24 Hours in Budapest, Hungary
Budapest is a gorgeous European city that really demands more than a day, but if that’s all you have, fear not – you can still fit a hell of a lot of sightseeing into this time-frame without burning out. I’ve even posted a handy little route map for you. How about that? It should also help you find your bearings based on what neighbourhood you’re staying in.
Try to arrive the night before or early in the morning so you can make the most of your visit. Head straight out to a sight you want to visit before it gets too crowded, and don’t be afraid to use the Metro. What you need to know about the Metro system if you’re unfamiliar with European train travel is that you must buy your ticket in advance, and then validate it in a small machine at the entrance to the station or platform before boarding. If your ticket isn’t validated, it doesn’t count. Ask somebody if you’re unsure, though at larger stations there are also ticket machines you can use to avoid having to awkwardly navigate the language barrier.
I started off visiting the Hungarian Parliament Building. I only took a few photos outside, but it was worth the journey to just to marvel in the sheer beauty of the architecture. From there, I walked, mainly to get a feel for the place. I passed a number of bronze statues and small parks, until I eventually hit some recognisable sights, such as Saint Stephen’s Basilica – another impressive building.
Then it was onto my next stop. Crossing the famous chain bridge, you can reach Buda Castle and a stunning fortress called the Fisherman’s Bastion that is well worth seeing, both for the beauty of the structure itself and the views over the river.
Heading back across the bridge, it’s still only lunch time – which means plenty more opportunity to explore! However you choose to do it, if you’re strapped for time you can see the basics of both the parliament building and the castle in a relatively short period of time. Obviously if you have longer, take more time than a morning, but if you’re in a hurry, it’s enough to just see these things. Finding yourself ahead of schedule? Take an optional detour further past the castle to visit a cool hilltop Citadel (circled on the map), and then simply head back across the river over a closer bridge.
Your afternoon can be reserved for shopping the markets and paying a visit to some thermal baths, but bear in mind that the Central Market Hall closes on Sundays, and you might need to hop on a metro again to save time if you hope to reach the famous baths.
If you fancy something a little different, there’s a cheap Ferris wheel you can ride for aerial views of the city – though go with low expectations. Be sure to also stop off at Gelato Rosa for the most gorgeous gelato cone in the shape of a rose – fyi, it tastes great too!
Depending on your social levels, the evening can be well spent in one of two ways. You could take a sunset cruise to see some stunning night views of some of the landmarks you saw in the day – with an option to have food and cocktails included. Alternatively, head out for some of the nightlife this city is famed for in the form of the ruin bars, certainly worthy of an Instagram or two.