When most people think about a short trip to Budapest, they are considering it as a weekend visit. In fact, during the three days of the weekend, you can explore quite a lot. It may sound surprising to you, but it is doable. In addition, I also managed to fit in my plan a full-day tour outside of the city and return to Budapest by boat through the Danube river. Be aware – by following my “Budapest tailor-made travel plan” you risk leg pain and fatigue, however in return you can gain unforgettable experience and appetite for more.
Budapest in three days
First of all my own “Budapest – tailor-made travel plan” is a three-day program. Before its preparation, I read many descriptions, hints and suggestions about the best travel plan. I found so many ideas and suggestions that I felt lost at the end. Overall – nothing has completely satisfied my needs, so I had to create a travel plan on my own. While I was working on it, I had to fulfil my own wish list as well. The list was long: a desire to relax, walk in the bosom of nature, hunger for beautiful views, appetite for architecture, a curiosity of the local cuisine and pinch of fortuity. As a result, all of this has created my perfect plan. The cherry on a cake was supposed to be a visit to the unique café, that I wanted to show to my husband for a long time.
Our wedding anniversary in September turned out to be a perfect occasion for this trip. Our trip to Budapest is short, however, it is well planned in advance. Flight connection to Budapest is on Thursday early in the morning, so we can spend three full days in the city. The return flight is on Sunday morning, therefore no sightseeing on that day.
Tailor-made travel plan. Day 1
We arrive in Budapest early in the morning. At the airport, we are at 9.30 a.m. The first thing we need to do after arrival is to buy a 72-hour card for public transport. After that, we look for an E200 bus stop (it is on the right side after leaving the arrivals hall). The bus goes for 20 minutes and takes us to the metro station M3 Kobanya-Kispest. There, we get on the subway and go to Deak Ferenc station. This trip takes us another 20 minutes.
On the spot, we do a quick visit to the hotel. It’s too early in the morning, therefore we can’t leave our suitcases in the room. We leave them at the reception, quickly repack our photo equipment and … we go to the city.
Andrassy – City Park (around 3 hours, metro + a lot of walking)
At 11.00 we start from a walk along Andrassy Avenue. We pass the State Opera House (under renovation, covered with a sheet) and then we reach the Oktogon Square, which is considered the busiest intersection in the city. Here we go down to the historic metro line M1 station and we go to the Heroes’ Square station.
On the Heroes’ Square, we admire the Millennium Memorial and beautiful facades of the surrounding buildings: Museum of Fine Arts and Budapest Hall of Art (Palace of Art).
We pass the square and we go through the footbridge on the lake. From here we can see the Vajdahunyad castle. Its towering turrets are reflected on the lake’s surface. It’s a magical moment.
We enter a woodland and castle gardens. We stroll for a while around buildings that are located here. After that, we get to the monument of Anonymous. Just in case it is true, I touch the pen that Anonymous holds in his hand, as it supposed to guarantee me a surge of writing inspiration. Well, I have nothing to lose. At the castle gate, we find information that it is possible to enter on top of the castle gate. We use this opportunity and after a while, we look at the castle courtyard from above.
At 2.30 p.m., we have a table booking in my favourite place in Budapest – Cafe New York. Before 2.00 p.m. we leave City Park and go to the cafe.
Margaret Island (around 2 hours, bus + walking)
After lunch at Café New York, we get on the subway (Blaha Lujza metro station) and return to the hotel for a moment to check in and take warmer clothes for the evening.
About 5.00 p.m. we go to the Deak Ferenc station and take the M3 subway line, two stops to the Westend station stop. There is a final stop of bus number 26, which goes directly to Margaret Island.
We go by bus across the entire island and get off at its end. On the way, we visit the Japanese garden, a musical fountain, we observe the Water Towers, the Garden of Light and the Rose Garden. In the end, we visit the remains of the Dominican Monastery, where St. Margaret, patron of the island was living for a few years. We spend about two hours on the island. In September in Budapest quickly gets dark and so, before 7.00 p.m. it is already after sunset.
We go back to the hotel. In the evening, we have dinner at a restaurant near our hotel.
At the end of the day, our step counter shows 27000 steps, which translates to over 22 km.
Tailor-made travel plan. Day 2
Today we must complete sightseeing of all the other monuments in the city 😊. The plan is very tight and the distance on the map suggests there will be a lot of walking again.
Pest (about 2 hours for the bathhouse + 2 hours for the Pest side)
In the morning we go to the Szechenyi bathhouse (metro line M1). Even a two-hour stay in this place will allow you to feel good and give a rest to your tired legs.
After a visit to the bathhouse, we go back by metro to the Bajcsy – Zsilinszky station and go for a walk on the Pest side. This part of the city will be fully explored on foot.
We start from the visit to the Basilica of St. Stefan. We are spending about 20 minutes there. For a while, we consider entering the roof of the church’s dome, but we give it up because waiting in a long queue is a waste of time for us
Then, we reach Freedom Square, where there is a monument dedicated to the Red Army and next to it – there is a statue of the former US President – Ronald Reagan.
