Budapest Attractions - how to spend one day in Budapest

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

What not to do in Budapest

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

Little Princes on the 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

Danube promenade

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

View from the Panorama Terrace of 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

Hungarian Parliament in summer

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

Szamos cafe

At this point you deserve a rest. At Kossuth Square on the first floor of Szamos Chocolate Museum you can find a cafe where sandwiches, cakes and beverages are served.

Shoes by the Danube

Shoes on the Danube Promenade

After visiting the Parliament, go back to the bank of the river and head to the south. In about 10 minutes you will arrive to the Shoes by the Danube Memorial. The sixty pairs of shoes commemorate those who were shot into the Danube by the Nazis. The Memorial was unveiled in 2005.

Walk across the Chain Bridge and a ride up the funicular to Castle Hill, a World Heritage site boasting centuries of royal history. 

Buda route on Google Maps

Funicular

Funicular Buda Castle

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

Tóth Árpád promenade

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.

View from Buda Castle, the Chain Bridge

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.

Spring day in the Castle District

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.

medieval building in the Castle District

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.

Wiena Gate Buda Castle

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

Budapest view from the 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

Fisherman's Bastion

The lookout terrace of the Bastion has a gorgeous panorama

The Bastion is only 100 years old, but it’s hard to imagine Budapest without this spectacular structure, and no visit to the city is complete without a stop here for the gorgeous views.

The Fisherman’s Bastion came by its name because of the fish market located nearby during medieval times; the bastion was built to commemorate the fishermen who once protected this part of the wall.

Royal Palace

National Gallery

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:

  • Hungarian National Gallery
  • National Széchényi Library
  • Budapest History Museum

Lion Courtyard

Four stone lions are guarding the yard, so it had no chance to get another name.

The yard is closed from three sides. As you enter the yard through its gate, have a look at the lighter grey parts of the pavement. This shows the excavated and then re-buried medieval walls.

On summer nights concerts are held here, because the acoustic is very good.

Matthias Fountain

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

Matthias Fountain

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.

Tourists in the Castle District

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

Castle Garden Buda

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).

Narrowest house of Budapest

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

Buda Castle panorama

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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