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A week in Budapest with young children

Greetings! This forum has already been immensely helpful in helping plan my trip; I'll get around to posting an itinerary for feedback, but for now I have a couple questions to help me plan. I've read the vast majority of the topics here, so hopefully I'll avoid asking any obvious questions.

We'll be in Budapest for about a week (dates TBD) in early October, traveling with a 6mo and 2yr old (this will be our 3rd European trip with an infant - apparently we've turned it into a tradition!) I'd been eyeing Budapest before thinking about family-friendly activities, but it seems providential - Budapest looks like a great place for families.

  1. That said, is there anything that really wouldn't be appropriate? E.g., even if he wouldn't understand the content, would House of Terror be too intense (or boring) for my 2yo?

  2. Are there any restaurants that should be either sought out or avoided in particular? We won't attempt anything fancy, but otherwise would probably choose a range of places. Will our kids be welcome (if they're well-behaved)?

  3. It looks like we cannot take them into the baths, but is it worth the brief Szechenyi tour just to see it? Their web site notes that you can take children to the Margaret Island baths, is that worth doing?

  4. Any toddler-appropriate activities or sites we should make sure to take in? Here are a few of the thing's I've bookmarked:

    • Zoo
    • Circus
    • Margaret Island
    • Children's railway?
    • Puppet theatre?
    • There are a number of interesting parks/playgrounds, we'll get to one or two of them I'm sure.

Otherwise, we should be hitting the typical sights in the city, with the exception of most or all museums (2yo can be great, but can also be...a 2yo. :) ) It also looks like the boats run on Saturdays through October, so we can do the half day afternoon trip to Szentendre, returning on the river.

Posted by
12 posts

Two more general questions:

If we did an overnight trip somewhere, what would you vote for?

  • Gyor (possibly staying a bit longer and adding a run over to Soprom?)
  • Pecs
  • Eger (or just make this a day trip? We're not wine people, so that wouldn't be a selling point)
  • Szeged

I realize there's probably no wrong answer, especially since we enjoy both grand cities and little towns. I think Pecs is the farthest, so that might be lowest on the list unless there's something that is too good to miss.

Would it make sense, if we did an overnight, to stay 2 different places and use the overnight as the transition? E.g. 3-4 nights near the Opera House, overnight trip somewhere, then 2 nights closer to the market (or Buda side)?

Thanks in advance for any advice!

Posted by
2147 posts

I don't have kids, but I loved the Allatkert (zoo) for the fabulous architecture, especially the elephant building. Loved the hyacinth macaws and polar bears. Easy trip on the M1 to Heroes' Square (hosok tere) and walk through the lovely City Park (Varosliget), plenty to see and do there.

Margit sziget is my most special favorite place because I am nutty about the little zoo--about 2/3 of the way in along the Pest side--when I visit in the spring I can easily spend 2 hours there observing the storks at close range on their nests (say, 10' away) and just meandering about doing stork things. There's also a variety of other critters and birds and it's free. When I was there in late April this year there was a lot of construction going on so hopefully that's done by October as the sziget is a great park with a beautiful old church, abbey ruins, fountain, baths and a Japanese garden at the far end.

I completely enjoyed the Terror House, and hope you get a chance to visit as it tells a very compelling story about that part of Hungarian history. A 2 year old won't appreciate it, definitely geared towards adults. I recall spending maybe 1.5 hrs there at the most.

As for lodging, my preferred area is near the Great Market Hall off Fovam ter, Pest side right by the Szabadsag hid. Peaceful and pleasant and close to the tourist fray but not in the middle of it, 2 metro stations within a 3-5 minute walk. Others prefer the more central Opera area. I have yet to do any overnight trips, hopefully next visit in May--once I get to Budapest I don't want to leave!

Posted by
12120 posts

Some ideas: And note how much of this is on Andrassy ut……. Hint for where to stay.

Puppet Theater: Never been, but well reviewed. https://www.budapest-babszinhaz.hu/ (Andrassy ut)

Budapest Zoo: Really outstanding zoo. Thanks to an absence of lawyers you can really get close to the animals: http://www.zoobudapest.com/en (Andrassy ut - well at the end of it)

Tropacarium: A pretty nice aquarium and an excuse to get out of the tourist hub: http://tropicarium.hu/en/ (Taxi Ride to the outskirts.)

