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Packed with iconic sights, an incredible history and a lively nightlife, Budapest, Hungary certainly knows how to entertain its guests! We explore all the top sights and attractions on our 3-Day Budapest Itinerary.
Whether you’re a nature lover or admirer of architecture, there to marvel at monuments or partying the night away, visiting Budapest on a Budget or sailing away on a European River Cruise, Budapest aims to please. Use our guide of what to do in Budapest in 3 days to plan your best trip!
3 Days in Budapest Itinerary
We think 3 days in Budapest is just enough time to get a good feel for the city. Our Budapest 3-Day Itinerary is designed for the visitor who is short on time, but wants to maximize their trip to Budapest with the best sightseeing and top experiences.
Still deciding how many days in Budapest? Are you wondering if one day in Budapest enough? Or what if you only have 2 days in Budapest? No need to worry! At the end of our 3-Day Budapest Itinerary, we offer tips and advice for visitors with more – or less – time.
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Our Best Budapest 3-Day Itinerary
Now, let’s get started with our Budapest Itinerary. We’ll dive right in and kick off with the very best of Budapest in 3 Days!
Day 1: Iconic Budapest Sightseeing
Day 1 Highlights: Parliament Building, Liberty Square, St. Istvan’s Basilica, Chain Bridge, Castle Hill, City Lights, Ruins Bars
Start your three days in Budapest with the iconic sights on the east side of the Danube River, formerly known as the city of Pest. Begin at Kossuth Square and gawk at the colossal Hungarian Parliament Building. Admire it from the outside or go inside and take a tour, which includes viewing the Coronation Jewels.
Walk through Liberty Square, stopping to look at the monuments and the Hutte Café for a cup of coffee, and then continue to St. Istvan’s Basilica. Step inside the church to see magnificent details, the decaying right hand of St. Istvan and take a trip to the top of the bell tower.
From the church, head west along the pedestrian promenade, perhaps stopping for lunch along the way. Leave the Pest side of Budapest and cross the Danube River using the pedestrian path on the north side of Chain Bridge to take in the views of Parliament.
Cross Chain Bridge to the west bank of the Danube, which was simply known as Buda before the two cities merged. Once in Buda, either take the funicular or climb the stairs to Castle Hill, and continue your tour of Budapest.
Head north to the typical Hungarian-style Matthias Church and take in the views across the river from Fisherman’s Bastion. If time permits, continue to the north to see a smattering of historic remains and then loop around to the south toward the Royal Palace, also known as the Buda Castle.
Inside the Buda Castle there are two museums, National Gallery and Budapest History Museum, as well the Hungarian National Library. Outside the palace are statues and monuments – and sweeping views of the river and the Pest side of Budapest.
Dinner in Buda
Find a place to eat dinner on top of the hill or riverside. Wait for the sun to set and city lights to illuminate – and then take a stroll along both banks of the Danube River. We recommend crossing at Chain Bridge and Margaret Bridge for the best views of the iconic sights of Budapest lit up against the dark sky.
Budapest Ruins Bars
Continue with an exploration of Budapest nightlife and a visit to one (or more) of the shabby chic Ruins Bars, one of the cool things to do in Budapest. Start at the original, Szimpla Kert, and don’t forget to taste the potent Hungarian liquor, palinka, before calling it a night!
Day 2: Top Budapest Landmarks
Highlights on Day 2: Central Market, The Great Synagogue, Opera House, Heroes’ Square, City Park, Szechenyi Thermal Baths
Great Market Hall
Start Day 2 of your Budapest Itinerary at the Central Market. Arrive in the morning to peruse the vendors’ wares and fare, letting the tempting scents guide the way. Make breakfast a taste-testing experience and maybe even purchase additional items to snack on or even for a picnic lunch to be consumed later in the day.
Leave the market and work your way into the Jewish Quarter. Wander the neighborhood and contemplate the many memorials that pay tribute to Holocaust victims. Visit The Great Synagogue and Hungarian Jewish Museum – consider joining one of the guided Budapest tours of Jewish Heritage.
Continue north through the Jewish Quarter, passing ramshackle Ruins Bars that are practically unrecognizable in the light of day, to the opulent Andrassy Avenue.
