Category Archives: Hungary

Fun 3 Days in Budapest Itinerary

3 Day Budapest Itinerary Gellert Hill

So you’ve decided on Budapest as your next city break. You’ve followed our where to stay guide and now it’s time to plan your 3 days in Budapest itinerary. This is a city full of history, baths, wholesome food and ruin bars so there really is something for everyone.  Hungary has never been so accessible! This ultimate guide on things to do in Budapest will look at both Buda and Pest sides, and give you a Budapest 3 day itinerary covering everything Hungary’s capital is famous for.


» You may also like: What and where to eat in Budapest


Three days in Budapest Itinerary 

Day One

Morning at Buda Castle and Fisherman’s Bastion

Wondering what to do in Budapest when you first arrive?

For me, the best place to start is on the banks of the River Danube, on the Buda side.

Simply just standing on the sidewalk, overlooking the river and across to the Hungarian Parliament Building, is breath-taking.

Starting here is ideal because it gives you an idea of the size of the two Budapest sides which helps you find your bearings.

As you look around from this point near famous The Chain Bridge, you can spot Buda Castle, Fisherman’s Bastion and see the sheer scale of the historic buildings you will be exploring. 

As I stayed on the Buda side, I used the Castle Tour Bus to get to Buda Castle.

This is a small golf cart type buggy which takes you to the top of Castle Hill to Buda Castle.

This is a godsend as it saves your legs for all the ground you will cover walking around the attractions on Castle Hill. 

Entry to Buda Castle is free.

The whole of the Buda Castle buildings covers an area of around 4.73km squared. As you wander through the beautifully paved streets, one of the first buildings you stumble across is The Presidential Palace.

It is here you will find the Changing of the Guards. This is performed every hour on the hour. It is a spectacular sight and as they march around the courtyard, you can take videos and photos. 

After watching this, you wander down towards the National History and the National Gallery.

With your Budapest Card, you can gain free entry into these museums. Wandering along the walls of the Castle, you have the city vistas on both sides and gain tremendous views and you understand why it is such a beautiful city to visit. 


→ Top Budapest Travel Tip

My top investment tip is to purchase a Budapest Card.

This card is worth its weight in gold.

You can use it as a travel pass and go on public transport free, gain access to many attractions at no cost and also get into the famous Lukacs Thermal Baths.

The card is valid for anything from 24 hours up 120 hours, depending on the duration of your trip.

I purchased the 72-hour card and saved the money paid on the first day.


After spending some time wandering around the Castle, your next point of call is The Fisherman’s Bastion.

Situated in the Holy Trinity Square, this building is world-famous for its turrets and spires. The panoramic views from the terraces are the best in the city.

Entry to the lower terraces is free and with your Budapest Card, you benefit from a 10% discount for entry to the upper terraces.

St Micheal’s Chapel offers you a 3D show of Hungarian History which is free with your Budapest Card. 

With your ticket, you also get into Matthias Church or Church of Our Lady. This iconic colored roofed building can be seen from the Pest side of the river.

Matthias Church is not only the most visited and most popular Roman Catholic church in Budapest but its seven-hundred-year-old history also serves as a symbol of the capital’s rich historic past. 

Also in Trinity Square is the Magdalene Church Tower. The tower offers views from the top that are breathtaking and is worth climbing a total of 170 stairs to the top. Entry prices for these attractions are 4300 HUF, $15 or £11. 

If you want to have a more in-depth tour of the Castle, I suggest the three hour Buda Castle walk. This tour allows you to visit the Royal Palace, a World War II bunker, the National Széchényi Library, Matthias Church and Fisherman’s Bastion. (From $54 or £43 per person).

Buda Castle


Afternoon: Labyrinth and War Museum

After all this walking, you’ll be glad to rest for lunch.

The restaurants around the Castle offer plenty of choices to sit and rest before you start your afternoon of exploring.

Be warned, they are in District V, which is one of the most expensive districts, so will be pricier than others at the bottom of the hill.  

After seeing the top half of Buda Castle, you should explore the underneath.

The Labyrinth under the Castle takes you to an underground maze of the Buda Castle Hills. Wandering through the dark maze, you encounter coffin, special lighting, and fog.

I suggest using your mobile phone torchlight here, as it can be poorly lit. While it’s not a scary experience, it can be a little unsettling for younger members of the party. Prices are 3000 HUF, $10 or £8 per adult. 

Walking back into the daylight, you will be ready for the next part of the afternoon.

The best way down the hill is to hop back on the Castle Bus Tour buggy. This will take you a different way down the hill that you came up.

At the bottom of the hill is the War Museum, translated for Hungarian as ‘A New World was Born.’ This well laid out museum takes you through the military history of Hungary in very visual and interactive displays. It takes about 2 hours to walk through and enjoy all the exhibits and has the bonus of being free entry with your Buda Card. 

Once you emerge from here, you find yourself on the banks of the Danube and it is about a 15-minute walk back to where the Castle Bus Tour picked you up in the morning. There are plenty of cafes along the way if you fancy an afternoon coffee. 


Evening – Hungarian Food and Danube Cruise

After a busy day, you’ll be ready for a good meal. I can recommend Csalánosi Csárda Óbuda. Situated in District III, Old Buda, this traditional Hungarian Restaurant offers you huge portions of great food. 

Not only is the food a great price but the wine and beer are too. I had the delicious Hungarian rose wine. 

If you are after a romantic evening, then a Budapest night river cruise on the Danube is worth checking out. 

There are some with live music and others that just allow you to enjoy the scenery as you sip a glass of wine. Prices start from $11 or £8 up to $14 or £11 person. 

Hungarian Parliament Building and Cruise Budapest_


2 Days in Budapest

Welcome to another full day of what Budapest has to offer. Remember your swimsuit today!

Morning Chain Bridge and City Park 

One of the top ten things to do in Budapest is to walk across the famous Chain Bridge and that’s where we start today.

Once you have reached the Pest side, you will see the difference between the two sides of Budapest. It is a more bustling area to explore and it’s on this site that most of the shopping malls are situated. 

To get there walk over the Chain Bridge. This is the iconic bridge that connects Buda with Pest. It was built in the 1800s and is classed as a Hungarian national symbol. 

