Are you planning on spending 2 days in Budapest or a weekend and trying to figure out the best things to do while you are visiting? If so, then this post is perfect for you as we outline a great Budapest itinerary – 2 days to explore this amazing city.
Budapest has the famous Danube River that runs through its city, with some amazing architecture to see and a wealth of history to share. Since time can be limited when visiting Budapest we have narrowed down for you what to do in Budapest with kids and all the best things to do in Budapest.
We visited Budapest, Hungary for 3 nights and 2 days while we were on our European leg of our 1 year of travel around the world. Budapest was the tail end of our whirlwind visits of Prague, Vienna and Budapest in 10 days, a great way to see these places in a condensed timeframe.
What You'll Find in This Post
- Budapest Top 10 Things To Do with Kids
- Day 1: Hungarian Parliament, Thermal Bath, City Park, Elizabeth Square & Danube River
- Day 2: Buda Castle, Matthias Church, Fisherman’s Bastion, Funicular & Chain Bridge
- Where to Stay in Budapest
- Map of 2 days in Budapest
- Other Budapest Attractions
- Budapest Travel Tips
- Budapest Day Trips
- Best Time to Visit Budapest
Budapest Top 10 Things To Do with Kids
The best way you can breakdown seeing 2 days in Budapest is to see one side of the Danube River on one day and then explore the other side the next day.
Budapest is named after the two towns that united together Buda and Pest, which is basically the one side of the Danube River and the other. You will hear it referred to like these when you are in the city. Day 1 itinerary is what to see in Budapest on the Pest side, and Day 2 itinerary is things to do on the Buda side of the river.
Day 1: Hungarian Parliament, Thermal Bath, City Park, Elizabeth Square & Danube River
1. Hungarian Parliament Building
Probably one of the most beautiful parliament buildings in the world. The Hungarian Parliament buildings are located along the Danube River and stands out from all the other buildings. Absolutely stunning!
Tours are offered of the parliament buildings for approximately 45 minutes in a variety of languages. You can get your tickets here in advance, which I highly recommend because these do sell out in advance and unlikely for you to be able to get tickets on the day that you show up. Plan ahead of time for this visit
2. Széchenyi Thermal Bath
The Széchenyi Thermal Bath is a must in Budapest. It is one of the largest spa baths in Europe and if you have never been to one this is a great one to try first. They have a mixture of both hot outdoor thermal baths and indoor baths ranging in all temperatures.
I would recommend to save time and purchase your tickets in advance here which includes locker rental. During the morning hours the lines can be long and this will also you to bypass the purchase line.
3. City Park (Városliget)
A fantastic green space to wander around in after you finish at the Széchenyi Thermal Bath. We found a playground and trampolines for the kids to play at and enjoy the afternoon. In the winter they have an outdoor skating rink, which would be so much fun for the family. You can also go by Heroes square in the park.
4. Elizabeth Square (Erzsébet Square)
Relax at Elizabeth square, which is the largest green space in Budapest. We enjoy lunch at one of the restaurants and wandered through a few of the street vendors.
It was a hot day and we dipped our legs into the reflecting pool to cool off. There is also the Budapest Eye Ferris wheel for a fun activity. Overall, it’s a great way to enjoy a leisurely afternoon.
5. Danube River Night Cruise
Seeing the lights of Budapest at night is one of the best things to do in Budapest and may have been our favourite and made our highlights for the year! There are many different options to see Budapest from the river and can be day, evening and dinner cruises.
We opted to go with 1 hour evening cruise of the Danube river and timed it with the sunset of the evening so we would have some daylight but mostly the lights on the river. This was the best for us with the kids, where they got to listen to some of the information or just enjoy a special drink and the boat ride in the open top.
I would recommend booking this in advance so you can ensure you get the timing you want and arrive early to get first spots up top to get the most of your evening.
