36 hours in Budapest

I may not be a budget traveller, but that doesn’t mean I don’t love a good deal.

If you do too, you’ve probably seen the heavily discounted trips offered everyday on sites like Groupon. I’ve always browsed through these deals and wondered how they could be so cheap (with some seeming almost too cheap), until I booked one myself.

It was a really good offer – a two night stay in Budapest with return flights, staying in your very own one-bedroom apartment near the centre, all for a mere £99 each! How can you say no to that?

It wasn’t until I went to claim the voucher with the travel provider that I found out why it might have been priced so low – the terrible flight times. We would be arriving in Budapest at 5PM, and leaving at 9AM a day later, meaning what was supposed to be a three-day trip was actually less than half of that.

Needless to say, we had a lot to fit in.

With so much to see and so little time, we bought a two-day ticket with Big Bus Tours, which turned out to be a great way of getting about and seeing all of the main attractions the city has to offer (which is A LOT).

Here are some of my favourite stops:

Gellért Hill

An affluent residential neighbourhood and a UNESCO World Heritage site, you’ll find the Citadel and Liberty Statue here at the top of the hill, along with a spectacular vantage point which provides stunning panoramic views of the city.

gellert hill Budapest

Castle Hill

Matthias Church, Fisherman’s Bastion and Buda Castle and are all within walking distance of each other in this area. If you climb to the top of Fisherman’s Bastion you’ll find a cosy little cafe and another stunning view, where you can spot the striking Parliament building from across the river Danube.

castle hill budapest

St. Stephen’s Basilica

A grand church both inside and out. If you visit during winter, you’ll find Budapest’s smaller Christmas Market on the square outside, but the main event is located at Vorosmarty Square not far from here.

Heroes Square

A major central monument, Heroes Square is located at the end of Andrássy Avenue where you can find many notable statues, as well as the Millennium Memorial.

Nearby are the Museum of Fine Arts and the Palace of Art which sit on either side of the Square, and a short walk beyond it will also take you to City Park, home to a range of sights with the main attraction being Széchenyi Thermal Bath, one of several baths to be found in the city.

heroes square budapest

If we had more time, I would’ve loved to have made a visit to:

  • Central Market Hall – the largest and oldest indoor market in the city, selling both produce and souvenirs
  • House of Terror – a museum and memorial dedicated to the victims of fascist and communist regimes in Hungary
  • Shoes on the Danube – a moving tribute to the Jews who were shot by the bank of the river
  • Széchenyi Thermal Bath – we didn’t have time to go inside for a swim!

There is so much to see and do in Budapest, and I left feeling really disappointed we didn’t have more time there. It’s an incredibly beautiful city with plenty of history and culture, and certainly offers something for everyone. And as one of the most affordable European city breaks there is, it’s a wonder how Budapest is not more of a popular destination – just make sure you stay for longer than 36 hours.


Need-to-know

  • Big Bus Tours ticket from €22.50 per adult
  • Includes free river cruise, walking guide and night tour!

 

Feature image by Javier Collado Jiménez

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