Once over, grab a bite to eat at local gem, Hold Utcai Piac market at Budapest, Unit 22, Hold u. 13. Goulash is a firm favorite in Hungary. 

Don’t fancy walking? You can purchase a ticket for the City Sightseeing bus tour before you go here. If you want to save your feet, then this is a great way to explore what the Pest side of the city has to offer before you decide what to do.

With durations from 24 hours to 72 hours, I would highly recommend purchasing this ticket. (Prices from $25 or £20 to $37 or £29.)

Getting on the bus at Chain Bridge, you stay on and watch the wonders of Pest go by. You are given earphones so you can listen to the commentary of the history in your language. 

Hop off the bus at the furthest away point, Heroes Square. Located at the end of Andrassy Avenue, this is one of the most visited squares in Budapest. This is a monument to mark the 1000th year of Hungary’s Heroes. 

Right opposite Heroes Square is the City Park.

On the outskirts of the park, is a Castle modeled on a Transylvanian castle called Vajdahunyad Castle.

There is an artificial lake here also where you can hire a pedalo and have a sail on the water. A lot of fun!

In the winter, the lake becomes an ice rink which is a favorite with the locals. Check out more things to do in winter here. The buildings surrounding the lake have recently been refurbished and there is a choice of eateries here from cheap to expensive.  Don’t eat too much if you plan to spend the afternoon at the baths. 

As you cross the bridge and walk into the castle grounds, there are plenty of photo opportunities. The architecture is spectacular. There are a couple of museums here which allow you to wander around the castle. If you are interested in agricultural history, this one’s for you.

Once you have explored the castle, the park has many different attractions that you can enjoy.

If you have time, check out the Botanical Gardens. With your Budapest card, you will get 25% off the entry price. Prices from 2500 HUF, $9 or £7. 

Szechenyi Chain Bridge Snow Budapest


Afternoon Enjoying Széchenyi Baths

After you wander around the Gardens, you should go to the Széchenyi Baths, Budapest spa.

These are the most famous public baths in Hungary. From the outside, you would be forgiven for thinking that this was a palace, so stately is the building.

In high season, the baths are busy with tourists and locals alike. You can reserve a skip the line ticket here before you go.

It is a great place to relax and enjoy the healing waters, or to take a few laps in one of the 18 swimming pools!

Some of these pools are indoors and others are outdoor and 15 of these pools are spring-fed and the locals like to go along and indulge in a game of chess while sitting in the steaming water. It’s a great way to ease your feet and muscles after all your exploring. 

Admission includes a locker and access to all of the indoor and outdoor pools, saunas, steam baths, and the gym. If you stay less than two hours, you will get a partial refund.

Things to Know Before Going to Budapest Baths

  • Choose a cabin to get changed in. It allows you more privacy, especially if there are two of you. 
  • Take two towels, one to keep in your cabin/locker and/one to take with you as you get in and out of the different pools. 
  • Some of the pools are as hot as 40 degrees!
  • You must book any treatments in advance.
  • The baths are social, people talk to each other.
  • There is a water rapid which is fun.

After you have enjoyed this, wander back through the park to the City Sightseeing bus tour stop.

Then enjoy the ride and seeing all the sights as you head back to the town center. The good thing about the City Sightseeing bus tour is that once you are back in the busy parts of Pest, you can hop off and back on another to get to the Buda side.

Just look out for the ‘Buda Side’ signs on the front of the buses. 

Szechenyi Baths Budapest


Alternatives to Széchenyi Baths

There are a number of baths in Budapest so if spas really are the main reason for visiting Budapest you can try out a few. 

The Gellert (pictured) can be found on the Buda side of the city. If you choose the Gellert baths, do the hike up Gellert Hill for vast views of the city. 

Rudas is spa which has the cool glass dome looking over the city.

You can reserve a spa day at Rudas here which also includes dinner at the complex which overlooks the Danube River.  

Gellert Spa Budapest


Evening Ruin Bars

You’re ready to sample Budapest nightlife after the baths, I suggest checking out the Ruin Bars in the Jewish Quarter of the city.

These are bars that have been set up in the old ruined buildings of WW2. Often unassuming and you can walk by one without knowing it is there!

The most famous is Szimpla Kert. This huge building is filled with live music, characterful rooms, and a great atmosphere. Hungary is famous for pálinka. This is a fruity brandy that is extremely potent and will give you a bit of a sore head the next day! 

Next to Szimpla Kert there is a food truck area called Karavan which is great for grabbing a quick meal. 


Day Three

Morning at Hungarian Parliament

Remember your rehydration tablets US / UK today, after your big night out! 

We begin today, on the Pest side again.

As you walk along the banks of the river Danube, towards the Hungarian Parliament building, you will find the Shoes on the River Danube memorial.

These shoes are cast in bronze and symbolize the Budapest Jewish lives that were lost during WW2. They were lined up on the side of the river and had to remove their shoes as shoes were a valuable asset at the time. They were then shot by Arrow Cross militiamen. It is part of the dark history of Budapest.

Jewish shoes River Danube Budapest

From here, you carry on along the banks towards the Hungarian Parliament building. This is one of the most striking and memorable buildings in Budapest. The architecture is simply stunning. This is a must-visit for every visitor to Budapest.

The inside of the Parliament is where the crown is kept and it is well guarded by the soldiers. The tour guide, which is in your language, is knowledgeable and takes you around some of the very important government rooms.

The tour takes around one hour. You must book this in advance and the tickets are only available through the Parliament website. 

Tickets cost 3500 HUF for EU citizens ($11 or £12) and 6700 HUF for non-EU citizens ($22 or £17).

While you are waiting for your time slot, there is an underground exhibition for you to explore in the grounds. This is in memoriam of the massacre in the square in front of the Parliament building. This occurred in 1956 on October 25.

The exhibition is based mainly around photographs and video clips along with soundbites from survivors of the event. In Kossuth Square, you can also witness the changing of the guard and wander around the various monuments of old rulers. 

Hungarian Parliament Building Budapest_

Afternoon Butcher Lunch and Walking Tour

Lunch today is a unique experience at Belvarosi Disznotoros approximately 20 minutes walk from the Parliament. 

