You are heading to Budapest, capital of Hungary and one of the most beautiful Eastern European cities and you are excited to explore…You know that there is so much to see and do, but there is the catch – you only have 2 days at your disposal. What do you do in Budapest in 2 days?
Well, you can organise your time well so that you fit in the main sites without overdoing it, so be sure to include a couple of relaxing lunches and a thermal spa trip! As Budapest is split into two parts on either side of the river Danube, it makes sense to focus predominantly on Buda on Day 1 and Pest on Day 2. Budapest is one of my favourite European cities and extremely popular with digital nomads. Here’s what to do in Budapest in 2 days.
What to do in Budapest in 2 Days – Day 1
1. Walk on Széchenyi Chain Bridge
Starting from Four Seasons Hotel Gresham Palace, start crossing the Széchenyi Chain Bridge. Budapest is split by the river Danube in two halves: Buda and Pesta. The two halves are connected through several bridges, many of them of high architectural and historical interest. Széchenyi Chain Bridge is one of those bridges. With a length of 375 meters, the Chain Bridge was considered to be one of the wonders of he world at the time of its construction, in 1849.
The bridge is an architectural masterpiece and walking on it allows you not only to admire its beauty closely, but also to admire breathtaking views of the Danube and of Budapest.
2. Jump on the Funicular
At the western end of Széchenyi Chain Bridge, in the Buda half of the city, there is the Budapest Castle Hill Funicular or Budavári Sikló. The funicular was open in 1870, and it is the second oldest funicular of its kind in the world. The ride that takes you up on the Castle Hill where Buda Palace is located, does not take more than a minute, but it is quite scenic. You could choose to go up on the hill on foot, but the funicular is a much faster option, especially for someone who only has 2 days at disposal to enjoy Budapest.
3. Visit Buda Palace
If, like me, you like palaces, then you have to visit Buda Palace (Budavári palota). This is where the former kings and queens of Hungary used to live, an impressive historical complex dating back to the 18th century. The architecture of the palace mixes Baroque and Modern elements and became UNESCO world heritage in 1987. Buda Palace is the home of two museums, the National Gallery and the Budapest History Museum, holding important art collections and interesting facts about the history of Budapest.
4. Walk through the Labyrinth
If you start walking down from Buda Palace, you’ll stumble across the entrance to the Labyrinth, a system of underground corridors and rooms that served as a shelter and as a hospital during WW II. It is also the place where Vlad Tepes, Romanian ruler and inspiration for the character of Dracula, was imprisoned for a while during his life.
The Labyrinth is a moist and cool place, with dark corners and wine fountains (you cannot drink the wine though – gutted!). There have been those who called it ‘creepy’… But nevertheless, the Labyrinth is a great place to visit on a hot summer day.
5. Have a stroll on the streets of Buda
When you start walking down on the streets of Buda Castle district, you’ll encounter old historical buildings, cafes, shops, and charming alleys. Close by to the Labyrinth, there are several attractions that you might want to pass by or even pay a visit: the Hospital in the Rock Nuclear Bunker Museum (a hospital created in the caverns under Buda Palace in 1930, in preparation for WW II), Matthias Church (a Roman Catholic Church that was first built in 1015), and Fisherman’s Bastion (19th century fortress built in Neo-Gothic and Neo-Romanesque style, that has a charming cafe and terrace offering beautiful views of the Danube).
6. Go on a Cruise
A pleasant way to spend the evening is to go on a cruise! Several tour operators offer boat rides on the Danube, at prices that vary depending on the trip package. The cruise lasts for around 2 hours and takes you on a scenic ride along the shores of Buda and Pesta. You can admire beautiful historical buildings like the Hungarian Parliament Building, Buda Palace, the Freedom Monument and the Gellért Baths. This is an excellent opportunity to see a lot of Budapest in only a couple hours. More than that, some packages also include live music entertainment and even dinner. This 3 hour Danube Dinner Cruise includes a four course meal and entertainment (folk dancing). You get to see the sites of Buda and Pest all lit up at night.
What to do in Budapest in 2 Days – Day 2
1. Take a dip in Thermal Water
The Széchenyi Medicinal Bath is the largest medicinal bath in Europe and a must see. The water, that has a temperature of around 75 degrees Celsius, is supplied by two thermal springs, and contains an important amount of minerals like magnesium, calcium, bicarbonate, fluoride and metabolic acid. The complex was open in 1913, and its beautiful, Baroque architecture still reminds visitors of those long gone 20th century lazy days. The baths have indoor and outdoor pools, as well as water jet massagers.
2. Have a walk in Nature
The whole area around the Széchenyi Medicinal Baths is excellent for relaxation and for enjoying the day out surrounded by greenery. The area has a park and a lake, the Budapest Zoological and Botanical Garden is here, as well as the Millennium Monument (one of the most photographed sites in Budapest, depicting some of the most prominent figures of Hungary’s history).
3. Explore Andrássy Avenue
Andrássy Avenue is a popular boulevard in the Pest side of the city. If you walk along Andrássy Avenue you can find not only restaurants, shops, and cafes, but, most importantly, beautiful mansions and townhouses built in the Neo-Renaissance style, that date back to the 19th century. The historical value of Andrássy Avenue is so important, that it was even recognised as a World Heritage Site.
The House of Terror is also located on Andrássy Avenue. This is a museum dedicated to those who sacrificed their life and/or freedom in their fight against the fascist and communist regimes in Hungary. With a design that stands out, and a purpose that is worthy of attention, House of Terror surely deserves a visit.
4. Go shopping on Váci Street
Váci Street is the touristic centre of Budapest. It has shops, cafes and restaurants, and it seems that it was even voted as one of the best pedestrian streets in the world, outrunning similar streets in Paris, Amsterdam and Milan. So, it might be worth your while to take a look at it.
So there you have it! Two days in Budapest go fast, but not in vain. There are so many other places you could visit, but, of course, you’ll have to be choosy. You can, for instance, choose to climb up on Gellért Hill, where you can view Budapest from above and visit Gellért Hill Cave. Or you can visit Memento Park, a collection of Communist statues that used to be spread across Budapest while the regime was in power… And not to say about churches, parks, baths, and all the other places that deserve attention. Nevertheless, whatever you decide to do, since Budapest offers a wealth of quality activity options, your time will always be well spent.
If you have an extra day to spend in Budapest then check out this Budapest 3 day itinerary.
To make your life easier, we prepared the below Packing Checklist for your Europe’s travels of some essential items, you should include in your luggage.
- Suitcase/travel backpack
- 1 lightweight jacket
- 1 pair of tennis shoes
- 1 pair of sandals
- 1 pair of flip flops
- 1 theft-proof backpack
- 1 crossbody bag
- 1 scarf
- 1 pair of sunglasses
- 1 e-Reader
- 1 plug converter
- Money bag
- Hanging toiletry bag
- Stain remover liquid pen
If you enjoyed this blog on What to do in Budapest in 2 days, and take frequent European breaks, you might also like to spend a weekend in Iceland.