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Two days in Budapest

Hello fellow travelers,

I will be spending two days in Budapest in July, arriving on a Wednesday morning by air and leaving for Vienna on Friday morning. Advice on what to see in what I know will be two very short days is very welcome. After reading many excellent posts on this forum I do know that two days is not enough time to see the major sites. I definitely want to experience a bath & go a a river cruise. We will be staying at the Radisson Blu Bleke, which looks like it is near the major tourist area. I know already that I will want to return to Budapest to spend more time!
Any advice would be greatly appreciated.

Posted by
154 posts

I have been to Budapest, and I think spend about 2.5 days there. I would recommend walking around near the Parliament as it is beautiful. Also near there is the Shoes on the Danube that is commemoration of the Jewish men, women, and children were lined up and shoot and then thrown into the river during WW2. It was touching to see.

I would also head over to Matthias Church and look around there. If you are up to it hike to the top of the tower of Matthias Church the view is one of the best that I remember of all my trips. The Church itself is lovely inside.

These two things would take a good portion of the day. There is a bath/spa near there according to google, so maybe plan on checking that out.

Posted by
12089 posts

The Radisson Blu Bleke isn’t exactly in the tourist zone. Its about a half km to the nearest Point of Interest and Public Transportation. But, hey, it’s a great town to walk so don’t sweat it.

If you like this, Map this out in advance so you feel comfortable.

So, you arrive Wednesday morning and take a taxi to your hotel.

Then do that half km walk southeast (turn left out the door of the hotel) past the yellow trams to the first major intersection. This is the Oktogon and is a the major transportation hub. You need to see Budapest so while you can take the M1 metro at this point, turn right down Andrassy ut and follow it to the end. Sort of the Champs-Élysées of Budapest. You will pass some nice restaurants, the Opera House some really beautiful old apartment blocks; and an OTP Bank. Use the ATM and pull out maybe 40.000 forints.
At the end of the street turn left towards the yellow tram stop. Across the street from the yellow tram stop you will see a metro line entrance. Go down the stairs and at the bottom will be a service center. Buy a 72 hour travelcard for 4.150 forints. Now back up and get on the yellow tram. It’s the end of the line so it only goes in one direction. Sit on the left facing forward and you will see the synagogue as you pass.

The first stop is Astoria. Get off and walk back about a block from whence you came and you will see the great Synagogue. Second largest in the world and ground zero of the WWII holocaust in Budapest. Worth the short tour but I doubt you will have time. At least walk around to the left side and see the tree of life and read some of the history. That will put you in the WWII Deportation Ghetto.

Back on the tram and two more stops and you are at the Great Market Hall. Worth the tour of the ground floor, the first floor is Tourist trinkets and some food stalls.

Walk towards the river and you will see stairs going down. At the bottom you will find the Number 2 Tram, one Europes great trams. Take it to the right. Sit on the left and enjoy the view of Buda. Second stop is Vigadó tér, get off and walk away from the river and you will find Vorosmarty ter. Ground zero for tourist hell, but still worth seeing. Shops, architecture, food.

Back on the Number 2 for 3 stops to Kossuth Lajos tér; on the way you will cross under the Chain Bridge. Get off and cross the road to the river. Here (a few meters back) you will find the Shoes on the Danube memorial.

Back on the Number two and in a couple of stops you will find yourself parked behind the Parliament Building. Hop off and admire the building and all the other old government buildings. Note one across the street from the back of the Parliament with brass plugs about 1” in diameter all over the façade. Read about the ’56 Revolution to understand.

Okay, back on the Number 2 again to the end of the line. Continue walking in the same direction that the tram was traveling and in a few yards you will see the 4/6 Tram. A big shiny new tram. Take it one stop to Nyugati Rail Station. Get off and take a look inside. It’s a Eifel creation.

Back on the 4/6 one more stop and then walk the same road in the same direction about 4 minutes to your hotel.

