3 Days In Budapest – The Very Best Itinerary + How Much It Costs

Last Updated on 4 July 2022

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Wondering what to do in Budapest for 3 days?

Located on the banks of the mighty Danube River, Budapest is fast becoming one of the most popular city breaks in Eastern Europe. Rivalling well-loved neighbours like Prague and Krakow, the Hungarian capital boasts an eclectic array of architecture, a vibrant nightlife and a photogenic skyline. With a whole bunch of things to do, a few days Budapest makes for the ideal short getaway no matter what you’re looking for. So to help you see some of the best bits, I am sharing my perfect 3 day itinerary for Budapest featuring my exact trip costs for those who, like me, want to spend 3 days in Budapest on a budget…

Matthias Church in Budapest, Hungary
Matthias Church

Know before you go

Always check the entry requirements for the country you are visiting to see if you will need a Visa to enter, and that you have enough validity left on your passport.

Always have a good level of travel insurance for every international trip. This is a non-negotiable part of any trip abroad, as the unexpected can happen.

When is the best month to visit Budapest?

The best time to visit Budapest will be down to your personal preference. March-May and September-November are widely considered to be some of the best months to visit Budapest, due to a fine balance of better weather and lesser tourists as the months fall either side of the European summer holidays. 

However, I would argue that Christmas is one of the best seasons to travel to Budapest, as the streets are filled with festive cheer, squares are lined with alpine markets and sparkly lights illuminate the crisp Hungarian night sky. Therefore, if you’re a lover of all things yuletide like moi, then perhaps schedule to visit Budapest in 3 days in December (warning: it will be chilly so pack your winter wear).

Szechenyi Chain Bridge and Buda Castle at night in Budapest, Hungary
Szechenyi Chain Bridge and Buda Castle at night

What currency is used in Hungary?

The currency used in Budapest (and Hungary more widely) is the Hungarian Forint (HUF), usually abbreviated as Ft on ticket prices, menus, and so forth. You may come across establishments which accept the Euro, but it’s best to ensure you have some HUF with you (this is what I took – no Euros in sight for me). 

Is 3 days in Budapest enough?

Yes, to see some of the best bits at least

Of course, if you had longer then you could delve a whole lot deeper into Budapest – after all it’s a diverse city with many layers, and is home to an abundance of things to see and do. But for starters, 3 days in Budapest is a good amount of time if you only have a few days to spare, or are visiting the city as part of a larger European country-hopping tour. 

Day 1: Arrive and get acquainted with Budapest

View of Budapest from Buda Castle in Budapest, Hungary - 3 days in Budapest!
View of Budapest from Buda Castle

Catch an early morning flight from your home country to Budapest Airport to maximise your time in this beautiful city. On arrival, transfer to your Budapest accommodation and check in – I recommend booking an apartment, because you can prepare your own food which is one of the top ways for how to travel cheaper in Europe

Tip: There is no direct train line which links Budapest Airport to the city centre. I booked a private transfer for my airport transfers (unfortunately the company are no longer operating), but you could also use taxi or bus (the cheapest option). Take a look at this article by GetByBus for more information.

Hungarian Parliament Building in Budapest, Hungary, at night
Hungarian Parliament Building

Spend the first afternoon of your 3 days in Budapest itinerary getting acquainted with the city. Take a wander along the banks of the Danube River for mighty fine views of the Hungarian Parliament Building, Szechenyi Chain Bridge and Buda Castle. Afterwards, grab some food and perhaps do an evening river cruise with Legenda City Cruises to see the city skyline sparkle in all its glory. 

Day 2: Sightseeing and nightlife

Szechenyi Chain Bridge in Budapest, Hungary
Szechenyi Chain Bridge

Spend day 2 of your 3 days in Budapest itinerary doing some of the best things to do in Budapest. Explore the grounds of Buda Castle, and enjoy unrivalled birds-eye views of the city and the Danube River from Fisherman’s Bastion. Walk across Szechenyi Chain Bridge and visit the sobering Shoes on the Danube Bank – a memorial to the victims who were executed along the banks of the Danube River during WWII, after first being ordered to remove their shoes.

This evening, sample one of Budapest’s finest Ruin Bars – Szimpla Kert. Budapest’s Ruin Bars are one of the most unusual places to visit in Europe, and Szimpla Kert is gold standard. Ruin Bars are erected within disused warehouse-style buildings, and are decorated with an array of weird and wonderful furniture, objects and seating. They make for an atmospheric and uniquely Hungarian place to enjoy some of Budapest’s quirkiest nightlife (and the beer is cheap).

Day 3: Culture and relaxation

Szechenyi Thermal Baths in Budapest, Hungary - 3 days in Budapest!
Szechenyi Thermal Baths

Budapest is world-renowned for its thermal baths, and today you should head further out of the city centre to the famous Szechenyi Thermal Baths for a day of Hungarian-style relaxation. Built in 1913 with 18 pools, Szechenyi Thermal Baths is one of the largest natural hot springs in Europe. But there’s more than just thermal waters to enjoy, because the baths are equipped with saunas, a gym and facilities which offer massage treatments too. And there’s plenty to keep you busy surrounding Szechenyi Thermal Baths, such as Heroes Square, and various parks and gardens.

Day 4: Return home from Budapest

If you need to return to Budapest within the 3 days or are looking for a Budapest weekend itinerary, then catch a late flight on day 3. But if not, then board an early flight back to your home country on the morning of day 4 (this is what I did, and it makes all the difference with how much time you actually get to explore the city). Return to Budapest Airport using the same method you used to reach the city on day 1, and wave goodbye to Hungary after spending the perfect 3 days in Budapest.

Budapest Christmas Markets

Itinerary summary

If you are looking for a guide on how to spend 3 days in Budapest, then this itinerary offers a good starting point to give you a taste of the many aspects that Budapest has to offer. Budapest is a prime location for a European city break or weekend getaway, with its many churches, squares, thermal baths, public parks, bars and restaurants, a castle, and stunning riverside setting on offer (and so much more). I hope this itinerary for 3 days in Budapest helps you to plan your next adventure to Eastern Europe. To know how much a trip to Budapest costs, you can see my exact budget below… 

Trip cost breakdown (per person)

International flights
Return flights from Bristol Airport to Budapest Airport = £59.55pp

Airport parking
Bristol Airport parking for trip duration = £16.27pp*

Airport transfers
Return private transfers from/to Budapest Airport to/from city = £20.37pp*

3 nights in an apartment in central Budapest = £38.50pp*

Total = £134.69 per person
for 3 nights in Budapest (during the Christmas market season)

*The cost for anything marked with an asterisk is per person (pp) based on 2 people sharing.

Note: Price excludes the costs for travel insurance, spending money (tours, food, occasional taxis, drinks etc.), costs to travel to/from UK airport for international flights, and visas (if required). I don’t book accommodation based on star rating, and book purely based on reviews, location and value for money. All accommodation is private hotel rooms (I’m not a hostel type of girl, I like my privacy and home comforts) or apartments, and all flights are economy. Prices for certain things may have changed since the time I took this trip, so please only use this as a guide to help you set your own savings target.

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