48 hours in Budapest

So the thing is, I had been writing a lot about our travels in different European cities and Asia and my husband said I forgot to cover one important city – that is the city we used to live in – Budapest. Today you will see not just beautiful panorama photo of Budapest like this, I will also bring you around to show you how you can maximize your trip, if you only have 48 hours in Budapest.

1. Castle District

Buda Castle district and Chain Bridge (Lanchid) is the other amazing sight besides the innovative nightlife, culture and ruined gardens. These establishments using abandoned properties also give the creativity outlet for young startups, extending their businesses to the younger group, affording their beers and beverages at very little expense. If you touched down at the Budapest airport, take the airport shuttle (shuttle.hu) or taxi services (Fotaxi which is the more reliable taxi provider). Whether you are traveling to Budapest by flights (offered by Wizzair, BA, Easyjet or Jet2.com) or by trains, you can see this beautiful night scene crossing the Danube River. If you come by train and arriving at Nyugati Station, you can take tram no.4 or no. 6 to cross the Danube river. The Royal Castle and the Castle District (Neo-gothic Matthias Church) and Fishermen's Bastion (Halaszbastya) can be your day one program. See the seven turrets on this mock rampart which symbolises the seven Hungarian tribes who came to Europe at first.

Pest panorama from Buda Hill (Budapest, Hungary) 
flickr/domingo leiva

Recently, there has been a lot of write up on CNN travel, on BBC and major online websites that Hungary/Budapest is really one of the most inexpensive city to visit. The value is so great (1 Euro is equivalent to 304 Hungarian Forints) plus Budapest is so beautiful. How exactly can you make your 48 hours so fun-filled? Where exactly are the places and sights to see? And since we used to be living in Budapest, this makes us one of the best people around to provide you an online Budapest guide to spend your 48 hours well. Let's start with the famous Hungarian snack, Langos.

2. Langos

Flickr/Anna Balint

So this is the much brag about Hungarian flat bread speciality called Langos. This is made of flour, yeast, salt and water. What is so special that you must try it is that, it is very crispy. The toppings gives it one of a kind, unique taste. In Hungary, you must try the sour cream. The other classic topping is cheese and some garlic juice sprinkled on top. Nothing more. After you've tried it, should you decide to make it at home, you may check out the recipe here. Do not underestimate this Langos. It is very heavy and the best places you can eat it on the spot is at the Central Market Hall or the market (piac) behind Mammut shopping mall. Then spend the next 2-3 hours walking around the free places to burn it all off. Here is a list of free places to walk and suggested sights to explore the beauty of Budapest.

3. New York Cafe Budapest

New York Cafe - Budapest 
Flickr/ Glenn and Lina

Walking on the Grand Boulevard is a must. Then, do not missed the opulent edifice architecture where the New York Cafe Budapest is. It is part of the Boscolo Hotel, a luxury 5-star hotel on the Erzebet korut 9. The reason why you must check it is because, it was famed the world's most wonderful cafe. In those days, the elite of Hungary's literary world hung around here often.

4. Confectionary (Lukacs Cukraszda)

Living It Up 
flickr/ Richard and Jo deMeester

If not, you can stopped for a freshly brewed coffee at Lukacs Cukraszda for some beautifully made confectionary. This confectionary (in Hungarian is 'Cukraszda') is located in the inner city and central pest area. Perfect after walking the Andrassy Avenue or if you are somewhere near the Heroes' Square or near the Vorosmarty street.

5. World Heritage: Andrassy Avenue

momo | Andrássy út 

Lots of villas of the noble families lined the Andrassy Avenue which is an elegant World Heritage Site connected to the City Park (Varosliget). The eclectic neo-Renaissance houses, villas and palaces by distinguished architects can be found here. Try the first subway line in continental Europe, the yellow line or the Millennium Underground Railway M1. Some key places to check if you are around here are: Elizabeth Square, Oktogon, State Opera House, Liszt Ferenc square, Kodaly Korond, House of Terror Museum, Bajza utca (residential villas), Heroes' Square.

6. Cafe Gerbeaud

flickr/ Lisa

If you like these outdoor traditional coffeehouses setting, you may also check out Cafe Gerbeaud. The interior design of this confectionary has special stucco ceiling of Rokoko style of Louis XIV of France. There are also Maria Theresa of Austria inspired chandeliers.

7. Ruined Pubs and Gardens

  Szimpla Kert 
flickr/ Laura Aitchison

However, if you want to check out the currently famous ruined courtyard and gardens, you may check this Szimpla kert. Kazinczy area has a good list of ruined gardens and ask for a 'froccs'. In the spring, have a coffee and in summer, you're recommended to have a cold beer.

8. Goulash


Must taste the authentic Hungarian goulash when in Budapest. Best is when they are served in pots like this.

