top of page

How to Spend One Day in Budapest, Hungary: What to Do, See, & Eat in Hungary's Capital City!

How to Spend One Day in Budapest Blog Cover Photot

As the capital city of Hungary, Budapest has much to offer! From stunning architecture and fascinating history to a vibrant food scene and rich culture, there is so much to love about this city! Add to that its picturesque location on the banks of the Danube River and quintessential Central European vibe and you have what ranks as one of our top must-visit cities “across the pond”! We had the pleasure of spending a couple of days exploring Budapest and have put together what we think is the best One Day in Budapest itinerary as well as the ultimate Budapest Food Guide! So, throw on your stretchy pants, lace up your walking shoes, and let’s dive into the heart of Hungary’s capital city!

⬇️ Check out our “How to Spend One Day in Budapest” travel vlog for a closer look at our time in Budapest! ⬇️


⬇️ For the best Tours, Tickets, and Experiences in Budapest, check out GetYouGuide! ⬇️


⬇️ Looking for the perfect stay while visiting Budapest? Check out our recommendations! ⬇️

⭐⭐⭐⭐Prestige Hotel

⭐⭐⭐ H2 Hotel (where we stayed)


Quick History:

Budapest, Hungary's vibrant capital, boasts a rich history that stretches back over two millennia. Originally settled by Celtic tribes, it was later conquered by the Romans, who established the town of Aquincum as a key military outpost along the Danube River. Following the fall of the Roman Empire, Hungary was settled by various tribes, eventually coming under the rule of the Magyars in the 9th century. The city of Buda was founded in the 13th century, and Pest across the river joined it in 1873 to form Budapest. Throughout its history, Budapest has been a center of culture, trade, and political power, experiencing periods of prosperity as well as turmoil, including Ottoman occupation and the Habsburg monarchy. In the late 19th and early 20th centuries, Budapest flourished as one of Europe's leading cultural capitals, with grand architecture, vibrant cafes, and a thriving arts scene. The city suffered significant damage during World War II but has since been rebuilt, now standing as a symbol of resilience, blending its historic charm with modern vitality, attracting visitors from around the globe.


Now, let’s get to exploring!

7:00am: Get your day started at Fisherman’s Bastion!

Known for its fairy-tale-like architecture, Fisherman's Bastion, or Halászbástya, is a prominent landmark in Budapest offering breathtaking views of the Danube River and Pest. It was built between 1895 and 1902 as part of a series of developments to celebrate the 1000th birthday of the Hungarian state. Named in honor of the fishermen who were responsible for defending this stretch of the city walls during the Middle Ages, the structure features seven ornate towers representing the seven Magyar tribes that settled in the Carpathian Basin (present day Hungary) in 895. Its neo-Gothic and neo-Romanesque architectural style is a nod to the architectural style that was popular in the year 1000 when the first Hungarian king started his rule. In short, Fisherman’s Bastion is a historical monument for the millennial Hungary.

Sunrise at Fisherman's Bastion in Budapest, Hungary

8:15am: Take in the views from Buda Castle

Buda Castle is the historical castle and palace complex of the Hungarian Kings in Budapest. It was first completed in 1265, although the massive palace occupying most of the site today was built between 1749 and 1769. During World War II, the castle was heavily bombed and later reconstructed in a simplified form. Reflecting various architectural styles due to its multiple reconstructions, including Gothic, Renaissance, Baroque, and Modern, Buda Castle today houses the Hungarian National Gallery, which features Hungarian art from the Middle Ages to the present, and the Budapest History Museum, which presents the history of the city from ancient times to modern days. As part of Budapest’s UNESCO World Heritage site designation, Buda Castle remains a symbol of Hungary’s rich history and cultural heritage, attracting millions of visitors each year who come to explore its museums, historical exhibits, and scenic views.

