Budapest is one of my favorite cities in the world. It’s cheap, pretty, has amazing deserts and charming people. People tried to help us wherever we went, even if we couldn’t really understand them. And while when we travel on our own, we have the freedom to visit any site that interests us, vacations with children are a whole other beast. If you have the ability to plan where you’ll it – you’re in a good place. When we travel with kids, we plan which sites we’d like to visit, but we don’t adhere to a schedule, because with kids bring with them a dynamic nature to tourism. We long ago learned that if we’re prepared to go with the flow, then our vacation will be much more pleasant.
Budapest with kids: travel on one of the world’s oldest trains
The metro is one of the world’s oldest subway lines. First opened in 1896 to help locals travel from downtown Budapest to City Park, the metro is located just a few meters below street level and there is even a museum on it in Deák Ferenc tér. There you will find three old metro cars and you can even board them and take a picture (for a fee).
Ride the train powered by… children!
Way up in the Buda Mountains (the city is divided into two parts: Buda and Pest), you can find a train line run by children aged 10-14. They sell the tickets and truly manage the entire operation. The ride itself takes you through trees, a tunnel and pretty mountains. Bonus: take the Cogwheel Railway listed as Tram 60. This a retro tram that travels from the river to the mountains. Get off at the last stop and take a short walk to Gyermekvasút – the childrens’ train.
Get wet at Aqua World
A water park open even in the winter, Aqua world has water slides indoor and outdoor swimming pools, wave pools, a jacuzzi, a sauna and more. If you dare, try the Jungle Slide and Mountain Stream. There’s also a special gymboree with droplet walls and more.
Travel to the Transportation Museum
Budapest with kids – Transportation MuseumThere are tons of museums in Budapest for all kids of modes of transportation. This specific museum is home to trains, planes and all kinds of automobiles, nikes and motorcycles. Children under the age of six can enter for free.
Sail on the Danube
On business days (Monday through Friday), the Budapest Transit Pass will let you board the D Line, a boat that sails on the Danube, for free. Though the boat travels from the northern end of the city to the southern point and back, you can purchase a one-way ticket. While sailing, you can spot the wondrous Parliament building, which is even more impressive in the dark, thanks to all the lights in the vicinity.
Visit the city’s train stations
My kids, especially my son, are crazy for transportation. Since there are so many ways of getting around in Budapest (trains, buses, the tram, etc.), you can easily integrate the different transportation methods into your trip, as you make your way from one site to another. I recommend visiting the Keleti and Nyugati stations. Aside from the hundreds of trains passing through the stations each day, music is always being played and people are constantly selling all sorts of items from makeshifts booths. I also recommend taking the #2 tram on the Danube, one of the world’s most beautiful transit lines.
Experience the world at the Center of Scientific Wonders
The Csodák Palotája is a 1300 meter play area with over 100 different exhibits that will help your children learn concepts and theories from the world of physics. All information is also written in English (not the norm for Budapest). Everything is interactive, so your kids can touch it all.
Go ice skating (if you’re visiting during the winter)
Like most European locations, Budapest is freezing in the winter, so there are plenty of makeshift ice skating rinks. If you’re flying around Christmas, you can go ice skating at any one of the marketplaces, which, by the way, are really, highly recommended!
Play in the park
Budapest is full of parks and playgrounds. They’re all over the place. You don’t need to plan a trip to the park ahead of time, but here are some of my favorites:
- Szabadsag ter – central, with a cute playground, a really cool water fountain and plenty of places to eat.
- Karolyi Kert – A pretty, shaded park with lots of large playgrounds and a few nearby restaurants.
- Margit Sziget – A large island in the middle of the Danube with a large playground, small petting zoo, lots of trees and room for running around.
Just like Mini Israel, Miniversum is not only home to a scale version of Budapest, it also depicts Hungary and a bit of Austria and Germany in miniature. There are interactive exhibits and your kids can control the motion of 100 trains and 1,000 cars and create amazing effects. Miniversum also has a kind of gymboree that kids can play in while their parents sit for a cup of coffee. Entry is free for kids under age three.
Budapest with kids can be a really fun trip, if you plan it really well ahead of time. I recommend planning to visit two attractions each day at most, maximum adding in one more if there’s more time. If it’s your first time visiting Budapest, check out one attraction and one regional site each day.