City guide
Events and services during the Budapest FINA Championships
Photo : FINA Budapest 2017
Events and services during the Budapest FINA Championships

On July 14th, a gala on the Danube opens the FINA World Championships in Budapest, with a spectacular ceremony happening on an enormous floating stage installed near the Chain Bridge. After fireworks light up the sky over the city, urban dwellers can dive into exciting competitions and events across Hungary’s capital through July 30th, when a closing ceremony concludes the main water-sports extravaganza – but anyone in Budapest next month can plunge into other aquatic attractions for the FINA Masters tournaments during August 7-20th. We present key FINA events citywide, and how to join them.

Opening ceremony Competition venues and events Public viewing areas FINA World Championships closing ceremony FINA World Masters Championships
Several locations across Budapest entice crowds poolside during the world’s biggest water-sports contest happening from July 14-30th, and those who miss the main-event competitions can buy tickets for the FINA World Masters Championships to cheer for seasoned aquatic athletes between August 7th and 20th. Besides the Budapest locations, competitions are simultaneously organized in Balatonfüred, located on the northern shore of Lake Balaton, 130 kilometers away from the Magyar metropolis – for more details about the FINA events at Lake Balaton, check out our sister website, welovebalaton.hu.
FINA World Championships
  • Budapest

Opening ceremony

Events and services during the Budapest FINA Championships
Photo: FINA Facebook page
On July 14th beginning at 9pm, Budapest’s iconic Chain Bridge will become a backdrop for a grand gala that’s happening near the Pest side of the historic span. Hundreds of dancers will hit the temporary stage set up on the Danube to throw a spectacular show infused with Hungarian folk-dance elements, while renowned Magyar musicians perform flowing tunes on varied instruments. After British singer Emeli Sandé had to cancel her performance at the opening ceremony due to health problems, FINA invited American rapper CeeLo Green to headline the event.

Spectators can follow this grand extravaganza from Pest’s Danube bank, while the event will be broadcast live on multiple screens citywide, and the fascinating fiesta concludes with a blasting fireworks show; an entry ticket is not required to attend the ceremony. The illuminated scenes can be best enjoyed from the Danube banks on both sides of town and from the Elizabeth Bridge, while these temporary viewing places will be closed to traffic to accommodate the audience.

Read more information about the opening ceremony on the official FINA website.

Competition venues and events

Competitions across Budapest are happening at four iconic locations, including at the Alfréd Hajós National Swimming Complex, at the Danube Aréna, by Buda’s Batthyány Square, and at Városliget Lake in City Park, each one of them hosting various contests during FINA, including high diving, diving, synchronized swimming, water polo, and swimming. In addition to the Budapest events, Lake Balaton will be home to open-water swimming contests.

Danube Arena

A newly built swimming complex will be inaugurated for the FINA World Championships as the main venue for the tournament, with diving contests scheduled for July 14-22, and swimming competitions of various styles happening during July 23-30 here. Construction works on this contemporary District XIII sports stadium were finished during spring, and the building now awaits visitors near the Árpád Bridge with two Olympic-size pools and spacious stands that accommodate 15,000 spectators at once. Even though the location might seem out of the way from downtown Budapest, it’s easily accessible by taking the M3 metro line to the Forgách Street stop, from which point the pool complex entrance is a ten-minute walk away. 

Events and services during the Budapest FINA Championships
Photo: Zoltán Balogh/MTI
Alfréd Hajós National Swimming Complex

Located on the city’s sprawling Margaret Island parkland, one of Budapest’s key water-sports arenas and public pool complexes is named after its architect Alfréd Hajós, who was also a Hungarian champion of the first modern Olympics in Athens, earning gold medals in both the 100-meter freestyle and 1,200-meter freestyle competition during the 1896 games. Boasting both covered and open-air facilities, this primary venue for the 2017 FINA Championships is home to the water polo competitions scheduled during July 16-29 – visitors can reach the facilities by taking tram line 4-6 and getting off at the streetcar’s Margaret Island stop, from which point a ten-minute walk takes us to the building. 

Events and services during the Budapest FINA Championships
Photo: FINA Budapest 2017
Batthyány Square

Watch aquatic athletes perform stupendous aerial stunts in front of scenic landmarks by Buda’s Batthyány Square, where a temporary riverside pool serves as a plunge site during the high diving competitions happening during July 28-30. During the contest, sports aficionados are rewarded not only with artfully completed plunges from up to 27 meters high, but also with sublime views over Parliament and immerse into far-reaching Danube scenery. The M2 metro line offers a direct transfer to Batthyány Square during the championships. 

