Budapest Itinerary: See the best of Budapest in a day

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Budapest is the city which is best known for its striking Parliament building and thermal baths. Though there is so much more to the capital of Hungary than these two icons. Budapest is the start of the area we know as Eastern Europe and with a profound history. The city is an amalgamation of three cities, Buda, Pest and Obuda which became one in 1873. When I visited Vienna for a few days, I spotted an opportunity to visit Budapest, even if it was for a day. So, today I present the ideal things you can do in Budapest in a day. 

Did you know – Hungary got truly independent after its first free elections in 1990?

Budapest in a day | One day in Budapest | Budapest Itinerary | Hungary #budapest #hungary
Don’t miss my Vienna travel guide!

Things to know before planning your Budapest trip

Definitely need to be prepared if you’re gonna visit Budapest in a day

Currency – HUF (Hungarian Forint (HUF). Euro’s are accepted but with a much higher exchange rate. 

Language – Hungarian, but English is also widely understood and spoken.

Public Transport – The city has an excellent public transport system which includes trams, metro, buses, and trolleybuses. 

Expense – Budapest is a quite cheap city especially for Indians with 1₹ = 4.21 HUF. 

Travel Pass – There are various travel passes, a 24-hour, 72 hours and a 7-day pass. This covers transportation which is not very cheap in Budapest. If you like to visit museums, try Budapest Card which gives you discounted access to museums and spas and free public transport.

Water – Tap water is safe for drinking. 

Safety – The city is fairly safe on various parameters which is why it is swarming with tourists. 


Budapest Itinerary: How to see the best of Budapest in a day

Budapest is a walkable city, but if you want to see it all, I’d recommend taking a ride on the metro or tram. If you’re coming to the city by Vienna or any other European city by train, you’ll reach Budapest Keleti Station (the main train station). You can take a metro from there and start your tour of Budapest. If you want to see all of Budapest in a day, then also I’d recommend taking the tram or metro.

These are some of the places you can easily see in Budapest in a day –

Hungarian Parliament

The Hungarian Parliament is one of the most famous government buildings in the world and surely the highlight of Budapest. It is the one thing you mustn’t miss if you have one day in Budapest or more.

Built-in Gothic style, the facade is uniquely built with a dome and ceilings in maroon colour. The gigantic parliament faces The Danube and has as many as 10 courtyards, numerous rooms and beautiful staircases. There are tours available for touring the parliament from inside. But it’s tough to cover everything in Budapest in a day so you can skip it if you’d like.

St. Stephen’s Basilica

St. Stephen’s Basilica is a 19th-century church which is also one of the vital churches in the country. Almost a kilometre away from the Parliament building, you can visit the Basilica on foot. After all, Budapest is a beautiful city to walk in.

The church has Neo-classical architecture and is named after Saint Stephan king of Hungary in 997. The church even stores his right hand, which you can also see closely in the church.

Széchenyi Chain Bridge

Budapest has various highlights and the chain bridge is in the top few. The 375-meter-long suspension bridge over the Danube connects Buda and Pest roots back to the late 18th century.

After visiting the Parliament and St. Stephan’s Basilica, you can walk your way through the bridge. The bridge allows traffic and also have a pedestrian lane. The bridge was destroyed during WWII and was rebuilt in 1949.

Buda Castle

The 12th-century castle is one of the must-see places to visit in Budapest in a day. The palace was built for the Hungarian kings and the Baroque-styled architecture is eye-catching.

When going from the Chain bridge, there are options about how to visit the castle district, one via bus, an uphill walk or using a cable car (Funicular). If you planned an impromptu trip to Budapest in a day, then you’d probably have to buy a ticket at the cashier. Though, the tickets cost around 1200-1800 HUF (one way/return) and the queue for the Funicular is too long. As it was a spontaneous trip for me, and the queue scared me, so I opted for a hike. Not a tough hike, just a half-hour easy hike.

Matthias Church

When in the Buda Castle District, don’t miss out on visiting the Matthias Church. It is one of the famous attractions of the castle.

The church is built in Roman-style architecture with a unique orange-ish ceiling, making it easily noticeable from far off.

Fisherman’s Bastion

The Fisherman’s Bastion is also located in the Buda Castle district facing the Matthias Church and is indeed another top attraction in Budapest.

The Fisherman’s Bastion looks straight out of a fairytale with gorgeous views of the Hungarian Parliament.

Shoes on the Danube

This is not a place to visit for fun, this is a memorial on the banks of the Danube river for honoring the Jews killed during WWII.

The memorial is built in memory of Jews who were made to take their shoes off and were shot on the river bank. Do spend some time here and pay your respects.

Margaret Island

Margaret Island is Budapest’s answer to NYC’s central park. Walking back from the Buda Castle I spotted Margaret Island by chance. I had some spare time, so I enjoyed the musical fountains here.

Take a walk around the park, ride in a funky vehicle, enjoy the musical fountains,  or have a thermal bath here. You can even ride a bike to roam around the park here.

Check out what to do in Prague in 2 days?

Heroe’s Square (Hősök tere)

Heroe’s Square is one of the main squares of Budapest built in the first century. If you are left with some time after your tour of Budapest in a day, you should come here. It is a memorial to commemorate Hunagary’s settlement in 895.

By any chance, if you’d like to extend your stay in the country, you may check out some hotels here –

Also,  make sure to follow along on my Instagram account for the latest updates and adventures.

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– Shivani

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  7. Such a fascinating city. Noted down your recommendation

    1. Shivani says:

      Glad you liked it 🙂 Thanks for stopping by.

    2. Shivani says:

      Glad you liked the recommendations 🙂 Thanks for stopping by.

  8. […] made fewer mistakes and enjoyed every inch of my stay, took a weekend trip to Prague, a day trip to Budapest. It was an unforgettable trip for me. It made me fall in love with Europe all over and now I have a […]

  9. aniajames says:

    great post we were recently in Budapest and it looks like we missed quite a few things

    1. Shivani says:

      Glad you liked the post. Can I ask what did you miss?

  10. Great post 🙂

    1. Shivani says:

      Thank you 🙂

      1. No problem 🙂 check out my blog when you get the chance 😄

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