With family-friendly highlights including a castle, a planetarium, some of Europe’s best spas and a circus, not to mention some scintillating museums with hands-on exhibits, children will love Budapest, an Eastern Europe city.
This is partly due to Budapest’s size and diversity. It is the second-largest city in the region (after Warsaw) and arguably it’s most cosmopolitan. Its amenities easily eclipsed those of nearby metropolises like Vienna and Prague when they were developed during the 19th century and many were built with children in mind.
City Park – Budapest Zoo and Hungarian Museum of Agriculture
The city’s principal central green space, Vársligeti, is the place to head with children. Formerly the spot where Hungarian kings were crowned in the 13th to 16th centuries, it opened up to everyone in the 18th century when trees were planted and the disease-spreading marsh was drained. It’s home to its own fortress, Vajdahunyad Castle, as well as the following sights.
Budapest Circus has a classic old-fashioned big top. Performances take place from Wednesday to Sunday.
Budapest Zoo is one of Eastern Europe’s largest. The vast complex includes some architecturally fascinating animal houses and amongst the latest arrivals amidst some 3000 species are three Capybaras, the world’s largest rodents, from South America. Recent breeding success includes gorillas and orangutans.
Hungarian Museum of Agriculture (10 am-5 pm Tuesday to Sunday) is in the park’s castle and best visited by children at Easter when there is an exhibition on giant Easter eggs.
Budapest Transport Museum (10 am-5 pm Tuesday to Friday and 10 am to 6 pm Saturday and Sunday) will grab children’s attention with its collection of old trains and automobiles. It’s one of the oldest museums of its kind in the world. Especially of junior interest will be the space-age section with lots of hands-on displays. The cockpit of Hungary’s first astronaut has been recreated here. There is also a recreation of an early 20th century Budapest railway station.
The park’s lake is popular with boaters in summer and ice-skaters in winter.
Margaret Island – A City Paradise
Budapest’s most famous island has a clutch of great child-based activities. Palatinus Beach is the hub here with water slides into outdoor pools and massive playgrounds as well as a strip of sand. There are bringóhintós (Bici-carriages) for hire as well as a small zoo to explore. It’s a lush, leafy oasis approached by a fun boat trip on the Danube: perfect for escaping from the city grind.
Visiting a Budapest Spa
Budapest has some of the continent’s very best spas, of which Szechenyi will be enjoyed most by children.
Other Attractions in Budapest for Children
Budapest Castle District, aside from the obvious attraction of Budapest castle itself, can be approached by a fun funicular railway (the Sikló), operating between 7.30 am and 10 pm daily.
Budapest Planetarium (Metro line M3 near Népliget in x District) has enjoyable star shows.
Budapest Eye (10 am-10 pm Sunday to Thursday and 10 am-midnight Friday and Saturday) is a hot air balloon attached by ropes which can rise up 150 metres above the city for some breathtaking views. It’ takes off from near the Nyugati train station in District VI.
Görzenál Skate Park is not only Europe’s largest skate park: it also has a host of other activities for children including a BMX track. It’s located in the III district.
The wealth of Budapest’s attractions will have children of all ages hooked. City Park and Margaret Island between them offer plenty of room for letting off steam both outside, with the walking, boating, skating and biking opportunities, and inside, with two fascinating museums, a circus and a great spa.