Its late and you are pooped, but you have seen a lot of Budapest. This is the night I would do the river cruise because it leaves fairly late. You can walk back to the Oktogon and take the M1 to Vorosmarty ter and walk to the pier from there. I usually say take the boat without the dinner but you may be hungary and the timing may be better. Or you can eat on the Danube embankment at one of the many restaurants with a view of Buda. Its beautiful at night and near you boat dock. In that case sign up for the boat ride with drinks but no food.

If any of this gets to be too much or runs too long just stay on the tram and look at the beautiful views.

Posted by
12089 posts

Its another tram day!!! This time get up and walk the opposite directin down the street. When you see the 4/6 tram (where you got off on Wed) hop on and ride it past the train station and across the river. That’s Margaret Island where the tram stops at mid river. On the Buda side of the river get off and look for the 19/41 Tram. Take it towards the Chain Bridge and get off just after the Chain bridge (4 stops I think).

Then take the funicular up to Castle Hill. Use a tour book and spend an hour or two before taking the funicular back down. Oh, your travel card doesn’t work for the funicular.

Back on the 19/41 Tram two stops to Szent Gellért tér where the Gellert Hotel is located. This was a popular hotel with the Nazis and where Oscar Schindler stayed when he came to Budapest to warn the Jews.

Here you will find th 47/49 Tram that you rode yesterday. Take it across the river and get off. Now you will go back down the stairs like yesterday but you will take the number 2 tram in the opposite direction. Okay, sorry, but you will be really going off the grid this time. Go 2 stops and get off a Boráros tér where you will find the old familiar 4/6 Tram. Take it away from the river 5 stops through some less than interesting territory and get off at Blaha Lujza tér, then continue walking about 300m till you see the NY Palace Café on the right. Go in, sit, have a drink and stare in amazement.

Back on the 4/6 Tram till you pass your hotel, get off and walk back to your hotel.

Get ready for the Széchenyi Thermal Baths. Walk to the Oktogon where you were yesterday. Cross Andrassy ut and go down to the M1 metro line. Stay on 4 stops till you get to Hősök Tere (Heros Square). Admire and then continue walking past the square and through the park to the Bath House.

If you are up for more, walk Andrassy ut back towards the Oktogon. Great mansions, tree lined, embassies, restaurants …. Beautiful walk. If you get tired get on the M1 for a stop or two, then walk some more. You can start at the M1 metro station behind the bath house.

Eventually you will be at the Oktogon and you can find your way home from there.

Okay, unless you have a tour guide driving your pace you may run out of time. But you can always skip some of the get off and admire stops.

NOW, for the end of your last day, get back on the 4/6 tram towards the oktogon and get off at the first stop after the oktogon. That’s Kiraly utca. Now turn right down Kiraly utca and look to your right for a place called Kadarka. Sit outside and drink the night away. My favorite wine bar and good food to boot.

Posted by
12089 posts


Take the 4/6 tram past the oktogon to Blaha Lujza tér and look for the red M2 metro line. Take it one stop to Keleti Train Station.

Posted by
17905 posts

If you don't want to spend 6 (?) euros for the funicular (and I think that's just the one-way charge), you can take a bus from a stop along a different side of that same square. I think it's #16. It seems to run quite frequently, so you probably won't wait any longer than you would for the funicular, which often has quite a line.

Posted by
12089 posts

Yes, its Bus 16 and it goes all the way to Deak Ferenc ter.

The Funicular is 1.200 forints one way 1.800 forints round trip. That's about $4.50 and $6.75. Yes expensive by Budapest standards. If you paid in Euro it probably did cost 6 euro for a RT ticket as most places tend to round up for providing the convenience and so they don't have to repost the prices every time the exchange rate changes.

In 15 years I have never ridden it down because the walk us pleasant, but I'm trying to make covering so much ground in such little time as efficient as possible.

Posted by
17905 posts

I didn't take the funicular and would certainly not have paid in euros if I had. I guess I noticed the euro fare posted somewhere and the figure stuck in my brain. It's good to know you get a bit of a discount on the round-trip fare.

Posted by
12089 posts

HA!!! Actually I am waiting for RS to offer me a job .... just kidding .... I do love sharing Budapest with people. I want them to have as good a time there as i do.

