Budapest in detail


Day One

  • Castle District

Spend your first morning in Budapest on Castle Hill, taking in the views from the Royal Palace and establishing the lay of the land. There are museums aplenty up here, but don’t be greedy: you only have time for one. We recommend either the Hungarian National Gallery for fine Hungarian art or the Castle Museum for a seamless introduction to the city’s long and tortuous past.

In the afternoon take the Sikló (funicular) down to Clark Ádám tér and make your way up Fő utca to the Király Baths for a relaxing soak.

  • Dinner The excellent Csalogány 26 is around the corner from the baths.
  • Castle District

Depending on your mood, check to see what’s on in the way of táncház (folk music and dance) at the Marczibányi tér Cultural Centre just north of Széll Kálmán tér or head for stylish Oscar American Bar south of the square for cocktails and music.

Day Two

  • Erzsébetváros & the Jewish Quarter

On your second day, cross the Danube and see Pest at its very finest by walking up leafy Andrássy út to Heroes’ Square, which will take you on past architectural gems like the Hungarian State Opera House and New Theatre, and wonderful cafes including Művész Kávéház.

  • Lunch Menza has an excellent-value weekday set lunch.
  • City Park & Beyond

As you approach City Park, decide whether you want an educational or leisurely afternoon (or both). The House of Terror is on Andrássy út and on the east side of Heroes’ Sq is the Palace of Art, with excellent exhibitions. City Park contains the Budapest Zoo and the wonderful Széchenyi Baths.

  • Dinner Robinson by the lake is a good choice.
  • City Park & Beyond

You might have drinks in the park at Kertem or boogie the night (and most of the morning) away at Dürer Kert. But if there happens to be a big-name act in town, they'll most likely be at the nearby László Papp Budapest Sportaréna.

Day Three

  • Parliament & Around

On day three it’s time to see a few of Budapest’s big-ticket attractions. In the morning, concentrate on the two icons of Hungarian nationhood and the places that house them: the Crown of St Stephen in the Parliament building and the saint-king’s mortal remains (just a hand) in the Basilica of St Stephen. To get from one to the other cut through Szabadság tér and have a glance at the last remaining Soviet memorial in the city, a tank.

  • Lunch Kisharang is an excellent (and inexpensive) choice for Hungarian soul food.
  • Erzsébetváros & the Jewish Quarter

In the afternoon, concentrate on the Jewish Quarter, with a neighbourhood walk taking in such sights as Klauzál tér, the Orthodox Synagogue and the original ghetto wall, but make sure you leave ample time for a good look inside the Great Synagogue and the Hungarian Jewish Museum, and have a slice of something sweet at the Fröhlich Cukrászda kosher cake shop.

  • Dinner Gettó Gulyás is a popular place for traditional Hungarian fare.
  • Erzsébetváros & the Jewish Quarter

If it's Friday there will be klezmer (traditional Jewish music) at the Spinoza Café, otherwise (or afterward) move on to the wealth of kertek (‘garden clubs’) within easy striking distance along Kazinczy utca: Kőleves Kert, Mika Tivadar Mulató or the granddaddy of them all, Szimpla Kert.

Day Four

  • Óbuda & Buda Hills

On your last day stroll through Óbuda and learn how Buda, Óbuda and Pest all came together. Again, the choice of museums and attractions is legion, but the Vasarely Museum and its hallucinogenic works never fail to please and the nearby Hungarian Museum of Trade & Tourism is a positive delight. Alternatively, Aquincum is just a short HÉV train ride away.

In the afternoon, head south for Margaret Bridge. Just up the hill to the west is Gül Baba’s Tomb, the only extant Muslim place of pilgrimage in northern Europe. Spend the rest of the afternoon pampering yourself at the wonderful Veli Bej Baths.

  • Dinner Fióka is a fine and intimate eatery just west of Széll Kálmán tér.
  • Margaret Island & Northern Pest

Cross over Margaret Bridge to Újlipótváros and the Budapest Jazz Club, just about the most serious such venue in town for traditional, vocal and Latin jazz by local and international talent.