Ultimate 3 Days in Budapest Sightseeing Itinerary

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Spread over both sides of the Danube River, the Hungarian capital is a tale of two cities, Buda and Pest, which face each other across the water. Budapest is one of the most historic cities in Europe, and it’s also one of the most spectacular.

Dreamy castles and spires rise high on Buda Hill, where you can find medieval streets and beautiful views over the city. Pest forms the lower part of the city, opposite Buda, and here you can find the architectural magnificence of Hungary’s parliament building, as well as the modern shopping boulevards and plenty of nightlife.

The capital makes for a great city break destination, and 3 days in Budapest will give you the perfect amount of time to explore both Buda and Pest and to take in the best sights and attractions on both sides of the Danube.

There’s a lot to pack in, but after a hard day of sightseeing, you can relax at the iconic thermal baths that Budapest is so renowned for, bathing in the natural hot spring water that’s channeled from deep below the city.

You can easily traverse the city using the dense network of trams, or by using the metro, which has the distinction of being the world’s second-oldest underground transport system.

Get ready to explore this fantastic city, with our ultimate Budapest sightseeing guide!

Don’t leave home without: Lonely Planet Budapest & Hungary (Travel Guide)

Budapest Sightseeing – Day 1

Your first day in Budapest should be spent exploring Buda Castle Hill, where you’ll find the picturesque, fairytale architecture that the city is famed for.

Historically, the Buda side, with its high cliffs, was the realm of the rich and elite, and you’ll be able the visit castles and palaces of old and enjoy supreme views over the Danube.

3 Days in Budapest sightseeing - Matthias Church

Matthias Church

This building is one of the most iconic and well-known churches in Budapest. The Matthias Church stands front and center during your visit to the Buda Castle and Fisherman Bastion area.

It deserves some time spent walking around the exterior, marveling at the intricate details of the building. When you’re done, head inside for a tour of the interior.

It’s open Monday-Friday from 9 AM to 5 PM. Saturday from 9 AM to 1 PM and Sunday from 1 PM to 5 PM. Tickets are 1,800HUF per person.

Buda Hill, Budapest, Hungary

Buda Castle

Take the funicular to the top of Buda Hill, where you’ll find the historic castle that has for centuries overlooked the city.

Buda Castle is a magnificent UNESCO World Heritage Site, which can trace its origins back to the 13th century when the first Hungarian kings built their lavish palaces on the rock high above the city.

The castle has changed dramatically through history though, and the vast palace you see today mostly dates to the mid 18th century, when a Baroque palace was built to replace the old structure that was severely damaged during a siege.

Today, the castle still dominates the skyline, and you can spend hours exploring the walls, turrets and stately rooms during your 3 days in Budapest.

Our top recommended tours of Buda Castle:

fisherman's bastion, Budapest, Hungary

Fisherman’s Bastion

One of the most iconic locations on Buda Hill is Fisherman’s Bastion, a dramatic work of architecture built in a mixture of Gothic and Romanesque styles, that’s complete with white towers and plenty of spirals.

After exploring the castle itself, head here for the best view over the Danube, as from Fisherman’s Bastion you can see the rest of the city arrayed before you.

Our top recommended tours of Fisherman’s Bastion:

Gellert Thermal Baths, Budapest

Gellert Thermal Baths

There’s a lot to see on Buda Hill, but after you’ve walked through the ramshackle, medieval streets and explored the palaces and bastions, then take a break by visiting the Gellert Thermal Baths.

The city has a huge bath culture, being built above thermal hot springs, and on the Buda side of the river, the Gellert Thermal Baths are the most famous.

The baths are found in a grand building that was built at the turn of the 20th century, and everything about the bathing experience here is equally as grand as the setting.

Our top recommended tours of Gellert Thermal Baths:

Chain Bridge at night, Budapest, Hungary

Sunset Over the Danube

After your first day of Budapest sightseeing, head to the riverside to watch the sunset gloriously over the Danube. From the Buda side of the city, you can enjoy the sight of the Parliament building and the iconic Chain Bridge lighting up as darkness falls over the city.

If you have an interest in night photography, grab a tripod and plan to hang around past dark. You’ll get some epic views of the city, all lit up and it’s a perfect opportunity to practice your long exposure skills. 

Buda Castle, Budapest, Hungary

3 Days in Budapest – Day 2

The second day of Budapest sightseeing can be spent exploring downtown on the Pest side of the River Danube.

Here you’ll find the Hungarian Parliament, museums and long boulevards that help to form the unique character of Pest, and you’ll have an action-packed day in the city.

Hungarian Parliament, Budapest, Hungary

Hungarian Parliament Building

Stroll along the Danube until you reach the unmissable sight of the Hungarian Parliament Building. The distinctive building is an impressive work of neo-Gothic architecture that was opened at the start of the 20th century and that today is a true icon of Budapest.

You can tour through the interior of the building to marvel at the opulent designs found within and to see the national assembly firsthand.

Our top recommended tours of Hungarian Parliament Building:

shoes on the Danube, Budapest, Hungary

Shoes on the Danube

Close to the Parliament Building, you’ll find a subtle yet moving memorial on the banks of the river. The Shoes on the Danube monument is a collection of iron shoes strewn along a portion of the embankment.

They represent the Jews of Budapest who were killed here during World War II and are a look at the darker side of the city that’s hidden beneath the fairy tale castles.

