The best of Budapest in 24hrs

by Christine Orford

Looking across the Danube in BudapestThere’s an overwhelming amount of things to see and do in Hungary’s capital city. From culture and history to adventure and partying, you can have any kind of getaway here.

If you’ve got limited time and what to try a little bit of everything, follow our guide and get the best out of Budapest.

Saturday, 6:00am

Pick up a 24-hour travel ticket in any metro station as soon as you arrive in Budapest. Valid on buses, metros, trams, trains and more, this is an essential for exploring the Hungarian capital.

Saturday, 6:30am

Szechenyi baths in BudapestRevive yourself after your early start with a trip to Szechenyi Spa Baths. Budapest is famous as a health destination and after a dip in a few of Szechenyi’s 18 natural hot spring baths, you’ll find out why.

There are also 10 saunas in the 100-year-old complex and if you want to indulge yourself even more, book a massage in advance.

Saturday, 9:30am

A stall in Budapest’s Great Market HallOnce you’re suitably relaxed, head to the Great Market Hall for a spot of breakfast. The biggest of its kind in the city, this market hall boasts three floors stuffed with culinary delights.

After you’ve devoured a few traditional Hungarian pastries, take some time to stroll through this beautiful 19th-century building and soak up the atmosphere. As well as being the perfect place to grab foodie souvenirs, it’s also wonderful for people-watching.

Saturday, 11:30am

In Budapest’s Memento ParkIf the weather’s good, head to the outskirts of the city to visit Memento Park. This open-air museum is filled with statues and plaques from the Cold War. The sheer size of the statues is enough to impress, but it’s worth hiring a tour guide to delve into the history of these monuments that were once studded throughout the country.

Take a look inside the old barracks to see an exhibition on the 1956 uprising and don’t miss the fascinating documentary film about Communist-era secret agents.

Saturday, 2:00pm

After you’ve worked up an appetite wandering around Memento Park, it’s time to grab a bite back in Pest. Check out Fülemüle Étterem for a traditional Hungarian-Jewish lunch. Highlights from their tasty menu include superb hummus and an extraordinarily memorable—and delicious—goose leg dish.

Saturday, 4:00pm

Depending on the time of year, a late afternoon trek up Gellért Hill could be blisteringly hot or bracingly chilly. It also could mean sunshine, twilight or sunset, but one thing is guaranteed—you’ll enjoy a spectacular view of the stunning city.

The uphill walk takes about 30 minutes and once you get to the top, you’ll be greeted by the Liberty Statue, a 40m monument erected by the Soviet Union in 1947 to mark the end of Nazi occupation in World War II.

Saturday, 6:30pm

Evening cruise on the DanubeHead back down the Hill and jump on one of the Legenda boats to see Budapest from a completely different angle on the Danube. Sip a complimentary drink and watch the world go by as you float up the river on your hour-long trip. During the summer months, there’s also an option to explore the beautiful Margaret’s Island.

Saturday, 8:00pm

If you’re hungry for adventure after your Danube cruise, enter the Escape House. Once you’re inside, you have 60 minutes to solve a series of puzzles in several rooms in order to find your way back out again. It’s the perfect activity if you’re in Budapest with a gang of friends, as you can tackle the rooms with a group of up to six people.

Saturday, 9:30pm

From there, walk about 20 minutes and duck into Spinoza Cafe & Restaurant, a homely spot serving up hearty meals until midnight, seven days a week.

One of the main attractions here is the pianist who plays live every night. The entertainment is atmospheric as opposed to corny and, depending who you’re travelling with, this can be a pretty romantic setting for a leisurely dinner. The extroverted, friendly waiters are very accommodating and make the experience even more special.

Sunday, 12:30am

Even if you couldn’t fit in a dessert in Spinoza’s, there’s always room for a cocktail or two after dinner. Boutiq’Bar is less than 10 minutes away and it just might be the most fun place in the city for a cocktail. The bartenders here take imaginative cocktails to a whole different level.

Toast marshmallows on the flames of your Budapest Barbeque, share The Elyxirum and get up close and personal with a rather large flamingo or say ‘Hey Girl’ to the Rye n’Goslings milk punch.

Sunday, 2:30am

Instant ruinpubA night out in Budapest isn’t complete without a visit to a ruin pub. Housed in dilapidated or previously abandoned buildings, these pubs are jam-packed with curios and have a maze of different rooms to explore.

Instant boasts 26 rooms across two former apartment blocks. Explore upside-down rooms, stumble across dentist chairs and watch out for the disco ball in the shape of a boar… The party rages until 6am every night and there’s no cover charge, so it’s easy to see how you could lose yourself here until the wee hours.

Sunday, 6:00am

It’s finally time to call it a night after your Budapest adventure. Snuggle up in your hostel bed and get ready for even more excitement tomorrow…

Where to stay?

Friends Hostel BudapestWith lots of common spaces and a penchant for partying, Carpe Noctem Vitae is the place to go if you want to hang out with your fellow travellers and share lots of laughs. As a bonus, there are free eggs and toast for the morning after, too.

Friends Hostel & Apartments is in the centre of town and is close to loads of public transport options, so it’s an extremely handy location. The staff are lovely, the mattresses are comfy and there’s also free bike rental.


Thanks to VnGrijl, Top Budapest, Andreas Lehner, Moyan Brenn, JaSchau and Davide Rizzo for use of their great images under the Creative Commons license.

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