During my student exchange in France, I hung out with quite a few Hungarians and one thing was for sure – Hungarians knew how to have fun! And why wouldn’t they ? With a country that offered cheap food and drinks (I paid lesser for a fancy brunch in Budapest than in India!), had a unique nightlife and known for its spa culture, it would be really hard not to be fun-loving.
And this fun and beautiful place set the tone for our 18 day Central Europe trip. Here is my 2.5 day Budapest Itinerary followed by some travel and stay tips. Happy reading 🙂
Day 1 : The Grand Budapest Walk-Fest
We reached Budapest Airport at 1030 in the morning and took a train to our Airbnb apartment. Since we reached before check-in time, the place wasn’t ready and we couldn’t freshen up. But it was the first day of the trip and there was nothing that could stop us. We dumped our luggage at our host’s place and started off on our Budapest walk fest.
Our first stop was a small roadside stall selling Hungarian sweet treats – Kürtőskalács. Yes, the suggestion to stop and eat was mine (Surprise, Surpise!) But trust me, I could smell the aroma from a few blocks away and I just had to try.
Kürtőskalács is sweet, yeast dough spun around a cone shaped baking mould – baked – rolled in granulated sugar. These are also served with Nutella, chocolate, coconut, cinnamon sugar etc.
We then walked towards River Danube and the iconic Széchenyi or Chain Bridge. The bridge spans the River Danube and connects the Buda and Pest side of the city. We stopped for pictures and also booked ourselves a Danube River Cruise at the tourist booth nearby.
Before we crossed the bridge over to Budapest’s castle district, we decided to have lunch in one of the restaurants by the river. If you’re thinking “Didn’t you guys just eat?”; Yes we are a pack of hungry souls and in our defense, we had to make the most of the cheap and delicious Budapest cuisine.
Our post lunch walk took us across the Danube and to Castle District. There is a funicular that takes you up Castle Hill but we decided to hike up and burn the calories from that outstanding lunch.
Atop the hill are some of Budapest’s best landmark monuments and outstanding viewpoints – Buda Castle, Mathias Church and Fisherman’s Bastion. There is also a National Gallery and Museum within the castle premises that you can visit.
Just adjacent to the church is Fisherman’s Bastion. This was built in the 1800s to celebrate the 1000 year anniversary of the founding of Hungary. There are 7 towers at the Fisherman’s bastion, representing the 7 tribes of Hungary.
We walked our way down the hill and back to our apartment. After our 13 hour flight journey and walk around Budapest, we finally got some rest, took a shower and prepped up for the party at Ruin Pubs.
These pubs are the abandoned ruins of World War II that have been put to good use. Szimpla Kert is the biggest and the oldest one that sparked the Ruin Pub trend in Budapest. There are more pubs – each with its unique style and interiors. A word of advice – These pubs mostly serve alcohol, so if you are hungry then I would advise you to grab a bite beforehand.
We spent the night at the ruin pubs and grabbed dinner at an American Diner nearby. I also happened to meet one of the girls with whom I had hung out during my exchange. It was a lovely coincidence and a great feeling to see a familiar face in a new city.
Day 2 : Shopping and the Danube River Cruise
If there is one thing I am incapable of – it is waking up early. And after a long flight journey and the 10000 steps around Budapest (as informed by the new Iphone my husband had gifted me before our trip) , I deserved sleep.
Our day began at 12 with brunch at Café Zoska which was absolutely delicious. The place tends to be crowded and for obvious reasons – Zoska is rated one of the best in Budapest for breakfast.
We headed to Vaci Street and spent the entire afternoon shopping and downing gelatos. Since our Budapest planner (my husband) insisted we stop shopping and do things on his checklist, I gave in and we took the metro to Hosok Tere a.k.a Hero’s Square. Hosok Tere is one of the major squares in Budapest and has witnessed many political events. This square is known for the statue of the Seven Chieftains of the Magyars (Hungarians).
By the time we were done, it was time for our cruise on the Danube. While this is popular thing to in Budapest, I thought it was overrated. The cruise doesn’t have a guide and there isn’t much that you can’t already see by walking on the riverfront.
So if you want those 10 EUR saved, then skip the cruise. Just end the night with a walk along the Danube and catch a glimpse of the beautifully illuminated Parliament, Chain Bridge and Castle Hill.
Day 3 : Relaxing those happy, tired muscles
This was our last day in Budapest and before our afternoon bus to Bratislava, we decided to explore the thermal baths. We went to Szechenyi Bath, which is the biggest and most popular one. Other popular ones are the Turkish Rudas Baths and the Gellert Baths.
You can buy the tickets online http://www.bathsbudapest.com/ and at the counters too. Would recommend making reservations in advance as it saves time and helps avoid the queue in the peak season.
It is sad that we had only a few hours to enjoy the baths. I think it is possible to spend an entire day here – enjoy the soothing hot water on your muscles, have a couple of drinks at the café, do a few laps in the swimming pool, add in a massage, a pedicure, a rejuvenating sauna session and finally end the day with a pool party. Sounds heavenly, right?
And after 2.5 days of fun and bliss, we took the bus to our next stop – Bratislava, Slovakia!
Where to Stay?
Budapest is actually 2 cities Buda and Pest with the Danube River in between. Buda side is the historical side and is on a hill. Pest side is the commercial side with shops, hotels, restaurants and everything else you need. Stay on the Pest side and in the City Centre. All the historical sights are walking distance from here. We stayed on Erzsébet krt. in the City Centre. Check out the Airbnb Apartment below: Highly recommended host and place. https://www.airbnb.co.in/rooms/11041290?eluid=1&euid=75bc9bd7-dc4a-d28e-a0d9-9af8cf4d6b70
Budapest offers 24 and 72 hour travel cards valid across Bus, Tram and Metro at 1650 HUF to 4150 HUF (INR 380 to 950). You can also go for a group (1 to 5 members) 24-hour travel card at 3300 HUF (INR 760).
How much does it cost?
Here’s how much I spent in Budapest. Two and half days in just INR 8000 ~ USD 120
|Day||Cost Head||Total Cost INR (4 persons)||Cost per person INR|
|Day 1||Stay Airbnb (2 nights)||4987||1247|
|Group 24 hr Travel Card||760||190|
|Ruin Pubs and Dinner||2427||607|
|Day 2||Brunch at Zoska||1282||321|
|Vaci Street and Shopping||3019.23||755|
|Group 24 hr Travel Card||760||190|
What to eat ?
Do try some of the traditional Hungarian dishes
- Gulyas aka Goulash ( pronounced gooyash) Traditional Hungarian dish – Meat stew with vegetables and spiced with paprika
- Lots and lots of Paprikas – Stuffed, Sauteed, Powdered
- Kürtőskalács – Sweet spiral cylindered bread made from sweet yeast dough and coated in sugar
- Dobos Torta – A five layered pastry made of sponge cake, caramel and chocolate cream. Oh my!
- Langos – Deep-fried flat bread that you can customize with toppings of your choice – potatoes, cheese, sour cream and meat ( if you eat non-veg)
So is Budapest on your travel itinerary ? Contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org or leave a comment for more information.