Views of the Danube River and Széchenyi Chain Bridge from Buda Castle in Budapest, Hungary

9:00am: Ride the Buda Castle Funicular (AKA Budavári Sikló)

Built in 1870, the Buda Castle Funicular was the second funicular to be built in Europe and connects the Chain Bridge to Castle hill. The funicular runs on a 310-foot (95-meter) long track traversing a 165-foot (50-meter) climb (and descent) while providing riders with incredible views of the city below. In 1987 the Buda Castle Funicular was listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site making it a fun and historic way to climb or descend Castle Hill! At 4,000 HUF (that’s about 11 USD) per roundtrip ticket, the cost to ride is a little steep (pun intended), but it is a unique and practical way to save some time and effort by not climbing the hill on foot.

Buda Castle Funicular (AKA Budavári Sikló) in Budapest, Hungary

9:15am: Fuel up for the day at Zërgë Coffeeshop (Budapest, Fő u. 7, 1011 Hungary)!

Zërgë offers quick bites, creative coffee drinks, and incredibly friendly staff all in a New York City inspired atmosphere complete with classic hip-hop serving as the soundtrack to your morning coffee. We really enjoyed our breakfast here!

Other Options:

~ Luna Cafe (Budapest, Lánchíd u. 17, 1013 Hungary)

~ Flat White Art (located on Castle Hill before you ride the Funicular - Budapest, Tárnok u. 1, 1014 Hungary)

Breakfast at Zërgë Coffeeshop in Budapest, Hungary

10:15am: Walk to St. Stephen’s Basilica

Along the 15-minute walk to St. Stephen’s Basilica you’ll pass many scenic spots, most notably, the Széchenyi Chain Bridge (officially Széchenyi Lánchíd) which was built between 1839 and 1849 and is best known for being the first permanent stone bridge across the Danube River connecting the two sides of the city, Buda and Pest. A walk across this impressive structure offers breathtaking views of the Danube River below and the Budapest Riverfront. It is without a doubt one of the most recognizable landmarks in the city and is a must when visiting Budapest!

11:00am: Tour St. Stephen’s Basilica (2,000 HUF/Adult)

Constructed between 1851 and 1905, St. Stephen's Basilica is the largest church in Budapest (third largest in Hungary)! The church is named after the first King of Hungary, whose mummified right hand is kept in a glass case in the chapel. Don’t worry though, there’s more to see than just a mummified hand (although it is a unique sight)! Upon entering the basilica you’ll be in awe of the ornate architectural design as well as magnificent works of art featuring mosaics, statues, and paintings all created by important Hungarian artists.

St. Stephen's Basilica in Budapest, Hungary

12:15pm: Check out the Hungarian State Opera House

Built between 1875 and 1884, the Hungarian State Opera House is a magnificent example of Neo-Renaissance architecture. Since its opening in 1884, the Opera House has become one of the most important cultural institutions in Hungary, showcasing the country's rich operatic and ballet traditions. The building itself is noted for its lavish interiors, featuring ornate frescoes, marble columns, and a grand chandelier, reflecting the opulence of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. If you have the opportunity to attend a concert here, it should not be missed! But even if a concert isn’t in the cards for you, then you should still stop by and step into the foyer to admire the architecture! Plus, it's free!

Hungarian State Opera House in Budapest, Hungary

1:15pm: Lunch at Street Food Karavan (Budapest, Kazinczy u. 18, 1075 Hungary)

Street Food Karavan is an outdoor food court that is home to numerous food trucks and trailers serving everything from Goulash and Lángos to Fried Chicken and Loaded Nachos! They even take some creative liberties with the Hungarian classics and offer burgers with Lángos buns! Needless to say, Street Food Karavan Budapest definitely needs to be on your “must-eat” list when in Budapest!

Other Options:

~ Central Market Hall (Budapest, Vámház krt. 1-3, 1093 Hungary)

~ Retro Langos (Budapest, Bajcsy-Zsilinszky út 25, 1065 Hungary)

Lunch at Street Food Karavan Budapest in Budapest, Hungary

2:30pm: Visit Budapest's first Ruin Bar!

