Planning on spending 2 days in Budapest and looking for the best travel itinerary!? Well, look no further, because I’ve put together a solid destination guide for first-time visitors to the vibrant capital of Hungary!
With amazing bars, cheap beer, thermal medicinal baths, lots of history and beautiful fairytale-like architecture. Budapest definitely has something for everyone and will never disappoint., Adding to the above, not only is Budapest incredibly affordable, but it also offers many unique and fun activities that you simply cannot find anywhere else in the world!
The city is definitely one of a kind, and you will never see everything that is to see. Using this 2 days in Budapest travel guide, however, you can make sure that you don’t miss out on some of the most important parts!
It’s truly one of my favorite cities in Europe (as well as the world), and I can’t wait to get back myself some time in the near future!
Also, be sure to read my article, The 20 Best Budapest Festivals to Experience Before You Die to see if your two day trip to Budapest happens to be during one of their popular events!
Where to Stay in Budapest for 2 Days.
When it comes to location you can’t really make too many mistakes in Budapest. The city is well laid out and is relatively small, with very easy-to-use public transport links. However, when considering where you stay it is quite important to know the differences between each side of the city. Budapest is technically two different cities divided by the river: Buda and Pest.
Check out this article, “Buda vs. Pest: One City, Two Personalities” for a bit more information on the subject!
Buda and Pest
Buda is the more relaxed side of the river Danube. With the beautiful palace, some museums, hill views, and a more relaxed local vibe as you wander around the streets of Buda. Pest side is much busier; it’s the center of the city with bustling nightlife, popular high street shops, restaurant strips and overall has a lot more going on.
Personally, I would always recommend staying on Pest side of the Danube River, simply because it’s closer to everything has a lot more going for it. Especially, if you want to get involved in the amazing nightlife of Budapest (which I think is a must!)!
Where to Stay for 2 Days in Budapest
- Classical Apartment with Large Balcony Close to Chain Bridge: This gorgeous one-bedroom Airbnb has an amazing central location, complete with a large terrace, traditional high ceilings and historical architectural design! It’s definitely one of the best Airbnbs in Budapest, and it will certainly be a highlight of your trip to Budapest!
- Bohem Art Hotel: With a free American style buffet breakfast, free Wi-Fi and at only 50 metres away from the Danube River; you can’t go wrong with this well rated and very popular modern hotel in the centre of Budapest. Featured all throughout the hotel is work by young Hungarian Artists. The hotel has a very vibrant atmosphere, the rooms are spacious and it has also been reviewed as a great place to stay with babies and children too.
- Bubble Hostel Budapest: For the solo backpacker, this is where I would recommend! Now, I can’t speak for all hostels in Budapest; and there really is a huge list of well rated and super affordable hostels in the city to choose from. But I can vouch for Budapest Bubble. I stayed here for three days in 2016 and had an amazing experience. As a solo traveller I found this hostel to have a brilliant and social atmosphere, it’s also in a great location and is a good enough size to not be too over-crowded either. I felt right at home here and still made lots of friends to party with come nightfall. I would definitely choose to return to this hostel when I visit Budapest again.
HOW TO SPEND 2 DAYS IN BUDAPEST
Getting Around Budapest
Although there is a very well connected, super affordable and easy to navigate public transport network in Budapest, I personally I found that I preferred the take to the streets by foot. The city isn’t so big and the ground is flat. The districts aren’t so far apart and most of the central attractions and sights are within easy walking distance. But sometimes taking a tram or a bus is the easier and quicker option, especially when you have a jam-packed schedule for the day.
Public transport options available are: Metro, bus, trolly bus and trams. Tickets can be bought at any metro station are valid to use on all public transport, which makes it easy to swap between different transport options throughout the day.
You can buy single-use tickets (only 350 HUF), 10-trip tickets (3,000 HUF), day passes (1,650 HUF) and so on.
You can also buy transport tickets that are bundled with free entrance into certain museums and attractions too.
Don’t dismiss cycling as an option too! Budapest is very easy to get around via bicycle, and the city also has some very popular cycling tours which highlight all of the main sights and attractions.
It really just depends on your preferred travel style. It’s an easy city to navigate through, and you won’t have any problems getting from place to place on your own.
What To Do in Budapest In 2 Days
Take a Thermal Bath
You absolutely cannot take a trip to Budapest without indulging in one of the many thermal baths that are scattered around the city. My personal favorite and also the most famous would be the Szenchenyi Spa Medicinal Baths. Located right beside the beautiful Peoples Park they have pools of different temperatures, luxury spa treatments and saunas.
If you’re more of a nightlife kind of person, you absolutely cannot miss the opportunity to attend one of their ‘Sparties’. Which is essentially an exciting nighttime rave with unlimited alcohol, live music and an awful lot of fun! It was definitely one of the highlights of my time in Budapest for sure.
