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10 best things to do in Budapest with kids this summer

Writers

  • We Love Budapest

28/07/2022 10.01am

With the summer holidays in full swing, it’s that time of the year when you need to keep the kids entertained. Here we suggest all kinds of fun indoors and out, in water or high up in the air, cheap and cheerful or ideal for that special occasion.

First things first. As you’ve probably noticed, things get pretty hot around here in summer, so wherever you’re going, pack water and sun hats. Secondly, you’re not going to get too far without an ice cream at some point in the day – see our guide to find the best in town. If you’re with a pram, see our guide to public transport – many trams and buses are now more accessible.

Photo: Polyák Attila - We Love Budapest

Balloon ride

1/10

Short rides by balloon take off from City Park. Up to 30 people at a time can be lifted up to gaze over Budapest from a height of 150 metres. The point of departure and return is Mimóza Hill, a small hillock designed to be a lookout point when the Ballon Captif was tethered here during the Hungarian Millennial celebrations of 1896. Today, passengers reach the maximum height in about five minutes, spend about the same amount of time aloft, then return the surface in five minutes. The minimum age limit is six years old and family tickets are available. More details

Photo: Juhász Norbert - We Love Budapest

Boat tour

2/10

Boat company Mahart is running its all-day Budapest city tours again this year. Six days a week (not Mondays), the Circle Line sets off from Pier 5 on downtown Vigadó tér five times a day at two-hour intervals from noon, calling at Margaret Island and Batthyány tér on the opposite bank to Parliament. The journey back to Vigadó tér takes one hour and 15 minutes, but the good thing is that you can use your 1,500-forint ticket all day. Between Tuesdays and Fridays, those with a monthly or annual travel pass can ride for free – although you’ll need to register at the ticket office first. Children under two can also travel for free. More details

Photo: Polyák Attila - We Love Budapest

Chlldren’s Railway

3/10

1021 Budapest, Hűvösvölgy

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The one revered hangover from the Communist era, the Children’s Railway remains a popular attraction to this day, winding through the scenic Buda hills. Famously staffed by youngsters but driven by grown-ups, the narrow-gauge train today calls at six stations between each terminus, Hűvösvölgy and Széchenyi-hegy, taking 45 minutes to complete the whole route. You can also stop off to see the attractions along the way. At Széchenyi-hegy, you can transfer onto the Cogwheel Railway, officially operating as tram 60 on the city network and requiring only a standard transport ticket and pass. The Children’s Railway has a separate ticketing system – 800 forints/1,400 forints return for adults, 400/700 forints for children (6-18s), cash only. See here for ticket information and here for schedule details in English.

Photo: Major Kata - We Love Budapest

Csopa Science Center

4/10

1036 Budapest, Bécsi út 38-44

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One of the most entertaining and educative attractions in Budapest has been welcoming those interested in science for many years, but it’s not an old-school museum – the Csopa Science Center provides a more playful, fascinating and interactive experience. On Kolosy tér in Óbuda, across more than 5,000 square metres, over two floors, almost 250 games await, laid out in eight themed sections, with 5D and 9D cinemas, scientific shows and escape rooms. Csopa should keep everyone occupied for the whole day. Everything can be tried, touched, twisted or climbed, whether it’s pre-school infants or grandparents accompanying grandchildren, or even young people on a date – everyone happily throws themselves into science games. For a little breather between games, the Playbar awaits on the second floor, with its special table-football tables, where six people can play on the three-sided pitch and eight people on the XXL version. There’s also life-size billiards and 27 interactive tables. More details (x)

Photo: Koncz Márton - We Love Budapest

House of Hungarian Music

5/10

1146 Budapest, Városliget

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Sound Dimensions – Musical Journeys in Space & Time is the permanent exhibition at the House of Hungarian Music in City Park. Offering a real journey of discovery, it allows visitors to walk through a history of European and Hungarian music, from the mystique of shaman drums and Gregorian chants to the world of pop and movie soundtracks. This all sounds relatively simple but it’s actually far, far more complex, thanks to the spatial audio headphones that follow your every movement. Wherever you walk, turn or stop in front of a picture, point or video, your high-tech headset detects it and changes the content in your ears. You can try tribal drumming, print sheet music, listen to the authentic singing of the Uralic tribes whence Hungarians came, play with a string quartet and spin a few discs. Admission to the exhibition is 2,800 forints or 500 forints for under-6s. Alternatively, you can let the little ones run riot around the new musical playground just opened next door, where you can step, bounce and jump to make the sounds of certain instruments. More details

Photo: Hirling Bálint - We Love Budapest

Museum of Illusions

6/10

1065 Budapest, Bajcsy-Zsilinszky út 3

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The recently opened Museum of Illusions, a huge global Croatian franchise, is aimed at playful adults open to tricks and illusions, and at kids enjoyably dazzled at funfairs. Abandon reality as soon as you enter, as everything is not quite as it seems. Highlights include the Vortex Tunnel, the Anti-Gravity Room and the Head on a Platter feature, which always causes amusement. Sensible footwear is a must. You can bring very small children into the museum (entry is free for under-5), but kids of primary-school age and up will best understand and enjoy the illusions. It’s not cheap – 4,300 forints admission for over-5s apart from seniors and students – but it is in the city centre. Documentation is in English and Hungarian. More details

Photo: Pákozdi Nóra - We Love Budapest

Parks

7/10

One of Europe's greenest capitals, Budapest has parks and green retreats all over the city – even a whole island dedicated to relaxation right in the middle of it. While Margaret Island offers the popular Palatinus lido and a musical fountainCity Park is where you find the Széchenyi Baths, boating on the lake by Vajdahunyad Castle and, this year, balloon rides. Nearby, the new Museum of Ethnography provides a roof garden with panoramic views. If you fancy a workout, the best outdoor sports equipment is found in Bikás Park, with its own stop on green metro line 4. More details

Photo: Hartyányi Norbert - We Love Budapest

Pools & lidos

8/10

Budapest is blessed with many great outdoor pools and baths, affordable with children’s and online discounts. Nearly all have paddling pools for smaller ones, slides and other water features, and usually a playground of sorts if you need the kids out of the water for a while. To add to our recent round-up, the Római Baths are also recommended as there are large, grassy and often shaded picnic areas where you can spread out for the day. More details

Photo: Szabó Gábor - We Love Budapest

Splashy playgrounds

9/10

Budapest doesn’t only have scores of great playgrounds dotted around but some with water features, too. The most accessible are at City Park, with mini-stream beds, water circulators and dams, plus ship’s sails for shade, and at Bikás Park with its own stop on green metro line 4, where there’s a pirate playground, a splashing area, sandpit and trampolines. The biggest one is in Kispest, at Berzsenyi utca 6, by the Corvin körút stop on tram 42, one from Határ út, where you find a lighthouse to climb and a squirting octopus to dodge. More details

Photo: Budapest Brand

Tram 19

10/10

This summer, tram 19 transforms into a tourist-friendly attraction for sightseers on the central section of its river-hugging route between Margaret Bridge and Móricz Zsigmond körtér on the Buda side. The Buda equivalent of celebrated tram 2 in Pest, tram 19 follows the Danube past essential sights, including the Várkert Bazár beneath Buda Castle, the Rudas Baths and the Hotel Gellért. Announcements are given in English and Hungarian concerning the sights and landmarks you can see from the window. The service runs between 10am-noon and 3pm-5pm every weekend up to 28 August. For more details, see here. No special tickets are required, standard ones and passes valid. More details

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