3 days in Budapest itinerary: What to do and see

Chain Bridge
Chain Bridge

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The capital of Hungary has increasingly become a must-visit destination for those wanting to experience grand architecture, a vibrant cultural and historical background and a romantic yet affordable getaway. The city itself is split into the ‘Buda’ and ‘Pest’ side, bisected by the Danube River. Here is a compilation of what to see and what to do in the delightful city of Budapest in 3 days:

You might also like Miss Filetista‘s Budapest’s Instagram Guide.

Chain Bridge - Budapest in 3 days

What to do in Budapest in 3 days: An itinerary for first time visitors

3 Days in Budapest – Day One Exploring Buda

Morning:

The Royal Palace (Buda Castle)

The extravagant Buda Castle is renowned for being the home of the Hungarian kings of Budapest. It was first built in the 12th century but has been consistently rebuilt and expanded upon since then. Today, it is home to the Budapest History Museum and the Hungarian National Gallery, where visitors can find a wealth of information on the history of the Hungarian painting and the city itself through various pieces of artwork and artefacts. Within the castle are also the Eugene of Savoy Monument, a statue dedicated to one of the most successful military commanders in modern European history, and Matthias Fountain, one of the most frequently photographed landmarks in Budapest.

The Royal Palace - Budapest in 3 days
The Royal Palace
the Eugene of Savoy Monument
the Eugene of Savoy Monument

Budapest History Museum: Free with Budapest Card

Opening Hours: 1 March – 31 October  10.00-18.00, Monday closed

1 November – 28 February -10.00– 16.00, Monday closed

Admission fees: Adults  HUF 1500, Students (6-26 years old)/ Pensioners (62-70 years old) HUF 750

Hungarian National Gallery: Free with Budapest Card

Opening Hours:Tuesday-Sunday 10 am –  6 pm, closed on Mondays

Admission fees: Full price: HUF 1,800

Sandor Palace and the Change of the Guard

Sandor Palace has been the official residence of the President of Hungary since 2003. Here, visitors can witness the impressive changing of the guard which takes place every hour for a few minutes at a time.

Trinity Square

The square lies in the heart of Budapest’s castle district. A white column stands at its center, while the former town hall and the most important church in Buda, Matthias Church, lies within the square.

View from Budapest Castle
View from Budapest Castle

Matthias Church

Built in the 13th century, Matthias Church holds significant religious weight as one of the most important churches in Hungary. It is richly decorated, and visitors can see the sarcophagus of King Béla III and a replica of the coronation regalia.

Matthias Church - 3 days in Budapest

Matthias Church
Matthias Church

Fisherman’s Bastion

Situated on the bank of the Danube river and near Matthias Church is the neo-Gothic and neo-Romanesque style terrace of the Fisherman’s Bastion. It was built between 1895 and 1902 and is popular because of the spectacular city views it offers.

Fisherman's Bastion - Budapest in 3 days
Fisherman’s Bastion

Fisherman's Bastion

Hungarian History 3D Show

Inside the 700-year-old Rock Chapel is a 3D cinema experience detailing Hungary’s colourful and rich past. It shows 1000 years of history in 15 minutes, and also takes you through the impressive story of the Buda Castle.

Opening Hours: Monday – Sunday  10.00-18.00

Admission fees: HUF 1500 Free with Budapest Card

Buda Tour

Starting at 2.00pm, the walking tour takes you through points of interest within the Buda castle district, complete with a well-informed English-speaking guide. Tours take place daily, and no registration is required.

Daily at 2:00 pm: Free with Budapest Card

the view from Fisherman's Bastion
the view from Fisherman’s Bastion

Fisherman's Bastion

Afternoon:

Budapest Gala Concert at Pesti Vigado

To taste the spirit of the world-class classical music scene Budapest has to offer, attend the 90-minute long concert in the prestigious PestiVigado, one of Hungary’s most famous theatres.

3 days in Budapest - Gala Concert

Dinner Cruise on the Danube

Enjoy a buffet dinner while taking in the incredible cityscapes from the Danube River. The cruises take one and a half hours long, with the added option of experiencing classical organ music and a folk dance performance.

For more information and to book a cruise check here.

3 days in Budapest - Dinner Cruise on the Danube

Read here my review about the Gala Concert and the Dinner Cruise with Hungaria Koncert

3 Days in Budapest – Day Two Exploring Pest

Morning:

Pest Walking Tour

Starting everyday at 10.00am, the walking tour comes free with the Budapest Card and helps you explore points of interest on the Pest side. Tours are registration free and come with an English-speaking guide.

Daily at 10:00 pm: Free with Budapest Card

St. Stephen’s Basilica and Panorama

This Roman Catholic basilica was named after Stephen, the first King of Hungary. Its construction was completed in 1905, and it is presently the third largest church building in Hungary. Don’t forget to climb to the top to admire panoramic views of Budapest.

St. Stephen's Basilica - 3 days in Budapest
St. Stephen’s Basilica
the view from St Stephens Basilica
the view from St Stephens Basilica

Panorama:

Opening Hours: 1 October – 30 June  10.00 a.m to  – 4.30 p.m.

July 1 to September 30 -10.00 am to 6.30  p.m

Admission fees: Adults  HUF 500, Students (6-26 years old)/ Pensioners (62-70 years old) HUF 400

15% Discount with Budapest Card

The Hungarian State Opera House

This neo-Renaissance opera house was opened in 1884 and is a venue for opera and ballet shows. Frescoed ceilings and statues decorate the interiors. Tours of the opera house are available to visitors.

Opera Tours:

Opening Hours: daily at 2 pm (only in English), 3 pm and 4 pm

Admission fees: Standard ticket HUF 2.990, Student ticket HUF 1.990 20% Discount with Budapest Card

If you want to take photos, you want a Photo ticket: HUF 500,-/camera

For a 10 minute mini concert: HUF 690,-/person

Hungarian National Museum

This extravagant museum in Budapest’s Palace District was founded in 1802 and is dedicated to the art, archaeology and history of Hungary. It is the oldest public museum in Hungary.

Opening Hours:  10.00-18.00, Monday closed

Admission fees: Adults  HUF 1600, Students (6-26 years old)/ Pensioners (62-70 years old) HUF 500, Photography permit HUF 500 Free with Budapest Card

more info: https://mnm.hu/en

Museum of Ethnography Budapest
Museum of Ethnography

Freedom or Liberty Square

Regarded as one of the most beautiful squares in the country, this landmark holds an emotional past.The Stock Exchange Palace, the Hungarian National Bank and the American Embassy are located within its grounds.

Freedom or Liberty Square = Budapest in 3 days
Freedom or Liberty Square

The Parliament

Both a popular tourist destination and notable landmark, the Parliament holds the seat of the National Assembly of Hungary. Tours of the Parliament are available to visitors.

The Hungarian Parliament

The Hungarian Parliament

The Hungarian Parliament - what to do in Budapest in 3 days

Opening Hours: 1st April–31st October Monday–Sunday: 8.00 a.m.–6.00 p.m.

1st November–31st March -Monday–Sunday: 8.00– 16.00

Admission fees: EU citizens (adults) HUF 2400, EU citizens (students) (ages 6-24) HUF 1300

Non EU citizens (adults) HUF 6000, HUF 3100

more info: http://www.parlament.hu/en/web/house-of-the-national-assembly

Find her more information and book a guided tour to Budapest’s Parliament.

Afternoon:

Ruined Pubs

There are a number of ruined pubs in the city to explore, but the best-known by foreigners and locals is Szimpla Kert where they offer a farmer’s market and brunch at the weekend, amongst other programs. It is also a perfect place to unwind for drinks. If you happen to be in Budapest at the weekend, don’t miss the delicious brunch made with products from the Farmer’s market.

Brunch fees: Saturday HUF 4.000 p/p and Sunday 5.000 p/p

Shoes on the Danube

When in Budapest for 3 days, a visit to this Holocaust memorial is a must. The 60 iron-cast shoes along the river are a moving remembrance to those who were shot into the Danube by Arrow Cross militiamen in 1944–1945.

Shoes on the Danube - 3 days in Budapest

Gozsdu Courtyard

To unwind after a long day of exploring Pest, food and drinks at this popular local haunt is a must, where you will find a wide variety of restaurants, pubs and bars.

