2 days in Budapest can be enough to experience some of the main sites of the busy downtown of Pest and the medieval Castle District of Buda.
Prepare your feet to walk a lot, Budapest has many attractions that you should explore.
Day 1: Downtown + Andrássy Avenue + Heroes’ Square + Széchenyi Baths
Day 2: Citadel + Castle District + Ship cruise 1
Szamos Cafe - breakfast with a view
Parliament and Kossuth Square
Start your day at Kossuth Square, where the House of Parliament is located.
The richly decorated, Neo-Gothic styled Parliament is the third largest Parliament in the world. The national flag in front of it is ceremonially raised and lowered every day. Soldiers stand guard and the changing of the guards happens once every hour.
If you would like to see the interior of the building, you should go on a tour. Tours take 45 minutes and you will get guiding, information about the history of the building and of course you can see the crown jewels. These tours sell out far in advance. Make sure you book your tickets online.
Tours: English tours are offered at 10:00, 12:00, 12:30, 1:30, 2:30, 3:30
Cost: HUF 3,500 EU Citizens; HUF 6,700 non-EU Citizens
Book your tickets in advance: this is the website where you can purchase your tickets in advance
Shoes on the Danube Promenade
After visiting the Parliament, go to the bank of the Danube and head to the south. In about 5 minutes you will arrive to the Shoes on the Danube Promenade Memorial.
The sixty pairs of shoes commemorate those who were shot into the Danube by the Nazis.
Victims were instructed to take off their shoes before being shot. Their bodies fall into the Danube and carried away by the river. The Memorial was unveiled in 2005.
St. Stephen’s Basilica
St. Stephen’s Basilica is the most significant Roman Catholic Church in Budapest. It can host 3,500 people at the same time. Have a look at the mummified right hand of our first king.
The panorama from its lookout terrace is wonderful, it really worth the climb.
Basilica is open: Monday – Friday 9 am to 7 pm; Sunday 7:45 am – 7 pm
10 am – 6:30 pm between June and September;
10 am – 4:30 pm between November and March
10 am – 5:30 in April, May and October
Cost: 200 HUF / 1 EUR as donation, HUF 1000 to climb the tower
After visiting the Basilica, walk back to the Danube through Zrínyi street.
On the corner of Zrínyi street and Szent István square stands Gresham Palace, the most luxurious hotel in Budapest. Even if you are not staying here, have a quick peek inside.
If you want to take a quick break, stop into Gerbeaud. This fancy coffee and pastry shop has delicious cakes and coffee. If this coffee shop is not your style but you would like something sweet, there is also a Szamos cafe at the corner of Deák Ferenc street and Váci street, right next to Hard Rock Cafe.
Visiting the Market and walking through Váci street is not part of this day, I recommend strolling through cute little streets instead. 😊
So, walk along Váci street until Haris köz. Then follow this route:
Haris köz – Pilvax köz – Gerlóczy street – Semmelweis street – Röser Courtyard – Károly boulevard – Dohány street.
Great Synagogue of Dohány Street - take a walk through District VII
and all kinds of bars and restaurants. This unique mix makes this quarter one of the most exciting neighborhoods of Budapest.
After World War II, District VII—the old Jewish quarter—was left to decay.
About 10 years ago, bars and restaurants began to appear again in abandoned buildings.
Have a rest in a Ruin Bar. From the outside, there usually isn’t much to see, but once you get in, you find yourself in a funky, laid-back bar filled with nice people and good food.
Walk along Király street, the “main street” of the Jewish Quarter. Take Nagymező street to get to Andrássy Avenue.
It was a long day with lots of walking, relaxing your body and soul in thermal waters is a great idea, so visit Széchenyi Baths.
Take Millennium Underground to take you there, but take off at Heroes’ Square station as the Bath is just a 15 minutes walking from that station and this way you can have a look at Heroes’s Square, City Park Lake and Vajdahunyad Castle, too.
Széchenyi Bath is open: 6 am – 10 pm daily (Pump hall: 9 am – 5 pm)
I am pretty sure that you are tired and hungry already.
Fortunately Budapest has many restaurants, maybe your hotel has one, too.
And with the dinner, this long day is over.
I hope you enjoyed it and gathered great memories. Next day you will explore Buda side.
2 days in Budapest: Day 2 - Citadel + Castle District
Fővám Square - Great Market Hall
Start the day by experiencing one of Europe’s greatest food cities like a local: You’ll get a chance to eat and drink the very best Budapest has to offer.
Buy your veggies and fruits and quality pastries, fresh bread (maybe with dill-cream cheese) for the breakfast.
Try the delicious juicy-sour Hungarian pickles – I recommend the classic “kovászos uborka” (pickled gerkhins) – buy them in the basement.
The strudels (pictured) are also very delicious!
