This carefuly selected list will surely convince you that it’s worth visiting Budapest with your kids both in sunny (1-5) and in rainy (6-10) weather. Who else could give you the best ideas other than local parents such as ourselves.
In sunny weather
1. Special vehicles tour in the Buda Hills
Start your tour at Széll Kálmán tér and take a short ride on tram No. 61 to Városmajor.
From here take the cogwheel railway to Széchenyi-hegy (Széchenyi hill); it’s the highest peak in Budapest.
Change to the Children’s Railway which is operated by children. Kids aged 10 to 14 years old manage the traffic, operate the switches and signals and sell the tickets – they do everything except drive the train. It was originally set up in Socialist times where it was staffed by young pioneers.
Take the train (diesel or steam engine) four stops until János-hegy. The Erzsébet lookout tower offers panoramic views of the city and Buda Hills.
Finally take the two-way chairlift (libegő) system providing beautiful panoramic views along the way from János-hegy down to Zugliget. Bus 291 will take you to Nyugati pályaudvar metro stop. There change to metro 3 and get off at Ferenciek tere stop.
A busy day at Szépjuhászné stop, Photo: Gyermekvasút
Frieze left from Socialist times on one of the buildings of the Children’s Railway at Csillebérc stop, photo: Jo Peattie
Your kids will be tempted by many great playgrounds in the city. Here are my favourites:
– Károlyi-kert: See my blog post The closest playground to our apartments for more information.
Playground in Károlyi Kert, photo: Virág
For more info please visit:
Olimpia Park – A great playground next to the Parliament
Playground in Olimpia Park, photo: Virág
Coolest and probably the biggest gungle gym in town with slides, Photo: Virág
-Also visit a smaller one in front of hotel Kempinski at Erzsébet tér.
3. Margaret Island (Margit sziget)
Margaret Island is an oasis for most locals. There are so many things to do there that you should allow at least half a day to discover it.
If you don’t want to walk too much you can rent bikes or a pedal coach for four at the southern entrance of the island. Also, a few hundred meters away from the southern entrance, you will find a fountain that plays music regularly.
Fountain on Margaret Island, Photo: my friend, Bús Mónika
About 50 meters from the fountain there is a very special playground that will also entertain your children for a while.
Playground on Margaret island, Photo: Virág
In the middle of the island lies a tiny zoo that is the home of domestic and even some wild animals under recovery. The entrance is free and sometimes they offer horse riding for a fee.
If you head further north along the island you can walk up the water tower which will reward you with a stunning view of the island and the city.
Also on the island is the Palatinus strand (beach) which has a dozen outside pools for the summer.
Just before the northern end of the island, hidden away, is a Japanese garden with a waterfall and special flora and fauna. You can also find a huge romantic rose garden full with flowers of vivid colours at the northern end of the island.
To go back to the apartments take bus 26 until Jászai Mari tér stop. There change to tram 2 until Március 15. tér.
Giant plane trees on Margaret island, photo: Virág
4. Gellért hill
The green leafy Gellért hill stands in the heart of the city overlooking the river Danube. It offers great hiking areas for families with kids. Your little ones will love the long slides that are close to Szabadság-híd (Liberty Bridge) and will be also amazed by the fortress on the top of the hill. The Statue of Liberty, which was inaugurated by the Soviet army after WW2, may also be of their interest. Most of all, the view will amaze the whole family. Last but certainly not least, after this tour your kids won’t have problems with going to bed early :).
Not recommended with strollers as the hill is quite steep with many stairs.
To get there cross Szabadság híd (Liberty Bridge) and to come back to the apartments cross Erzsébet híd (Elizabeth Bridge).
Gellért hill, river Danube and Elizabeth bridge as seen from the Royal Castle, Photo: my cousin, Mészöly Nóra
Our daughter on a slide on Gellért hill, Photo: Virág
The Budapest Zoo and Botanical Garden is one of the oldest in the world with 150 years of history. This amusement will surely be one of the highlights for your kids during your visit.
Mommy and baby in the zoo, Photo: my friend, Bús Mónika
The zoo can easily be reached using metro No. 1 from Vörösmarty square and getting off at either Heroes square or Széchenyi bath stop.
The Széchenyi bath and Vajdahunyad castle are just around the corner from the zoo so you could combine these three activities into a whole day out for them.
Skaters in front of Vajdahunyad Castle, Photo: Virág
In rainy weather
Tropicarium awaits visitors with animals from all around the world such as lazy alligators, exotic reptiles, small monkeys, free flying birds, sharks and thousands of colourful fish species. The stingray petting pool is one of the highlights as well as a shark feeding once a week.
Tropicarium is open every day of the year as well as on bank holidays. It is located in Campona Entertainment and Shopping Centre, which is also where you will find the Palace of Wonders.
To get to Tropicarium, take bus 133 from Ferenciek tere in the direction of Nagytétény, Erdélyi utca and get off at at 11th stop Lépcsős utca.
Under the water, Photo: Tropicarium
7. The Palace of Wonders (Csodák Palotája)
The Palace of Wonders aims to introduce the laws of physics and the wonders of nature through more than 100 games in a visual, entertaining and exciting way to all members of family. It’s not simply an exhibition, but a physics play house. All exhibited games are interactive installations, so you are not only allowed, but encouraged to touch, feel and try all of them. Live physics shows are held daily.
To get to Palace of Wonders take bus number 9 from Astoria (7 minute walk from the apartment). Get off at Kolosy tér stop (10th stop direction Óbuda, Bogdáni út). Bécsi út 38-42 is a 4 minute walk from the stop.
Physics Show, Photo: Tamás Péter
Giant kaleidoscope, Photo: Tamás Péter
8. Aquaworld waterpark
The indoor adventure pool complex offers a variety of activities for kids: children’s pool, water slides, playground, playhouse, etc.
Every day a free shuttle service is available between Heroes Square and Aquaworld.
Aquaworld, photo: Aquaworld
9. Caves under Buda Hills
If you aren’t claustrophobic you can book a regularly scheduled cave tour which is guided by qualified caving guides. During some tours you often have to crawl, climb, scramble or creep but there are also tours that lead on paved passages.
To visit Pál-völgyi stalactite cave walk to Astoria metro stop (5 minutes from the apartment). Take bus number 9 to Kolosy ter (10 stops). Change to bus no. 65 to Pál-völgyi cseppkőbarlang stop.
With strollers and small kids I recommend Szemlő-hegyi cave.
Quite tight, Photo: my friend, Bús Mónika
This is also Budapest – stalactites, Photo: my friend, Bús Mónika
This special model train exhibition can be interesting mainly for boys. It’s located in the center of the city close to the Opera House. Take metro No. 1 from Vörösmarty square until the Opera stop or just walk from Katona Apartments. It will take about 15 minutes.
A great family program in case of bad weather
Miniversum, photo: Virág
My daughter on a raised wooden plank admires the model trains, Photo: Virag
For more rainy day activities please visit 18 Suggestions for What to Do in Budapest in Rainy Weather
If you have further questions or your kids have a special interest, please contact us. We will try our best to suggest different types of activities so you can have your very own tailor made trip. All feedback is welcome.
These posts may also interest you:
Arriving at Budapest Airport - How to Exchange Money and Where to Buy Bus Tickets
Which Bath to Choose in Budapest?
The closest playground to our apartments
What (not) to bring with you for your Budapest stay
About the authors: Virág and János
Virág, a native of Budapest, and János, who’s been living in the city since 1997 are real fans of the capital of Hungary and try to awake the enthusiasm of others. They are dedicated to helping tourists to make most out of their stay.
Here you can read more about them: http://katonaapartments.hu/