Budapest is not only child-friendly but child-focused. As well as the scores of attractions around town, from trampoline parks to a shark-filled tropicarium, so much of the city can be enjoyed as a family. Museums may be old-school and not hands-on, but Budapest’s many baths, pools and spas are ideal for a day out. If you’re with a pram, all stations on green metro line 4 have lifts, and main tramlines 4 and 6 are mostly served by low-floor vehicles. Here is our selection of the ten best attractions for little ones and not-so-little ones.
Andrássy Entertainment Centre
A historic Budapest site on focal Andrássy út has been transformed by modern-day science into a state-of-the-art attraction focused on fun. Opened earlier this summer, the Future Park exhibition occupies the building of the former Paris Department Store, where digital displays boost children’s creativity. Connecting the virtual world with reality, a cornucopia of animated features entertains guests – such as the projection of visitors’ drawings onto the walls and floor, bringing art to life and making them part of reality. In addition, kids can build their own little town atop a smart screen that is continually updated as the construction proceeds.
More details (in Hungarian only)
Dating back to the 19th century, Budapest Zoo has long been a major attraction for families by City Park. Featuring hundreds of different animal species, exotic and domestic, this historic menagerie is a fully fledged educational site, with lots of activities for parents and kids. Besides the zebras, elephants, giraffes and tigers, ongoing developments have turned the zoo into a more interactive playground that now incorporates playful elements of the former amusement park next door. A fairy-tale carousel and an animated castle with Hungarian cartoon characters ensure a fun-filled day out at the park.
Centre of Scientific Wonders
In the Óbuda District of Budapest, a wonderful world of scientific sensations tickles curiosity. Those who are young at heart can be part of exciting experiments, visit a 9D cinema or try thematic escape rooms across 5,000 square metres. Kids can immerse themselves in Newton’s earthshaking findings in physics or allow illusions trick their mind. In one hall, covered by densely patterned wallpapers and mirrors, visitors feel as if they were floating in an infinite elevator shaft. Then at the World of Birth exhibition hall, anyone can experience what an unborn baby perceives from the world outside.
Chugging past some of the most popular places for excursion in the Buda Hills, the Children’s Railway is operated almost entirely by kids aged 10-14. Uniformed youngsters fill all positions from conductors to signalmen. While a little adult supervision keeps things on track, this living Communist-era memento is considered a unique attraction and the longest of such narrow-gauge railway lines in the world. Along its route, the train pushes past Hűvösvölgy and Széchenyi Hill, taking in forested Normafa on the way. The Children’s Railway runs year round to a seasonal schedule available here.
The largest trampoline park in Central and Eastern Europe, Cyberjump is not only a huge indoor space set out especially for bouncing, but a place where kids can also lose themselves in battle beams, slamball and a climbing wall. Geared for teenagers, with accompanied children under ten currently only allowed on weekend mornings, this attraction in south Buda also features a slackline, bossaball, dodgeball and, perhaps best of all, a Ninja Warrior course. Admission is structured into one- and two-hour time slots, and parents must first register online and sign a minor’s waiver.
Gellért Hill playground
The playground on the nearest slope of Gellért Hill to the landmark hotel of the same name is brimming with slides, a climbing fort and a jungle gym. First opened in 1967, the playpark fell into disrepair before being renovated and reopened 50 years later. Signposted through greenery – you can also follow the excited screams of the children already happily gliding and twisting – the park also contains a trampoline for older ones, a jungle gym with a rope bridge and a tunnel beneath a little mound. There are five long slides in all, so no-one need queue too long.
Home to thousands of miniature figures and a hundred toy trains, the Miniversum is a detailed mock-up of ordinary life in Budapest, provincial Hungary and beyond. Scaled to 1:100 of its original size, city landmarks such as Heroes’ Square, Nyugati station and János Hill – the highest point of Budapest – can be all toured here within just an hour or a little more. Kids can follow the model trains’ path from the Hungarian capital all the way to Leuchtenburg in Germany, whilst controlling some of the actions with the touch of their hand. All this is found on central Andrássy út, steps from the Hungarian State Opera House.
After a major renovation, Budapest’s most popular lido, on Margaret Island, has all kinds of fabulous new slides, giant ones, twisting ones and musical ones. Other developments included spa facilities for both grown-ups and children, a new rooftop terrace and year-round opening. In the summer of 2018, the Palatinus was even offering surfing lessons. But, essentially, this watery getaway is a revered summer retreat, a world of splash in a city of heat, with long queues at the lángos stands and loud screams all day long.
It doesn’t matter if you’re six or 60, there are no age limits at Superfly, opened in 2018 near Árpád Bridge and offering a large expanse of trampolines, a parkour area, a free-running zone and foam pits to dive into after it’s all over. Some equipment can only used with the assistance of an animator, such as the flying trapeze, the gigantic and super-steep slide or the huge trampoline that enables you to take a few steps on the wall. Other features can even be used by children from three years old, providing they are under adult supervision. Time slots of 60, 90 and 120 minutes start every half-hour, with 100 people allowed in at any one given time.
More details (in Hungarian only)
Located a fair distance from town, 30 minutes by bus from Bikás Park or Kelenföld, the Tropicarium in the Campona centre may be a trek but it’s not every day that you get to see sharks being fed. Here you can stroke rays, stand in tropical rain, monitor lizards and admire alligators. There are exotic birds too, snakes and, always popular, piranhas. Other sea creatures include azure damselfish, pinktrail triggerfish and, inevitably, clownfish. Shark feeding time is 3pm on Thursdays, snakes an hour before.