From here – there are only a few steps to the Parliament building.
Danube River Promenade
Parliament, seen from a close distance, impresses us. Going around the entire building, with many stopovers for the photo shooting – takes us about 30-40 minutes. In front of the main entrance to the Parliament, there is the statue of Lajos Kossuth, who is considered to be the national hero of Hungary.
We walk along the Danube Promenade towards the Chain Bridge. Along the way, we pass a monument dedicated to the memory of Holocaust victims – shoes, symbolizing those murdered during WWII.
For lunch, we go to the Spoon restaurant that is located on a ship anchored on the Danube river band, in front of the Royal Palace.
Buda – Royal Palace and Fisherman’s Bastion (about 3 hours, just walking)
We go to the Buda side, through the Chain Bridge, which is an attraction in itself. The pedestrian walkway is quite wide and very well separated from the cars passing through it. When entering the bridge, it’s worth deciding which part of Buda you are more interested in because, being on the bridge, you can’t change its side anymore.
After descending from the bridge, we see the funicular railway station which we can reach to the top of the mountain. We, however, decide to go up the stairs. The “uphill” walk takes us about 20 minutes, but on the way – we stop multiple times to take pictures of the beautiful panorama of the city.
On the spot, we visit the Matthias Church and Fisherman’s Bastion. Unfortunately, we do not enter the area of the Royal Palace, because there is an event that day, that requires the purchase of admission tickets. We do not want to join the crowd of people who came for that event and we do not want to pay for the entrance.
We go back to the hotel.
For an early dinner, we go to the Oktogon Restaurant. After dinner, we take the metro to the Danube river band and take an evening stroll along its promenade.
On this day the step counter shows a record number – over 30,000 steps, which seems like 24.5 km.
Tailor-made travel plan. Day 3
One-day trip “Danube Bend Tour” and an evening visit to the Gellert Hill
Duration approx. 9.5 hours. Three historical places in 1 day. Tour organized by the travel agency “Eurama – Sightseeing Budapest City Tour”.
The pick up from the hotel at 8.30 a.m. At 9.00 a.m. – meeting with all participants of the trip and our tour guide, departure.
Travel to Esztergom takes us 1,5h. In Esztergom, there is the largest and most important cathedral in Hungary: Cathedral in Esztergom. The first stop, however, is on the Slovakia side, which shares the border with Hungary through the bridge on the Danube river. From this side of the river band, there is the best view of the cathedral building.
After a short break for a photo shooting session, we return to the bus and go to the basilica. Our tour guide tells us the history of this place. We have about 1-hour time to visit basilicas inside – individually without a guide.
On the way back – we see the ruins of the citadel in Visegrad. This is a historic place, as on Visegrad Hill there was a former Royal Residence. On the way, we stop for lunch. From the restaurant terrace, there is a beautiful view of the Danube Bend and the ruins of the citadel.
After lunch, we go to the Szentendre (St. Andrews), known as “an artists’ village”. Here we start a guided tour with our tour guide. He tells us an interesting history of this town. Then we have free time, about 1.5 hours.
At 5.00 p.m. we board a cruise passenger ship and we return to Budapest through the Danube river. The return trip lasts approx. 70 minutes. In Budapest, we have a choice of two stops: “Pier” (on the Buda side) and “City Center” (on the Pest side). We choose the first one.
Keleti train station and Gellert Hill (about 2 hours, metro and walk)
In front of the “Pier” stop, there is a metro station line 2, which we take to the Keleti train station. Once, this was the Central Station, currently, it is Eastern Railway Station. The main attraction is the building’s architecture, called the “jewel of the Neo-Renaissance style”.
After visiting the station, we take the metro – line 4 to Szent Gellert ter station. We pass the Gellert Hotel and Gellert Baths and we go up the hill. The entry time is about 20 minutes. Most of the time you go up the stairs, however, the entrance itself requires a bit of effort and good physical condition.
The hilltop is quite crowded, but it seems like most people are at the balcony barrier with photo cameras aimed towards the Danube. This place is considered the best viewpoint of the city skyline. We’re waiting with everyone for the sunset. It’s getting dark quickly, lamps on bridges, on the Parliament building and on all other buildings facing the river are starting to light up over the Danube river. This view is worth the effort that we put in order to climb uphill.
We also go downhill on foot (about 20 minutes) but from the Citadel side. After descending to the main road, we catch a bus that goes to the city centre. For a dinner, we go to a restaurant serving local delicacies.
When we come back to the hotel, it is already late at night. Our step counter shows that we have passed over 19,000 steps, which seems like 15 km. We are packing our suitcases before sleep because we must catch the return flight early in the morning. We plan to return to the airport by taxi, to be able to sleep in the morning a little bit longer.
We say goodbye to Budapest with the hope of a soon return to this city😊. “Budapest – tailor-made travel plan” is fully checked and passed. I can now recommend it to others.
Budapest – my other posts
I also encourage you to read my other posts about Budapest: