City guide
12 reasons to visit Budapest in summer 2016
Photo : Norbert Hartyányi/We Love Budapest
12 reasons to visit Budapest in summer 2016

When the thermometer starts to soar, Budapest transforms into an urban playground full of seasonal attractions offered citywide, often happening outdoors to make the most out of summertime in the Hungarian capital. From riding steep waterslides in the city’s modern pool complexes to frolicking at high-spirited outdoor festivals to lounging in the shade by Margaret Island’s musical fountain, many cool activities and cultural programs enliven downtown Budapest and the city’s suburban areas when the sun is sizzling.

Sip refreshing fröccs alfresco Listen to Margaret Island’s musical fountain Enjoy speedy glides at soaring slide parks Try ice-cream served in a chimney-cake cone Visit the city’s open-air museums Cruise around town with Budapest TukTuk Sample delicious treats at food fairs Learn Hungarian at the ELTE Summer University Explore the city by bike Rejoice at the city’s vibrant events Challenge yourself at adventure parks Savor a lazy waterside picnic

Sip refreshing fröccs alfresco

Photo: Norbert Hartyányi/We Love Budapest
When sunshine is splashing across the city, Budapest’s terrace hangouts fill with locals lounging and sipping glassfuls of chilled fröccs, the popular Hungarian version of wine spritzer. This flavorful fusion of sparkling soda water and aromatic wines is poured in diverse proportions of varying strength, making this potent potable adaptable to individual tastes. This beloved refreshment is served alfresco at trendy terrace hotspots citywide: the outdoor-only Fröccsterasz at downtown Budapest’s Erzsébet Square pays homage to the drink by not only selling it, but with its name (meaning “Fröccs Terrace”), while those who visit the adjacent Akvárium Klub can enjoy fröccs on the grand staircase leading down to the bar entrance; Ellátó Kert on ever-buzzing Kazinczy Street is an authentic ruin pub, so imbibing the bubbly beverage here ticks two local attractions off your Budapest bucket list; and the recently relocated Kertem is a tree-shaded oasis in City Park, where people gather for long afternoons to chat while chugging this cooling concoction.

Listen to Margaret Island’s musical fountain

Photo: Norbert Hartyányi/We Love Budapest
At the top of every hour, beginning at 11am and with the last session starting at 9pm, visitors to Margaret Island gather around the park’s huge fountain to enjoy a spectacular show of high-rising aqua jets forming rhythmic formations in sync with the music playing from several loudspeakers. From classical tunes by renowned composers to widely known pop songs to moving rock-and-roll beats, there are several music blocks played throughout the day to provide entertainment to the public with pieces like Vivaldi’s “Four Seasons”, Andrea Bocelli’s “Time to Say Goodbye”, or “Let Me Slow Down” by the Rolling Stones. Operating every year from May 1st through October 31st, this aquatic attraction is splashed with vibrant colors provided by hundreds of LED lights that sparkle after sunset. Besides lounging by this musical masterpiece, Margaret Island is ideal for various sports activities, laid-back picnics, or simply strolling around while enjoying the fresh air amid the park’s sylvan settings.
Margaret Island

Enjoy speedy glides at soaring slide parks

Photo: Aquaréna
As soon as the asphalt starts melting below our feet, urbanites invade Budapest’s wild pool complexes to get relief from the heat with rip-roaring rides on wild waterslides. Daredevils can try one of the fastest race slides in the country at Palatinus Bath on Margaret Island, where each slider’s top speed is displayed on a digital stopwatch, and besides the speedy plunge here, guests can take a melodic glide through the bath’s multimedia slide.

Located in rural settings in Budapest’s District III, Római Bath welcomes intrepid individuals to try any of the many adventurous slides within the bath’s newly developed aqua park, kitted out with fancy amenities like rafting, kamikaze, and turbo-speed slides; meanwhile, those who seek a more easygoing experience can drift in the park’s flowing channel, or feel muscles melt under the neck massage.  

Stretching over 11 hectares near the Hungaroring racecourse in a suburban zone of Budapest, Aquaréna in Mogyoród boasts 26 slides winding above and below the ground to provide adrenaline-boosting escapades. Here we can speed down the six-track race slide, feel Earth’s downward force on the spine-tingling free-fall slide, or vanish into a stirring black hole if we are not afraid of plunging into the darkness… but numerous activities are designed for just lazing around in-between the hair-raising adventures. The park is open daily for the summer season from June 18th through September 4th.

