One Day In Budapest - The Ultimate 24 Hour Itinerary

By Agnes Horvath an adventurous Budapestian who loves art and her city’s laid back, go-with-the-flow attitude

Edited by Holly Stark

With just 24 hours in Budapest, you might be wondering how to best spend your time in the city. One day in Budapest may not seem like long, especially when exploring one of the most underappreciated gems of Europe, but you’ll be surprised by how much you can fit in. Budapest is home to modern and contemporary art galleries, great spots to try new foods, historic gems and peaceful landscapes. Music dominates my life so I love heading to a rock bar, free concert or one of the city’s jam sessions; experiencing gigs and the music scene. The country’s culture is really cool and Budapest is a great place to experience its quirkiness. I’m a big fan of my city; what I love most is that it presents an unknown grittiness coupled with the traditional; in its castles, hikes and cool upcoming art scene. It’s a little moody at first but it is simply part of its charm; it just takes you in. With a variety of things to do in Budapest, your Budapest day trip will be packed with the best in the city. From visiting landmarks of Hungarian history to tasting your way through the best of the city’s cuisine to soaking up the vibe of a cosy ruin bar, enjoy the best of Budapest during your time exploring the capital. 

Morning

Kickstart your day at Trinity Square close to Chain Bridge. A walk around the area surrounding the bank of the Danube will introduce you to Budapest with a full panorama of the city, and most of its most famous buildings. Check out the Halászbástya or Fisherman's Bastion in the early morning before the tourists arrive; a pretty terrace in neo-Gothic and neo-Romanesque style situated at the right bank of the Danube with spectacular views, on the Castle Hill of Budapest, next to Matthias Church. Get a glimpse at lots of sights and interesting buildings around the area. Stop by the Shoe Memorial and Parliament; head inside and see a square full of statues from Hungarian history. It’s an interesting area to sit down, pause and think about the tumultuous history and rich culture of the place you are in. The Parliament building is unique; it’s the third biggest in the world and the biggest in Europe. With a baroque and gothic exterior, bullet holes on the building, and an interior alluding to communism, revolution and Bloody Thursday, the spot is a fascinating memory for the next generation. 

Photo Credit: Nicola Pettitt

Lunch

Before lunch, stroll around Liberty Square; the gateway between the Basilica and Parliament. The square is controversial and hated by many, as it’s home to one of the only remaining Soviet monuments. Then, on to October 6th Street, a food hub full of restaurants where you can grab lunch, a snack or dessert, no matter what your cravings. Fancy a Sloppy Joe burger, or vegan pasta dish on a street overflowing with history? This is the spot for you. And don’t miss adding strudel tasting to your one day in Budapest travel itinerary, and learning about the secrets of traditional strudel making! Head to the First Strudel House of Pest Cafe & Restaurant, housed in a historic building, where you can taste strudel with various fillings; such as cottage cheese, chicken, salmon, plum, cherry and apple. Or if you like marzipan, be sure to check out Szamos. In the 1930s a young apprentice confectioner, Mátyás Szamos, mastered the art of making a pretty rose from the almondy, sweets that are now known as marzipan. Today, Szamos is home to high quality crafted marzipan which comes in a variety of shapes and sizes, with the rose being the most famous. Anyone with a sweet tooth will love marzipan bonbons covered with dark chocolate.

Photo Credit: https://www.absolutetours.com/blog/liberty-square-and-the-ex-president/

Afternoon

After lunch, head to the Buda side (the name Budapest is a combination of two city names, Buda and Pest, which became a single city with the unification of Buda and Óbuda on the west bank of the river, and Pest on the east bank). Stroll around the leafy green gem of the city and chill out on Margaret Island; a green spot in the middle of the river. A peaceful getaway with pedestrian streets, at Margaret Island you can amble around the parkland, check out an art nouveau water tower, a musical fountain, the ruins of a 13th-century Dominican convent, and even visit a small zoo. There is a running track, but with one day in Budapest, I would recommend the thermal baths instead! Budapest’s thermal baths are an icon of the city, so try to make time for a visit to the spa or have a dip in an open-air swimming pool. In the summertime, the area is thriving with pop-up bars and restaurants, as well as live music. Afterwards, head to Buda Castle; a historical gem and palace complex which belonged to the Hungarian kings of Budapest. First completed in 1265, the majestic structure is not to be missed when travelling in Hungary. 

Photo Credit: https://budapestrivercruise.com/margaret-island-sights-river-danube-budapest

Evening and Night

Spend your evening in the Jewish District; a spot for everyone despite being known as the party district with pubs, clubs and a thriving local culture. Although if you’re looking for the liveliest and best area to stay in Budapest for nightlife, then this is the right place for you. Home to plenty of cool bars and biggest and most vibrant clubs where you can don your dancing shoes and party the night away, Erzsébetváros (aka Jewish District) is the smallest, but also the most populous neighbourhood in the city. As the sun sets, witness the area come alive with nightlife. But if that’s not your thing, this Budapest neighbourhood is also home to a number of cultural sights, such as the must-see Dohány Street Synagogue and the Zeller Bistro local restaurant. 

Photo Credit: https://budapestflow.com/ten-things-you-need-to-know-about-the-jewish-district-of-budapest/
Abundant in restaurants and cool food experiences, you’ll be spoilt for choice with any kind of cuisine you want. The local, middle Eastern-inspired food spot Mazel Tov has a fairytale atmosphere where you can eat under a canopy of fairy lights; hands down one of the most awesome things to do in Budapest at night. Over time the area grew and expanded into the totally crazy, yet sophisticated, place it is now. The history is interesting, the buildings are breathtaking, and the district has its own charm.

Photo Credit: Petr Sevcovic on Unsplash

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