If you only have one day in Budapest, although it is not much time to really look around to see the sights and enjoy fun things to do, you can still make the most out of it in a one-day tour, and hopefully you will come back to see more. Let’s suppose you arrive late afternoon, so all you are ready for is having a good dinner, maybe a feel of Budapest nightlife, and you leave discovering the attractions for next morning.
Night in Budapest
If you plan to have a few drinks in the happening area, Pest side gives more options than Buda side (where the castle is). Here’s a great map of the pubs, bars, clubs and party places of Budapest. The different color-coded icons on the map show you different styles: e.g.
- Green for Irish pubs,
- Blue for Best – based on tourists’ feedback
- Blue dot for Best alternative pubs
- Blue pin for Belgian beers
- Light blue for maybe good
- Yellow for themed pubs (e.g. Western, Cuban, etc.)
- Pink GL-friendly, etc.
Here’s the map, color-coded: double-click to enlarge, or click on an icon to get more info on the pub / bar.
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Whichever pub or bar suits your style and wallet more, one thing is sure: don’t miss the Danube river-view at night. It is beautiful: classical yet intimate beauty. Read more about the Best Restaurants in Budapest or the Best Cafes in Budapest.
Next Morning in Budapest
1, (7-9am) I would start with an early morning Széchenyi bath and wash away my headache in the thermal water: it’s for both men and women, and kids. Take your towel.
2, (9-10:30) go over to Heroes’ square & have a look at the Millennial monument, then (depending which attracts you more)
a, Arts: peep into the Museum of Fine Arts
b, Agriculture: the Vajdahunyad Castle in the City Park (hosting the Museum of Agriculture)
c, History: the House of Terror on Andrássy: tricks and tools of Nazi and Soviet dictatorship at the former HQ of the Hungarian Secret Police. Not for small kids.
d, Model trains, cars, planes etc.: Museum of Transport, Budapest
e, none: you saved 1.3 hours!
Follow your route on the Budapest Tourist Map: double click to enlarge or simply click on the view large option under the map.
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3, (11-12:00) take the underground to Vorosmarty ter, have a quick snack, coffee, cake in Café Gerbeaud OR walk over to Gresham Palace and have a snack there.
4, (12-12:30) walk over the Chain Bridge, get on the Funicular on the Buda side at Adam Clark square (Clark Ádám tér) up to the Castle Hill.
5, (12:30-14:00) have a quick look around the Castle District, take photos at Fishermen’s Bastion (you will see the beautiful Parliament, which is highly worth checking out but no time now) & at Matthias Church.
6, (14-16:00) take the bus (number 16) from Dísz tér to Deák tér, then the tram (number 2) along the Danube embankment up to Fővám tér – go to the Central Market Hall to do some gift shopping and or have late lunch or a quick snack (e.g. Lángos). Note: the Central Market Hall is closed on Sundays and closes early on Saturdays, so change the order if it is not convenient for your travel, please.
You can do the whole thing backwards, or with variations. Start with the Castle, down to Gresham Palace (then to the Basilica or the Synagogue & the old Jewish district) or directly to Heroes’ square.
I usually leave shopping at the end to avoid having to wade through the city with bags. If you are more shopping-minded, use the Budapest Shopping Map to guide you.
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No need to rush: you can come back any time and take a closer look at Budapest. It’s well worth it: after more than 20 years I am still discovering a lot of new things to see, do, eat – it’s a city that does not let you get bored, and which always welcomes you, alone or with friends & family.