Budapest is a burgeoning city, buzzing with activity on every street you walk and corner you turn. Over the past decade, it has become the destination of choice for discerning travellers, who descend to the banks to the Danube to experience all of its wonders. From its rich history, intriguing culture and traditions, to the amazing food, drink and a nightlife scene that is second to none. Overall Budapest offers a great city experience, but that’s not all. Amidst busy streets are amazing parks and green spaces, which provide a pocket of tranquillity and the perfect escape from the noise and mundanity of city life. Whether you want to chill out with a book whilst basking in the sun or have a few beers with friends away from the crowds. So if you’re more into nature than boozing in bars, here are the most beautiful Budapest parks you have to visit next time you’re in town.
When talking about green spaces in Budapest, it’s only right that we start with the biggest and most famous of them all, Margit Sziget Island. Also known as Margeret Island, this green oasis lies slap bang in the centre of the Danube and is a favourite spot for locals to escape from the bustling city. There is always something going on to suit the needs of all people, so you’ll have no trouble if your with people who have different tastes. The park is perfect if you want to just kick back and unwind, with plenty of spots where you can chill out. It’s especially busy in the summer where you’ll catch people basking in the sun and enjoying picnics. If you feel like getting physical, the island has a famous running track which stretches across its length, outdoor workout stations, volleyball courts, swimming pools and many more sporting facilities. There’s also an awesome musical fountain that plays tunes at special times throughout the day, it’s quite the spectacle.
Known in Hungarian as Szabadság ter, this small city centre square is a stone throw away from some of the city’s most synonymous sights, such as Hungarian Parliament Building. Being in such close proximity to a popular tourist spot, you’d expect this square to be packed and polluted with plastic bags and litter. Well, it’s the complete opposite, this small green space is clean and very well maintained, making it a great place to take a break from the busy city. There’s plenty of space to sit, from the freshly cut grass to the benches that line the walkways of the park. Amongst locals, Liberty Square is the much-loved space for a picnic and or to spend a lazy afternoon chilling. If you forget to pack your picnic bag, don’t fret, right in the centre of the square is Martini Terrazza, a little cafe where you can buy some bites and sips.
Parks provide the tranquillity our minds need, but when parks have a lake it takes the relaxation experience to another level. If that sounds like your thang, then Feneketlan lake is the perfect park for you to pack a picnic and head to. Hidden in the heart of the 11th district, this serene oasis is the preferred space for in the know locals to get R & R. The lake is stunning, especially in the sunshine when it reflects the surrounds so well. If you head down here in the summer, you’ll find it to be a pretty popular watering hole, with locals congregating here to have few drinks and chill. Aside from the Lake, it has an outdoor workout facility, running track and even some tennis courts. So pack a picnic or just a few beers and join in the fun and if you forget to, check out Hemingway Restaurant, a cosy and homely little eatery located inside the park.
In recent times, Budapest public spaces have undergone significant development, with cool new outdoor hangout spots popping up every year. A new addition in 2016 was the now-beloved Nehru Part, which provided a much-needed makeover to a neglected area in Pest. This public space shares the name of an Indian political giant but has become the go-to hangout for the young people of Budapest. Although not a complete escape into tranquillity, the park offers a range of activities you’ll seldom find in the heart of most European cities. If you’re full of energy, then shoot some hoops at the basketball court, or try a kickflip at the uber-cool skatepark. If you just want to sit down to a nice view, then head over to the newly refurbished seating area which overlooks the iconic Budapest sights, to the glistening reflection from the water of the Danube. A great place to spend an afternoon, and because it’s close to so many bars and restaurants, you’ll definitely find some food or drink to tickle your fancy,
Perched in the heart of the Pest, Karolyi Garden is a french-style public park which somehow manages to mask the noise and mania of bustling Budapest. Originally a private park belonging to a noble family after which it is named, it is now frequented by the people of the city looking for a pocket of peace and downtime. Unlike some of the other parks, there aren’t really many activities to do here. It’s the ideal place to get lost in a book, eat your lunch or lazy around in the sun. The prominent features of this park include the kid’s playground, which is why it’s popular with parents looking to keep their little nippers occupied whilst they chill. If you want some bites and sips whilst you chill, head over to Csendes Társ, a wine bar and kitchen that has seating just outside the park. So get your book, a nice glass of the good stuff and chill out till the sun goes down.
Garden of Philosophers
Perch atop the peak of Gellert Hill, the Garden of Philosophers is one of the prettiest, most unique and hidden parks in Budapest. The quintessential embodiment of the term “hidden gem”, with few tourists know of its existence and it is thus frequented mostly by locals. Created in 2001 by a Hungarian sculptor Nándor Wagner, who made sculptures depicted a circle of religious figures meeting silently around an orb. The meaning of this piece was to promote mutual understanding between the worlds religions. This peaceful message along with the park’s location creates a really calm and tranquil environment. So it will come as no surprise that people come here to practice yoga and meditation, with regular classes being held here. Aside from the zen, the park boasts breathtaking views of Budapest, is quite delightful at sunset, or in the winter when a blanket of snow covers the city. So if you’re looking for a real escape from the city and unreal views, get down to the Garden of Philosophers.
Arguably one of the biggest parks in Budapest, Városliget provides a perfect blend between the city and nature. Located over a bridge right next to the iconic Hero Square, this green space is a hive of activity, packed with fun things to do and see. Firstly if you just want to chill, then the park has plenty of grass and benches where you can park yourself down on. It is also home to stunning Vajdahunyad Castle, a stunning for erected in 1896, to commemorate the Millenium anniversary of Hungary’s conquest of Carpathian Basin. It’s worth checking out and only costs 1 euro to get into the higher tower with a tour. In the summer you can hire boats and spend the day cruising down the water, whilst sipping on some Fröccs. The coolest thing is, that in the winter it becomes the biggest ice skating rink in Europe. The grounds of the park are also home to the famous Széchenyi Thermal Bath, check out our Bathhouse of Budapest post for more info.
Make sure you check out some of these awesome parks on your next trip to Budapest and let us know if you have any more tips. Oh and stay tuned for some more Budapest tips and recommendations coming soon. If you can’t wait, check out the Like Locals app, available for free on both iOS and Android devices.