Budapest is low-key one of my favorite cities in Europe! Before arriving in this beautiful city, I had done little research and had a vague idea of what to see in Budapest, but I can tell you now that there are plenty of awesome attractions to add to your list of things to see in One Day In Budapest!
A lot of people ask, “Is Budapest cheap?”, and my answer to that is, YES! There are lots of free things to do in the city that will keep you entertained during your visit.
Furthermore, I have put together this ultimate guide which includes the top 5 things to do, where to stay in Budapest, and other useful information to help you plan your trip ahead of time!
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WHERE IS BUDAPEST & HOW TO GET THERE
Budapest is the capital city of Hungary located in the very north of the country. The population of Budapest is 1.7 million.
The two most common ways of reaching Budapest are by plane or by train.
Budapest International Airport is very well connected with daily flights available from anywhere in Europe and also international arrivals from Asia.
I always use CheapOair to search and book all of my flights as they generally have the cheapest rates.
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Arriving in Budapest by train is the next best option for reaching this beautiful city in Hungary. Daily trains operate in and out of Budapest Central Station, connecting Budapest from other major countries in Europe such as Austria, Czech, Slovakia, and Romania, to name a few.
Traveling around Europe by train is one of the best ways to get around at an affordable cost. I highly recommend purchasing a Eurail Pass to make the most out of your Europe trip. There are many different passes available that give you access to the majority of trains, buses, and boats within 31 countries in Europe!
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The iconic Budapest sign
ONE DAY IN BUDAPEST – TOP 5 THINGS TO DO
#1 CITADELLA & LIBERTY STATUE
The outstanding Citadella is a historic fortress that resides on top of Gillert Hill and it is one of the best free things to do in Budapest.
Constructed many years ago by the Hapsburgs following the failed Hungarian War of Independence.
It was once occupied by the Austrians, which was then taken over by Nazis and then finally the Soviets. This incredible fortress has a more complex history than Budapest city itself!
Budapest Citadella was the first attraction I had written down on my Budapest itinerary and it did not disappoint. Not only is it rich with history but it also offers surrounding well-kept gardens and the BEST panoramic views overlooking the entire city!
Don’t forget, at the very top of Gillert Hill you can find the Liberty Statue standing tall at the summit, an impressive monument that is hard to miss.
There a number of entrances to the fortress grounds at the Citadella though my recommendation, for the easiest access, is by using the footpath located opposite the Gellert Hotel.
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Gellert Hill and Fortress
View from the Citadella – 1 Day in Budapest
#2 PARLIAMENT BUILDING
The Parliament Building is one of the cities most iconic landmarks and a must-see on your one day in Budapest itinerary!
Located along the banks of the Danube River, it’s hard to miss the Parliament Building due to its monstrous size.
I didn’t go inside the Parliament Building, however, the best viewpoint to marvel at the wonderful architecture is on the opposite side of the river. If you’re lucky, you may even get that perfect reflection photo!
Parliament Building Budapest
Parliament Building – Budapest in one day
#3 RUIN PUBS
If Budapest is famous for one thing it would have to be the Ruin Pubs! These shanty, quaint, and unique style pubs are set up in old, run-down buildings which have been converted into bars filled with antique furniture, decorative artworks, and more.
My favorite and the most reputable ruin pub in Budapest is Szimpla Kert! A large atmospheric building decorated with funky mismatched items that offer great food, a wide selection of beverages, and live music!
Be sure to add Szimpla Kert to your list of places to see in Budapest for it’s one of the best social things to do.
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Szimpla Kert Ruin Pub
Szimpla Kert – What to do in Budapest in 1 day
Ruin Pubs street in Budapest
#4 BUDA CASTLE HILL FUNICULAR
The Buda Castle Hill Funicular is the second oldest of its kind in the world. It was first opened in 1870, working on a system of weights and counterweights that carries the carriages up and down the tracks.
The funicular was unfortunately under maintenance during my visit and I wasn’t able to take a ride to the top. However, there is a footpath to the side of the funicular that zigzags up to the top of Castle Hill where you’ll be rewarded with panoramic views of Budapest and the Danube River!
Buda Castle Hill Funicular
#5 DANUBE RIVER
The Danube River divides the Buda and Pest sides and just so happens to be the second-largest river in Europe!
Flowing approximately 2800 kilometers from West Germany through Austria, Slovakia, Croatia, Serbia, Bulgaria, Romania, Moldova and Hungary, before meeting the Black Sea in southern Ukraine.
Taking a stroll up and down the Danube River is one of the best free things to do in Budapest, especially on a warm summer day.
Alternatively, if your feet don’t work, there is the option to explore Danube River by boat. The cost of a river cruise is around $10-$20 depending on which package you buy.
Click Here to get the best rates when booking your Danube River boat cruise online in advance!
Not to be missed along the east bank is the ‘Shoes on the Danube’, a memorial to honor the Jews who were killed during World War II.
Boat cruise on the Danube River
Shoes on the Danube River
The Danube River
WHERE TO STAY IN BUDAPEST
Budapest has thousands of accommodation options to choose from, so I have narrowed it down to a few of the best places to stay in Budapest to fit the needs of budget backpackers, luxury travelers, and everyone in between.
See the list of accommodations below that I personally recommend:
Luxury: Aria Hotel Budapest
Mid Range: Corvin Plaza Apartments
Budget: Hello Hostel
FOR ALL OTHER PLACES TO STAY IN BUDAPEST, SEARCH ON AGODA OR SEARCH ON BOOKING.COM
Another option for accommodation is to stay in an Airbnb, which generally has some great deals!
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THINGS TO KNOW BEFORE YOU GO
The best time to visit Budapest is from March all the way through to September when temperatures are moderate.
Although, do take into consideration that the peak season in Budapest is between June and August which is smack bang in the middle of summer, so expect large crowds and many tourists during these months.
The currency in Budapest is the Hungarian Forint and the exchange rate is approximately 250 Forint = $1USD
However, Euros are also widely accepted in most shops, cafes, restaurants throughout Budapest.
MORE EUROPE TRAVEL GUIDES
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- Paris Travel Guide: 2 Day Paris Itinerary
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- Milos Island Greece: 15 Best Beaches In Milos
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Thanks for reading this article and if you have any questions about this One Day In Budapest Guide, please leave me a comment below this post and I will get back to you as soon as I can.