Andrassy Avenue Sights
Walk along the posh Andrassy Avenue to the opulent Opera House. Take a peek inside the grand lobby and either join a tour or purchase tickets for the evening show. Incredibly affordable, tickets in the upper level can cost less than $5. From the Opera House continue on Andrassy Ut away from the city to Oktogon, a vast, café-strewn intersection. Go underground and catch the M1 metro to Heroes’ Square at City Park.
Budapest City Park
The massive Heroes’ Square encompasses the Millennium Monument, Hungarian War Memorial, the Museum of Fine Arts and the Hall of Art. Pass through the square and enter City Park, following the trails through the green space. Find a spot to enjoy a picnic lunch if you picked one up earlier at the market. Walk to the center of the park to Vajdahunyad Castle and the Benedictine chapel, then north to Szechenyi Thermal Baths. Spend the afternoon splashing in one of the 15 indoor baths or three outdoor pools.
Dinner in Pest
Dine on the east side of the Danube in Pest. Get “Slow Food, Fast” at Meatology or settle into the atrium atmosphere at Twentysix. Jamie Oliver’s Diner gets decent reviews, but Hungarikum Bisztró and Menza Étterem és Kávéház are two of the top rated restaurants in Budapest for Hungarian food.
Day 3: Essential Budapest Experiences
Day 3 Highlights: Lukacs Thermal Baths, Margaret Island Park, Danube River Ferry, Gellert Hill, Tram #2
Budapest Like a Local
Begin the last day of your Budapest three day itinerary with a more therapeutic thermal bath experience and join the locals for a naturally healing soak at Lukacs Thermal Bath. Relaxed and refreshed, occupy the rest of the day with time outdoors. Take to the trails on Margaret Island – a green refuge located in the middle of the Danube River. Explore the 1.5-mile-long park and then hop on a river ferry heading south.
Disembark the ferry at the Petofi Ter dock and walk across the Erzsebet Bridge to Gellert Hill. Follow the path to the top to see the Citadel and Liberty Statue and then descend to the south to the Cave Church.
Budapest Craft Beer
Thirsty yet? Great! Cross the green Liberty Bridge and walk east to the MONYO Tap House and choose from their broad selection of craft beer. While in the area, consider a visit to Gravity Brewing as well, where they are producing a wide range of craft brews and is home to Otto, their mascot doggo! From here, you can get back to the city center on the historic yellow Tram #2 – the perfect ending to three perfect days in Budapest!
How Many Days in Budapest?
Our outlined 3-Day Budapest Itinerary is the perfect way to get to know the city. However, not all travelers have three days to spend in Budapest, while others may have a full week.
On our first trip to Budapest, we stayed for nearly two weeks…and then returned for an even longer visit. For you, how many days to spend in Budapest will depend on time, budget and overall interest.
Budapest 1-Day Itinerary
Visitors who want to get just a taste of the city could simply use Day 1 of our Budapest 3 Days Itinerary. Ambitious travelers, however, can lace up their shoes and see all the top sights on our Free Budapest Walking Tours.
Budapest Itinerary 2 Days
Trying to plan what to do in Budapest in 2 days? Using our itinerary as a guide, pick and choose which sights you want to fit in. For us, an ideal two days in Budapest would follow Day 1 exactly as it is, then, on Day 2, we would add a few sights from Day 3. For example, we would start at Gellert Hill, then continue with Day 2 as it is written. If time allows at the end of the day, go on a Budapest night cruise!
Alternate Budapest Itinerary 3 Days with Tours
Our outline of what to do in Budapest in 3 Days focuses on top sightseeing and exploration. However, visitors who want to see more of the region can rearrange our itinerary to include a half-day or full-day Budapest excursion.
To make room for a Budapest day trip, we recommend following our above advice for 2 Days, then discover sights outside the city on an organized tour. Some of the top-rated day tours from Budapest are a Half-Day Etyek Wine Tour, a Half-Day Szentendre Tour and the Puszta Full-Day Tour. Find more of the best Budapest tours on Get Your Guide.
Budapest Itinerary 4 Days
For those creating a 4 days in Budapest Itinerary have a lot of options! It is possible to see the city highlights and discover some of the surrounding region, as well. To create your Budapest 4 Days Itinerary, start with our list of what to see in Budapest in 3 days, then go further afield on one of the day trips from the city mentioned above.
