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15 fun things to do in Budapest with Kids

15 fun things to do in Budapest with Kids

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Planning a city break in Hungary’s capital? It’s not an obvious choice for families but being unconventional often pays off. We loved our seven day summer stay! In this post I’m sharing some of the best things to do in Budapest with kids based on personal experience and a long list of places we couldn’t squeeze into our fun-packed week-long itinerary.

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We didn’t visit Budapest just with the children. We roped in the grandparents too and found Budapest was a super easy city to get around with plenty to keep our multi-generational group entertained.

Whether you want to explore Hungary’s history, enjoy incredible city vistas or find the best places to relax and play, there’s something in this Budapest family guide for you.

So, without further ado, here’s our recommended things to do in Budapest with kids:

Make a splash at a thermal bath

A long view of one of the outdoor swimming pools at the Széchenyi Thermal Bath which is the largest thermal bath complex in Europe

One of the top reasons Budapest is a must-visit destination for couples and pal travellers is its thermal baths. But they’re not just for adults!

Children can visit too.

In fact if you asked my girls about their favourite place to visit in Budapest they’ll say it was Széchenyi Thermal Bath* in City Park. We’d recommend checking out this one if you’re visiting Budapest with kids.

Széchenyi was built in the early 20th Century and is Budapest’s biggest bath complex as well as being the largest in Europe.

Children under 14-years-old are not allowed in the indoor and medicinal pools but they are allowed in the outdoor pools. There’s a warm pool with a lazy river and water jets, a large hot pool, and a lane swimming pool where they can swim to their heart’s content.

Mr Tin Box and the girls enjoying a ride around the lazy river at Széchenyi Thermal Bath

Adults can take it in turns to visit the indoor baths, with pool temperatures ranging from a chilly 20°c to a toasty 38°c, and the steam rooms. If you want a real treat you can book a massage or beer bath.

Visiting a natural hot spring is something you should also add to your bucket list if you are planning a trip to the USA, particularly Idaho. Find more things to do in the Pacific Northwest.

Climb St Stephen’s Basilica

St Stephen's Basilica and the square outside

St Stephen’s Basilica is Hungary’s most prominent Catholic Church and worth a visit for several reasons: the interior is spectacular; it has its own piece of Horrible Histories – the mummified right arm of St Stephen (King István); and you can climb all the way to the roof for brilliant views of Budapest.

There are 304 sets up to the panoramic viewing platform. If you don’t fancy that there’s also a lift that takes you up to the final staircase which leaves just 42 steps. It is narrow so you may have to wait for people to pass if it’s a busy day.

Mr Tin Box, his mum and out girls stood on the panoramic viewing platform at the top of St Stephen's Basilica. There's a view of the city behind them

Part way down the tower you can stop at the treasury for a breather and to ogle a bejewelled collection of crowns, candelabras and statues.

You can get tickets for St Stephen’s just across the square. A family ticket (two adults and two children) for the main church, panoramic view and treasury cost 17,400 HUF (about £38) when we visited.

Shop at Central Market Hall

A view of the inside of Budapest's Central Market Hall which is an iron construction with large windows. There are stalls on the ground floor and a balcony of more stalls above.

Maybe avoid this if you are visiting Budapest with toddlers, but if you have tweens or teens who love eating and browsing for local treats then Central Market Hall has it all. It’s a shopping hub for locals and tourists alike.

The butchers and fish stalls are in the basement while the fruit and veg, Hungarian honey, paprika, cheeses and cooked meats are on the ground floor.

Above on a network of balconies you can find souvenirs ranging from leather goods to Russian dolls and lace. There’s also independent restaurants and street food stalls selling goulash and noodles, sausages, paprika-rich stews and deep fried Lángos bread smothered in cheese.

It’s free to look around but you’re bound to be tempted to make a purchase or two. If you manage to bag some seats at one of the higher level cafes there’s some great people watching to be had too.

Cruise on the Danube River

Our girls looking out of a boat window at the Hungarian Parliament. You can see the Danube River in-between

You can’t visit Budapest without taking a trip down the famous river that flows through the city. Travelling down the Danube you can see the best views of famous landmarks like the Hungarian Parliament building.

Night cruises are really popular as the city is beautiful when lit at night. However, if you’re visiting Budapest with kids you might want to stick to a daytime cruise.

Hen and stag parties dominate evening cruises before and after hitting the bars.

There are a lot of companies to choose from. We booked our Danube river cruise through Get Your Guide*. Find one with English commentary or a guide to get the most out of the experience.

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Budapest Zoo

The entrance to Budapest Zoo - a grand archway with two elephant statues on either side

If you’ve visiting Budapest with kids and want a segway from the history, then Budapest Zoo is a good way to break up your trip. We filled a whole afternoon here.

In terms of ethics, it is a member of both EAZA (the European Association of Zoos and Aquaria) and WAZA (the World Association for Zoos and Aquariums) committing it to high standards of animal welfare and conservation.

Budapest Zoo was established in 1866 making it one of the oldest zoos in the world. It is home to more than 1,000 species including otters, leopards, rhinos, hippos, giraffes, Indian elephants and more mini beasts than we could possibly count.

The zoo is a big family attraction but we were really impressed by the price. When we visited it cost less than £50 for two adults, two OAPs and two kids.

There are frequent cafes serving beer (a first for us in a zoo) and Lángos. 

Swot up on national history at the Hungarian National Musuem

The front of the Hungarian National Museum

The National Museum in Southern Pest covers the history of the Carpathian Basin and what is now Hungary from the Stone Age through to modern times.

