Hungarian Parliament House, Budapest Travel Itinerary

The Best Things to do in Budapest | 3 Days’ Travel Itinerary

I previously visited Budapest twice – once during the summer season and once during the winter. I loved the charm of the city and all the attractions it had to offer. In this article, I’ll be sharing with you how to best make use of your time in Budapest for a 3 days itinerary.

Currency in Budapest

The official currency in Hungary is the Hungarian Forint (HUF). However, almost all places in Budapest accepts Euros. I previously did not change much of my Euros to Forint, but this meant that I usually had to pay in Euros at a lousy exchange rate when dining or shopping in the city. It is recommended that you change some money to Florint in Budapest itself. This is because buying the Hugarian Forint tends to be more expensive abroad.

Transportation | How to get around Budapest?

Option #1: Taxi / Uber

Budapest is not an expensive city to travel to in general. You can actually Uber to everywhere in Budapest as it is pretty affordable. For example, a one-way ride from the airport to city centre (40-minutes drive) should not cost more than 9000 HUF.

Option #2: Public Transportation

If you’re in Budapest during Spring or Autumn, where the weather is pleasant, you can consider public transportation to be your main mode of transportation. The transport network in the city is easy to grasp with the help of google maps on your phone. 

Prices of tickets:
Single-ticket: 350 HUF
24-hour ticket: 1650 HUF
74-hour ticket: 4150 HUF
Weekly ticket: 4950 HUF
Monthly ticket: 9500 HUF
*You can buy tickets at metro stations

If you have a single ticket, be sure to validate it at the machines on trams or buses, or at the entrance of metro stations. There will not be anyone checking to see if you have a ticket as the system is pretty much based on trust. However, do not take the risk of not buying a ticket as they do conduct random checks if you’re not-so-lucky.

Alternatively, you can purchase the Budapest City Card which gives you unlimited access to the city’s public transportation and free entries to museums. The card can be bought for 24, 48, 72, 96 or 120-hour usage.

The Budapest Big Bus Open-Top Hop-On Hop-Off Tours are also a great way to explore the city if you’re looking for someone to explain to you the different landmarks and attractions.

The Best Things to do in Budapest – Our 3 Days Itinerary

As you can see in the map below, most of the attractions are located in the city centre, along the Danube River. If you’re planning to take public transportation as your main mode of transportation, it will be more convenient for you to book your accommodation around this area. However, do take note that it will be pricer as compared to booking somewhere a little further off from the city center. 

Things to do in Budapest - Google Maps

Day 1

1. Great Market Hall for Lunch

Upon landing in Budapest, we decided to head to the Great Market Hall to grab lunch. Being the largest hall in Budapest, the hall is home to a large number of shops selling fresh goods, souvenirs, wines and local snacks. It is a sheltered walk through rows of shopping and photo opportunities and it’s also a great place where you can pick out some souvenirs to being home. There is a total of 3 floors that you can wander on, with the first floor selling mostly fresh goods and the upper levels are where you can get cooked meals and Hungarian snacks for lunch.

Opening hours:
Mondays: 6am to 5pm
Tuesdays to Fridays: 6am to 6pm
Saturdays: 6am to 3pm
Sundays: Closed

The best time to visit the Market Hall would be on a weekday between 10am to 12pm and 2pm to 4pm. It tends to get crowded between 12pm to 2pm as many locals and other tourist come here to have lunch. Between 8am to 9am is also a peak timing as many housewifes make a visit for their groceries.

2. Climb up to Citadella on Gellert Hill

After having lunch and touring around the great market hall, we crossed Szabó Dezső bridge to reach the trail head to Citadella. 

Things to do in Budapest

While I heard that it is possible for you to take a bus all the way up, you’ll miss the views that the hill has to offer on your way up. Gellert Hill is known to have the best views of the city of Budapest and the hike up will only take you about 20-30 minutes depending on how many photo stops you make along the way.

You can also plan out your own walking tour and visit the attractions on Gellert Hill in the following order:
1. Gellert Thermal Bath
2. Gellert Hill Cave
3. Liberty Statue
4. Citadella
5. Saint Gellert’s Monument 
6. Rudas Thermal Bath 

Walking Route up Gellert Hill

Citadella Hike Map - Things to do in Budapest
Citadella, Things to do in Budapest

3. Rudas Thermal Baths

End your walking tour of Gellert Hill with a relaxing dip in Rudas Thermal Baths. The baths were first built in 1550 during the Ottoman empire and till date still retains many key elements of a Turkish Bath. There are a total of 6 thermal pools and 1 swimming pool for you to choose from with temperatures ranging between 16 – 42 degrees celsius. By entering the baths around the late afternoon, you can enjoy watching the sunset from their rooftop pool as well.

