Nestled in Central Europe, Budapest is a beautiful city with a rich cultural heartbeat and a compulsive fervor for fun.
Whether you're spending one day in Budapest, or have a few days to explore, there are plenty of must-see attractions and activities that will make your trip to Budapest memorable.
From visiting the majestic Buda Castle to taking a stroll along the Danube River, here is a one-day itinerary for your trip to Budapest that will help you make the most of your time in the Heart of Europe.
Discover Budapest via a Walking Tour
If you’re visiting Budapest for only one day, you’ll want to make the most of your time by discovering the city with a walking tour. This is the perfect way to get an overview of the city and gain insight into its culture, architecture, and history. Most walking tours are free in Budapest - but don't forget to tip!
If you want to take your own walking tour, a great place to start is the Váci Utca – Budapest’s busiest shopping street and pedestrian zone. To make the most of your morning, take the walk up from Váci Utca to St. Stephen’s Basilica. Along the way, be sure to stop and explore Andrassy Avenue, where you can see some of the grand 19th-century buildings like the Hungarian State Opera House and the Liszt Ferenc Memorial Museum. Once you reach St. Stephen’s Basilica, take some time to admire the gorgeous Neo-Classical architecture and enjoy the stunning panoramic views from the bell tower.
After that, make your way to Budapest’s famed Chain Bridge and soak in the atmosphere from here. The bridge connects the two sides of the Danube - Buda and Pest - and was built in 1849. From here, you can continue your journey further up the hill to discover more of Budapest's hidden gems.
Marvel at the Hungarian Parliament Building
Budapest's most iconic building is a sight to behold.
The Hungarian Parliament Building is located on the banks of the Danube River. There are plenty of things to do here including exploring the impressive interior architecture, taking a guided tour of the building, or taking a relaxing stroll along the riverfront. You can also take a boat tour down the Danube or take a leisurely walk around the city's many parks and gardens.
No matter what you choose, you'll be sure to marvel at this iconic building's stunning beauty.
Stroll by the Shoes on the Danube
After your visit to the Hungarian Parliament Building, take a stroll by the famous Shoes on the Danube to get a unique take on the Danube.
Once you're done admiring the Shoes on the Danube, there are plenty of other things to do nearby. Spend some time wandering the streets of Budapest, or check out one of the city's famous markets for a unique shopping experience. You can also go for a bike ride along the Danube or take a boat cruise for a unique way to explore the city. Whatever you decide to do in Budapest, you're sure to have a memorable experience!
Climb St. Stephen's Basilica
One of the most iconic things to do in Budapest is to climb St. Stephen's Basilica.
It is the largest church in Budapest and was completed in 1905. The stunning interior architecture and stunning views of the city make it a must-see attraction. Climb up to the dome to get a 360-degree view of the city. Once at the top, you can take pictures of the breathtaking sights of Budapest. You can also visit the treasury which houses some incredible artifacts and religious artifacts. Make sure to take your time to admire the intricate details of the architecture and soak in the beauty of the place.
Indulge at Central Market Hall
Once you've built up a bit of an appetite, head over to the huge Central Market Hall for an incredible selection of souvenir stalls and local food stands.
This place is a great spot for tourists to pick up unique gifts from the area, sample some Hungarian delicacies or just take a look around. You can find anything from fresh fruits and vegetables to handmade crafts, jewelry and more. It's also a great place to find out about other things to do in the city – so if you're looking for a bit more excitement than just shopping and eating, you can ask the locals for their advice.
Maze Your Way Through Fisherman's Bastion
There is nothing quite like Budapest's Fisherman's Bastion.
Things to do here include exploring the many turrets of this historic structure, winding your way through its impressive maze of pathways. You can also find some of the best views of the city here. On a clear day, you can see all the way across the Danube River.
Make sure you don't miss out on a visit here when planning your itinerary for one day in Budapest.
Explore Buda Castle
One of the most iconic places to visit in Budapest is Buda Castle. The castle is a historic palace located on the southern tip of Castle Hill, overlooking the Danube. Inside the castle walls, you’ll find an array of things to do and explore, such as museums, galleries, cafes, and more.
The Hungarian National Gallery and the National Széchényi Library are both housed inside the castle walls, making it easy to dive into Budapest’s rich history and culture. The museum displays several works of art from the Middle Ages and contemporary times. You can also get a bird’s eye view of the city from the top of the castle walls.
Another great thing to do at Buda Castle is to explore the Buda Castle Labyrinth, an underground cave system and garden. Here, you can wander through mysterious tunnels and pathways, filled with artifacts and sculptures that tell stories about Hungarian folklore.
Take a Dip at the Szechenyi Thermal Baths
After hours on your feet exploring Budapest, it's time for a bit of relaxation at the famous Szechenyi Thermal Baths.
At the baths, you can do a variety of things from swimming laps, float around the outdoor pool, or unwind with a massage, or soak in the steaming hot tubs. There are even saunas, steam rooms, and jacuzzis for you to enjoy.
Be sure to take advantage of all Szechenyi has to offer while you visit.
Take a Night Cruise on the Danube
For the perfect romantic finish to your day, take a night cruise on the Danube. See Budapest’s spectacular landmarks such as Parliament and the Chain Bridge lit up for the night, enjoy the sight of the Hungarian countryside in all its glory, and experience the city from an entirely new angle.
Enjoy delicious local snacks and drinks served on board and make sure to bring a camera to capture some stunning memories. And if you want to take your night cruise up a notch, there are also many companies offering dinner cruises with live music and entertaining activities, making it one of the best things to do in Budapest at night.
Visit Budapest's Ruin Bars
Still eager for more late-night fun? Then head to Budapest's unique Ruin Bars, which are converted abandoned buildings that have been transformed into vibrant bars and clubs. From quirky decor to live music and craft beer, these ruin bars provide an unforgettable nightlife experience.
If you're looking for the best nightlife in Budapest, Szimpla Kert and Instant & Fogas Haz are definitely worth a visit. You can explore the various levels of these ruin bars with each floor having something different to offer. Enjoy the relaxed atmosphere with some drinks and conversation or take to the dance floor for some wild fun. Whatever you choose to do, you'll be sure to have a great time at these visually stunning establishments.
Top 6 Quick Tips For Visting Budapest
- Purchase a Budapest Card for big discounts on public transport and entrance to attractions around the city.
- Wear comfortable walking shoes as the best way to explore the city is on foot, so you’ll be covering lots of ground.
- While Hungary is part of the European Union, Euros are still not part of the country’s official currency. And while Euros are accepted in a lot of places, local Forints are still the main currency.
- Pet Sitting is a popular trend in Budapest. If you want to save on accommodation (and love animals), you could try it out.
- Take some time out to relax in one of the thermal baths like Szechenyi Spa or Gellert Baths which have been part of Hungarian culture for centuries.
- Avoid peak times for public transport if possible as rush hour can be extremely crowded - and don't forget your map so you don't get lost.