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The modern city of Budapest is actually the result of the combination of two very old cities, Buda on the west side of the Danube River, and Pest on the east. The Buda side holds the ancient Buda Castle, historic churches and museums while the Pest side of the city is where you’ll find the beautiful parliament building and is also where the city is expanding in modern times. The two sides are connected by numerous bridges with the most famous, the Széchenyi Chain Bridge, in the heart of the city. To make the most of your three days in Budapest, it’s best to break up your time into different sections of the city.

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Day 1: The Buda side

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Buda Castle seen from the top of St. Stephen’s Basilica – Photo by Author

For your first day in Budapest, head over to Buda and make your way to one of the city’s most iconic landmarks, the Buda Castle. Today, all that is left of the original castle built in the 13th century is the foundation. The beautiful Baroque-style Royal Palace was built on top of the original site in the 1700s. Explore the long and colorful history of this part of Budapest.

After exploring the castle, art enthusiasts might want to check out the National Gallery located on the same grounds as the castle. Don’t miss the lookout from the paths surrounding the castle on the south end. From here you are able to get some of the best views of the Pest side of the city with the Parliament and Chain Bridge.

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After the castle and gallery, make the short trip to the 14th-century Gothic style Matthias Church. Walk through the stone wall structure surrounding the church and up to some of the best lookout points in the city. A great place for morning coffee is at the cafe Halászbástya Étterem located at the top of the church fortification wall with stunning views of the city.

Before heading back to the Pest side of the river, make time to walk the banks of the Danube across from the Parliament building. From here you can get nice eye-level photos of the intricate details of the Parliament Building’s facade.

Where to stay in Budapest: The majority of hotels are located in District 5 on the Pest side of the city. There are hotels to suit any budget and accommodation level.

Day 2: Lower Pest & The Jewish Quarter

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Central Market Hall – Photo by author

Start your day at the Central Market Hall. Grab a light breakfast while exploring the aisles of unique and interesting Hungarian specialties. Seasonal fruits and fresh baked goods make a great breakfast, or if you happen to visit later in the day, head to the second floor with many ready to eat Hungarian specialties.

After the market, make your way to Budapest’s Jewish Quarter. This colorful part of town has seen a renaissance of sorts in the past few years with lots of trendy restaurants popping up in the old buildings. The Dohany Street Synagogue is the most famous landmark in this part of town and is very photogenic inside and out. For a great lunch spot in Lower Pest, head to the alleyway/walking street near Király Street filled with bars and restaurants. One of the local favorites is Spiler with traditional and trendy Hungarian food and drinks.

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Ruin bar in Budapest’s Jewish Quarter – Photo by Author

Finish the night at one of Budapest’s famous ruin bars. Throughout Budapest’s Jewish Quarter bars have been taking up residency in old abandoned buildings. This shabby chic trend was started by the original ruin bar Szimpla Kert. Szimpla converted a 20+ room building into one of the most random and interesting bars you’ll ever visit. Make sure to try the local favorite sour cherry beer or Pálinka a fruit brandy while out on the town.

More time in Budapest? If you have an extra day in the city, or are craving to see a truly unexplored side of town, take a unique Budapest tour with Budapest 101. Explore abandoned pre-WWII cemeteries, sip coffee in hidden coffee shops, and eat like a Hungarian with a Budapest local. You could easily spend a whole week with all great things to do in Budapest.

Day 3: Upper Pest side 

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The Gothic Revival Hungarian Parliament Building – Photo by Author

On your last day, see some of the best and most iconic of the city’s landmarks. First stop is the beautiful Gothic Revival Style Hungarian Parliament Building along the banks of the Danube.

After a leisurely walk around the Parliament Building, it’s time for your morning workout. Climb the 364 steps to the walkway around the dome of Saint Stephen’s Basilica. From the top of this beautiful 19th-century church is another panoramic view of the city. Leave time to visit the interior of the church and admire the facade as well.

A short walk from St. Stephen’s Basilica is a great place to grab a sweet treat. Head to Gelato Rosa for an ice cream cone shaped like a rose. This creamy and delicious gelato is scooped into a cone in a certain way to look like the petals of a flower. It sounds a little gimmicky, but is actually quite good.

Next, make your way toward City Park where both Hero’s Square and the famous Széchenyi Thermal Bath are located. Along the way, make a stop at the House of Terror. This museum gives a sense of what it was like to live in Budapest during the time the country was under the control of fascist and communist regimes and was created to serve as a memorial to those affected and as a reminder of the suffering that took place in the country.

Further down Andrássy Street will lead you directly into the Hero’s Square, a monument to the foundation of the Hungarian state. The centerpiece of the monument is a tall column topped by a statue of an archangel. The column is surrounded at the base by 7 aged copper statues of ancient warriors. Lining the back of the square are Romanesque columns with more copper statues with an aged green color.

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Széchenyi Thermal Baths – Photo by Author

Finally, finish up your day and time in Budapest at the thermal baths and wash away a busy few days in the city. Soak in the 100° steaming waters of the Széchenyi baths which are a great place to visit in the late afternoon and into the early evening.

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Tagged: Europe

Note: Orbitz compensates authors for their writings appearing on this site.

Hannah & Adam | Getting Stamped Bloggers
Hannah & Adam are travel writers & photographers who have called the road home since 2013. Their passion for adventurous travel has brought them to 60 countries and counting. They blog about their adventures on their travel blog GettingStamped.com.

One thought on “3 perfect days in Budapest”

  1. Can I have a quotation for your 3 days in Budapest followed with 3 days in Prague combined together with a 6 day trip for 3 adults statring in 19th Sept 2016. We would be flying out from Newcastle on Tyne Airport in the UK and back to Newcastle. We raea family of 3 adults.

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