Budapest in Hungary is by no means an expensive country to travel in. But a lot of people visit whilst travelling around Europe therefore even if you’re spending 3 days in Budapest you might be on a tight budget. Here are your Budapest must-see attractions and things to do.
This itinerary is based on 3 days in Budapest (your typical long-weekend break). If you are staying longer than 3 days in Budapest you might want to read my post What to see in Budapest for some more ideas (Coming soon).
I visited Budapest as a cheap city break. After searching via the Explore option on Skyscanner I found some return flights from my local UK airport (East Midlands) for £35 return with RyanAir (bargain!).
***Please note I do love walking everywhere when I explore a city. I will include details for public transport if you won’t want to walk as much as me!
Table of Contents
- 1 Day 1 – (3 days in Budapest)
- 2 Day 2 – (3 days in Budapest)
- 3 Day 3 – (3 days in Budapest)
- 4 More information about Budapest
- 4.1 What are Transporation options to/from the Airport?
- 4.2 How to Travel around Budapest City?
- 4.3 What currency do you need in Budapest?
- 4.4 How much money do you need for 3 days in Budapest
- 4.5 Where to stay in Budapest?
- 4.6 Where to eat in Budapest?
- 4.7 What else to do in 3 days in Budapest (or longer)?
Day 1 – (3 days in Budapest)
Free Walking Tour
Try one of the FREE walking tours. I opted for the Original Budapest Tour. This is a great way to orientate yourself around the city. And learn a few things too. There are four or five companies that offer these tours. My favourite was ‘Trip to Budapest’. The idea is you join the tour and if you have a good experience you leave a tip.
Meeting point is Vörösmarty tér, a square in the centre of Budapest at 10.30 (afternoon tour at 14.30).
The walking tour ends 13.00/13.30. So it’s likely you will be hungry by now (every time I thought about being hungry in Hungary it made me smile!!)
Castle Hill area
Across the Chain Bridge (Buda side), you have two options to the top. Catch the Funicular, originally opened in 1870, then reopened again after damage in World War II in 1986.
The Funicular is now a major part of the landscape by UNESCO World Heritage Site. They run every 5-10 minutes and don’t take long to reach the top. Or alternatively, you can walk and enjoy the views on the 10-minute walk up.
The Hungarian National Gallery is here, along with a café and toilets. (If you don’t have a museum ticket you have to pay 200 HUF for the toilets!
St Matthias Church
Depending on how much you’ve already walked, you may wish to jump on a bus number 16 back to Pest. I opted to explore St Matthias Church, only 10-15 minute walk. In winter the light was fading but I was in for a treat as the church was lit up and looked stunning.
And since you’re already here, then explore the Fisherman’s Bastion which is right next to St Matthias Church. From here you have amazing night views of the city. There’s one section that you need to pay extra for (this is the best view of all). But on reflection it’s not essential, the views from lower are just as stunning.
The ONLY difference is the views of Budapest Houses of Parliament are completely unobstructed, lower down a church is slightly in the way (if you are really fussy). And there’s a café with a few low power heaters.
Day 1 Costs
Breakfast pastry 260 HUF
Budapest walking tour tip 1,000 HUF
Lunch (burger + chips) 1800 HUF & (small beer) 800 HUF
St Stephen’s Basilica (inside church) 200 HUF
St Stephen’s Basilica (promenade view) 600 HUF
Fisherman’s Bastion 280 HUF
Dinner 1990 HUF & (small wine) 250 HUF
Bar (beer) 200 HUF
Total spend 7,380 HUF/ 24 EUR
Funicular (single) 1,200 HUF or (return) 1,800 HUF
Hungarian National Gallery 1,800 HUF + 800 HUF (Audio guide)
Bus ticket (Pest to Buda) Single 350 HUF or Return 700 HUF
Additional spend (maximum) 5,100 HUF/ 16 EUR
Day 2 – (3 days in Budapest)
Free Street Art and Urban Walking Tour
Another one of the FREE walking tours with ‘Trip to Budapest’. This walking tour takes you around the Jewish Quarter in the Pest area. So show you a different part of Budapest. Again, at the end of the tour if you’ve enjoyed the experience then you leave a tip.
