Budapest with kids
By Holly Rosen Fink
There are many historical, cultural and just fun things to do in Budapest with kids. (Flickr: Moyan Brenn)
Visiting Hungary with kids may be the most interesting city break you’ll ever take. The country is vast and extremely welcoming to young tourists. Sitting along the Danube River, the Hungarian capital is truly one of the world’s most visual cities. Art nouveau architecture fills the large boulevards on one side of the river in Pest. On the other side of the river in Buda, you’ll find beautifully preserved baroque architecture, along with traditional Roman thermal baths and grand palaces. In the midst of all this beauty, you’ll find a number of things to do in Budapest with kids.
A visit to Budapest with kids is both versatile and exciting. Hungarian natives welcome kids with open arms and they’ll enjoy visits to historical sites such as the Buda Castle, Dohany Synagogue and St. Stephen’s Basilica, three institutions that are visually stunning and sure to impress anyone of any age. When the kids start to get antsy and need a bit of exercise and fresh air, head to the Széchenyi and Gellért thermal baths or the Budapest Zoo and Botanical Garden. Or simply take a walk across the Chain Bridge and enjoy the views of the city.
To make your planning easier, we rounded up some of our favorite things to do in Budapest with kids.
Buda Castle (Flickr: Moyan Brenn)
Visiting Hungary with kids is a real treat, and there are many things to do in Budapest with kids. Start at the Buda Castle, a visual masterpiece built in 1625 in the Castle District. The castle is a UNESCO World Heritage site, and includes the Royal Palace, Matthias Church, a historical museum and a gallery. Besides the monuments, you get a breathtaking panorama of the Danube with the Chain Bridge and the Pest side of the city on the opposite side of the river. It’s also just nice to roam the charming, crooked streets around the castle, which has good restaurants and shopping.
Tips: There is no fee required to get into the castle. However, you have to pay entry fee to the museums and the Hungarian National Gallery (History Museum, Military History Museum, Pharmacy Museum). Check online before you go to see if your visit times with an annual festival such as an international wine festival, beer festival and folk art festival. Lastly, the best and most scenic way to get up to the hill is to take the funicular from Clark Adam at the Buda end of the Chain Bridge. Children three and under are free of charge to ride.
Visiting Budapest is truly one of the best vacation ideas for families. St. Stephen’s Basilica is the largest church in Budapest and is a must see for all ages. The church is a sheer spectacle, boasting works by famous artists from the 1800’s, such as Gyula Benczur. The patron saint of the church, St. Stephen, was the first King of Hungary. His right hand is mummified in the church next to the main altar. The church has two bell towers and is home to Hungary’s largest bell, which weighs 9.5 tons and is located in the south tower. You can catch a guided tour. Organ concerts are held on Mondays at 5pm all year long.
Tips: If you are looking for a panoramic view of the city, walk up the stairs or take the elevator to the dome’s observation deck. There is no cost to enter the church, just a nominal fee to go upstairs .
The Great Synagogue on Dohany Street is the largest Synagogue in Europe and the second largest in the world. It was built between 1854 and 1859 in Moorish Revival or Neo-Moorish style, in the wake of Romanticism. Theodor Herzl, founder of the Zionist movement, was born in one of the houses located there. This site is now part of the complex and home to the Jewish Museum. The Synagogue is also home to Raul Wallenberg Memorial Park, a Jewish Cemetery, and a Holocaust memorial with a weeping willow tree with names of Jews killed during Holocaust on each leaf that.
Tip: When you book your tickets to the Great Synagogue, get a combo ticket with a tour of the Jewish Ghetto.
When visiting Hungary with kids, the Budapest Zoo & Botanical Garden is a must see and do. It’s the oldest zoo in the country (since 1866!) and one of the oldest zoos in the entire world. Located in Varosliget Park, it has over 2,000 species of plants as well as 1,072 animal species that represent both the tropical temperate and the cold climate zones. It also houses the Palm House, the Elephant House and an old-fashioned merry-go-round that’s over 100 years ago. To top if off, most of the park’s significant buildings were designed by the noted Hungarian Art Nouveau architect, Karoly Kos.
Tips: Spend a whole afternoon at the zoo and gardens. Not only is there a cafe on the premises, but there are loads of options outside the park.
If you’re looking for vacation ideas for families, the city’s famous baths, Szechenyi and Gellert are perfect for child-friendly fun. Both of these Budapest pool parks are within easy reach of the city center, and have a variety of pools designed specifically for children. Plus there are various baths with thermal water for parents. Each offers multiple indoor and outdoor pools. Gellert has a wave pool, Szechenyi has a whirlpool and three outdoor pools. There are also saunas in use for those who enjoy getting sweaty and plenty of room to find your own space to relax.
Tips: Families with small kids should know that children under the age of 14 are not allowed in the thermal water pools in any of Budapest’s baths.
Chain Bridge (Flickr: Moyan Brenn)
The Chain Bridge is one of the best known landmarks of Budapest and demands a walk across. It’s one of the best things to do in Budapest with kids. The historic stone bridge straddles the Danube between Szechenyi Square on the Pest side and Clark Adam Square in Buda. You can walk across it from Buda to Pest and back. It’s a great way to absorb the World Heritage-protected sites and panorama as well as to take pictures for Instagram. It offers one of the city’s most stunning views, with the Parliament in full view.
Tip: Check out a view of the bridge at night, when it’s lit up in all its glory.