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How to Make the Most of 4 Days in Budapest

Budapest

If you’re asking yourself, “is 3 or 4 days too much time to spend in one city?”, the answer is that 4 days in Budapest isn’t even enough time to do the city justice.

The hazy orange sunsets, the international array of cuisines, the abundance of ancient architecture, the welcoming warmth of the locals, the rushing river running through the city, the breathtaking views from the hillside, the vibrant yet relaxed atmosphere and the endless ways to interact with Budapest left me craving more.

By the end of my visit, it was up there with my top favourite cities in the world after Granada and Barcelona. Trust me, you will fall in love with Budapest like I have. There’s so much character to the city and so much do that something is bound to resonate with you. It really does cater to every traveller.

4 Days in Budapest

Getting into Budapest city centre

From Budapest airport, take either the 200E bus plus M3 metro on the blue line or 100E bus directly into the city centre.

The single ticket price for public transportation is 350HUF (£1). They can be purchased in the airport for both bus and metro. A special ticket for the 100E direct bus costs 900HUF (£2.50).

Where to stay in Budapest

As always, I stayed in an Airbnb (get £30 off) and as always, the accommodation topped any I’d stayed in before. We had an entire flat to ourselves for £40 a night.

It was kitted out with everything you could possibly need, including a fully equipped kitchen (perfect for saving money on meals). The location was perfect, on the same street as Szimpla Kertmozi, restaurants, outside bars, street food and 1 minute away from supermarket.

4 Days in Budapest

How to spend 4 days in Budapest

Of course, when you’re travelling, not everything goes to plan. Below is a loose guide to the best attractions which I saw during my 4 days in Budapest.

Street Food

Along Kazinczy street, there’s an alleyway (nowhere near as dodgy as it sounds) near Szimpla Kertmozi bar with a variety of food stalls. They even have vegan and gluten-free options!

4 Days in Budapest

Ruin Bars

Budapest is famous for its ruin bars. Once destroyed by bombing, these buildings were minimally restored and pimped out with elaborate art. You will have a far better night in one of these ruin bars than a club!

We went to Szimpla Kertmozi on a Thursday night (not too busy, not too quiet) for an amazing night. Drinks aren’t too expensive, and they have Shishas too. Szimpla Kert, along Kazinczy Street, also holds a farmers market on Sundays.

4 Days in Budapest

Outdoor Bars

Think chilled out summer nights outside with a drink in your hand. There are lots of outside bars in Budapest with either a patio or terrace.

My favourite was Kőleves Kert at 37 Kazinczy Street. It has an outside bar, patio and hammocks. The atmosphere is vibrant yet low key and local. It’s perfect if you’re trying to avoid a touristy experience.

Heroes Square

Marvel at the collection of grand statues in heroes square. Amongst them, are the Seven chieftains of the Magyars (Hungarian) and other national leaders.

4 Days in Budapest

City Park

Just beyond Heroes Square lies a huge city park. Come here for a stroll around the man-made lake and Vajdahunyad Castle, or picnic in the afternoon sun. Szechenyi Baths are also located in the park.

4 Days in Budapest

St Matthias Church and Fisherman’s Bastion

Either walk or take the Buda Hill Funicular (1100HUF/£3 for a single or 1700HUF/£5 return per adult) up to Fisherman’s Bastion. There is a breathtaking view of the Danube River and buildings on the Pest side.

4 Days in Budapest

The quaint cobble streets and unique architecture of Matthias Church makes you feel like you’re in a fairy-tale.

Tip: Some hop-on hop-off bus companies give a free Funicular return ticket with your bus ticket. It means you can queue skip with a pre-paid ticket!

4 Days in Budapest

Thermal Baths

Although Szechenyi Baths are the most popular, I went to a “SPArty” there on my birthday with my boyfriend and got groped twice. I’m sure it’s nice during the day, but you can understand why I didn’t want to return ever again.

On the bright side though, we found an absolute gem the next day when we were feeling ridiculously hungover. Rudas Baths.

For 5900HUF (£17), you get access to six thermal baths ranging from 16 to 42 degrees, a swimming pool, a sauna world, steam rooms and a wellness centre with jacuzzis and a big rooftop pool with a panorama view of Budapest.