Some other options for evening Danube River Cruises:
Day 2: Buda Castle, Matthias Church, Fisherman’s Bastion, Funicular & Chain Bridge
6. Buda Castle & Castle Hill
Up top of the Castle Hill is Buda Castle which is a UNESCO World Heritage site. The grounds are free to roam around and admire the romantic and picturesque views.
There are so many places to explore on Castle Hill and in and around Buda Castle, we wandered around and explored at our own pace.
7. Matthias Church
Matthias Church is one of the most unique churches we have seen, it is definitely on your must visit in Budapest. The gothic traditional church is beautiful but the amazing roof tile design definitely steals the show. You can pay to go inside the church if you choose or admire the beauty from outside.
8. Fisherman’s Bastion
Walk along the walls of Fisherman’s Bastion, which almost has a fairytale ambiance and enjoy the beautiful views of the Danube River, Margaret Island, Chain Bridge and the Parliament Buildings. There is an extra cost to go up to the upper levels of Fisherman’s Bastion, which can be purchased onsite and is recommended to get the best views.
9. Buda Castle Hill Funicular
A fun thing to do to get up to the Buda Castle, Fisherman’s Bastion and Matthias Church is to take the funicular. The kids absolutely loved taking this ride up and down the funicular and enjoyed the experience. Great views of the Chain Bridge as you ride along. It is a short ride and you could easily walk up, but sometimes you need to experience something new.
10. Szechenyi Chain Bridge
Szechenyi Chain Bridge is a masterpiece that connects the east and west side of Budapest across the Danube River. Both during the day and in the evening you must have a glimpse of this bridge. Walk across the bridge and get some gorgeous views of both sides of the city, watch the river cruises come by and appreciate the magnitude of the bridge.
This is a perfect day in Budapest, you will be able to get great views from up top of the hills, including the river, all the bridges and see the city from above. Exploring the area on Castle Hill can fill up an entire day, enjoy lunch in one of the great little spots on the Buda side that hopefully have a great view of the river.
Where to Stay in Budapest
Areas in Budapest
I would suggest staying in any of the areas that are within a 5 to 10 minute walk to the Danube River and along the Danube Promenade. The river is the heart of the city with attractions on both sides, so most likely you will be visiting places on either side of the river.
We stayed in District V, close to the Parliament Buildings on the Pest side of the city. The Stollar apartment which we booked had a view of the Danube River and Buda Castle. Many restaurants, grocery stores, shops and amenities close by. I spent hours relaxing and looking out at this view. There was also a great little playground for the kids right across the streets, so awesome to let the kids play after a full day of touring.
If you are looking for other options VRBO in Budapest has some great places to look into. Use the map feature on the VBRO website to search for places in District I or District V. Although VRBO doesn’t give you the exact address until after you book you can get an idea of the area with the location.
The other area in District 5 that looked amazing and which would be great for accommodations in Budapest would be over by Elizabeth Square.
Here are some more places to stay in District 5 to check for hotel and apartment options. Use the map to help get a better idea of specifically where the hotels or apartments are located to the Danube River.
Another area that I would suggest is in District I, which is very close to the Buda Castle, Fisherman’s Bastion and Buda Hills on the Buda side. There are lots of restaurants and has a very historical type of atmosphere in that area.
If you stay in any of these areas it will be very convenient for all your Budapest sightseeing in 2 days. Since there is so much to see in the city, staying close by will give you the opportunity to see the beauty of the evenings and walking around with all the lights.Booking.com
Map of 2 days in Budapest
Here is a map of Budapest! Hopefully, this can help give a visualization of the things to see in Budapest in 2 days.
- Day 1: Purple in Pest
- Day 2: Yellow in Buda
- Blue markers are for Other Attractions in Budapest
Other Budapest Attractions
If you happen to have 3 days in Budapest or even 4 days in Budapest here are a few other options that you can see and do. This might also help if you happen to have a rainy day, cold weather or looking for something a little different to suit your family’s needs.
