A Complete Guide to 48 Hours in Budapest

April 22, 2019
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Budapest had never been on my Europe bucket list. I didn't know how charming and what an architectural jewel it was. That was until a childhood friend moved there with her Hungarian fiance. She had told me many times that I had to visit and finally we took the plunge and booked a trip to spend two days in Budapest without knowing what to expect. We couldn't be happier with our decision. Budapest has become one of our favorite cities in Europe. It's a true hidden gem.

What we loved the most about Budapest after spending 48 hours in it was its architecture. There's a mixture of western and eastern European influence that makes it really special. Never have we seen a bigger amount of majestic buildings in one city. Everywhere we looked there was a beautiful building! My favorites are the ones I call "candy houses" because of their colorful roof tiles. They are Art Nouveau buildings that  reminded me a lot of Gaudi's masterpieces.

On this post I'm sharing with you our itinerary, a complete guide to 48 hours in Budapest, and lots of photos to fall in love with Budapest just like we did. Two days packed with the best things to do, restaurants to eat, lots of tips and even the map of our itinerary. Let's get started!

The best way to get to the city center from the airport is taking a combination of bus and metro. We took bus 200E to the last stop and then metro line 3 (the blue one) to Nyugati station. You have to get a transfer ticket which was 1060 HUF (3€). The ticket machine accepts credit cards and is available in many languages which makes it really easy to use.

Tip: the currency is the Hungarian Florin. We didn't change or withdraw any money from ATM machines. We payed everything by credit card or euros which are accepted in many places.
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After checking-in at the NH Budapest City Hotel, we met my dear friend for drinks at the rooftop of the President Hotel. Their Bubble Bar has spectacular views of Pest. I chose this place because of the view of the breathtaking Hungarian State Treasury.

DAY ONE 
Wake up call at 7am. We had tickets for the Parliament tour at 9 o'clock. If you only have time to visit one place in Budapest, make it the Parliament. This magnificent neo-Gothic building is the third largest parliament in the world. The guided tour is offered in many languages, make sure you book in advance because tickets sell out quickly. The tour lasts for 45 minutes and costs 10€. They only show you 20% of the building but the gorgeous interiors, all gilded in gold, make it totally worth it.
budapest guide itinerary instagram worthy spot sights landmarks hungary parliament
budapest guide itinerary instagram worthy spot sights landmarks hungary parliament tour
From there we strolled along the river to see the Shoes on the Danube, one of Budapest's most moving memorials to the atrocities of the Holocaust. There are 60 pairs of rusted iron period shoes that represent men, women and children who were shot into the Danube in 1944-5.
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danube river views budapest guide itinerary instagram worthy spot sights landmarks hungary
After marveling at the beautiful views of Buda accross the Danube, we continued our itinerary to Saint Stephen's Basilica. We were greeted by a lively square full of terraced cafes packed with people enjoying the view and the gorgeous weather. Szent Istvan Bazilika is the largest church in Hungary and is dedicated to Hungary’s first king: St. Stephen. In the Basilica you can see one of Hungary's greatest treasures: St. Stephen’s mummified hand.
budapest guide itinerary st stephen basilica church sights landmarks hungary
It was around noon and time to get to one of Budapest's most famous neighborhoods, the Jewish Quarter. Here, Dohany Street Synagogue, also known as the Great Synagogue, is a must. It is the largest synagogue in Europe and the second largest in the world.
budapest guide itinerary dohany synagogue jewish quarter sights landmarks hungary
We had reservations for lunch at New York City Cafe, the self-proclaimed "most beautiful cafe in the world". The decoration is exquisite. It's expensive but if you are a foodie or you want to give yourself a treat, go for it! They serve both international and Hungarian cuisine and have a big selection of desserts. We had the traditional Hungarian soup, goulash, a salad and chicken with carrot puree. For dessert we had cheesecake with apricot jam and the New York ice cream cup. Everything was delicious -check out that ice-cream cup!- and the service was kind and attentive. There was live music, with a trio of musicians playing at the top of the stairs, and we felt as if we were having lunch in the middle of Vienna New Year's Concert. A truly unforgettable experience. I strongly advise you to make reservations, we had to queue anyways, but you have to wait longer if you haven't booked a table.
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new york cafe restaurant budapest guide itinerary instagram worthy spot sights landmarks hungary
After lunch we took a walk to the Central Market, a spectacular building where you can find produce on the ground floor and traditional Hungarian products on the top floor. Then we crossed Liberty bridge and went up hill to see the Citadella. The Citadella is a fortification located upon the top of Gellért Hill and is a favorite spot to watch the sun set over the city. Here you can also find a rock chapel but unfortunately it was closed when we got there.
central market budapest guide itinerary instagram worthy spot sights landmarks hungary
budapest guide itinerary instagram worthy spot sights landmarks hungary liberty bridge citadella gellert hill
With all this walking we deserved a nice dinner. On the way back to the hotel we stopped at Gerbeaud Cafe, one of the most famous confectioneries in Hungary.
budapest guide itinerary instagram worthy spot sights landmarks hungary gerbeaud cafe confectionery
Tip: if you like pretty cafes, you can't miss Parisi Cafe, Central Cafe and Vintage Garden.

