Hello! My name is Jessica and I have lived in Budapest for about a year with my husband and 20 month old daughter, Hayden. We are originally from the USA but have been lucky enough to find ourselves overseas for work.
Budapest is an amazing city and is one of the most family friendly cities in which we have had the opportunity to spend time. Divided by the Danube, Budapest consists of downtown Pest and the rolling hills of Buda. We live in Buda; it is more residential and a bit quieter, but certainly doesn’t lack in family friendly activities. Pest is typically where you will find the museums and festivals. Although Pest is a bustling city, they have done an amazing job incorporating children’s playgrounds and fountains throughout downtown. We often find ourselves exploring Pest during the weekends. It is a 20-30 minute trip via public transportation from our house to downtown Pest.
Public transportation is easy to navigate, efficient and plentiful. However, not all public transportation is stroller friendly. I found myself quickly ditching my large Britax stroller, which I loved, in favor of the Uppababy G-Luxe. I needed a stroller which I could pick up by myself and that would fit on the sometimes crowded trams and buses. However, there is usually a friendly local who will offer to help get the stroller on and off the tram. I have also used my Ergobaby 360 on occasion, but Hayden prefers the stroller.
While Hungarians love children, and restaurants often have play structures or a designated play areas, not many restaurants have baby changing stations. This is another reason I love my Uppababy G-Luxe- it lays flat and can double as a changing station if need be.
7:00am Breakfast in Pest
We are lucky these days to sleep in until 7am. Sometimes we get the luxury of a 7:30 wakeup call from our girl, but it is pretty rare. After we spend a little time relaxing and playing we get ready and head out about 9am to our favorite restaurant for breakfast or brunch- Liberte Grand Café located in District V. This is also a great location if you are looking to do a tour of the Parliament building. You can walk to the Parliament in 5 minutes from Liberte.
We enjoy sitting outside people watching. However, if the weather is bad, inside the restaurant there is a very cool mid-century vibe. I enjoy their freshly made green iced tea with kiwi and the classic eggs benedict. Their coffees and smoothies are also fantastic and made from super fresh ingredients. Hayden can’t get enough of the smoothies and eggs.
Hayden actually naps in the late morning, so sometimes my husband and I will leave the house a bit later and let her nap in the stroller while we enjoy our brunch together. We are quite strict about naps during the week, but are a little more flexible on the weekend.
11:00am Playtime at Margaret Island
After breakfast we love to head over to Margaret Island which is a 2.5 km long island in the middle of the Danube river. It can be accessed by public transportation or by foot along Margaret bridge. The island has a wonderful variety of things to do and see- fountains, memorials, playgrounds, a small zoo and acres of wide open space to picnic, sunbathe or just relax. The music fountain and water tower are protected UNESCO sites. There is also a jogging/walking path which runs along the perimeter of the island, giving a great view of the city and river. If you are looking to cool off from the hot summer sun, there are also public pools and a water park for a very reasonable price. The pool offers a children’s area and they sell food and drinks. It is possible to spend your entire day just on the island.
1:00pm Lunch by the Basilica
After a couple of hours spent exploring the zoo and running around the park, we head back over to Pest to another favorite restaurant of ours, Bestia. Bestia is located in the plaza next to St. Stephen’s Basilica. The restaurant’s shaded terrace is a wonderful place to relax and enjoy a view of the largest church in Hungary.
If Hayden gets antsy in her highchair, the restaurant’s location on the plaza is great for allowing her to walk around with either me or my husband and burn off some excess energy. Hayden and I will share a beetroot salad with feta and pinenuts and their beef “bestrami” sandwich. I also love the cucumber and vanilla lemonade or the green iced tea with mint, basil and lemon.
After lunch we take a 2 minute walk across the plaza to Gelarto Rosa for some ice cream. This shop is famous for their rose shaped creations.
3:00pm Fun on the Railway
At this point, we usually head back across the river to Buda and up into the hills which takes about 40 minutes via public transportation. An awesome way to experience this side of the river is to ride the Children’s Railway which is run by children under the supervision of adults. The railway was built after WWII and includes 7 stops, each offering an additional fun activity or recreation spot; there is a zip line located at Challangeland, a great panoramic view of the city from Normafa, Janos Hill which is the highest point in Budapest and a zoo at Vadaspark.
You can also take advantage of the chairlift at Janos Hill which is another great activity to pair with the railway.
6:00pm Burgers in Buda
If we have enough energy left over from our busy day, we can’t resist a cheeseburger from Johnny’s Bistro. It is a great local restaurant which we think offers the best burgers around. My favorite is the West Coast burger which reminds me of In n’ Out back in the States.
The restaurant has a children’s corner with plenty of toys to keep Hayden distracted while we wait for our dinner. If we didn’t get ice cream earlier in the day, we may order one of their over the top milkshakes served in a mason jar decorated with a variety of candy.
7:30 Back Home
We head back home once we finish dinner. After some milk and a bedtime story, Hayden goes down for the night.
Since Budapest is located quite North, it doesn’t get dark in the summertime until 9:30pm. This gives my husband and I a chance to enjoy a drink and some quality time on our balcony as we watch the sun set.