If you’ve done any research into Budapest, chances are you’ve come across the ruin bars. If you haven’t, then here’s a quick overview… Ruin bars in Budapest are unique establishments set up in abandoned buildings, primarily in the Jewish Quarter (District VII). These eclectic bars emerged in the early 2000s, with the first and most famous being Szimpla Kert (Budapest, Kazinczy u. 14, 1075 Hungary), which opened in 2002. The concept involves minimal renovation, leaving the buildings' decayed aesthetic intact while filling the spaces with mismatched furniture, quirky decorations, and local artwork, creating a bohemian and vibrant atmosphere. They often host live music, art exhibitions, and film screenings, contributing significantly to the city's nightlife and cultural scene. Each bar has its own unique character, reflecting the dynamic and eclectic spirit of the city. In short… You HAVE to visit a ruin bar when in Budapest! It is such a unique experience and is a true testament to Budapest's resilience and creativity.

Other Options:

~ Fekete (Budapest, Múzeum krt. 5, 1053 Hungary)

~ Hops Beer Bar (Budapest, Wesselényi u. 13, 1077 Hungary)

~ Lámpás (Budapest, Dob u. 15, 1074 Hungary)

Szimpla Kert Ruin Bar in Budapest, Hungary

3:45pm: Catch the Tram to Shoes on the Danube Bank

Culturally, trams are iconic in Budapest, with Tram Line 2 offering scenic views of landmarks like the Parliament, Buda Castle, and the Chain Bridge, frequently cited as one of the world's most beautiful tram rides. The distinctive yellow trams are a symbol of Budapest’s urban landscape, being featured prominently in Hungarian films and literature, reflecting their role in daily life and the city’s charm.

Yellow Tram in Budapest, Hungary

4:15pm: Visit Shoes on the Danube Bank

Situated on the Pest side of the Danube River, the Shoes on the Danube Bank is a poignant memorial commemorating the Jews who were brutally murdered by the Arrow Cross militia during World War II. The memorial features 60 pairs of iron shoes, replicating styles from the 1940s, symbolizing the victims' forced removal of their shoes before being shot and their bodies falling into the river. This art installation serves as a stark reminder of the atrocities committed during the Holocaust, emphasizing the personal and human aspects of this tragic history.

4:30pm: Walk along the riverfront to the cruise dock with views of the Danube River and Parliament on the way (25-min walk)

Completed in 1902 after 17 years of construction, the Hungarian Parliament Building is one of Hungary's most iconic landmarks serving as the seat of the National Assembly of Hungary. The building is one of the largest parliament buildings in the world and is known for its stunning Neo-Gothic facade, elaborate interior, and impressive dome, which stands 315 feet (96 meters) tall.

Danube Riverfront in Budapest, Hungary

Spend the next 75 minutes cruising on the Danube River taking in the sights and learning about their historical and cultural significance all while sipping on unlimited Prosecco! Book your tickets HERE!

7:30pm: Dinner at Hungarikum Bisztró (Budapest, Steindl Imre u. 13, 1051 Hungary)

Hungarikum Bisztró is a classic Hungarian restaurant with a homely dining room serving traditional Hungarian dishes like your grandmother would make… If your grandmother was Hungarian. In addition to the delicious food and casual checkered tablecloth atmosphere, you’ll be treated to live traditional music. We can’t recommend this place enough!

Other Options:

~Regős Vendéglő (Budapest, Szófia u. 33, 1068 Hungary)

~ Korhely Faloda & Daloda (Budapest, Liszt Ferenc tér 7, 1061 Hungary)

~ Tulipano Restaurant Budapest (Budapest, Honvéd u. 17, 1055 Hungary)

~ Firkász Restaurant (Budapest, Tátra u. 18, 1136 Hungary)

Dinner at Hungarikum Bisztró in Budapest, Hungary

And just like that, your day in Budapest has come to an end!


We hope that this guide has helped you make the most of your time in Budapest, and if it has, we hope you’ll consider following us on Instagram and subscribing to our YouTube Channel for more travel content!

Disclaimer: We only recommend products, services, and resources that we believe will provide value to our readers/viewers. If you purchase anything using our referral links, we may get a small commission with no extra cost to you, and the money we receive from our advertising relationships helps us to keep creating content free of charge to our readers/viewers.


bottom of page