City guide
A park and an island…
Photo : Kiripolszky Csongor - We Love Budapest
A park and an island…

…what do they have in common? We mean Margit Island and the Városliget (literally translated as the City Park)? We are talking about the city’s largest green areas and children’s favorite places to spend time. Both locations offer opportunities to meet animals. The City Park is home to the Zoo, while Margit Island hosts its little brother the Wildlife Park.

Margaret Island City park

Margaret Island

So let us begin with the Wildlife Park as it has been our favorite in recent months. Firstly, it’s free. Secondly, there is just the right amount of animals to engage toddlers and above. You will find ducks, geese, deer, peacocks, storks and rabbits amongst others. Horseback riding is 500 HUF per lap and the employees are charming. They are open daily between 10:00am and 6:00pm, from 10 April to 23 October – you can horseback ride from 11:00am to 1:00pm and 2:00pm to 6:00pm.

This summer, we discovered that the Island could be reached by boat. It leaves from Jászai and the transfer tickets cost 250 HUF. This was well worth it given the commotion of the bridge reconstruction and burning sunlight – this is particularly true on weekends when boat services are more frequent. Those of you with stroller be warned: on Margit Island’s side the footbridge is shaky, the stairs are steep and often covered with broken glass – so you might need a helping hand there.

Our favorite part of the playground is at the ‘Kertmozi interval’ bus stop, which is hidden between the Palatinus and . Few people come here, even though it has a swing, slide, sandpit and water tap. It is somewhat run down, but EU compatible. The playground by the entrance of Margit Island is more popular. Kindergarten groups visit in the mornings – so if you prefer a lot of kids, that is your place to be. We suggest you keep a careful eye on your belongings.

We have not tried the bike carriage, but it seems to be used and much enjoyed by families. Everyone finds a vehicle compatible to his or her need at the bicycle castle: big or small, traditional or electric. Just remember to bring your ID – it can be tricky to rent one without it.

And at last we reach the best moment of our afternoon spent on Margit Island, when our exhausted child falls into his/her deep nap and we can finally have a coffee at the Holdudvar. Simply sit in the back, turn the sleeping child away from the noise of chatter and just enjoy the peaceful silence.

And now to our other destination: the . It offers great terrain for folks that are into the 70’s and 80’s vibes; who like to go for long walks or just to roam around the park. The PeCsa or the is like traveling back in time. The only thing confirming that you are still in 2011 is the ticket price – adults pay 1000 HUF, students and pensioners 500 HUF. The signs that read: “Everything for the eyes, nothing for the hands”, and the lack of games that encourage a child to participate and gain experience, take us back 30 years before our time. Unfortunately during our visit the plotting boards were out of order and parts of the exhibition were closed off due to a private event. Nevertheless, it is clear that families with boys love the museum. There are numerous machines with impressive technical parameters – this can be especially fun if you are an enthusiastic parent who likes takes the time to read or explain to your kid what he/she is looking at.

, is where you can have a truly retro experience. In what used to be the former information pavilion, there is now a restaurant in which you can truly relive your childhood’s roasted chicken with dumplings Sunday lunches. And when we say relive, we mean it literally. Pántlika delivers the perfect atmosphere that we all remember with fond nostalgia – let the new generation have a taste, too.

Margaret Island

City park

It feels good to take a little walk after lunch, go to the Városliget Lake and watch the ducks, but our winner spot is the .

Thanks to our yearly pass, we are frequent visitors and not just for the animals, but for the lovely gardens. We go to the Zoo during flu season. On weekdays it is less crowded and you can breathe fresh air; we come during the peak of the hot summer months to cool off. Some families prefer the playground, others can’t be dragged out of the petting zoo. With smaller children you have the advantage of discovering the garden bit by bit, you can jointly plan different adventures for each visit, instead of rushing through the whole garden in one day. If you decide to make a couple of trips, you should be aware, that you can end up leaving a small fortune at the Zoo: when you choose to rent a small car or buy pretzels, cakes and any other so called ‘zoo snacks’. We suggest you pack a sandwich and water, especially since for the protection of the animals liquid is sold in glass bottles instead of plastic, which can get pretty heavy to carry around.

Talking about heavy, if you’re not scared away by having to climb a bunch of stairs with a stroller in hand, we suggest you check out the (Museum of Fine Arts) or the (Art Gallery). In both cases, you are advised to get your tickets prior on-line and browse their sites for possible discounts. In the past there were incidents where the Museum of Fine Arts put a restriction on visitors viewing the exhibition with a baby backpack – so if you use one of those, you need to check first whether this still applies. The Art Gallery is pretty flexible due to the subject of their exhibitions – typically, it is less crowded and its big space gives you a more child friendly impression. It also has frequent programs for younger guests.

Good advice for those who choose to ride the trolleybus from the Városliget: doors of the older vehicles tend to be extremely loud, so if you are traveling with a sleeping child, you run a risk of him/her waking up in tears at each stop from a thunder-like sound. Otherwise it is a great choice of transportation and you will always find a helping hand when getting on/off the trolley with a stroller.

Enjoy your adventures, while the Indian summer lasts! Did we miss something? Tell us!