How to see Budapest in 48 hours
How to see Budapest in 48 hours
Budapest is a top-notch destination for weekends, ticking all the boxes: from strolling among majestic buildings to catching mind-blowing views, peeking inside historic museums, necking pints at ruin bars, and feasting on hearty, paprika-infused dishes. Getting around is easy, with attractions being fairly close to one another. Whether you’d go low-budget or extravagant, the city will spoil you with options, but let us warn you: you will likely find yourself pining for more. Regardless, if you have 48 hours to spare and don’t mind getting those steps in, here is a guide on how to make the most of it, from breakfast to post-dinner drinks.
Breakfast at the New York Café
Offering Belle-Époque splendour and voted the most beautiful coffee house in the world, no wonder queues are snaking at the entrance of New York Café. So our first tip is: book a table. Then succumb to the glamourous world you are enveloped in, from crystal chandeliers to marble and gilded surfaces, and coffee and cake. Breakfast prices might be on the steep side, but will be worth it: just remember even Jennifer Lawrence walked among these walls (when shooting Red Sparrow).
Walk on the riverside and see the Parliament
Hop on tram 4/6 at Blaha Lujza tér, then embark on a crisp yet scenic stroll along the riverside from Jászai Mari tér towards Kossuth Lajos tér. This route will soon lead you to the 96-metre-tall Neo-Gothic Hungarian Parliament towering above the square. (If you prefer, you can swap the tram for metro line 2 and emerge at Kossuth Lajos tér right away). Take a moment to absorb the view (you can even sign up for a guided tour), then keep walking towards the Chain Bridge for more panoramic scenes; soon the Buda Castle will come into view.
Cross the Chain Bridge
Budapest’s iconic landmark and the city’s first permanent bridge, the Chain Bridge has recently undergone a major facelift. Following its grand reopening, it became car-free (please note that the photo was taken before these changes), so it’s only fitting that you cross the river by walking across here. And while at it, immerse yourself in history, and admire the restored details.
Explore Buda Castle
Sitting tall and proud on Castle Hill, Buda Castle is an emblematic sight you simply cannot miss. Climb up through its stunning gardens, the Várkert Bazár, or take a ride on a historic and unusual means of transportation – the Funicular, serving the city since 1870, soon, you’ll find yourself at a World Heritage Site. Whichever way you turn, you’ll be greeted by intriguing spots, whether it’s the Zsolnay-tiled Matthias Church, the Fisherman’s Bastion, the Hungarian National Gallery or centuries-old houses lining the narrow streets.
Have lunch at the Great Market Hall
User For market vibes and authentic Hungarian street food, make your way to the Great Market Hall. Its distinctive building is impossible to miss: watch out for an impressive brick facade and colourful roof tiles at Fővám tér. As you step inside, the ground floor welcomes you with a vibrant array of fresh produce, while the tempting scent of lángos (deep-fried flatbread topped with sour cream and cheese) wafts down from the mezzanine. This is where you’ll find souvenirs and food stalls, and we suggest you fuel up on some delicious calories for your next stop.
Admire the city from Gellért Hill
With your stomach full and heart content, set off on a mildly challenging stroll. This time cross Liberty Bridge to arrive on the Buda side, then climb up to Gellért Hill. Though Citadel is closed for renovation, you will catch amazing views along the way.
Soak in thermal water at the Gellért Baths
Once you had your fair share of fresh air and stunning views, descend from the hill and plunge into the outdoor or indoor thermal pools at the marvellous Gellért Baths. This spa complex, which once served as a photo shoot location for Ryan Gosling, is adorned with Art Deco details. You can admire colourful Zsolnay tiles, stained glass, and intriguing water spouts while soaking in the steaming water.
One of the most convenient and pocket-friendly ways to get from one place to the other in Budapest and explore attractions is by purchasing a Budapest City Card. With such a card (available online and offline), you can enjoy free transportation, sightseeing, and museum entries. You are also entitled to several discounts at varied attractions and restaurants. Find more details here.
A few places where discounts can be applied (see the full list here):
- Funicular: free
- Hungarian National Gallery: free entry (to permanent exhibitions)
- Hungarian National Museum: free entry (to permanent exhibitions)
- Dohány Street Synagogue: 10% discount
- St Stephen’s Basilica: 20% discount (10% discount to organ concerts)
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Text and pictures We love Budapest.