Budapest, the capital of Hungary is more popular than ever! Every weekend, thousands of travelers flock to the city to explore its daunting past, eclectic ruin bars, and healing thermal baths.
If you plan on visiting Budapest as well, you should definitely consider how it will be possible to fit all of these great sights and interesting activities into one perfect weekend.
Planning your travel route is actually a pretty daunting and time-consuming task! Which thermal baths to choose? How to find the coolest ruin bar? And how to get away from the busy city center for an hour or 2?
That’s why we created this itinerary for 2 days in Budapest, in order to help you see and experience the best of Budapest.
Before you go
Before you leave your house, you need to make sure you’re ready to travel and there are a few things you should consider in order to make your trip successful.
How will you travel to Budapest?
Budapest can be reached in different ways, all of them pretty simple and straightforward.
If you plan on taking a flight to Central Europe, your plane will touch ground in the Liszt Ferenc Airport, just outside of the city. Public transport is available at the airport and you can either catch a bus, a train, or a private shuttle into the city center.
A very romantic second option to travel to Budapest is by train on an epic Interrail adventure through Central Europe. You will arrive in the Budapest Keleti train station, which gives you immediate access to the city.
And the third option is to arrive by car. If you live nearby, this is probably your best option. The city is bulking with underground parking garages to leave your car for a few days.
Getting around in Budapest
A lot of the distances we cover in this itinerary can be done on foot. But some of the stops are a little further away and it might be a good idea to get your public transportation card.
We recommend getting the Budapest card for 48 hours. It gives you access to all Budapest transportation, free access to some attractions, and a discount at loads of other attractions.
The Budapest Card is designed for city trippers and it’s perfect for short stays in the city.
On the first day, we will do a little sightseeing and the coolest landmarks are included in the first day.
The first part of the day, we spend in Buda, the cultural, hillside part of the city. Here, you get to see the more peaceful and residential part of Budapest. It’s the quiet, but beautiful part of town.
Shoes on the Danube
Our first stop is located at the Danube, near the Massive Parliament building.
It’s actually a beautiful morning walk on the shore of the Danube, ending at this significant Holocaust memorial place.
The shoes at the Danube represent the awful past and the things that happened during WWII.
At this location, people were forced to take off their shoes before they were shot and their body was dumped into the Danube river.
So yes, the beautiful morning walk has some emotional side effects.
We recommend this place for multiple reasons. First of all, you get an easy introduction to how the city is laid out. During the walk up to the memorial site, you get a few nice views of some of the most important landmarks in the city.
You already get a glimpse of some attractions we visit later today!
When you’re at the Shoes on the Danube, it’s only a few hundred meters to get to the Parliament building. So if you have time to spare, you can keep walking and enter this massive building.
We don’t recommend doing this if you only have 2 days, but after all, it’s your party!
Budapest chain bridge
Walk back along the Danube River until you reach the chain bridge. We need to cross it in order to get to our next stop.
The Chain Bridge is one of the landmarks of Budapest and you will see it again and again in every scenic Budapest shot. It’s actually just one of many places where you can cross the Danube into the Buda side of the city.
Buda Castle and the funicular
So Budapest Castle is the first place most tourists go to and you haven’t been to Budapest if you didn’t visit the castle! The way to get up to the castle is by using the ancient, old-school funicular: a little train that takes you up the steep hill.
When you arrive, stop for a little snack at one of the street food stalls!
Inside Buda Castle, you can visit a few museums if you’re willing to pay for them. We didn’t go in there and just enjoyed the amazing views over the Danube River and the many bridges. If you want to take images like these: you can do that here!
Fisherman’s Bastion and Matthias Church
More Instagrammable sights on the Buda side of town! And it’s just a short walk from Buda Castle.
The Fisherman’s Bastion looks like it was used as a setting in a Disney movie. It is probably the most photographed location in Budapest.
Be prepared to crawl through masses of tourists when going there.
Most part of the Bastion can be visited for free, but there’s also an exclusive part you need to pay for. I don’t recommend paying for the entrance, as the free part is so beautiful. You don’t need it.
From the lookout towers and cute portals, you can gaze over some scenic views of Budapest. Across the Danube, you’ll get the best possible views of the Parliament Building.
Matthias Church is just in front of the Bastion and you pass by it when going to the Bastion. Even though the Church is very impressive and beautiful, most people just walk by it in order to get to the stunning fairytale Fisherman’s Bastion.
Have dinner at Karavaan
You’re probably ready to get some decent local Hungarian food by now!
Karavaan is a cozy street food marketplace, where you can get loads of different types of food.
