I recently went to Budapest for a few days. It was just as things were starting to close and lockdown due to the Covid-19 outbreak. This meant that we couldn’t do some of the things we had planned to as even without closures we were trying to practice social distancing as much as possible. With this in mind, I’ve created a more ideal two-day itinerary for Budapest. I’ve included things that we had planned and things that were recommended to me but that I might not have done myself because of the pandemic.
On our first day we ended up seeing most of the spots that we wanted to. We wanted to get our top places done just in case we had to leave the country sooner than planned. Though we weren’t sure how that would be possible when our booked flight was already the next direct way home.
Gelert Hill is the highest part of the city, which of course means it gives you amazing views. We walked over from the Liberty Bridge (Szabadság hid) as we had been to the Central Market but there are paths up each side of the hill. It was a beautiful sunny day and unusually warm for March. This was lovely but also made walking uphill much harder in the unexpected heat. The walk up took us around half an hour. We made plenty of photo stops on the way. At the top I was a bit surprised to find a bar but it’s good to know that you can get a refreshing drink.
Once we’d taken photos of the view from every angle possible, we headed down the other side of the hill and over to Buda Castle. This is the area that most of the museums are. The National Gallery would’ve been on my list to visit if we’d been able to so take a look at that if you like art. The gardens of the castle are lovely. There’s a café as well so it would be a perfect lunch spot on a nice day.
There a lot of stairs up to the castle if you’re feeling energetic, or there are two lifts that take you to each level. I’d recommend the lift. This is another place to look out over the city with beautiful views down the Danube. Continue along the top level and over to the path at the back and you can see the other side of the city as well.
Saving the best until last, from Buda Castle you want to continue over to the Fisherman’s Bastion. We arrived here an hour or so before sunset and it was beautiful. We also went again at sunrise the next morning and it was even quieter so I imagine this would be a better time to go as it usually gets very busy. So you could also reverse these three places. There’s a gift shop and a Starbucks here, as well as a couple of cafés, so it’s easy to refuel if you need to. You normally need to have a ticket to go on to the upper cloisters (the barriers were open during our trip) but I’d say it’s worth it. From here you get a great view of the Parliament building too.
If you’re not too tired to carry on walking, and you started the day early enough, you could carry on walking up the river to Margaret Island. This is where the Budapest sign is and it’s lovely to have a little wander or cycle around as there aren’t any cars allowed, just buses and taxis. There’s a running track alongside the river so if you’re a keen runner then this would be a great place to keep up with your routine. If you can, it’s worth fitting the island into your Budapest itinerary.
How we spent our second day wasn’t quite like this as the baths were closed. We didn’t fancy the 45 minute walk out to City Park (and of course wanted to avoid public transport) so it was the only thing on our list that went unticked. If you’re not keen on visiting the baths then you could use this day to explore Margaret Island, which is what we did.
Szechenyi Spa Baths
We had planned to go early in the morning to start the day with a little soak as this is when it’s quietest. As I haven’t visited myself, I don’t feel that I can give too much advice on this but I did find this article super helpful when I was researching beforehand. As well as this page. And you can buy tickets in advance here.
City Park/Heroes square
The Szenchen baths sit within City Park so whilst you’re there it would definitely be worth taking a look around the area. Vajdahunyad Castle was on my list to visit. Sitting on the edge of a lake it looks absolutely idyllic. During the winter there’s also a large ice rink here to skate on.
Having a few drinks and some food is always a great way to end a day. The ruin bars are on the other side of the city to City Park. We walked around the area that most of them are in to have a look. Mazel Tov was at the top of my list to visit as it looks very cute with plants everywhere. The other ruin bar that seems to be very popular is Szimpla Kert. These were both recommended by our Airbnb host.
Where to eat in Budapest
These are some of the places that were recommended to me by our Airbnb host or that I found highly recommended online. My friend also recommended a few places.
Tereza Mexican Restaurant was one that we were excited to try. Particularly as they have a taco Tuesday special with discounted prices. They weren’t open during our stay so we ordered food via Wolt from another Mexican restaurant Arriba! Taqueria (Tereza weren’t on there). They had vegetarian options (that could be made vegan as you can select everything in your food) and you could customize everything which was great. The prices were also really reasonable, as were all of the other menus that I looked at. We spent about £20 for two of us and had too much food (we saved some for the next night).
Spiler has a few locations around the city. They have a mix of foods so great if there’s a group of you that want different things. The burgers look incredible and I was pretty disappointed that I couldn’t try the halloumi burger. They also have vegan options.
Ruin bars also serve food as well as alcohol and some of them are supposedly quite good.
Madal Café has a 100% plant based food menu (the coffee comes with dairy milk unless you specify otherwise). We didn’t end up going to this part of town but if you’re vegan it seems like one of the better options.
Mr Funk is a doughnut and bagel shop. We grabbed a couple of bagels and a coffee from here one morning. We went back later on to get doughnuts but it had closed. Lee had the bacon bagel and loved it so much he wanted another straight away. I had the Vega bagel which was pretty good but I gave half of it to Lee as it got a bit too rich for me.
Gelarto Rosa is great for a little treat to cool down. The chocolate hazelnut flavour was incredible, I paired it with white chocolate and lavender which was interesting but not amazing.
Where we stayed
We stayed quite centrally in District V. I’d really recommend this as the prices in the area were great and it was really easy to get around just walking. Though you can definitely make use of the public transport from here as well. I was really impressed that they have buses, trams and an underground system.
This was the specific apartment that we stayed in and I couldn’t recommend it more. If you’re new to Airbnb then use this link to sign up and we both get some money off our next stay. The hosts were fantastic. Very friendly and great communication and happily offered recommendations for things to do and places to eat. It had what we needed in terms of cooking and bathroom essentials and was really cosy. The location was so convenient. We were only a few minutes from the river, around 10 minutes from Parliament to the north and around 20 minutes to the Fisherman’s Bastion over the bridge. The bus stop at Deák Ferenc tér to get a direct bus (the 100E) to and from the airport is only a 10 minute walk away too.
Have you been to Budapest before? Let me know if you’ve found this 2 day Budapest itinerary helpful?