Check out this awesome article titled, “A Guide to the Budapest Thermal Baths” for some more inspiration on other ones to check out! Just be careful – it may be way too easy to spend all day there and missout on important Budapest sightseeing!
Easily one of the most beautiful pieces of architecture I have seen in Europe to date. When wondering around the pink pastel towers I felt like I was in a real life fairytale. The towers (which were originally lookout towers) are completely free to enter, apart from the upper ones which can cost you around 2 euros to enter during the summer months. You will see the best views of Budapest city from inside them, so definitely do not miss out on this one.
House of Terror
A former political prison which is now converted into a museum; here you can learn a lot more about how Hungary was effected during and after the Second World War by the Nazi and communist regimes.
Some parts of the museum feel very real and the atmosphere is dark. Sections allow you to learn about the torture and pain that the prisoners experienced. Including parts where you can enter inside the old prison cells and see for yourself how small and cramped they could be.
Experience an Escape Room
What many people don’t realise is that Budapest is where live escape room games first began. With the worlds first ever one opening up in Budapest in 2011. Today the city is filled with many different varieties of escape rooms, making Budapest renowned for them.
There is something for everyone. A bank robbery scene, catching a serial killer, escaping a mad surgeon, and at times finding yourself laying inside of a narrow coffin and being transported from one room to the next!
My personal favourites where ‘Claustrophobia’ and ‘E-Exit’ rooms. But they’re all fun and the excitement of trying to race against the clock to complete the puzzles before you get locked in all adds to tense and manic atmosphere. Lots of laughs guaranteed!
Walk along the Danube Promenade.
View the city by walking across the bridges that separate Buda and Pest, making sure not to miss the famous sights in between.
There is a brilliant view of the Hungarian Parliament building from across the river standing on Buda side. From the Pest side you can view Buda Castle, The Liberty Statue and Fishermans Bastion. Not forgetting to also visit ’Shoes’, the holocaust memorial on the Pest side of the Danube bank.
Tip: Grab a beer and a pizza to go, and chill out on the beautifully lit up Chain Bridge once it gets dark. See the city so beautifully lit up in a golden glow by night as you watch the boats go past.
Heroes’ Square and The City Park.
Heroes Square is a large space between some busy roads, which is featuring a large iconic monument. There are a variety of historical figures, including depictions of the Seven Chieftains of the Magyars, who are believed to have led the Hungarian people from central Asia to the Carpathian basin. And The Archangel Gabriel, who sits at the top of the central pillar, holding the Hungarian crown.
The area is always very crowded with tourists and sometimes street performers. Often you will see school children learning how to roller-skate there too.
Situated behind Heroes’ Square is my favorite park in Budapest; The City Park. Which also happens to be one of Hungary’s World Heritage Sites and allows tons of time for strolling, cycling or jogging around the grounds. Located in the park is also a boating lake, which in the winter is turned into one Europes largest artificial surface ice skating rinks.
Hungarian Parliament Building
As one of the cities most famous landmarks; you cannot miss seeing the Parliament House on your trip to Budapest. The building is known for it’s Beautiful white Gothic Revival architecture, it makes for the perfect photo from all angles. View it from across the river or even closer up from the grounds around the building. It’s also definitely worth it to take a 45-minute tour and get to see Crown Jewels inside.
Climb up Gillet Hill to see the Liberty Statue.
You can see it from all the way across the Danube, it sits on top of a steep hill climb and once you get to the top displays incredible panoramic views of the entire city. Seeing the Liberty Statue up close was much larger than I ever imagined it would be and was well worth the hill climb.
Yet another unique and interactive experience in Budapest. Take an hour out of your day to experience what it’s like to live with blindness. A guide will take you through various settings in complete darkness; settings include crossing the road, taking a bus and general day to day activities. As well as the famous ‘Invisible Italian Dinner’ where you will dine in complete darkness and eat authentic Italian food in a great atmosphere!
Daytrip to Szentendre
If you fancy getting away from the busy city for the day, a trip to the cute little town of Szentendre is the perfect little escape. At just a short train ride away, Szentendre has so much to offer.
Home to a huge selection of independent restaurants and food stands; you definitely won’t be out of options for a delicious lunch. The town is also filled with many unique shops selling all kinds of homemade and local crafts. There are quaint cobblestone streets, flower boxes scatter the sidewalks and all while being along the River Danube. Which means it’s also accessible by boat from Budapest city if you also fancy a cruise.
Food & Drink Recommendations for 2 Days in Budapest
Mazel Tov Budapest: Eat Middle Eastern in Budapest’s Jewish Quarter!
