Feasting in the great outdoors is always a good idea, and even more popular now that indoor gatherings are best avoided. We’ve discovered a dozen harmonious and easily accessible picnic sites to venture out to with friends, family and a basket full of goodies.
As well as popular with water-sports enthusiasts, Kopaszi-gát in south Buda also offers vast green spaces to relax on. The calm waters of Lágymányos bay serve as a lovely backdrop during a picnic, and if you run out of food to munch on, there are plenty of bistros and terraces serving their delicacies here. There’s even a playhouse for the young ones.
Margaret Island is one of the largest green areas in the city, often the first choice of locals and tourists to enjoy lounging or exercising outdoors. There’s plenty of space for everyone, with many trees for shade, but if you get bored of sitting around, you can stroll around the Japanese garden, the water tower and the musical fountain.
Named after India’s first prime minister, riverfront Nehru part is one of the city’s most revered spaces, found by the Bálna Budapest centre and the buildings of Corvinus University. Its location, close to tram lines 2 and 4-6, as well as its distinctive panorama, make it one of the busiest and liveliest on our list.
Recently witnessing the revamping of the historic Ski House and the opening of a new children’s playground, Normafa is named after a beech tree that stood here from the 1400s until a terrible storm struck it down in 1927. Though not as historic, there are plenty of other trees providing shade and the panoramic view can never be gainsaid. Reached by buses 21/21A from Széll Kálmán tér, the nearby Children’s Railway and Cogwheel Railway, Normafa provides easy access to the Elizabeth Lookout Tower, the highest point in Budapest, and is equipped with a proper track should you wish to run off your picnic.
Óbudai Island (Hajógyári Island)
Óbudai Island, also called Hajógyári (‘Shipbuilding’) Island, is large enough to accommodate everyone wanting to get a bit closer to nature, while still not being too far from the city centre. The vast green spaces are great to run around on and get some exercise, and there are plenty of trees for shade and a well-deserved picnic. This year sees it free of festivalgoers – usually the week-long Sziget event fills half the island with revelry.
Renovated in 2018, 26-hectare Orczy Park is frequented for a multitude of reasons – families can feel at home here with a playground for children, there are great sports facilities, and the lake is suitable for romantic boat rides and provides the perfect backdrop for picnics.
Philosopher’s Garden on Gellért Hill offers panoramic views and green spaces. As one of the best spots for watching the sunset in the city, it’s perfect for a date as well as philosophising, obviously. While the area around Citadella is always busy and teeming with tourists, here you can enjoy a bit of tranquillity and time with loved ones, gazed down upon by the statues of Buddha, Gandhi and Jesus.
Rákóczi Kert - Családok Parkja
Renovated in 2019 to meet the needs of local families, Rákóczi Garden on the edge of Csepel island attracts both children and adults. It features a huge play castle and a running track, as well as facilities for barbecues and lots of benches. The garden provides everything for a great afternoon with the family, in fact, over a wide area.
You couldn’t find a better place for a waterside picnic than Római-part. If you forget the basket of goodies at home, there are a number of handy eateries close by to investigate. Bring a thick blanket to sit on, as the pebbly shore can be uncomfortable otherwise. If you’re planning on staying a while, mosquito repellent is another useful thing to pack.
The historic part of town found roughly between Gellért Hill and Buda Castle, Tabán has long been integral Budapest’s cultural life, with its own summer festival, but it also offers plenty of space for relaxation in shaded greenery. It’s as easily accessible but less frequented than Margaret Island, for example, can be particularly recommended for those looking for a private, quiet space to rest, read and enjoy the outdoors.
Budapest’s main public park, Városliget is quickly reached by the yellow M1 metro line or by one of the trolleybuses that trundles through the greenery. A rectangle of varied recreation, criss-crossed by roads and paths, Városliget allows you to picnic by lake, in the shadow of Disneyesque Vajdahunyad Castle or close to attractions such as Budapest Zoo, the Széchenyi Baths and the Museum of Fine Arts, should you wish to combine your picnic with more active leisure. There’s plenty of room to chuck a frisbee and special courts for basketball and that peculiar Hungarian hybrid of football and tennis, lábtengó.
West from Buda Castle, you find Vérmező, one of the most popular parks in Buda. Despite its ominous name (‘Blood Field’), it is a lovely, and quite lengthy green area with everything you need from the perfect picnic spot. It’s less hilly than Tabán, but they share the same accessibility and spaciousness.