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One Day in Budapest - Itinerary

You can do more than you think in a day!

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So you only have one day in the Hungarian capital - how on earth are you going to experience the city and see all of the main attractions? Don’t worry, we’ve got you covered with a one-day itinerary, fitting as much as possible into your limited time!


Budapest is a city that’s absolutely full of life and atmosphere, so just wandering the streets you could have a really enjoyable day. There’s no way you’ll see everything in Budapest in just one day, so although just walking through the city would be a relaxing and very viable option, if you want to see as much as possible we recommend following an itinerary like this one. 


Just make sure to wear comfortable shoes! Budapest is a walkable, but large city, so to see the sights you’ll need to do a fair few steps. 


Buda Castle, Budapest
Buda Castle


Your one day in Budapest itinerary - summarised: 

If you just want a quick overview to save reading the details, here's a summary of the itinerary to make the absolute best of a day in Budapest!

  • Buda Castle

  • Central Market Hall

  • Vaci Street

  • Thermal Baths

  • Sightseeing cruise with prosecco

  • Ruin bars


What should I do with one day in Budapest?

First of all, you want to head to Buda Castle. This complex encompasses some of the most famous buildings in the city: the Fisherman’s Bastion, the Matthias Church and of course, the castle itself. Entry to the castle area is free of charge, so you could wander for a couple of hours, see the main sights and not pay a penny! However, if you’d like a more in-depth experience there are lots of options of guided tours available, or you can pay for entry to specific buildings that you’d like to see on site. 


Fisherman's Bastion, Budapest
Fisherman's Bastion - part of the Buda Castle complex

Under the castle, there is a labyrinth of caves that you can also take a tour to explore. It’s a part of Budapest that many tourists, especially those only visiting for a short time, don’t even know is there! This is a great option if the weather isn’t on your side for your day in Budapest. 


Once you’ve explored to your heart’s content, head over the Danube to the Pest side of the city. There you’ll find the main city centre of Budapest, filled with shops, bars, restaurants and markets. Stop at Central Market Hall, a 3-floor market which spans over 10,000 metres! You’ll find fresh produce, street food-style stalls and some amazing gifts (and some absolute rubbish too, as with any market). This is a great place to stop off and grab some traditional food if you’re in a hurry to get on with the rest of your day. 


A good option for street food to grab on the go, and readily available in the Central Market Hall, is Langos. This is a fried flatbread topped with sour cream, lots of cheese, then a range of toppings of your choice. It’s a popular food that originates from Hungary but is also popular across surrounding countries like the Czech Republic, Austria and Slovakia. 


A chimney cake filled with ice cream
A traditional chimney cake filled with ice cream!


Still on the topic of food, you can’t go to Hungary without trying their oldest pastry - Kürtöskalács, also known as chimney cake! Head to Molnar’s Kürtöskalács and choose a flavour from thier huge range. Enjoy it alongside a coffee and recharge from all this exploring you’ve been doing. 






With a boost of energy from all those carbs, caffeine and sugar, you should be ready to go again. You’re now on Vaci Street, one of the most popular shopping streets in Budapest, lined with huge shops, bars and restaurants. Spend an hour or so walking around the area, picking up souvenirs (or new shoes!) and seeing if any restaurants take your fancy for an evening meal later on.


Now, head for a relaxing afternoon at the thermal baths! Thermal spas are one of the attractions that Budapest is so famous for, and there are lots of options to choose from. Some are central and some a little further out, so you may want to jump on the metro or grab a taxi to save time. The most popular and the biggest is definitely Szechenyi, the main outdoor baths on the Pest side of the city. They seem incredible, and even offer a “SPArty” most Saturday nights where you can drink and party inside the baths! 


However, on our very rainy visit we opted to visit the indoor Gellert baths. These were fantastic, had a great range of different pools and a sauna, and overall were such a great experience. You can book here if you'd like to do the same. But there are lots more baths across the city too. You can only fit one into your itinerary, so choose wisely! 


Now you’re well and truly relaxed from your Hungarian spa experience, you can begin to experience Budapest in an evening. Don’t worry, you don’t have to take shots and dance the night away (yet), first, take an evening sightseeing cruise down the Danube. This will allow you to see all the sights of Budapest, lit up beautifully for the night, without running around to see everything on foot. You’ll see the Hungarian Parliament building, the most beautiful Parliament in Europe in our opinion, along with lots of other sites. 


