Finding fun activities for children of different ages – not to mention the rest of the family – is not an easy feat, but Budapest has some brilliant ideas to tackle that challenge. From escape rooms to the Cat Museum and the Csopa Science Center, the city offers unique spots for children and parents to spend quality time together all year round. In this list, we have rounded up programmes for the colder months.
Wintertime with kids – 15 family-friendly activities from petting cats to sledding
Spend time with animals
Play with dogs while sipping cocoa at The Dog Bakery
The Dog Bakery Budapest is located in the 7th district, where the focus is on the dogs, so petting Mokka and Maya, the two local puppies is a must. There is a large, space in the middle, mainly to give the dogs a place to run around and play. In the meantime, owners can settle at the tables lining the wall. Dogs can also sit on top of these tables, as nothing's off-limits for them. Pets will be treated to cakes, treats, snacks, and other surprises specially prepared for them, while owners can enjoy pastries, Italian coffee, or fresh juices in the middle of the pooch party. The Dog Bakery welcomes you with arms (or paws) wide open even if you don't own a pup, but you’re a dog person.
Tip: Mokka the dachshund, but even more so Maya the poodle will surely keep you entertained. They belong to the founder of the bakery, Ákos Lénárt, and are usually on duty with him. They won't let you just sit and daydream; they will ask for their fair share of attention. And if you ask us, cocoa and petting dogs sound like the perfect programme for kids.
Pet a cat at the Cat Museum
Located in the city centre, near the Arany János Street metro station, the Cat Museum Budapest has a special exhibition where Macaco, Candy, Leonardo, Cicero, Simba, Neytiri, Maya, and Pirate are waiting for your arrival and are always ready for a play or a purr. You'll leave the site wanting to take at least three of them home, which of course you can't, as the museum is their home, but you can always come back for another cuddle. The cats are very friendly, seek human contact, cuddle and push their heads to you, almost asking to be petted. None of them scratch or bite, and although they run around a lot, all eight are remarkably calm.
Tip: It's important to note that although you can pop in from the street, the safest way is to book an appointment on the website in advance. Otherwise, you may have to wait until there are fewer than 20 people inside, as there is a limited number of visitors allowed for the comfort of the cats.
Head to the zoo in the winter cold
Budapest Zoo & Botanical Garden is typically a summer destination, but who says you can't visit its charming residents in winter? Plus, there was a lot of excitement last month, with the introduction of the Zoo's newest addition, Ricardo the collared anteater. Native to South America, the collared anteater – officially known as the tamandua – is a rare animal in zoos around the world. The Budapest Zoo last hosted one more than 80 years ago. That's why the debut of Ricardo, who can be visited in a side wing of the Palm House, was a huge surprise on Saint Nicholas Day.
Tip: None of the animals at the Zoo hibernates, so visiting them is a great way to spend even a colder day from 9 am to 4 pm from Monday to Sunday. Then head to the Main Playground at the City Park or fly up into the clouds in the BalloonFly.
Hop on the Children's Railway
The Children's Railway is one of the capital's unique attractions, connecting the most beautiful hiking spots in the Buda hills. The interesting thing about it is that school-aged children serve on board in various positions. The railway runs from Széchenyi Hill to Hűvösvölgy, passing Normafa, Csillebérc, János Hill, and Szépjuhászné on the way. The lookout points, woodland playgrounds, places of worship, and other sights in the Buda hills are all close to the stations, making the Children's Railway the perfect means of a fun excursion. We always enjoy travelling on it, but in winter it's a whole new world. Make sure you take a train ride on a snowy day, but you can also combine it with a hike in the snow – if the weather allows.
Tip: You can use the Children's Railway for a few hundred forints. However, note that the winter and summer timetables are different, and the train runs less frequently in the colder seasons, so it's worth checking in advance if you're looking for a winter wonderland experience.
Go skating at City Park Ice Rink
Steps away from Heroes' Square, Budapest's biggest alfresco ice rink is a superb place to be if you are pining for some outdoor fun. At City Park Ice Rink, you can enjoy the fresh air, unlimited laps and some cups of hot tea in between. All this comes with the Vajdahunyad Castle as a backdrop, which makes it the perfect spot for a family adventure, until the end of February.
Tip: You can rent a pair of skates on the site, along with Bobby the Seal, who serves as aid equipment for children.
Visit Lumina Park
A magical light exhibition took over Margaret Island's Palatinus Open-Air Baths for the winter season. Lumina Park is a special light and sound-filled fairytale land, where you can spot a magical castle, a horse cart, robots, rockets, kangaroos and even Thomas the Train too. The exhibition is open until mid-February.
Tip: To make the most out of the adventure, schedule your visit for the evening. To get there, you can hop on bus 26 at Nyugati Station.
Go sledding at Normafa
In the Buda hills, Normafa is a top-notch hiking destination for city dwellers, with forest trails and breathtaking views. It is popular all year round, but a visit here is even more tempting this time of the year as parts of the slopes regularly get covered in snow. The snow is partly artificial, but it allows visitors to enjoy winter sports, such as sledding or cross-country skiing, when the temperature stays around zero. If it is warmer, we still recommend a nice walk and a strudel at Normafa Ski House.