Try ice-cream served in a chimney-cake cone

Photo: Norbert Juhász/We Love Budapest
Kürtőskalács (“chimney cake”) is a popular delicacy among Budapest’s sweet-toothed populace, and this sugar-dusted treat is a star attraction at winter fairs, where it’s baked over an open fire before getting sprinkled with all sorts of sweet toppings. So far, the availability of this traditional dessert dropped with the arrival of warm weather, as just a few all-year-round kiosks offered this scrumptious treat, but now a recent innovation is changing this trend by offering small-size chimney cakes filled with lightly sweetened ice-cream (990 HUF) or whipped cream (890 HUF), transforming our beloved wintertime treat into a cone for creamy contents. This experimental edible is offered in Budapest by Töltött Kürtős, which recently set up a permanent stand in front of Fröccsterasz on Erzsébet Square – and here, in addition to the sugary fillings, we can opt for savory versions like salami and cheese, or mozzarella and pesto.

Visit the city’s open-air museums

Photo: Memento Park
On easy summer days, outdoor pastimes can be more tempting than indoor activities, but this doesn’t mean that we should forget about cultural programs, like visiting exhibition spaces when exploring the Hungarian capital. The city is dotted with stimulating open-air museums, where we can slip into a fascinated state of mind while enjoying the light summer breeze. History aficionados can learn about the city’s communist past while strolling amid gigantic metal statues of red-star heroes like Lenin, Marx, or Engels inside Memento Park, housing the era’s propaganda artworks that once towered above Budapest’s streets. To look further back in history, visit the ruins of Aquincum in Óbuda (Budapest 1031, Szentendrei Road 135), where there once stood an ancient city that was an outpost of the Roman Empire – on this sprawling archaeological park, visitors can wander around rocky remnants that used to serve as homes to a historic civilization, while the adjacent indoor museum displays numerous artifacts and tile mosaics found here.  

Anyone who is intrigued by vintage vehicles can travel back in time when stepping on the interactive grounds of the Hungarian Railway Museum, home to several historic locomotives and train cars dating back to 1870. The museum actively organizes family programs all year round, and on June 25th they are open during the , when visitors can travel aboard the garden railway or try the horse-drawn rail car. Alternatively, we can admire vintage aircraft – from propeller planes to jumbo jets – on the vast grass-covered field of Budapest’s , located right next to the . Other museum facilities here include a flight simulator and an exhibit of stewardess uniforms.

Cruise around town with Budapest TukTuk

Photo: Budapest TukTuk
See Budapest’s major landmarks and hidden sights within a fun-filled morning or an afternoon aboard a head-turning three-wheeled scooter, as a personal driver guides passengers to reveal the essence of the Hungarian capital. From a 60-minute riverbank tour that covers sights located along the Danube shores like the , the , and the Liberation Monument (19 EUR per person) to an extensive 150-minute ride combined with an extra one-hour cruise on the Danube (49 EUR per person),  offers several different tour packages that can all be customized. During the journey, travelers can learn little-known details about Budapest from the driver, or passengers can connect to Pocket Guide on the tablet device provided in each vehicle. Among many available tour options, those who would like to explore the city’s illuminated attractions can opt for the Budapest by Night tour (19 EUR per person), plus excursions are available combined with visits to one of Budapest’s classic eateries or wine bars. We recommend this trip to first-time Budapest visitors or to anyone who would like to see the city from a fresh perspective.

Sample delicious treats at food fairs

Photo: László Balkányi/We Love Budapest
Budapest frequently hosts high-quality culinary jamborees that spice up life in the city all year round, and when the weather is pleasant, eating (and drinking) out under the open sky is especially delicious. Those who want to try multiple craft-beer specialties at one location should attend the  (“Brewers’ Festival”), where many of Hungary’s small-scale brewers pour chilled suds alongside international beer brands across the Great Meadow of  during June 10-12, while Budapest’s popular street-food vendors provide delicious eats during the festival.  

Then during June 23-26,  is all about burgers, as outstanding eateries from across the city join forces to offer a wide assortment of this hearty handheld treat during ; those with a serious appetite can even sign up for a burger-eating contest. Delve into hop-scented pleasures during the Czech Beer Days, set to move Budapest’s malt-seeking crowd to the city’s  from June 24th through July 3rd, presenting popular and lesser-known artisanal Czech beers alongside products from microbreweries. Best of all, entrance to all of these festivals is free.

Learn Hungarian at the ELTE Summer University

Photo: ELTE Summer University
Take your Hungarian language skills and knowledge about the local culture to the next level by joining the four-week-long summer session from August 1-26, organized by  (ELTE), one of Hungary’s most prestigious institutions of higher learning. During the program, students can participate in intensive Hungarian-language courses from beginner to advanced levels, while attending interactive lectures on Hungarian culture, arts, and history, also covering interesting topics like life in Eastern and Central Europe during the Soviet era, or Hungary after World War I. Besides the informative lessons, participants can join assorted cultural programs and social activities during the course, like guided tours around the city or a fun-filled trip to . The ELTE Summer University is ideal for foreigners who stay in the Magyar metropolis for extended periods, or for anyone living outside the country who would like to immerse in the local language and culture. More details

Explore the city by bike

Photo: Krisztián Bódis
Nothing compares to discovering Budapest’s daytime attractions on two wheels while feeling the fresh breeze on your skin, and cycling at night is a great way to admire the city draped in sparkling lights. Travelers can pedal around town on a chic city cycle or see Budapest from a fresh perspective during guided bike tours that lead along major downtown lanes and landmarks. Bikes can be rented at several locations across town, with the most accessible option being the municipal  network, featuring numerous pick-up and drop-off stations citywide – however, those who are looking to ride in style on an old-fashioned bike can rent vintage two-wheelers at a number of locations, including  in downtown Budapest. Rental rides are also available from Best Bike Rental in the heart of District V, which also offers guided bike tours; another cycle-tour option is Budapest Bike Breeze, while I Like EBike organizes “viewpoint tours” to the top of  with electrically boosted bicycles.

