This is not a sponsored post. However, I’m a journalist and some businesses sometimes offer to sponsor our visit.
Thanks to Lilla from the Budapest Tourist Office for providing us with Budapest Cards 72h; to Miniversum and Nikoletta from MiniPolizs for providing us with tickets for the whole family; to the Natural History Museum for providing me with one free entrance.
Budapest hasn’t been as journalist-friendly as other cities, but I appreciated all the support we got.
[Please, make sure to check the opening times of each place as they might have changed]
WARNING: Budapest stole our hearts, so I was totally biased in the writing of this post ;-)
If you’re looking for a family-friendly city to visit with your kids, congratulations, you’ve found it!
I can’t believe the amount of places and activities for kids and families that I found in Budapest in our one-month stay, and the city is so easy to navigate thanks to its straight-forward transport system (which makes all the difference when visiting a big city with small kids).
Budapest is a gorgeous city separated by the Danube and made up by two cities, Buda and … nah, no time for that!
Let’s get straight to the juicy family stuff!
Where we stayed
We always stay in AirBnbs. Our gorgeous apartment in Budapest was in district 6, which we liked A LOT: it’s authentic, close to shops, cafes, restaurants, playgrounds (they were building a brand new one 30 seconds away from our apartment) and just a couple hundred meters away from busses 70, 76, 78, 105 and the metro M1 line, which take you pretty much everywhere you need to go — the yellow train of the M1 is an attraction in itself being the first ever metro in Europe, opened in 1896!
The parts of district 13 and district 5 near Margaret Bridge are also lovely neighborhoods with lots of cafes and Oliver’s favorite playground, Olimpia Park: in this article you’ll see a lot of places in this area.
Oh and you’ll read a lot of “as we call it”, because let’s be honest, Hungarian is impossible to pronounce!
Our favorite playgrounds
This is one of the first playgrounds we discovered and we kept going back to it.
It’s got nice climbing frames for all levels, slides, swings, a sand pit, little fountains on the ground for hot days and a beautiful park where to have a picnic on the grass (or climb on the beautiful trees).
Oh, and the river view is priceless and you can take a photo like this that Oliver took for me ;-) :
Nearby you can have a bite in our favorite vegan burger place Tökmag or an ice-cream in our favorite ice-cream shop Cioccolatte… I mean, it’s got it all, right? ;-)
The slide park (as we call it) on the Buda side is one of a kind: its many slides literally go down the Buda hill and you can make your way back up by stairs or by climbing up the actual slide wall.
It’s also got two small trampolines, climbing frames, a sand pit, and a little fountain to refill your water bottle (you’ll need it after the long walk uphill from where tram 47 or 49 leave you). It’s so activity-packed that I couldn’t even stop to take a photo!
After a very adventurous and tiring workout, ehm, play session, you can have a relaxing lunch at Pagony.
The Castle playground (as we call it) in Buda was hard to find and when we got there it started raining, so it wasn’t a successful outing for us. BUT this playground is gorgeous! It’s an actual castle, with corridors, ramps, tunnels and stairs to explore!
As it was difficult to find, here’s how to get there: leave the Buda castle on your back, but don’t go down the hill: follow the street in the town towards Fisherman’s Bastion, instead (trust me, don’t follow Google Maps this time, it led us downhill past parked buses—that gets you to the playground too, but it is longer and harder).
BEFORE arriving to the Fisherman’s Bastion, with the cathedral on your left, you’ll see a small building with a coffee shop and a tourist office: in the nearby park area with trees and benches, follow the path down the stairs and you’ll get to the gate (it might look close, but it’s not: it opens 8am-8pm).
This playground is so original: I’ll post only this photo because I don’t want to spoil the wow effect for you.
Benczúr offers a big climbing frame, a sand pit, swings and a football mini court, so take a ball if you have it. It also has relatively clean toilets, picnic tables and a FREE WiFi for mommy and daddy!
And if you’re hungry, there’s a gorgeous, little (like, tiny!) bagel cafe just around the corner that offers also homemade cakes and cookies, and cute little products to buy… And the girl who works there is so nice! It’s called Tipo Workshop and Coffee, pay it a visit!
Every time we passed in front of this park and playground by bus, I thought “I need to take the kids here”! Unfortunately I never did, but if you find yourself around and desperate to release some toddler energy, this is your place!