Exhibitions include hoards of bronze, silver and gold, porcelain from the Austo-Hungarian royal household and displays about the Fascist and Communist occupations of the 20th Century.

We spent two hours looking around but you could spend longer. If you visit with smaller kids you’ll find a play area and green space for them to run around outside. This is free.

The Museum itself is open Tuesday to Sunday and you can get a family ticket for two adults and up to three children for a reasonable 6,200 HUF (about £13.50).

Take the funicular to Buda Castle

This riverside funicular was was originally built in 1870 but was damaged during the Second World War and dismantled.

It reopened in 1986 to whisk visitors 51 meters to the top of the hill in just a few minutes – ideal if you want to get the kids to the top of Castle Hill without any moaning.

At the end of your ride you disembark outside the grounds of Buda Castle.

When we visited return tickets cost 4,000 HUF for adults and 2,000 HUF for children aged 3 to 14-years-old. It’s not cheap for a five minute journey but its more fun than climbing the hill by foot!

Enjoy the views from Buda Castle

There has been a castle and town overlooking the Danube since the 13th Century with various re-organisations led by the leaders of the day.

Our family posing outside the Palace on Castle Hill

The palace on the hill today was originally built in the 18th Century and reconstructed after being damaged during the Second World War.

It’s no longer a royal residence but it is home to Hungary’s history museum and national gallery.

We missed out on seeing inside as Buda Castle is closed on Mondays, but we still got to walk along the walls and through the courtyards for the most spectacular views of the city.

Depending on how much history you’ve already included in your trip you might want to visit on a different day to make the most of Buda Castle. There are also underground tunnels.

Take a spin on the Budapest Eye

The Budapest Eye wheel against a blue sky

Also known as, The Ferris Wheel of Budapest, the Budapest Eye is the largest mobile ferris wheel in Europe, but it still isn’t as tall as Budapest Parliament or St Stephen’s Basilica.

There was no queue when we visited, so we opted for the standard tickets, which cost 4,300 HUF for adults (about £10) and 2,300 HUF for children (about £5). This got us three spins.

You can upgrade for priority queuing if you’re in a hurry on a busy day or a champagne package if you’re feeling fancy.

Enjoy Budapest’s island oasis, Margitsziget (St Margaret’s Island)

St Margaret’s Island is a city park in the Danube River and is free to visit. It’s somewhere to go and relax with a picnic, go for a walk, enjoy the gardens or visit one of its attractions.

The island is home to Palatinus Strand thermal baths which are super family-friendly with slides, a wave pool and fountains. It’s also a lot cheaper than Széchenyi which we visited.

Other things to Dom on Margitsziget include exploring the ruins of a monastery and convent that once stood on the island, and climbing the Art Nouveau St Margaret’s water tower for another perspective on the city.

I’d really hoped to fit this into our city break. It’s definitely a reason too return to Budapest!

Cool down at a water feature

Our 10-year-old daughter enjoying water foundations in a square in Budapest. The jets come up randomly to surprise you

We visited Budapest in July and it was hot!

It was such a relief to find water features in the Inner City district. Stopping at the ones outside the Hungarian Parliament and Freedom Square made a long day of walking much more bearable.

Foodie treats to try in Budapest

We don’t get much sightseeing done before our girls ask for a pit stop, so we had the chance to try a few Hungarian street foods during our week.

Here’s the ones they loved (spoiler alert, they’re not the healthiest snacks!):

Indulge in a Gelato Rose

Our girls holding ice cream cones from Gelato Rosa. The ice cream has been scooped and shaped as petals

Gelato Rose is more than an ice cream parlour – it’s a must-visit Budapest destination in itself.

The desserts it serves near St Stephan’s Basilica are not strictly gelato (I know this matters to Italian food connoisseurs) but they are delicious and presented in a super pretty way. The ice cream is scooped using a special tool to make a picture perfect rose.

Try Chimney Cake

Traditional chimney cakes - twists of doughnut like pastry covered in sugar and nuts
Stock image alert! We ate ours before I could get a picture.

Another sweet treat for the whole family is Hungarian chimney cake or Kürtőskalács. You can buy these doughnut-like spirals rolled in sugar or flavoured coatings and, if you’re feeling fancy, filled with ice cream and sweets.

Your kids will love you for getting them one but make sure you are close to somewhere they can run off the sugar high afterwards.

Fill up on Lángos

Traditional Hungarian Langos fried flat bread smothered in sour cream and grated cheese

At the more hearty end of Budapest’s culinary offering is this deep-friend flatbread smothered in garlic, sour cream and cheese. You can get extra toppings like sausage and ham.

To me, they taste like a savoury doughnut. I’m not sure I could follow one with a chimney cake!

Order a lemonade

A raspberry lemonade on a restaurant table alongside a menu. Our 10-year-old daughter is drinking the same drink in the background

Lemonade in Hungary is more akin to a virgin cocktail with ice, fruit and, without doubt, extra sugar mixed in. We ordered what we thought would be a plain lemonade for the girls on our first day and immediately had drink envy.

Hungarian lemonades are freshly squeezed and have different fruits added to make them super delicious. Move over 7 Up!

So these are the things we enjoyed most about Budapest. If you want to find our more about what we fitted into each day of our city break, where we stayed and where we ate take a look at my seven day Budapest itinerary.

Is a city break in Budapest on your bucket list? Have you been inspired by our recommended things to do in Budapest with kids?

Need more information? I used the Eye Witness guide to Budapest* guide when planning our trip.

Claire's hand holds a copy of the Eye Witness Budapest guidebook in front of garden bushes and flowers

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Disclosure: this post contains affiliate links. If you click on one of these links and make a purchase I may earn some commission. This does not affect the price you pay.

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