How to spend a day in Budapest

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Budapest has something many cities don’t – WOW factor. As you walk along the banks of the Danube and see the castle looming over you on one side and the stunning Parliament on the other, you’ll understand what I mean. There are also enough bars and restaurants here to keep you entertained when you’re not roaming the streets gazing at the buildings.

One day isn’t enough to appreciate everything both the Buda (west) and Pest (east) sides have to offer, but you can still pack a bit in…

9am – Begin your day on the city’s main thoroughfare

street sign of Andrassy Utca

Budapest’s Andrassy Avenue (Andrassy Utca locally) is the Hungarian capital’s answer to the Champs Elysées. Begin your day at the southern end of the avenue and wander up, admiring the architecture along the way.

9.30am – Stop for a coffee and croissant at Ring Café

ring cafe andrassy avenue

Image courtesy of

As you stroll up this avenue you’ll realise there’s a lot of activity. Eating inside would be a shame (you wouldn’t get to people watch), so stop for breakfast at Ring Café (Andrassy ut 38) which has some outdoor seating. They do eggs all sorts of wonderful ways, American-style breakfasts and more.

10.15am – Stop at Heroes Square

Heroes square Budapest

Known as Hősök tere in Hungarian, Heroes Square is one of the city’s most famous squares, best-known for the collection of statues that features the Seven Chieftans of the Magyars and other national leaders. Take some time to see the different statues while getting a photo or two.

11am – Really, really unwind in the Szécheyni Baths

outdoor scene of szecheyni thermal baths budapest

Budapest is famous for its thermal baths – the city has five in total. The Szécheyni Baths, just a quick journey on the metro from Heroes Square, is one of the best of the bunch. Relax in the outdoor thermal pools and cleanse your body between the saunas, steam rooms and plunge pools.

1.30pm – Grab lunch in Great Market Hall

close up of vegetables in the great market hall

Take the metro on the yellow line (the first underground metro line in mainland Europe) from Szécheyni to Deák Ferenc tér. Wander down Vaci utca, the city’s pedestrianised shopping strip, en route to the architectural gem that is the Great Market Hall. Built in 1897, it’s home to a huge variety of stalls. Make your way to the upper level and enjoy a burger, hot dog or traditional goulash for lunch.

2.30pm – Cross over to the Buda Side and visit Gellert Hil

liberty statue gellert hil, budapest

Image courtesy of Steve p2008.

Looming over the Hungarian capital on Gellert Hill is The Liberty Statue – a monument that commemorates those who sacrificed their lives for the independence of the country. Make this your next stop to see the landmark as well as take in the breathtaking views of the city.

3.30pm – Explore the Castle District

Fishermans bastion lookout, budapest

Budapest’s Castle District is a beautiful part of the city that can’t be missed. The Royal Palace, the National Gallery and St. Mathias’ Church are just some of its attractions. Another one is Fisherman’s Bastion – a lookout that affords visitiors some truly stunning photo opportunities, most notably of the Parliament Building on the banks of the River Danube.

5pm – Wander back down to centre

chain bridge of the river Danube, Budapest

Stroll back down the hill, crossing the Danube on Chain Bridge. Continue strolling along the river, seeing the sights you just left from a different perspective.

6.30pm – Grab some dinner in Café Vian

cafe vian, liszt ferenc ter

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Midway up Andrassy Avenue is Liszt Ferenc ter – a square dotted with bars and cafés. I recommend trying Café Vian (Liszt Ferenc tér 9). Unlike the others, they don’t have hawkers outside trying to lure you in. The menu boasts both Hungarian and internaitonal dishes and meals are tasty and good value.

8pm – Finish day off in Budapest’s best known ‘ruin pub’

Man sleeping in Szimpla Kert ruin pub

Image courtesy of Francesco Zaia.

I’ve written about Budapest’s ruin pubs before on this blog. For those of you who haven’t read the post, they’re bars located in what used to be derelict buildings but have been transformed into some of the world’s most unique after dark haunts. The best known, and for a reason, is Szimpla Kert (Kazincy ut 14). Easily one of the world’s most unique bars, rooms here are decorated with everything from ancient computers to antique furniture.

Planning a trip to the Hungarian capital? Check out our homestays in Budapest.

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