Gozsdu Courtyard
a restaurant in Gozsdu Courtyard

3 Days in Budapest – Day Three Shopping & Thermal Baths

Morning:

Vorosmarty Square

Located in the city centre, this public square is dedicated to the poet Mihály Vörösmarty, whose statue you can see in the centre. Make sure to stop by for coffee at Café Gerbeaud, known as one of the greatest and most traditional coffee houses in Europe. The decor inside the Café Gerbeaud is amazing, so if you visit Budapest during winter, it’s a must see. Unfortunately, since my last visit to Budapest a few years ago they have ridiculously raised the prices. Two desserts (tiny portions) and an iced coffee cost us 30 euros!

Shopping in Vaci Utca

Considered as one of the most famous streets in Budapest, Vaci Street is one of the main pedestrian streets in the city. There are a large number of shops and restaurants lining the street catering to tourists.

Tip: there is a big shop called Paprica Market that sells souvenirs. The shop is nice and really organised, but you can find the same stuff at much lower prices at the Market Hall.

Great Market Hall

Built in 1897, this market hall is known as the most beautiful in the city. It is a place bustling with trade where you can people watch, browse and shop for various foods and goods.

Hike Gellért Hill to the Citadella

This 235m hill overlooks the Danube and provides a stunning view from the Citadella, a type of fortress built in 1851. The hill itself was named after the man who was thrown to his death from it, Saint Gerard.

Hike Gellért Hill to the Citadella

Coffee at Hotel Gellért

After the hike, make sure to stop by the Art Nouveau style Gellert Hotel’s Espresso Cafe, which stands at the foot of Gellert Hill, for coffee, home-made cakes and pastries. (Here the pastries were delicious and really good priced).

Gellert Hotel - what to see in Budapest in 3 days
Gellert Hotel

Afternoon:

Visit the Thermal Baths

If you only spend 3 days in Budapest, you must experience the world-famous natural thermal baths that it has to offer. The Gellert Baths is located inside Hotel Gellért and provides a swimming pool surrounded by immaculate architecture; the Széchenyi Baths are the most well-known and hold the title of the largest medicinal baths in Europe, and the Kiraly Baths are small Turkish baths and the oldest of its kind in Budapest. I went to the Kiraly Baths, and it was a very traditional experience as most of the visitors were locals. (photos weren’t allowed inside the baths) Next time I am heading to the other two.

Budapest card offers 20% discount to the entrance ticket of the Gellert Baths, Széchenyi Baths and Kiraly Baths and free entrance to the Lukacs thermal baths.

Book your skip the line ticket to the Széchenyi Bath here.

Book your skip the line ticket to the Gellert Bath here.

a beautiful square in front of the Kempinski Hotel

Check the most popular tours in Budapest:

Where to stay in Budapest

Hotel Kempinski Corvinus

I had the pleasure of staying at this stylish hotel. It is in a great location; only minutes walk from the station. Within the hotel are restaurants and bars as well as a spa, an indoor pool and a gym.

Read my review about my stay at the Kempinski Corvinus Hotel

Click here to see the latest prices / Check out TripAdvisor Reviews

Kempinski Hotel Corvinus Budapest

Hilton Budapest

Formerly an old 13th-century monastery, this hotel is located opposite The Fisherman’s Bastion and provides full amenities including a restaurant, bar, gym and sauna.

Click here to see the latest prices / Check out TripAdvisor Reviews

Promenade City Hotel

I stayed here on my first visit to Budapest. Located in a shopping street, this modern hotel offers Wi-Fi, a mini bar, flat-screen TVs and a complimentary breakfast.

Click here to see the latest prices / Check out TripAdvisor Reviews

Aria Hotel.

This music-themed hotel located next to St Stephen’s Basilica is within walking distance to attractions and offers modern amenities and facilities as well as a complimentary breakfast, afternoon wine and snacks.

Click here to see the latest prices / Check out TripAdvisor Reviews

View of Buda from the Chain bridge
View of Buda from the Chain bridge

Budapest Card

The Budapest Card is the official CityPass, and a must have when planning what to do and see in Budapest in 3 days. It offers 21 free services including complimentary entrance to a bath and museums, free public transport and discounts to attractions. The types of cards available come in 24h, 48h, 72h, 96h and 120h pass.

