Kids in Budapest
Budapest attractions and activities for children will answer questions like what you can do with kids in Budapest, Hungary, or what Budapest children events are going on in the city. It turns out, a lot. Here are some great children activities in Budapest, the exciting capital city of Hungary: out tips will hopefully be exciting for both kids and parents: most of them are very affordable things to do, and are truly entertaining for the whole family.
Needless to say, it’s not easy to pick the overall top ‘Budapest children activities’ list, but we have tried to come up with activities for toddlers, kids, young teens too. If you have specific requests and would like to get some more personalized tips for your Budapest family trip, please ask your questions below in the comments.
Top Children Activities in Budapest
Heroes’ Square, City Park, Zoo in Budapest
The great thing about the Number 1 Budapest children activity is that everything is in one place: the locations of all the fantastic kids’ favourites of locals and tourists alike are just a few minutes walk from each other.
Visit the Budapest Zoo and have some cakes, refreshments in Gundel Cafe (within the Zoo). The Zoo is a lovely place with fantastic Art Nouveau buildings, various animals (elephants, seals, lions, crocodiles, hippos, gorillas, giraffes, etc.). There is a popular petting zoo and a nice playground too.
You can also go to the Amusement Park, or National Circus right next to the Budapest Zoo, or take a walk in the City Park, the biggest park in Budapest with lots of playgrounds, huge trampolines, small football fields, lots and lots of green areas and a duck pond (feeding ducks is always popular with toddlers, right?).
There are also some cool museums in the City Park (Varosliget) too, like the Museum of Transport (real life replicas, train models, etc.). Then there is also an exciting castle like complex called the Vajdahunyad Castle (mixed style castle at the artificial lake in the City Park). It hosts the Agricultural Museum where old tools, trades and machines (as well as strange stuffed animals and loads of antlers) are on display. All the nice and quirky exhibits are in a beautiful castle, and the entrance fee is very cheap.
Just opposite the main entrance of the Agricultural Museum you will find the popular statue of Anonym, the anonymous hooded chronicler, who is inviting you to peep under his hood. In a sense, Anonym is like meeting Gandalf or a mysterious figure from the Harry Potter series. The guy who resembles Gandalf from Lord of the Ring, was in fact a royal notary from the Middle
Earth Ages in Hungary.
View Children Activities in Budapest in a larger map
The City Park in Budapest and all the Budapest children attractions here are so great for kids that you can return here several times before either the kids or you get bored.
Supposing that you have taken the M1 yellow metro to get to the City Park, you have already experienced a fun ride: this old metro was built in 1896 and feels like a narrow gauge children’s train. The M1 metro is called the millennial underground and in itself is hugely popular with younger kids due to its ‘pocket metro’ size. To go to the City Park get off at the metro station called Heroes’ Square. On Heroes’ Square (Hosok tere) you will see a huge open space square with lots of beautiful statues. The historical equestrian statue complex called the Millennium Monument has a tall column with Gabriel archangel on top, the seven Hungarian tribe leaders on horses and two half circles of outstanding Hungarian politicians (kings, emperors, leaders). Teenagers usually come here to practice BMX bike tricks or scooter tricks on the smooth marble surface of the big square. The whole square is an impressive entrance to the City Park and its child friendly attractions.
Margaret Island Budapest
Margaret Island is one of the favourite places of locals to relax among trees, play frisbee and badminton, swim or soak on hot days, support the Hungarian water polo team, party at Holdudvar open air bar, etc.
You can take tram 4 or 6 to get to the island – which is the easiest way to get to Margitsziget (Margaret Island). From the tram you will get off right at the southern tip of the island, and then you can walk. Or you can approach the island with a scenic walk with bigger children: walk along the River Danube embankment, have a look at the Hungarian Parliament, which looks very much like the English (though some tourists likened it to the gothic buildings of Batman), and then cross the Margaret bridge to enter the island. Not far from the entrance, you can hire a fun bike cart (kid and adult sizes, four and two seaters) to go around Margaret Island (Margit Sziget).
You can go to the mini petting Zoo on the Margit Island where kids can ride the pony or just see a handful of animals, like ducks, horses, peacocks – for free. There is no entrance fee to the island, and it is a highly restricted area for cars ensuring the best recreational time in Budapest. There are only a couple of buffets and cafes in this huge park, so bring your own picnic basket or some survival drinks and sandwiches to the island just in case.