Family cafes (aka the places I work from)
This was my favorite working place and a little Budapest gem.
It’s an amazing concept: a community centre by the Hungarian bank NatMeg, and it’s got a restaurant school-diner style with typical Hungarian food, a café that serves sandwiches, pastries, coffee, ice-cream…, a stunning reading area (where I recorded some of the videos for my online courses), an outdoor patio, a beautiful indoor patio, rooms to rent upstairs for yoga, meditation, conferences… AND an amazing play area that you can rent by the hour!!!
It’s 500HUF (1,5€) per child per hour, and they sometimes even have a baby-sitter service at the same price (you can find out by writing an email before-hand to Bértok at email@example.com), but you can also just show up (and tell them you found them on my blog ;-)).
I can’t even describe how good this place is and how thankful I was to have it so close to our apartment, so you’ll just have to go look for yourself (and enjoy a coffee/meal while your kids play happily for hours!).
Hello Anyu is a true family cafe, made 100% for kids, and it’s been another of my working places.
Oliver and Emily loved the selection of toys and it even has motorbikes to ride inside! It can get crowded so I’d recommend going early in the morning (it opens at 10am) or for a late lunch (1.30ish pm): the food is all homemade, yummy and healthy.
You know me, I’m all about places where parents can have a relaxing coffee while kids play, and Ecocafe is one of them. The play area is small, but big enough to entertain kids while you enjoy your coffee and croissant or a salad for lunch (I know, it sounds like our kids never eat, but they do, I promise ;-)).
Pannka is not a cafe, but it’s worth a visit if you need a break! It’s a gorgeous play area, with all wooden toys (many of them artisanal) and carpeted floors. When we went, there were kids from 7 months to 5 years of age and there was something to do for each one of them.
It costs 1000HUF (3€) per hour per child, and you can take your own snack (they don’t serve food, or drinks, but there’s a water dispenser and tables that you can use).
Pagony is not a family cafe, but keep reading. After a whole morning climbing up and down the slide park, quite far from home, this restaurant was a savior! Apart from the fact that it’s very original because it’s an old swimming pool converted into a restaurant—so tables are literally in the old pool structures—there’s a big garden with a ball and nets where the kids can play football (or anything else).
This was one of the most relaxing meals in town with kids (Oliver and Emily shared the salmon and they both loved it)!
Pastrami is not a favorite in any way, BUT it’s a restaurant with a play area, so worth the mention ;-). Alex and I had an American-style burger (I had the veggie option) and a beer in total peace, because the kids played the whole time.
If you find yourself in the neighborhood this is your place, but I wouldn’t probably go there just for it. If you do go, call beforehand and reserve the table near the play area ;-)
Our favorite kid “museums” and places
Miniversum (miniature cities with buttons to press)
Kids love tiny, hidden details and Miniversum is full of them! It’s a series of miniature cities with buttons to press: it might not sound like much, but this was actually Oliver’s favorite museum (he insisted on coming here twice)!
We weren’t sure if Oliver and Emily would enjoy it… but they loved it! Oliver kept running ahead and by the time we caught up he would show us what each button does (when it’s to difficult to find out, there’s a hint below the buttons).
To top it off, there’s a playroom at the end of the visit, where kids can build railways and play with trains. Oliver was asking to come back even before leaving!
The only downside was that Emily wasn’t tall enough to see above the plexiglass (which she didn’t like), so Alex and I had to carry her through the whole visit.
If you come to Budapest, do not miss this!
I wish every city had a children museum like this! The concept is really nice: it’s a mini child-size city where children are the adults, they can shop at the supermarket (and be their own cashiers, too), run a pizzeria, visit animals at their own veterinary clinic, be hairdressers, bankers, radio hosts, farmers, train conductors, firefighters… and the details in this mini city are truly impressive!
I think children from 5-6 years old can make the most of it as children tend to enjoy the most what they’re familiar with in real life: Oliver (4) and Emily (2,5) loved the supermarket and the pizzeria, for example, but they wouldn’t know how to pretend play in the veterinary clinic… which was a great opportunity to show them!
I recommend going on a weekday morning, as it obviously gets quite busy over the weekend. But this is definitely one of the top places to visit with small (and big) kids in Budapest.