Rejoice at the city’s vibrant events

Photo: Sándor Csudai/Sziget Festival
Feel the buzz around town all summer long and plunge into Budapest’s fascinating fiestas, where cheerful crowds rejoice to celebrate music, arts, sports, and more. Melodic tunes of different genres – including classical and jazz music – fill the air during the  from June 10th through August 28th, where besides high-quality concerts, the grand amphitheaters on  and in  host theatrical plays and opera performances. For even more cultural fun, those who want to explore Budapest’s rich art collection can visit several of the city’s exhibitions by moonlight with an all-inclusive ticket that grants access to all participating museums during the  on June 25th.  

Every year in July, Budapest hosts globally revered sports extravaganzas, where a speedy performance is key to success. Thousands of visitors from all parts of the world flock to the Danube banks to see some of the world’s most seasoned pilots performing incredible stunts, using the fastest, most agile, and lightweight planes ever built during the  on July 16-17. The world’s speediest drivers conquer the Hungaroring racecourse just outside Budapest during the annual  (this year happening July 22-24) to rev up their engines and zoom around the track in hopes of a champagne shower at the end of the race.  

During August, the city transforms into a festival metropolis as thousands of visitors flock to the Hungarian capital to set up tents on  for a whole week of musical madness during the internationally famed . Happening during August 10-17 this year, some of the biggest names of the global music scene entertain Sziget szitizens, including Rihanna, Muse, or David Guetta, and alongside the blasting concert shows islanders can join assorted art programs or get groovy at various chill zones. Finally, the last blowout of summertime in Hungary is August 20th, when St. Stephen’s Day calls for Magyars everywhere to honor the country’s founding king with a national holiday, when Budapest is filled with open-air concerts, gastronomy delights, and a spectacular fireworks show soon after sunset.

Challenge yourself at adventure parks

Photo: Tamás Kőrösi/We Love Budapest
Soar across treetops, try to get cross creative obstacles, and enjoy an adrenaline-packed day out in Budapest’s action-packed playgrounds, where anyone can channel their inner Tarzan when the weather is nice. Tucked within a sylvan peak of the Buda Hills, Challengeland (Budapest 1121, Konkoly Thege Miklós Road 21) welcomes active adventurers of all ages to glide along zip lines, swing between trees, or get lost in a giant labyrinth, while children can frolic amid the vast castle that boasts secret underground passageways.

With several high-altitude cableways, a laser-tag course, and a picnic park, the Római Adventure Park (Budapest 1031, Szentendrei Road 189) provides fun times for anyone who is young at heart, while many of the facilities are for children only, like the garden railway, or the spacious sandbox.

Those who are with kids and don’t want to head too far out of town can get a rip-roaring experience in  located in District VIII near the Nagyvárad tér station of metro line 3. Here youngsters (and even adults) can climb, crawl, soar, jump, or ride on an extensive rope-course, plus the park features human-powered go-karts and a large trampoline.

Savor a lazy waterside picnic

Photo: Norbert Hartyányi/We Love Budapest
If you tried some (or all) of the activities above, the one thing you probably want more than anything else is to just chill out in a park at the water’s edge, lazing on a light blanket beside a picnic basket filled with all sorts of tasteful treats. Starry-eyed couples enjoy stolen moments, children play in the grass, and elderly people feed ducks near the Városliget Lake inside . This freshwater facility stretching between the  and the  is also ideal for riding paddle boats, and those who are there without a basket of edibles can enjoy high-quality cuisine alfresco with sprawling lake views at Robinson Restaurant.  

On the Buda side of town,  (“Bottomless Lake”) is a perfect spot for lounging under willow trees while gazing at the gushing fountain in the super-deep pond’s epicenter, or just watch the world go by. At the water’s edge, Hemingway Restaurant offers Hungarian dishes and fish specialties to those who want to dine and wine out here on their terrace.  

 near the Rákóczi Bridge is a vast public park with plenty of spaces for a waterside picnic, and the area is flanked by numerous terrace restaurants and cafés. The park’s sprawling lawn is ideal for just lazing around, playing Frisbee, strolling along the Danube banks, or watching the sunset as a spectacular conclusion of a vibrant day out in Budapest.