We spent December in Budapest with kids ages 11 and 12 (nearly 13!). While they mostly want to do the same things we want to do, we found some very kid-specific activities that we want to share with you.
Budapest is a big city with a lot to offer families. They sometimes bill themselves as a party town and there is that element, as well. But, for the most part, we found it to be a very family-friendly city.
I’ve rounded up fun things to do in Budapest with little kids as well as with tweens and teens. I hope you find this useful for your time in Budapest with children.
Budapest With Kids
Hungarian Natural History Museum (Magyar Természettudományi Múzeum)
Anders always wants to go to natural history museums when we travel, so we were happy to find this large museum full of rocks and gems, coral reefs, mammoths, and a whale skeleton, plus a dinosaur garden.
We spent about an hour and a half walking around and reading the displays. It’s not all in English, but quite a lot is. There were a bunch of interactive puzzles, games, and exhibits that are great for kids. There were even some rooms just for little kids, which we didn’t check out, but would have been fun for the pre-K through 2nd set.
One adult and one student cost around $8. Find hours and prices for the Hungarian Natural History Museum.
Behind the museum, you’ll find Orczy Garden, a lovely park complete with a lake (and lakeside cafe), and adventure park with zip lines, a playground, and lots of green space.
Getting There: There isn’t parking right at the museum, but there is a metro stop about a five minute walk away (Semmelweis klinikák). Another Metro stop (Nagyvárad tér) is about the same distance in the other direction. Budapest, Ludovika tér 2, 1083
ELTE Botanical Garden (Eötvös Loránd Tudományegyetem Füvészkert)
The botanical garden is right across the street from the Hungarian Natural History Museum and could easily be visited the same day. While it is open in winter, it was not open on the day we visited.
This is the The first Hungarian Botanical Garden, founded in 1771. The often have kids activities or you can just wander through the gardens and greenhouses. This is a relaxing place in Budapest for families. In summer, the gardens are awash with blooms.
The gardens are an important location in Ferenc Molnár’s 1907 novel for young people, The Paul Street Boys.
Find hours and prices for ELTE Botanical Garden.
Budapest, Illés u. 25, 1083
One of my favorite things to do in Budapest for kids is to spend a day or half a day on Margaret Island. We walked the length of the island, stopping at playgrounds and along the river, but it is 2.5 kilometers long, so you may want to take the bus one way or part of both directions.
If your kids are old enough, you can rent Bubi Bikes and ride on the island — there is a road down the middle, which is closed to traffic other than buses.
One of the best stops is at Palatinus Strand Thermal Bath. In summer, the outdoor pools are perfect for Budapest kids and the slides, fountains, and wave pools are a hit. You can also soak at the Grand Danubius Thermal Baths (Ensana Thermal Margitsziget Health Spa Hotel), which are both indoors and outdoors.
In addition to playgrounds and the thermal baths, you’ll find pedestrian promenades, an art nouveau water tower, the ruins of a 13th-century Dominican convent, Japanese gardens, a musical fountain and a small zoo.
In the summer, there are multiple bars and restaurants with live music. Even in winter, we found one café/bar open.
Getting there: Take Tram 4 or 6 to the middle of the Margaret Bridge and walk onto the island. Bus 26 runs the length of the island about every 15 minutes.
Fisherman’s Bastion (Halászbástya)
You can’t miss this fairytale wall made of turrets and corridors. It was built in the middle of the 19th century where the city walls once stood. The Fisherman’s Bastion got its name from the medieval fisherman’s guild that used to defend this part of the wall.
Kids love running up and down the stairs, along the raised corridors, into the turrets, and in the square below, which it shares with Matthias Church. You’ll love the views across the river of the Parliament and other Pest-side buildings and the photos you can take with what looks like a giant sand castle.
It’s an easy walk up to the Bastion from the Buda-side of the Chain Bridge. Take the stairs to the right of the tunnel. You can also take the Castle Bus and do a full tour of the area. There will be plenty of people standing at the bottom of the funicular with info on the Castle Bus.
Budapest, Szentháromság tér, 1014
Search For Statues
As you wander around Budapest, kids can look for mini-statues by Mihály Kolodko, a guerilla-sculptor. We found the frog (wearing a little scarf) in Liberty Square. Tividar Hertzl, the journalist, social activist, and father of Zionism, poses with his bike near the Dohány Street Synagogue. To tell the truth, both of these were pointed out to us on free walking tours, part of the three-day itinerary I put together. They are easy to miss.