If you want to keep it local, we recommend getting the goulash soup, which is served inside of a whole bread. This dish is very Hungarian and super tasty. You must try the goulash soup while you’re in Budapest anyway, so why not get it at the super popular Karavaan street food!
Check out Szimpla Kert
Right next to the street food court, Szimpla Kert has set up its successful business.
Szimpla Kert is, by far, the coolest and most popular ruin pub in Budapest. It looks so good and I promise, you won’t know where to look first!
This is the mother of all ruin bars and you haven’t been in Budapest if you haven’t been there!
Take your time to slowly explore the place before heading next door, where you can shop for cool vintage stuff.
The Szimpla Design shop closes at 7PM, so it might be a good idea to check out the vintage shop before having dinner… if you’re running late.
Szimpla Kert is open all night!
Check out more ruin bars
As an evening activity, Budapest is the perfect spot for exploring the typical ruin bars.
You can either select a few which are located in the same district, or you can opt to join a ruin bar crawl to visit a few of the bars in just a few hours time.
The best ruin bars are: Szimpla Kert, Anker’t, and Mazel Tov. There are many other cool ruin bars in Budapest.
We also added some of the best ones, which are located outside of District VII, into day 2 of this Budapest itinerary.
After a great night out in the ruin bars, you might need some time to sleep in or even more time before you feel completely alive again.
Sunday morning is a time to go a little slower and discover the beautiful city center of Budapest.
Gozsdu Weekend Market
Make your way to the Gozsdu weekend market, which is also slightly present during the week! There’s just a little more to see on a Sunday morning.
The market is actually a cute alley in the city center. Locals use it to sell quirky and vintage stuff.
We recommend getting a table at the Spiler Bistro Pub, have breakfast and watch the stream of tourist pass you by.
Option 1 – Margaret Island and the Japanese Garden
Since we’re short on time in a 2 day Budapest itinerary, we’ll have you choose your destination on the second day.
The first option includes a lot of nature. It takes you to Margaret Island, which is actually an island in the Danube River. It’s also the setting for the immense popular Sziget festival each summer.
At the island, you can wander around and get some rest.
Make sure to check out the beautiful Japanese garden too.
Option 2 – Heroes Square and Vajdahunyad Castle
If you’re more into culture, but still want to get some nature time, the second option is also a great option to have a relaxing Sunday.
Take the underground tram to Heroes Square and the nearby Vajdahunyad Castle. Both of these places are quite busy and touristy, but they’re very worthy of your time.
We especially love Vajdahunyad castle, because it doesn’t look like a regular castle and many different building styles were combined into this place.
The castle is located in the city park, where you can take some time to relax.
If you have time to spare, take a minute to check out Durer Kert ruin pub at the edge of the park. At Durer Kert, you can attend live concerts in the evening, but during the weekend, they also have record sales, beer tasting events, and other cool events.
For Sale pub
If you manage to eventually leave Durer Kert, make your way back to the center of town, where you can make a short stopover at the For Sale pub.
This is another cool ruin pub you’ll see in many Budapest itineraries.
In this place, people can leave a note on the wall, or the ceiling, or anywhere they want!
The pub looks eclectic or maybe we can call it weird.
Check it out to look for yourself!
Dinner at Puder Bar
Not too far from the For Sale bar, Puder Bar is a super cool place to get dinner. It’s another ruin pub, but we totally fell in love with the interior.
So, just in case you were thinking: haven’t we seen enough ruin pubs?
I think not!
This pub is located outside of the popular tourist area, so it won’t be overflowing with tourists like the other pubs.
Plus, you can get great food here!
End your weekend with a relaxing soak at Gellert Thermal Baths
It’s time to relax those sore muscles and get some soak time in one of the most beautiful thermal baths in Budapest.
Gellert Baths are super popular for a good reason. They are, by far, the most beautiful baths in Budapest. And that’s exactly why we recommend them!
There are dozens of thermal baths in Budapest, some more crowded than others. They all have their particular look and charm.
Szechenyi Baths are the most popular and busy baths in the city. They’re massive and a little overrun.
Rudas baths are also quite popular, but we don’t recommend those because we’re too feminist for those! At Rudas, women are only welcome on Tuesdays and during the weekend! What?! Why?
2 days in Budapest – an awesome citytrip!
And that’s how you fill up 2 exciting days in Budapest Hungary!
In fact, there’s so much to see in this thriving city that you could spend 2 weeks there and still not get bored!
If you end up having more time to spend in the city, you can always check out our list of things to do in order to fill up more than 4 days in Budapest 🙂