City guide

Budapest’s Liberty Bridge will close for more summertime picnics

Photo : Norbert Hartyányi/We Love Budapest
Budapest’s Liberty Bridge will close for more summertime picnics

Rowdy kids roaming between tram tracks, friends sharing glasses of wine and fine bites, amateur musicians filling the air with acoustic tunes, and couples cuddling under the velvet sky – these were regular scenes at last summer’s best impromptu picnic spot, the Liberty Bridge, which was closed to car traffic for three months due to construction works. So many heartwarming moments were shared at this fun-filled central span last year that a movement succeeded to persuade Budapest Mayor István Tarlós to once again turn the bridge into a car-free public hangout during four weekends this summer.

Last summer, one of Budapest’s most picturesque bridges, the Liberty Bridge, was closed to car traffic for three months due to construction works. During this time, cool crowds soon started flooding the bridge, turning it into an impromptu picnic spot, and the best hangout of last summer. Unfortunately, all good things must come to an end, and towards the end of summer cars were once again allowed on the bridge, ending the bridge’s time as a recreation space for summertime fun. However, memories of those sweet summer scenes did not fade, and a group of enthusiastic young residents, Valyo (an acronym for “Város és Folyó Egyesület”, which means “City and River Association”), launched a campaign that aimed to officially repeat this initiative by again blocking traffic from the bridge on summer weekends in 2017. Somewhat surprisingly, they succeeded, and Budapest Vice-Mayor Alexandra Szalay-Bobrovniczky announced today that the bridge will be closed to traffic between June 17-18 and 24-25, and August 5-6 and 12-13.

Photo: Norbert Hartyányi/We Love Budapest
Liberty Bridge
  • 1093 Budapest, Szabadság híd

“It was inspiring to see how the city moved as one last summer, conquering a public place, a bridge, that is normally unfortunately off limits. With Valyo, we have been working towards better involving the Danube – that is the biggest and most characteristic natural treasure of Budapest, currently unapproachable as it is barricaded by roads –  into the lives of the city’s residents, said Miklós Tömör, the head of Valyo. “Fortunately, Budapest’s municipality was ready for a compromise, and let us recreate one of the prettiest public places of the city. In the long run we would like the Liberty Bridge to become a part of the everyday lives of city dwellers by taking it over every weekend – even like a pedestrian bridge with slowed-down trams. At the moment, however, we are delighted to be able to spend some time on the bridge over the Danube, even if it is for only for a few weekends. This is the first step towards a more Danubey capital.”
Valyo created an online survey inviting everyone to share their experiences, thoughts, and memories in connection with last year’s bridge picnics, and drew a number of conclusions. This year there will be trash-collection points, public toilets, and one of the bridge’s pavements will be turned into a bikeway. Furthermore, Valyo also has plenty of program plans up their sleeve, mostly focusing on cultural performances and spectacles. And after the sun sinks behind the Buda Hills, DJs will spin discs here until 10pm. However, they also encourage everyone to make their own plans on the bridge in order to create countless sweet summertime memories in the Magyar metropolis once again. Information about the first of these events is now available on Valyo’s Szabihíd Facebook page.