We grabbed the bargain for 3 days in Budapest, 6 months ago. We don’t usually plan so much ahead, unless the trip multi-day hiking or other outdoor activities. Budapest was awarded as European Best Destination for 2019.
We knew we would be in Budapest, Hungary for sightseeing. The city has to show a great amount of history through its architecture, landmarks and tasteful cuisine. Read our guide on how to eat the best food in Budapest (street food and restaurants).
Budapest has been featured in many movies as a location where action movies related to spies were partially or completely filmed. Some of them are: Mission Impossible – Ghost Protocol, Red Heat, Hellboy II: The Golden Army, Transporter 3, Underworld Evolution, World War Z, A Good Day to Die Hard, Evita and many more.
It was one of our bucket list things: to spend 3 days in Budapest and experience as much as possible. It was proved that you need more than 3 days, as Budapest is a city of many layers.
Best Things to Do in 3 Days in Budapest
Budapest carries lots of the Old Europe essence. It is indeed a city with a huge historical center. Furthermore, if you want to do what a good traveler must do (aka, walk a lot) you will see even more things that are in the center of Budapest.
Great architecture, luxurious SPA facilities hosted inside old buildings, even more castles and great parks are everywhere. Many think that it is a small European city when you compare it to other popular ones. It is not that small. The city surprises you with how well it is kept through the ages; far beyond the center.
Why to Walk through the Budapest City Center?
Of course you need to walk. Walking is the way to get familiar with a place. Get a hop on/hop off bus if you like but combine it with lots of walking.
Maybe you are a fan of river cruises in such cities. Usually it is not the best option, as rivers are -of course- far lower from the street level and as you sit there you see things for a very diminished position.
One of the emotional charged areas in the city center is next to the river. There, a memorial installation takes place. You have seen that in pictures. The sculptures are different kinds, sizes and sets of boots and shoes sculpted in metal. The installation is called “Shoes at the Danube River” (sculptor: Gyula Pauer).
They represent the execution of Jews during the WWII period, by the local fascist militia. It is a true story. All these people were aligned next to the river bank, ordered to take off their shoes and they were shot to fall in the river.
Another one is the magnificent Parliament building, also related to the rough communist period of this country. The underground museum presents and explains what happened during the Hungarian Revolution of 1956, with videos, pictures and narrations.
Next to the Parliament, stop and take a break. Have a peach frappé at Smúz. It is like milk-shake but (to our opinion) far more tasty.
Do visit the Vajdahunyad Castle, close to the Heroes Square (Hősök tere).
That is a really big area that includes a castle and a park with lakes. You can rent a car-shaped kayak-like “boat” and get through the lake.
Walk the Széchenyi Chain Bridge; the first permanent bridge across the Danube in Hungary. When it was built, it was regarded as one of the modern world’s engineering marvels.
St. Stephen’s Basilica. It took its name after king Stephen, the first king of Hungary. It is the largest church in Budapest.
Why to Explore the Buda Castle Hill?
We advise to approach the Buda Castle Hill area during your first or last day there, as this is a really big area, far from a simple castle. Have in mind that you might spend half a day on this area, or even more.
It is so big that the view to Budapest changes as you walk all around the enormous hill.
From this aspect (above) you see another hill afar, that hosts the enormous monument of the Liberty Statue.
Fisherman’s Bastion, nead Buda Castle is a structure that looks like a fortified wall, surrounding part of the hill. It is famous famous for its turrets and for spires. You can pay a ticket and get through the turrets for a view to the city of Budapest, though you can see the same from other corners of the same area, without paying anything.
Close to the bastion is the amazingly looking Matthias church, with the famous Holy Trinity statue.
Matthias Fountain is located in the court of the Buda Castle. It is sometimes called the “Trevi Fountain of Budapest”. Here is an interesting story for some secrets related to this fountain.
Budatower is also here. This is the church of Saint Mary Magdalene and the oldest building in Kapisztran square. It was built in late Gothic style. You can pay a ticket and get to the top for a surrounding view.
Why to Visit the Margaret Island (Margitsziget) Park in Central Budapest?
If you have a few hours to spare and want to walk in -what we called as- the Central Park of Budapest, then you need to visit this island. You can walk there as you cross one of the bridges. It is in the middle of the river.
