Are you coming to the Hungarian capital but only have one day to discover it? Are you wondering how you can fit the top attractions of Budapest into your short stay? Well, it’s a bit of a challenge, but with the right plan, your visit can be a great introduction to this vibrant city. This one-day itinerary will let you see the best things to do in Budapest ensuring that you make the most of your trip.
Start your sightseeing trip in Budapest early at Heroes’ Square, located at the end of Andrássy Avenue and next to City Park. The best way to get there is to take the Millennium Underground to the Hősök tere station. Budapest’s largest square was built to celebrate Hungary’s 1000-year-old history. Its two colonnades display statues of the country’s significant historical figures, while the Millennium Monument in the middle portrays the Seven Chieftains that led the Hungarian tribes into the Carpathian Basin, location of today’s Hungary. Have a look at the impressive statues and the neighboring museums, the Kunsthalle on the right and the Museum of Fine Arts on the left, then head out to the largest green area in Budapest, City Park.
Walk past the boating lake which also serves as a skating rink in the winter and you’ll arrive at the stunning fairy-tale-like Vajdahunyad Castle. This enchanting castle which is located on a tiny island and is accessible through bridges was built in a variety of architectural styles and is home to the Museum of Agriculture. Take a stroll around this eclectic building complex and enjoy its peaceful atmosphere. Perhaps snap a few selfies next to the curious statue of Anonymous sitting quietly in the castle court.
Once you’ve done admiring the castle and its surroundings, it’s time to relax. The city’s thermal baths are some of the definite top attractions of Budapest. Széchenyi Bath, located in City Park is not only the biggest, but also the most popular one. Built across the Vajdahunyad Castle in impressive neo-baroque style, Széchenyi Bath has 15 indoor baths, 3 large outdoor pools, many saunas and steam rooms. Due to their warm temperature, the pools can be enjoyed all year long. In order to avoid the crowds, the earlier you get there, the better. Although we recommend visiting it only from outside on a one day trip to Budapest.
Following your tour in the park you will likely be hungry, so taste Hungarian foods in the area like at the world famous Gundel Restaurant, or the Robinson Restaurant or get back on the underground and travel five stops to Liszt Ferenc tér near Oktogon. The square has many great cafés and restaurants, so it’s an ideal location for a delicious lunch.
Now it’s time to discover Budapest’s sightseeing highlights. For this, head to the historic Buda Castle District where the city’s most emblematic landmarks, the Royal Palace, the Matthias Church and the Fisherman’s Bastion are located.
For a detailed and insightful tour of the Buda Castle District Tour, download the free Have Fun Travel app and let its professional audio guide navigate you though this beautiful historic part of the city.
To get to the Castle District, take the funicular to the top of Buda Hill from Clark Ádám tér, or simply take Bus 16 from Deák tér and get off at Szentháromság tér. Here you’re likely to bump into a great many tourists as this is where the Matthias Church and the Fisherman’s Bastion are located.
The Matthias Church is one of most well-known churches of Budapest. Full of mysteries and treasures, this imposing roman catholic church was built in neo-baroque style and has been used as a coronation church by Hungarian kings for centuries. Although there’s an entrance fee to go inside, it’s worth the price as this magnificent building has a truly breath-taking interior. Outside the church stands the Holy Trinity Statue commemorating the people of Buda who died from two outbreaks of the Black Plague.
Fisherman’s Bastion is one of the most visited tourist attractions in the Hungarian capital, perhaps because it serves as the perfect lookout point over the city. Take your time to visit the Bastion, and enjoy the fantastic view it provides of the river Danube, Margaret Island and the buildings on the Pest side, then pop into one of the neighbouring cafés or souvenir shops.
Then continue your walk in the cobblestone streets of the Buda Castle District and take a look at its old buildings. On some of them, the bullet holes from 1945 Budapest Siege are still visible, serving as a tragic reminder of the horrors of WWII.
Walk all the way to the Presidential Palace. This 19th century building is also called Sándor Palace and serves as a permanent residence for the Hungarian Prime Minister. The changing of the guards in front of the Presidential Palace is one of the main Buda Castle attractions. If you want to catch this attraction, it is repeated every hour by the hour with the most entertaining and eventful change taking place at noon every day.
From here, it’s only a short walk to the Royal Palace of the Buda Castle District, the landmark that is pictured on most Budapest postcards. The palace which has been the home of Hungarian kings since the 13th century was rebuilt several times and today functions as a cultural complex, giving home to a library and museums. Walk around the palace area and enjoy the beautiful architecture, then check out the spectacular Matthias Fountain in the palace courtyard.
Next, for a truly unique adventure, take a walk in the amazing 1000-meter-long underground Labyrinth, best known for its 15th century prisoner, Vlad Tepes, the famous Count Dracula. The oil lamp tour in the Buda Castle Labyrinth begins every day at 6.00 p.m.
Once you’ve seen enough of the Castle District, close the afternoon by heading back down the hill and crossing over to the Pest side on the iconic Chain Bridge, which is one of the city’s most photographed bridges.
You haven’t seen Budapest’s sights until you’ve taken in the magical view of the city after sunset, so for a truly memorable and romantic adventure, book a Budapest river cruise on the Danube to see the beautifully lit bridges and emblematic sights from the water. Most docks are located along the Pest side of the city centre near Vigadó tér, between Liberty Bridge and Margaret Bridge.
During the night
If you’re not tired after such a long and eventful day, you should reward yourself with some well-deserved fun. The best places for nightlife endeavors are undoubtedly the ruin bars which have become extremely popular over the last years. These iconic alternative pubs are often found in derelict buildings, and have a very unique, artsy atmosphere, and serve a wide variety of affordable alcoholic drinks, including Hungarian specialties. The most well-known ones include Szimpla Kert, Instant and Ankert. For more information on the ruin pubs, download the free Have Fun Travel app and let the Ruin Pub Tour navigate you though the hottest party district of Budapest!