A beach vacation is probably the last thing that comes to mind when you’re booking a trip to Budapest. However, with the Danube River, Lake Balaton, and all those thermal springs, you’ll find plenty of opportunities to splash around or relax on a beach in and around Budapest.
Although visitors don’t flock to Hungarian beaches, they’re often packed with Budapest residents looking to escape the city heat. That’s why the atmosphere of these beaches is generally laid-back, and you’ll get to experience summer like a Hungarian.
Once you’ve visited the famous city sites and you’re in the mood to relax and cool down in the summer, grab a beach towel and a swimsuit and head to one of these beaches in the Budapest area.
Római Part, Óbuda: swim in the Danube
Best beach for Danube bathing
If you’re wondering whether you can swim in the Danube in Budapest, the answer is yes, but with certain restrictions. In the 1970s, swimming in the river was banned because of poor water quality, but the good news is that as of 2021, the water is clean enough to take the plunge, and Danube bathing is now permitted in the designated beach area at Római-Parti Plázs until 10pm in July and August.
Római Part (Roman Beach) backs onto the Danube River on the northern side of Budapest, in the Óbuda district. Its tree-lined pebbled beach draws crowds from all over the city for its grungy riverside bars in repurposed double-decker buses and retro fish stalls. But if you just prefer to lounge by the river with a fröccs (spritzer) in hand, grab a colorful deckchair right on the water’s edge at Fellini Római Kultúrbisztró. It’s easy to get here on two wheels – a bike path runs from the city center to Római Part along the Danube.
Siófok Beach: the most popular hangout on Lake Balaton
Best beach for partying
If you want to spend a day at the “Hungarian Sea,” hop on a train and you can be at Lake Balaton in just over an hour. Siófok is the largest resort on Lake Balaton, and its main beach is one of the most popular waterside hangouts in the country as well as a top party destination in the summer.
Day tickets to access the grass-covered beach lined with bars, restaurants, sunbeds and even a giant Ferris wheel are inexpensive. This beach also backs onto Petőfi Promenade, a street famous for its vibrant bars and nightlife in the summer. If you want to take the party right to the beach, head to Plázs, where you’ll find concerts, foam parties, and other ticketed events in the evening.
Kopaszi Gát and BudaPart: sand but no swimming
Best beach for restaurants and bars
The rehabilitated area of Kopaszi gát (Kopaszi dam) and BudaPart (Buda Beach) partly encloses the Lágymányosi Bay from the Danube in the up-and-coming District XI in the southern part of the city. It’s filled with lush green parkland, trendy bars like Dürer Kert (which has moved from City Park), restaurants offering street food and gastropub cuisine overlooking the water, and plenty of sandy stretches to put a towel down. However, swimming is not permitted at these free-to-visit beaches. The only safe and permitted area where you swim around the dam is within the buoy-marked area on Sho Beach, a ticketed beach area complete with bars, street-food stands, changing rooms, showers and sunbeds. You can rent stand-up paddleboards here.
In summer, Budapest can have heavy rain, which causes the water levels of the Danube to rise. This means the Danube beaches can flood, causing them to “disappear” underwater.
Nagymaros Beach: relax at a scenic river beach
Best beach for boho travelers and digital nomads
Nagymaros is a small town sandwiched between the Danube and the Börzsöny Hills at the most scenic part of the Danube Bend. This free, sandy beach overlooking the hills is a stunning spot popular with locals in the area and a more bohemian crowd.
The town overlooks the forest-clad Pilis Hills on the other side of the bank. Visegrad Citadel towers over the river, making this a very photogenic beach. Should you need something to eat or drink, a few kiosks sell fish or lángos, a deep-fried pastry topped with sour cream and cheese. You can also sit down under the vine-clad courtyard in Piknik Manufaktura, which attracts an eclectic crowd from alternative types to digital nomads who work in the OOO Campus, a coworking space on the terrace above the bar. If you want something with a hippy vibe, walk along the river northwards for about 30 minutes to Nomad Bar. In this counter-cultural creative hub, you can lounge on the river in a hammock with a drink or go for a paddle with a few free spirits.
Lupa Beach: swim in clean lake water
Best beach for luxury travelers
Lupa Beach is as close as you can get to that five-star seaside resort feel around Budapest. Surrounded by white sand, palm trees and luxury four-post sunbeds, this former mining lake has some of the cleanest water you’ll find in all of Hungary.
You can grab a cocktail or enjoy fine dining on the beach (Michelin-starred restaurant Costes has a catering stand here), go for a swim in the crystal clear water, and dig your toes in the sand – you won’t even miss the sea. Lupa Lake and its beach is only a 30-minute direct bus journey from Nyugati train station in downtown Budapest.
Lake Velence beaches: enjoy the mineral-rich lake
Best free-to-visit beaches
Lake Velence is Hungary’s third-largest natural lake and only 30 minutes by train from Budapest. It’s one of the warmest in Europe, with temperatures reaching 78°F to 82°F (26°C to 28°C), and it’s rich in minerals like sodium and magnesium.
The best-known free beach at Lake Velence is the Velence Korzó, which is only minutes away from the Velence train station. It’s often packed in the summer with locals who come here for the seaside vibe, with lángos and street-food kiosks, restaurants and cafes, sports and watersports facilities, and more. You’ll find sandy stretches along the waterfront with sunbeds and sun shades you can rent, security boxes, changing rooms, and bathrooms. In Gárdony, one train stop after the Velence train station along the lake, you’ll find less-crowded free beaches, including a hidden nudist beach.
Palatinus Beach on Margaret Island: a thermal pool complex
Best beach for families
Sometimes Hungarian beaches pop up around artificial pools, like the Palatinus Beach on Margaret Island. This beach is actually a thermal bath complex on an island in the Danube that’s been operating for more than 100 years, offering fun for the whole family with a selection of pools and even a water slide park.
Palatinus Beach is not just popular for its Art Deco and Bauhaus styles, but many come here with the whole family for its complex of thermal water pools, swimming pools, kids pools, leisure pools, and wave pools. The leafy green surroundings and amenities make it a pleasant place to spend a sunny summer’s day.
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