Events and services during the Budapest FINA Championships
Photo: FINA Budapest 2017
City Park

Pest’s expansive City Park – a main venue for Hungary’s 1896 millennial celebrations, a huge jamboree to commemorate the thousandth anniversary of the Magyars’ arrival in Hungary – will be transformed into a competition site for synchronized swimmers, where a pair of temporary pools are built atop Városliget Lake, found just a short walk away from Budapest’s historic Heroes’ Square. From free solo to technical team contests, swimming competitions of varied styles are happening here from July 14th through July 22nd, and visitors can access the site in a unique manner by taking the M1 metro line – the continent’s oldest underground, built for the Millennial Jubilee – to either the Hősök tere or Széchenyi fürdő stops.

Events and services during the Budapest FINA Championships
Photo: FINA Budapest 2017
Lake Balaton

An ideal location for open water swimmers, Lake Balaton is a well-tested venue for major aquatic events. The course is located by Balatonfüred’s main promenade, which offers a brilliant view of the race and the Tihany peninsula. Lake Balaton, Central Europe’s largest freshwater lake, is a comfortably warm and safe environment for participants competing during July 15-16 and on July 18-21, tackling diverse distances including 5 km team races and men’s and women’s 5km, 10km, and 25km individual races. Direct rail service is offered multiple times daily from Buda’s Déli Railway Station to Balatonfüred for those who want to get there by public transport (see this article for specific travel tips) – for more information about the events happening at Lake Balaton, log onto welovebalaton.hu.

Events and services during the Budapest FINA Championships
Photo: FINA Budapest 2017
In addition, FINA’s Danube-front venues are also available by a special boat service operated by Hungary’s Mahart riverboat company, with ferries departing every 20 minutes to transfer passengers to the Danube Arena, Margaret Island, and Batthyány Square locations of the championships, while newly added docks will serve Pest’s Vigadó Square, the Palace of Arts, and the Budapest University of Technology. Best of all, ticket holders of the FINA World Championships can use dedicated parking lots and boat services free of charge on the days of the competitions that they are attending. 

Events and services during the Budapest FINA Championships
Photo: FINA Budapest 2017
Visitors arriving by bicycle can utilize any of the many bike racks installed around the FINA competition sites, including near the Danube Aréna, on Margaret Island, and at the Alfréd Hajós Swimming Complex.

Meanwhile, tickets to most of the competitions are still available on the official FINA website, which provides more details about available passes.

Public viewing areas

Events and services during the Budapest FINA Championships
Photo: Terasz Budapest Facebook page
Those who can’t make it to the competitions but who would like to cheer with the crowds can watch the races live at multiple locations in Budapest, including at the FINA Market Street venues that are accessible to everyone for no entry fee.

FINA Market Street Dagály

Just outside of the Danube Arena, colorful cultural programs, family events, and gastronomy gatherings enhance the live broadcasts, while within the Dagály Bath, the Museum of FINA introduces the history and milestones of aquatic sports, with the tournament’s official merchandise being proffered within the same pavilion. Opening hours of the fair will vary depending on the Danube Arena competition schedule.

FINA Market Street Margaret Island

Similarly to the Dagály location, traditional Hungarian customs come alive at a main stage placed near Margaret Island’s recently upgraded musical fountain, while we can watch swim meets as they happen at the same location. This alfresco fair is open to visitors every day from 11am to 10pm, but if you want to read more information about the FINA Market Street locations, check out the event’s official website.

Terasz Budapest

This popular downtown-Pest outdoor hangout becomes an unofficial cheer zone during the FINA contests, where fans can follow live broadcasts on a big screen, while joining many of the fine activities organized at this scenic riverfront site. For more details, check out the official Terasz Budapest Facebook page.

FINA World Championships closing ceremony

Events and services during the Budapest FINA Championships
Photo: Tamás Kőrösi/We Love Budapest
On July 30th beginning at 10pm, the Papp László Budapest Sports Arena hosts the closing ceremony of the FINA World Championships, where the Hungarian Recirquel Contemporary Circus Company presents soaring stunts with a vibrant team of local and international artists performing. Similarly to the opening ceremony, the closing ceremony will be broadcast live on multiple screens citywide, including at the FINA Market Street locations and along the Danube banks. To learn more about the event, visit the official FINA website.

FINA World Masters Championships

Events and services during the Budapest FINA Championships
Photo: FINA Budapest 2017
Even though the FINA World Championships conclude with a spectacular blast on July 30th, that doesn’t mean the international aquatic attraction comes to an end in Budapest. Beginning on August 7th, the FINA World Masters Championships continue to draw fans of water-sports to the Hungarian capital through August 20th, with well-versed athletes plunging for trophies across multiple locations in the city, including at the Danube Arena, the Alfréd Hajós National Swimming Complex, and in City Park, while Lake Balaton will once again host open-water swimming events. Additional contests that are scheduled for the Masters tournament include diving, synchronized swimming, water polo, and swimming.

Both the opening and the closing ceremonies of the FINA Masters will be happening at the FINA Market Street on Margaret Island. For more news about the events, check out the official website of FINA Masters.

This article is sponsored by the Bp2017 Nonprofit Kft.