City guide
5 downtown Budapest parks perfect for impromptu picnics
Photo : Tamás Kőrösi/We Love Budapest
5 downtown Budapest parks perfect for impromptu picnics

During the sun-splashed months, Budapest’s public parklands fill with life – couples share romantic moments while strolling hand-in-hand, students read books under shady trees, children run around playgrounds, and elderly people enjoy all of these blooming sights. Passing by these pleasant parks, you may suddenly be inspired to join the scene for an unplanned picnic, and fortunately, many central Budapest parklands are surrounded by diverse eateries that offer all sorts of takeaway meals, where anyone can pick up tasty food and drinks to take for an improvised open-air feast.

Szabadság Square Károlyi Kert Szent István Park Olimpia Park Erzsébet Square

Szabadság Square

Photo: Tamás Kőrösi/We Love Budapest
Monumental buildings encircle this sprawling sanctuary in the heart of Budapest, where ample green space is provided for city dwellers to enjoy sedate moments amid the urban buzz. Anyone who hangs out here can dine and drink in the shadow of century-old edifices, like the abandoned Stock Exchange Palace or the barricaded building that houses the United States Embassy, and thanks to the square’s central location, we have plenty of options for stocking up on fine edibles – right next to the park, Farger packs sandwiches, salads, and even lunch specials on request, while nearby Baotiful even lets guests to take their plates onto the grass. The surrounding side streets abound with many other sources of easily obtained meals: we can get delicious made-to-order sandwiches at Delibaba, juicy burgers at Nádor Street’s Zing Burger, bagels and doughnuts at Mr. Funk, or freshly pressed potables at The Juiceline. Finally, for those who want to stay in the center of all happenings, Hütte serves drinks and meals in the heart of this prominent parkland.
Szabadság Square

Károlyi Kert

Photo: Tamás Kőrösi/We Love Budapest
One of Budapest’s oldest gardens is a graceful retreat hidden within the heart of District V, and this formerly private hangout of Hungary’s noble Károlyi family is now an elegant public haven, just a short walk from the Hungarian National Museum and bustling Egyetem Square. Though visitors can’t step on the grass in this flower-scented oasis, several benches line the winding pathways and arbors, where we can sit down to enjoy our meals while listening to the sounds of the water gushing from the park’s fountain or watching children having fun in the playground, but there are even a few elevated tables that anyone can set for a pleasant picnic. To make the most of the outdoor feast, we can get zesty handheld treats from Goodbar Goodburger, healthy pita sandwiches from Kecskeméti Street’s Hummus Bar, or vegan treats from CsendesM, while Csendes Társ is like a full-service picnic venue, as tables of the eatery are set up right at the main entrance to the park.
Károlyi-kert (Károlyi Garden)

Szent István Park

Photo: Tamás Kőrösi/We Love Budapest
Immerse in scenic views over Margaret Island and the Buda Hills from this expansive parkland found amid District XIII’s riverside Bauhaus-style buildings. A fine mix of fragrant flowers adorns this leisurely locale, where we can retreat to enjoy sedate moments away from society, making this peaceful parkland popular among starry-eyed couples, families with children, chatty friends, and even people immersing in self-guided yoga classes. Numerous benches and tables are set up along the park’s pebbled pathways, but spontaneous picnickers can lay their cardigans on the grass to enjoy food and drinks they pick up on the way to the park. Három Tarka Macska is a nearby bakery selling fresh baguette breads and sandwiches, while those on a vegan diet can stock up on meat-free pastries at Fill Good or grab healthy veggie burgers at the recently opened Tökmag eatery.
Szent István Park

Olimpia Park

Photo: László Balkányi/We Love Budapest
Located along the line of Budapest’s panoramic tram 2, Olimpia Park is designed to honor Hungary’s Olympic champions, and after a thorough renovation in 2014, this welcoming public area truly lives up to its name. With all of its sporty facilities, including a soccer field, a basketball court, and a well-equipped playground for children, this Danube-side parkland is a multifunctional space for recreation, but those who are here to just chill out by the five Olympic rings will find numerous benches and grass-covered areas for sitting down. Just steps away from the park, the Culinaris gourmet shop offers numerous international ingredients for sandwiches and salads, and the store also has a selection of ready-made handheld meals. We can order a coffee to go with a sandwich at the nearby Pilot Café, while  is the best bet around the neighborhood for those on a vegetarian diet.
Olimpia Park

Erzsébet Square

Photo: Norbert Hartyányi/We Love Budapest
Tourists from all over the world blend in with the local crowd at Budapest’s animated Erzsébet Square, one of the city’s most popular meeting spots for its prime location and for its pulsating vibe. The  entices passersby to the square’s tree-shaded parkland, but if you are here to just watch the giant Ferris wheel spinning around, you can always enjoy the scenes while sitting down on a bench or lounging at one of the park’s picnic tables. Luckily, a wide array of takeaway eateries are ready to give instant relief to taste buds: go to  for a slice of oven-baked delight, pick up salads or scrumptious pastries from Deák Square’s , stock up on burgers at  on Október 6. Street, or go next door for gooey quesadillas at Burrita Bar. Meanwhile, anyone craving sweet seductions can stop by Töltött Kürtős’s tiny timber stall for an ice-cream-filled chimney-cake specialty. Finally, if you decide to mingle with the crowd, urban dwellers lounging around the fountains that surround  will be happy to scoot over to give you space.
Erzsébet Square