5 Day Budapest Itinerary
With 5 days in Budapest, visitors can either create a more leisurely Budapest trip plan…or fit in a second day trip or guided tour. We recommend using our 4-Day Budapest Plan above, then experience more on one of the guided Budapest sightseeing tours. Some top-rated activities are a Hungarian Cooking Class, a 4-hour Budapest Dinner Walk, or a Danube Dinner Cruise and Folk Show.
Pro Tip: Consider using Travel Planning Printables (like we do) to get your vacation to Budapest organized!
3-Day Budapest Itinerary Tips
We’ve outlined the top places to visit in Budapest in 3 days – and longer – but we have a few more travel tips for your trip.
Budapest Thermal Spas
A visit to a spa is an essential Budapest activity! There are many Budapest Spa Packages available, which range from basic to luxury. Szechenyi and Gellert are the two most popular spas for tourist in Budapest, both of which also offer massages.
Danube River Cruise
When planning a trip to Budapest, make sure a cruise on the Danube River is on your list. Danube cruises include everything from public passenger ferries to elegant dinner cruises. Find a Budapest River Cruise that fits your style and budget!
Budapest City Tour
Budapest is an excellent city to explore on foot. Visitors can use our detailed and easy-to-follow Budapest Walking Tours. However, guests can also opt to join organized tours.
Guides lead visitors through the city on a variety of walking tours – everything from neighborhood specific to food tours to Ruin Bars (which can also be seen on a Pub Crawl!). You can book highly-rated Budapest tours in advance with Viator.
Budapest Public Transportation
Our list of things to see in Budapest in 3 days covers some ground. The public transportation in Budapest keeps the city well-connected. Alternatively, join fellow travelers and catch a ride on the Big Bus Budapest, which makes stops at all the top tourist sights!
Budapest Sightseeing Card
If you are planning on visiting the top Budapest sights and using public transport, a Budapest Card may save you money. Overall, Budapest is an affordable city, but many of the prime sights charge entry fees. If you are looking for more money-saving advice, read our tips for Budapest on a Budget.
Where To Stay in Budapest, Hungary
Whenever we travel to Budapest, we rely on our go-to option of Airbnb for accommodations. We have found that staying in Budapest holiday apartments is often less expensive than hotel rooms – with the added benefit of a kitchen and, usually, more space.
Hotels in Budapest
For those who prefer staying in traditional accommodations for your 3 nights in Budapest, there are many Budapest Hotels to choose from in – or close to – the city center. Check out these top-rated hotels (based on guest reviews) for your upcoming trip: Hotel Moments Budapest, Callas House and Aria Hotel Budapest.
Hostels in Budapest
Budget travelers can search for Budapest Hostels – like Metropolis Hostel and Flow Hostel. For a true bargain – and a unique experience – search for hosts on Couchsurfing, where travelers stay with locals for free.
Getting to Budapest, Hungary
Budapest can be reached by plane, train, bus or river cruise. On our first visit, we arrived by train (Ljubljana to Budapest) and departed via plane from the Budapest International Airport (BUD) to Dublin, Ireland.
Generally speaking, our preferred method of getting anywhere is by flying, we are JetSettingFools, after all! When we do need to purchase plane tickets, we start our search for the best deals on airline tickets at Skyscanner.
Before You Go to Budapest
Make sure you check out our packing hacks and other pertinent travel information before for your Budapest trip!
Budapest is walkable…but only if you have the right travel shoes! Don’t forget to pack a pair of lightweight and comfortable walking shoes for your trip. I (Sarah) have always traveled with these kicks by Columbia. Kris prefers wearing these shoes by Merrell.
We’re certain you’ll be snapping tons of photos of Budapest during your trip. Rather than relying on your phone to capture the sights, upgrade to an actual travel camera for high quality photos. We travel with a Canon Rebel (which takes amazing photos) and a Canon PowerShot ELPH (which takes beautiful pictures and is a slim and lightweight budget camera).
Budapest Guidebook & Day Pack
It’s easy to get turned around in any foreign city! Make sure to have a good guidebook before arriving in Budapest. Whether you travel with a backpack or a suitcase, you will also want a great day bag to organize and secure all of your essential everyday travel items.
European Travel Insurance
If you haven’t already obtained insurance for your trip to Budapest, consider protecting your vacation with World Nomads. It may help recover cost associated with lost luggage, canceled flights or illness when traveling.
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