Planning a Trip Budapest: When to Go and How Long to Stay In Hungary’s Capital City

We might be biased since we used to live here, but man, Caleb and I think Budapest is one of the most beautiful cities in all of Europe.  It’s got hearty food that feels like your grandma is hugging your taste buds, mind-blowing wine, gorgeous architecture, and a stunning river. Did we mention the wine?

With all that goodness, it can make trip planning hard! We struggled with what to prioritize when we first visited, so we’re here to help with our beginner’s guide to planning a trip to Budapest! The quick overview is that you should spend at least 2 days in Budapest and the best months are April, May, September and October!

In this guide, We’ll go deeper into what you need to know to decide how many days to spend in Budapest and when to visit so you can have a memorable central European getaway! Let’s dive in!

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Quick Navigation For This Guide: when to visit / How many days to stay

✔️ Essential Info:

📍 Location: In northern Hungary, which is in Central Europe

✈️ How to get there:  Fly into Ferenc Liszt International Airport or take a train.

☀️ Best months to go: April and May or September and October

🚗 Getting around:  Walking or public transport

How long to stay: at least 2 days, but longer is better!

💰 Budget: $300-$500 total for a weekend is an excellent, mid-range budget for two people, excluding flights/trains.

💴 Tipping: we recommend 10-12% in restaurants, and many restaurants add it to the bill already.

📞 Phone and Internet: We recommend getting Google Fi service, as you have data in basically any country worldwide. We LOVE it!

Aerial view of the Hungarian Parliament Building at sunrise, situated along the Danube River with the cityscape of Budapest in the background

Let’s Choose When To Visit:

The “TLDR:” Our Personal Advice Is to Visit in Spring Or Summer 

If you’re like us and have the attention span of a worm (do they even have attention spans? Life’s great mysteries), you really just need to know that we think the best time to visit Budapest is in April and May or September and October.

The weather is the nicest, the prices are the cheapest, and it’s less people-y. Of course, December is an option if you want Christmas markets, but as much as it hurts our Budapest-loving-hearts to write this, we think it’s one of the worst Christmas markets that we’ve ever visited.

Don’t throw a chimney cake at us.

The Széchenyi Chain Bridge illuminated at night, spanning the Danube River in Budapest with city lights reflecting on the wate

Other Stuff You Should Consider: 

When planning how many days in Budapest, here are some other tips and tidbits that you should keep in mind:

  • Prices: The best prices will always be the off-season – so basically anytime from January through May and then September through October.

The Summer and November/December are the most expensive months due to holidays and Christmas markets.

A bustling Christmas market lane leading towards a magnificent, historic domed building, with shoppers browsing the festive stalls under a clear blue sky.
  • Weather:  If you want the best weather, plan your visit for May or September/early October. That is when we’ve had the nicest, warm-but-not-face-melting weather.
  • Tourists: Avoid June-August and December if you want Budapest without as many tourists.

Said a tourist. The irony.

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  • Worst time to visit: Personally, we did not like visiting in the Summer or December. We were battling it out with selfie sticks and sticky, sweaty faces in the Summer and the Christmas market brigade in December.

Plus… it’s really cold then. Trust us, we lived there in the winter.

Aerial view of Budapest at sunset, featuring Buda Castle and the surrounding landscape with the Danube River in the foreground.

Month by Month Weather To Keep In Mind

While we are not weather people, here is what you can expect month-by-month according to Weatherspark, so you can use it as a guide to determine the best months to visit Budapest for you:

  • January has an average temperature of 32°F or 0°C and 3 days of rain on average. 
  • February has an average temperature of 34°F or 1°C and 3 days of rain on average. 
  • March has an average temperature of 43°F or 6°C and 5 days of rain on average. 
  • April has an average temperature of 53°F or 11°C and 6 days of rain on average. 
  • May has an average temperature of 62°F or 16°C and 9 days of rain on average. 
  • June has an average temperature of 68°F or 20°C and 8 days of rain on average. 
A close-up view of the ornate facade of the Hungarian Parliament Building in Budapest, showcasing its Gothic Revival architecture against a blue sky.
  • July has an average temperature of 71°F or 22°C and 8 days of rain on average. 
  • August has an average temperature of 70°F or 21°C and 7 days of rain on average. 
  • September has an average temperature of 62°F or 16°C and 6 days of rain on average. 
  • October has an average temperature of 52°F or 11°C and 6 days of rain on average. 
  • November has an average temperature of 41°F or 5°C and 5 days of rain on average. 
  • December has an average temperature of 33°F or 0°C and 4 days of rain on average. 

IMPORTANT: These average temperatures are the average between the daily high and daily low temperatures. So, the daily high temperature is usually around 10°F higher than what is listed here.

