Best Things to Do in Budapest: A 4-Day Itinerary

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Simona Grinnell

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  • Budapest

  • Arts & Culture

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  • Local Culture

  • Sightseeing

  • Local Food

  • 3 days in Budapest

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Curator’s statement

Budapest is a city of stunning beauty and unique cultural heritage. Its impressive architecture and historical landmarks, combined with the relaxing feel of its thermal spas, create a perfect atmosphere for those seeking both indulgence and enrichment. From its world-famous Hungarian cuisine to its vibrant nightlife, Budapest offers a truly unforgettable experience that appeals to all the senses and is one of my favorite weekend destinations when I am in Europe. Budapest is also where my dream of being a flight attendant came true so it will also be close to my heart.

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Where to stay

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Párisi Udvar Hotel Budapest - The Unbound Collection by Hyatt

Palatial hotel with polished rooms and a Parisian-style cafe in the heart of Budapest.

Fora Perks
  • Hotel / resort credit

  • Breakfast daily.

  • Welcome amenity.

  • Upgrade & extended check-in/out whenever possible.

Matild Palace, a Luxury Collection Hotel, Budapest

Refined and iconic stay in Budapest with chic rooms, an elegant restaurant and views of the Danube River.

Fora Perks
  • $100 food / beverage credit.

  • Breakfast daily.

  • Upgrade & extended check-in/out whenever possible.

Kempinski Hotel Corvinus Budapest

Ultra-luxurious hotel with elegant rooms and a Japanese eatery in Budapest.

Fora Perks
  • $50 hotel credit.

  • Breakfast daily.

  • Upgrade & extended check-in/out whenever possible.

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Day 1: Fisherman's Bastion & thermal pools

building over looking body of water

Start the day with a visit to Fisherman's Bastion, a whimsical terrace located on the Buda side of the Danube River. From here, you can enjoy breathtaking views of the city and the river. Take a stroll along the medieval walls and marvel at the intricate architecture of this fairy-tale-like landmark.

In the afternoon, head over to the Hungarian Parliament Building, a magnificent Neo-Gothic building that boasts an impressive facade and stunning interior. On a guided tour, you can learn about the history of the building and discover its hidden treasures.

Finish the day with a relaxing soak in the thermal waters of Széchenyi Baths, the largest medicinal bath in Europe. Here, you can soak in the indoor and outdoor pools, which are fed by thermal springs, and rejuvenate both your body and mind.

Day 2: Buda Castle & Gellért Baths

large castle during sunset

Start the day with a visit to Buda Castle, a historic palace complex that sits atop Castle Hill. Take a stroll through the castle's courtyards, admire its stunning architecture, and visit its museums and galleries.

After exploring Buda Castle, head to Heroes' Square, a grand square located in the heart of the city. This impressive square honors Hungary's greatest leaders and statesmen and serves as a symbol of national pride.

In the afternoon pay a visit to Gellért Baths - it provides an opportunity to bask in the warm and inviting waters, surrounded by the majestic architecture and historic ambiance of this beloved Budapest landmark. With ample time to lounge and rejuvenate, the afternoon hours are an ideal opportunity to immerse oneself in the rejuvenating powers of the thermal waters and enjoy a relaxed and peaceful experience at Gellért Baths.

End the day with a taste of traditional Hungarian cuisine, including dishes like goulash, chimney cake, and local wines. Dine at one of the city's charming restaurants and savor the flavors of this rich and hearty cuisine.

Day 3: Andrássy Avenue & Great Market Hall

narrow path leading to large building

Start the day with a leisurely walk down Andrássy Avenue, one of Budapest's most elegant boulevards. Here, you can admire the stunning architecture of the city's buildings and theaters, as well as enjoy a coffee or pastry at one of the quaint cafes.

After your walk, head to Rudas Baths, a Turkish-style bathhouse that features an octagonal pool and stunning views from its rooftop terrace. Soak in the thermal waters and relax in this historic bathhouse.

Finish the day by exploring the Great Market Hall, a bustling indoor market that sells everything from local specialties to souvenirs. Browse the vendors' stalls, sample some of the delicious food, and bring back a taste of Budapest to share with friends and family.