Belvarosi Disznotoros is a butcher/deli which specializes in meats and soups. Stand with the locals at the outside leaning tables or sit down inside to enjoy a hot bowl of soup. 

Belvarosi Disznotoros Butcher Budapest, Taste Hungary

Next, get to know the city a little more intimately during a free (pay by tips) walking tour.

This free tour starts at 14:30 daily, leaving from Elisabeth (Erzsebet) Square at the city’s Ferris wheel. 

Learn more about Budapest attractions such as St Stephen’s Basilica, Gresham Palace and Chain Bridge. 

If you want something a little different, then why not book an alternative Budapest tour.

This takes you off the beaten track and you explore music, graffiti, and fashion of the city. Prices are from $23 or £18.

Meeting point is less than 5 minutes walk from lunch at Deak Ferenc Ter.

Evening New York Cafe

As it’s your last evening in Budapest, I suggest the New York Cafe for dinner. This world-famous cafe is billed as one of the most beautiful cafes in the world, you will not be disappointed as you walk through the doors.

Stunning interiors match the delicious food on offer.

All that’s left to do is wander back to your hotel room enjoying Budapest lit up at night and remember all the amazing experiences you’ve had.


Other Things to do in Budapest

We always like to provide as many options as possible as we understand that not everyone travels for the same reasons. There are honestly so many places to visit in Budapest that three days is a good taster but you will want to go back.

Gemma from Two Scots Abroad first visited when she was 19 years old and has now spent just under two weeks in Budapest over two trips, Craig has visited a further two times and is booked up to go again. They have a friend called Robert who they like to hang out with in Pest. 

Budapest’s House of Terror Museum

Looking for a bit of history of the Hungarian people and the two terror regimes that they have survived?

Look no further than the House of Terror also known as Terror Házá Múzeum located at 60 Andrássy Avenue near City Park. 

The 2 – 3-hour audio journey through the rooms of building used to terrorise and torture is a sobering experience but one you will remember, as many Hungarians try to forget.

Central Market Hall

The most popular food spot for tourists is Central Market Hall (Vámház krt. 1-3). Here stalls serve langos which is a delicious fried pudding based meal with sour cream and cheese topping. So fatty, so good. 

You can also drink Unicum and try strudel. 

Budapest Central Market, Taste Hungary

Shopping

The main shopping street is Váci Street (utca) which runs from Vörösmrty Square to Central Market Hall. 

You will find vintage shops dotted around the Jewish Quarter. 

Erzsébet Square

Erzsébet Square in the very heart of Budapest. Here you will find an open-air shallow pool.

It’s time to slip your shoes off and pop your feet into this wee bit of heaven. Sitting on the side, you can watch the world go by whilst enjoying an ice cream from one of the vendors nearby.

There is even a Ferris wheel if you want to see the city from a different viewpoint.

Also a nice evening spot for chilled out beers in the park.

Memento Park

If the public baths are not for you, then you could always head out to Memento Park.

This is a park that displays 42 pieces of art from the Communist era between 1945 and 1989. A very different way to see the Communist history which Hungary has. The park states that it is about dictatorship and that only a country with democracy can think freely about dictatorship. 

To get there, you will have to use public transport. The Memento Park Direct Bus transfer from Deak Ter, in the center of Budapest. It leaves every 15 mins, so it is only a short ride away. 

Using your Budapest Card, entry to the park is free as is your bus journey. Otherwise, it is 1200 HUF, $4 or £3.

Margaret Island 

In summer, locals flocks to Margaret Island to cycle around the green space and eat a picnic lunch. 


Essential Budapest Information

Budapest Currency

Budapest uses the Hungarian Forint. You can exchange before you as it is not difficult to get hold of. I will say, Hungary is great value for money and you may feel like you are spending lots because it is mainly in 1000s, but you really won’t be spending much at all. 

Getting to and Getting Around Budapest

Buses are frequent from the airport and take you directly in the middle of the city. 

You can use the mass transit system easily around town, or walk the city center. 

Coming from Slovenia? Here’s how to get here or go there by train, car and taxi. 

Tip → If you have ample time in the city, do consider some of the popular day trips from Budapest like the train ride to Eger (wine), a tour to the Danube Bend or Miskolctapolca cave baths.

Find out more in Gemma’s guide to easy day trips from Budapest

Best Time to Visit Budapest 

The best time to visit really depends on your reason for going. Hoping for glorious sunshine days to spend in the park and at the baths, but don’t mind crowds, June, July and August are for you. 

Hoping to catch dry weather with fewer people around? April/May and September/October do see some rain but fewer crowds.

Looking for a festive trip to drink mulled wine at the Christmas markets, skate at the city ice rink and see a show? December is the perfect month for you. You can find out all the best things to do in December in Budapest here

Budapest Christmas Market in front of St Stephens Bascillica

Where to Stay in Budapest 

I chose the Aquincum Hotel at Old Buda/District III as it is a three-minute walk from the train station, right next to the tram stops and looks right over the Danube.

The Jewish Quarter is a popular spot for those looking to drink palinka until dawn and need to stumble back to their accommodation. Check out The Roombach Hotel for a boutique hotel in this area. 

How Many Days in Budapest?

You could spend a week in Budapest and still not experience all of the activities and eat all of the local treats. Ideally, three days is enough to touch baes with the top attractions on both sides of the river and get one decent night out in the Jewish Quarter.

You could just concentrate on one side if you only had 48 hours. 

If you are visiting as part of a day trip, I would suggest using the time during your one day in Budapest wisely by either using the hop-on/off bus tour and/or doing a tour. 


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Final Words

Budapest is a huge city. You will thoroughly enjoy your time here. The history is immersing and the people are so friendly. This itinerary could have been filled three times over, so if you find something fun and new to do, drop us a comment in the box below. 

About the author – Ruth is a school teacher and a travel fanatic with a bucket list that’s getting smaller.

Where to Stay in Budapest: 6 Best Districts

Where to Stay in Budapest Hungary St. Stephen's Basilica

Budapest is fast becoming one of the most popular cities to explore on a short city break. With castles, museums, churches, famous squares and monuments to explore, you will not be short of things to do. Top of your planning list is the best place to stay in Budapest. With 23 districts, this can be a minefield of hotels, hostels, and apartments. This guide will take you through some of the best hotels in Budapest and help take the legwork out of this part of your holiday planning. 