A plate of traditional Hungarian goulash with spaetzle, garnished with fresh herbs, served at a restaurant with other dishes in the background

Choosing How Many Days to Spend

Considering we lived there, we think you could spend endless days in Budapest. But, in reality, you need at LEAST 2 days in Budapest to see all the main tourist sites. But, to be honest, these are going to be really packed, and you’ll need a vacation from your vacation.

We *strongly* (like we wish we could shake you through the screen) urge you to resist trying to get it done as quickly as possible and really spend more time: at LEAST 3 days but ideally 4-5 or more to experience all the things that make us say it’s a top destination for couples!

Please, for the love of all things chimney cake, don’t just spend one day!

A woman sitting on the edge of Fisherman's Bastion in Budapest, enjoying a sunset view over the city and the Danube River

Ideas for choosing your perfect trip length:

With 2 days, you could:

If you have 2 days, it will give you enough time to see the main sites on the Buda side of Budapest – the chain bridge, Buda castle, and Fishermans Bastion – in one day. Then, you could zip around St Stephen Basilica and the Hungarian Parliament building one day. These things are featured in the video at the top of this post.

It would give you just enough time to try some Hungarian food and AMAZING wine (seriously, it’ll change your life) wine. But, your days will be rushed!!

If you had 3 days, you could:

If you had 3 days, you could do the above at a much more leisurely, enjoyable pace and even sleep in a little bit as you’re not rushing around.

You would have time to do a Hungarian wine tasting at our FAVORITE wine bar in all of Europe (no lie) and even do our favorite river cruise one night. We tried 3 of them, and this one is by far the best. Did we mention free wine?

An aerial view of the Széchenyi Thermal Bath in Budapest, featuring its three large outdoor pools with people swimming and relaxing, surrounded by historic yellow buildings

If you had 4-5 days, you could:

Now things start to get really fun! You could do all the above and add this epic Budapest cooking class (with free wine!) so that you can experience the true local culture and flavors. It’s also a fun way to be able to recreate your trip at home!

You can eat more delicious Hungarian food and try out other great places to eat in the city. You could explore more of District 9 (our favorite, more local and trendy area where your wine tasting was)

You could also explore some of the gorgeous Hungarian bathhouses for a thermal bath! Romantic!

A charcuterie board with assorted meats, cheeses, olives, tomatoes, and bread, accompanied by glasses of white wine on a wooden table

If you had a week, you could:

Do ALL THE THINGS listed, plus have some time to just get lost, explore, and find things to do.  Or, do it all really slowly and leisurely.

When we did this, we stumbled upon the cutest little deli with amazing Charcuterie called Falu Delikat – you should absolutely go if you like wine, cheese, and sausage! 

We also suggest a day trip to Lake Balaton Szentendre or Eger – the first and last options there are great for wine lovers.  White wine and red wine, respectively! 

A woman in a pink hat enjoying a warm drink on a nighttime river cruise, with the illuminated Budapest skyline in the background

Consider These Things When Choosing Your Itinerary:

Your budget:

While Budapest is a relatively cheap vacation, especially in relation to some other European countries, it still isn’t free! The longer you stay, the more you will spend.

Unfortunately, we’ve found that inflation is quite bad in Budapest, and it is no longer nearly as cheap as it was when we visited a few years back. Others noted this too, especially around the Christmas season.

“The prices are simply unreal, regardless of whether it’s for tourists or for Hungarians.”

Margit Varga, local Hungarian
The famous new york cafe in Budapest with gold walls and people sitting down dining

Where you’re staying in Budapest:

If you decide to stay in the city center, you will be able to see more quickly as you can walk basically everywhere. However, if you opt to save some bucks and stay outside the city center, you will need to factor in longer walks or metro/bus/train rides, meaning you may need more days to see more things!

You’re arrival and departure: 

The recommendations provided are primarily for entire days. Spending a couple of days in Budapest, where you arrive at night and depart in the morning, differs significantly from the opposite.

Plate of traditional Hungarian beef stew with bread dumplings, served in a rich, flavorful sauce, accompanied by condiments and a glass of white wine on a white tablecloth.

How you’re getting around:

While Budapest is very walkable, you have to consider transit time getting between these areas if you do take public transit or rideshare.

Time of year: 

If you’re visiting Budapest in the Summer, there are more tourists, so you will have to move a little more slowly, so you may want to spend an extra day or two. It will also be quite hot, so you may want to move slower and have more days so you can seek some AC while walking in the hot sun!

If you go in the winter, you may want to go slower so you can have time to seek warmth between walking! Hello, forralt bor! (Hungarian for mulled wine.)

Well, people, that’s a wrap on our personal guide for the basics of planning a trip to Budapest! If you have any questions, just leave a comment and we’ll get right back to you!

But, planning the perfect time and length doesn’t matter if you choose the wrong district to stay! We’re to help with our guide on the 3 best districts to stay in Budapest for first timers!

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