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Spending 2 days in Budapest is a wonderful option for any upcoming European adventure. Seriously, travelers, you can’t miss this city. I miss Budapest so much. No building takes away my breath quite like Budapest’s notable Hungarian Parliament perched next to the Danube River. And let’s not even go into Hungary’s amazing food scene. Paprika is still one of my favorite spices of all time, thanks to Budapest, and I always try to keep a steady supply of it in my kitchen. Mmm, delicious.
But why else is 2 days in Budapest a marvelous idea? Aren’t there many other capitals, such as Vienna and Munich, in the region?
2 Days in Budapest is a Great Idea!
Yes, Central Europe has a lot to see and do, but nonetheless Budapest is one of my favorite cities. Why’s that?
Well, in my own experience, Budapest is an ideal city for solo female travelers as well as friends and couples. Furthermore Budapest is loaded with historically significant sites, such as the House of Terror and Castle Hill. There are so many great things to do in Budapest that the number of options are overwhelming in a good way. There are opportunities for photography workshops in Budapest, as well as other interactive tours.
Furthermore, although I wouldn’t call Budapest a “cheap” destination, prices are still lower than nearby Vienna and Munich’s. Your wallet won’t complain too much.
And if you want to see other Central Europe capitals? You can do that too! Budapest is a top notch transportation hub, making it easy to create a Central Europe itinerary through Vienna, Prague, Budapest, and more.
So I hope this guide to 2 days in Budapest helps you create the perfect Hungarian vacation! Let’s go!
2 Days in Budapest – First Morning
We’re starting in Pest! Of course, if you’re staying in Buda, then feel free to switch the morning and afternoon segments of day one! No judgement here, folks, haha. Both places make great bases.
1. See St. Stephen’s Basilica
Your first stop is the largest church in all of Hungary! St. Stephen’s is dedicated to the first king of Hungary, and the inside is certainly very beautiful to behold even if you’ve already seen a million churches on your European vacation. Fans of classical music and opera, ought to come back at night and catch a musical program. Sooo worth it. Admission is free although donations are encouraged and accepted.
2. Stroll along Danube Promenade
Budapest is situated on the Danube River. One of the most important things to see on Danube Promenade is a trail of iron footwear. Ferenc Szalasi, who established the anti-Semitic Arrow Cross Party, expelled 80,000 Jews and shot 20,000 along the Danube River. These shoes honor their memories. Budapest’s past is a painful one, but it’s important not to forget it.
3. Take Photographs at Széchenyi Chain Bridge
One of my favorite bridges in all of Europe! Széchenyi Chain Bridge is a suspension bridge that connects Buda and Pest. This bridge was completed in 1849 and offers visitors great views of the River, as well as Castle Hill. I personally love the giant lion statues that loom over anyone who crosses the bridge. They’re iconic, haha.
2 Days in Budapest – 1st Afternoon
Stop and grab some lunch. You’ll need fuel, because you still need to explore the other side of the Danube River. And, boy, is it hilly!
1. Explore Castle Hill
Castle Hill is packed with Budapest’s gorgeous historical sights. You can discover many vistas here in this hilly part of the city. While you can take a funicular to the top of Castle Hill, I recommend walking for physically capable travelers. It’s not too challenging and free!
2. Pretend to be Royalty at Fisherman’s Bastion
I’m a nerd. I’ll admit it. Pretending to be a princess in these fairytale towers is a huge highlight for any trip in Budapest. Wander around. Savor the views. Afterwards, swing by Matthias Church with its brilliantly warm colored roof.
3. Learn Some History at Hospital in the Rock
Honestly, Hospital in the Rock surprised me! I wasn’t sure I’d like it, but now I recommend this unique museum to everyone who plans to visit Budapest. Even if you only have 2 days in Budapest, give Hospital in the Rock a chance and book a tour. Due to the nature of the site, you’re only permitted to enter with a guided tour, but don’t let this deter you. The guides are very knowledgeable and entertaining.
2 Days in Budapest – 1st Evening
Still not tired? I hope not, because evenings in Budapest are enormous highlights for any visitor coming to this great city.