Tip: This activity is highly dependent on the weather, so make some calls before you set off on a journey (+3620 499 1111).
Hike with a buggy
Unless it's raining cats and dogs, winter is a great time for a hike, especially if you're lucky enough to get a bit of snow or rime ice on the tree branches. It's a different atmosphere for hiking in the great outdoors, but be sure to dress for the weather. You can easily take a buggy with you to walk the 2-kilometre-long path to Nagyrét from the final stop of the Children's Railway in Hűvösvölgy. Or you can explore Normafa and walk to the Elizabeth Lookout - a fine gravel path leads up to it, which is passable after rain or light snowfall too.
Tip: Kamaraerdő or Szépjuhászné are accessible with a more sporty pushchair, but after heavy rain or snow these paths can also become muddy and slippery, making it difficult to get around. In this case, the trails are rather recommended with a baby carrier.
Tackle riddles at child-friendly escape rooms
Locked rooms with logic puzzles, riddles, and realistic sets are still as popular as ever. Film and series junkies can find interactive rooms based on the themes of Harry Potter, Alice in Wonderland, Jumanji, or even become archaeologists, pirates, sheriffs, and many other exciting characters. Most of the escape rooms in Budapest are also suitable for younger children. MystiqueRoom and Magic Rooms Escape Empire offer a new generation of rooms based on children's and adventure films, including games inspired by Harry Potter's magic castle. Sweet Escape challenges you with traditional padlocks and puzzles, while the gingerbread house-themed room is perfect for the winter holidays.
Tip: If you visit the Magic Rooms, settle down afterwards at The Magic Budapest restaurant for a Harry Potter-themed lunch or dinner.
Get interactive at the Csopa Science Center
Csopa Science Center is one of the most entertaining attractions (for children and parents alike) in Budapest, and has been welcoming those interested in sciences for more than 25 years. It is not an old-school museum though, it is rather a playful, fascinating and interactive experience. Located on Kolosy tér, 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 and scientific shows, Csopa not only keeps you occupied for the whole afternoon but the whole day as well.
Tip: There's also an escape room at the Csopa Science Center.
Solve mysteries at the Museum of Fine Arts
At The Museum of Fine Arts, you can rent Family Adventure Kits (in English) on different topics to explore the exhibitions in a fun way. During 'An Egyptian Adventure', you can embark on a journey to solve mysteries about ancient Egypt. 'Tracing the Goblin' challenges you to catch a perpetrator, while 'Follow the Rulers' needs you to observe royal offspring. While the whole family is having fun during teamwork and brainstorming, the interactive kit also develops children’s skills: orientation, visual memory, and vocabulary. The Travelling Suitcase made for the 9+-age group can be loaned at the information desk in the entrance lobby of the Museum of Fine Arts.
Tip: After the adventure, treat yourself to a famous Gundel pancake (crepe dessert filled with walnuts, raisins and rum, served in a dark chocolate sauce) and a hot chocolate, with its foam decorated with adorable elephant figures, at the neighbouring Gundel Café Patisserie.
Jump around at Cyberjump Trampoline Park
Cyberjump trampoline park is a place where you can jump around 3,000 square metres for one- and two-hour time slots. There are some obstacles along the way, plus there’s a dodgeball field, and some sponge pits as well. You can also just skip all of these and hop in a giant airbag instead. Everyone must register, and children under 10 must have a parent present to be able to use the park.
Tip: Try yourself at interactive soccer, battle basket (basketball), bossaball (volleyball) or see how long you can get on the ninja warrior track!
Enter the magical children's city, MiniPolisz
MiniPolisz is a small town on Király utca, a magical children’s paradise in the middle of the city. Here the world is turned upside-down: young children can be real adults, and try their hand at 30 professions. They can be firefighters, shop assistants, vets, cashiers, car mechanics or florists, or they can check into a hotel.
Tip: Since 2022 children can experience the buzzing life of an airport too: they can become world travellers or airport workers in a play area, reproducing the Budapest Airport on 120 square metres.
Eat and drink
Have a hot chocolate with teddy bears
If creamy hot chocolate and 570 teddy bears sound like a plan, head to our favourite hot chocolate place, Rengeteg RomKafé. These dense, pudding-like drinks, enhanced with various spices will warm you and the kids up after a day spent outdoors.
Tip: Always ask for the recommendation of the founding honcho, Tibor Szabó.
Get your sugar fix at these special cafés
SUGAR! shop is a phenomenon. It is the perfect place to go for a sugary treat and sweet shopping. Once you're here, it's not really easy to leave, as everything is like a fairy tale, with huge lollipops, colourful sugar balls and dancing tiered cakes.
Another place that will keep you in the world of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory is Cream. When it comes to entertaining children, founder Alex knows a trick or two. He is a father himself, who dreams up and makes American-style shakes and colourful artisanal doughnuts in shapes and forms that will make any child happy.