» You may also like: jam-packed Budapest itinerary 


Best Places to Stay in Budapest Overview

  • District I Buda Castle: Best for history fans
  • District VII former Jewish Quarter: Best for drinking
  • District III: Óbuda-Aquincum: Old Buda, affordable
  • District VI Terézváros: Best for shopping trips

Budapest’s Districts

Did you know that Buda and Pest are two separate areas divided by the Danube flowing through its center?

There is so much to do packed into every district in the city so I am going to look at six popular districts and show you what they have to offer in the way of interests and hotels.

District I Buda Castle

The famous Buda Castle is located on the Buda side of the Danube. This district offers you cobbled streets, grand monuments and medieval architecture. With the castle on the top of a hill overlooking the whole city, you are drawn into this historical part of Budapest. 

District III

Óbuda-Aquincum: The oldest and second-largest district, Obuda, or Old Buda, is in the north part of the Buda side of Budapest. With impressive Baroque style buildings, this district offers you the Zichy Palace, museums and fabulous Hungarian restaurants.  

District V Belváros (Inner City) or Downtown Budapest & Lipótváros

This district is on the Pest side of the Danube. It is right in the heart of the city center and boasts the beautiful Hungarian Parliament Building, St Stephen’s Basilica as well as more upmarket hotels such as the Four Seasons. 

District VI Terézváros 

With a thriving cultural life, this district offers you Budapest’s Broadway. Here you can visit the Hungarian State Opera House, the Liszt Ferenc Music Academy, and the Operetta Theater. The historic Andrássy Avenue runs the whole way through District VI and offers you shopping along with great restaurants and bars.

District VII the former Jewish Quarter

his is the heart of the Jewish community in Budapest and has several synagogues. The Great Synagogue in Dohány utca is the second largest and the most beautiful synagogue in the world. It is perhaps the most hipster part of the city with ruin bars, street food, beer gardens and more speciality cafes situated here. It is also the district where the famous New York Palace Hotel is.

District VIII 

Known as the Palace District because aristocratic families of the Austro-Hungarian Empire built more than 30 palaces and mansions. With most now restored after the Wars and the revolution of 1956, they are now home to universities, museums and hotels.

St Stephen's Basilica Budapest


Getting Around Budapest

Most of the city center and the attractions are suitable for walking. However, to get to all the different attractions in the various districts you will need to consider transport.

Budapest has an extensive public transport network and it is also very easy on the pocket.

With the Metro offering the M1,2,3, and 4 lines, you can easily hop on underground and most stops are near a tourist attraction.
The Yellow Streetcars are also easy to navigate and will save your feet as you go between attractions.

I visited Budapest in July this year and I bought the Budapest Card. It gives you free use of the public transport network around the city. It also provides free access to the Castle and many other top attractions. I would highly recommend this card.

The card comes in 24,48 and 72 hour passes.

Another way to get around by wheels is to use a hop on hop off sightseeing tour bus.

With tickets for 24, 48 or 72 hours, this bus will take you to the furthest away attractions without you wearing your feet out.

So easy to use, and stops all over the city on both sides of the Danube, it is well worth the money.

I also bought this ticket while I was in Budapest.

It gave me respite from walking all day and allowed me to see the whole of the city before I decided what I wanted to see first.


Best Area to Stay in Budapest

District I Buda Castle

With this district being right in the center and of course beside the Castle, expect to pay a premium price for your accommodation. That doesn’t mean that you won’t find a wee hidden gem, though.

Budget Hotel

The Art’otel Budapest is situated right on the banks of the Danube River. It offers panoramic views of the Castle and the Fisherman’s Bastion. Within a ten minute walk, you are at Buda Castle. A modern hotel with wifi, and free access to the sauna and fitness facilities, this is an excellent choice for a budget hotel in Budapest.

Boutique Hotel

The Monastery Boutique Hotel is a new addition to the hotel accommodation in Budapest. Situated in a 300-year-old Abbey, built by the Capuchin Order, this trendy hotel is close to the Fisherman’s Bastion and the famous Chain Bridge. 

Luxury Hotel

As far as the best location to stay in Budapest goes, The Hilton Hotel is all about location, location, location. With unprecedented views over the city and situated right next to the main attractions, The Hilton offers you luxury in the historic part of this breathtaking city. 


District III: Óbuda-Aquincum

This is the district I stayed in when visiting.

Known as Old Buda, it offered us the hotel accommodation at a great price, while being on the mainline for public transport. The restaurants in this district, offer authentic Hungarian food and the wine is delicious. A quieter area to the hotels in Budapest City center. 

Budget Hotel

The Holiday Beach Budapest Wellness Hotel is the only boat-shaped hotel in the city. Featuring an outdoor pool, views over the Danube and free wifi, this is a great wee find to rest those weary legs and feet after a full day’s exploring. 

Mid Range Hotel

We opted for the Aquincum Hotel. It is a three-minute walk away from the train station, right next to the tram stops and looks right over the Danube. We decided not to take breakfast in the hotel and opted to grab a pastry and coffee from the bakery at the train station. I like a lie-in! It is also one of the many hotels with a pool in Budapest. 

Chimney Cake Budapest_


District V Belváros (Inner City)

Right in the heart of the city centre, District V can be classed as the best area to stay in Budapest. With the Hungarian Parliament Building, St Stephen’s Basilica and many different restaurants all within walking distance, you are spoiled for choice as to where to start your day. 

Budget Hotel/Apartments

The TG Design Suites Aparthotel offers modern accommodation in Budapest city center. These apartments are within walking distance of everything that district V has to offer. If it’s a good base for the nightlife that Budapest has, then this is for you!

Boutique Hotel

As far as hotels in Budapest’s city center go, Hotel Parliament is one to grab while you can. Situated in a beautiful stone building, you are offered the modern with the historical by this boutique hotel Budapest. Air Conditioning, a spa, and free wifi are just some of what this hotel has to offer. 