We watched the sunset as a storm rolled in from the distance while soaking in a hot tub. It was my favourite experience by far during the whole trip!

Citadel

The 19th century fortress and Liberty Statue is a 10 minute walk from Gallert Baths. There are other walking routes available too depending on where you’re coming from. The best bus to get up is number 27.

There’s an astonishing panorama of Budapest at the top. The best part is, it’s free! It’s also less busy than Fisherman’s Bastion. At night, admire the glorious view of Pest as the bridges and Parliament buildings light up. After 8pm is the best time to avoid tourists.

Tip: If you have shorter than 4 days in Budapest, this is the spot for the best views of the city!

4 Days in Budapest

River Cruise at Night

My second favourite experience was cruising along the Danube River just as the sun was setting. We got to see the whole city light up as the last orange haze disappeared into blackness.

A guided boat cruise costs anywhere upwards of 3000HUF (£9). Some travellers prefer to use the boat line going to Margaret Island for 900HUF (£3) return as a cheaper cruise option. It’s around 1 hour in total and gives you the option to spend time on the island.

Tip: Some hop-on hop-off bus companies offer a free River cruise with your ticket.

4 Days in Budapest

Parliament Building

I didn’t bother going inside the Parliament Building during my 4 days in Budapest as it’s extremely busy and touristy. Instead, walk around the outside or admire its Gothic beauty at night on a river cruise.

Check the opening times as it varies depending on the day and season. Tickets cost 3500HUF (£10) for non-EU members or 1750HUF/£5 for students and EU-members (bring your passport).

Parliament

Buda Castle

On the Buda side, admire the architecture of the castle or venture inside to admire the Hungarian art collection or learn about Budapest’s history.

The National Gallery opens Tuesday to Sunday from 10am to 6pm. Ticket to a permanent exhibition costs 1000HUF/£3 and a temporary exhibition costs 2000HUF/£6 for adults.

The History Museum opens Tuesday to Sunday from 10am to 4pm between November and February. It’s open to 6pm between March and October. Entry costs 2000HUF/£6 for adults.

At both attractions, a ticket is 50% off for students and seniors. Entry is free for everybody on national holidays (15 March, 20 August and 23 October).

St. Stephen’s Basilica

The neoclassical Roman Catholic St. Stephen’s Church is 96m tall, the same height as Parliament Buildings. This symbolises equal importance of worldly and spiritual thinking. There’s even a law in place which prohibits construction of any building taller than 96m!

Inside, the church contains St. Stephen’s mummified right hand. It also offers musical concerts and panoramic views from the cupola.

Entrance is free although there is an optional 200HUF/60p donation.

St. Stephens

Dohany Great Synagogue

On Dohany Street, there’s a beautiful Synagogue along with the Hungarian Jewish museum. I personally didn’t go inside as it was too expensive for my budget (4000HUF/£12).

The Synagogue and museum open Sunday to Friday from 10am. Closing times vary depending on the season.

Synagogue

Elizabeth Square

Four blocks from Danube River, this central square is the perfect place to relax. There’s a Ferris wheel during the summer, statues, a fountain and outdoor restaurants and bars. Sometimes there’s food stalls too.

Have a picnic, play cards and watch skaters do tricks in the afternoon. At night, the square comes alive with younger people socialising and having a drink.

Ferris wheel

Other Activities

If possible, make your trip longer than 4 days in Budapest to see even more of the city!

Central Market Hall

There are three floors in the market hall, with a variety of international food, drink and spices.

On national days, the hall is filled with specific cuisines such as Thai, Polish and Japanese.

The market hall opens on Monday from 6am to 5pm, Tuesday to Friday from 6am to 6pm and Saturday from 6am to 3pm. It’s closed on Sundays and public holidays.

Market Hall

Margaret Island

A city jungle lies in the middle of the Danube River. Margaret Island is accessible by boat (900HUF/£2.50 return from pier 5), bus (26), tram (4 or 6), foot or bike. It’s perfect if you want to take a peaceful break from city life. There’s an open air theatre, church ruins, Japanese gardens, musical water fountains, water park and swimming pools.

You can explore the island on foot, Segway or electric train (1050HUF/£3 per adult or 605HUF/£1.75 per child). Also it’s possible to rent a bringo cart, bike, roller blades or electric car.