Same meeting point at Vörösmarty tér, in the centre of Budapest at 10.00 (1 Nov-31 Mar) and 15.30 (1 Apr-31 Oct).
This tour lasts 2-2.5 hours so the morning tour ends 12.00/12.30.
The great thing about this tour is that we finished in a local food market in the heart of the Jewish Quarter. And there’s a café serving traditional Hungarian food.
St Stephen’s Basilica
On a clear day (i.e. not raining) go to St Stephen’s Basilica, you may have already walked past this on your Walking tour but now it’s time to go inside. Actually, on a wet day going inside would be a great idea! But you can also climb the 302 steps (or lift and steps) to the Panorama Tower so it’s great if it’s a clear day.
The Panorama Tower is only open 10.00 to 16.30
40 minutes from the city centre (via bus no. 9 and 65) you can venture deep below ground in Budapest’s caves system. In winter, this is a great activity because it’s warmer in the caves than outside.
You’re underground for nearly 2 hours and it is the most amazing adventure. Taking you through narrow passageways and tiny gaps in the rocks that you think are impossible to get through. But if you love a challenge then be sure to check this out. More information here Viator Caving tours
Tours are at 10.15 and 15.30 each day
Hit the Ruin Bars
Try out some of the ruin bars, these are famous in Budapest, created from unused buildings. They are all decorated in different art forms and make for very interesting places to go as there’s always something to look at. I visited Ellato Kert & Taqueria Budapest, a Mexican themed bar as well as the most popular Szimpla Kert
Day 2 Costs
Breakfast pastry 250 HUF
Street Art & Urban walking tour tip 1,000 HUF
Lunch (Hungarian dish) 950 HUF
Bus ticket x 2 (to Cave tour) 700 HUF
Cave adventure 7,000 HUF
Cake from the bakery 200 HUF
Bus ticket & tram ticket (from Cave tour) 700 HUF
Dinner 1190 HUF & (small wine) 390 HUF
Ruin Bar (small wine) 250 HUF
Total spend 11,440 HUF/ 37 EUR
Bus ticket (Buda to Pest) Single 350 HUF
Additional spend (maximum) 350 HUF/ 1 EUR
Day 3 – (3 days in Budapest)
Heroes Square & Vajdahunyad Castle
Located in the City Park, you can enjoy your time walking around the castle grounds. And even try out the Ice Skating when the pond is frozen (November to March).
It’s about an hour’s walk to the Central Food Market. Or you can jump on the Yellow Metro line to Deak Ferenc ter.
Central Food Market
Pop into the Central Food Market, downstairs you’ll find a huge selection of fresh fruit, vegetables, cheese and meat. Then if you are feeling brave head upstairs. This is a serious tourist fest. There are so many gift shops, all selling the traditional magnets, mugs and so many other gifts I can’t possibly name them all. But you can also grab some lunch here from one of the many food stalls.
The Rudas Baths are located on the Buda side of the city, close to Gellert Hill. If you are spending longer than 3 days in Budapest you might just want to visit them more than once as they are so relaxing (or try one of the many other baths in Budapest). Allow at least 2 hours.
Day 3 Costs
Breakfast pastry 250 HUF
Public toilet 200 HUF
Thermal bath (Rudas baths) 5,500 HUF
Lunch (cake!) 200 HUF
Dinner + tip 2,290 HUF & (small beer) 420 HUF
Ruin bar – wine (Szimpla Kert) 250 HUF
Total spend 9,110 HUF/ 29 EUR
Ice Skating at Castle 1,500/2,000 HUF + 1,800 HUF (Skating hire)
Massage at Ruda Baths (Aroma massage – 20 minutes) from 4,400
Bus ticket (Buda to Pest) Single 350 HUF
Additional spend (maximum) 8,550 HUF/ 28 EUR
More information about Budapest
What are Transporation options to/from the Airport?
