What can you see in 2 days in Budapest? Is it even possible to visit such a big city in such a limited time?
If you are visiting Budapest in 2 days, there is plenty you can do. Of course, proper planning is a must because even though 48 hours is a good amount of time to have a general feel of the Hungarian capital, it’s still very limited in a city that is so rich in history, art, and architecture.
Our easy guide wants to be of help if you are staying only two days in Budapest and still want to make the most out of your trip. We are going to highlight what are the unmissable sights as well as give you some tips on what restaurants you should aim for and what traditional dishes to try.
Along with the historical sights, we have included some chill-out activities such as a visit to a thermal bath that are part of the Hungarian culture and ensure a more complete and authentic experience.
You can stay longer? Check out our guide to 3 days in Budapest!
What to See in Budapest in 2 Days
Two Days in Budapest – Day 1
Visit the Buda Castle and Matthias Church
While 2 days in Budapest is not a lot of time, if you want to see the best of what the city has to offer in 48 hours, you can’t go wrong starting off at Buda Castle and Matthias Church.
These two historic landmarks are located in the heart of the city, and they offer a glimpse into Hungary’s rich history. The castle is located on top of a hill in Buda, the first settlement of the city, and it’s easy to reach by public transportation.
Once you’re there, you’ll be treated to stunning views of the city skyline and a fascinating maze of cobbled alleys.
The Buda Castle District is the ancient hub of the city and hosts several important landmarks of Budapest, including the Royal Palace and Matthias Church. The Royal Palace is now home to two museums, the National Gallery and Budapest History Museum.
After admiring the extensive art collection and historical artifacts displayed in the Royal Palace, make your way to Matthias Church, which is just a very short walk away. Dating back to the 14th century, the church is known for its beautiful Gothic architecture and is one of the most popular tourist destinations in Budapest.
No trip to Budapest is complete without a visit to the Buda Castle and Matthias Church, especially if it’s your first time in the Hungarian capital. Our trip was a 4-day one, but even if you are staying only 2 days in Budapest, I highly recommend heading to Buda Castle District on your first day of sightseeing.
Book a cruise along the Danube River
If you have limited time in Budapest, I still recommend taking a cruise along the Danube river to see the buildings and landmarks from a different perspective. The river runs through the center of Budapest, and there are plenty of scenic spots along the way.
This is a relaxing activity so you can do what we did and booked it for the evening to round off a long and tiring sightseeing day.
You’ll pass by the Hungarian Parliament, the National Museum, and St. Stephen’s Basilica. The river winds its way through the city, offering beautiful views of some of Budapest’s most iconic landmarks. Just be sure to pack comfortable shoes and plenty of water.
This is the cruise we booked along the Danube river in Budapest if you want to check it out.
Stop for lunch at one of the many restaurants or cafes in Budapest
After a morning of sightseeing, stop for lunch at one of the many restaurants or cafes in Budapest. Be sure to try some of the local specialties, such as goulash or chicken paprikash. Check out some of the Budapest restaurants we tried and enjoyed.
Spend the afternoon exploring Heroes’ Square and Andrassy Avenue
If you only have two days to explore Budapest, make sure to include Heroes’ Square and Andrassy Avenue on your itinerary.
Heroes Square is a large public space and home to several monuments including the iconic Millennium Monument decorated with statues featuring the Seven chieftains of the Magyars and other national heroes, the Museum of Fine Arts, and the Palace of Arts.
After visiting the Square, walk to Andrassy Avenue, a tree-lined boulevard that is home to many of Budapest’s finest palaces and mansions, along with shops and restaurants. In 2002, Andrassy Avenue was added to the list of Budapest’s important monuments as a UNESCO heritage site.
Catch a show at the State Opera House or National Theatre
Budapest is home to two grand opera houses – the State Opera House and National Theatre.
The former is a neo-Renaissance building with a rich history, while the latter is a more modern structure that is home to some of the best opera and ballet in the city. If you’re a fan of the performing arts, catching a show at either of these venues is a must.
Have dinner at a traditional Hungarian restaurant
One of the best ways to experience the culture of a new country is through its food. And when it comes to Hungarian cuisine, there’s no better place to try it than at a traditional restaurant.
Budapest is full of these eateries, serving up everything from hearty stews to delicate pastries. While the menu can vary from place to place, there are some dishes that are synonymous with Hungarian cuisine.
I’ve always known Goulash as a thick stew made with beef and vegetables, usually served with rice or bread, but in Budapest, I noticed that everywhere it was served as a soup. If you are a meat-eater, this is a must.
No matter where you eat, be sure to leave room for dessert. Hungary is famous for its delicious marzipan pastries, and you won’t want to miss out on trying some of the best.
A nice is the perfect way to end the first day of your two-day trip to Budapest. Head to your hotel or apartment in Budapest and rest properly so that you can tackle your second day visiting this lovely city.
