The Best of Budapest with Kids
There are so many wonderful things to do in Budapest for the whole family. Budapest, the capital of Hungary, is one of the largest cities (in area) in the European Union and it’s a gorgeous place to visit in winter.
We’ve travelled through Europe extensively, and Budapest is one of our favourite cities for its mix of family-friendly attractions and absolute charm. Our visit in late November was perfect timing to enjoy the Christmas Markets. The most spectacular Christmas markets are the two in the city centre. Budapest Christmas is where you’ll find the event/market details each year.
Here is our winter list of the best things to do in Budapest with kids. We used this list to sprinkle in kid-friendly fun amongst the adult-geared visits. They are scattered throughout Budapest making it easy to visit with public transportation. If you’re visiting Budapest in the summer, I’d add more playgrounds and outdoor waterparks.
A must visit for your visit to Budapest with kids is this amazing train museum which is geared towards kids and covers all of Budapest’s landmarks. In minute and colourful detail, Miniversum, brings the city to life.
We loved how interactive it was. Kids get to move and light up trains, control traffic and more, by pressing buttons throughout. It’s a fun way to help the kids interact with the displays. There are even stools for the littlest ones to peer into the clear walls.
Once you reach the middle of the train displays, you’ll find a small café with a play area. This is the perfect spot to let the kids play while you enjoy a nice coffee or treat.
When you’re finished, you’ll continue along the path to view a few more trains before making your exit.
2. Danube Legenda Sightseeing Tour
There’s plenty to keep the kids occupied on a trip along the Danube River to see Budapest from a different perspective. This is a fun one-hour activity and is best done in the evening hours when all the major sights along the Danube River are aglow with beautiful lighting.
You can either grab tickets online or when you show up for boarding. Depending on the season, seats can sell out quickly, so it might be wise to plan ahead.
When you board, you’ll find seats either located downstairs, upstairs or outside. We think the best views are along the left side of the boat (when seated). Each seat has a headset with commentary in multiple languages. This is also a fun distraction for kids!
Everyone gets a free drink (kids included) and it’s only one hour long. During our cruise, it wasn’t overly busy, so we had plenty of space to move around and check out the views from all over the boat. There are also bathrooms located downstairs.
3. Budapest Zoo and Botanical Garden
The Budapest Zoo is one of the oldest zoos in the world opening to the public in 1866. There’s plenty to see, from polar bears to sharks, lions to lemurs. But the great thing is it’s not so big that everyone is exhausted at the end of the day.
Our favourite places to discover with the kids were the ‘Kindergarten’ area with all the cute baby animals, walking through the kangaroos, and the playgrounds scattered throughout the park.
The terrain of the zoo is best for full-size strollers or baby carriers. It is an older zoo, so the enclosures and areas where the animals are kept are not as lush or as large. It’s easily reached using the metro and is located in the city centre.
4. Great Market Hall
If you want to see the fresh produce and the local foods of Budapest, then the Great Market Hall is the place to visit. Enjoy sampling the unique foods like Hungarian salamis, pickles, and fresh fruit and vegetables. Bring your shopping bags and take some food back to your accommodation for dinner. The market is open from Monday to Saturday. The busiest times at the market are from 8 am to 9 am when the locals are doing their shopping.
Minipolisz is heaven for children aged two to ten. It’s a place where kids can play “adult”. They can act out being a doctor, hairdresser, or go shopping in the supermarket. Our son’s favorites were making pizza, playing firefighter, helping at the grocery checkout counter and constructions crew. They even have a craft area, bike riding zone and Santa (around Christmas).
We love that staff are on-hand to keep everything organized, show the kids how to play with the various exhibits and create more of a learning environment.
It’s located on the Pest side of Budapest and central to all the tourist attractions. Make sure you look up the address because it is on the 2ndfloor of a mall type building and not easy to spot if you don’t know where to look. Be sure to leave plenty of time to enjoy playing here.
6. Erzsébet Square (Elizabeth Square)
There is plenty to see and do in Elizabeth Square, the largest green area in inner-city Budapest, even during winter. Go ice-skating, let the kids play in the fenced playground, grab a bite to eat from one of the food trucks, or simply relax on the grassy areas.
You won’t be able to miss the ferris wheel which takes you high up into the sky (65m), in enclosed cabins, to admire the views over the rooftops and down to St. Stephen’s Basilica. It operates all year round from 10 am till midnight.
We loved Elizabeth Square. Our Airbnb was directly above the square, which was perfect because the Budapest Eye Ferris Wheel was right outside our window!
Looking for a great way to spend the day in the water, even in the cold of winter in Budapest with kids? Then this is the spot. Aquaworld features a huge heated indoor waterpark with tons of slides to choose from, a large kid’s area (with multiple slides), salt-water pools, lazy river and more. Even though it is 30-minutes away from the city centre, they provide free transportation from Heroes Square. Check their website for times and location for pick up.
When you arrive, you’ll pay your entry fee, pay to borrow towels (if needed) and then enter into the changing rooms. Use your special bracelet (that you’ll receive at check-in) to safely store any items you don’t need in the lockers.
There is a nice restaurant inside the water park to purchase drinks and food. Just use the bracelet to pay for your items and then you’ll settle the bill when you depart the waterpark.
8. Children’s Railway
Have you ever been on a railway run by children? Ok, well, only the train driver is an adult, but everything else is operated by the kids (ages 10-14 years old). It’s a fun way to explore the Buda hills and if your kids are anything like mine, they love trains.
9. Budapest Pinball Museum
Imagine being able to try out 130 pinball machines! At Flipper Muzeum, Europe’s largest ongoing interactive pinball exhibition, you can. The best part? Your ticket is good ALL day. So you can play multiple times throughout the day. Once you purchase your ticket, you can play till your heart’s content. No need to add coins to any machines.
We love that Budapest has so many amazing playgrounds scattered throughout the city centre. Here are a few of our favorites.
City Park (Városligeti Park), is one of the largest green spaces near the city centre. If you plan to visit the Budapest Zoo, then it’s easy to explore the park because it is right outside the gate. There are playgrounds, rowing boats on the lake, and ice-skating (in the winter). Or perhaps you want to explore Vajdahunyad Castle (below).
Margaret Island is another favorite, but only open from Spring-Fall. It features a petting zoo, fountains, pool, playgrounds, and bike rentals.
Olimpia Park has a very nice playground located just north of the Parliament Building located along the Danube River. It also features gold medalists from Budapest on marble plaques.
About the Author: Chelsea from Pack More into Life
Chelsea is a military spouse and travel writer. She has traveled to over 30 countries with her family. She enjoys helping families pack more into life by combining everyday adventures with frequent travel to maximize quality time spent as a family.
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