Budapest is one of my favorite cities in the world! The charm of Budapest made me fall in love with it over and over again, I have also lived there for two years. To make a 3-day Budapest itinerary, for me was extremely hard! But hey, here it is!
I just know the city too well. There are just a few corners I have never seen in this city! So, smashing everything you can see in Budapest in just 3 days felt an impossible task.
Along the Budapest 3 days Itinerary you’ll find museums, pubs, parks, baths, and landmarks that must be seen in the Hungarian capital! At the end of the Budapest itinerary, you’ll also find useful tips for when to visit, how to visit, and where to stay! Let’s dive now right into it!
Heads up! At some places, I have filled up the itinerary with historical moments, stories, and facts that I find interesting! I just wanted to share some bits of history with you, if you’re now making a Budapest itinerary, so you’ll have a better knowledge of what you’re seeing!
Budapest 3 days Itinerary
Day 1 – Discovering the south side of Pest
While I was planning the routes for the itinerary, I divided the city into three parts. The first day includes most of the city center, the side of the Danube, museums, and landmarks that you’ll love! If you don’t want to walk all the way around, you can use between some stops the public transport. I’m going to highlight where it’s worth doing that, and which ones to use!
Stop 1 – Freedom Bridge
Starting the first day of the Budapest itinerary at the Freedom Bridge, as going through the route this makes really the most sense! Freedom Bridge is located on the south side of Pest, and it can be reached by tram 2, 47, and 49, or metro that goes to Kalvin tér (square).
The Freedom Bridge was built at the end of the 20th century, and its original name was Franz Joseph Bridge, who was the king of the Austro-Hungarian Empire at that time. Secret fact: He was the one who put the last silver screw in the bridge, which, unfortunately, was stolen later on. The replicable can be found on the Pest side of the bridge.
When I’m guiding someone around in Budapest, I always tell this one fact about the Liberty Bridge: This is the place where many people tried or actually committed suicide. I think this should be mentioned, as part of the bridge’s history! And well, those who love spooky places, I just gave you a reason to visit!
Stop 2 – Central Market Hall
The Central market hall is basically located near the Freedom Bridge, on the Pest side. The markets are called “Vásárcsarnok” in Hungarian, meaning shopping hall.
In these premises, you can usually find bio fruits, veggies, soured veggies, crafted cheese, cold cuts, and meat products from small local companies or families who are growing/producing their own goods.
If you’re seeking something fresh, natural, bio, or handmade/crafted, you should definitely add these markets to your Budapest itinerary! The most popular one is the Fővámtéri Vásárcsarnok (Central Market Hall) on Fővámtér square. Definitely worth stopping by to grab some local goodies!
Stop 3 – Hungarian National Museum
Just about 6 minutes away from Fovamter Square, on Múzeum Körút (street) on the right-hand side is the Hungarian National Museum.
I’ve been just once inside, but I have visited from outside, and the park surrounding it many times. The entrance fee is about €8,00 and the reason why I suggest adding this to your Budapest itinerary is that there are some remarkable pieces inside from along the 1000 year history of Hungary.
You can find the offices of communist dictators, as well as the king’s robe. Outside, in the park are many statues and walkways to wander around and enjoy the surroundings.
Stop 4 – Deak Ferenc Square & Elisabeth Square
The Deak Ferenc tér is about 12 minutes walk, but you can get from Astoria the tram for one stop in case you want to save your energy. However, if you’re walking from the museum to Astoria, you’ll be walking by the Faculty of Arts of the Eotvos Lorand University, where I studied as well history for half a year
Deak Ferenc square is one of the most famous squares in Budapest and the place where also all 4 metro lines meet. There are dozens of cafes, restaurants to find on this square. Also, some of the most famous luxury hotels are located on Deak Ferenc Square. Then, Elisabeth square is just a few steps away!
The Budapest Eye is located on Elisabeth (Erzsébet) Square. A ride for an adult will cost about Ft 3,000, which is equal to €8,75. For tickets and more information check their website‘ Elisabeth square is also a very popular hang-out spot for local and tourist youth.
Stop 5 – St Stephan Basilica in Budapest
St Stephan’s Square is about 3-4 minutes walk from Elisabeth square, and this area is beyond popular for cafes and restaurants with outdoor spaces, to gain an amazing view over the immense building, while enjoying a drink or a great lunch.
The Roman Catholic basilica is the 3rd largest church in nowadays Hungary. Before 1920, when Hungary still had its integrity, it was just the 7th largest church in the country. St Stephan’s Basilica was built in the 19th century, and it’s named after Hungary’s first king, St Stephan (975–1038). His right hand is kept in the basilica’s reliquary. St Stephan’s square is hosting a part of the famous Christmas Markets of Budapest as well.