- Margaret Island – Is in the middle of the Danube River and easy to get to. There are other thermal baths, a small petting zoo, Japanese gardens and musical fountain.
- Budapest History Museum & Hungarian National Gallery – Located on the Buda side by the castle, these are another option for an indoor activity.
- Walking Tours can be a great way to get more information and history from a local expert from a guided tour. We usually do a 2 or 3 hour walking tour in larger cities sometimes and a private or smaller group.
- Central Market Hall – This is the largest and oldest indoor market, so if you happen to have a rainy day in Budapest or cold tempatures this might be a great option during the day.
- Hungarian State Opera House – Performances held year round in this amazing building and could be an option for some evening entertainment. We had just gone to the Opera in Vienna, so we didn’t attend one in Budapest.
- New York Palace & New York Café – World known as one of the most beautiful coffee houses in Budapest.
- Food Tours can be a great way to get to know the cuisine and culture.
Budapest Travel Tips
Here are some helpful travel tips while you spend two days in Budapest.
- We loved riding the trams around Budapest and our favourite was riding the #2 tram along the Danube river.
- Seriously look into the Budapest Card, which can save you money if you plan on going to multiple museums and discounts on other tourist attactions in the city. Plus, free public transportation in Budapest with it.
- Currency in Hungary is the Hungarian Forint. Use an app like XeCurrency to help understand the currency exchange while visiting Hungary.
- Airport Budapest – BUD airport is approximately 30 – 40 minutes from the city center. We took a taxi to get to the airport, but there are van shuttle services and private car services that you can book.
- For any local events or things happening this weekend in Budapest, check out the Budapest tourism website for current events.
- Don’t forget to have travel insurance if visiting Budapest from another country, we used World Nomads for our insurance while we visited Hungary.
- We always have a guide book and took a Budapest travel guide with us for extra information and help when you don’t have cell phone data or want to get the kids involved with reading about the places you are visiting. Here are a few we recommend:
Budapest Day Trips
How long to stay in Budapest?
3 nights and 2 days in Budapest are a great start to visiting for the first time. You will be able to see many of the Budapest attractions, get a taste for the city and do a lot because of how close many of the attractions are and the ease of transportation.
We always like to visit cities like we will go back again, try not to fill your days up too much and be open to some free time too.
But, if you are planning on exploring more around the area, Budapest can be a great hub to make Budapest day trips from and stay in one spot.
- Káli Basin – Wine country day trip to what is known as the Tuscany of Hungary.
- Danube Bend – Take a day trip to explore Danube Bend from Budapest.
- Vienna, Austria – A full day tour to visit Vienna.
Best Time to Visit Budapest
The best time to go to Budapest is in the spring (March to May) and autumn (September to November) shoulder seasons. The temperatures are more comfortable for touring around in the Budapest weather, fewer crowds than July/August and prices of accommodations will be cheaper.
We went during August, which just lined up when we would be in Europe, and it was very comfortable spending time outdoors at the parks and at the baths. There were just more people and lots of visitors with long queues, so just be sure to get any of your attraction tickets in advance to save your time in the queues.
More Information for Your Trip to Central Europe
Some similar central Europe itineraries for cities close by that you may be useful with planning your trip to the area:
We absolutely loved our two days in Budapest, so much so that we could actually consider moving to the city. We love any city that has a river running through it, and this city did not disappoint us at all. The people were so friendly and the city as a whole was welcoming. I could never get tired of looking out my window at the river.
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As I’ve been trying to sort through all our photos to find great ones to put up in our home (which are bare walls right now since we moved in), I’ve realized I didn’t have one photo on our Instagram with Budapest 🤦♀️ How did that happen? How do I miss an entire country we’ve been to? Well, the reality was the following week I started homeschooling the kids on the road… which took priority over posting photos. So here’s one from 🇭🇺 Hungary! #budapest #hungary #szechenyibaths
These are what we think are the top things to do in Budapest with a family, was there anything we missed?
If you have any questions about Budapest, please comment below and I can help.