48 Hours in Budapest: A Family Travel Itinerary

Budapest was never on my bucket list. Maybe because it’s so close to Greece, or because for me exotic means that the culture of a place should be so different from the cultures I am used to. The truth is I visited Budapest without great expectations and I was really impressed! The capital of Hungary is a beautiful destination both for singles as well as for families, even though it may not offer the variety of sight-seeing that London offers or the magic of Paris. Still, if you want to take a luxurious family trip in one of Europe’s most majestic cities, then this is the place to be.

Things to Do in Budapest
Fisherman’s Bastion made up of 7 towers & representing the 7 Magyar tribes that founded the nation, sitting atop Castle Hill. Photo: Sophia Klotsa

Day 1

Arrive in Budapest in the morning if you can and have and breakfast in the famous Café Gerbeaud, opened in 1858, that is one of the oldest and most classic cafes in Budapest. The Café has impressive chandeliers on the ceilings, marble floors, and gilded stucco on the walls.

things to do in budapest
Cafe Gerbeaud, one of the oldest and most famous cafes in Europe. Photo: Sophia Klotsa

You can then start your sightseeing from Buda. Budapest, known as the Paris of the East, is divided into two areas: Buda, the old city, and Pest. Buda is where the famous Buda Castle and the Matthias Church can be found in the Main Square Coronation Szentháromság (Holy Trinity).

Buda offers a variety of sights, museums, piazzas and restaurants with a unique atmosphere. It is worth spending at least half a day there, especially if traveling with your family as it is a traditional secluded area, without cars, where kids can stroll and enjoy the sightseeing safely.

things to do in budapest
A little store in the Jewish neighborhood. Photo: Sophia Klotsa

Buda Castle and its surrounding area are among the most well-known and visited sights of Budapest. The Royal Palace, where many battles took place from the 13th century, is one of the most special buildings of the old town.

There you can walk also to the neo-Roman style Fishermen’s Tower which was built at the end of last century and offers stunning views of the river. It is, in my opinion, one of the grandest buildings in Budapest. The tower is surrounded by seven turrets, representing the seven tribes of the Magyarw.

In the afternoon, it is worth taking a family cruise on the Danube for enjoying the view of the Castle and the old town illuminated. During the cruise you will have the opportunity to admire the Chain Bridge, Budapest’s oldest bridge, the Stephen’s Basilica Church, and the Hungarian Parliament.

Built in neo-Gothic style on the riverbank, the Hungarian Parliament has 611 rooms, is 880 feet long and has a dome height of 315 feet. It is a very impressive building, especially during the evening when it illuminates and is reflected in the waters of the Danube. It is the most imposing and unique city building, recognizable by many through the city’s guides and photos.

Day 2

The next day you can start your walk from the Heroes Square to the Hungarian State Opera House, of spectacular beauty. You can take a tour inside the Opera House and the Opera Café and enjoy also a private short opera performance during the day. The opera was inspired and has many influences from the Vienna State Opera.

things to do in budapest
Budapest’s famous opera house. Photo: Sophia Klotsa

Heroes Square is large and impressive, and the perimeter is surrounded by many statues of important people from Hungarian history.

You can have lunch in the famous New York Café, considered by many the “most beautiful café in the world.” It is located inside Boscolo Hotel and it is a must-see while in the city and a destination in itself. It is the pantheon of Belle Epoque and part of the history of Budapest.

We only had a soup for lunch, as we didn’t want to eat heavily in order to continue our sightseeing in the afternoon, that was tasty but this is not enough to give a full picture of the food experience a place offers. And although the breads they served us to accompany our lunch where not that fresh, nothing could spoil the great time we had in this historic establishment.

Later in the day, you can visit the Hungarian Parliament Building inside, which is for many as impressive inside as it is on the outside. It is the largest building in Hungary and still the tallest in Budapest. The building is in the Gothic Revival style and it has a symmetrical façade and a central dome. Inside it is also symmetrical, which means it has two absolutely identical parliament halls. One is used for politics, and the other for guided tours.

things to do in budapest
The Hungarian Parliament or House of the Nation is the third largest parliament in the world. Photo: Sophia Klotsa

You can end your day in one of Budapest’s known spas, such as Gellert Spa and Bath and Szechenyi Baths, as the city is famous for them. Gellert is the most beautiful spa architecturally but Szechenyi is the best for families as it has a wave pool, three outdoor pools and a pool suitable for kids. Budapest is a spa city with thermal springs, and experiencing them is a must during your visit there. It is the best way to relax after touring the city, by enjoying the healing properties of the natural hot springs.

About Sophia Klotsa

Sophia KlotsaSophia Klotsa has been a savvy world traveler since her early years. She has travelled to over 50 countries so far, and her goal is to reach a 100 countries by the time she is 50! She has traveled extensively as a child and then later in life for her studies and work, until she had her own family. Now she continues traveling -- that is at the same time a passion and a way of life for her -- with her family. She studied communications and psychology in the U.S. that she still practice with passion, and she started writing about luxury travel as a hobby some years ago. Her articles have been featured in many digital and print media through the years, including Conde Nast Traveler, Woman Symbol, Departure Blvd, Selides, Ladylike.gr and many others. She is working on launching her own travel blog in the next couple of months that will focus on luxury family travel. When she doesn't travel, she spends time with her family or organizes the next adventure they will have together. Follow her on Instagram.

Click here to read Sophia's articles

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