Taking a bike cart (or electronic golf like carts) will help you to discover Margit Island easily: you can see the ruins (kids of about 5-12 years of age love walking along the ruinous walls), a little chapel, walk up to the top of the old Water Tower (more than a 100 years old with some exhibitions inside), walk in the beautiful Japanese garden, take the children to enjoy a really cool modern playground (built in 2011) towards the northern tip of the island, and last but not least, have fun, swim and soak at a big-big outdoor pool complex called Palatinus Lido (with 11 pools and baths). Absolutely must on a hot summer day in Budapest!
Children’s Railway & Chairlift in Budapest
A really nice one day trip is to visit Janos Hill in Budapest – it takes approx. 45 min to get to the lovely, green Janos Hill from Szell Kalman Square M2 metro station on the Buda side, not far from the foot of the Castle Hill. The fun part is that you will travel by various means of transports: metro, tram, cogwheel, a small train, and then even a chairlift if you want to! You can make the trip to the Children’s Train a lot shorter but changing from one vehicle to another is really fun. No, not a hassle, believe us. It is well worth the effort if your children are between 1 and 12 years old, or so.
Anyway, you can take a nice hilltop train ride with the Children’s Railway. Staffed with children. No worries, driven by an adult. Get off at Normafa train station from the ex-pioneer railway on the hill, and walk about 15 fast or 25 slow min to get to the Chairlift station. You can descend from the hill immediately, or climb to the top of Elisabeth Lookout Tower to take a good look at the city of Budapest. Normafa is a very nice place with a good ski house / restaurant and even a hotel (with baby and other facilities). If it snows you can use the Normafa hillside for sliding on sledges like hundreds of others. Hop on the Chairlift downwards.
Puppet Theatres in Budapest
You can enjoy a superb professional puppet show in the Budapest Puppet Theatre in Andrassy avenue, right in the city centre: from Pinocchio through the Magic Flute and Nutcracker to the Miraculous Mandarin – number one performances for both kids and adults. There is another puppet theatre called Kolibri Puppet Theatre with various great puppet performances too. Check the kids theatre programmes in both, and ask if they suggest the performances for foreign kids too. Kolibri Puppet Theatre is approx. 10 min from the ‘old National Puppet Theater’ on Jokai Square – both theatres can be easily reached with the M1 yellow metro line.
Millenaris Park Budapest
Go to Millenaris Park entertainment complex – they offer various programmes throughout the year especially in the summer and at weekends. Many of the programmes are free or very affordable.
One of the top indoor children activities used to be at Millenaris Park, the Palace of Wonders (Csodak Palotaja), an interactive technological playhouse, has recently moved to Campona Shopping mall where the Tropicarium (tropical zoo) is (moved in November 2012).
Throughout the week, the Palace of Wonders is a safe bet for all-inclusive family programmes featuring a nice smart interactive intro to the wonders of our modern world.
It is also a great kid programme if you have more children and you want to find something intriguing for all of them.
Paired with the Tropicarium zoo with sharks, crocodiles, monkeys, birds, turtles, rays and sea fish, the Palace of Wonders is an ideal place to spend half a day meaningfully with the children, if the weather is unsuitable for outdoor activities (either because it is rainy or because of the summer heatwave).
But back to the Millenaris Park by the foot of the Castle Hill on the Buda side
As you can see in the photo, the garden of Millenaris Park is landscaped, there are ducks and gold fish in the artificial lake, and there is a nice little playground with handcrafted wooden swings, slides, monkey bars and more.
National Circus in Budapest
Traditional circus performances with acrobats, tamers, clowns, lions, seals, horses and more in the National Circus in Budapest – performances all year round.
Every second year there is also a biannual international circus festival with several foreign guest stars. Luckily, there will be soon alternative circus programmes available following the latest circus trends in France and Denmark.
Baths in Budapest
There are many baths in Budapest as the city is sitting on a huge bathtub to put it roughly. You can soak in healing waters with the family, and enjoy the whirlpool thermal baths in one of the best Budapest Baths, like Szechenyi Baths or Gellert Baths, the two most popular spa bath complexes in Budapest.