9. Fresh Produce of Hungary

center market 
flickr/ scat blanc

Fresh vegetables, whole and mostly close to perfect are presented nicely. The thin skin TV paprika are mild even sweet, while the eros paprika (the light green ones) are hot, peppery hot. The large vine ripened tomatoes are ever so beautiful and delicious. In Spring, the strawberries and raspberries are in season and not to be missed! You can find them sold by kilos in markets and various fruits and green grocers stalls.

10. Gothic Revival Parliament

Parliament Building - Budapest 
flickr/ Zsolt Bugarszki

This Gothic Revival style, notable landmark of Hungary is the Hungarian Parliament building in Budapest. It is one of Europe's oldest legislative buildings and one of the tallest building in Budapest. You can find it on the Lajos Kossuth square on the bank of the Danube where its main facade faces the River Danube.

11. Tram No. 2
Tram, Budapest
Flickr/Bronwen Lee
First, do take tram no. 2 for a sweeping view of Danube and Pest after you've purchase some BKV public transportation tickets. Be sure to validate your tickets before the ride and Tram No. 2 runs from Jaszai Mari ter by the Margaret Bridge (Margit hid). So it serves as an enjoyable introduction to the city down to the Pest side of the Danube river.

When you pass the neo-Gothic Parliament and Museum of Ethnography, you can see some Hungarian folk art, just be sure to avoid it on Mondays. From Kossuth ter is how you can get there. Then pass this Szechenyi Chain Bridge as it is historically the first bridge between Buda and Pest. Castle District is right on the Buda side. Other two worthwhile places to see is the Fovam Square (Fovam ter) and the Central Market Hall (Nagycsarnok). Today, the addition to this area to sight see is the multi-purpose Balna (formerly known as CET Building) which looks like a whale. This glass-roofed Balna Budapest is the latest state-of-the-art cultural and entertainment shopping center. For culture seekers, there are galleries, shops, cafes, exhibition, restaurants etc. So from Mondays to Thursday, it is opened from 8am til midnight, and weekends til 2am.

12. Palace of Arts

The Hungarian National Theatre and the Palace of Arts at night

Classic attractions are Palace of Arts (mupa.hu) which is the finest concert halls in Europe. If you like to shop for some souvenirs, the best suggestions are paprika, fresh vegetables, salami. The thing to note is to avoid the stalls on the right hand side as they are targetting tourists mainly. Then in the afternoon for lunch, do check out the Hungarian styled tapas and fuller meals with a fresh duck salad.  Of course we want to mention the Hungarian wines.

13. Thermal Baths

Széchenyi Bath Budapest
Flickr/Zsolt Bugarszki

You can make the second part of the afternoon a cultural tour to the Applied Arts Museum (Corvin negyed station) and check out the Art Nouveau elements of Hungary - Odon Lechner that has a pure white interior. It encompasses the Hungarian and Turkic ornamentation on the outside and features permanent displays in particular the Art Nouveau wooden and gold clock.

For the health-conscious, try the Themal bath (szechenyibath.com). If you want to also have a swim, do *bring your swimming cap! It is optional to schedule some time to Szentharomsag utca 7, to see the Golden Eagle Pharmacy museum at Tarnok utca 18 (and again except Monday please). The other is the Semmelweis.Museum.hu where you can see those questionable medical tools and cures. 

For the artistic and soulful people, the Royal Palace and the Hungarian National Gallery (except Mondays) offers you works by Hungary’s finest artists: Tivadar Kosztka Csontvary who used to be the 19th century visionary whom Picasso admired. Other worthy to mention artist are Jozsef Rippl-Ronai who features Art Nouveau canvasses.

In spring or summer, you can access the Siklo Funicular to get down the river bank. Cross Lanchid to the Art Nouveau Gresham Palace on Szecheny ter is also a nice activity. Then proceed to the glass-roofed lobby of Four Seasons Hotel and enjoy yourself to a cuppa coffee.

14. Glorious Hungarian Cuisine

Squealer, The Pork Knuckle

Brunch places which are child/baby-friendly restaurant which we have personally tried is the Pest Vakvarju Restaurant at Pauley Ede street. In their menu is this pork knuckle dish called the Squealer that is cooked in "Joasszony style", and it is definitely worth a try. After the meal, have a nice stroll or walk in the park. Parks you can choose from the Hosok ter to Varosliget walk, the City Park, to museums to playgrounds.

15. Fairy-tale like Vajdahunyad Castle

Flickr/evgenia kohan

If you are adventurous enough or being there as a couple, do try the Rowing Lake in the spring or summer. Of which, it turns to ice rink in winter for some ice-skating. One of my favourite place is the fairy-tale Vajdahunyad Castle.