In a short visit, Budapest became one of my favorite European cities. There are so many things to do in Budapest, no matter if you are into architecture, nightlife, history, spas, or beer! You’ll find something that tickles your fancy.
Hungary’s capital has seen many historic periods pass by. The Romans, Magyars, Turks, Austrians, and Soviets have all influenced what the city is today.
Disclosure: I received a Premium Membership from Sygic Travel to facilitate this tutorial. I’ve been using their service since long before, so I’m happy to recommend them, and all opinions are my own. Please, read my Disclosure.
I had very limited time during this trip, so planning my itinerary in advance was super important to get all my bucket list items checked. I used Sygic Travel app and it worked amazingly! Definitely not the first time I was using it, as it has been one of my favorite apps for travel planning around the world for a while now.
If you want to learn more about planning your perfect trip, check out my guide of Free Travel Resources to plan your trip.
Keep reading to learn how to plan a first-timer Budapest itinerary for 2 days and enjoy the must-see places this city has to offer. First, you’ll see the itinerary and then I’ll show you how to use Sygic Travel app to plan your trip, check the needed time for each activity, most efficient routes, and access offline maps.
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Day 1 Budapest Itinerary
If this is your first time in Budapest, as it was for me, you probably don’t know where to start or what to expect.
This is when Sygic’s app comes in handy. I’ll explain to you below how I came up with this itinerary using the app, but for now, take note of the best things to do in Budapest on your first day:
The Hungarian Parliament Building is the largest parliament building in the world! It’s really impressive to look at from all the angles of its Gothic Revival architecture.
The building is home to hundreds of parliament offices, and some areas are open to guided tours. The tours run every day in different languages. Keep in mind you will need your ID to go inside and they will probably search your bag for security reasons.
I suggest you give yourself the time to see it from the other side of the Danube to get an ampler (or more majestic) view of the building.
Shoes on the Danube Bank
You’ll find this monument close to the Parliament, walking next to the Danube in direction of the Chain Bridge.
This is a moving memorial that honors the 3500 Budapest’s Jewish residents who were assassinated during WWII by the Arrow Cross militiamen. The victims were taken to the banks of the Danube, forced to take off their shoes, and shot into the river.
The monument consists of a plaque and 60 pairs of bronze shoe statues.
Despite the somber environment of the memorial, it is an interesting place to see and reflect on its historical significance. Plus, the view from here with the Chain Bridge and the Buda Castle on the other side is fascinating.
Probably one of our favorite things to do in Budapest for a first-time visit. Named after the group of fishermen who defended the walls of the city during the Middle Age, this place is one of the best viewpoints and top attractions of Budapest.
The place has seven towers, as in the seven Magyar tribes that founded Hungary in AD 895. You can enter these towers for free, except for one upper tower with a small fee.
You can spend walking around the area for a while, it is stunning from everywhere you look. There are also several restaurants right in the fortress-like bastion and next to it. The prices in many of them are surprisingly cheap and the views unbeatable.
Right in front of the Fisherman’s Bastion is this unique church with Neo-gothic style architecture. The history of the Matthias Church and its multiple reformations serves as a symbol of the many cultures and empires it has witnessed.
A very particular characteristic of this church is that the roof is covered with the famous Zsolnay ceramic tiles, making the building more colorful and captivating.
Matthias Church is also a museum. The entrance fee to the church -and museum- is 1500 HUF (about 5-6 USD)
The Buda Castle (former Royal Palace) is a UNESCO World Heritage Site with impressive architecture and historic inheritance. Located at the top of Castle Hill, provides a stunning lookout spot over Pest.
Back in the 13th century, the Buda Castle used to be home to the Hungarian Royalty. Today, the castle hosts the Hungarian National Gallery, and the Budapest History Museum.
You can walk around the castle and enjoy the view of the Danube. Or, you can take a guided tour of about 2 hours inside the building. The location outside is open 24 hours, but the schedule to enter the castle is Tuesday – Sunday 10 am – 6 pm.
Walk towards the historic Gellert Hill. This is another amazing place to take in the views while learning about Budapest’s rich past.
You’ll reach the Liberty Statue. This is one of the few Communist monuments that was kept in its place after the transition to democracy. It was built in 1947 in commemoration of the Soviet liberation of Hungary from Nazi forces during WWII.
As the public opinion towards the Soviets changed over the next years, some portions of the monument were damaged. The inscription was modified and now it’s meant to honor the ones who sacrificed themselves for the independence and freedom of Hungary (not directed to Soviets any more).