Luxury Hotel

If you are looking for the best hotel location in Budapest, then the luxurious Four Seasons Hotel offers you just that. Right in front of the Chain Bridge and within walking distance of all of the main attractions that Budapest has, the Four Seasons offers you everything you want in a luxury hotel.

Hungarian Parliament Building Budapest_


District VI Terézváros

If it’s shopping you love, then District VI is the place for you. The main shopping street, Andrassy Avenue is here, as well as close proximity to the many shopping malls that Budapest has to offer. Know also as Budapest Broadway, the Hungarian Opera State House is a must for music lovers.

Budget Hotel/Apartment

When it comes to cheap accommodation, Budapest offers you modern apartments. The Karma Boutique Apartments are close to the public baths – which should be on everyone’s must-visit list. The metro yellow line is only a couple of minutes’ walk away. 

Mid Range Hotel

The Medosz Hotel Budapest is one of the most searched for hotels in this area. Near the Liszt Ferenc Square and around a ten-minute walk to the various attractions, this hotel should be on your Budapest where to stay list.

Luxury Hotel

Everyone has a little prince or princess tendencies – right? Well, my inner princess has always wanted to stay in a palace and Budapest offers just this! The Mystery Hotel Budapest is situated in an eclectic palace which was built in the 19th Century. This luxury hotel is historically themed and each room has its own special decor. Again it is near to the Hungarian State Opera and St Stephen’s Basilica. 

Christmas tree, decorations, Vaci Street shopping Budapest


District VII the former Jewish Quarter

Hotels in the Pest side of Budapest are often close to the public transport stations and offer some of the cheapest hotels Budapest city center has to offer.

The former Jewish Quarter is no exception. Giving you the best in nightlife and ruin bars – yes that’s bars set in run-down buildings but with the most amazing atmosphere, this district is for those of you who want to explore the city in the day and enjoy the nightlife of Budapest.  

This is the district that Gemma and Craig from Two Scots Abroad stay when they visit Budapest. Craig has visited every year since 2016.

Budget Hotel

Although budget, The Eurostars Danube Budapest gets a great review from visitors. Staff are friendly, rooms are clean and the location if ideal for stumbling into bed after drinking palinka. 

Boutique Hotel

As far as 3-star hotels in Budapest go, The Roombach Hotel is a cozy boutique feel hotel. Close to amazing restaurants and within a short walk of the historic attractions, this hotel offers you everything you need. 

Luxury Hotel

One of the best hotels in Budapest Hungary is the New York Palace Hotel. Situated within a 19th Century building this hotel offers luxury like no other. At the heart of the hotel is the famous New York Cafe. Here you can feast on fine dining Hungarian cuisine while soaking in the frescos and stucco columns.

Budapest Central Market Unicum, Taste Hungary

 


District VIII Palace District

All of Budapest districts have their own unique qualities to offer the traveler. None more so than the Palace District. This district is perfect for those who are interested in monuments, architecture and sightseeing.

Budget Hotel

When it comes to cheap hotels in Budapest, the Silver Boutique gives you a modern clean room with air conditioning and wifi  – all with a boutique feel. It is close to the historic attractions that Budapest offers and public transport. 

Mid Range Hotel

If you are looking for a beautiful building both inside and out, Hotel Museum Budapest offers you this option. It boasts its own Turkish Bath, free wifi, air conditioning and close proximity to everything Budapest has to offer. 

Luxury Suites

If you are traveling as a group and want something a little different, these luxury suites offer you just this. Giving you the independence you want combining with all the hotel services you need, these suites are perfect for a more independent traveler. 


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Final Words 

So, when you ask what is the best district to stay in Budapest, the answer is it is up to your own itinerary. The choice of hotels is huge and hopefully, this guide has narrowed the field down for you. I would say that while there are bed and breakfast options in Budapest, it is much nicer to explore the city in the morning and find a cafe to enjoy breakfast in.  

14 Festive Things to do in Budapest in December [Local Tips]

Magical winter markets, hot thermal baths and cool Christmas events, there are lots of festive things to do in Budapest in December. This guide details what the locals love to do in Budapest during winter as well as the popular must-see attractions. 

Why trust me? I’m Robert, a Hungarian digital content creator who lives in Budapest. I’m actually good friends with Gemma and Craig, Two Scots Abroad. They lived with me for a short time!

Don’t miss their all year round Budapest itinerary too.

Things to do in Budapest in Winter

Budapest Christmas Markets

1. Vörösmarty Square Christmas Market 

Budapest Christmas markets have a big reputation amongst visitors as they have an unbeatable vibe.

Get lost under a million sparkling fairy lights, stroll from vendor to vendor with mulled wine in your hands and try our famous chimney cake treat or poppy seed strudel.

Don’t be afraid to go for the traditional Hungarian savory food too Look out for sült kolbász (sausages), tökipompos (special pies) or soup in bread bowls.

You can purchase Christmas gifts such as handmade souvenirs, craft chocolates and speciality coffees. There are over 100 stalls to choose from.  

The oldest and most popular market is at Vörösmarty Square (verr-ersh-mor-ty tay-r). 

2. Basilica Christmas Market

The biggest, Basilica Christmas Market, is in front of the famous Szent István Basilica (St Stephen’s Basilica).

At this market, you are surrounded by wonderful buildings and architecture in the heart of the city. 

Musicians play at both markets for the entirety of December. Expect Christmas carols creating a festive atmosphere, even in the daytime.

3. Food Market for Locals

Although the Christmas markets are just popups for winter, Budapest has permanent markets which I recommend visiting.

Hold Utcai Piac is gastronomic heaven with a Michelin-star bistro in the middle of the market.

Whether you are looking for cheese, cold cuts, fish dishes or restaurants with traditional or unique food, this is the place to go.  More touristy travel guides will tell you to go to Budapest’s Central Market, which is alright, but locals prefer Hold Utcai Piac.


» Love food? Here’s where and what to eat in Budapest


Budapest Christmas Market in front of St Stephens Bascillica

4. Philosopher’s Garden and the Castle

Psst, don’t tell it to anyone! 

Whether there is snow or not, check out Philosopher’s Garden on the way up to Gellért.

Pro tip – Use the western side of the hill. As it is separate from the main tourist route, it is less crowded.

