Budapest in one day – suggested walking route

One day in Budapest isn’t enough to do the city justice but it can be a great starting point.

The rushing Danube running through the city, the stunning views from the hillside, the traditional cuisine, the marvelous architecture and the vibrant yet relaxed atmosphere of Budapest will leave you craving more.

Main points during the walk:

Downtown  – Vibrant atmosphere, busy shops

Parliament – World Heritage site – central element of the Danube panorama

Castle District – home to countless medieval monuments

Detailed itinerary

Pest route on Google Maps

Fővám tér - Central Market Hall

Amazing market stuffed with local delicacies.
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, fruits and quality pastries, fresh bread (maybe with dill-cream cheese) for breakfast.

Try the delicious juicy-sour Hungarian pickles – I recommend the classic “kovászos uborka”(pickled gerkhins) – buy them in the basement.

The strudels are also very delicious! 🙂

Váci Street

After breakfast head to Váci street, a shopping and pedestrian street of Budapest. This two kilometers long street runs from the Central Market Hall to Vörösmarty Square. The first part of the street you’ll be walking along is known for its gift shops and bistros, while the section between Szabad sajtó út and Vörösmarty Square is considered to be the center of downtown, and this area is packed with fashion shops.

Danube Promenade

The Promenade stretches between the Chain Bridge and the Elizabeth Bridge on the Pest side of the river. The panorama over the Buda Castle, the Citadel and the Gellért Hill is marvelous from here.

Chain Bridge

Széchenyi Chain Bridge was the first permanent bridge across the Danube in Hungary. It was built from 1842 to 1849. At the feet of the bridge stands the glorious Hotel Gresham Palace.

St. Stephen’s Basilica

Take the street on the left of Gresham Palace and walk up to St. Stephen’s Basilica, the most significant Roman Catholic Church in Budapest that can host 3,500 people at the same time.

Rub the belly of the fat policeman statue on the way to the Basilica in Zrínyi street.

Have a look at the mummified right hand of our first king displayed in the Basilica.

The panorama from the lookout terrace is wonderful, it really worth the climb. If it is hot, have an ice cream at Gelato Rosa.

Szabadság tér - Freedom Square

Walk a bit back along Zrínyi street and turn right to October 6 street. A few minutes later you will arrive to Szabadság tér. Have a look at the huge, gorgeous buildings surrounding it. On your right you will see the US Embassy, in front of you stands the Soviet War Memorial and Ronald Reagan’s statue is here, too. Behind Mr. Reagan you will see the Parliament.

Parliament

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.

Szamos Cafe

Buda route on Google Maps

Funicular

The Funicular is in service since 1870. At the lower terminus there is always a long queue, if you wouldn’t like to wait, take the stairs from Sikló street. Just start to walk up the hill left from the funicular and take the first gate on your right and climb the stairs. After a few stairs you will find a walking route that will take you up to the Castle Hill.

Castle Hill

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 Hill 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.

Admire the sight of the city, take a few pictures and have a glimpse at the President’s Office at Sándor Palace.

Head to the right – you will visit the Castle a little bit later.

Walk along Szent György street until Dísz Square (in the direction of Matthias Church).

During WWII the buildings that stood here were severely damaged and medieval castle walls were revealed in the bomb craters. The excavations have brought many artifacts to the surface.

The line of flags represents various chapters of the Hungarian history.

At Dísz Square turn left. 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.

Úri street is full of medieval residential houses and interesting details

Úri street 9 – Labyrinth

Here is the Labyrinth, the entrance to the Catacombs. There is a cave system in the heart of Castle Hill and its depths hide many secrets. The cave network stretches over 10km under our feet.

Úri street 31

This 15th century, three-storey building has a Gothic facade. During the World War Two a part of the building collapsed, revealing some medieval remains.

Országház street 18-20-22

These buildings were built in the 14th and 15th centuries and by looking at them we get an idea how most of the Castle District might originally have looked in the Middle Ages.

Kapisztrán Square

Mary Magdalene Tower: for some time, this 13th century church was the only permitted Christian church under the Turkish rule, but later it was also converted into a mosque.

Vienna Gate Square (Bécsi kapu tér)

This gate is the he northern gate of the Castle District – it was the place of the Saturday market in the Middle Ages. Walk up to the top of the gate to enjoy the panorama of Buda.

Walk along Országház street to Szentháromság Square – the highest point of Castle Hill. The Holy Trinity Column was erected to fend off the plague epidemic.

You deserve a rest: I recommend Ruswurm cafe in Szentháromság street.Their poppy seed strudel, “somlói galuska” and “pogácsa” are very delicious.

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 the Matthias Church. There are several benches and the view is really nice.

Matthias Church

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.

If you are interested in the recapture of the Castle Hill and how Virgin Mary helped the Christians, check out my post about the church. 🙂 

Fisherman’s Bastion

Matthias Fountain

The statue is a visualization of a legend about King Matthias and a poor girl who fell in love with him.

After exploring the Castle with all of its courtyards and alleys, continue your walk along the Castle promenade that has a great view of Budapest.

You will find an escalator that takes you down to the Garden of the Castle.

From here,  you will pass Várkert Bazaar.

Walk along Várkert rakpart, and have a quick look at the narrowest (only 6 meters wide) house in Hungary (Várkert rakpart 16).

There is only one thing left: cross Elizabeth Bridge this suspension bridge that links Döbrentei square and Március 15 Square on foot.

Have a look at the Castle once more as you walk along the bridge to the Pest side.

This is the end of your walking tour. I am sure that you are tired now, but… …I hope that you enjoyed every moment of your day.

Come back soon to explore other parts of this unique city!

Things that you miss but are definitely worth visiting: 

Jewish Quarter (if you are not too tired, visit this are in the late afternoon and have a dinner in one of its restaurants, ruin bars)

Thermal baths

Andrássy Avenue

Heroes’s square 

City Park

The PDF version of this itinerary can be downloaded from here

Do you have more time in Budapest? Check out my blog post with a full itinerary of 2 days in Budapest! or 3 days in Budapest!

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