Three days in Budapest

Hungary is a landlocked country in Central Europe sharing borders with Slovakia, Austria, Serbia, Romania, Croatia, Slovenia and Ukraine. One of the largest kingdoms in Europe, the country is divided almost in half by Danube River. Despite the country’s turbulent and depressing past, Hungary is now one of the most prosperous countries in Europe. Its capital, Budapest, is considered as one of the most beautiful urban landscapes in the world. Whether this is your first trip to Budapest or you’ve been here a few times before, a 3-day stay opens up tons of new and interesting things to do. While it’s almost impossible to experience everything – even if your trip lasts more than a week—this itinerary is designed to allow you to visit the city’s most famous attractions. Read on for suggestions on how to make the most of your time in Budapest.

Things to know before traveling to Hungary:

1. Language
Hungarian (Magyar) is the official language of the Republic of Hungary. It is said to be a difficult language to learn, mostly because none of the surrounding countries can speak their language. Speaking at least some Hungarian phrases or attempting to learn is greatly appreciated by the locals. Some helpful phrases are as follows:

Good morning! = Jó reggelt!

Good afternoon! = Jó napot!

Good evening! = Jó estét!

Good night! = Jó éjt!

Goodbye! = Viszlát!

Do you speak English? = Beszélsz angolul?

Thank you! = Köszönöm

You are welcome! = Szívesen!

To learn how to pronounce the words, enter any Hungarian word in Google translate and press the loudspeaker symbol to hear it.

2.Money and Costs
The official currency of Hungary is the Hungarian Forint (HUF). Though bigger shops and restaurants in Budapest accept US dollars and Euros, it is recommended to pay in the local currency so you will not end up paying more. Bálint Change and Northline are some of the reliable and legitimate exchange bureaus offering favourable rates.

Greetings in Hungary for both men and women is a simple hand shake, although a man should usually wait for the woman to extend her hand. If you are in for a thermal bath experience, remember to bring a swimsuit for co-ed pools. Traditional baths with separate pools for men and women prohibit wearing of swimsuits.

4.Getting there – From Hong Kong a round-trip cost about 640 USD (cheapest flights are with Aeroflot and layover in Moscow), from New York a round-trip is about 515 USD (Turkish Airlines with a stopover in Istanbul is among the cheapest available airfares), from Dubai a round-trip is about 460 USD (Norwegian and a layover is Oslo is a great choice) and from within Europe, the prices are under 100 USD for a round-trip ticket.

5.Where to stay
Since joining the European Union in 2004, the tourism infrastructure has developed at an incredible pace in Hungary. The capital, Budapest, has heaps of accommodation to suit every pocket, from budget hostels to luxury hotels.

6.Getting Around
Getting around Hungary is pretty easy since it is very well connected by bus systems. Taxis are plentiful in most cities. To avoid taxi scams, particularly in Budapest, it’s recommended to call a reputable taxi company rather than hail a taxi in the street. If you are travelling in the most popular tourist rail routes like Budapest-Kecskemét-Szeged and Budapest-Siófok-Lake Balaton, then you can take the train (check out to get the most up-to-date travel, price and timetable information).

Detailed day by day itinerary Three days in Budapest

Day 1: Budapest

Where to stay in Budapest:

Aria Hotel Budapest

Four Seasons Hotel Gresham Palace

Hotel Palazzo Zichy

Baltazar Budapest

Prestige Hotel Budapest

Start your day early by having some traditional Hungarian breakfast. A typical breakfast in Hungary often include ham and cheese, fried eggs, delicious bread, salad and freshly brewed coffee. Unless breakfast is included in the price of your accommodation, you can try some of the best cafes and restaurants in the city like Baltazár Budapest (Országház u. 31), Keksz (Budapest, Madách Imre tér 4, 1075 Hungary; tel:+36 30 556 7059), Villa Bagatelle Café (Németvölgyi út 17) and Coyote Coffee & Deli (Markovits Iván u. 4).

Hungarian Parliament Building, Budapest, Hungary
Hungarian Parliament Building, Budapest, Hungary

Begin your tour at the east bank of Danube. Your first destination is the Hungarian Parliament Building, one of Budapest most famous landmarks. Purchase your tickets for the Hungarian Parliament Building Guided Tour at the ticket office located in the Museum of Ethnography, across from the Parliament. Please note – guided tours are held in Hungarian, English, French, Spanish, Italian, German, Hebrew and Russian. Also, there are specific times provided for each language so make sure to be on time. After the tour, head to Batthyány Square or Kossuth Square to get the best view of the Parliament. Before lunch, make a quick visit to St. Stephen’s Basilica (Szent István tér 1), the second largest church in Hungary.

This is the inside of the beautiful St. Stephen's Basilica in Budapest, located in the “pest” district of the city
This is the inside of the beautiful St. Stephen’s Basilica in Budapest, located in the “pest” district of the city

In the afternoon, make your way to the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Andrássy Avenue. Lined with impressive Neo-renaissance mansions and palaces, this iconic boulevard connects the city center and the city park. Then, you can do some shopping at Váci Street, the city’s main pedestrian thoroughfares and perhaps the most famous street of central Budapest . End your day with a stunning view of Danube and Buda side of the city at Danube Promenade.

Day 2: Budapest
On your 2nd day, start early and wander around the old cobbled streets of the Buda Castle District. The district is packed with many historic sights and attractions so make sure to wear comfy shoes. Looking down over the Danube and Pest, the Castle Hill served as the district of government. This part of Budapest is full of history and impressive architecture. Do not forget to visit the Matthias Church (Szentháromság tér 2), Fisherman’s Bastion (Szentháromság tér 5), Chain Bridge (the cover picture of the article) and Heroes Square.

Matthias Church is a Roman Catholic church located in Budapest Hungary in front of the Fisherman's Bastion at the heart of Buda Castle District
Matthias Church is a Roman Catholic church located in Budapest Hungary in front of the Fisherman’s Bastion at the heart of Buda Castle District

If you still have time or if you are feeling adventurous, then you could explore the underground sights of the Buda Labyrinth near the Holy Trinity Square. Budapest is famous for its thermal spas and joining guided underground tours will allow you the opportunity to see where the famed thermal mineral waters sprung. For a relaxing evening, head to the Gellert Baths (Kelenhegyi út 4), one of the city’s thermal baths.

Day 3: Budapest
Today is your last day in Budapest. Taking in to consideration that you most likely stayed out rather late on your second night, you can start your second day at around 10  in the morning. Savor your last morning in the city with a relaxed breakfast in your room or at a nearby restaurant. Spend the rest of your day checking out some attractions in the scenic Budapest that you might have missed. Fit in one last amazing lunch or dinner in the town. You could even squeeze in some souvenir shopping before you travel to the airport. Head to the airport in time to check in for your international flight home, or you may opt to continue traveling independently, or extend your stay in Hungary. The decision is all yours!

This is the end of our 3-day suggested itinerary to Budapest. If the pace gets too hectic, just chill out and prioritize which area you would really like to visit. Take time to interact with the locals as they provide the best advice when it comes to traveling in their country. This part of Central Europe may seem too big and distant, but it is a great travel destination rich in world class scenery. 

Have you been to Budapest or anywhere else in Hungary? Do you have any tips or suggestions to share? If so, you can leave your comments below.

backpacking, City exploring, History, Hungary

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