At the top of the castle funicular, we located the Hungarian cartoon character: the rabbit with the checkered ears.
There are many more around the city, but you really have to look for them. Find a bunch of them on the Statues of Budapest Instagram page.
Hiking with Kids in Budapest
Hiking near Budapest is a great way to get out of the city for a few hours (or days) and get to know the Hungarian hills and countryside.
We hiked with Gyuri from Outdoor Adventures Hungary and had an excellent experience. We chose the One Day Wonder Hike, which gets you to a viewpoint of the Danube Bend – a picturesque bend in the Danube River. Then, with a series of ladders and metal stairways, and trail, you work your way past waterfalls and through a beautiful oak valley — perfect hike for tweens and teens. I think kids 8 and older would be great on this hike.
Outdoor Adventures Hungary offers other hikes, which would be ideal for families with younger kids. A stroll through the Buda Hills still gets you into nature, but can be made mellower for shorter legs.
(We were hosted by Outdoor Adventures Hungary, but my opinions are my own, of course.)
Cooking Class for Families in Budapest
Another one of the cool things to do in Budapest with kids is to take a cooking class. We took a Hungarian food tour and cooking class with Easy Cooking Budapest, and it was one of our trip highlights.
The four-hour session started with a tour of the Grand Market Hall (also called the Central Market Hall). While we had walked through the beautiful market before, sampling the food, learning about the history, and meeting vendors, made the experience so much better.
We took a taxi to the Easy Cooking Budapest kitchen and our guide and instructor, Kata, shared a local dink called palinka for the adults and kid drinks for the kids, and got us started chopping vegetables. We made a full Hungarian meal, complete with appetizer and dessert. It turned out delicious! And the bottle of Hungarian wine was a nice touch.
When looking for what to do in Budapest with kids, this should be at the top of the list — it’s a great family activity and something you can do together when you get home while you reminisce about your trip to Budapest.
(We were hosted by Easy Cooking Budapest, but my opinions are my own, of course.)
Meet the Kitties at Cat Cafe Budapest
One of our favorite Budapest kids attractions was Cat Café Budapest (of course, we visit cat cafes all over the world).
If you aren’t familiar with cat cafés, the basic premise is that it is a regular café, but there are a bunch of cats that live there. They basically ignore you, but you can pet them and look at them and occasionally, play with them.
The cats here are a mix of pets and to-be-adopted cats. There are at least three huge Maine coon cats; our favorite was Irish Coffee.
You should probably make a reservation. We got in a couple times without one, but on our third (attempted) visit, there was a line of people waiting outside. We saw a line a few other times when we were walking by.
There is no entrance fee, but you should buy some food and/or drinks. They serve alcohol, in addition to the usual coffees, teas, and cocoas.
On weekdays, children of all ages can visit the coffee house between 10am and 6pm, but on weekends only children ages 8 and older are allowed.
Budapest, Révay u. 3, 1065
Best Thermal Baths for Families in Budapest
Budapest is famous for its thermal baths and you should soak in at least one while you are there.
There are a lot of cool places in Budapest to soak, but it’s kind of pricey for a family, so you probably want to narrow it down to one or two.
I wished the outdoor pool was a little warmer, but everyone else seemed happy with the temperature. Fortunately it was 50-degrees F the day we went – if it had been cold out, I am not sure it would have been warm enough for me, but I am kind of a wimp.
The kids LOVED the lazy river – swirl current that pushed them around in circle for an hour or more. Henry loved the massaging jets. I love sitting in hot water.
Like the thermal baths we visited in Germany, the locker room here is coed. There are small changing rooms within the locker room, so you don’t have to get naked in front of everyone. There are also “cabins” you can rent, which are small, individual changing rooms where you can leave your stuff.
For a less touristy thermal bath experience, we recommend try Dandár Thermal Baths. It has a more local feel, and well, more locals. It’s considered a family-friendly bath. Palatinus Strand on Margaret Island caters toward kids with their wave pools.
The most popular baths are Széchenyi and Gellért Thermal Baths. They will be crowded. We tried to go to Gellért Baths on my birthday, but the lobby was so crowded with people waiting to get in that we skipped it and wandered around Gellért Hill instead.
(We were given two Budapest cards by Budapest Info.)
