How to spend two days in Budapest, Hungary

How to spend two days in Budapest

The prettiest city in the whole of Europe awaits you. With a wealth of World Heritage-listed Sites and fairy tale castles, every day spent in Budapest will create memories for a lifetime. And though you can spend weeks exploring this beautiful city, you don’t always have that luxury. If you’re only in town for a couple of days, here’s a quick guide to spending 48 hours in Budapest with all the top Budapest things to do you can think of. 

Day One

Visit the Hungarian Parliament Building
Proudly gracing the skyline of the city, the iconic and much photographed Hungarian Parliament Building features on everybody’s ‘what to do in Budapest’ list. The spellbinding structure is located on the Pest side of the city. However, the best spot to fit its sprawling magnificence into one frame is from the other side of the Danube, on the Buda side. Before or after you’ve captured it on your camera, take the time to explore the various intricacies of its architecture up close. On a 45-minute guided tour you can explore the building’s great vaulted hall, the opulent central staircase as well as view the fascinating Hungarian crown jewels, including the Holy Crown of Hungary. 

Enjoy a Ruszwurm cake
For nearly two centuries, the Ruszwurm Confectionary has been delighting locals and tourists alike with mouth-watering cakes and pastries, and it won’t take you long to find out why they are legendary. We recommend the famous Ruszwurm krémes, made of feather-light vanilla cream sandwiched between crumbly pastries and dusted with icing sugar. The variety of melt-in-your-mouth treats are aptly complemented by the vintage décor that has remained largely unchanged since 1827.

Take a funicular up to Castle Hill
The Budapest funicular has been in operation since 1870 and is the easiest, most fun and most scenic way to get to the top of Castle Hill. There is plenty to explore on Castle Hill. Start at the Royal Palace and explore the Budapest History Museum and Hungarian National Gallery housed inside. Then make your way to the Disney castle-esque Fisherman’s Bastion to click the most remarkable pictures of the city. If daylight permits, you can continue your exploration along the cobbled streets of Castle Hill and visit Trinity Square and Matthias Church.

Walk across the Chain Bridge
The Széchenyi Chain Bridge connects the Buda and Pest sides across the Danube and is about 375 metres long. To walk across its length, especially during the night when the garland of lights bounce off the shimmering river waters, is a surreal experience. On the Pest side of the bridge is the scenic Széchenyi Square and on the Buda side is the Zero Kilometre Stone, a limestone sculpture in the shape of a zero denoting the reference point to measure road distances to Budapest

Day Two

Pay your respects at Shoes on the Danube Bank
On the banks of the Danube, on the Pest side of the river, are 60 pairs of shoes of all ages and genders, made of iron and fastened to the ground. These symbolize the victims of the Arrow Cross militiamen during World War II. The far right party shot over 3,500 people, after having them remove their clothes and shoes on the bank. Some lay flowers around the shoes, some light candles. Just to stand in the vicinity of the monument is a moving experience. 

Wander St. Stephen’s Basilica
Named after the first king of Hungary, St. Stephen’s Basilica is an architectural wonder. At 96 metres tall, it is the exact height of the Hungarian Parliament Building, a nod to the balance between the church and the state. Designed in neoclassical style, the church contains the mummified right hand of patron Saint Stephen I, the first King of Hungary. Preserved in a reliquary and adorned with precious jewels, the hand is a curious and highly venerated attraction. 

Soak in a thermal bath
No trip to Budapest is complete without a soak in its hot springs. With the city sitting on over a hundred natural thermal springs, a thermal spa bath is a quintessential item on the Budapest things to do list. We recommend the 100-year old Gellert Baths and Spa Budapest. With a mix of outdoor and indoor pools, this is one of the grandest spas in the city. Lie back and admire the 20th century art nouveau architecture, with ornate pillars and high ceilings, as the mineral rich waters slowly melt away your weariness.

Feast at Central Market Hall
Built in 1897, this historical market is the largest market in the city. The beautiful market sells fresh fruits and vegetables, dairy products, sea food, Hungarian spices, pickles, Tokaji wines and a whole range of odds and ends that will keep you exploring for hours. The upper floor boasts a fantastic range of eateries where you can indulge in authentic local specialties like lángos and goulash, as well pick up Hungarian handicrafts to take home. 

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