DAY TWO 
Let's go to Buda! On our second day we crossed the famous Chain Bridge -Szechényi Bridge- on our way to some of the city's numerous landmarks. We started by going up to see Matthias Church and the Fisherman's Bastion. Matthias Church is Budapest's most famous Catholic church. This spectacular temple is surrounded by the fairy tale turrets of the Fisherman's Bastion. This is one of the most popular places in Budapest, therefore very crowded. It's open 24/7 so if you don't mind getting up at the crack of dawn, go there as early as you can. The construction of this modern day structure began in 1895 as part of the millennial birthday celebrations for Hungary. The purpose was to have a place for citizens to appreciate the views over the city and the Danube. And the views are indeed spectacular. Expect to spend a lot of time here to explore every corner and see the views from every angle.
budapest guide itinerary matthias catholic church sights landmarks hungary
budapest guide itinerary instagram worthy spot sights landmarks hungary fisherman's bastion fairy tale tower
Tip: for a taste of luxury, check out the Four Seasons Gresham hotel before you cross the Chain bridge.

Next stop: Buda Castle. This massive Baroque castle and palace can be seen from everywhere. The castle includes Budapest history museum, two other museums and the national gallery.

Tip: Pest may be flat as a pancake, but Buda is known for its hills. There is a funicular that can take you up the hill but I advice you against using it. First, there are long queues. Second, there are many paths that make the climb up easy. In fact, there are even a couple elevators along the way.
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We had made reservations for lunch with our friends at Mazel Tov, another popular restaurant in Budapest. In the heart of the Jewish Quarter, this place serves Mediterranean and Jewish dishes with affordable prices.
budapest guide itinerary instagram worthy spot sights landmarks hungary mazel tov ruin bar restaurant
Mazel Tov is one of the famous Ruin Bars of Budapest but a fancy one. Regular ruin bars are unique pubs and bars built with...junk. They are inside dilapidated pre-war buildings. It's hard to describe what I felt when I arrived at the most popular one: Szimpla Kert. I'd say it's a mixture of amusement and slight disgust. Still, this is a place in Budapest you cannot miss, I'm sure you've never seen anything like it. Szimpla Kert consists of different rooms, all of them with a theme. There's live music and a variety of cocktail bars to order your drink.
budapest guide itinerary instagram worthy spot sights landmarks hungary szimpla kert ruin bar pub
szimpla kert ruin bar pub budapest guide itinerary instagram worthy spot sights landmarks hungary
If you like food trucks, you will find Karavan in the same street as Szimpla Kert. An alley turned food court which serves local delicacies.

The evening was spent relaxing at a completely different place: Szechenyi Thermal Baths. We had the wonderful experience enjoying the steaming, mineral-rich thermal water of Budapest under a pink sunset. The temperature of the water is 28ºC (82ªF), just perfect. For 17€ you get access to the thermal baths and pool and a locker. For a little bit more you can also rent a cabin to change your clothes and keep your things.

Tips: the place is very busy, especially during the weekends, it's better to go in the morning. It's open form 6 am to 10 pm. All you need are a swimsuit, a pair of flip-flops and a towel. Photos are permitted in the baths and you only need a swimming cap if you use the pools.
sunset budapest guide itinerary instagram worthy spot sights landmarks hungary szechenyi thermal baths
Szechenyi Baths are located in City Park (Városliget), here you can also find Heroes' Square which is the largest and most impressive square of the city, Vajdahunyad Castle which is a replica of a Transilvania castle, and Budapest Zoo.

Getting around: Budapest offers a wide variety of transport: trolleybus, bus, tram and metro. You can buy single tickets, a group of 10 tickets, a 24-hour pass, a 72-hour pass, or a 7-day pass. However, it's possible to walk everywhere like we did. Here's the map we used during the trip.
Warning: In April 2019 the following landmarks were under construction: Opera House and Museum of Applied Arts. The Opera can be visited inside, but the museum is completely closed.

I hope you enjoyed this complete guide to 48 hours in Budapest. If you liked this post, pin and share it!
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54 comments

  1. That is some really amazing architecture! Looks like such a beautiful city to visit.

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  2. The architecture is just incredible!! What a wonderful way to spend 48 hours! xo, Biana -BlovedBoston

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  3. Amazing architecture - absolutely stunning.


    Thanks for linking up at https://image-in-ing.blogspot.com/2019/04/springtime-is-glorious.html

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  4. The architecture is incredible there! I hope to visit and see those stunning views myself!

