When visiting Budapest, four days is enough. In four days, you have enough time to experience the city. You would also be able to visit cathedrals and cruise through the Danube. You can even squeeze in a thermal bath experience.
In the lineup of European cities, we always hear the same cities over and over again. There’s Amsterdam, Paris, and Barcelona. There is also London and a few more famous cities.
But aside from these famous cities, there are a lot more in Europe that people miss.
Budapest is one of these cities that tourists always miss.
There is little written about Budapest. But once you get to visit, you will realize how vast your options are when it comes to activities.
The city is diverse and beautiful. It teems with life and culture. It has a rich history and an active nightlife. Finally, the architecture in the city is top-notch.
Budapest is also more laid back compared to its other counterparts. This makes exploring the city more worthwhile.
Now, you may be wondering what you can do in four days.
You can visit castles. You can also dip through one of the city’s thermal spas. You can even go on a cruise by the Danube river.
Plus, there are superb restaurants and bars in between.
Here’s an extensive look at how your four days will go.
On your first day, make sure to explore the city.
This is something you can do alone. Or you can also go with a group.
There are a lot of walking tours in the city. And you can take advantage of these walking tours. They’re mostly for free.
On day 1, you can cover the tourist sites on the Pest side of the city.
St. Stephen’s Basilica
This is the largest religious building in the country.
Inside, you will find the relic of St. Stephens right hand – mummified.
The church is proof of the city’s amazing architecture. Here, you will be able to climb 400 steps to the top. Once on top, you will get to see the views of the city.
About 5 minutes of walking from St Stephens is Liberty Square.
Historically, this place plays a crucial role. There were imprisonments, executions, and protests related to the square. All these have been relevant in the city’s fight for freedom.
The Hungarian Parliament Building
Two blocks away from Liberty Square is the Hungarian Parliament Building.
Its structure is one of the most impressive in the city. What adds to its charm is that it sits right beside the Danube river.
It is huge and magnificent.
Since its completion in 1902, it remains to be the country’s largest building.
Shoes on the Danube Promenade
Head south from the Hungarian Parliament Building, and you will find the Shoes on the Danube Promenade.
This is a memorial in honor of the Jews killed during the Second World War.
The monument shows 60 pairs of shoes made of iron.
The Danube River Cruise
In most major cities, the best way to see the city’s beauty is from its waters.
In Budapest, you would find that most landmarks sit either beside or in the area of the Danube river.
The cruise should be a perfect way for you to see everything minus the crowd.
There are a lot of vendors offering Danube river cruises. But these are usually overpriced.
They’re more reliable.
On your second day, I suggest you explore the Buda side of Budapest.
On this day, you have two options. One is to start the day super early and wait for the sunrise, which is magical.
The other option is to wake up after sunrise and explore Buda just like usual.
Here’re the places you should explore.
The Castle District
To reach the Castle District, you have a lot of options.
You can visit by walking, by taking a bus, or by riding a cable car.
The city is walkable. But the Castle District is about 40 or so minutes away if you walk. Make sure to have enough time if you are planning to walk.
To get there fast, you can take a bus.
Bus No. 16 leaves Deak Ferenc Square and travels to the Castle District.
Finally, at the end of the chain bridge is a cable car. It runs from 7:30 in the morning until ten at night. This is another option you can take.
With fairy tale towers and spectacular views, the Fisherman’s Bastion is perhaps the most photographed spot in the city.
Fisherman’s Bastion is easily one of the favorites for many tourists. Aside from its views, this is also where you will see the best sunrise in the city.
Across the Fisherman’s Bastion is the Matthias Church.
The church is another architectural wonder that attracts thousands of tourists every day.
The church has gone through numerous restorations over the years. Despite that, it remained to be one of Europe’s most beautiful religious buildings.
From the Matthias Church, head to the Castle District by bus and visit Buda Castle.
For many, this is the best tourist spot in Budapest. But aside from the Buda Castle, I am sure the Fisherman’s Bastion and the Matthias Church are putting up a good fight.
Hospital in the Rock
This place used to be a secret hospital and nuclear bunker.
Built in a natural cave system that extends up to 10km long, the hospital opened in 1944.
The purpose of the building was to safeguard soldiers and civilians from bomb attacks.
Now, Hospital in the Rock houses wax figures and machinery that show how it was during the war.
You can spend your third day in Budapest exploring local markets, street arts, and bars. Finally, reserve this day for the much-awaited thermal spa.
The Jewish District
The district was aptly named as it used to be where Jews live during the Nazi occupation of the country.
These days, the Jewish District houses the best street art and the yummiest food in the city.
In the Jewish District, you will find the trendiest boutique stores and the hippest nightlife.
Szimpla Kert Ruin Bar
During the day, this is one of Budapest’s most popular artistic centers. By night, the place transforms into a ruined bistro.
The drinks are cheap; the décor is unique yet beautiful.
Szimpla Kert is a place worth a visit – whether it is during the day or night.
Budapest Central Market
The grand central market hall in Budapest is a destination you should not miss.
This is the oldest as well as the largest market in Budapest.
Here, you will find thousands of vendors that sell anything and everything under the sun. There are souvenirs, clothes, and local delicacies as well.
And for the most exciting part of all – thermal baths!
No visit to Budapest is complete without experiencing these baths.
The thermal baths are full of minerals that are great for relaxation. These minerals also bring medicinal properties.
There are many thermal baths all over Budapest. Some of the most popular are the Szechenyi Bath and the Gellert Bath. Aside from these, there is also the Rudas Bath and the Kiraly Bath to consider.
This being your last day in the city, you can either relax or explore some more.
If you want to relax, you can try any of the spas and thermal baths the city has to offer.
But if you want to explore, here are a few more places to see.
