Bath, 630pm Danube River Cruise, 8pm Dinner at Twentysix, 9:30pm cocktail at High Note SkyBar

Day 2:

9am: wake up at your hotel and enjoy breakfast with a view of Fisherman’s Bastion at Hilton Budapest. 10am Audio guide tour inside of the Parliament, 11:15am Danube Shoes, 11:30 Danube River Walk, 12pm Lunch at A La Gringa, 3pm Gellert Baths, 4:45pm Gellert Bridge, 5pm sunset at the Citadel & Gellert Hill, 7pm Dinner at Tati, a farm to table with locally sourced Hungarian food, 9pm Drinks at a ruins bar Szimpla Kert

2 days in Budapest Map

You can open this map on your phone and it will show all the locations mentioned in this post for easy navigation while you’re in Budapest!

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visual web story for things to do in Budapest

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One Comment

  1. I’ve seen a few photos of Budapest before but from your perspective, it looks like a completely different city (in a good way) – thank you for sharing!