Bring hot tea with you in a thermos flask and meet the “Philosophers”, the great religious leaders from the past. 

5. Buda Castle at Christmas 

From here you can walk around Buda Castle, another amazing building overlooking the Danube river. 

There are always seasonal exhibitions and art galleries inside the main building, as well as their main exhibits, so it’s easy to spend a whole day just exploring the hidden alleys, twisting steps and cultural heritage of the past and present.

You don’t have to pay to enter the castle, just for the exhibitions!  During the run-up to New Year’s Day, there are free celebrations at the castle too (29th-31st). 


» You may also like: Best places to stay in Budapest


Szechenyi Chain Bridge Snow Budapest

6. Ice Skating Under the Castle

One of the oldest and most beautiful ice rinks in Middle-Europe is based in Budapest.

Next to Heroes Square, under the watchful eyes of Vajdahunyad Castle, you will find Városliget (City Park) ice rink, where you can play on the ice with hundreds of happy people enjoying the winter wonderland!

Expect some mulled wine here as well. This is our ultimate cinnamon and anise drink for winter, warming your body from the inside.

If you can, visit at night to enjoy the romantic lighting of the castle and the square, romantic!


» Here are the best 34 cities to visit to experience Christmas markets in Europe


7. Budapest Thermal Baths in Winter

Can you imagine a better way to rest your muscles than lowering yourself in hot and steaming thermal water? 

Budapest offers a bunch of thermal spas varying in size, price and crowds.

Széchenyi is the biggest, the most well-known, the most beautiful, but also the most crowded.

Skip the line with this pre-paid entry ticket

Looking for a Budapest bath party? This is the place you want to go. 

Check out the website for upcoming parties and programs.

If you are hoping for a smaller, more hidden bath, you don’t even have to go far from Gellért hill. 

Right at its base is Rudas thermal bath, a lovely and more relaxing spa for those who would like to enjoy the steaming water and get lost in their own thoughts. 

Gellért thermal bath is also a great option, especially if you are looking for stunning architecture: surrounded by an exceptional building, you really feel the walls can tell you some great stories from the past here.

There are literally over a hundred options for spas in Budapest (including wellness hotels), so it is hard – and not recommended – to miss your chance to soak in the hot water for a couple of hours.

Szechenyi Baths Snow Budapest

8. Sledding in Budapest 

Normafa is a popular spot amongst Budapestians with nice slopes for sledding, strudel vendors and lovely views.

Catch 21 to reach Normafa here.

9. Christmas Streetcar

Budapest is famous for its streetcars and come December, some of the trams get the twinkle light treatment for locals and tourists to enjoy a festive ride!

Check out the schedule here

You can use your Budapest Card to ride the festive tram.

There is no heating on the streetcars so wrap up warm. 

Christmas Streetcar Budapest

10. St. Stephen Basilica Budapest Christmas Concerts 

Listen to an award-winning organist fill the Basilica with Bach, Beethoven and Schubert.

These events are ticketed and only on select days. 

Find out more here

11. Christmas Shopping in Budapest 

The main shopping area in Budapest is Váci Street (utca).

This pedestrianized area runs from Vörösmrty Square to Central Market Hall and has lots of recognizable shops.  Designer wear can be bought on Andrássy Avenue and vintage shops can be found around the Jewish Quarter. 

Don’t forget you can pick up some gifts at the Christmas markets too.

Christmas tree, decorations, Vaci Street shopping Budapest

New Year’s Eve in Budapest

Szilveszter is the day we celebrate the 31st December celebrations in Hungary. We typically spend time with loved ones, eat good food, and drink alcohol, of course! 

Traditional alcohol in Hungary is called Pálinka which means ‘to distil’ or ‘to burn’.

The latter is not in reference to what happens to your throat after you taste it although some tourists, like Gemma and Craig, would argue it is a perfect description! It is common for families to make their own Pálinka at home (my Grandad makes it) but you can buy it in bars too.

Don’t worry, Hungarians are friendly, if you want to try a local version it won’t be hard to find someone who will give you a taste.

The older generation use it as the anecdote to everything, sore stomachs, toothache, heartbreak!

12. Fireworks in Budapest

There is a big party in Budapest to celebrate New Year’s Eve which includes a massive fireworks display over the River Danube at midnight.

13. New Year’s Eve Parties 

There is always a party on in the ruin bars of the Jewish Quarter but on this night the party will be harder and longer! 

Traveling alone but don’t want to miss out on the Szilveszter fun?

Book this Budapest bar crawl to meet likeminded party people and to enjoy drinks inclusive of the price. 

14. New Year’s Eve Balls

Looking for something a little more upmarket?

Check out the gala balls on the Danube cruises. Danube Palace also puts on a special five-course dinner.

These are not the cheapest of NYE options naturally.  

New year in Budapest Parliament fireworks

Budapest Weather in Winter 

Does it snow in Budapest in winter?

We are in a continental climate, which means winters can be cold sometimes.

The average temperature for Budapest in December is 31-37 F, so fresh snow is always a possibility. 

Especially in the surrounding hills, which can be easily reached with public transportation. 

If you are lucky enough to visit a snow-covered Budapest, you don’t even have to use mass transit for a nice hike. 

Gellért-hegy, the iconic hill right next to the Danube, is a great option for a winter walk. Expect fairy-tale pathways amongst snowy trees leading you above the city.

→ Top tip: Follow the green line tourist sign! Thank me later.


Getting to and Getting Around Budapest

Buses are frequent from the airport and take you directly in the middle of the city. 

You can use mass transit easily around town, or walk the city center. 

You can pick up free maps of Budapest in tour offices and at the airport.

Arriving from Slovenia?

Here’s how to get here or go there by train, car and taxi. 

Pro tip → If you have ample time in the city, do consider some of the popular day trips from Budapest in winter such as a train ride to Eger (wine and history), a tour to the Danube Bend and Miskolctapolca cave baths (below).