Catch the 100E bus straight outside the airport. This drops you off at Deak Ference ter (Deak Square) in the centre on the Pest side (very close to the Jewish District. Use the purple ticket machine to buy a ticket (or at busy times they may have staff you can buy one directly from. It takes 35-40 minutes.
Tip – Remember to buy your return ticket from one of the machines (there isn’t one at the bus stop).
Cost – 900 HUF/ 3 EUR
Taxis are available directly outside the airport. Time to the city is about 25-30 minutes
Cost – 6,000-8,000 HUF/ 19-26 EUR
How to Travel around Budapest City?
Walk – This is a great city to walk around. And with so many huge landmarks it’s difficult to get lost. Each day I walked between 20,000-25,000 steps (for those of you that have Fitbits!) A great way to exercise, enjoy the sites and create some space for all the delicious food and wine!
Bus/tram/metro (Single tickets) – You may wish to use the public transport a few times whilst you are visiting. I even did once or twice and I love walking! Tickets are 350 per journey.
Bus/tram/metro (10 tickets) – Same as above but for a discounted price you can buy 10 tickets for 3,000 HUF = 300 HUF per single journey. If you’re travelling with someone else this is definitely worth doing, you’ll easily use 5 single trips each.
Taxis – Don’t flag one down on the street. If you opt for a taxi then ask your accommodation or restaurant to book one for you.
What currency do you need in Budapest?
In Hungary, they use the Hungarian Forint (HUF). This is the national currency and as such be prepared to pay in HUF, even though some prices are quoted in euros. There are a few places that accept euros, however, the exchange rate is normally lower (300 HUF to 1 EUR). Plus change will be given in HUF.
The only exception was when I paid in euros at the airport for a bottle of water I received the change in euros.
How much money do you need for 3 days in Budapest
For my 3 days in Budapest, I spent 29,730 HUF/ 96 EUR (See costs above + airport bus).
Budget for meals – 2000-3000 HUF per meal
Budget for drinks – Small beers 200-800 and wine 250-400 per glass (depending on how touristy the venue is!)
Where to stay in Budapest?
During my time in Budapest, I stayed at Friends Hostel on the Pest side of the Danube. They also have private rooms and apartments so options for all travellers. The location was in the city centre, close to the Jewish District and about 15-minute walk from where the airport bus dropped me off at Deak Ferenc ter.
You can read my full review of Friends Hostel Budapest here
Generally, the Pest area of Budapest has more accommodation, restaurants and bars. So if you’d like to be close to everything this is the best place to stay. Over on the other side of the Danube this a more residential area but there are a few hotel options here.
Where to eat in Budapest?
There are so many great bakeries, cafes and restaurants in Budapest (not to mention the Street Markets too!) Start your day with a good breakfast. Depending on where you are staying, either visit one of the many cafes in Budapest or pop into one of the bakeries (they have a huge selection of pastries to choose from).
I tried out a few different restaurants whilst I was in Budapest. Here are a few of my favourites:
- Koleves – A great selection of Hungarian meals including the famous goulash. They also have a good vegetarian choice too and a glass of Hungarian wine.
- Fancy something different, the Olive Tree does a gorgeous range of hummus dishes and have some great Hungarian wine to accompany your meal.
- Drum Cafe – A cute and friendly café that serves lots of traditional Hungarian food. As well as different flavoured beers – ginger, cranberry, elderberry and cherry beer.
What else to do in 3 days in Budapest (or longer)?
Budapest is one of those cities where there is so much to do and 3 days in Budapest will probably never be enough. For more ideas and inspiration check out these Budapest tours with Viator
You can check out my latest post on What to see in Budapest including FREE things to do in Budapest.
Or if you have even longer then you can drive, take a train or bus from Budapest to Eger in North Hungary (about 2 hours). Check out Eger Hungary – a 2-day itinerary
Are you planning your trip to Budapest? Hopefully, my ‘3 days in Budapest’ itinerary will give you some ideas but feel free to ask me any questions in the comments or via Facebook