Stop 6 – Kossuth Square & the Hungarian Parliament Building
The Hungarian Parliament building is located on Kossuth Square, right on the side of the Danube river. To walk here from the St Stephan’s Basilica, you’ll need somewhat about 12-15 minutes, depending on which streets you go.
The Parliament building was designed by Imre Steindl and finished in 1902. The building is absolutely symmetric, and it’s now the largest building in Hungary, It was built in a neogothic style. On Hungarian national days, like the 15th of March and the 20th of August, it’s open for the visitors as well, for free, without any booking or group visit. You are allowed on these days to enter the main halls and you can also see the Hungarian crown while there!
Monuments and museums around the Parliament
Around the Parliament, you can visit on the left-hand side the statue of Count Gyula Andrassy, one of the biggest Hungarian politicians of the 19th century, as well as you can see Count Ferenc Rakoczi’s statue (leader of the revolution to break free from the so-called Austro-Hungarian Empire), the 18th century’s biggest figure. Then, on the riverside there’s the statue of the poet Attila Jozsef, sitting on the stairs.
On Kossuth Square, there’s also a monument in honor of the people who died here in 1956’s anti-communism revolution. Opposite the parliament, there’s the Hungarian National Ethnographic museum. Then, a group statue of Lajos Kossuth, who was one of the leaders of the 1848-49 Hungarian revolution against the Austro-Hungarian Empire (they tried again to gain back Hungary’s independence). On the right-hand side, you’ll see a pretty new statue again, featuring Istvan Tisza, who (in my opinion) was the biggest political figure of the 20th century in Hungary. A smart man like him is rare to find!
While you’re wandering around the Parliament building, make sure to walk down the riverside as well, as, from that side, this enormous building is even more fascinating! Oh, and if you’re lucky, you can catch a guard change ceremony as well!
Tip: Best view if you head to the metro line 2 on Kossuth Square and you go one stop to get to the other side of the river, to Batthyanyi Square. The sunsets can be sometimes incredible here!
Day 2 – East and North side of Pest
The second day of the Budapest itinerary will lead us along the side of the city center, all the way to the famous communism museum, the Terror House, and out to one of the most famous parks in the city, the Varosliget. As in Budapest many landmarks and things to see are quite far from each other, here is suggested again to use public transport, and again, I’m going to highlight between which stops you could do that!
Stop 1 – Corvin neighborhood
This isn’t popular at all for visitors from outside of Hungary, but not even for those who live in Budapest. Many don’t even have an idea of what a significant place this is! If you’re looking a little bit into Hungarian history, you know there was an anti-communist revolution in 1956, where Budapest was basically floating in blood.
Actually, it was floating later on when the Soviets managed to stop the revolution, and they killed thousands and thousands of civilians who had any part in it. It’s one of the darkest years of Hungary, and it just happened recently.
I had the honor to meet a few dozens of people who’ve been fighting in this revolution, and that honestly was an indescribable experience!
So, the Corvin square was basically one of the base camps of the “guys from Pest” who were fighting this invincible war, and imagine now kids!
Kids of 12, 14, 16, 18 years with guns, fighting against the soldiers and tanks of the communist regime, and the Soviet Union. If you go to this place, just look on the panels all around the cinema, and you’ll see the names of kids, fighting for the freedom of Hungary. It’s heartbreaking and really uplifting in the meantime.
Stop 2 – Oktogon – Hungarian Broadway – Terror House
At the Corvin square, on the main street, take the tram 4 or 6, and head to the Oktogon stop. This is a square, that’s crossed by the famous Andrassy Avenue, which’s completely straight.
If you go first on it up north, a few steps from Oktogon, you’ll see the Terror House. I really don’t suggest going there with kids if you don’t want them to have nightmares, but I really recommend visiting it to gain some more insights into the communist regime in Hungary, as well as the before mentioned revolution of 1956.
There are some scary, really shocking places around the museum, but it’s been one of my favorite museum experiences so far in my life! There are days when the entrance is free, so if you check the website of Terror House, you can get more info when you’re visiting!
Now, if you head back to Oktogon, and head down south on Andrassy Avenue, you can visit the Hungarian Opera House, the Ballet Institution, as well as the locally called “Hungarian Broadway” a.k.a. the Nagyszőlős Street. Here you can find the Operetta Theater, as well as many-many other theatres, all in one place!
