Authored by Adventures of Alice
Budapest is one of those cities that’s rapidly risen to fame over the last few years. From what started as a hidden gem in Europe, overshadowed by the nearby countries of Austria, the Czech Republic and Italy, it’s now a popular tourist destination that draws in thousands of people every year from around the world.
You can see so much in just 2 days in Budapest, making it the perfect spot for a weekend break. But you could also stay longer, to travel between a few countries in Europe and, of course, explore more of Hungary as well.
However, if you just have a weekend in Budapest, here’s how to plan your trip to get the absolute best out of this gorgeous city!
How to Spend A Weekend in Budapest
When You Arrive in Budapest
If you’re flying into the city, you’ll most likely land at Budapest’s National Airport. This is located around 23 km from the city and there are a couple of easy ways to get into the centre.
If you decide to book a taxi, this is certainly the easier option, however, it’s also the more expensive choice. Taxi’s will cost about 26 Euros and the journey will take you 35 minutes.
Like most cities, there are plenty of Budapest Airport Taxis available to hire outside the terminal, or if you’d like a more secure booking, you can order one online before you arrive from companies like Holiday Taxis.
The second option for getting from the airport to the city is to take the bus. This is the cheaper option and ideal for those travelling Europe on a budget, the bus is just 3 Euros.
Plus, the bus system is directly connected with the most popular areas of the city. Despite a few stops, this journey will also take you between 35 – 40 minutes, so there’s typically no time difference between the bus and a taxi.
You can purchase airport bus tickets from customer service centres, ticket offices, newsagents and there’s also a ticket vending machine in the arrival hall at the airport.
Best Things to See on a Weekend in Budapest
Now that you’re in the city, safely checked into your hotel, you’re probably wondering what the best things to see on your weekend in Budapest are.
A city split into 2 parts – Buda and Pest – which are divided by the Danube, there are some truly wonderful things to do in the city. And the food is pretty delicious too!
The attractions are part of what makes Budapest one of the most beautiful cities in Europe. In fact, you’ll most likely reach the end of your weekend wishing you could stay longer!
However, whether you’re looking for the best views or the prettiest historical monuments, these are the best things to see during a weekend in Budapest.
Budapest Parliament Building
Of course, I had to start with the Parliament Building! One of the most photographed and popular of Budapest’s attractions, you absolutely have to see the Parliament Building during your weekend in Budapest.
The Gothic Revival style building is truly stunning, with its pale walls, intricate carvings and signature deep red roof. It’s also the largest building in Hungary.
Sitting proudly along the banks of the Buda side of the Danube River, the building is a bit of a must-see. It’s also a perfect excuse to go for a walk along the river bank where you’ll also come across the infamous Shoes on the Danube, telling the dark past of how WW2 affected Hungary.
If you have time, you can actually tour the inside of the Parliament building. It’s open between 8 am and 6 pm from April 1st to October 31st and from 8 am to 4 pm the rest of the year and costs 3,500 HUF to get in.
Castle Hill and Buda Castle
For spectacular views across Budapest, and it’s surrounding rolling countryside, head on up Castle Hill.
This hill does require a bit of a climb, or alternatively, you can take the Funicular up to the top. This costs 6 Euros for a return, so it’s a little pricey but will certainly save your legs!
Once you arrive at the top, you’ll be treated to the second-best views in Budapest. I’ll get to the best views soon!
You can also spend some time at the top exploring Buda Castle. Also known as the Royal Palace, it used to be where the Hungarian Royalty lived.
Now, it houses a chain of museums including the National Széchényi Library, the Budapest History Museum and the Hungarian National Gallery. Perfect for it you want a little taste of the cities magnificent past.
Mattias Church was actually my favourite location in the city and definitely not something you’d want to miss during your weekend city break. Another of Budapest’s most photographed spots, the church’s symbolic mosaiced roof tiles are what makes it stand out most.
It’s also another of the more expensive things to do in the city as the entrance fee is 1,600 HUF. Plus, unless you get there early, it will likely be rather busy around the church as it’s a pretty popular location. However, it’s well worth it.
The interior is insanely beautiful and incredibly detailed and there’s a small museum inside included in the entry. If you’re only spending a weekend in Budapest, you might as well see everything, right?
Located right next to Mattias Church is the Fisherman’s Bastian. Another popular Instagram spot, the Bastian looks as though it was plucked right out of a fairytale.
The former lookout tower is built with neo-Gothic and neo-Romanesque architecture and took nearly twenty years to complete. This is where most of the famous panoramas of Budapest are taken and the absolute best views across the city.
You can see the Parliament Building, along the Danube River, Margaret Island, the Chain Bridge and, if you visit in the evening, you can see Pest lit up against a breathtaking sunset.
St Stephen’s Basilica
This is another of Budapest’s most beautiful churches. The largest religious building in the whole of Hungary, the Basilica can hold over 8,500 people at once!
It’s another building that took a long time to build as it was completed in half a century in 1905.
You can climb to the top of the towers for just 500 HUF. At the top, you’ll find an observation deck with even more great views across the city.
This is one of the city’s main squares and, as such, it’s another popular spot to visit during a weekend in Budapest. The outside of the square is decorated with seven statues that commemorate the Magyar tribes that created the country of Hungary.
It was built in was built 1896 to commemorate the 1,000-year anniversary of Hungary. The statues are often changed to represent changes in Hungarian leadership.
Within the square, you’ll also find the Museum of Fine Arts, which, if you enjoy artwork, is one of the best museums in Budapest and could take around an hour to properly explore.
Then, if you carry on walking past Heroes Square, you’ll find the beautiful city park of Városliget. The park contains Vajdahunyad castle and Széchenyi Thermal Bath.
Széchenyi Thermal Baths
One of the things that Budapest is the most well known for is its thermal baths and Széchenyi is probably the most popular.
Understandably, it’s also the most touristy and the most expensive. Tickets can be bought online if you want to avoid the queues (which I advise), and you can hire towels if you need to.
Although this is the most convenient thermal bath in the city, if you’re looking for something a little less crowded on your weekend in Budapest, there are a plethora of other options around.
There’s a great list of all the thermal baths in Budapest here if you wanted to check it out. And, if you do decide to fo to Széchenyi, don’t forget your swimming suit!