From the bottom of the hill it will take about 30 minutes to reach the top if you take photos during the hike. Not a big deal.
If you wouldn’t like to hike, check out my blog post about Gellért Hill where I show you other options, too.
For a coffee, or an ice-cream or any other snacks, I recommend a cute little supermarket, called Füge.
Here stands the statue group of spiritual leaders and also the the statue of Prince Pest and Princess Buda. They stand at a small, rather unknown spot, overlooking the city and the Castle.
If you have time, I definitely recommend visiting this lookout.
Tabán is a green slope overlooking the Buda Palace.
There was a village under the Buda Castle since the middle ages, a Bohamian quarter of Budapest.
In the 1930s the buildings and streets were demolished because a huge water complex was planned here. Unfortunately WW1 made the construction impossible.
Here is a nice route from Tabán towards the Buda Castle.
Várkert Bazaar is a newly renovated neo-Renaissance complex with a flower garden at the foot of the Royal Palace.
From here you can reach the Castle District by an escalator and elevators.
This flat, 1.5 km long rock is packed with countless medieval monuments, residential and public buildings. The streets follow the shape of the hill.
The Castle District has three main parts: the Palace, Szent György Square and the historical residential quarter.
The tranquility of the Castle Hill can’t be found anywhere else in the city.
The history of the Royal Palace in the Buda Castle, which was at that time recognized as a magnificent royal residence in Europe, dates back to the 14th century.
The building today houses three institutions:
Walk along Szent György street until Dísz Square (in the direction of Matthias Church).
During WWII the buildings that stood between the funicular and Dísz Square were severely damaged and medieval castle walls were revealed in the bomb craters. The excavations have brought many artifacts to the surface.
Tóth Árpád promenade
From Dísz Square turn left and walk along Tóth Árpád promenade, that has stunning views of the Buda side.
Opposite Szentháromság street go down the stairs to Lovas street 4, where you can find the Hospital in the Rock.
Hospital in the Rock Nuclear Bunker Museum
“The history of the Hospital in the Rock is the story of saving lives” – quote from its website
This Museum (Sziklakórház Atombunker Múzeum) is part of a six-mile stretch of interconnected caves and cellars beneath Buda Castle Hill.
During World War II, the caves and tunnels were connected, fortified, and used as an air raid shelter and an emergency surgical hospital was also built within the caves.
Úri street is full of medieval residential houses and interesting details.
Walk straight along Úri street – search for medieval details as you stroll. At the end of Úri street you will see Mary Magdalena Church. Turn to the right and walk to Wiena Gate Square – Bécsi kapu tér.
Fortuna street will lead you to to Szentháromság Square – the highest point of Castle Hill. The Holy Trinity Column was erected to fend off the plague epidemic.
Unfortunately Ruswurm is extremely tiny, but do not worry if you can’t find a free table. Just take the delicacies with you to the small park in front of Matthias Church. There are several benches and the view is really nice.
Matthias church has a very long history and every era changed it somehow.
The first form of the church dates back to 1051 when St. Stephen I, built a Romanesque church here. King Matthias (1458-90) extended it and the tower was added.
When the Turks ruled Buda for 145 years from 1541, it was transformed into a mosque.
145 years later, in 1686 during the recapture of Buda the Pope encouraged the Army of the Sacred League with prophecies uttered: BVDA (Budam Virgo Dabit Auxilium) that means ‘Buda the Virgin Mary will assist you’.
According to a legend, during the siege of 1686 a cannon ball hit the church and a hidden Madonna statue revealed in front of the Turks who got frightened as they thought it was a bad message.
Virgin Mary assisted, the Turks lost the city to the Christian forces on that day.
If you are interested in the details and history of Matthias Church, read my blog post:
The Bastion is only a 100 years old, but it is hard to imagine Budapest without it. No visit to Budapest is complete without a stop here for the gorgeous views.
The Fisherman’s Bastion was named after the fish market located nearby during the medieval times. The bastion was built to commemorate the fisherman who once protected this part of the wall.
From Fisherman’s Bastion you can take the stairs downwards or just stroll back to the Funicular and have a ride with that. Usually the upper station is less crowded.
You can also choose to walk down the path next to the Funicular and take some shots from those tiny bridges that cross the route of the Funicular.
Széchenyi Chain Bridge was the first permanent bridge across the Danube in Hungary. It was built from 1842 to 1849.
Walk across Chain Bridge to reach Pest side.
Tip for the evening: ship cruise
This is the end of your 2 days in Budapest self-guided walking tour. I am sure that you are tired now, but… …I hope that you enjoyed every moment of your stay.
Come back soon to explore other parts of this unique city!
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Castle District draws locals and tourist alike. It is jammed with history, architecture and lookout points with gorgeous views. Table of Contents The Castle District