This avenue is on the classy and high-end side.
Andrassy Avenue is a 2.4km-long boulevard filled with beautiful architecture and is home to designer boutiques.
Here, you will find shops like Gucci, Dior, LV, and a lot more.
This park is one of the most spectacular green spaces in the city.
It has many lawns, trees, and a lake. It also has museums, a zoo, and even a castle.
If you are traveling with kids, the City Park is something you should not miss. This is also where you will find the Szechenyi Thermal Bath.
Coming here would be like hitting two birds with one stone.
The castle is just behind the City Park lake.
While not as popular as the other castles, the Vajdahunyad Castle is undoubtedly one of Budapest’s most beautiful.
And about this castle, there’s some interesting information you should know.
According to legend, it is in the Vajdahunyad Castle where Count Dracula was once imprisoned.
List of Contents
Is Budapest worth a visit?
Budapest has beautiful and unique buildings. It comes with a rich history, a relaxed vibe, and a strong art scene. It also has scenic views. These reasons make Budapest worth a visit.
The capital city of Hungary never failed to capture the hearts of its visitors.
Budapest may not be as popular as Paris or London, but tourists often end up falling in love with the city.
Here are the reasons why Budapest is worth a visit.
Budapest is a collection of beautiful and unique architecture.
All the buildings come in varying colors and shades. The architectural details are unique.
All these add to the beauty and charm of the city.
Since the start of this article, I have been talking about buildings. But what lies beneath those walls?
One of the things you should know is that behind those walls are courtyards. These are all amazingly beautiful courtyards.
Now, this does not mean you enter any building you fancy. Some of these are where people hold residences. It would be rude to barge into their homes.
But there are courtyards open for a visit. You can try visiting the Unger Courtyard. The Paris Courtyard is also a must-see!
Budapest has a rich history.
The city went through a fair share of historical events. Budapest has been through a lot of rulers as well.
Each of these events and rulers left a mark on the city.
The Budapest History Museum and the Buda Castle are two of the major places you can visit to learn more about the city’s rich history.
The Art Scene
Drop by the Jewish District to see the painted murals and experience the strong art scene of the city.
There are also guided tours where you can learn more about the artists and the famous art pieces in the city.
The Relaxed Vibe
Tourists always say that Budapest is a city full of life. Despite this, Budapest does not feel as hectic as other cities in Europe.
It is a city with a relaxed atmosphere.
In a continent of many expensive destinations, Budapest is an exception.
Visiting Budapest is cheap.
The currency in Hungary is HUF (Hungarian Forint). An American dollar is equivalent to about 280 HUF.
Budapest is cheap. Meals can be anywhere from 1500 to 2500 HUF. That’s about US$5 to US$9 per meal—a cup of coffee costs around 400 HUF or US$1.4.
You can visit and enjoy Budapest for 3 to 4 days without putting a hole in your pocket.
If you love mesmerizing views, Budapest is a perfect destination.
You have a wide array of options. There is Gellert Hill. You can also try checking out Castle Hill.
Aside from these, there are rooftop bars and a lot more places that provide you with picture-perfect views of the city.
Sunset (and even sunrise) is magical.
Which is nicer – Buda or Pest?
Buda is a bit calmer compared to Pest. The Buda side of the city is more residential. The Pest side of Budapest has all the goings-on of a city. It has many attractions, shops, as well as a bustling nightlife. I find Pest nicer than Buda.
You may not know it, but Budapest has two sides. One side is Buda. The other side is Pest. It was only in the 1870s when two parts of the city united into Budapest that we know today.
But even up to this day, some locals would refer to a place as Buda or Pest.
Is there a difference between the two?
Which of the two is better?
Well, I find Pest better. It suits my fancy. But here, I will discuss more each side of the city. Then you tell me which side you would choose.
Buda is the part of the city with the better views.
It is the part that is more elevated. This part of the city has a more residential feel.
But here, you will find the Fisherman’s Bastion and the Matthias Church. You will also find Buda Castle here.
The Pest side of the city is more popular for its nightlife.
You will find the ruin bars and the active art scene.
If you always consider the nightlife as part of your itinerary when traveling, stay in Pest.
Aside from the nightlife, Pest also houses most of the touristy sites. Here, you will find the St. Stephen’s Basilica, the Central Market Hall, and even the Szechenyi Thermal Bath.
The Parliament Building is also in this part of the city as well as most restaurants and boutiques.
How do you stay safe in Budapest?
Budapest is one of Europe’s safest cities. But there are tourist traps to avoid. Be careful with exchanging money as well as with riding taxis. Don’t visit outside Districts VII, VIII, and IX at night. Finally, beware of pickpockets.
Budapest is safer than other European cities.
But there are inconveniences if you don’t take the usual precautions.
Here are a few things to remember
In the past, taxi operators always charged different tariffs. Most of them have the aim to rip tourists off.
When riding taxis, choose the yellow ones. They usually have a sign on the roof.
The right taxis always have the prices specified at the side of the car itself.
Some unmarked cars come with taxi signs on the roof. Avoid them.
These are petty crimes. But these are crimes nonetheless.
Pickpockets are common in public transport rides as well as on escalators on the metro. They are also common in some shops, especially the crowded ones.
Beware of them in touristy places.
Make sure to carry cash that you only need. Belt bags are great as they keep your money, phone, and valuables safe.
When exchanging money in Budapest, make sure to go to the banks.
Never deal with money changers in the streets. It is against the law.
Areas to Avoid at Night
The downtown area is safe at night.
Never visit the outer parts of Districts VII, VIII, and IX at night. These areas are unsafe.
As always, avoid poorly lit streets at night.
Budapest is generally safe. But it never hurts to take precautions when in the city.