Find out more in Gemma’s guide to easy day trips from Budapest

Cave Bath I Miskolc TapolcaI

Where to Stay in Budapest


What to do in Budapest in December

So this is my guide of the best things to do in Budapest in winter.To summarise:

  • Eat famous chimney cake at Basilica Christmas Market
  • Enjoy mulled wine at Vörösmarty Square
  • Visit Hold Utcai Piac and try langos, which is actually a summer snack but Gemma’s fave
  • Go for a snowy hike up and visit Philosopher’s Garden 
  • Visit an exhibition at Buda Castle 
  • Soak in thermal water in one of the baths
  • Party in a spa


Final Words

Although many of Europe’s capital cities put on a great Christmas show, baths, chimney cakes and Christmas streetcars are unique to Budapest.

Tell me in the comments below, are you visiting Hungary this December?


Save to your Hungary board!

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About the author

Robert is a journalist from Hungary who has lived in many different placed in Budapest in the last few years. He loves music and food. Gemma and Craig, Two Scots Abroad, actually stayed with Robert when he was living just outside of Eger! Gemma thanks him for introducing her to sour cherry soup. 


» Read next: Two Scots Abroad Hungary travel guide

Budapest Restaurants: Where and What to Eat

Budapest restaurants

Budapest has a little bit of everything – culture, history, architecture… and traditional Hungarian food. This variety is also evident in the Budapest street food scene, which is sold (cheaply) around the city. For those not on a budget trip, Hungarian food, as well as every other type imaginable, can be found in many of Budapest’s restaurants.

Amongst the many things to do in Budapest, eating your way around the city should certainly be top of the list. In my opinion (Evan from Pretty Wild World), Budapest is a great choice for foodies so here’s my guide – Budapest restaurants: where and what to eat.


» Don’t miss our 3 days in Budapest itinerary


Traditional Hungarian Food

Internationally renowned Hungarian dishes include gulyás (goulash) and csirke papriká (chicken paprikash) but the lesser-known dish of lecsó (ratatouille) is not to be bypassed.

Warning, Hungary’s cuisine is incredibly rich and calorific, for example halászlé (fish soup), kolbász (somewhat like the German Wurst sausage) and pörkölt (chopped meat in sauce).

These local meals are available in almost every Hungarian restaurant in Budapest and beyond. Hungarian families tend to eat the largest of the three daily meals at lunch and Gemma and Craig had the first-hand experience of this while volunteering in Hungary through Workaway.

Budapest Street Food

Sit down meals are less practical for travellers who move through the city quickly or for those who are on weekend breaks, prioritising most of their time visiting Pest’s top attractions.

The answer? Street food!

Street food is just as popular in the Hungarian capital as in any other metropolis. Street food is a great alternative not only for busy locals but backpackers and budget holiday hunters as well.

  • Where to eat street food in Budapest: Check out Karavan (Kazinczy u.18, 1075) for delicious yet speedy street food in the party district of the Jewish Quarter

Hungarian Breakfast

For breakfast, pastry shops or bakery counters have countless options on offer, among them the famous kakaóscsiga (cocoa rolls) or the pogácsa (cheese scones).

  • Where to eat breakfast in Budapest: Breakfast at Cserpes tejivó (Sütő u. 2, 1052), a pleasant breakfast place with a vintage feel

Lunch in Budapest

For a quick lunch or daytime meal, here are a few local favourites.

Leves (Soup)

Lately, people in Budapest have developed a crush for leves (soup). There are countless options to choose from and these modern soup specialities are usually less fatty than traditional Hungarian meals. Craig loves Hungary’s sour cherry soup, Meggyleves.

  • Shopping for soups? Bors GasztroBár ( Kazinczy u. 10, 1075) is the most popular place when it comes to soup. Funky Pho (Mozsár u. 7, 1066) is another soup superstar worth visiting; its international menu attracts locals and tourists alike.

» You may also like: Where to stay in Budapest


Sour Cherry Soup | Budapest Restaurants

Meggyleves – sour cherry soup consumed hot or cold

Gulyás

You must have heard of Hungary’s most popular meal, gulyás (goulash)! Many Eastern European and Baltic countries have their own local goulash dish.

However, gulyás which is a savoury soup or stew laden with potatoes, meat, and vegetables then seasoned with Hungarian paprika, originated from Hungary.

On some occasions, you will find “noodles” (rolled out dough) in the stew. This particular Hungarian dish is best consumed during the winter months when it is freezing outside, and all you want is a nice hearty dish to keep you warm.

Come back and tell us where you had the best goulash! 

Lángos

Lángos is a traditional Hungarian street food which was insanely popular on seaside resorts, in particular on the beaches of the Lake Balaton. Warning, Lángos is a challenging eat!

Flatbread is filled with sour cream and cheese is grated on top, it fills one up thanks to the rich pastry and the hearty topping. This is Gemma’s favourite Hungarian food!

  • Where? Find lángos in the Budapest’s food market – the Great Market Hall (Fővám tér) or on in Tomi Lángos near Blaha Lujza tér
We actually ate Lángos is Vienna too, here’s our 3-day guide

Kürtőskalács

Despite originating from Transylvanian, the Hungarians have claimed this sweet pastry snack. The chimney cake is rolled in sugar and different flavours such as almond, coconut or chocolate. Kürtőskalács is a lovely winter dessert, accompanied by mulled wine of course!

  • Hunt it down: In the Buda Castle area or get your timings right for the annual Kürtőskalács Festival, a must for the chimney cake curious

Chimney Cakes | Budapest Restaurants

Kürtőskalács – sweet sweet bread!

Budapest Restaurants – Where to avoid

Even as one of the underrated European citiesBudapest does have its tourist traps. 

To work out which of Budapest’s restaurants are aimed at the stag (bachelor) parties and not the foodies like us check to see if they serve pizza on their ‘Hungarian’ menu that is one indication that that restaurant is a big no-no.

If you do one thing in Budapest…

If you visit Budapest, be sure to visit the Great Market Hall where you can find different sorts of Hungarian street food delicacies. It is nearly on par with a Hungarian Grandma cooking for you!

Otherwise, if you are up for a heavier meal, a restaurant called Belvarosi Disznótoros (Király u. 1d, 1075) is the place to dine. One of the best Budapest restaurants, loved by locals as it serves great food.

If you’re feeling fancy, there are a lot of fantastic, yet expensive, restaurants near St. Stephen’s Basilica for you to fork out your Forints for.

