Gorgeous Budapest sits proudly astride the great Danube River. It’s a city of two halves: Buda, on the west bank, is the ancient heart of the city, crowned by the enchanting castle district. Pest, on the east bank, has the elegant Andrassy Ut avenue, the iconic Parliament building, and the lovely green expanse of City Park. A perfect city break destination, Budapest offers plenty of Eastern European charm, with extravagantly decorated thermal baths, atmospheric ruin pubs, and old world cafés – plus fantastic shops, bars, restaurants and nightlife. Make the most of this beautiful city with our essential guide to what to do in 48 hours in Budapest.
Day one: morning
Cross the Danube and stroll up through the cobbled streets of Buda to reach the enchanting castle district, which is full of cafés, galleries and restaurants. Stop off at the Fisherman’s Bastion, a beautiful 19th-century look-out point, to enjoy sublime views over the whole city. Take your pick from one of the museums in the castle, which now houses the Hungarian National Gallery and the Budapest History Museum. There are lots of inviting spots where you can linger over lunch, many with stunning city views.
Day one: afternoon
Head back to the other side of the Danube to explore Pest. Take a dander down Andrassy ut, Budapest’s grandest boulevard, which is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and home to the sparkling opera house and superb neo-Renaissance mansions. You’ll find the city’s fanciest boutiques, bars and restaurants here, particularly around Liszt Ferenc Square. There are more shops and cafés along pedestrianized Vaci Street, and you can visit the amazing Central Market for a browse of the stalls – you’ll find everything from fresh produce to local souvenirs. After dinner, have a drink or two in one of the famous District VII ruin pubs.
Day two: morning
Spend a relaxed morning strolling along the banks of the Danube, admiring the picture-postcard views of the Parliament building and stopping at the famous statue of the Little Princess. Head to the enormous St Stephen’s Basilica: if you can face the climb up 302 steps, you’ll be rewarded by breathtaking views from the dome. For lunch, why not sit out on the terrace at one of the cafés on Liszt Ferenc Square?
Day two: afternoon
After lunch, it’s time to hit one of Budapest’s famous thermal baths. If the sun is out, head for the gorgeous Szécheny baths in City Park, an opulent complex where you can wallow in the warm waters, surrounded by fountains and statues. In cooler months, the Gellert Baths on the Buda side of the Danube provide the perfect, relaxing retreat.