Summer is here, which means a few things: hikes up Gellért Hill for more athletic urban adventurers, lazy afternoons on one of downtown’s laid-back terraces for more chilled-out city dwellers, and endless outdoor play dates on Margaret Island for families with little kids. It is this last group we wish to help out with this neat list of unusual playgrounds all over Budapest, which have a variety of fun features ranging from popular fairy-tale characters and outdoor gyms to an entire zoo.

Location is one of the biggest strengths of this playground: it awaits rambunctious youngsters and their parents in the Castle District, not far from Matthias Church. The swings and sandboxes will no doubt appeal to the littlest rug rats, while older kids can conquer the castle and the dungeons, crawl around in the underground climbing tunnels below, and get better acquainted with the tales of Hungary’s legendary King Matthias I through vivid illustrations. By the way, District I has no shortage of cool, thematic playgrounds: Vuk and Pom Pom (both named after beloved characters from traditional children’s stories) are also situated in this part of town.

Built in 2009, Zöld Péter is one of the oldest thematic playgrounds in Budapest. It’s located in Buda’s Millenáris Park, and features a wide variety of characters from the fairy-tale universe, such as the little swineherd boy greeting visitors at the entrance. The ground is pebbly, so wearing closed-toe shoes is highly recommended.

Békás Playground is found a little further away from the city center, in the neighborhood of Békásmegyer. Accessible via the suburban railway system of Budapest, this playground tends to be a peaceful place for the little ones to romp around. Grownups don’t have to miss out on the fun here: they can play table tennis, exercise on any of the sports fields, or tone up at the outdoor gym.

Sited on top of scenic Gellért Hill, Cerka-firka Playground is a magical place where children as well as adults can feel tiny among the huge, colorful pencils. Nothing is what it seems in this playfully surreal world, as the pencils are part of a jungle gym, while the sharpeners have treadmills in them; the trampolines and sandboxes are just the cherry on top. The giant “pencil case” is easily accessible from Móricz Zsigmond Square: take bus number 27, get off at the “Búsuló Juhász” stop, and walk a little further toward the hilltop.

Margaréta Street Playground is like a small village found in District XII, in the vicinity of Buda’s MOM Park shopping mall. Exuding a welcoming vibe, the attractively crafted play area has all kinds of fabulous equipment, such as a “climbing tractor”, a sandbox, a rubberized basketball court, and a ping-pong table.

Bearing the name of a charming fairy brought to life by Hungarian poet Sándor Weöres, the gigantic paint bottles of Bóbita Playground are towering in the garden of RaM Colosseum culture center. All of the real and imaginary figures, frogs, locusts, and pigs (winged and regular) described in the poems of Weöres are the creations of Kapolcs-based creative group Ilona-malom Műhely. Kids can play on jungle gyms, rope swings, and slides, and there are several chalkboards where the little ones can unleash their creative spirit.