One other thing you should do is leave Budapest, like many European cities as you migrate out of the capital prices drop and local authenticity increases. Here are Budapest’s best day trips; you can try lángos at the beach like the locals!

Great Market Hall | Budapest Restaurants

Great Market Hall – Cheap food in Budapest


Budapest Food Tours

If feeding the brain as well as the belly is top of your itinerary check out this review of Taste Hungary’s Budapest food tour.

With Taste Hungary you will tour the local Hungarian haunts with a native guide who will ensure that you will never be hungry in Hungary and then end the trip with Hungarian wine, mmm Bull’s blood!

You may also like our Christmas guide to Budapest. 


Planning a trip to Hungary?
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Budapest Restaurants | Traditional Hungarian Food to try in Pest

Over to you, where and what have we missed?


About the Author

Evan Kristine runs a visual travel blog called Pretty Wild World where she writes about awesome destinations, culinary adventures, and travel stories with an aim to inspire travel enthusiast to get out there and explore the world. You can find her on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and Pinterest!


 

Budapest to Ljubljana: The Most Efficient Route

The journey, Hungary’s Budapest to Ljubljana, Slovenia is a popular one and it’s easy to see why. The trip easy, safe and both the cities of Budapest and Ljubljana deserve a visit. Here is a step by step guide on the best way to travel from Budapest to Ljubljana.

Budapest From Libtery Statue I Budapest to Ljubljana

Public Transport In Europe

Like many European connections, train* is the best way to travel between Hungary and Slovenia. Our train had a small café, was spacious and the journey was scenic. When researching the best routes and ways to travel in Europe I check four websites

*although I hear that in the Balkans, the bus is faster than the train. In the UK, the train is definitely more expensive than buses.

Budapest to Ljubljana I Train

Budapest to Ljubljana by train

Buying Train Tickets in Budapest

Train tickets can be bought at both Keleti (Budapest, Baross tér Tel: (+36-1) 413 – 4610) and Déli station (Budapest, Krisztina krt. 35-37. Tel: (+36-1) 375-6593) in Budapest. I tend to discourage anyone from purchasing tickets online from third parties in Europe as they are always unnecessarily expensive. I do encourage buying tickets before departure day.

At the time of writing the cost of a one-way ticket is 15-29 Euros for one seat (this not a seat in a cabin).

Our ticket was open between two dates, with no time restriction. The journey took around eight hours. Do remember to take a mobile/cell battery pack with you if you use your phone for music, reading etc. 

There was no option of a night train Budapest to Ljubljana that was time efficient, online there is one advertised but it takes 25 hours and has 4 stops. Budapest to Ljubljana train times can be found out in the station too.

The train was quiet so there was no reason to worry about our belongings. If you are travelling solo and/or carrying expensive electronics with you I recommend investing in the PacSafe secure protector.

You put your day bag with your electronics stored in it into the net, pull tight and attach the cables around something that does not move such as a table leg, bag frame, etc and then lock with a padlock. We then cover the bag up with a throw or jacket. It stops opportunists having the chance to grab and run.

If you are looking for advice on buses and trains in Hungary, check out this transport planner.

Buying a Budapest Train Ticket Online

A reader (thanks, John) has just returned from doing the Budapest to Ljubljana train journey and successfully booked his ticket online using this website.

John punched the reservation code into the ticket machine at Budapest Deli Station and a train ticket printed. His train consisted of three carriages but no food cart.

The journey lasted eight hours and was even a minute early to his delight! The price of the ticket was 15 Euros. He also checked this price on the day and it was still the same. There was no border control check for John (there was for us).

Budapest’s Southern Déli Train Station

Our Budapest to Ljubljana train departed from Déli. Déli can be reached by subway, buy a subway ticket and activate it by stamping it at the machine (fines can occur if caught without this). The station itself has an internal and national ticket box office, food stalls, and lockers.

Lockers in Budapest

A thing of the past in America post 9/11, large lockers are available to rent at Déli. Extremely useful for backpackers with a few hours to explore Hungary’s capital.

Budapest Lockers I Budapest to Ljubljana_

Border Control, Slovenia

You will need to show your passport to the Slovenian authorities who will approach you on the train (they were friendly!) This was pretty much a direct train from Budapest to Ljubljana, it was the fastest available. 

Welcome to Ljubljana

You are in for a treat, this small city is charming and beautiful! The central train station (Ljubljana zelezniska postaja) is situated in the middle of the city.

Turn left at the bottom of the stairs to head to the city centre. The bus station (address: Trg OF) is very close for those making connections to the likes of beautiful Bled.

In the south of Slovenia is the unique glamping experience at Big Berry on the Kolpa River, not a tent pole in sight! If you are getting from Budapest to Ljubljana, do the reverse journey and buy tickets at Ljubljana train station.
Remember if you are coming from overseas and hopping between countries you must have travel insurance. We use True Traveller because of their customer service and coverage. Check out if they work for you too by clicking here to see their rates.

Budapest to Ljubljana I Ljubljana Bridge

Train Budapest to Ljubljana, easy and safe.

Bla Bla Car

An alternative option is to travel from Budapest to Ljubljana by car (or the other way around).

Check out the Bla Bla Car website for a car share possibility. This site connects drivers with travellers. Type in your location and designation, check the price, type of car, luggage restrictions etc. We found that the later you leave it, the more expensive Bla Bla Car journeys become.

We’ve checked out Bla Bla Car for our next trip, Zagreb to Sarajevo, the bus is 25 euros per person and Bla Bla Car is 17 – 25 euro, however, there are no drivers available on the date we want to leave.

KiwiTaxi

If you are looking for the most private and comfortable journey check out a Kiwi Taxi from Budapest to Ljubljana. As to be expected, this is the most expensive route, starting at 335 EUR.

However, you are safe in the knowledge that the car is less than seven years old and the driver is trained and speaks English. The private hire can collect you from any address or at the airport.


So now you know how to get from Budapest to Ljubljana, will you make this scenic trip?

Country Itineraries

Tips on what to do and essential travel information…

Budapest:

Ljubljana:

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Budapest to Ljubljana- The Most Effective Route

Over to you, any questions or updates?