New article on our “Toddler Friendly Cities” column, this time about our favorite Budapest! Our guest blogger is a regular, Amanda from Coaching Evie. Enjoy!



“Amanda here from Coaching Evie ! My family and I (husband, Tommy and now 7 year old daughter, Evelyn) are from the Southeastern United States. Prior to welcoming Evelyn to our little family, my husband and I were avid travelers. When she arrived we were determined to continue our travels and simultaneously mold the next generation of a responsible global citizen. Over the years, we have discovered there is no greater gift than seeing all the amazing places the world has to offer than through our child’s eyes.

Our family was fortunate to spend a few days in Budapest, Hungary in June of 2018 when our daughter was three years old. We were touring nearby Vienna, Austria and it was only natural that we made the 3-hour train ride over to check out Budapest. What we found was a gorgeous city full of rich culture, history, and architecture. We also found the goods and accommodations to be cheaper than western European cities. Budapest is dubbed the “Paris of the East ” and the “spa capital of the world”. At the same time, it is Europe’s most underrated city! Since Budapest is less touristy and cheaper than other rival cities in Europe it is the perfect place for family travel. 



Must See in Budapest with Kids

When traveling to Budapest, a visit to one of their many thermal baths is a must! The city of Budapest sits on top of several hot springs. Thanks to the Romans and Ottomans, a spa culture is now synonymous with the city. You can take part in this special experience even when traveling with children! We visited both the more famous Széchenyi Spa and the more family-friendly Palatinus. Each one was wonderful, but you do get different experiences from the two. Széchenyi Spa, being the oldest and more popular, is slightly more formal. We felt like we needed to encourage our daughter to keep her voice low and not to splash around. Palatinus, however, is more family-friendly. It is almost like a mini water park. At Palantinus, there were water slides and large areas to play and splash around. 

Another must, while touring Budapest, is a visit to one of their famed Ruin Bars. Abandoned buildings in the city were turned into artistic pubs using recycled furniture, surreal art pieces, and endless decor everywhere you look! Ruin Bars are not kid-friendly in the evenings; however, the world-famous Szimpla Kert opens on some days as early as 11 am. It is worth at least a quick walk-through (which is what our family did). Ellato Kert serves food and is set up like a beer garden. It is less touristy and more family-friendly. 

Sitting high on a hilltop of the city is Buda Castle. If touring the castle does not appeal to everyone in the family, a ride up the hill on the Budavári Sikló (or Budapest Castle Hill Funicular) will be fun for everyone. The views from the top overlooking Pest are remarkable! While at the top, head over to the Halászbástya (or Fisherman’s Bastion). Here you will get more amazing views of the city, as well as a few street performances. 

Margaret island is a beautiful park sitting right in the middle of the Danube River. Here, the whole family can enjoy a nice stroll or rent bikes (4 wheel carts are also available). Activities are endless, and you could spend a good half-day (or more) here. Enjoy the gardens, play in one of the many large playgrounds, visit the Music Fountain, and tour the ruins of a medieval convent. With Palatinus nearby, you can even end the day at a family-friendly spa! 

A slightly more accessible green space is the City Park. This park contains some interesting attractions. Not only will you find your typical walking trails and playgrounds but also a large castle replica, a zoo, a circus, and Széchenyi Spa. There is also Erzsébet Square with a skate park, water fountains, playground, and a giant Ferris wheel. 

Our family is huge fans of visiting local markets whenever we travel. Budapest’s Central Market Hall is one of the best we have seen! This massive indoor market opened in 1897 and still serves as a great place to freely wander, get souvenirs, eat traditional food, and look at all the colorful fruits and vegetables. Here we picked up a Rubix cube, which was invented in Hungary. Don’t forget to also pick up some paprika! 

Miniversum comes highly recommended as a place to visit with kids. Here thousands of miniature figures, buildings, and trains make a mock-up display of Budapest. I have read great reviews on Miniversum but had planned to save it for a rainy day activity. Fortunately and unfortunately, the weather was beautiful while we were there. 



Day Trips from Budapest 

  1. The Danube Bend: Take a relaxing day cruise down the Danube River, stopping to explore Szentendre, Visegrád (Royal Palace and Citadel), and Esztergom (Basilica).  
  2. Szentendre: A quick trip from Budapest’s city center. This charming town has an open-air museum with old farmhouses and displays of rural Hungarian culture. 
  3. Memento Park: This is an open-air exhibit of former Soviet-era statues which used to be displayed throughout the city. While close to the city center, in South Buda, I listed this as a day trip because it does take quite a bit to get here and a good part of the day could be spent walking through the park. 
  4. Eger: A small town featuring beautiful buildings, a museum, thermal bath, castle, and local wines. 
  5. The Royal Palace of Gödöllő: Summer palace of the Habsburgs surrounded by a beautiful park. 
  6. Lake Balaton: Great to visit in the summer. Here the family can swim and relax on the beach. 



Family Friendly Restaurants

While the adults will enjoy Budapest’s traditional spicy goulash soup, it probably won’t settle well with the kids. Luckily, traditional restaurants also serve szelet (Wiener schnitzel) and nokedli (spaetzle), potatoes, fries, and rice are common sides. Although we did not have the opportunity to visit these restaurants, Ellato Kert and Gundel Restaurant come well-rated for families. Ellato Kert is a ruin pub whereas Gundel Restaurant offers a finer dining experience.  



Family Friendly Stays

I would recommend staying on the Pest side of the Danube River. This is where you will find the majority of Budapest’s main attractions, and it will not require you to walk uphill every evening when returning from touring. We stayed in the Jewish Quarter because it offered cheaper options close to the city center. One downfall to the area is it is home to a lot of the ruin bars are located. While I still would recommend this area, I would also recommend reading reviews about noise levels thoroughly. 

Selecting the appropriate type of accommodation for your family is also important. In our daughter’s younger years, we almost exclusively stayed in rental apartments (i.e. through Airbnb/ VRBO) where we had access to a washer and a refrigerator. Not until Evelyn was fully potty trained and a more scheduled eater did we start staying in hotels. The washer was beyond helpful with the messes kids tend to make of their clothes (and sometimes yours). The refrigerator is helpful to store healthy snacks and Evelyn’s favorite foods if we had to supplement her meals a little.”



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