Caving for Kids in Budapest
Szemlőhegyi Cave: Another fun thing for kids to do in Budapest is to explore a cave beneath the city. Apparently, Budapest is the only capital city in the world with a network of caves beneath it, at least that’s what the tour guide at Szemlő hegyi barlang (Szemlo Mountain Cave) told us.
We took an easy, 40-minute walking tour with an English speaking guide. The cave is pretty and filled with “popcorn” formations. It might be kind of boring for younger kids, but it is easy to walk through.
They have a fun, interactive visitor center where little kids can crawl through pretend caves and learn about caving.
Getting there: Szemlőhegyi Cave: By bus 29 from Kolosy tér in Óbuda, get off at “Szemlő-hegyi-barlang” stop.
Paul Valley Cave: Originally, we planned to visit Pál völgyi barlang (Paul Valley Cave) since it is included in the Budapest Card, but it was closed the week between Christmas and New Year. This is the longest cave in Budapest and the second longest in Hungary. Apparently there are more formations and a slightly more challenging walk (including ladders). Kids must be at least 5-years-old and 115 cm (3.77 feet) to visit.
Getting there: take bus 65 form Kolosy tér in Óbuda, get off at the “Pál-völgyi cseppkőbarlang” stop
Labyrinth in Buda Castle: Can you handle another cave? This one is probably the easiest for families and has the most stuff to look at.
The cave was home to Paleolithic and medieval people. It served as a wine vault, torture chamber, prison, and hideaway. Perhaps most famously, it was Dracula’s chamber. King Matthias captured Vlad the Impaler (inspiration for the fictional Dracula) in Transylvania (once part of Hungary) and imprisoned him in the labyrinth. Dracula’s Chamber now displays vampire-related paraphernalia.
There is also a photography exhibit of the beautiful caves and sculpted art. It’s an easy, self-guided walk.
Getting There: The Labyrinth is between Matthias Church and Buda Castle, at Budapest, Úri u. 9, 1014. If you take the Castle Bus Tour you can get off near here. Several city buses run past here, too. The closest bus stop is Szentháromság tér.
Play in City Park (Városliget)
For another half day in the park, City Park is pretty great. There are a couple fun playgrounds, a fantastical castle to explore, ice skating in the winter, boats on a pond in summer, a skate park, and a zoo. There are two art museums in the park and several cafés.
Anders and I paid a few dollars to visit one of the towers in the castle. We got a great view of the surrounding area.
If you visit Budapest in winter, you can glide across the largest ice skating rink in Europe. Since the park is adjacent to Heroes Square, be sure to see the monuments on your way in.
Roam Gellért Hill
Gellért Hill towers over the Danube on the Buda side of the river. We spent a few hours on two days wandering around, playing in the playgrounds, enjoying the view, and sipping beers and soda near the Citadel — the fortress at the top of the hill. The Citadel Overlook is the highest point in Budapest and has the best views in the city. If you time it right, you can catch a spectacular sunset from here.
As you walk around Gellért Hill you can see:
- Buda Arboretum — a quiet spot with trees and plants from around the world
- Liberty Monument — a tribute to the Soviet soldiers who died liberating the city
- Philosopher’s Garden — sculptures of Lao-Tsu, Gandi, Jesus, and others
- Hungarian Craft Stalls
- A couple fun playgrounds. Our kids especially like the one with long slides winding down the hillside (Csúszdapark) and the one with the giant pencils and the human hamster wheel (Cerka-firka Playground).
There are more fun things to do with kids in Budapest than we had time for. Here’s a quick list of places that might be really fun.
- Budapest Fairytale Museum (Mesemúzeum): an interactive, indoor adventure space for young children to run, play, and explore the basic elements of fairy tales. More here.
- Children’s Railway: a narrow gage railway in the Buda Hills run almost entirely by kids ages 10-14. More here.
- Miniversum Budapest: an interactive museum of intricate, 1:100-scale models of Hungarian, Austrian, and German landmarks. More here.
- Center of Scientific Wonders: a science center for kids offering interactive exhibits and activities, plus a cinema, game room, and café. More here.
Other Things to Do in Budapest, Hungary, and Slovakia
- 3-Day Budapest Itinerary
- Things to Do in Budapest With Kids
- Unusual Things to Do in Budapest
- Best Day Trips From Budapest
- Things to Do in Budapest in December
- 12 Reasons to Visit Banská Bystrica, Slovakia
- Visiting the High Tatras in Slovakia in Winter