Do take note that the Octagonal Turkish Bath has a scheduled men-only, women-only and co-ed hours. So if you really want to experience a dip in this particular bath, you’d have to go according to the rule that’s set on that particular day. Otherwise, you can still enjoy the other thermal baths in the area. You can click here for further information on the price list.

Opening hours: 6am – 8pm, Daily
Night bath hours: 10pm – 4am, Fridays & Saturdays
Fully nude on weekdays
Men-only: Mondays, Wednesdays, Thursdays & Fridays
Women-only: Tuesdays
Mixed-Gendered: Weekends

Day 2

1. Danube Promenade

Start your day early by discovering a row of iron shoes lined along the Danube River at Danube Promenade, just opposite the river from  the Hungarian Parliament Building. The shoes pay a tribute to a horrible time in history, during Hitler’s rule in WWII, where Jews were forced to take off their shoes along the river banks and were executed by being shot. Their bodies fell into the river and were washed away by the freezing waters.

You can find a varied style of different types of footwear – men’s shoes, women’s heels and even a pair of child’s shoes – that were chosen to show that no one was spared regardless of gender, age or occupation.

Iron Shoes along Danube River - Things to do in Budapest

2. Szechenyi Chain Bridge

Next, walk across Szechenyi Chain Bridge to get to the other side of the river. Opened in 1849, the construction of the bridge involved advanced engineering works at that time, it was a symbol of advancement and linkage between ‘buda’ and ‘pest’.

Szechenyi Chain Bridge - Things to do in Budapest

3. Hungarian Parliament Building

After crossing the bridge, walk left till you reach the Hungarian Parliament Building.Take pictures up-close to the largest building in Budapest and admire the carefully designed and constructed masterpiece. The building in total  consists of 162 sculptures, 10 courtyards and hundreds of offices. Currently, it is home to the Prime Minister of Hungary and his staff.

There are is also a Budapest Grand City Tour with Entry to Parliament that you can opt for if you’d prefer someone to show you around the building and other popular landmarks in the city.

4. Have lunch at Hungarikum Bisztro

Just a 6-minute walk from the Parliament Building, stop by Hungarikum Bisztro for lunch. I usually don’t recommend restaurants on my blog unless the food there is really fantastic. The Bisztro served amazing beef stew (which is what I ordered) and is a must-try when visiting Budapest. You can view their full menu at their official website here

The Bisztro is also very popular among the locals so they are frequently fully booked. Remember to make a reservation in advance or arrive early when they open at 11.30am for lunch.

5. Fisherman’s Bastion

Located in the Buda Castle lies Fisherman’s Bastion. It is one of the most popular tourist attractions due to it’s unique view of Budapest though the Neo-Romanesque lookout terraces. It was built specially to act as a panoramic viewpoint of Budapest. The Fisherman’s Bastion was also  reconstructed several times over the years during many sieges from the 19th to 20th century.

There is also a Buda Castle District Walking Tour you can opt for if you’d like to have a guide to tell you more about the history and importance of Buda Castle District. Aside from Fisherman’s Bastion, you’d also get to explore Matthias Church, the largest church of medieval Buda founded during the 11th century.

The entry to Fisherman’s Bastion is also free for the lower terraces and towers and it is opened for visiting 24/7. 

Day 3

1. Heroes’ Square

On our last day in Budapest, we took a taxi up to Heroes’ Square to view the iconic statue complex. It features the 7 chieftains of the Magyars and other important Hungarian national leaders. Sign up for a Segway Tour if you’re keen on finding out more about the history behind this monument!

2. Szechenyi Thermal Baths

Just behind of Heroes’ Square, you can find the Szechenyi Thermal Baths in Szechenyi Furdo Elotti Park. There is a reason why Budapest is nicknamed the “City of Spas” afterall. Szechenyi Thermal Baths is one of the largest spa baths in Europe with a total of 15 indoor baths and 3 large outdoor pools. The water temperatures go up to around 40 degrees celsius and includes a whirlpool, jacuzzi jets as well as an activity pool. Since it is a co-ed pool, swim suits must be worn at all times.

You can book your tickets in advance online here to skip the queue!

Szechenyi Thermal Baths in Budapest

Weather | When is the best time to visit Budapest?

Similar  to most other European countries, the best time to visit Budapest is during Spring (March to May) and Autumn (September to November). During these periods, the weather is comfortable and the city is not overcrowded due to any holidays season.

When I visited in Summer, the temperature was extremely hot. I remember it being 38 degrees celsius when I visited Fisherman’s Bastion and the heat made me out of breath just climbing up the stairs. It was definitely not a good time to be outdoors there. During winter, temperatures dipped below the zero mark, but it was beautiful to experience the snow fall and Christmas markets during my time there. 

Related articles for Eastern Europe:
– How to Spend 3 Days in Dubrovik, Croatia
– 4 Days in Greece for the Budget Traveller

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