Bit by bit, Budapest’s most revered public park, Városliget, is being completely overhauled. As this is one of the most popular hangouts among dog owners in Budapest, the first instalment in this renovation process has been the creation of a large dog park. Although not yet open to the general public – for that you will have to wait a couple of weeks until the grass grows a bit – the new facility will also have a bearing on that most crucial of questions: will dogs be able to run with or without a lead in Városliget? In the meantime, We Love Budapest had two trusted companions test out the park to assess it from a four-legged point of view.

Soft, green grass, trees providing soothing shade, a large sand pit for digging, a little dog pool to cool down and agility obstacles: entering the new dog park at Városliget, it already feels much more modern, dog-friendly and clean than other canine runners around town. And the fact that real dog people were involved in its development is a major plus. Even at first sight, this is a pawesome dog paradise – but let’s take a closer look.

Around most of the park, the grass is long and soft, which is more paw-friendly than the harsh gravel and dried-out grass normally found in dog runners. This might not last long once the dogs actually take over – then again, this isn’t meant to be a botanical garden either. There is also a number of towering trees, providing shade and protecting the sand in the pit from drying out so that it stays perfect for dogs to dig.

The park is also equipped with a bin and dog waste bags, a dog shower, plus a dog pool and a tap with a bowl for dogs, pouring out water clean enough for human consumption. There are also tunnels to run through, hurdles to jump and a frame to climb. All in all, a heaven for dogs and a hangout for owners. The only worry is the playground’s location, next to a busy road, and the fact that the fence has to be kept at a height of 1.2 metres due to building regulations.

Concerning the rest of Városliget, there have long been discussions about whether or not dogs will be allowed to run around off-lead. The aim is to create a win-win situation; a lovely public park, where dogs can have enough fun, but picnickers don’t have to worry about their sausages getting stolen either. To respect the needs of both parties, there will be areas dedicated for dogs to run free, while a lead will be compulsory in other parts of the park. Király domb, Nagyrét and the middle of the park – the most popular places among the dog community – will continue to welcome shaggy friends without a lead, while other areas – the lake, playgrounds, sports parks and the botanical garden – will be off-limits without a lead, appropriately signposted.

This solution seems to be fair if it is well executed. All this will only come into force in 2020, when Városliget will finally shine anew. Until then, there’s plenty for time for play.