Grab a Bite to Eat and Drink in the Jewish Quarter
Ready to have some fun? Then the Jewish Quarter is where you want to go! Budapest’s most unique nightlife sites are centered around the Ruin Bars. Don’t miss out on them.
If you only have time to go to one established, then check out Budapest’s original ruin bar: Szimpla Kert. This ruin bar has many unique rooms that will leave you occupied for hours.
2 Days in Budapest – 2nd Morning
After sleeping in (depending on how much fun you had in the Jewish Quarter), you have two options for your morning in Budapest. The choice is yours depending on your personal interests!
1. Be Educated on Recent History at the House of Terror
Budapest has had a hard time of it. Hungary was ruled by the Nazi Party throughout World War II, and then the country was under Soviet Rule during the Cold War years. Needless to say, Budapest’s population faced societal struggles for many decades. Budapest’s turbulent history is very well documented in the House of Terror Museum. Go in the morning to avoid the lines. Only a limited number of tourists are admitted at one time.
1. Take a Walking Tour of the City
Is it too beautiful a day to go to a museum? Understandable. Then lace up your shoes and join a walking tour. I’m a huge fan of walking tours! Have been for years. You discover a lot of cool facts about a place and have an opportunity to talk to other travelers.
Ultimately Budapest has many walking tours ranging from free overviews of the city to historically significant tours to food tours. Tailor based on your personal interests.
2 Days in Budapest – 2nd Afternoon
Chow Down at Great Market Hall
Sure it’s a touristy place to eat, but you’re a tourist right? So have some lunch in Great Market Hall. You can eat upstairs at one of the restaurants or shop in the downstairs produce section to prepare for an outdoor picnic in one of Budapest’s many parks. The choice is yours!
Additionally Great Market Hall is also a great spot to purchase some small souvenirs. I bought multiple Christmas tree ornaments here, haha.
Enjoy a Spa Date After Lunch and Unwind
2 days in Budapest wouldn’t be complete without going to one of Budapest’s bath houses. Yessssss.
My personal favorite is Széchenyi thermal bath, which is the largest outdoor bath in all of Europe. Széchenyi thermal bath is open in the summer and winter months, so you can enjoy the thermal springs any time of the year. The basic ticket will give you admission to the main outdoor pools. You can also visit Gellért Baths, located in Buda, and the impressive buildings will make you feel as if you’ve transported to the Gilded Age.
2 Days in Budapest – 2nd Evening
Let’s have an “ahem!” classier evening tonight! Which only means one thing …
See Budapest’s Gorgeous Lights from the Danube River
A river cruise is a classic Budapest experience. Seeing all the grand buildings, such as the Hungarian Parliament, illuminated at night is a real treat for any traveler. There are many options for river cruises so pick the one that suits your budget and time limitations.
Wrap Up With Coffee and Dessert at a Cafe
Budapest has an outstanding coffee and cafe culture much like Austria’s capital Vienna. Even if you’re not a coffee fan, it would still be a shame to miss Budapest’s many intricate and delicious cafes. Ornate New York Cafe is one of my absolute favorite places in Budapest. It is open late so you can munch on cake and sip coffee before or after your scenic Danube River Cruise.
Sooo … Is 2 Days in Budapest Enough Time?
Hmm, I’m not sure if 2 days in Budapest is enough time to do justice to the Hungarian capital, but it’s still a popular destination for weekend getaways. I mean, think about it. Budapest is affordable for short trips. The restaurants and bars won’t break your wallet. Furthermore Budapest’s attractions appeal to a variety of interests ensuring you’re never bored on your stay.
And you can definitely get a satisfying taste of the city’s many gems with only 48 hours to spare. It’s especially great for backpacking Eastern Europe due to the many social hostels available to travelers.
Of course, I suggest spending additional time in Budapest if your itinerary can handle a few more days. Who doesn’t want to enjoy both major bath houses, after all? And taking a few hours to see Memento Park is always worth the extra trip. Budapest is better appreciated with more times on your hands.
But, even with that sad, 2 days in Budapest is still far better than nothing! See what you can in 48 hours and come back later! I did!
Happy travels, folks.
How would you spend 2 days in Budapest? Share your favorite sites and attractions in the comments. And don’t forget that travel guide! Have fun in Budapest. You’ll love this city.