Click here for more information and to buy your Budapest Card

How to get from the airport to Budapest City Centre and Vice Versa

Before I arrived in Budapest, I booked a transfer service between the airport and the hotel with a company called miniBUD. When you leave the luggage area of the airport, there is a kiosk where you have to check in and wait for your mini bus. Unfortunately, we had to wait for one hour and a half at the airport for our transfer to come. Meanwhile, other mini buses of the same company were coming all the time. Our ride cost us around 9 euros each, and I totally regretted not taking the public transport to the city centre. The staff of the miniBUD company at the airport offered no explanation at all, all they did say was that they were sorry and they were giving us a new arrival time for our bus.

On the way to the airport, we took the public transport which is free with the Budapest Card. It was very easy, and it took us exactly 40 minutes from the time we left the Kempinski Hotel to arrive at the airport. You need to take metro line M3 and get off at the end of the line at station Kőbánya-Kispest. From there you take the bus number 200 E, and that is all.

Inside the city of Budapest, we mostly walked but also took the tram and metro a couple of times. I once took a taxi that the hotel ordered for me. Be careful to use only the official taxis.

Now if you want to get to the airport by private transfer I recommend Welcome Pick ups, it is  acompany I have used a lot around Europe, they charge the same as a taxi, but there is a driver waiting for you at the arrivals with your name on a paper, a bottle of water and many tips to share about the city.

Click here for more information and to book your private transfer.

 

View of the Parliament from the Chain Bridge
View of the Parliament from the Chain Bridge

It is no wonder why Budapest was added to the UNESCO World Heritage List and nicknamed “Paris of the East”; it thrives with cultural, architectural and historical significance. With the multitude of exciting things it has to offer, it will be hard not to fall in love with the beauty and romance of the city, even in just 3 days time.

Have you been to Budapest? Do you have anything to add to this 3 -day Budapest itinerary?

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A travel guide to Budapest Hungary. Things to do in Budapest in 3 days. What to do in Budapest Hungary, A travel itinerary to Budapest. How to spend 3 days in Budapest.

I would like to thank the city of Bydapest for providing me with the Budapest Card.

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8 Comments

  • Great article! It took me right back to my time in Budapest – it was one of those cities that surprised me on how beautiful the entire city is. The biggest highlights for me were certainly the interior of the Matthias Church – the artistry and designs are amazing, and the views from atop St. Stephen’s. Talk about endless! A wonderful day trip from Budapest is Szentendre, which is a short train ride away. A small, rustic village that is wonderful to just walk about and enjoy the atmosphere.

    • Thank you very much for your comment April. Unfortunately, I didn’t have the chance to get inside Matthias Church as there were a couple of weddings taking place at the time. A good reason to go back, I think.

  • I’d love to spend an entire morning walking around and exploring Buda Castle Chrissy. Budapest reminds me of Istanbul, and I deeply enjoyed the history and overall vibe of that city. Awesome snaps and fun post as always.

  • It is a great article! I was in Budapest last year for a few days. I really liked the Hungarian capital I visited many places like Buda Castle, Parliament, St. Stephen’s Basilica, City Park.

    I really like the different type sightseeing so I tried many options for example:
    I looked around with Big Bus (www.bigbustours.com/en/budapest/budapest-bus-tours/)
    I went to the Buda Castle with a nice local Segway company (www.budapestrolling.com/)
    I ride a bike in the city center (The receptionist recommended me a company in my hotel but I dont remember the name:()

    So I tried many things and I would like to go back see more about Budapest and Hungary. Could you recommend me any other interesting place in Hungary? I heart the Balaton Lake is very nice in the summer.
    I was in many place in the last years and I think Budapest was the best, but I can recommend Prague and Cracow .

    • Thank you Luka. Budapest is an incredible city. I have been there twice and I would happily return. I am afraid I haven’t travel anywhere else in Hungary but Lake Belaton was recommended to me as well. Crakow is a great city that I also enjoyed. I haven’t been to Prague but I am planning to this summer.

  • I fell in love with the old world charm of the city. Budapest has so much to offer and it is easy to get around so it makes sightseeing a breeze. I am so glad that you mention the pastries at the Gellert Hotel. That brought back some happy memories fro me.

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