City breaks

How to spend a long weekend in Budapest

Photo of Caroline HowleyPhoto of Caroline Howley
By Caroline Howley

14 May 20246 min read

Széchenyi Chain Bridge Make time to walk across Budapest's iconic bridge on your visit.

From resplendent architecture and heavenly spas to immersive museums and unique bars, Budapest delivers absolutely everything you could want from a long weekend away.

There’s so much to see and do in the Hungarian capital that it can be hard to know where to start with just a weekend in Budapest – but with some careful planning, you can pack in plenty of unforgettable highlights.

Read on for our three-day itinerary for Budapest.

Day one

On the first day of your weekend away in Budapest, see some of the city’s most iconic attractions, take a chairlift up to the hills, and sample authentic Hungarian cuisine.

Morning: Explore Buda’s highlights

Start your time in Budapest strong by exploring some of the city’s most iconic attractions.

Take the funicular railway up to the Buda Castle district to take in the magnificent architecture of the castle and enjoy panoramic views across the city. If you wish to visit an attraction inside the Royal Palace, such as the Hungarian National Gallery or Budapest Historical Museum, you will need to pay an entrance fee.

Next, take a 15-minute stroll to the famous Fisherman’s Bastion, a small Disney-esque castle that features seven turrets representing the seven tribes that founded present-day Hungary in 895 AD. Here you’ll find some of the best views in Budapest, and you can enjoy a coffee and snack on the terrace.

Close by, the breathtaking Mattias Church is another highlight of the Castle District. Dating back to 1015 AD, the church’s neo-gothic architecture and romantic features give it a truly unique feel.

Afternoon: Head for the Buda Hills (via chairlift)

Grab a picnic and set out for the Buda Hills. The Zugliget Chairlift whisks you 262m (860ft) up János Hill, but the fun 15-minute ride has become an attraction in itself.

From here, take the steep 15-minute walk to Budapest’s highest peak, where you’ll find the neo-Romanesque Erzsébet Kilátó (Elizabeth Lookout), built in 1910.

The verdant Buda Hills make for an excellent picnic spot thanks to their beautiful scenery and tranquil vibe. Alternatively, there are a smattering of cafes, bars and restaurants near the chairlift terminus.

After lunch, take a ride on the quirky Children’s Railway – a train in the hills run entirely by a staff of rather serious children. This 11.7km (7.2 miles) ride is a memorable way to take in the woodland scenery and see more of the area.

Evening: Experience authentic Hungarian cuisine

No trip to Hungary is complete without a bowl of goulash – a hearty meat and veg stew – and authentic dining is typically one of the cheapest things to do in Budapest.

On your first night in Budapest, visit a local restaurant to enjoy specialties such as lángos (flatbreads), chicken paprikash (butter-seared chicken, onions and paprika), or hortobágyi palacsinta (a savoury crepe filled with meat).

Try Café Kör for dinner with an old-timey feel, or Drum Cafe for an authentic, low-budget option. For Hungarian food with a more contemporary twist, there’s Retro Lángos, which serves up a broad range of lángos, or the sophisticated Tati Farm To Table.


  • Budapest, Budapest Area, Hungary
  • 28 October 2024
  • Room only
  • From Birmingham

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Day two

Day two is all about getting under the skin of the city, visiting one of its most magical leisure spots and experiencing the world-famous ruin bars.

Morning: Walking tour of Pest

Sitting just across the river, Pest is the grittier, hipper sister to Buda’s leafy tranquillity – and it boasts multitudes of historical and cultural attractions that give you an insight into the city’s turbulent past.

A guided walking tour is a great option for packing all of Pest’s highlights into one morning and helping you to understand everything you’re seeing.

Ensure the tour you choose includes the following attractions:

  • Hungarian Parliament
  • Hungarian State Opera
  • St Stephen’s Basilica
  • Central Market Hall
  • The Jewish Quarter (including the Dohány Street Synagogue complex)
  • Heroes’ Square

Afternoon: Vibrant Gozsdu Court

After an activity-packed morning, head to Gozsdu Court at the heart of the Jewish Quarter for a more leisurely afternoon of shopping, eating and drinking.

The labyrinthine court features seven courtyards, surrounded by vibrant streets packed with restaurants, terrace bars, shops, antique markets and exhibitions. Chic and bohemian, Gozsdu Court is especially magical on sunny weekends.

Evening: Ruin bars

As night falls, dine and drink in the famous ruin bars of Budapest’s lively Jewish Quarter.

Located in formerly abandoned buildings, these warren-like ruin bars are creative, colourful night spots that mesh indoor and outdoor spaces and often look as if they are held together purely by magic.

Vibrant Szimpla Kert is the most famous – and it’s perfect for a big night out, with dedicated wine, spirit and beer bars, as well as pumping music. For a quieter experience, try Kőleves Kert or Csendes Létterem.


  • Budapest, Budapest Area, Hungary
  • 28 October 2024
  • Room only
  • From Birmingham

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Day three

Round your trip off with a visit to a museum of your choice, a glorious afternoon in a spa and a river cruise that showcases this stunning city at its best.

Morning: Budapest’s museums

Budapest is home to a wide variety of immersive museums, from the historic to the bizarre.

The House of Terror delivers an immersive and unforgettable experience that shines a light on Budapest’s heartbreaking 20th-century history.

Alternatively, descend to the depths of the Hospital in the Rock Nuclear Bunker Museum, an eerie time capsule of a hospital created in the caverns under Buda Castle in preparation for the Second World War.

There’s also the Budapest History Museum at the castle and Memento Park – an open-air museum featuring the gargantuan statues of Communist leaders previously displayed in the city.

If you prefer your museums a little quirkier, why not visit the Budapest Pinball Museum, the Museum of Sweets and Selfies, the Museum of Illusions, or the Cats Museum?

Afternoon: Soak in the spa

Budapest is known as ‘The Spa Capital of the World’ – and with good reason! The city sits on more thermal springs than any other capital in the world and its tradition of public baths dates back to Roman times. Embrace the Hungarian bathing tradition by visiting one of Budapest’s joyous spas.

At Szechenyi Baths, built in 1913, you can soak in medicinal natural hot spring waters, in marvellous neo-baroque surrounds. There are also vast outdoor pools lined with sun-loungers, and saunas and steam cabins.

Gellert Baths is perhaps the most famous art nouveau spa in Europe. In beautiful, historical surrounds, dip in and out of its ten pools, which include geothermal pools and a large wave pool.

Evening: Cruise on the Danube

As your three days in Budapest comes to a close, treat yourself to an unforgettable evening cruise on the Danube* to see the city at its bewitching best.

Choose a simple sightseeing cruise, opt for one with drinks included, or go for the full package with dinner and live music.

NH Budapest City

  • Budapest, Budapest Area, Hungary
  • 28 October 2024
  • Room only
  • From Birmingham

Prices and availability shown can change. Always check pricing with the provider before booking.

Prices from


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