Széchenyi Thermal Bath
This is one of the largest bath complexes in Europe with 21 pools and different wellness services.
There are many great baths in Budapest, hence the nickname “City Of Spas”, but Széchenyi is probably the most famous one for its neo-Baroque and neo-Renaissance architecture.
It opens at 6 am, so you have a great chance of enjoying the pools with few people in them if you go early in the morning. Check on the official website for their services and fees.
This is the largest square in Budapest. It was built in 1896 to mark the 1000th anniversary of the foundation of the Hungarian state by the Magyar conquest.
The square has an iconic monument featuring the Seven Chieftains of the Magyars, who led the Hungarian people from central Asia. The central column has the Archangel Gabriel holding the Hungarian crown. Behind that are two statues of important figures in Hungarian history.
It is one of the best things to do in Budapest as the square is a symbol of hystorical memory.
Dohány Street Synagogue
The Great Synagogue is Europe’s largest synagogue and the world’s second-largest. It is a beautiful place to see, but more importantly, to learn about the history of the Jewish community in Hungary.
With your entrance fee, you get access to a guided tour (available in several languages) for the synagogue, the Jewish Cemetery, and several memorials in the surroundings.
St. Stephen's Basilica
St. Stephen’s Basilica has the title of the tallest building in Budapest (it is 315 ft / 96 meters tall).
You can visit the church’s interior for free, but they accept donations. The central dome has a small fee for entrance and it’s worth it. Go to the top to have a great panoramic view of Budapest.
The Basilica is also commonplace for classical music concerts and organ concerts. They usually take place inside the building, but sometimes also on part of the square outside.
Definitely add it to your list when thinking about what to do in Budapest.
Consider adding a ruin pub to your Budapest itinerary to finish your visit to the best places in Budapest. This can be a good time to relax at one of Budapest’s distinctive ruin pubs.
The most famous one is Szimpla Kert. I went during the day on a weekday, and there was a significant amount of people, but it wasn’t crowded. It can get pretty packed though if you go during the weekend.
The ruin pubs in Budapest are very unique. These were abandoned buildings from WWII, that later were reformed into bars or pubs. With worn-out furniture, the place looks like a collection of art pieces that usually wouldn’t go well together.
However, they make it work and managed to create a casual environment for hanging out while enjoying their wide variety of drinks.
How to Plan Your Trip in Budapest With Sygic Travel
First, you need to access Sygic Travel app. Once you register your account (for the free or premium version), you can add your trip to Budapest and the dates you’ll be there. For this example, I added a trip to Budapest from October 19th to 21st.
Then, head to the section of “Video Tour”.
360º Video Tour
You can have a quick look at the highlights of things to do in Budapest. The video is in 360 so you get a pretty good idea of how every place will look once you are there.
Once you have an idea of what places you’d like to see in Budapest, head to the Top Places.
Find What to Do in Budapest
You can add them automatically to your trip and choose the date when you want to visit. Don’t worry about the order, as the app automatically organizes the places by distance. Also, you’ll check them out on the map so you can see how to organize them more conveniently by days.
By the way, you can also search through the list of places by categories. You can find the top things to do in Budapest for nightlife, sightseeing, family trip, museums, etc. I find this feature very useful to tailor your trip according to your preferences.
Plan Your Itinerary for Budapest
You can find your own system, but what I like to do is to add all the places that call my attention on the same date. Then, I head to the “Map” section and filter only the locations I added to my trip. This way, I can see the distance between all these places and distribute them through the rest of the days in a way that makes sense. That means, I choose a group of places close to each other for each day.
For example, on the map below, you can see that I filtered only the places I added to the whole trip. This way, I can see which places are closer to each other and the app suggests the order, route, and approximate time.
Check on the time that will take you to visit all these places. This feature is super useful, so you don’t end up scheduling more activities than you can handle.
I recommend you to check out this app to save tons of time on travel planning. Also, for a small fee, it gives you a lifetime membership, and offline access to all their features in the city you choose, including an offline map.
Also, check out my guide of Free Travel Resources to plan your trip.
Use the Metro Map in the app to find your way to every attraction.
Budapest is interesting enough to make me want to go back and see more of it! This 2-day itinerary to Budapest will hopefully help you see the top places but keep in mind this city has so much more to offer.
Do you have any Budapest recommendations I missed here? Have you ever tried Sygic Travel to plan your trip? Comment below!
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