From the charms of the Far East, to lush herb gardens and the intoxicating scent of roses, there are many exotic gardens and parks around Budapest beckoning you in for a visit. Check out nine of the best here!
Buda Arboretum is a popular spot in Budapest, located at the southern foot of Gellért Hill. Equal parts nature reserve and university campus, the area was once covered with vineyards, which dated back to the 19th century. Unfortunately the grapes succumbed to phylloxera – microscopic bugs which eat the roots of grapes – at the end of the 19th century, but this extinction allowed for the cultivation of the trees, flowers and shrubs that we appreciate today. The area can be explored from Villányi út, where you will find the small pond and tropical greenhouse. In the spring, tulips, daffodils and other flowers are abundant. Additionally, coming from Ménesi út, you can wander through a wooded, less-frequented area, although the gate is often closed.
1118 Budapest, Villányi út 29-43.
Budapest Zoo & Botanical Gardens
You may be tempted to head to the zoo only for the lions and elephants, but the Botanical Garden on-site is not to be overlooked. Over 2,000 different species grow in the gardens, which include a Japanese garden of their own, and the popular Palm House, which houses tropical plants including bananas, sago palm trees and much more. Adjacent to this we discover the citrus garden, which includes Mediterranean and subtropical plants.
1146 Budapest, Állatkerti körút 6-12.
Budatétényi Rose Garden
Located on the Nagytétény hillside, 2.5 hectares of different rose varieties bloom en masse in this stunning rose garden. The garden even serves as a gene bank, holding an invaluable collection of species, and can be visited by the general public all year round. The garden was established in 1964-65 on the proposal of the Horticultural Research Institute. Today, there are 7-8,000 different kinds of roses, making it the largest collection in Hungary. Renovations added benches and protection from the rain, so visitors can enjoy the beauty of the park at all times.
1223 Budapest, Nagytétényi út 188-190.
ELTE Botanical Gardens
This stunning horticultural wonder is tucked into the District VIII, and well worth a visit. In fact, it dates back as far as the 1700s, and features more than 12,000 different plant species. In the warm months, the sprawling grounds are open for visitors to wander at will, but the multiple greenhouses allow guests to get their plant fix all year round. The gardens even make an appearance in Ferenc Molnár’s evergreen novel, The Boys on Pál Street. Plant enthusiasts will be especially interested in the on-site botanical shop, which sells plants cultivated by the various specimens found within the park, sometimes unavailable anywhere else in the city.
1083 Budapest, Illés utca 25.
Japanese Garden on Margaret Island
A popular destination on Margaret Island, many visitors come here to watch the turtles sunbathing, or the lazy, hypnotic swimming patterns of the bright orange koi fish. Although not a Japanese garden in the classical sense – as compared to Zugló (see above) – many of the same elements can be found here. The waterfall was designed according to the plans of renowned architect Miklós Ybl, as the waters here were noted for their healing properties as far back as 1870. The first rock garden was erected in 1922, with the Japanese garden developing around it in the 1930s. The garden has since been enriched with new species of plants, and added seating facilities inspired by Japanese architecture.
1138 Budapest, Schulek Frigyes sétány.
Japanese Garden in Szentendre
This beautiful garden outside Budapest is perfect for a weekend getaway, and easily accessible from the city by HÉV train, boat or bus. Next to Czóbel Park in Szentendre, you can find this charming Japanese garden free of charge to enter. The garden has been open for four years, and is divided into seasons. The winter section is represented by evergreens and forest pines, with spring dominated by sakura, aka Japanese cherry trees. Autumn finds maples within its perimeters, and summer comprises the lake, where you find water lilies, lotus flowers, irises and Japanese anemones.
2000 Szentendre, Czóbel sétány.
Mór Jókai Rose Garden
At the site of an old quarry, the writer Mór Jókai bought a disused, wild, rocky area in 1853 from the income of his first book. After years of work, ingenuity and botanical study, the park was born. Of particular pride was the rose garden, which survives today, and is the home to many special rose species. The writer’s house was demolished due to poor upkeep, but the gardens can still be visited, and many bird varieties can also be observed. The Jókai Garden has been a nature conservation area since 1975.
1121 Budapest, Költő utca 21.
Soroksár Botanical Gardens
Only 20km from the city, you can discover 60 hectares of wild romance, in the Soroksár Botanical Garden. The garden itself is less curated and more natural, which means you often see animals wandering through for a look themselves. Information plaques among the plants tell you what species we’re looking at, and a hiking trail takes you through the scenery. There is also a lake in the park, and with advance reservation, you can use the fire pits for barbecues along the shore.
1238 Budapest, Péteri-major
Zugló Japanese Garden
Zugló contains the very first Japanese garden ever created in Hungary, and was only recently reopened, in June. The carefully-selected plants in the garden represent a lowland tea garden from the Muromachi era (1333-1573), but incorporate over 2,000 years of Japanese gardening traditions! The peaceful pools and lush greenery are interspersed with lanterns and pagodas, and a beautiful Sichuan mammoth pine on Turtle Island is a real botanical rarity. This is an ancient species depicted in old stone carvings discovered in China in 1940! Also on display are Himalayan silk pines and Japanese acacia.
1149 Budapest, Kövér Lajos utca 1.