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  5. Tiffany MontgomeryApril 23, 2019 at 1:26 PM

    I've heard the Ruin Bars of Budapest are a don't miss experience. Love the pictures and appreciate you sharing these tips!

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  6. I would love to see this shoe display. It would be so meaningful. I had no idea that this event had happeend.

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  7. I've always wanted to visit Budapest. This is definitely on my bucket list and now I want to go even more!!

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  8. http://ladyfi.wordpress.comApril 23, 2019 at 8:32 PM

    Fabulous shots! It's on my bucket list.

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  9. Clair Mozingo CookApril 23, 2019 at 9:48 PM

    This looks and sounds like such a beautiful trip!

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  10. Budapest is definitely on my list of cities to visit in Europe I have always heard brilliant things about it and seeing your photos makes e want to go event more #MondayEscapes

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  11. Wow! So much information and so many beautiful buildings. I love seeing different architecture techniques around the world! Thanks for sharing your experience and pictures.

    http://www.ruthyannie.com

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  12. Such amazing architecture and wonderful history. Thanks for sharing these lovely photos and the information about the place. Your link is a great addition to the 'My Corner of the World' link up!

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  13. great guide! When I visited Budapest we went to the Gellert Baths, equally beautiful!:) #farawayfiles

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  14. I've heard such wonderful things about Budapest that I'd love to go. Your photos make me want to book a ticket now! I had no idea that the city was so ornate.

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  15. what a great guide!!! i regret not going to budapest during my year of study abroad in germany! I hope to get there someday soon, with or without the 3 kiddos in tow!

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  16. Kelleyn RothaermelApril 26, 2019 at 3:47 AM

    Such a fabulous city! I went a couple of years ago.
    http://travelingbugwiththreeboys-kelleyn.blogspot.com/2019/04/the-lamb-of-god.html

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  17. Lovely guide dear. Budapest has some of the most beautiful architecture indeed. These photos are amazing.
    Jessica | notjessfashion.com

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  18. I want to visit- I am so jealous. These buildings and all the details are just absolutely stunning!!

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  19. I adore Budapest Cristina, so t was so lovely reminiscing through your eyes! Shame about some of the monuments being under construction but still such a lovely place. I loved the baths too and the photos are amazing as always.

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  20. Beautiful! The architecture, the buildings are just stunning both inside and out! I would love to visit here someday!!!

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  21. See, Budapest is the one city in Europe where I always say I need to go, and then I forget about it, so hopefully one day. It looks beautiful! #farawayfiles

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  22. Such fantastic buildings! Am pinning this post to me itineraries board. Hoping to get to Budapest sooner than later. Great tip about not withdrawing cash - we find most of Europe now is somewhat cashless or at least very easy to get by in without having to deal with getting out currency. So nice.

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  23. Fantastisk! That's Danish for fantastic. I have had Budapest on my bucket list for awhile - lucky you to have such a fun reason to make it happen. It just looks so beautiful. Great tips, definitely saving for later. Thank you so much for sharing with #FarawayFiles, cheers from Copenhagen!

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  24. This looks like a perfect itinerary for anyone also spending 48hrs in Budapest. Really good to know that Euros are accepted in many places. And the New York Cafe looks simply amazing!!
    Thanks for linking up to #MondayEscapes

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  25. Sounds like a fabulous short stay in a remarkable city!

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  26. Oh my I never realized what a gorgeous city this was. I have to admit I was surprised to see the colorful roof tops. Beautiful old buildings too!

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  27. I hope you get to visit too!

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  28. So glad you enjoyed the post, Tiffany!

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  29. It was really emotional to see

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  30. I hope you get to go soon, Holly!

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  31. Thanks! Glad you like them, Fi!

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  32. Oh, it's a wonderful city! I hope you can go to Budapest some day.

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  33. Thank you for stopping by, Ruth!

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  34. Gellert Baths look amazing too, if we had had more time we would have visited both

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  35. Glad you like the guide, Catherine!

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  36. I have some travel regrets too, Heather. I hope you can visit Budapest some day!

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  37. I agree, Budapest is fabulous!

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  38. I hope you can go some day, Amber :)

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  39. Thanks so much, Be! I'm happy you got to reminisce through these photos

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  40. I really hope you do, Julie!

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  41. Oh my goodness what a beautiful place to visit! You made the most of your time there and it all looks incredible - what great architecture! :)

    Thank you so much for joining the #weekdayWearLinkUp :)

    Hope that you have had a wonderful weekend! We went to a wedding, it was so much fun :)

    Away From The Blue

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  42. So glad this was useful, Betsy :)

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  43. Thanks a lot for your kind words, Erin!

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  44. I had never known Budapest was so gorgeous either, it was a real discovery!

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  45. Thanks, Mica! I'm glad you enjoyed the wedding

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