It may have quite the thriving ruin bar scene, but postcard-pretty Budapest also makes for a fantastic family getaway. A simple wander around the medieval landmarks of the city could suffice, but there’s also a huge range of entertainment and activities that little ones will love (and parents, too). From the Children’s Railway to the Budapest Chairlift, the Palace of Wonders to the city’s abundance of bakeries, uncover the best of Budapest for kids.
The Children’s Railway, known locally as the Gyermekvasút, helps little legs conquer the city’s famous hills. And large legs, too – the name doesn’t refer to a pint-sized train, but references the fact that it’s actually run by children (with adult supervision, naturally). As a bonus, the locomotive stops by many of the city’s most-visited destinations.
A loftier view of the Buda Hills can be had from the Budapest Chairlift, or Libegő. The 15-minute journey up János Hill provides ample time to take in the ground speeding by underfoot, not to mention those inspiring city views. However, those with a fear of heights should probably give this one a miss.
Looking for some reliable children’s entertainment? You’ll be relieved to know that the Budapest Puppet Theatre has been a city staple for over 60 years. On most days, several different shows are scheduled – and given the visual appeal, young ones can still enjoy without having to master their Hungarian first.
It isn’t a trip to Budapest without a good bath – and kids (so long as they’re on the older end of the spectrum) can take part in the aquatic action, too. The natural choice is Széchenyi Baths, whose colossal complex offers splashing options aplenty. A whirlpool, swimming pool, and numerous thermal baths suit all seasons of paddling.
The Palace of Wonders may technically be a science centre, but don’t expect cut-and-dry dissections of Newton’s laws. In fact, the venue’s playful spirit is well reflected in its name, for it houses more than a 100 interactive exhibits that will give visitors young and old the chance to experience scientific phenomena first-hand, from building bridges to discovering magnetic attraction.
A park, a zoo, and a circus – all in one place? The sprawling City Park is one of the most popular places to explore in Budapest for kids – the city’s largest public park, families with restless children can spend hours here without risk of any creeping boredom. Stop by the renowned Budapest Zoo and book tickets for a show at the Municipal Circus, breaking to explore the playgrounds within.
If you enjoyed the bird’s eye view of Budapest from the Children’s Railway or the Chairlift, add Miniversum to the list – a newly constructed model that displays cityscapes and landmarks from across Hungary and beyond, it also allows kids to control motion and other effects thanks to interactive screens. When they’re not racing trains around the tracks, children can also exercise their imaginations at the on-site playhouse.
Looking to explore Budapest’s architecture? Unfortunately, kids aren’t famous for their patience regarding lengthy ambles around historic sights. Pick up the pace a bit, then, with a riverboat tour. As you speed along the Danube, you’ll get some of the best views of the embankments and the Buda Castle District – all granted World Heritage status by UNESCO.
Though it was once the site of an electric works, these days Millenáris is considerably more child-friendly. The park and cultural centre is host to a popular playground, a duck-filled pond and an exhibition hall, while a theatre offers cultural events and various activities perfect for families looking to discover Budapest for kids.
Whew – after all that exploration, a bit of rest (with some cake) is in order. Luckily, you’re in the right place – Budapest is simply brimming with exceptional bakeries and cafes that have mastered the art of pastry. Ruszwurm never disappoints those in need of a sugar fix, whileSzamos Marcipan Royal Café serves stellar, traditional confectionary. If energy levels were flagging beforehand, the sugar high afterwards should see kids through for the rest of the trip.