Grand Cafes

Budapest is also well-known for its many historical grand cafes. They will take you back in time with their beautiful 19th century decor and traditional coffee drinking culture.

The most famous grand cafe in Budapest is New York Palace. Others include Alexandra Book Cafe, Ruszwurm, Cafe Gerbeaud and Callas Cafe.

Gozsdu Udvar

Built at the start of the 1900s, this strip of courtyards was turned into restaurants and bars. Gozsdu Udvar has buzzing nightlife, making it the perfect place for a pub crawl. Also, sometimes it hosts a market.

Try a traditional Hungarian Meal

Even though Budapest is the capital of Hungary, it hasn’t lost its culinary roots. Although I couldn’t find a vegan/gluten-free traditional meal, I almost feel guilty for not trying one during those 4 days in Budapest.

A friend who I met there went to Zeller Bistro in the Jewish Quarter. Tania said she LOVED how excellent and moderately priced the traditional Hungarian food was. A main meal costs between 2900HUF (£8) and 5400HUF (£15). You may need to make a reservation in advance!

Shoes on the Danube Bank

Shoes on the Danube Bank is a memorial for the victims (mainly Jews from Budapest). They were ordered to take their shoes off and then were shot into the Danube River by fascist Arrow Cross militiamen in 1944 and 1945. A morbid history which shouldn’t be overlooked.

Cave Church

Located Gallert Hill, there’s a church which was built within a natural cave in 1926. It’s open Monday to Saturday from 9.30am to 7.30pm. Tickets cost 600HUF (£1.70) for adults and 500HUF (£1.50) for children. Service takes place at 8.30am, 5pm and 8pm every day.

I would say it’s low on the list of tourist attractions in Budapest. It seems to be more for religious purposes than entertainment.

Sit on a Bridge to Watch the Sunset

There are 8 bridges in total in the city of Budapest. Chain bridge is probably the most popular. As we were taking a river cruise during sunset, we saw people sitting on one of the bridges. It looked like an amazing viewpoint to watch the sun go down!

4 Days in Budapest

Budapest is a truly magical city. It’s one of those places where I thought to myself, I want to live here. Seriously, if you get the chance, spend longer than 4 days in Budapest!

Pin “How to Make the Most of 4 Days in Budapest” for later!

4 Days in Budapest

4 Days in Budapest

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63 Comments

  • Reply
    Melissa Douglas
    July 19, 2017 at 11:43 pm

    Beautiful photos and a really thorough guide! I spent two days in Budapest last month at the end of a trip through Romania – definitely wasn’t enough so I really hope to have the chance to go back again soon. I was blown away by how beautiful it was, I didn’t expect to like the city as much as I did. Glad you had a fabulous time! xx

    • Reply
      journeywithchloe
      July 20, 2017 at 1:08 pm

      I hope you get to go back soon! I’m exactly the same, I didn’t expect to love it as much as I did. Thanks Melissa!

  • Reply
    Justine | The Iridescent Wings
    July 19, 2017 at 11:45 pm

    Agreed! I wasn’t able to do any thermal baths so next time. But I just loved the architecture. It’s beautiful. Good job on this guide.

  • Reply
    Jen
    July 20, 2017 at 12:05 am

    Central Europe is so alluring to me and Hungary has been on my list for some time. I love the idea of a cave church! Great tips!

    • Reply
      journeywithchloe
      July 20, 2017 at 1:07 pm

      You should travel around the whole country if you get a chance, people are so friendly there. Thanks!

  • Reply
    Aleksandra
    July 20, 2017 at 12:59 am

    When I visited Budapest the main thing I remember is just the ambiance of the place, the people and, of course, the thermal baths! Photos look wonderful btw

    • Reply
      journeywithchloe
      July 20, 2017 at 1:06 pm

      Yes! I agree with you Aleksandra, the ambiance really stood out to me too. Thank you!

  • Reply
    Maggie
    July 20, 2017 at 1:06 am

    I keep seeing posts about Budapest and I really want to go! It seems like the perfect place for a long weekend getaway. I really love the castle picture, there are so many in Europe!

    • Reply
      journeywithchloe
      July 20, 2017 at 1:05 pm

      I think it’s a sign Maggie 😉 it’s a really beautiful place.

