Budapest, Hungary :
Things to do in Budapest with Kids
There is a great deal to do in Budapest if you’re attempting to keep the kids entertained, here is our brief breakdown to keeping the kids happy while enjoying the wonderful things this beautiful city has to offer!
Getting to Budapest:
The Liszt Ferenc Airport (http://www.bud.hu/) ensures Budapest is well-connected internationally, and provides a direct link to many capital cities in Europe and North America. Budapest is a close 3 hour train journey from Vienna, where connections to other European cities can be caught. Research your options on getting to Budapest on the internet.
Budapest Dining with Kids:
Stroll off crowded and touristy Andrassy avenue to find Liszt Ferenc Square, Budapest's hotspot sporting cafes serving local and international cuisines. The restaurants are lined up on either side of a shady square which means children have running space without fear of heavy traffic (NB: this is not a complete pedestrian zone, but cars are scarce). One we liked is Menza (http://www.menzaetterem.hu/), the name is a reference to canteens of the Socialist era, however the interior is a lighter, more contemporary and sophisticated take on its muse. Whilst not strictly speaking child friendly in the traditional sense, it is a vibrant restaurant that offers to cater for all types of guests. If a really cozy, child-friendly restaurant near Liszt Ferenc tér is what you’re after, try Hokedli Pottage Bar (https://www.facebook.com/hokedli). They make healthy soups and (surprise!) vegetable pottage - an ideal place to have lunch in the city centre.
Note: we found food in Budapest expensive so don't think these are tourist prices.
Shopping in Budapest with kids
The concierge at my hotel didn't know about this place and that's when I knew that I had struck upon a real gem. Retrock is hailed online and off as the pulse of Hungarian fashion and I was eager to check it out. Two separate stores, Original and Deluxe, cater to different tastes. The first is more edgy and casual grunge while the latter is more high-end and couture. As I walked from one store to the next, I found that they lie on opposite sides of the most darling children's park, Karolyi Kert, with three different playgrounds and beautiful lawns in between. Needless to say it was much easier to shop whilst the boys were occupied.
It turns out that this quiet little corner is part of Budapest's Design District. Need I say more?
Things to do in Budapest for Kids: City Park
As a tourist you’ll most likely take a trip to Hero Square at the end of Andrassy avenue. During this visit you may skip Városliget (translates as ‘City Park’) just after the square which would be a mistake because hidden away here is a children's paradise!
Two beautiful playgrounds suitable for all ages, trampolines available to rent for 5 minutes at a time (warning: pricey but so worth it), stalls selling an assortment of Hungarian wooden toys, and a cute little lake where walkers stop to feed the ducks. There are little snack stalls located all over the place and a charming cafe just across from the park.
Just a few minutes’ walk from the play area is the amazing Szechenyi baths, one of Budapest's highlights as far as we were concerned (see below)!
The Botanical Gardens a bit further away in the 8th district are also worth a visit if you’re in the mood for exploring.
A Budapest Must-Do: Mineral Baths
One of the must-dos in Budapest is the mineral baths and while there are many to choose from, the one we enjoyed the most is the Szechenyi baths with three outdoor pools. Temperatures range from 26-38 degrees Celsius (approximately 78-100 degrees Fahrenheit) and there are a host of other hot and cold pools in the buildings flanking the main baths.
Whilst kids used to be allowed everywhere in the baths, the rules have become somewhat less flexible since our visit. The site now offers the recommendation that children under 14 years of age should avoid the hot waters. Babies under 2 cannot enter the hot pools at all - hence they enter free (http://szechenyispabaths.com/can-children-go-to-szechenyi-baths-szechenyi-bath-faq/). As a parent I would exercise discretion with how long your child gets to hang out in the hot pools and how much you switch between cold and hot.
The heated pools outside are basically tantamount to a massive Jacuzzi, the water is supposed to be good for healing respiratory, digestive and locomotive issues. I don't know about all that, but if your baby has sleep issues, this is the place to take him/her to. Check out karam below-10 minutes after dressing from the baths.
You can purchase tickets online – for the whole day, any day - that provide a fast track private entrance to the baths, along with a private cabin for 18 Euros. Alternatively you can buy Weekday Tickets at a cheaper price, or you can change in separate ladies and gents loos. Snack bars, cocktails and massages can make this place a full day's outing and would be great value for it!
Budapest for Kids: General Travel Tips
- DM supermarket is present here as it is in Croatia. For big shopping trips, there are hypermarkets like Tesco located around the city.
- Public Transportation: Convenient as the subway is - it hits all the major tourist spots - there are no lifts to take the pram down to the trains. That being said, it's a short flight of stairs to the platform. Cabs are also available and reasonable, however no car seats are provided.
- Locals like kids: The people seem to like kids and there is that air of patience that surrounds smaller European towns. Be aware that it's a real tourist trap in the summers and that might affect the general sentiment.
- Cute toys and decor: In Budapest we found the most imaginative collection of wooden and ceramic toys for kids. Look out for five finger puppets and ceramic clocks.
- Budapest airport has free wireless internet.
- Useful words in Hungarian:
- Doctor : orvos
- Taxi : taxi
- Emergency : vészhelyzet
- Bathroom : vécé
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