I have always wanted to travel to Budapest and after visiting this past weekend I can confidently say Budapest is truly a hidden gem and such an underrated city in Europe. On top of being more affordable (flight, food, and accommodation wise) Budapest was absolutely stunning, I had no expectations going into the trip and the Hungarian architecture blew my mind!
I technically stayed in Budapest for 3.5 full days, however this itinerary will only cover what I did during my full 3 days there. Note – I will include most prices in this itinerary as well to give a gauge on spendings in Budapest, this can of course be altered depending on one’s budget! The currency in Budapest is Hungarian Forint (Ft), however you can get around the city using only Euros as well, which is what I did. Gratuity charges are also included in your bill, so you are not required to tip.
Other useful Budapest posts: Where to Eat in Budapest (with photos)
Day 1 – Pest
Budapest is actually the combination of the two previously separated cities, Buda and Pest. My Airbnb was situated on the Pest side, so my boyfriend and I began our trip by spending our first full day exploring this area. We arrived in Budapest on Friday night and took a taxi to our Airbnb (I recommend you to stay on the Pest side), then slept in before embarking on our first full day!
- We began our day (12:00pm) with brunch at Brunch Bistro Budapest, which was conveniently located only a couple minutes walk from the famous St. Stephen’s Basilica. The cafe has an adorable outdoor seating section as well as delicious brunch foods, I would recommend the Scrambled Eggs Hungarian Style (2450 Ft=7.35€) and fresh orange juice (900 Ft=2.7€). Click here for their menu.
- After brunch we went to St. Stephen’s Basilica, to enter inside there are no tickets but it is expected that you donate 1 Euro=333 Ft before entering. I would recommend going inside because the design is absolutely stunning! There is also an option to go to the top of St. Stephens with a supposedly stunning view, however we opted not to do this.
- While you’re in the area make a stop at Gelarto Rosa which is right next to St. Stephens, it is a famous all-vegan gelato shop in Budapest. I believe the small cone cost me around 800 Ft=2.4€, I got vanilla and caramel.
- Afterwards we walked straight down to the water to see the view of Buda, as well as the Shoes on the Danube memorial. The memorial was created to honour the Jews who were killed by fascist Arrow Cross militamen during WWII, and features shoes on the bank where the Jews were told to leave their shoes (since shoes were valuable at the time) before being shot into the river.
- We walked further towards Parliament which we spent around 30 minutes admiring, the weather was great and there are many benches around.
- It was around 4:00pm at this point, my boyfriend Alex went back to our Airbnb to watch a football game, however I went towards Vaci Utca to go shopping! This street is the shopping area of Budapest with stores such as H&M, Zara, Bershka, Pull & Bear etc. To find the start of the Vaci shopping street you can type in Bershka’s address on your google maps (Budapest, Deák Ferenc u. 8, 1052 Hungary). Just head over there from Parliament!
- After shopping for around two hours, I met up with Alex in front of Mazel Tov, a popular restaurant in the Jewish Quarter serving Mediterranean food. When we arrived to the restaurant there was already a long line outside, we ended up waiting probably 40-minutes before getting inside, so I would definitely reserve in advance! However the ambience inside was cosy and comfortable and the food delicious. I personally don’t think it was worth waiting so long since Budapest is FILLED with amazing restaurants, but I still had a great meal there. I ordered their Mazel Tov Veggie “Burger” (2990 Ft=8.98 Euro) and a glass of Chardonnay (950 Ft=2.85€). Alex and I also got the Special creamy hummus plate (1690 Ft=5.07€) which was perfect as a two-person appetiser. Click here for the menu.
- After dinner we walked towards Street Food Karavan, which is a food court area with food trucks. We were too full to eat more so we just checked it out before walking by Szimpla Kert, a famous ruin bar. We didn’t want to wait in line to enter the bar, however I have heard it is a popular spot to go for a night out.
Fun fact – My phone’s health app said we walked 16.3 Km!
Day 2 – Buda
- We started our day off with brunch at Anna Cafe back in Fovam Square in Vaci Utca (utca means street in Hungarian!) I got their ginger tea (1390 Ft=4.17€) and Sonkas omelette (2190 Ft=6.58€). Super delicious and in a lovely corner of the busy square.