I'm an odd mix and that might be of some benefit (maybe). I live there part time, but I am still a tourist; so I try and think like a tourist with my attempts to help. I have my favorites in town, but a tourist is looking for .... well .... tourism; so I just try and help them get the most out of it. I live in a tourist town in the US and when people say they are coming to see the biggest attraction in town, i admit that i wince. There are so many "better" places, but then i imagine they go home from where ever they came from and have to tell folks they never saw those things about this town that make it famous. My experience has been that i get either the absolute worst or the absolute best tourism advice from locals that arent in the tourism business. The best cause they know the place so well, the worst because they arent tourists in their own town and have sort of lost context. Im far from perfect, but i try and keep it in mind.

Posted by
1878 posts

Rick has a really good walking tour of Pest in his book that is worth checking out. Castle Hill at sunset. We found the Terror Museum worthwhile. We have been the Gellert Baths twice on different visits. They are said to be more tourist-oriented but it seems like all locals to us when we were there. Go in the morning, the time we went in the evening it got a little grungy in the locker room.

Posted by
12089 posts

Gellert Baths is amazing. what the article doesn't show is the insid bath which is stunning art. That road trip i posted will take you there. For more views find the Anthony Bourdain tv show on Budapest. Heck, watch it anyway. Pretty insightful. I especially like his comment that the architecture in Budapest is so beautiful that it could be called Architectural Porn.

Posted by
38 posts

James, your itenerary is amazing ! You can make it your day job! Can you help me with mine?
I am working on it now but feel confused somewhat because I can’t figure out the right sequence accordingly to where I am staying!
Kempinski Hotel Corvinus Budapest
Erzsébet Tér 7-8 Budapest 1051 HU. I will be there around 10 in the morning.
Day1 : walking to the Chain Bridge, taking funicular up the castle Hill( buda palace, Matthias church, fisherman’s bastion etc) . I am giving myself 2-3 hrs there. Walk downhill, stop at the hotel and then Széchenyi bath. Dinner at Spiler.
Day 2: visit Dohány sinagoge on my own and after I am meeting with the private guide for Jewish quarter tour( about 3 hrs)
2nd half of the day I was thinking of taking free walking tour which starts ether at st Stephens basilica or Vörösmarty sq( which one is territory preferable considering I am in the Jewish quarter ?) about 3 hrs. At night ether night Cruise On Dunabe or concert at the Matthias church?
Day 3: planing to go to Santandre ( if to go at all) because I didn’t figure out how to do it yet and if I should do it for a hole day)
Day 4 : parliament building, Market hall, Opera House, walk along Andasy ave , shoes Memorial. How connect this ? May be some of it I should do in the previous days. Oh , Gellért Hill? Should it be done day or night and is it possible to squeeze it somewhere in my “ crazy horse run “ lol in Budapest

Posted by
102 posts

Definitely try the wines - both red and white, and Tokaj. So many small wineries, so much good wine that is not easy to get in the US.

Posted by
602 posts

The radio show "Travel with Rick Steves"

Hear how people of all ages enjoy a day at the baths in Budapest, where doctors commonly prescribe a relaxing day at the spa. Then learn about a sacred geothermal river located deep in Amazonian of Peru: It's huge, deadly hot, and might contain clues to the origins of life on Earth. And get advice for enjoying the splendor of Padova, located just half an hour from the crowds of Venice, and home to one of Europe's oldest universities.
George Farkas, tour guide based in Budapest
Peter Polczman, tour guide based in Budapest
Geothermal scientist Andres Ruzo, author of "The Boiling River" (TED Books) and founder of The Boiling River Foundation
Cristina Pernechele, tour guide based in Padova, Italy

Originally broadcast in June 2016, but rebroadcast this week -

Posted by
2 posts

Thanks to all who replied to my ask for help in spending two days in Budapest, especially James E.!
Leaving tomorrow nite, flying out of Philadelphia to Budapest. I am very excited! I will return & post a bit of my impression & experience of Budapest.