Please note that the thermal baths (where most pools are at or over 36 degrees Celsius) are recommended for children over 14, so if you are with younger kids, we suggest heading to one of the many popular outdoor pool complexes of Budapest like the above mentioned Palatinus Lido (11 pools) on Margaret Island, or Dagaly Lido.
If you are visiting Budapest in cooler months or in winter time, your best family fun option for enjoying the pools and slides is AquaWorld, a huge water park with lots of indoor pools and facilities. AquaWorld is quite off the city centre of Budapest (about 35-50 min by public transport).
Buda Castle & the Castle Hill, Budapest
The Buda Castle on the Castle Hill is one of the best children attractions in Budapest (the other being the City Park and its attractions). You can take the historical Funicular Railway uphill, and walk around the Buda Castle (real life cannons on Toth Arpad setany). Or you can also walk up the Castle Hill (not a tiring tour for bigger kids).
On hot summer days or just for a bit of mystery, you
can go through the Castle Labyrinth under the Castle Hill. Update: sorry, the maze under the Buda Royal Palace was permanently closed down.
Instead, you can visit the Hospital in the Rock Museum (a WW2 air raid shelter and a nuclear shelter with a nuclear hospital, pharmacy and more).
Enjoy the views on the ramparts from the Fisherman’s Bastion, which is right next to the beautiful Matthias Church. Are you peckish? You can have a yummy cake (and coffee) in the 19th century Cafe Ruszwurm.
If you are on a spending spree, check out the luxurious Alabardos restaurant in the Buda Castle district with its medieval-themed interior. Kids will like the knightly atmosphere.
Shopping in Budapest
Central Market Hall
You can buy gifts, little Hungarian dolls, fresh vegetables and fruits, Hungarian paprika, tablecloths, and try the Hungarian savoury snack, ‘Langos’ in the Central Market Hall, Budapest, next to the Liberty Bridge.
There is an interesting flea market at weekends in the City Park at PECSA (Petofi Csarnok), if you are interested in peculiar used rareties from the former Eastern block, and want to have a ‘Let’s recycle’ programme with the children.
The entrance fee to PECSA flea market is about 1 euro.
Hungarian Museum of Natural Science
Visit the Hungarian Museum of Natural Science: cool interactive presentation of all sorts of scientific riddles, all kinds of weird skeletons (including a giant mammoth skeleton, life-size imitations of infamous dinosaurs like the Stegosaur and Allosaur, etc.), natural processes, etc.
Further ideas for Budapest Children activities:
- Planetary Cupola (Planetarium) for kids’ astronomical shows (Hungarian)
- Dripstone Cave on the Buda side of Budapest (the cave is called the Palvolgyi cseppkobarlang): not only fun and adventure, but very healthy for the lungs too! Have a super-delicious cake in Cafe Daubner before/after submerging into the cave (one of the most popular confectioneries in Budapest)
- Underground Museum Budapest – the metro / subway museum of the of the first continental underground in Europe (at Deak square, city center)
- Sunday brunches in Budapest – again, both highly enjoyable for parents and kids alike to have a treat at one of the popular English-speaking Sunday brunches in Budapest (highlighted venues: the five star Grand Hotel Royal, the five star Kempinski Hotel Corvinus, Gundel Restaurant Sunday Brunch (with a spacious garden)
- Ice Rink in the City Park: a huge open air artificial ice rink in Budapest, with loads of skaters, floodlights, hot tea, music, and more (don’t worry if you don’t have skates, you can hire them on the spot!)
- the Budapest Zoo deserves to be mentioned again: there is a cool playground in the Zoo with intricate monkey bars and climbing structures, plus various programmes are offered by the Zoo kids program managers. And the architecture – Art Nouveau – is worth a visit for itself.
- Tropicarium / Oceanarium – how does it feel like walking under swimming sharks, and colourful schools of fishes, seeing various exotic animals, etc. Tropicarium is another place for families with animal fans. Although Tropicarium is about a 45 min ride from the city centre by public transport, it is a nice place for children, and with a different fauna from the Budapest Zoo (note: there is a short cut by train from Deli Train Station to Campona Shopping Mall where Tropicarium is). Tropicarium can now be paired with the Palace of Wonders interactive smart playhouse.