- Our brunch spot was around a 35-minute walk to the Buda side’s Gellert Hill and the famous Citadella fortress on the top of it (on this day my phone app estimated that we walked 12 Km). We walked there with Citadella in our Google Maps, and made the short hike up where we had great views of Buda and Pest.
- Next we put the ‘Castle Garden Bazaar’ into our maps to lead us towards Buda Castle. What I didn’t realise before was that the Buda Castle brings you to the top of the hill which connects to the Matthias Church and Fisherman’s Bastion, which makes seeing these three tourist sites very easy. At this point we explored Buda Castle, Matthias Church and Fisherman’s Bastion from the outside. We didn’t pay any extra fees since we felt seeing the architecture from outside (and the amazing views) was rewarding enough.
- In the Fisherman’s Bastion is the Halaszbastya Restaurant, which has great views of the Parliament on the Pest side and offers more peace since you won’t be lining up among other tourists to take a photo of the view. The food here is more expensive, Alex and I weren’t hungry yet so we got a soda and smoothie which cost around 12€ total. The drinks weren’t cheap but you basically pay for the view. Note – the restaurant has an entire interior section, we didn’t reserve and were happy to just sit on their terrace to grab drinks which I would recommend!
- We walked down the steps of Fisherman’s Bastion towards Chain Bridge, and back to the Pest side. Then spent two hours relaxing at our Airbnb and freshening up for dinner.
- We ate dinner at Pesti Diszn Bisztro which was so yummy. I ordered their Roasted Chicken Breast Supreme (3.290 Ft=11.3€) and a glass of Sauvignon Blanc (forgot how much).
- For dessert we went to Hiszteria Cremeria around the corner (forgot price) and I would 10/10 recommend this spot! They have vegan and non-vegan options.
Day 3 –
- Our final full day began with a late breakfast at a Spanish-Russian family run cafe called 3 Pajamas Breakfast Club. We spotted this little cafe (Szondi utca, 22 Budapest) while walking towards the Szechenyi Baths, our next location. I got the Simple Omelette and a glass of fresh orange juice, there is no online menu but my meal cost around 9-10€.
- Next we went to the Szechenyi Baths, we chose the general admission + locker which cost around 4900 Ft=14.72€ each. Note, bring your own towel, flip flops and a bottle of water to save money. The baths were crowded but it was nice to swim around, especially since it was 27 degrees that day! There was no line to get in so I don’t think paying for tickets in advance is necessary.
- The baths are located in a BEAUTIFUL park, we spent the rest of the afternoon seeing the Vajdahunyad Castle in the park and walking around.
- We also stopped at Robinson Timeless Kitchen in the park for a glass of orange juice (765 Ft=2.3€). Here is the menu. It would be a great spot to have lunch!
- We walked back to our Airbnb to chill and get ready for our cruise boat. We chose to do the 6:30pm boat tour with Legenda Cruises, here is my review on the experience (3800 Ft=11.42€)!
- To end our night after the great cruise ride down the Danube, we headed to La Fabricca. This restaurant faces St. Stephens Basilica and I got the grilled baby chicken with roasted potatoes and lemon sauce (3990 Ft=11.99€) and a glass of the recommended Nyolcas és Fia – Kékfrankos Rosé (1200 Ft=3.6€). Here is their menu.
NOTE – We did not make any reservations for our restaurants during our trip! We found there was no problem since Budapest is filled with good restaurants, other than the wait for Mazel Tov.
Not included in these spendings were my shopping in Vaci Utca, small purchases like water bottles, and accommodation (109.4€ each split between my boyfriend and I for 4 nights total). The AirBnb options in Budapest got very affordable so there is definitely an option for any budget, from hostels to AirBnb’s to high end hotels.
In only 3 full days this is the itinerary we chose to do in Budapest, however I had a list of many other spots and activities that you guys may want to incorporate! Here are some ideas:
- Day trip to Bratislava, Slovakia
- Reserve a table for a sunset drink at 360 Bar.
- Reserve a table for a sunset drink at the Aria Hotel Rooftop Bar.
- Terror House Museum on Andrassy Street of Pest side
- I was recommended to try brunch at Torokmez on the Buda side
- Libergo Chairlift to the highest viewpoint in Budapest
- Dinner at Hilda
Check out my Instagram highlight from Budapest here to see more of my trip.