  • Reply
    Rosi C,
    July 20, 2017 at 1:29 am

    that is a great way to spend 4 days. I never had Budapest on my list. The pics are nice esp. sunset on the cruise.

    • Reply
      journeywithchloe
      July 20, 2017 at 1:05 pm

      Rosi, I hope you get to visit one day because it’s soo worth putting on your list!

  • Reply
    Jasmine Caceres
    July 20, 2017 at 6:09 am

    I definitely believe you when you say “you’ll fall in love with Budapest”, because I’ve gotten so intrigued by it just through photographs. Hopefully I can put together a trip to Hungary at some point in the near future. Any other spots in Hungary you suggest?

    • Reply
      journeywithchloe
      July 20, 2017 at 1:04 pm

      It is seriously beautiful! I haven’t heard of one person saying they don’t like it. Also, I’ve heard Eger, Lake Balaton and the national parks in Hungary are very nice too, although I haven’t gotten the chance to visit them yet!!

  • Reply
    Tendelle
    July 20, 2017 at 8:29 am

    Beautiful! My parents are going next month, I’m definitely sending them this article 🙂

  • Reply
    Emma
    July 20, 2017 at 1:05 pm

    Great guide for a short stay in Budapest! It looks like such a great city, it is definitely getting up there on my bucket list 🙂

  • Reply
    Carina
    July 20, 2017 at 1:18 pm

    Great post! Beautiful photos and I love your travel style. Definitely dying to go to Budapest now! <3

    • Reply
      journeywithchloe
      July 20, 2017 at 1:20 pm

      Thanks Carina! I hope you get to go there at some point, you won’t regret it!

  • Reply
    ken
    July 20, 2017 at 2:44 pm

    Nice Guide! I want to visit budapest soon

  • Reply
    Ariana del Rio
    July 20, 2017 at 7:15 pm

    Definitely have Budapest high on my travel list. Also feel like the ruin bars, grand cafes and the thermal baths would be where I’d focus my attention. So much to do and so much to see apparently. What a complete guide!

    • Reply
      journeywithchloe
      July 21, 2017 at 2:36 pm

      Those are good choices of things to do in Budapest. You will love it if you visit Ariana! Thanks for reading

  • Reply
    Rosemary
    July 21, 2017 at 3:53 am

    Quite impressive how much you packed in 4 days!! Budapest is on my list of cities to visit, thanks for this helpful guide and fab photos! Can’t wait!!

    • Reply
      journeywithchloe
      July 21, 2017 at 2:35 pm

      I’m impressed too! Haha. I’m quite a laid back traveller and don’t plan my trip, yet I got to see so much on this trip! I hope you enjoy it as much as I did Rosemary

  • Reply
    Sonu Singh
    July 21, 2017 at 2:38 pm

    Pictures are amazing liked your post

  • Reply
    Leni
    July 21, 2017 at 2:45 pm

    Amazing article and great pictures! Starting to miss Budapest again! So if I ever (hopefully soon) return, I am pretty sure I will use your tips as a guideline!

  • Reply
    Taylor Johnson
    July 21, 2017 at 11:46 pm

    Budapest looks pretty sick! The statue reminds me of one in Spain

  • Reply
    jin
    July 22, 2017 at 5:01 pm

    I agree as I have spent a week in Budapest over a year ago, and thought it was not enough time! There’s so much to see in the city! I also went to some of the same places as you have – def must see and must eat spots! Love everything about Budapest and your blog post does it wonderful justice!

    • Reply
      journeywithchloe
      July 25, 2017 at 11:46 pm

      I wish I had a week there Jin! Haha. Is there anywhere I missed? Thanks so much, I appreciate it.

  • Reply
    Rosalie
    July 22, 2017 at 5:37 pm

    The river cruise looked so lovely! I’ll definitely book one if I ever go to Budapest 🙂

  • Reply
    Katie
    July 22, 2017 at 7:14 pm

    Budapest is very high on my bucket list and this post has made me want to go even more! love your pics too! Thanks for sharing 🙂

    • Reply
      journeywithchloe
      July 25, 2017 at 11:45 pm

      It rightfully should be high on your list. It’s sooo amazing! Thanks for reading Katie 🙂

  • Reply
    Eniko
    July 23, 2017 at 7:12 am

    I’m so happy reading positive posts about my city! I’m Hungarian, but I’ve been living in London for 4 years. Your article made me a bit homesick as it reminded how amazing Budapest is. Glad you had a nice time! 🙂

    • Reply
      journeywithchloe
      July 25, 2017 at 11:45 pm

      I’m so happy that you liked my post! You’re so lucky to be from such a beautiful place. Thanks Eniko!

