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Explore the fun-filled wonders of Margaret Island

Writers

7/8/2014 2:00 AM

Whether heading to its grassy meadows for picnics, dancing nights away at its famous open-air clubs, or braving the running path around its perimeter, there is something for everyone on Budapest's Margaret Island. However, head to the center of this sprawling park surrounded by the Danube and you’ll find a secret garden, a petting zoo, medieval ruins, and much more. Even at the northernmost tip of the almond-shaped island, a beautiful panorama presents a part of Budapest many locals have never seen.

Photo: Kiripolszky Csongor/WLB


“Margitsziget”, as Hungarians call it, is a Danube island between

stretching 2.5

kilometers

long and up to 500 meters wide. Some parts of

feel like they're stuck in the 1980s, while some

visible rejuvenation over the past decades is visible here and there, and

other areas such as the nightclubs and green spaces feel fresh and inviting. Trams 4 and 6 take passengers to the entry point on

Margaret Bridge, while

Bus 26
from Nyugati train station traverses

the island's entire length. The

lush parklands here are popular for picnics, walks, and the somewhat challenging 5.8-km run on the rubberized path that surrounds it. However,

there’s actually far more than meets the eye here, with hidden gems dotted throughout this tree-shaded urban retreat.

Photo: Balkányi László - We Love Budapest

Famous fountains

Photo: Kiripolszky Csongor - We Love Budapest

Walking down

the ramp from Margaret Bridge, you can't miss one of the island's best-loved attractions. The recently renovated Musical Fountain shoots out colorful jets of water high into the air in time with music by

Vivaldi, Andrea Bocelli, the Rolling Stones, and many other musicians. Quite a crowd gathers for these cool

extravaganzas that happen several times a day (approximately

hourly).

Photo: Gergő Torda

At the far end of the island from downtown is the Music Well, known as the "Bodor kút". It dates back to 1936 and also used to play music, although it's no longer operational. Fun fact: the little statue of Neptune on top of the well used to spin around too. Sweet.

Photo: Csongor Kiripolszky - WLB

Sports and recreation

Photo: Kiripolszky Csongor - We Love Budapest

is a popular summer spot for kids and

the young at heart
who want to cool down and have fun. A

wave pool, thermal pools, and water slides all await here, along with

a vast grassy

area for sunbathing between swims.


The

is where many of Hungary's best swimmers, water polo players, and synchronized swimmers train, but everyone's welcome to use the indoor and outdoor pools that include a 50-meter lap pool.

Photo: Csongor Kiripolszky - WLB

The Margaret Island Athletic Center is also hidden on the island. Here visitors find

track-and-field facilities

along with

soccer, Judo, handball, and table tennis

equipment. Go for just a session or sign up for proper training. Nearby is the Margaret Island

Tennis Club, where you can book a court or get lessons.

Photo: Csongor Kiripolszky - WLB

Of course, one of Margaret Island's most popular attractions is the 5.8-km free running track. Orange rubber covers most of the path to boost

ease on the knees.


Public gym equipment is also

installed, and bike rental

is available too. Because car access to the island is limited,

biking to the island is a great option.

Photo: Csongor Kiripolszky - WLB

Petting Zoo

Photo: Csongor Kiripolszky - WLB

In medieval times, Margitsziget was known as "the island of rabbits" although these days we don't see too many bunnies hopping about. However, don't be surprised if you come across a deer or peacock instead! The

island's

is open during the warmer months; here pony rides

are especially popular with kids.

Photo: Csongor Kiripolszky - WLB

Playfully designed multiple-passenger bikes are available for rent, and a traditional playground is

sure to keep children happy.

Photo: Csongor Kiripolszky - WLB

Parks and Gardens
Despite being just minutes from the city center, Margaret Island feels like a peaceful escape. The grassy

areas closest to Margaret Bridge are often filled to the brim with sunbathers and picnickers. However,

head further away from downtown

to discover a luscious green park near the Water Tower (see below). Here tranquility surrounds lazing loungers amid the big swaying trees, include the several hundred-year-old plane

trees.

Photo: Csongor Kiripolszky - WLB

Head even further back toward

Árpád Bridge, and you'll come across a Japanese Garden –

the setting for many marriage proposals. The Oriental garden has a fish pool and rock waterfall, although these aren't always operating

at full steam.

Photo: Csongor Kiripolszky - We Love Budapest

Centennial Memorial

Photo: We Love Budapest

This statue was erected in 1973 to mark the 100th anniversary of the merging of Buda and Pest as one city. It's an iconic site of the island and well worth a look. In case you're wondering, it

represents two intertwining leaves.

Water Tower

Photo: Csongor Kiripolszky - WLB

The UNESCO-listed

Water Tower
is more than 100 years old, and is one of Budapest's iconic sights. Its Art Nouveau design draws visitors from afar, and there's a 360-degree panorama of the city from the top. Exhibitions and concerts are held

amid

the huge amphitheater below it, Budapest's only permanent open-air concert and

theater center,

currently hosting the
Budapest Summer Festival.

Nearby is the Promenade of Hungarian Artists, with busts honoring writers, artists, and musicians.

Photo: Csongor Kiripolszky - WLB

Ruins
Margaret Island was named after Princess Margaret, a nun in the Dominican convent on the island back in in the 1200s. Ruins from this Dominican church and convent, as well as a 13th-century Franciscan church, remain for history buffs to admire. Nearby, remnants of the

Chapel of St. Michael date back to the 12th century. Try to find the marble plaque marking the burial spot of Saint Margaret.

Photo: Csongor Kiripolszky - WLB

Hotels and nightclubs

The two hotels on the island, the

channel old-style charm. The thermal spa facilities can be used by guests of both hotels.

Although the island

is not located in the downtown part of Budapest, a huge number of revelers still flock to the island's nightspots during the summer months. Popular nightclubs and bars include

Zippp Club
and Champs.
If you get hungry while exploring, there are plenty of food vendors offering burgers, sausages, ice cream, and snacks. You could always pack a picnic!Views

Photo: Csongor Kiripolszky - WLB

Plenty

of benches are scattered islandwide to take in the view of the Danube and look out at the banks of Buda or Pest.

At the isle's

Árpád
Bridge tip, you can walk right to the very edge of the island and see a lovely view out toward Óbudai Island. Meanwhile, on the Margaret Bridge tip you can see the Parliament House and the inner-city area from a different perspective. From here you can get up close and personal with the underside of Margaret Bridge –

it's worth taking a look at its design.

Photo: Bkk.hu

Gallery

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