Important Note: This is a solemn place of historical remembrance. Act respectfully when you visit. 

Our top recommended tours of Shoes on the Danube:

3 Days in Budapest sightseeing

Andrassy Avenue

Andrassy Avenue is a long boulevard that forms the main street in Pest, running from the center of the city to the vast City Park. The street is famed for its tall, neo-Rennaisance style buildings that are found along its length.

It is the perfect place to take a stroll and to see some of the city’s best architecture, including sights such as the impressive Opera House.

Our top recommended tours of Andrassy Avenue:

Heroe's Square in Budapest

Heroe’s Square

Andrassy Avenue leads to City Park, and at the end of the boulevard and the entrance to the park itself, you’ll find Heroe’s Square.

This national monument is the site of a dramatic pillar that’s topped by a statue of the Angel Gabriel and was conceived as a way to celebrate Hungarian heroes and history.

Our top recommended tours of Heroe’s Square:

Szechenyi Thermal Baths, Budapest, Hungary

Szechenyi Thermal Baths

From Heroe’s Square, you can stroll through City Park, where you can spend the late afternoon and evening enjoying the delights of the Szechenyi Thermal Baths. These are the largest and most popular baths in Budapest, and you’ll find several indoor and outdoor pools to relax in.

If you’re in Budapest on the weekend, then the baths stay open long into the night to accommodate party goers looking for a unique night out!

Our top recommended tours of Szechenyi Thermal Baths:

3 Days in Budapest sightseeing

What to See in Budapest – Day 3

The third and final of your 3 days in Budapest can be spent visiting the different museums that are located across the Pest area, and you’ll be riding the iconic metro to get between them all in good time.

At the end of the day, spend your last evening visiting the quirky and unusual Ruin Bars of Budapest.

House of terror in Budapest

The House of Terror

Start day three by visiting the House of Terror, a museum that’s not for the faint of heart. The House of Terror was the headquarters and prison of the fascist Arrow Cross Party during World War II before it was taken over by the equally brutal communist secret police.

You’ll see the hideous methods used to extract information from suspects, learn about the history of Hungary through the 20th century, and gain new insight into the oppression suffered by the people for decades.

Our top recommended tours of The House of Terror:

Hungarian National Museum in Budapest

Hungarian National Museum

The Hungarian National Museum is the perfect place to delve deep into the country’s history, and you’ll be able to see intriguing archaeological relics collected from across Hungary.

The museum was opened over two hundred years ago and you’ll quite easily be able to spend a few hours dissecting the different exhibits and information on display.  

Our top recommended tours of Hungarian National Museum:

Ruin Bars in Budapest

Ruin Bars

Spend your evening exploring Budapest’s famous Ruin Bars. These quirky taverns, most of which are found in the old Jewish district of Pest, were once crumbling, abandoned buildings that were turned into bars after the collapse of the socialist regime.

These days, they are a big tourist attraction, as each of the Ruin Bars has its own unique theme and style.

Our top recommended tours of Ruin Bars:

Budapest Travel Tips

3 Days in Budapest

Where to Stay in Budapest

Budapest has a huge range of accommodation, and luckily for travelers, much of it is of excellent value for European standards, offering high quality and low prices.

This wide range of options encompasses everything from low-cost hostels to five stars, international chains and plenty of charming boutique options in between.

Budget travelers will find incredibly cheap hostels on the Pest side of the river, with many costing just a few dollars per night. The cheaper hostels though, tend to be aimed at party-goers, although if you are traveling solo, they are a great place to meet people.

For just a little more, you can get quieter hostels, or even great value hotel rooms, where you’ll find less partying and a more relaxed atmosphere. If you aren’t worried about your budget, then head over to the Pest side of the Danube River, where you’ll find the most extravagant hotels in the city.

Of course, these will cost much more than the budget and mid-range options on the Pest side, but given the location, the views over the river and the quality available, prices are still great value.

Read reviews and check prices with our Hotel Search Engine, that gives you the best hotel deals found on the web. Our search engine pulls results from all of the major booking places, including Expedia, Hotels, Booking and more. All the options, all the deals, all in one place and just for you.

Aria Hotel in Budapest

What to Eat in Budapest

The city has a great culinary scene, and you can find restaurants offering cuisine from across the world, but during your 3 days in Budapest, there are a few particular Hungarian classics that you’ll want to try.

Local food makes heavy use of Paprika, giving dishes a unique, spicy flavor that you don’t always find across the rest of Europe. Chicken Paprikash is a favorite, as the chicken is marinated in a delicious paprika sauce and served with dumplings or potatoes.

Much of the Hungarian food is hearty, to cope with those cold winters of course, and you’ll find the classic Central European staple of Goulash on offer almost anywhere. As well as plenty of stews, you’ll be unable to avoid trying the different types of Hungarian sausage which you’ll find hanging in shop windows across the city.

Don’t leave home without: Top 10 Budapest (DK Eyewitness Travel Guide)

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About Lina Stock

Lina is an award-winning photographer and writer that has been exploring the world since 2001. She has traveled to 100 countries on all 7 continents. Member: SATW, NATJA, ATTA, ITWA

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2 thoughts on “Ultimate 3 Days in Budapest Sightseeing Itinerary”

  1. Cheers for the Lovely Photos and Info! Budapest has been on the Bucket List for a Long Time and this Post make me want to Visit More!


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