Amazing architecture, delicious food, cool bridges, thermal baths, fairy lights and breathtaking views. This is how I would describe Hungary’s capital in a few words. Out of all the cities I’ve been to, this is probably one of my favourites. One of the few where I’ve thought “I could live here”.
I spent four days in Budapest, and I think it is the perfect amount of time to visit the city without rushing. On my first morning, I went on a free walking tour that gave me a great overview of the city’s main sights and history. But more importantly, it served as a sort of “teaser”, making me want to explore the city and helping me to get familiar with it.
Here are the best places to visit in Budapest in four days: some of the most famous sights and my favourite places, the ones I would recommend to anyone who wants to visit the city. I’ve also added a map at the end so that you can see where each of thoses places is located and build your itinerary around those if you want.
Table of contents
- Castle Hill
- Relaxing evening at the Gellért Baths
- The Hungarian Parliament
- Margaret Island
- Walk along the Danube banks
- Jewish quarter
- Boat trip on the Danube
- St Stephen’s Basilica
- Shopping streets and Central Market
- Gellért Hill
- Szimpla Kert and ruin bars
This hill is located on the Buda side, West of the Danube, the river that runs through the city. The hill is easily accessible with a funicular or by foot. Either way, from up there the view on the Danube and the other part of the city, Pest, is amazing! There are a lot of great things to see there, so you could almost spend an entire day visiting that part of the city, or just famous on the best and most famous landmarks:
First of all, the Fisherman’s Bastion. This medieval looking fortress offers a great view of the city and makes you feel like a character in a fantasy book.
Right behind it, you’ll find the Matthias Church, with its colourful roof tiles. You may want to stop there and admire its architecture from the outside, but what really surprised me was the inside. All the walls and the roof are painted with warm colours and amazing pattens. Even though it costs 2500 HUF (around 6.5 euros) to visit, it is absolutely worth it in my opinion.
After that, I went to a restaurant called Mandragora that my guide book recommended (see at the end of the article for more details). It was quite a long walk but definitely worth it as I had probably the best goulash soup I had ever eaten!
Relaxing evening at the Gellért Baths
My first day in Budapest ended with a visit of one of the most famous spas of the city: the Gellért Baths. I knew Budapest was famous for its thermal water and spas so I definitely wanted to try them.
I picked these as they are closer to the centre, and wasn’t disappointed at all. The buildings are amazing, and there are a lot of outdoor and indoor swimming pools. Each room is decorated in a slightly different way and besides relaxing in the swimming pools I also walked around a lot to discover every part of this facility.
The Hungarian Parliament
Probably the most famous building of the city with its stunning and surprising architecture. The Parliament is amazing to look at from the Danube banks outside, but it is equally beautiful on the inside. I highly recommend booking a tour of the Parliament. It is one of the best things to visit in Budapest, the guides are great and the give a lot of explanations on the Hungarian political system and history.
It is an island a bit further away from the centre, between the Buda and Pest sides, that can be reached through the yellow bridge, after a 45-minute walk from pest or a short tram ride. It is a great place to go for a walk, especially when the weather is nice, and it is quite overlooked by tourists. There, you can climb the water tower, enjoy the island’s very own baths, visit the rose garden and Japanese garden or just stop by the musical fountain for a relazing show.
Walk along the Danube banks
A walk along the Danube is another perfect way to explore Budapest from a different perspective. The “Shoes on the Danube Bank”, a sculpture made of iron shoes that are surrounded by candles and flowers, are an important stop, as this monument is a memorial to the Jews who lost their lives in the Second World War.
The Jewish district of the city, one of the most vibrant parts of the centre, where I came back multiple times just to enjoy the atmosphere, especially at night. To learn more about the history of this district I went on a very interesting tour of theneighbourhood and of its Great Synagogue, the largest synagogue in Europe.
At night, I stayed in that part of the city and wandered around in the streets, amazed by all the fairy lights and decorations, all the ruin bars, street food markets and cool restaurants.
Boat trip on the Danube
Taking a boat trip on the Danube, especially at night is definitely one of the best things to do while you are in Budapest, and you’ll definitely have time to do that if you stay for four days. There are countless options for this, and I went for a company that offered a very cheap tour, with 24h tickets. Thisallowed me to do the tour twice, once at night, which was truly magical, and once during the day, where I could see all the places that I had already been to and the ones that I was planning to visit.
Both tours were great but I strongly suggest the night tour as it gives a very different impression of the city because everything is lit up: the bridges and all the monuments. I think Budapest at night is really what fascinated me the most.
St Stephen’s Basilica
The St Stephen’s Basilica is the largest church in Budapest. It is a stunning building with a rich history that also offers an amazing view of the city from its cupola. Be prepared to climb a lot of stairs, and if possible, try to go up there on a nice sunny day.
Shopping streets and Central Market
The Southern part of Pest (East of the Danube) has nice little shopping streets with all kinds of shops. Even if you don’t want to buy anything, walking around these streets and discover quirkier shops is a very pleasant walk.
If you want to explore Budapest’s food scene, the Great Market Hall with its vibrant atmosphere is the place to go. There, you can find many souvernir shops but also some food stands to taste a lot of different Hungarian specialties. It’s one of the best places to visit in Budapest also for its impressive structure!
This was probably one of my favourite places in Budapest. As you might have guessed from its name, this hill is right in front of the Gellért spa, but I didn’t go there right after my relaxing bath. Instead, I went there on the sunniest autumn day, with an amazingly warm weather. The hike up there can be tiring, but it is 100% worth it.
From up there, you can see the Citadel and the Liberty Statue, and the view is truly breathtaking. I stayed there for a big part of the day, walking around, admiring nature and the city, enjoying the sun. The walk down was also wonderful.
Szimpla Kert and ruin bars
If you have planned to go to Budapest or if you have already been there, you probably know that the city is famous for its “ruin bars”. These were originally abandoned buildings that were turned into bars, furnished with a lot of random stuff and furniture you could find at a flea market, and decorated by local artists.
The most famous one is the Szimpla Kert, and if you’ve been there, you know why. It is a bar that serves drinks at night, but that also hosts a farmer’s market on Sunday mornings. The decorations are the most surprising part as you can find EVERYTHING there: disco balls, mannequins, plants, musical instruments, bikes, street signs, toys, etc. This is definitely a must-visit!
And that were all the best places to visit in Budapest in four days. The Hungarian capital is a truly vibrant city, with an incredibly rich history, stunning landmarks and a great nightlife. It can be both perfect for a romantic getaway or a fun holiday with friends, and I would absolutely recommend it to anyone.
Have you been to Budapest? What was your impression of the city? What would you recommend? I’d love to hear about it!
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