Miniversium: Pretty fascinating for kids. https://www.miniversum.hu/en/ (Andrassy ut)

City Park: plenty of things for kids to do: http://varosliget.info/ (Andrassy ut)

The Circus: I enjoy the circus in Budapest. Lots of fun: https://www.fnc.hu/eng/ (Andrassy ut)

Children’s Railway: Wellllll, I’m not a big fan. Sort of boring. Sorry kids. (Buda)

House of Terror: I doubt they will understand enough to be marked for life. (Andrassy ut)

Maybe a year too young and possibly language issues: https://www.mupa.hu/en/program/big-kids-busy-with-music-2017-09-14_17-00-stairway-hall (taxi ride)

Dinner: http://sirlancelot.hu/?id=2 (okay, this is mostly for dad) (not too far from Andrassy ut)

One of many nice parks for kids (very near Andrassy ut): https://www.google.com/maps/@47.5000609,19.0601594,3a,75y,84.02h,89.75t/data=!3m6!1e1!3m4!1sk9ZjZ5IABoF3fXgFMdK6cQ!2e0!7i13312!8i6656?hl=en

Great Castle: http://www.mezogazdasagimuzeum.hu/home-en (Andrassy ut)

Posted by
12120 posts

Would it make sense, if we did an overnight, to stay 2 different places and use the overnight as the transition? E.g. 3-4 nights near the Opera House, overnight trip somewhere, then 2 nights closer to the market (or Buda side)?

If you are leaving Budapest by train I would stop in Gyor for the night and see the archabbey at Pannonhalma. Otherwise I think there is enough in Budapest for four nights. While Budapest seems large, it really is made smaller by the excellent metro and tram system. You will need to only use the M1 Metro line which has a very human scale and plays Mario music when the door close. The trams are like exotic busses with lots of glass. The move slowly and go through the most scenic part of town. With a TravelCard you can get on and off at will and not have to worry about tickets.

After a few dozen trips to Budapest in which we stayed in a couple of corners we settled for near the Opera House. The M1, in just one quick stop, connects that area with Deák Ferenc tér (square). I've checked time from Deák Ferenc tér to every major site and sight in Budapest and its as close to ground zero as you can get. From there everything only one or two exceptions is within 10 minutes by foot or tram or foot & tram. Trouble is, Deák Ferenc tér its self doesn't have much to offer for great accommodations; which is why I moved up Andrassy ut to the Opera.

But where to stay is subjective. There are a few "wrong" places to stay, but the Market Hall area isn't one of them so check out christa's recommendation too. From there its a ride on the 47/49 Tram to the Deák Ferenc tér. A little longer, but not bad.

Posted by
12 posts

James, re your last comment, I want to clarify in case it wasn't clear: My tentative plan is to spend the whole week in Budapest, sans an overnight (or two). So it would be 4 nights, than 1 night away, then 2 more nights (or something like that).

If we didn't have the toddler we would pack it more full and hit Prague or something as well (or more of Hungary), but I'm reticent to assume things will go perfectly, hence spreading the activities over 5-6 days instead of 3-4.

On the other hand, if you think we should only spend 4 nights in BP and then go elsewhere, I'm open.

Posted by
12120 posts

I think i understood you. Most folks come from or go to some place else and thats always the best time in my opinion to do an extra night someplace. Most all trains out of Budapest (with tourists on them) go towards Vienna so a stop over for a night in Gyor makes sense.

But if you are staying in Budapest, if it were me, i would get an apartment for the convenience and the space. You have a chance of getting a better price for 5 nights than for 2 nights or 3 nights. I would apply that savings to keeping the apartment even while taking an over night trip. For the overnight trip i would take the minimum and leave the rest at "home". This is exactly what we do.
I also wouldn't consider two apartments to experience two parts of town. Interesting idea, but i don't think the payoff is worth the effort.

Szentendre is a 3/4 day trip and a pleasant one at that. Four days is really in the grey area for taking an over night or not taking an overnight. If you enjoy just getting out and riding the rails, then do it. For just an overnight trip i would research:

Pannonhalma Archabbey. Either by train to Gyor and then Taxi and the train back the next day or, take the train up, see the town, spend the night at the Hotel Klastrom, then the next morning take a taxi to Pannonhalma. Now if you want to have some real fun, have a driver pick you up in Pannonhalma for the ride back to Budapest and maybe stop in Tata on the way.