Two Days in Budapest – Day 2
Visit the Szechenyi Thermal Baths and relax in the pools
While in Budapest, be sure to relax in the thermal baths at Szechenyi, the largest in Budapest and one of the largest in all of Europe. Counting several large pools, each with different temperatures, a steam room and a sauna, as well as offering gym and healthcare services, pampering yourself in the Szechenyi Thermal Baths is one of the best things to do in Budapest in 2 days.
You can purchase a day pass or a longer pass if you plan on spending more time there. Be sure to bring your own towel and swimsuit. There are also massage services available if you want to truly relax. You can even purchase food and drinks inside so you can spend all morning there if you like.
The baths are open all year round, so you can visit regardless of the weather. Keep in mind that the weekends are very crowded, so it’s best to visit during the week if you want to avoid crowds.
Explore Gellért Hill and visit Citadella fortress
If you’re looking for places to visit in Budapest in 2 days, make sure to add Gellért Hill and Citadella fortress to your list.
Gellért Hill is one of the most popular places to visit in Budapest because of the stunning views of the city you can enjoy from the hilltop. If you’re up for a bit of a hike, make your way to the top of the hill where you’ll find the Citadella fortress. Built in the 19th century, the fortress offers an interesting glimpse into Hungary’s history.
Walk around downtown Budapest and duck into St. Stephen’s Basilica
Even though you’re staying only 2 days in Budapest, you can’t possibly miss a walk downtown where you will be literally surrounded by some of the city’s most famous landmarks.
St. Stephen’s Basilica is a must-see, with its grandiose exterior and stunning interior. The majestic sacred building, with its soaring domes and intricate facade, is one of the most popular tourist attractions in Budapest.
But the basilica is more than just a pretty face – it also has a rich history. Construction began in 1851, and Budapest’s most important church was officially consecrated in 1905. The basilica is named after Hungary’s first king, Stephen I, who is buried inside the church.
Visitors can see his tomb, as well as enjoy the stunning views from the top of the basilica’s cupola. With its impressive size and beautiful features, St. Stephen’s Basilica is definitely worth adding to your Budapest things-to-see list.
Walk along Vaci Street and take in the sights and sounds of this pedestrian street
Budapest’s Vaci Street is one of the city’s most famous pedestrian thoroughfares, lined with an array of shops, restaurants, and cafes.
The street gets its name from the vaci, or cattle market, that was once held here, and even though it’s actually very popular and always packed, I found it pretty touristy and the food not really the best quality in the city.
Nevertheless, it’s worth walking along in the afternoon for some window shopping and a drink. We visited in the evening so shops were closed and had a less-than-impressive dinner.
Head to Parliament Square for a look at Hungary’s Parliament Building
If you’re in Budapest for only 2 days, make sure you make a visit to Parliament Square a priority. The square is located in the center of the city and is home to Hungary’s Parliament Building, which is an impressive sight and one of the most famous landmarks in Europe.
The building shows off a charming mix of Baroque, Gothic Revival, and Renaissance Revival architectural styles. It features a central dome, two towers, and a lot of intricate carving and details. You can go inside the building on a guided tour, or just admire it from the outside.
We took a tour inside and found it very interesting so obviously, we recommend it, but with only 2 days in Budapest, we know that you can’t really include all the attractions.
Parliament Square is home to several memorials and statues of notable nationals such as leader Francis II Rákóczi, politicians Count István Tisza and Count Gyula Andrássy, and poet Attila József.
Have dinner at a trendy restaurant in downtown Budapest
If you’re looking for a truly unique dining experience, look no further than downtown Budapest. This trendy area is home to some of the best restaurants in the city, each with its own unique atmosphere and menus.
Some of the top choices include Rosenstein for fine Hungarian and Jewish cuisine, Café Kor to enjoy typical Hungarian dishes in a laid-back vibe a stone’s throw from St. Stephen’s Basilica, and Mazel Tov for Israeli and Hungarian delicacies. Feeling like forking out good cash on your last night in Budapest? Treat yourself to the Michelin-starred restaurant Borkonyha.
Things to See and Do in Budapest – All You Need to Know
What can you do in Budapest in 48 hours?
Start by picking one or two of the must-see sights – like Buda Castle, St. Stephen’s Basilica, or Heroes Square – and spend an afternoon exploring them. To make sure you don’t miss anything important, get a copy of the itinerary I prepared above before you go.
Is a weekend in Budapest enough?
Even though very limited, a weekend in Budapest is enough time to get a grasp of the city, start to fall in love with the relaxed charm it conveys, and visit some of the most important landmarks. Of course, if you have just a weekend in Budapest, you’ll need to carefully plan your time in order to make the most of it.
Is the Budapest travel card useful for a two-day trip?
The Budapest travel card is a great way to see the city if you’re only there for a short period of time. With the card, you can easily hop on and off public transportation and visit many of the key sights without having to worry about individual tickets.