  • Reply
    Lucy
    July 23, 2017 at 12:37 pm

    Your photos are beautiful! Budapest looks like a lovely city to visit. I will have to go in the future!

  • Reply
    moumita
    July 23, 2017 at 12:38 pm

    The pictures are so cool and attractive. makes me feel to plan right now.

  • Reply
    Aga | worlderingaround
    July 23, 2017 at 2:00 pm

    I love Budapest! Thanks for the tips 🙂

  • Reply
    Rebecca
    July 23, 2017 at 2:11 pm

    Stunning imagery that really entices me to want to visit this unique European capital city

  • Reply
    Zara
    July 23, 2017 at 3:04 pm

    I so want to go to Budapest. So many of my friends have been and rave about how amazing it is! Must get there next year!

    • Reply
      journeywithchloe
      July 23, 2017 at 9:28 pm

      It’s honestly one of the best cities I’ve been to! You’ll love it!

  • Reply
    Doryn Fine
    July 23, 2017 at 4:51 pm

    I’m really excited to hear that Budapest has vegan and gluten-free options because I am allergic to almost all grains and dairy. That’s so amazing that even the street food would have options for someone like me. Also, all of these places look amazing and the architecture throughout the city is incredible. Thanks for the awesome list of places- they are definitely added to my itinerary for when I visit Budapest.

    • Reply
      journeywithchloe
      July 23, 2017 at 9:28 pm

      Thanks Doryn! I’m happy to tell you that you’ll be fine when it comes to satisfying your diet. You’ll love Budapest!! Thanks for reading!

  • Reply
    Katherine
    July 23, 2017 at 5:52 pm

    I can see why you fell in love with Budapest. 🙂 I’d like to try the ruin bars, thermal bath and river cruise. 🙂 Love the architecture too!

  • Reply
    Kathryn at Mommy Kat and Kids
    July 23, 2017 at 8:07 pm

    Thanks for the tips! Budapest looks magical; I can’t wait to hopefully visit someday soon!

  • Reply
    Chiera
    July 28, 2017 at 8:06 pm

    I’ve never been to Budapest but it looks beautiful! Those Ruin Bars are incredible! Thanks for the tips, I will definitely remember these for my future visits (which will 100% happen thanks to this post :))

    • Reply
      journeywithchloe
      July 28, 2017 at 10:50 pm

      Thanks Chiera, I’m glad you enjoyed my post! You will not regret booking a trip to Budapest, I promise 😉

  • Reply
    20 Photos That Will Make You Want to Visit Budapest - Journey With Chloe
    August 2, 2017 at 1:24 pm

    […] in Budapest, and ended up returning home with a longing to live there someday. Make sure you know how to make the most of your time in Budapest before going. Even if you don’t get everything done in one trip, it’s more reason to go […]

  • Reply
    Nicola
    August 15, 2017 at 10:49 am

    Although Budapest is so close to where I live (Vienna), I’ve never been there. Thanks for sharing your post. I definitely need to make it there soon!

    • Reply
      journeywithchloe
      August 15, 2017 at 1:21 pm

      I hope you get to visit soon! I need to visit Vienna, I hear it’s beautiful. Thanks for reading Nicola!

  • Reply
    Laura Thornton
    August 24, 2017 at 2:32 pm

    Hey there! I was wondering if you had any advice for a fellow vegan? I’m going in October and I assume I’m going to struggle! Thanks X

    • Reply
      journeywithchloe
      August 30, 2017 at 1:09 pm

      Hey Laura! Don’t worry, you won’t struggle being vegan in Budapest. There are SO many different types of cuisines like Vietnamese, Chinese, Japanese, European etc. Most times, even when I was exploring the city and didn’t plan where to eat beforehand, I found a restaurant even with vegetarian options and asked them to adapt to vegan! Also, if you have time/wifi, check Tripadvisor restaurants near me and filter for vegan options. Hope this helps 🙂 Enjoy your trip!!

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