From Buda Hills’ hiking trails and picnic-friendly lawns on car-free Margaret Island to small hidden parks downtown, Budapest is justly known for its green spaces.
Here are our picks for the 13 best green spaces for picnicking, hiking, playing with kids or simply recharging your batteries as you enjoy beautiful views.
City Park (Városliget): best park to spot famous landmarks
Budapest’s most famous open space, City Park is home to the iconic Széchenyi Baths, Vajdahunyad Castle and the Budapest Zoo. The park is one of Budapest’s top landmarks in itself, with vistas resembling a fairy tale book – especially in the winter, when the lake transforms into one of the most beautiful ice rinks in Europe. Significant development is underway, with parts of City Park slated to be home to an ambitious museum complex – but the most beautiful parts of the park remain untouched and well worth spending an afternoon in.
Read more: The 15 best museums in Budapest
Margaret Island (Margitsziget): great for picnics
In summer, crowds flock to Margaret Island in the Danube with blankets, cold bottles of wine and snacks. Measuring 1.6 miles by 550 yards, the slender island is covered with parkland, medieval ruins, a rose garden, a Japanese garden and even a little zoo. The Musical Fountain close to Margaret Bridge is a popular spot for picnickers, with ample lawns becoming less crowded the father in you venture.
Buda Hills and Normafa: best park for hiking and cycling
Normafa Park draws crowds thanks to meadowy hillsides that offer incredible views over the city, together with spots for picnics and BBQs. It’s also the most accessible destination in the Buda Hills, with buses running from Széll Kálmán tér direct to plentiful forested trails for hiking and mountain biking. Around Normafa, you can wend your way to the Elizabeth Lookout Tower on János Hill, or to Fairy Rock. For even more adventure, go off the beaten track over to the rugged hiking routes running between Hűvösvölgy and Szépvölgy, which join up with the Blue Trail, the oldest long-distance path in Europe. Families will love a ride on the Children’s Railway, a nostalgic single-gauge railway run mostly by uniformed children.
Károly Garden: perfect for an urban escape
The elegantly gated Károly Garden in the heart of downtown provides a tranquil refuge to escape from the clamor of city streets. In summer, you can grab a drink at the picturesque Csendes Társ, which backs onto the park’s ornate gates. Year-round, you can take a stroll, grab a bench and read a book, or just take a breather before heading back into the bustle beyond the fence.
Kopaszi Dam: best park for a beach day
This former dam juts out between the Danube and Lágymányosi Bay. The area has been rehabilitated into parkland with many bars and cafes – but perhaps the best thing about the Kopaszi Dam area are the sandy stretches and beaches along the inlet. Bring a beach towel to lie out in the sun with a book. Budapest's other best beaches are all attached to lakes and rivers too.
Philosopher’s Garden: best for people watching
This park on Gellért Hill’s northern side is usually packed with a colorful cast of characters. Come here for a picnic or to sunbathe and you’ll probably run across a group doing yoga, a drum circle, kite flyers or even people clad in chain mail engaged in reenactment sword fights. The Philosopher’s Garden isn’t just a great hangout for those with varied interests: it’s also one of the most beautiful and underrated spots in the city, with views overlooking the Royal Palace of Buda Castle, the Danube and downtown Pest.
Budapest Botanical Garden: best park for plant lovers
A part of ELTE University, Budapest Botanical Garden is the largest and oldest such garden in the city. While it’s a little outside the city center, it’s a must for anyone who loves flowers, plants and horticulture. Highlights include the 19th-century palm house, a 250-year-old cherry tree and the rock garden. Time your visit for spring, when the fruit trees are in full, glorious bloom.
Feneketlen Tó (Bottomless Lake): best hidden gem of a park
Just off trendy Bartók Béla boulevard in District XI, you’ll find Feneketlen Tó, a body of water whose name translates ominously to “Bottomless Lake.” Local legend has it that workers once digging for clay to make bricks stumbled upon a natural spring that widened in catastrophic fashion, swallowing some of them as it flooded the pit. Today, things are less dramatic, and the lake is a scenic spot surrounded by parkland with the photogenic Szent Imre church at the head. In summer, head to Budai Parkszinpad, an open-air bar in a former theater located in the park, and take a stroll around the perimeter of the lake.
Olimpia Park: best for families
The renovated recreational Olimpia Park next to the Hungarian Parliament is a multifunctional community space with something for the whole family, including a playground with an impressive climbing complex, a dog park and picnic spots. You’ll also get great views overlooking the Danube and a memorial celebrating the spirit of the Olympic Games.
Szent István Park: best for architecture enthusiasts
If you love Bauhaus architecture, you’ll love this stylish green space that evokes the glamor of the 1920s and ’30s. You can see Margaret Island from this Danube-side park, as well as the elegant Bauhaus-style apartment buildings that surround it. The park also has beautiful rose and flower gardens in bloom in summer. On warm days, grab an ice cream from the Dunapark Cafe – or take a seat inside this sleek landmark of a 1930s-era restaurant if you crave more vintage ambiance.
Mansfeld Péter Park: best park for views
A small green space in Buda, Mansfeld Péter Park is named after the youngest martyr of the Hungarian Revolution in 1956. It’s well worth the hike up the hill, as you’ll get some of the best views in Budapest – without the crowds of the Hungarian Parliament, the Chain Bridge and the river. Before or after the park, stop in at to nearby Gül Baba’s Tomb, an interesting stop to learn about Budapest’s Ottoman history.
Benczúr Kert: discover a secret kids’ playground
Kids (and their parents) will love this hidden park, a few minutes’ walk from City Park. While a little difficult to find – turn into an alley called Benczúr köz, either from Benczúr utca or Városligeti fasor, then look for the colorful gate – it’s worth the effort. The children’s playground resembles something from a storybook, with a castle-shaped jungle gym and climbing fortress, a glider swing and an accessible seesaw for children using wheelchairs, among other fun attractions.
Nehru Part: best park for sunset
Head down to the Danube next to the Bálna and find a green bankside space perfect for chilling out with friends. It’s a great spot to watch the sun go down, as you’ll be treated to cotton-candy-colored sunsets over the Buda Hills and the river. If you want to get something to eat and drink, the Bálna has some great spots, like Eseleg Bisztró.
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