Like a ruin bar but not…Mazel Tov Budapest is basically an upscale version of the famous ruin pubs scattered around Budapest. Here you can find beautifully made cocktails, local Hungarian wines and many exciting Israeli and Mediterranean dishes with exceptional service. Still at an affordable price as you would expect in Budapest, this place really has an amazing atmosphere and vibe. From the rustic exterior, sparkling fairy lights, abundance of greenery hanging from the walls, to the open building setting… This place is definitely worth a visit for a nice evening meal.
Tip: Make a reservation, because this place is always full!
Eat like a local at Central Market Hall.
Inside an old restored gothic style tunnel is The Central Market Hall. The oldest and largest indoor market in Budapest! Selling a variety of different local foods at an incredibly cheap price. It’s super easy to find and is only a minutes walk from the famous Chain Bridge. Perfect for lunch.
Indulge in Some Yummy Square Donuts at ‘
They come in a square shape, there are dozens of flavours to choose from, and the coffee is colourful and loaded with whipped cream. This was my all time favourite sweet treats in Budapest. It’s relaxing, full of choices and it’s perfect for a snack.
Check out the famous Hummus Bars.
Another favourite of mine. What travelling millennial doesn’t love hummus? Make it into a bar and you can’t not check it out at least once. There are many scattered around the city so you can’t miss them. The Menu boasts a variety of hummus dishes such as Turkish Salad, Falafel, Roasted Eggplant and Peppers and so on. With the hummus being the main attraction of the dish. They also serve Pitas, soups, salads and other small meals.
Nightlife for 2 Days in Budapest Itinerary
Party the night away inside the cities iconic ruin bars!
If there is one thing Budapest is particularly famous for, it’s the buzzing nightlife. Fun crowds of young people from all across Europe flock to the city for cheap beer and endless parties inside Budapest’s iconic Ruin Bars.
Which are essentially dilapidated pre-war buildings that have been made into various nightlife venues.
They all have different and unique themes. By the next morning, It will be hard to even remember which bars you visited! Mostly you will just know it by the visual interior. ie the circus-themed one, the jungle themed one or the one with hundreds of mirrors all over the wall. ’’Did it have lots of umbrellas hanging from the ceiling?’’ ‘’Yeah it was that one!’’
There are so many different bars to choose from, but my favorite and also by far the biggest and most popular Ruin Bar in Budapest is Instant and Fogas Ház. With 18 bar counters and seven dance floors within five different establishments; every room has a different theme and every night is a different kind of party. You are guaranteed to have an amazing time and an unforgettable experience.
Check out this article the “10 Best Nightlife Spots in Budapest, from Ruin Bars to ‘Sparties‘” for a bit more information on how to spend your night drinking and dancing!
“Ruin bars may sound suspect, but don’t be deterred. When it comes to nightlife in Budapest, there’s no place better”
Budapest Travel Tips
Don’t forget your Passport or Student ID!
Like many European cities, Budapest offers a lot of discounts for young people and to EU citizens. The House of Terror Museum for example gives a half price discount to those under 26 years of age. And the Budapest Parliament building offers tours free of charge to EU citizens! Student discounts are also offered in certain places around the city.
I personally never leave the hotel without my passport or student ID card, just in case there is a discount I can grab.
Under 26s travel cheap!
Similar to the above tip; Hungary offers heavily discounted train services to anyone aged 27 and under. This is perfect when taking day trips out of the city. I personally took advantage of this discount when going to the small Hungarian town, Visegrad or on my day trip to Bratislava for example.
Simply select the young person option when buying your train ticket. Don’t forget to bring your passport along because there is a high chance you will be asked to prove your age.
Take a Free Walking Tour.
The free walking tour of Budapest is the perfect way to see the city by foot and to also learn a lot about the city with the luxury of having an experienced guide. Free Budapest Tours have two different options; a 10:30am morning tour and a 2:30PM afternoon tour. So it shouldn’t be too hard to fit into your busy schedule.
Each tour is 2.5 hours long and highlights all of the most important parts of the city. A definitely must-do!
Am I Missing Anything from this 2 Days in Budapest Itinerary…?
There really is a whole lot to fit in for only two days, but I’m sure you’ll fall in love with the city just as much as I have! If you’ve been to Budapest recently and think I need to add something to my article, then feel free to reach out and let me know! I love keeping these two-day itineraries up to date with the best information!
Planning a Trip to Hungary & Europe…?
Check out a few of my other favorite articles about traveling around this beautiful continent! I’ve spent several years living and working around Europe, and there’s a big part of me that thinks I’ll be spending a lot more of my life there. I’ve seriously contemplated moving back to Budapest, but I guess we’ll just have to wait and see what happens, lol.