The Science Museum is a bit further away from the centre, but so, so, so worth it! There are so many activities that you can find something suitable for all ages (even mine! ;-)) and you can easily spend a whole afternoon here (especially if you have a buffet dinner at the Buda Gourmet Bistro downstairs… but don’t forget to reserve as it’s apparently always fully booked).
[Free with the Budapest card]
Alex didn’t think much of it, and he’s right: the Natural History Museum is nothing special. But I actually really liked the size, it made it very toddler-friendly!
On the main exhibit floor, there are a lot of activities and games for kids to play, but the animals and the giant mammoth and shark alone will be enough to entertain your little ones!
There’s also a dinosaur garden (at an extra cost) and a small play area for kids 0-4.
Other kid-friendly activities
Cruise on the Danube
Emily kept insisting on going on a boat (btw, did you know that some boats are included in the transport monthly ticket?) so we made it happen.
Seeing a city from the water always gives a whole new perspective and hearing a little bit of history of Budapest between a kid conversation and a trip to the toilet was also nice ;-)
You’ll find different cruise companies selling tickets by the Vigadó Tér square/park. The Budapest Cards give you 40% discount off the Duna.
We rarely go to the Circus because they usually use animals, but when I heard that there were no animals in the 2-hour Flying Circus show, I did’t think it twice… and it was a memorable experience for the whole family! Alex and I had a 25% discount with our Budapest Cards 72h.
Margaret Island is, indeed, an island in the middle of the Danube right by the centre of the city (how cool is that?).
You can spend a whole day here: there’s a musical fountain (the kids sat down and watched for a long time), a very nice playground and even a petting zoo (which we didn’t go to)… and of course a lot of grass to just sit on and have a picnic!
I love sightseeing! So when I get to do that despite kids and their needs, I feel accomplished ;-). Best way to do the Buda tour with kids? Here you go:
[We did this with the Budapest Cards 72h, but we felt it wasn’t good enough: the PLUS version would give you also access to the Funicular Railway and the Matthias Church, thus skipping the queues]
We started early in the morning, crossed the Chain Bridge on foot, and took the Funicular Railway up around 9am: the Changing of the Guard in front of the Hungarian Presidential Palace welcomed us (it’s a really good show that should run every hour, but please double check with the tourist office).
We took in the gorgeous view of Pest from up there, walked around the castle, climbed stairs, found dead-end tunnels and then made our way back to the Presidential Palace.
By now Oliver and Emily were ready for a playground and some snack/early lunch: we followed directions to the Fisherman’s Bastion and took a Castle Mini Bus (free with Budapest Cards) to the Budavári Mátyás Királi playground.
After the playground and some food, ideally I would have liked to go up Mary Margaret Tower, but the kids were too tired, so we took a Castle Mini Bus down, thus ending our visit of the Buda hill.
PS. I also wanted to make it to Cittadella and the Liberty Statue, but who was I kidding? ;-)
Food we loved
Alex and I loved this street cafe (the kids a bit less, but luckily the fruit shop right next to it saved the meal!).
All the burgers are delicious (yep, we tried them all in our one-month stay!) and nothing is served in plastic (except the juice that they then recycle).
If you’re an Italian on holiday, it will come a day when you miss pizza. Think no more and head straight to Little Italy: on the menu, they Literally have just pizza (and a couple of starters and desserts).
I loved that the Hawai Pizza comes with no Italian description of ingredients, and instead you read, “pizza con frutti per stranieri” (pizza with fruit for foreigners) :-D
Let me tell you, ice-cream in Budapest is funny.
It always comes in scoops and the portions are ridiculously small (once they even weighed Alex’s cup to make sure there wasn’t too much ice-cream in it!!!!).
Cioccolatte is the nicest ice-cream place we found around the areas we visited: the portions are decent, the ice-cream is homemade with good ingredients (they care about it) and it’s very tasty.
Babysitters in Budapest for a date night out (!)
Last, but definitely not least. Wherever we go, I find babysitters (read here how): it’s what keeps us sane ;-) In Budapest I found two amazing babysitters: both Italian (but they also speak English), both young, fun and responsible (!), and both adored by Oliver and Emily.
If you want to spend some adult-only time while in Budapest, and maybe try a restaurant you’d never ever attempt with kids (we tried the famous Mazel Tov) here’s their telephone number (and yes, they know I’m publicly sharing it ;-):
Jenny +39 333 7932746Eleonora +39 338 4533691