Stop 3 – Heroe’s square, Budapest
If you don’t want to walk, from Oktogon, you can catch the metro line 1 (yellow metro) which is the oldest subway in Budapest, and the third oldest underground in the world! Also the first underground on the European mainland!
So, with this cute underground, you can head to Heroes’ Square stop (Hősök Tere), which is basically the most famous, and possibly most beautiful square in Budapest, so it’s a must for a Budapest itinerary!
Heroes’ Square is featuring in the middle the 7 chieftains of the Hungarians who led them to Pannonia in the 9th century.
In the background, there are two vaulted statue group lineups. One featuring the most important Kings of the Middle Age, in chronologic line. The second one continuing with the rulers and kings of the New Age, the Hungarian rulers of Transylvania by the time when most of Hungary was occupied by the Osman Empire, as well as important figures of the 19th century.
The square is at the very end of Andrassy Avenue. Heroes’ Square is also hosting the Museum of Fine Arts and the Contemporary Art Gallery.
This square hosted many important political, and non-political events in the 20th century, such as the reburial of Nagy Imre in 1989, the chosen prime minister in the 1956 revolution, who later has been executed by the soviets. This was a remarkable event as at this time, on this square, they announced the end of the communist dictatorship in Hungary.
Stop 4 – Vajdahunyad Castle
Another must-visit place for your Budapest itinerary! Just a few steps behind the Heroes’ Square, you’ll arrive at the City Park (Városliget).
Now, Vajdahunyad Castle may seem like a real castle, but it’s not! The Vajdahunyad Castel was built in 1898 as part of the Millenial Exhibition which celebrated 1000 years of Hungary since the conquest of the Carpathian Basin in 895.
The beauty in this building complex is that it’s designed to be featuring copies of 7 different landmarks from Hungary. This front side with the tower is featuring the Corvin Castel in Transylvania (which after 1000 years, is not a part of Hungary since 1920). The original castles are from different time periods so each one is featuring different styles of architecture such as Romanesque, Gothic, Renaissance, and Baroque.
Stop 5 – Szechenyi Thermal Baths, Budapest
As Budapest started to become a more and more popular destination, the nationwide already famous Széchenyi Thermal Baths became famous shortly around the world as well!
It’s about a 2-3 minutes walk in the park from Vajdahunyad Castle, so it’s easy to find, and add to your Budapest itinerary!
The Széchenyi Thermal Bath was built in 1913 and named after one of the most famous political and aristocrat figures of the 19th century, Istvan (Stephan) Széchenyi. In addition to the marvelous medicinal natural hot spring waters in the 18 pools, there are 10 saunas/steam cabins, several massage therapies, facial treatments, and more. Interested already huh? Go ahead and check their website if you’d want to include a bath day in your Budapest itinerary!
I don’t want to make this day’s itinerary any longer, as in case you’d want to visit the Terror House or spend the afternoon in the thermal baths, you won’t have really time to do any more sightseeing!
Day 3 – Buda castle, Budapest
The third day of the 3 days Budapest itinerary will be all about the Buda side of the city, and the Buda castle inside that. This day, except to get to the castle, you won’t need to really use public transport. However, if you’re staying on the Pest side of the city, here’s how to get the easiest way to the north entrance of the castle!
You can get on the tram 4 or 6, and go all the way to the last stop of Széll Kálmán tér (square). Otherwise, you can also take the red metro (metro line 2) that goes to the Déli Pályaudvar (south train station) and get off at Széll Kálmán Square. From here on the left-hand side, you can see the way up to the castle, and there are stairs leading up too. At the top of the stairs the bus no 16 is stopping, which you can take to get to the first stop in the castle. If you take the bus, get off at the Becsi Kapu Ter (square) or the Kapisztran Ter. Otherwise, it’s just about 10 min walk up there from the Szell Kalman square!
Stop 1 – Buda Castle -Military History Museum & Toth Arpad promenade
Once you arrived at Kapisztrán Square, the Hungarian Military and History Museum is right there. Though, you’ll have to head to the Toth Árpád promenade (few steps away) to reach the entrance!
If you’re as obsessed with Military museums as I, you’ll find this one really interesting! There are great collections from all along with the Hungarian history, but I’d highlight the world wars and the 1956 revolution between the many! There is also a great collection of the 1848-49 revolution that I have previously mentioned. If you’re visiting Budapest with kids, they will find this place interesting for sure!
The Toth Arpad promenade is one of those places where I loved to go with a great book and just sit and read in quiet. The beauty in this place is that it’s at the wall of the Buda castle, in a side where it’s never crowded, and always peaceful.
