Weekend in Budapest – what to do for two days in the capital of Hungary
On the first weekend of March, we went to the capital of Hungary to celebrate birthday. Budapest is an excellent place for a weekend trip, its center extends over the two former cities of Buda (west of the Danube) and Pest (east of the Danube). Most of the sights are within walking distance, but count on the fact that you will find your way around. Can’t decide which places to visit? Here’s our guide to spending a weekend in Budapest.
Friday evening in Budapest
We started our trip exploring the nightlife and having a drink in the famous VI. area, which is also called “Budapest party district”. Király Street is the busiest nightlife district in the city. There are dozens of cafes, pubs, nightclubs and bars in this area. In addition to Király street, there are also wonderful places on Wesselényi, Akácfa and Kazinczy streets. For dinner, we immediately tasted Hungarian langosz at the Karaván yard, where there are food trucks with food from all over the world. We also recommend trying the langosz burger, which was surprisingly low in fat and very tasty. You can choose from different types of meat and they also put their Hungarian bryndza in the burger, which was much weaker than our Slovak one.
For such a short trip, we chose a hotel with breakfast so that we wouldn’t leave the hotel hungry, as we like to start our exploration of the city early in the morning.
We started our journey from the Elizabeth bridge, from which you have a view of both sides of the city. Go to the Buda area and take a walk along the river to the Fisherman’s Bastion. Along the way, you can stop at the Hungarian National Gallery, which shows the history of Hungarian art from Renaissance stonework to remarkable sculptures from the 20th century. You can get to the Fisherman’s Bastion through the winding streets on your own, or you can take the cable car, which is one of the oldest land railways in the world, for only 1400 forints (3.8 e).
The fishing bastion is open 24/7 and offers a wonderful view of the other part of the city – Pest. It is one of the busiest monuments in Budapest and very “insta friendly”. People wake up early in the morning just so that it is empty and they can take beautiful photos. But you can enjoy the view from here during the day, but also in the evening when the whole city is lit up.
We continued along the top of the hill on which the Fisherman’s Bastion stands to the presidential palace, near which is the exit from the cable car. From there we continued to Buda Castle. During the entire walk, you will be accompanied by the view of the other side of the river.
From the Buda Castle, we returned to the river again and walked to the Gellért Baths, which are the most famous thermal baths in Budapest. They were opened already in 1918, so a piece of history breathed on us. We tried all 10 pools of different sizes and temperatures and during the winter it was a nice variety of the trip. The spa is open every day from 9:00 to 20:00 and you can spend the whole day here. Tickets can be bought online, but also on the spot.
The Gellért baths are located right across from the famous Liberty Bridge. The Liberty Bridge connects both parts of Budapest – Buda and Pest, and at the same time connects two sought-after places – Gellért Baths and the Market Square. This bridge is the shortest bridge in the center of Budapest. It was originally built as part of the Millennium World Exhibition in the 19th century and is still in use today. The bridge is one of the “instagram friendly” places in Budapest, you will find many people trying to take the best shot.
The Great Market
We walked across the bridge to our favorite part of any trip, the market. The Great Market (Nagyvásárcsarnok in Hungarian) is an experience for all food lovers. It is divided into three floors. Most of the stalls on the ground floor offer local produce, meats, pastries, candies, spices and spirits. Here you will find paprika, Tokaj wine and sausage. On the second mezzanine there are restaurants and tourist souvenirs. In the basement there are fish shops and stalls with canned vegetables. Be sure to visit the basement and take a look at the smiling canned peppers.
The Great Market is open from Monday to Saturday from 6:00 AM. It closes at 5:00 p.m. on Mondays, 6:00 p.m. on Tuesdays to Fridays, and at 3:00 p.m. on Saturdays.
We were so tired after swimming that we didn’t continue sightseeing, but ended our day with a good meal. If you find a specific restaurant where you want to have dinner on the weekend, we recommend that you make a reservation, because the good places are usually full. On the way to the hotel, we couldn’t do it and had to try a Hungarian street food called Tölcsibe. The food caught our attention mainly because of its unconventional serving – in a salty cone. It looked like we bought a large ice cream cone filled with lettuce. They have different meat versions, but the Tölcsibe version with jackfruit caught our attention. We didn’t have time to take a proper photo of anything, so take a look at their Instagram, maybe this streed food novelty will interest you. 🙂
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A walk along the Danube and the parliament building
We kept a part of the city of Pest for Sunday exploring. We started with a walk along the Danube river, which led us to the parliament building, which we had only been looking at from a distance the whole previous day. It is a really huge building, approximately 40 million bricks were used for its construction. The red carpet inside is almost 3 kilometers long and you can enter the building through up to 27 doors.
You can look at it from the outside and find out if there really are as many towers as there are days of the year, but also from the inside. Tickets can be purchased online.
Monument with shoes
Right next to the parliament building is an inconspicuous monument with shoes. The monument on the bank of the Danube commemorates the inhabitants of Budapest who were murdered during the Second World War. The victims were shot on the bank of the river so that their bodies would fall into the water and be washed away by the water there. Before they were shot, they had to take off their clothes and shoes, this is what the monument reminds of.
Basilica of St. Stefan
We continued walking in Kossuth Lajos square, where we were surrounded by other magnificent buildings – the Museum of Ethnography or the building of the Ministry of Agriculture. We reached the Basilica of St. Stephen (Saint Stephen’s Basilica). It is the largest Roman Catholic temple in Budapest and its monumental dome can be seen from a great distance.
Our stomachs had other plans, so we stopped for some delicious pho bo at Oriental Soup House. This is the end of our trip in Budapest, but we still have some tips for you from friends that we didn’t use.
- Driving around Margit Island, which is in the middle of the Danube, in small cars
- Visit the pinball museum and play old school games
- See Budapest from a boat that travels along the Danube
- Visit one of the ruin bars in the center, which have a very specific vibe
When visiting Budapest, don’t hesitate to buy a ticket for public transport, because otherwise you’ll be walking around a lot. Enjoy your trip and fill your belly with Hungarian specialties. 🙂