Day 4: Dohany Street Synagogue & ruin bars

large window with people sitting in a garden

Start the day with a visit to the Dohany Street Synagogue. This magnificent synagogue, also known as the Great Synagogue, is the largest synagogue in Europe and one of the largest in the world. Take a tour of this stunning building to learn about its rich history and cultural significance to the Jewish community in Hungary.

In the afternoon/evening visit the Hungarian State Opera House. Treat your family to a performance at one of Europe's most beautiful opera houses. Whether you choose to attend a ballet, opera, or concert, your family will be in for a cultural treat.

Later on, visit one of Budapest's famous ruin bars. After a full day of sightseeing and activities, head to one of Budapest's unique ruin bars for an evening of relaxation and entertainment. These bars, set in abandoned buildings and filled with eclectic decor and live music, are a staple of the city's nightlife. Some of the most popular ruin bars include Szimpla Kert, Instant, and Fogas Haz.

Whether you choose to spend your evenings exploring the city's vibrant nightlife or relaxing in a thermal bath, Budapest is a city that has something to offer everybody. With its rich history, stunning architecture, and world-class attractions, this city is sure to create unforgettable memories.

Dining and Bars in Budapest

tables with white tablecloths outside

Budapest is a city renowned for its rich culinary heritage and diverse dining scene, offering a range of options to suit every taste and budget. Whether you're looking for traditional Hungarian cuisine, international flavors, or gourmet dining experiences, Budapest has something to offer everyone.

Jamie Oliver's Italian Restaurant: For a taste of authentic Italian cuisine, head to Jamie Oliver's Italian Restaurant. Here, you'll find a menu that showcases the best of Italian cooking, from hearty pastas to delicious pizzas. Don't miss out on their signature dish - the slow-cooked beef ragu pappardelle, a perfect comfort food.

New York Cafe: For a touch of glamour and sophistication, visit the iconic New York Cafe. This historic coffeehouse is renowned for its opulent decor and elegant ambiance, making it the perfect place to indulge in a traditional Hungarian pastry or a cup of coffee. A must-try is their classic Hungarian chocolate cake, the Dobos torte.

Café Gerbeaud: This historic café is a Budapest institution and offers a range of delicious pastries, cakes, and coffees. Whether you're after a light snack or a full meal, Café Gerbeaud has something for everyone. A popular choice is their famous Gerbeaud slice, a multi-layered pastry filled with hazelnut cream and covered in chocolate.

360 Bar: For a stunning panoramic view of the city, visit 360 Bar. This rooftop bar offers breathtaking views of Budapest's skyline, making it the perfect spot for a romantic evening drink. Savor one of their signature cocktails, such as the 360 Spritz, a refreshing blend of Aperol, Prosecco, and orange juice.

Intermezzo Roof Terrace: For a chic and stylish dining experience, visit Intermezzo Roof Terrace. This rooftop restaurant offers a menu of international cuisine, including a range of seafood, meat, and vegetarian dishes. A must-try is their grilled octopus with lemon and olive oil, a flavorful and light dish that showcases the best of Mediterranean cooking.

Aranybastya: For a traditional Hungarian dining experience, visit Aranybastya. This historic restaurant offers a range of Hungarian dishes, including goulash, stuffed peppers, and meat dishes. Be sure to try their famous Hungarian pork knuckle, a succulent and flavorful dish that is a staple of Hungarian cuisine.

Beerstro14 Restaurant and Craft Beer Bar: For a unique dining experience, visit Beerstro14 Restaurant and Craft Beer Bar. This restaurant and bar offers a range of craft beers, along with a menu of delicious pub food, including burgers, pizzas, and salads. A must-try is their signature Beerstro14 Burger, made with juicy beef and cheese, and topped with crispy onion rings.

Need to Know

Budapest, the capital city of Hungary, is a breathtaking destination that boasts a rich cultural heritage and architectural marvels. This beautiful city, often referred to as the "Paris of the East," offers travelers a unique blend of historical landmarks, rejuvenating thermal baths, lively ruin bars and breathtaking vistas.

Advisor - Simona Grinnell

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Simona Grinnell

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This guide is part of our ongoing series on arts & culture travel.