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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 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.
Our Best Budapest 3-Day Itinerary
Our Budapest Itinerary includes the best of Budapest in 3 Days! Save, Bookmark or Pin this Budapest Travel Blog post to help you plan your ultimate trip to Budapest!
Day 1: Iconic Budapest Sightseeing
Parliament Building, Liberty Square, St. Istvan’s Basilica, Chain Bridge, Castle Hill, City Lights, Ruins Bars
Start your three days in Budapest with the city’s 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 or at 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.
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, crossing at Chain Bridge and Margaret Bridge, to witness the iconic sights of Budapest lit up against the dark sky.
Budapest Ruins Bars
Continue an exploration of Budapest nightlife with 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 get a taste the potent Hungarian liquor, palinka, before calling it a night.
Day 2: Top Budapest Landmarks
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 purchase additional items 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 take a tour or purchase tickets for the evening show (incredibly affordable, tickets in the upper level are as little as $2 USD). 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 the picnic lunch picked 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 – or, with no other plans for the day, stay through the evening.
Day 3: Essential Budapest Experiences
Lukacs Thermal Baths, Margaret Island Park, Danube River Ferry, Gellert Hill, Tram #2
Budapest Like a Local
Begin your 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
Cross the green Liberty Bridge and walk south to the Balna Cultural Center – more specifically, to Jonas Craft Beer House and sip a locally produced microbrew at one of the outdoor tables overlooking the river. 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. But not all travelers have allotted time for three days in Budapest, while other travelers have a full week. On our first trip to Budapest, we stayed in the city for nearly two weeks…and we returned for an even longer visit after that. For other travelers, however, how many days to spend in Budapest will depend on available time 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 the top city sights on our Self-Guided Free Budapest Walking Tour.
Budapest Itinerary 2 Days
Trying to plan what to do in Budapest in 2 days? Using our 3 Days in Budapest Itinerary as a guide, pick and choose which sights you want to fit into your 2-Day Budapest Itinerary. For us, an ideal two days in Budapest would follow Day 1 of our Budapest 3-Day Itinerary exactly as it is. Then, on Day 2, we would add in just 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 Budapest Day Tours
Our outline of what to do in Budapest in 3 Days focuses on city sightseeing and exploration. However, visitors who want to see more of the region can rearrange our 3-Day Budapest Itinerary to include one of the half-day or full-day Budapest excursions. To make room for a Budapest day trip, we recommend following our above advice for a Budapest 2 Days Itinerary, then on your final day, discover sights outside of the city on an organized day trips from Budapest. 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 the best Budapest tours on Get Your Guide.
Budapest Itinerary 4 Days
Visitors trying to create a 4 days in Budapest Itinerary have a lot of options! With four days in Budapest, we think it is possible to see the city highlights and discover some of the surrounding region, as well. To create your Budapest 4 Days Itinerary, use our detailed guide of what to see in Budapest in 3 days. Then, on the last day, go further afield on one of the day trips from the city mentioned above in the Alternate Budapest 3-Day Itinerary.
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 city guided tour! For an ideal 5-Day Budapest Itinerary, we recommend using our 4-Day Budapest Itinerary. Then on the final day of your trip, learn more about the city on one of the guided Budapest sightseeing tours. Some top-rated activities are a Hungarian Cooking Class, a 4-hour Dinner Walk, or a 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 Budapest travel tips for your trip.
Budapest Thermal Spas
A trip 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 tourist spas, 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 dinner cruises. Find a Budapest River Cruise that fits your style and budget!
Budapest City Tour
Budapest is the perfect city to explore on foot! Visitors can use our detailed and easy-to-follow Budapest Walking Tours. However, guests can also 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 Budapest tours in advance of your 3 day trip to Budapest with Viator.
Budapest Public Transportation
Our list of things to see in Budapest in 3 days covers some ground, most of which is on foot. The public transportation keeps the city well-connected. Click here for information on methods of transport and cost or 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 transportation, a Budapest 3 day travel card, ‘The Budapest Card’ can save you money.
Overall, Budapest is an affordable city, but many of the sights charge exorbitant entry fees. If you are wondering how much money for 3 days in Budapest, 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. Not already a member of Airbnb? Use this link to join Airbnb and save money on your first stay!
Hotels in Budapest
However, 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 Georges, 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 – which is how we arrived on our second trip to the city! On our first trip, we arrived by train (Ljubljana to Budapest) and departed via plane to Dublin, Ireland.
Generally speaking, our preferred method of getting anywhere is by flying (we are JetSetting Fools, after all!) and when we do need to purchase plane tickets, we start our search for the best deals on airline tickets on Skyscanner.
Before You Go to Budapest
Make sure you check out our packing hacks before for your Budapest trip!
Budapest is a walkable city…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 traveled with these shoes by Columbia. Kris prefers wearing these shoes by Merrell.
We’re certain you’ll be snapping tons of photos during your trip. Rather than relying on your mobile phone to capture the sights, upgrade to an actual camera for higher quality photos. We travel with a Canon Rebel (which takes amazing photos, but can be a bit clunky) and a Canon PowerShot ELPH (which takes beautiful pictures, is a slim and lightweight budget camera).
Map, Guidebook & Day Pack
It’s easy to get turned around in any foreign city! Make sure to have a good city map and/or guidebook before arriving. 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.
We think travel insurance is essential! If you haven’t already obtained travel insurance for your trip to Budapest, travel protected with World Nomads.
We want to know: Have you spent 3 days in Budapest? What were your favorite things to do? What would you add to our Budapest Itinerary? Give us your best tips and advice in the comments!
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