Plus, the card offers discounts at certain attractions, stores, and restaurants. If you’re only in Budapest for two days, the travel card is definitely worth considering. You can also use it to get to the city from Budapest Airport.
We purchased the 72-hour card, but if you are staying only 2 days in Budapest, you can buy the 48-hour one.
Is Budapest worth visiting?
Absolutely yes, Budapest is definitely worth visiting! It’s a beautiful city with a lot to offer tourists. From stunning architecture and historical landmarks to trendy restaurants and lively nightlife, there’s something for everyone in Budapest.
Plus, it’s relatively affordable compared to other European cities, which makes it a great value for your money. So if you’re looking for a fun and affordable European getaway, be sure to add Budapest to your list even if it’s for only 2 days.
Is Budapest a walkable city?
Yes, Budapest is a very walkable city. The city center around Parliament Square and St. Stephen’s Basilica is very pedestrian-friendly and there are plenty of parks and squares where you can stop to rest or enjoy a meal. The Buda Castle District is mainly pedestrian and lovely to walk and get lost.
In addition, the city’s public transportation system is excellent. Buses, trams, and metros are frequent and on time, so if you want to explore areas that are located further away from the center, it’s easy to do so without having to worry about spending too much on taxi fees.
Is Budapest or Prague better to visit?
The two cities are quite different from each other, so it really depends on what you’re looking for. Prague is smaller and more compact, with a charming old town that’s easy to wander around. Budapest, on the other hand, is larger and has a more cosmopolitan feel, with lots of grand architecture and parks.
Hard to say which one is more beautiful, but while Budapest is probably more international, Prague’s Gothic look for sure conveys a more mysterious vibe.
How much time do you need in Budapest?
If you have very limited time and are only interested in seeing the major landmarks, with proper planning, 2 days in Budapest might be enough. But if you want to delve into the history and culture a bit more, I would suggest four or five days. Budapest is a big city with a lot to offer, so it really depends on what you’re interested in.
To be completely honest, I booked 4 days in Budapest mainly because I was in my 7th month of pregnancy and didn’t have the time to plan another trip so I made this longer than I would have. But in the end, not only we were super busy all the days and used the very last minute to explore as much as we could, but there are plenty of things we would have loved to see and we couldn’t. For one, a couple of hours of relaxation in a thermal bath because due to my advanced pregnancy, I wasn’t allowed.
This, of course, left us with the intention to go back as soon as we can!
What food is Budapest famous for?
Budapest is famous for its food. There are a variety of restaurants to choose from, ranging from traditional Hungarian eateries to more modern fare to Michelin-starred restaurants. If you’re looking for something traditional, here are some of the city’s most popular dishes:
- Goulash – a hearty soup/stew made with beef, potatoes, carrots, and spices.
- Chicken paprikash – chicken cooked in a creamy paprika sauce.
- Pörkölt – another type of stew made with meat and onion.
- Langos – a typical street food made of deep-fried dough topped with a variety of toppings, the most famous of which is cheese and sour cream.
What should I buy in Budapest as a souvenir?
There are plenty of great things to buy as souvenirs in Budapest! Here are just a few suggestions:
- Unicum liqueur – used also as digestive, this famous liqueur is made of several herbs and spices and is over 100 years old. If you buy it, make sure you pack it in your suitcase to check in!
- Hungarian paprika – you can’t possibly leave Budapest without buying the ever-present Hungaria paprika powder for your foodie friends.
- Goulash cream – this is a preparation perfect if you want to make goulash at home.
- Marzipan – for the sweet tooth in your or your sweet tooth friends, a box of marzipan pastries will always be a much-appreciated gift.
- Hungarian porcelain – hand-made and hand-painted, Hungarian porcelain is famous for its unique look and style
- Puzzle boxes – cute and colorful small boxes that are nearly impossible to open. Just like a difficult puzzle to piece together!
Do they speak English in Budapest?
In and around the most touristy areas in Budapest, most people will speak English, but if you stray far from the city center and the historic sights, you are likely to find only Hungarian-speaking locals.
If you think you are going to go offbeat in Budapest or take some day trips, I suggest carrying a small dictionary or phrasebook with you to untangle a potentially awkward situation.
Make sure you check out our guide to the best budget hotels in Budapest.
Do you need a car in Budapest for a 2-day visit?
No, there’s plenty to see in Budapest for two days without a car. The city center is compact and walkable, and there’s a lot to see and do within easy walking distance of each other. Plus, they have a good public transport system including metro, train, and bus.
If you want to explore further afield, there are also plenty of great day trips from Budapest that are easily accessible by public transport.
Can I visit Budapest in 1 day?
Yes, you can visit Budapest in 1 day. Of course, this is a very limited time and you will have to cut out most of the sights. Or even avoid entering any of them, if not really briefly, and mostly enjoy them from outside.
But hey, if this is all you can afford, it’s still better than nothing. You can take a nice walk around the city center and Buda Castle District while enjoying the views and the majestic architecture.
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