2.5 days in Budapest, Hungary
Why did I choose Budapest?
The thermals baths. I know, I know, that is absolutely not the only thing Budapest has to offer, but I had seen several photos of the Szechenyi baths with the iconic mustard yellow building and I added Budapest to my mental bucket list. The baths did not disappoint and there was so much more to see, eat, and do.
Easy, since everyone I met spoke English.
Hungarian Forint (HUF)
Click here to check the currency exchange
My Travel Time
Saturday to Monday in late November (around US Thanksgiving) – a lot of Christmas markets were already set up! The sun rises at 6:30-7:00AM and sets at around 4:00-4:30PM in November.
Click here to check when the sun rises and sets
Click here to check the weather – I wore a heavier coat, gloves, and a beanie every day
My Flight Details
Airline: SWISS Air (The cheapest airline may be different depending on when you search for the flight, but SWISS Air flights to Budapest are fairly priced. SWISS Air is part of the Star Alliance group, so if you’re a Star Alliance frequent flyer, you can rack up some points!)
Departure from JFK to BUD at 9:10pm, arrival at BUD at 12:25pm
Departure from BUD to JFK at 9:35am, arrival at JFK 12:55pm
(with stopover in ZRH both ways)
Price: $500 – $750 (may vary depending on origin airport)
Airport to city:
I took a cab from the airport. There is an official taxi company called Fö Taxi. To the city center, it’s around 6000-8000 HUF (23-31 USD)
– Flights from NYC are around 10 to 14 hours long one way (including the layover). I’ve seen flights for November as low as $500 around early September. I suggest checking flight prices starting late July to early September if you plan to travel in November.
– After Budapest, I traveled to Istanbul (insider scoop: will be posting a trip itinerary for Istanbul, Turkey soon). The whole trip from New York to Budapest to Istanbul was a week long.
My Hotel Details
Starlight Suiten Hotel
The Danube River runs through Budapest; one side of the river is the Buda region (more hilly) and the other side is the Pest region. Starlight Suiten Hotels sits on the Pest region. It’s right next to the chain bridge – one of the bridges that connects Buda and Pest and is in walking distance to the Hungarian Parliament Building. The hotel is conveniently located in the heart of the city, close to a lot of food and restaurants. The inside of the hotel is extremely spacious for its price and everyone at the hotel is incredibly helpful and sweet.
Price: ~$180 for 3 nights including tax (prices may vary as cities become more popular)
My Budapest Trip Itinerary
** for where we spent $
Day 1 (1/2 day – afternoon)
~45 min of walking; exploring by foot is the best way to see the city
Little Princess Statue: bronze statue of a girl with a paper crown sitting on the railing by the Danube promenade by László Marton.
Shoes by the Danube Bank: memorial to honor those who were killed during World War II by Arrow Cross militiamen.
Hungarian Parliament Building: on the first day, I walked around the building during sunset; it’s absolutely gorgeous during the night and worth looking at close up. We didn’t participate in a tour of inside the building, but it is available (click here).
St. Stephen’s Basilica: Roman Catholic basilica; open for tourists Mon-Fri 09:00-17:00, Sat 09:00-13:00, Sun 13:00-17:00.
Gelarto Rosa**: ice cream that comes in the shape of a rose – this might be the best ice cream I’ve ever had. My biggest regret was only having Gelarto Rosa one time on my trip. I want another one right now, the ice cream was so smooth. Open 10:00-22:00 every day.
Christmas Market**: we got a quick dinner near the Christmas market, but food is also available at the market. The Christmas market is a must go! Budapest does a great job with their market and it’s incredibly festive. If you aren’t full from dinner and the ice cream, get a Kürtőskalács (I call it chimney cake). It’s a cylinder-shaped bread with a crispy outside and a soft inside heavily topped with a flavor of your choice. Toppings include cinnamon, walnuts, almonds, nutella, and more.
*How to print/send yourself the map directions: click ‘more options’ on map above; a new window will pop up and then click ‘details’ under the walking directions and you’ll see the send, share, and print options on the top right
Day 2 (full day)
~2 hrs of walking (don’t worry, day 3 is a day to relax and unwind)
Chain Bridge: bridge that connects the Buda and Pest regions across the Danube river (the lighted bridge is beautiful at night as well).
Fisherman’s Bastion: neo-Gothic and neo-Romanesque style terrace with Matthias Church right in front of it; interesting and unique architecture for a terrace (one of my favorite sights in Budapest). Open 9:00-23:00 every day.
View of the Hungarian Parliament Building: sometimes the best view of something so grand and so amazing is from afar so you can see the entire thing. The best view of entire Hungarian parliament Building (without taking a boat cruise) is across the bridge (see image below).
Marvelosa** (lunch): decently priced restaurant, not too heavy and felt very homey. Open Tues-Sat 10:00-22:00, Sun 10:00-18:00, closed Mon.
Buda Castle: the castle of Hungarian Kings historically; we were fortunate to be there at the time the palace guards were changing shifts. Click here for opening hours.
Citadella: a fortress on the top of Gellert Hill; it was a well worth (and paved) walk up Gellert Hill to reach the fortress for some great views of Budapest.
Molnár’s Kürtőskalács**: pit stop for more chimney cake. I preferred when they didn’t cut my chimney cake in half lengthwise, so if you would like to have it uncut, make sure to tell them! Open 9:00-22:00 every day (Yay!).
Kontakt**: a cozy, hip coffee shop (I got their lavender hot chocolate). Open Mon-Fri 8:00-19:00, Sat 9:00-17:00, closed Sun.
Abszolút Pho** (dinner): I’m Asian so it was extremely nice to have some Asian food. This pho was delicious and extremely cheap. Open Tues-Sun 11:30-22:00, closed Mon.
Day 3 (full day)
~1 hr 45 min of walking and 1 Metro ride (we chose to walk back instead of taking the Metro back. Taking the Metro back will decrease walking time to less than an hr)
Szechenyi Baths**: what brought me to Budapest! There are 15 indoor thermal baths and 3 outdoor pools; I bought my tickets the day of at the cashier (just for the baths w/o massages/spa), but you can also buy your ticket in advance. Open 6:00-22:00 every day.
Vajdahunyad Castle: castle nearby the thermal baths. Open 10:00-17:00 every day.
Heroes’ Square: one of the major squares with statues featuring national leaders/heroes.
Andrássy út: we walked back to near our hotel area via the Andrássy avenue. It’s one of Budapest’s main shopping streets and it was a great way for us to see more of Pest.
Hungarikum Bisztro** (lunch): delicious Hungarian food; it’s a popular restaurant so we made a reservation to ensure that we had a table. Open 11:30-15:00 and 18:00-23:00 every day.
Great Market Hall: indoor market with produce, snacks, and shopping. Open Mon-Fri 6:00-18:00, Sat 6:00-17:00, closed Sun.
Tokio** (dinner): on the slightly more expensive side in Budapest, but if you want some Japanese food at a nice sit down restaurant, it’s worth a try! Open 12:00-00:00 every day.
Metro from around Starlight Suiten Hotel to Szechenyi Thermal Baths
Walk starting from the Szechenyi Thermal Baths
Important! Make sure to double check the opening hours of activities, sights, and restaurants since it could depend on what time of year and day you travel on.
Additional things to do in Budapest that were not on the itinerary: