So you like stunning views, amazing historical sites, delicious cuisine and vivacious nightlife? great, Budapest is definitely the place for you. After this action-packed day you’ll definitely want to return to stay for a longer time and maybe even prolong your visit this time around! Here’s how you can see the best of Budapest in just twenty-four hours.
Rise and shine! To make the most of your time in the city you’re going to have to wake up early. With the sun slowly creeping its way over the horizon, head to Buda Castle which is perched on a hill overlooking the city. Located on the Buda side of the Danube River, the castle has a great vantage point and will provide devine panoramic views of Budapest. The sun slowly bathing the city and the Danube in a halo of golden light is a memory that will stay with you for a long time.
The historical castle complex is one of the must-see sights on show in the city as it encompasses museums, palaces and churches within its grounds. It is absolutely huge and all together it covers the whole of the hilltop. If art is your thing then the art museums are the place for you as inside you’ll find some lovely Hungarian pieces that span the ages. Alternatively take a tour of the castle and delight in all the architectural wonders on show. Dating back to 1265, the history of the castle is fascinating to learn about and it’s the perfect place to begin your race against time study of Budapest!
Once you’ve had your portion of all that is on offer at the castle, the Fisherman’s Bastion is a just a short walk away and the brilliant white building is definitely worth a visit before you continue on your way. The terrace is a great place to take a break and, with the sun shining, the view of the city now sparkles below you. This almost sandcastle-like structure is very distinctive, architecturally-speaking, and has seven towers due to the seven Magyar tribes that first settled the area surrounding Budapest. It’s a delightfully picturesque setting to sit back and relax before exploring the Pest side of the city.
Make your way down from the Bastion and cross the Danube over the beautiful Chain Bridge. At night it makes for a great promenade as it is stunningly illuminated but unfortunately you might have to skip the night walk a for now. Don’t despair though, because in any case, the breeze coming of the river is welcoming and the view back up to the castle is a great joy.
GOULASH AT THE CENTRAL MARKET HALL
So what is there actually to see and do in Pest? first things first, make your way to the nearby metro station and buy a day ticket as it will help you to speed your way to all the best places. Your first stop should be the Central Market Hall which is a great place for some lunch! In the old and beautiful warehouse-like building, there are shops selling everything imaginable under the sun with loads of local products on offer. With tasty Hungarian sausages and paprika everywhere you look, try and find a stall selling goulash – delicious and filling Hungarian dish! This is also a great place to buy souvenirs of your brief but unforgettable visit to the city.
THE JEWISH QUARTER AND THE PARLIAMENT BUILDING
After exploring the market, it is either a short metro journey to the Hungarian Parliament Building or a scenic twenty-five minute walk through the Jewish Quarter to the same destination. If the sun is shining, definitely take the second option as you’ll see more of the city that way. Located halfway between the market and parliament is the Great Synagogue of Budapest which looks incredible. The largest synagogue in Europe, the architecture is simply stunning and the inside is bathed in a golden light due to all the gold paint everywhere. With a mixture of styles on show, this holy building will show you a different side of Budapest, though as always, everything looks resplendent in this amazing city.
Now for the Hungarian Parliament! This is again a must-see in the city and it’s possibly the image that comes to mind when anyone thinks of the city. The massive parliament building is beautiful to gaze upon with its red roofs, spectacular statues and ornate facades; strolling along the Danube looking up at it is simply divine. Just in front of the parliament is another one of the city’s iconic tourist attractions: the Shoes on the Danube Bank. The bronze shoes scattered along the riverbanks are a touching yet chilling memorial to 3500 people who were brutally murdered by the Nazis during the Second World War. History is everywhere in the city and is well worth reading up on before or even after visiting.
SZECHENYI THERMAL BATHS
For whats coming next, be prepared to get wet! From the nearby metro station it’s only twenty minutes to your next stop; nothing is ever too far away in Budapest and it is very easy to navigate your way around the city. The relaxing Szechenyi Thermal Baths are where you’ll want to spend any sunny afternoon (but it’s wonderful any other season as well), lounging in the sun at this amazing spa! The huge complex of pools, saunas and steam rooms is the perfect place to relax your feet after having run around the city all day. The buildings surrounding the outside thermal baths are themselves stunning to behold and make for a scenic setting while you sit back and soak. Although going to a spa is often considered a bit of a luxury, in Budapest it is second nature to its citizens and the city is renowned for them. As a consequence, they are delightfully cheap to visit so make the most of it!
THE HOUSE OF TERROR MUSEUM
While you could possibly just about fit the House of Terror Museum into your day-trip to Budapest, at this point it might be overkill and a bit of a downer after your relaxing spa. However, if you ever return or decide to extend your stay, the museum offers a chilling look at Hungary’s recent past. The Nazi ruling party for instance tortured people in the museum building and atrocities were also carried out by the Soviet Union’s secret police units. It is a memorable and sad look at some of the 20th Century’s horrific events.
If that doesn’t sound like your cup of tea, then head back to the Jewish Quarter and let the night begin! The twisting narrow alleys and small streets are atmospheric and usually full of life. The amazing Gozsdu Courtyard is just one such place where you’ll definitely get an idea of how trendy Budapest can be. Lots of different bars and restaurants are tucked away among these courtyards which are connected to each other by small alleys hidden among the buildings. If you’re starving after your busy day, then Langos is the meal for you. Unrefined though it might be, the heavy meal of deep-fried dough, sour cream and cottage cheese is deliciously tasty. But be warned, you’ll most likely be able to eat just one of them. While Hungarian cuisine can be quite heavy, it is often very flavorsome and not to be missed
In this lively part of the town, you’ll find a number of great ‘ruin bars’ which are a peculiar characteristic of the city. Run down old buildings house these distinctive and atmospheric bars and with their bizarre decorations and strange set up, they definitely will make for a fun and unique night out! The most famous out of all of them is Szimpla Kert which was the first one that was created. Regularly voted one of the best bars in the world, it is a must-see in Budapest.
If you’ve still got energy left, head over to the amazing club, Instant. It has remarkable eight bars contained within and four different dance floors that play all kinds of music. As such it makes for an epic night out until the early hours in the morning. Since you’ve made it this far, you might be tempted to go back and check out the beautiful Chain Bridge all lit up by the lights!
Phew! While it may sound like a lot, Budapest’s small and compact size actually does make all of this doable in just ONE day! With the perfect blend of history, culture, relaxation and booming nightlife; you will definitely have an unforgettable time in Budapest. Who knows? Maybe you’ll even want to come back for a longer stay next time!