A glass of prosecco with a view of the Hungarian Parliament Building behind it
Beautiful views and prosecco, what's not to love?


We actually booked this sightseeing cruise with bottomless prosecco included and it was one of the best experiences we had! We thought it was too good to be true for only just over £20pp for 90 mins, but it was a beautiful cruise and drinks flowed freely the whole time. You can book it here if you’d like to do the same. 


If the drinks are flowing and you’d like to continue, Budapest is definitely a great place to be! Budapest is famous for its nightlife, specifically ruin bars. These are once derelict buildings such as abandoned warehouses that have been converted into huge community spaces. They’re bustling with locals and tourists alike every evening. 


We loved Szimpla Kert, the biggest ruin complex in the city. It’s made up of lots of different, vibrant bars, but most of the drinks across the bars are the same range and prices. It is a major tourist attraction in Budapest, so it can get pretty busy, loud and it isn’t the cheapest place in the city, but the electric atmosphere is something you don’t want to miss out on! 


A colourful bar with a disco ball and bright lights
One of the many bars in Ruin Pub Szimpla Kert

If that’s not really your speed, there are also lots of smaller and quieter ruin pubs around the city. Most are open from early evening but stay open and get louder until the early hours of the morning. Alternatively, head back over to Vaci Street for an evening meal, relax and enjoy your stunning surroundings. Budapest is beautiful both day and night, so make sure to take a walk once the sun has set too, to see the streets lit up for the night.


ADDITIONAL INFORMATION:


Is one day enough time to spend in Budapest?

Honestly, not really. Budapest is an absolutely huge city, packed with interesting people, culture, history and brilliant experiences. But in our experience travelling, you never feel like you have enough time, and you can definitely see a lot of the main sights in a day if you move at a relatively quick pace. 


I’m in Budapest for longer than a day, what else can I do?

The city of Budapest is full of attractions, so don’t worry, you won’t be bored spending more than a day. Here are some more ideas of things to do:

  • Take your time with this itinerary and spread the things to do over a few days. Spend a whole day exploring Buda castle and the caves below, then another whole day relaxing at the thermal baths. 

  • Do a Hungarian Beer tasting experience in a local bar

  • Visit innovative museums like the pinball museum!

  • Try more traditional Hungarian foods like goulash or chicken paprikash at small, local cafes and restaurants away from the main tourist areas

  • Search for tours and experiences in Budapest on GetYourGuide here


How do I get to Budapest?

Budapest is easily accessible by air, with direct flights from many major cities around the UK and Europe. It's easy to get from the airport into the city centre either by the public bus or a quick taxi (we recommend using the Bolt app across Budapest, it’s really good value for money). Budapest is also accessible by train or coach from major cities in Hungary and surrounding countries. 


You could easily combine a trip to Budapest with another city and take the train between them. For example, Vienna is just over 3 hours away on the train and so is Bratislava. We got the train to Prague, which took around 7 hours!


How do I get around Budapest?

Budapest is a very walkable city. It’s flat, and pretty easy to navigate, especially with the help of Google Maps!


However, Bolt taxis and Ubers are in good supply all across the city, and they’re very good value for money, so these are a great alternative if you’re short on time or don’t fancy the walk. Plus, Budapest also has a good metro system, trams and buses around the city! We recommend just having a look on Google maps before setting off to see which line is best to take. 


Where shall I stay in Budapest?

You can search for accommodation in Budapest on Booking.com or Expedia to find the best option for your budget and the size of the group you’re travelling with. 


What else do I need to know about Budapest?

Visas: Citizens of most countries do not need a visa to visit Hungary for a stay of up to 90 days.

Currency: The currency of Hungary is the Hungarian Forint. Be careful, a lot of places will convert prices to Euros but add on a pretty large conversion fee. It's always so much better to pay in the local currency if you can.

Language: The official language of Hungary is Hungarian. However, English is widely spoken in Budapest.

Time zone: Hungary is in the Central European Time Zone, usually an hour ahead of the UK.


Hopefully this itinerary will help you to make the most of your short time in Budapest! Don’t forget to let us know if you use it by tagging us in your social media posts (@sightseekrtravel) and using #sightseekr when you share pictures!


Have a brilliant time! - Jess




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