Budapest. The ultimate in a tale of two cities: made up of Buda and Pest they are separated by the Danube River to become two contrasting sides of the same coin. Buda is the hilly, historic side of town and home to the castle; Pest is flat and sprawling and home to many of Budapest’s Highlights. Each side offers something unique for visitors to Hungary’s capital and largest city – and I’m here to provide you with the ultimate guide for your weekend city break! Keep reading for the best way to spend 48 hours in Budapest Including my Top 10 Things To Do, Where to Stay and Where to Eat – all you need to do now is decide when you are going!
RELATED: This is the fifth stop on my ‘Europe By Rail in 25 Days‘ Tour. Click the link to find out all about it!
48 Hours in Budapest: things to do, where to stay and where to eat
So you’ve got a weekend (or more!) in Budapest and want to know what to what to see, where to stay and where to eat, well look no further! As a seasoned weekend traveler – and adept at packing a lot into a short space of time, let me first take you on a tour of my highlights of this amazing city including where to stay, top things to do and where to eat for your 3 days in Budapest!
1. Buda Castle
Dating back to the 12th Century, it is also known as the Royal Palace or the Royal Castle – and is a beautiful building sitting overlooking both the Parliament and the rest of the Pest side of the city. As well as offering panoramic views itself, it is also home to Fisherman’s Bastion and boasts a funicular railway for those attempting to reach the castle from the Chain Bridge.
2. Liberty Statue & Liberty Bridge
Just a short (but uphill climb) from Budapest Castle is the Liberty Monument (affectionately known as the ‘Bottle Opener’ by locals) and below that the Liberty Bridge – the third and shortest bridge in Budapest. We found these places by accident on our way to the castle and offer some unique photo opportunities up close.
3. Fisherman’s Bastion
Situated on Castle Hill, Fisherman’s Bastion is the perfect viewing place for panoramic shots of the city, and is framed by fairy tale lookout towers.
4. Chain Bridge
The main bridge that spans Buda and Pest, it is a Hungarian icon, and the first permanent bridge between the 2 cities. No visit to Budapest would be complete without walking across this bridge!
5. Hungarian Parliament Building
An absolutely stunning building, it is a perfect example of Neo-Gothic architecture – and possibly my favorite Parliament building in Europe. Make sure you come back at multiple times of the day – and from different angles – for shots in different light.
6. Shoes on the Danube
A memorial commemorating the Jews murdered in Budapest during the Second World War. The memorial represent those who were forced to remove the shoes on the banks of the river, so that when they were shot their bodies fell into the Danube and we carried away by the tide. Conceived by film-maker Can Togay, it remains one of the most dramatic and moving memorials to the murdered Jews of Europe.
Looking for a little extra history? Read my post in the 4 Sites that will turn your EuroTrip into the Ultimate History Lesson.
(In my humble opinion) the *BEST* Thermal Baths to visit in Budapest. It is the largest medicinal baths in Europe and with 15 indoor baths and 3 large outdoor pools, you’ll be spoilt for choice as you hop form one perfectly heated pool to the next. For the outdoor pools, the temperature is 30 degrees in summer and 34 in winter. Just Perfect! (If you don’t mind braving the cold to get to them!) There are other thermal baths in Budapest, but we preferenced this one, not only for it’s iconic status, but also because there are no restrictions on male/female only bathing. – which is something to bear in mind if going to smaller or less known public baths.
8. Hosok Tere / Hero’s Square
The largest square in Budapest, it was laid out in 1896 on the 100th anniversary of Hungary and has several statues within the structure.
*TIP* If you can visit the square in both daylight and at night, you will get 2 stunning sets of photographs *TIP*
Located in City Park, only minutes from both the Szechenyi Baths and Hero’s Square, Vajdahunyad Castle is a romantic, fairy-tale-style castle whose grounds have exhibits celebrating architectural evolution. Or so the website says. What we found were fantastically whimsical structures immersed in the lake and all open to varying interpretation! A great photo opportunity for the weird and wonderful!
10. State Opera House
A neo-Renessaince Opera House located in the center of Pest, it is an architecturally stunning building and well worth a quick stop.
And a little further away: *Bonus*
11. Memento Park
Kooky and a little strange, Memento Park is a an open air museum dedicated to statues and sculpted plaques from Hungary’s Communist period. There are statues of Lenin, Marx, and Engels, as well as several Hungarian Communist leaders. It is s a unique photograph opportunity if you have some extra time to get out of the city to go take a look!
where to stay in Budapest
These are my top 3 options in each price bracket, to read the full post head on over to my ULTIMATE GUIDE TO WHERE TO STAY IN BUDAPEST – THE BEST HOTELS AND HOSTELS TO SUIT EVERY BUDGET. We’ll have the perfect hotel for you picked out in no time!
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WHERE TO EAT
If your looking to grab a bite to eat, you’ll be spoilt for choice in Budapest. From funky little cafes to some amazing 5* spots, the hardest decision you’ll have to make is how many places can you fit into one visit!
- Lucky 7 Burgers – Lucky 7 offer gourmet burgers, fresh salads, Hungarian specialities, and sweets.
- Pizzica – Pizzica in Nagymező Street is a really cool place where two brothers create the tastiest Roman pizzas that you can eat outside of Italy!
- Bors GasztroBar – Their daily-refreshed specials include soups and baguettes with unique flavoring, various vegetable stews, and pasta creations.
- KönyvBár & Restaurant – A Bookshop inspired restaurant where every week they ‘Cook a Book!’ Think recipes inspired by the ‘Basilix’ from Harry Potter or ‘Snozzcumber’ from the BFG. It’s a cute concept that brings out some amazing food!
- Costes – Smart, neutral-toned dining room for tasting menus of gourmet fish & meat dishes & Hungarian wines.
- Onyx – Gourmet cuisine & tasting menus with wine pairings, in regal dining room.
- Baraka – Baraka is an old-new fine dining restaurant which has a cozy bar and lounge. Led by chef Norbert Bíró, the kitchen moves on a contemporary Asian-European cuisine.
- The Ruin Bars – These bars are built in Budapest’s old District VII neighborhood (the old Jewish quarter) in the ruins of abandoned buildings, stores, or lots. A very unique experience, and one not to miss when in Budapest.
So there you have it – my top picks and highlights for 48 hours in Budapest! Let me know if I have included your favorite spots – and let me know if there are any that I’ve missed!
And if my Top 10 are only scratching the surface for you – head on over to the Crazy Tourist’s Top 25 Things to Do in Budapest!
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Vicki is the Lawyer turned Content Creator, Editor-in-Chief and all round Boss Lady at MakeTimeToSeeTheWorld.
She has lived and worked in 7 different countries and started the site to show everyone that it is possible to travel whilst holding down a full time job (because not everyone can – or wants to – quit and walk away from it all).
Her style of travel has always been to get the best out of a destination as a time poor traveler making the most of limited vacation days and all without breaking the bank; BUT she does know where to save and where to splurge to have the most incredible travel experiences – such as luxury hotels and over-water bungalows, safaris, spas and more(!) – where the situation calls for it.