There are lots of recreational areas, a sports center and many paths to walk. It is a nice break and you can have fun either walking through (you will need 2 to 3 hours just to walk it) or rent a double-bicycle (or even a quad-bicycle).
We had so much fun. We took one for 1 hour and stopped at different areas taking photos.
There are restaurants, cafe’s, bars and many things for kids, parents and couples to do.
3 Days in Budapest.. Where to Eat?
From “plain” sausages, to “complex” Goulash’s, fried bread and chimney cakes, Budapest has lots of intriguing foods to taste.
Seek out for genuine local food and totally avoid any “tourist traps”. We had both. Read our complete post for the best food in Budapest from here.
Do not neglect to drink the famous Palinka drink. Especially after eating a lot, it will boost your digestion process. Read our food post for that too.
Which Museums to Visit for 3 Days in Budapest?
Budapest was awarded as European Best Destination for 2019. Get the Budapest Card to have access to 17+ museums, tours, transportation, restaurants and more. For 3 days, that is a whole lot of museums and you won’t be able to see them all.
One that is a must-see is the History Museum at the Buda Castle. Ιt covers a big range of the 2000 years of Budapest (once separated into: Buda, Pest and Obuda).
Exhibitions go back from the Roman times to present days, all shown in wonderful palatial rooms.
Beyond the History museum and with limited time in the city, choose to visit the following ones. Use this link for pre-booking on these (better book ahead).
- Hungarian National Gallery
- Museum of Music History
- Museum of Military History
- House of Houdini
- Pharmacy Museum
- Museum of Telephones
- Hospital in the Rock
Things to Know for Budapest
Where to Stay for 3 Days in Budapest?
Choose to stay in the centre of Budapest, as all things you need to see are there. The center is big and you will walk it anyway.
We went there in May and prices were good. Our accommodation was the BP Heritage Guesthouse. It had a 9.5 rating in Booking.com, really big rooms and well equipped, but a poor breakfast (didn’t expect that).
Weather in Budapest
Not so good during winter as the city is at the north of Hungary, close to Slovakia. If you like cold though, it is fine too.
In May, weather was shifting from warm to slightly chilly but it was ideal for all the walking we did. Best season to visit is from March to May (best prices for accommodation too) and from September to November.
Summer is hot with more tourists, but for sure not as hot as in a Mediterranean country (i.e. Greece, Italy, Spain).
There are some key events taking place in different months. Here they are, so you can plan ahead.
March to May
OTP Bank Gourmet Festival
June to August
Vajdahunyad Castle Summer Music Festival
Festival of Folk Arts
September to November
Jewish Cultural Festival
Budapest Wine Festival
Sweet Days Chocolate and Candy Festival
Design Week Budapest
December to February
Euro is accepted in Hungary but not in all places and you will get your change in the local currency: the Hungarian Forint (HUF).
The analogy to Euro is 320 HUF for 1 Euro (May 2019).
If you think that it is a really big difference (for Euro, USD, Sterling and other) and you have a benefit then it is not, as the prices are adjusted towards the “strong” currency.
No worries for getting cash as there are Exchange kiosks everywhere. Credit cards are popular but not accepted everywhere. The same with other than HUF currencies.
Budapest Nightlife & Getting Around
It is a very vivid city. If you plan to be 3 days in Budapest, or more then you will find lots and lots of options for dining and some pretty good cocktails.
We had some and they were relatively good.
Buses and taxis are everywhere, along with trams. You can get everywhere in the city when you learn how to catch each, but trust us you will walk most of the time.
If you have time you can go to the famous Thermal Baths of Budapest. These are:
- Széchenyi Thermal Bath
- Gellért Thermal Bath
- Rudas Baths
After walking so much, they can be a really good option as they are hosted inside glamorous old buildings that are part of the history of the city. Széchenyi Thermal Baths are one of the largest bath complexes of Europe. Better reserve your place with a skip the line ticket from here.
It is a safe city, and we didn’t have a feeling of feeling unsafe during day time. Keep in mind that in weekends people party a lot here.
Budapest is a fantastic city in Europe and definitely worth’s to visit it.