In the spring, you can walk under cherry blossoms, and enjoy the beautiful view over the hills of Buda. If you’re heading just to walk through, to get to the next stop of the Budapest itinerary, I still recommend doing it!
Stop 2 – Matthias Church & Fisherman’s Bastion
If you’re coming from the Toth Arpad promenade, that’s basically ending about 2 streets from the famous Holy Trinity Square, where the spectacular Matthias Church is located.
The Matthias Church was first built in the 11th century in Romanesque style, then restored in Gothic style in the 14th century. As of last, it was extensively rebuilt in the 19th century to its current form. The church is just as eye-catching from the inside as from the outside, so if you can, I really recommend adding an inside visit to your Budapest itinerary!
Fisherman’s Bastion is basically right near the Matthias church, and it’s probably one of the most famous landmarks of the city of Budapest. The Neo-Romanesque architecture is offering an exquisite panoramic view of the Parliament building, the Danube, and the Pest side of the city.
Fisherman’s Bastion is about 140 meters long, and you can visit most parts for free. The complex was built in the late 19th century. There is a restaurant functioning as well, from which you’ll get to enjoy the panorama above a great glass of wine!
Stop 3 – Hungarian National Gallery
As the next stop of our Budapest itinerary, if you wander around and head down south in the Buda Castle, you’ll shortly arrive at the palace of the Buda Castle. This is now operating and having two functions. The backside is featuring the Hungarian National Library, and the front side features the Hungarian National Gallery.
I myself have been about 4-5 times to the gallery, and I’m happy to go back anytime, as the artworks owned by the Hungarian National Gallery are just amazing! Many times, here as well, the entrance is free, so it’s really suggested to have a look at their official website for more info!
Stop 4 – Szechenyi Chain Bridge
Once you’re done wandering in and around the Hungarian National Gallery, you may find at the front of it a small alleyway leading down the side of the hill. Alternatively, you can use the funicular as well! Once you arrive at the bottom of the hill, right near the Danube river, you’ll see the tunnel going under the Buda Castle, on Clark Adam Square, and the Chain Bridge right in front of it.
I can’t lie, the Chain Bridge is my favorite bridge in the city! Actually, it’s everyone’s favorite bridge…
This amazing piece of architecture was first built in the 19th century. In the 2nd WW, the German army blew it up while they were retreating from the eastern frontlines, but it was shortly restored!
The Chain Bridge is one of Budapest’s iconic monuments. The best place to have a breathtaking view is above the tunnel on Clark Adam Square, but it’s beautiful from the Buda Palace in the castle, and from the Pest side as well, as from near the Parliament.
Stop 5 – Duna promenade
If you cross the Chain Bridge from the Buda to the Pest side, and your head on the right-hand side, south along the river, you’ll arrive at the so-called Duna Korzo. This is basically a promenade, along the river, where the famous tram 2 has its stops. From the Duna Korzo, you can easily head back to the central parts of the city, where you can find the famous ruin bars such as the Simpla Kert, or get lost between the bars and cafes of the Gozsdu Udvar (yard) in the evening.
When to visit Budapest?
Well, thanks to the climate in Hungary, this is pretty easy! Budapest is great to visit at any time of the year. I’ve been living there for two years in total, and what I can say is this!
December, for the Christmas Market, is usually amazing. Last year I was lucky to catch super amazing weather, although it can get really cold!
In the summer, the heat can be exhausting for some, but if you’re fine with some warm weather, take your water bottle and sunscreen, and you’ll be fine! Autumn and spring in Budapest can be sometimes really rainy, but most of the time, it’s great for a city break!
How to get around in Budapest?
As many of the landmarks are quite far from each other, I always advise to everyone to get a 24H or 48H ticket at any ticket machine. You can find them un undergrounds as well as at tram stops. These are valid for all the public transports, and you can easily use them to get around.
I think Budapest has really easy public transport. There are 4 metro lines, and a couple of tramps such as the nr 2, 4, 6 that are passing many of the landmarks I’ve described. If you’re using the guides above between some of the landmarks that are way too far from each other, you’ll really save some energy, and prevent some serious foot pain!
Where to stay in Budapest?
Hardest question, that anyone could ask me!
Let’s see first the luxury accommodations I’d recommend! One of the most famous, in Gresham Palace, the Four Seasons, definitely! Then, you can consider the Corinthia Hotel, and the residences in the beautiful New York Palace!
For b&b’s, I’d always advise checking something around Elisabeth Square, or Deak Ferenc Square, or definitely on the line of tram 4 and 6! Some of these are the BpR Panorama Apartments Budapest, Mango Aparthotel, or Gozsdu Style & Fashion Apartments.