Pecs: Great town, lots of interest. A bit of a train ride, but worth it. I like the tired old grand dame Hotel Palatinus for location, history and experience.

Eger, great for wine, otherwise skip it.

Lillafüred: The Hotel Palota, the lake the cave, the narrow gauge rail road. All interesting and fun. Oh, and a castle. Again, train both ways or train up and car back.

Posted by
12120 posts

Then, if you really want to get away, you can do Warsaw or Kiev round trip, non-stop out of Budapest for under $100. Spend two nights and Bucharest and Sofia open up for under $100. These are all about 4 hours door to door which is about the equivalent to taking the train to Pecs. Cant help you with Warsaw, but Kiev and Sofia and to a lesser degree Bucharest are worth the effort.

Posted by
12120 posts

As for restaurants, Hungarians take their kids out. The only difference between the US and Hungary is that the kids in Hungary are more likely to behave appropriately for the setting.

Posted by
12 posts

I thought you might suggest Kiev. :)
Agree about going with an apartment. The Opera Apartment mentioned elsewhere looks like a nice place, but it's not available the whole week, and that's mostly what started me thinking about switching locations. I haven't looked around too much yet, though, so there may be something similar nearby, or I can grab a room at the K&K for a couple nights.

Lillafüred does look interesting. Too many possibilities!

Posted by
12120 posts

Kiev only because you can do a quick round trip. Given two nights, i think i would pick Sofia first. Always loved Sofia.....

The place we stay doesn't allow children so cant help you there. These guys might have something: http://budapestapartmentservice.com/apartments/

We spend quite a bit of time in Budapest, but there is a big world to see so I try and plan a stop in or a stop out. Usually on the way in, because then i can get to Budapest and relax. Just considering one stop on the way in, an open jaw and a discount carrier; then there are a lot of options. US - Podgorica - Budapest - US for instance. The added cost is usually about 5% on the open jaw then another $100 for the local discount flight.

Posted by
12 posts

Ok, I've taken a stab at my itinerary, interested in any feedback you have. I've tried to keep it on the light/flexible side given the kids and uncertainty how any given day may go, so there's probably room to insert something if I've missed a key sight.

Wed 10/4
- Arrive BUD ~2pm
- Get to apartment near Opera (James, we may even be on your street)
- Miniversum
- Grocery shopping, supper
- Walk down Andrassy to the river (or whatever we're in the mood for at that point, if not sleeping!)

Thurs 10/5
Morning: Explore Jewish quarter, including Great Synogogue tour
Afternoon: House of Terror, then walk/take metro up to City Park and visit zoo, castle, etc. Stop in Heroes Square on the way back down.

Fri 10/6
Morning: Explore Lipotvaros neighborhood, including Parliament tour
Afternoon: Walk across Chain Bridge, take Funicular up to Castle hill and surrounding area

Sat 10/7
Morning: Take M1 down to Vorosmarty Ter, wander through Pest over to the Great Market
Afternoon: Szentendre

Sun 10/8
Pecs

Mon 10/9
Return to Budapest by lunch
Afternoon: Margaret Island, plus anything else we didn't get to or want to revisit

Tues 10/10
Early flight back to U.S.

Posted by
12120 posts

Sounds good. Be sure and get metro passes. I think the kids might be free. The 2 tram, 47/49 tram and M1 are generally not too crowded for kids. The circus is really an enjoyable family thing. We took the children of some Hungarian friends earlier this year and enjoyed it. The music, colors and action might even keep the attention of a 2 year old.

Wave when you pass the house. We will be home.

Posted by
12120 posts

Sounds good. Be sure and get metro passes. I think the kids might be free. The 2 tram, 47/49 tram and M1 are generally not too crowded for kids. The circus is really an enjoyable family thing. We took the children of some Hungarian friends earlier this year and enjoyed it. The music, colors and action might even keep the attention of a 2 year old.

Wave when you pass the house. We will be home.

Posted by
12 posts

Yep, we'll get the 7-day passes, and kids will be free. I looked at both the circus and puppet theatre sites, but the circus for the time we're there just has a Romeo and Juliet show that the recommend for high school age, nothing like a traditional show that I could tell.