Budapest with Kids
Budapest has to be on our most surprisingly wonderful cities we've ever traveled too. As a matter of fact, it's one of the few places I would visit again just to have more time there. It's beautiful, friendly, family oriented and feels especially magical when standing on the banks of the Danube. If you're making a list of must-see places, put Budapest towards the top.
Day 1: Liberty Square, Ronald Reagan Statue, Hungarian Parliament, Holocaust Monument, Easter Market
We arrived to Budapest with our two kids via a 2ish hour train ride from Vienna, Austria. The trip was very easy and the train car we were in had a fabulous children's area with a little TV and play area, so our toddler stayed entertained throughout the ride. She also got the chance to play with other kids which she loved.
Once we arrived we had to take the metro from the train station to our apartment. Looking back, it was a pretty straight forward walk from the metro, but we were a little disoriented in the new city and we got ourselves very turned around. After a confusing phone call to our host and an exhausting walk with all of our bags, 2 kids and 4 adults we managed to find our apartment. This place could not have been in a better location. Seriously. It was DIRECTLY in front of one of Budapest's most famous attractions; St Stephen's Basilica. This also meant it was in very short walking distance to so many cafes, attractions, shops and metro stops. I recommend this apartment to any family staying in Budapest. The location, living space and 3 bedrooms makes it hard to pass up.
We got ourselves situated in the apartment, put the baby down for a nap (the grandparents stayed with the kids) and Jimmy and I walked down to find food for everyone. After refueling we started on one of Rick Steve's walking tours to get oriented with the area surrounding our apartment and to better understand where we were in proximity to all Budapest has to offer. For any family traveling with children, I recommend self-guided walks because they allow you to stop and go at your pace, but also offer tons of information and let you in on history and locations you may have otherwise passed up.
The walking tour took us down to Liberty Square (Szabadság tér), then to the Ronald Reagan Statue, past the State of Imre Nagy, and directly in front of the famous Palace of Parliament. The square here is HUGE and a fun place for kids to run wild. We let Charletta walk wherever she wanted and she ran and ran and ran. It was great to just let her be wild and free. While we were walking around, taking in the vast infrastructure all around us, we were lucky enough to witness one of Parlaiment's Changing of the Guard. It was spectacular. We continued our walk down to the waterfront walkway, stopped to take in the Shoes on the Danube Bank (Cipők a Duna-parton) and then walked past Chain Bridge (Széchenyi Lánchíd) along the canal. As we ended our short walking tour and headed back towards the apartment we stumbled onto one of Budapest's amazing Easter Markets located at Vörösmarty Ter. It was a sight for sore eyes. Every booth offered some kind of local food, drink, craft or specialty item -- to include Rooster Testicle Stew. We piled up plates of food and had a traditional Hungarian dinner.
Day 2: Little Princess Sculpture, March 15 Square, Jegubufe, Great Market Hall, Funicular, Royal Castle, King Mathias Fountain, Mathias Church, Fisherman's Bastion
For some reason, we thought it would be amazing to join in on one of Budapest's FREE guided walking tours. We got everyone ready and headed over to the square to sign in and join one of these tip only tours. Once we got started, we realized quickly that our kids couldn't sit through the stops and explanations, so we handed over a tip and parted ways after only one guided stop. My parents continued on with the tour and when we met back up that evening, they said it was an amazing tour and would recommend it to anyone willing to walk a lot -- so bring comfy shoes and get ready for a great tour.
Once we parted ways, we pulled out our handy Rick Steve's Guide and chose the Pest Town Center walking tour that took us from where we were. This was the start to an amazing day. We were guided from the famous Little Princess Statue (Kiskirálylány-szobor) along the Danube toward Budapest's prized Central Market Hall (Nagy Vásárcsarnok). The baby rode along while we intermittently let Charletta out to walk (and run). We took our time walking along and were able to see SO many unique places we would have easily overlooked. One place that stands out was seeing the ancient ruins of the Contra-Aquincum; a third century fortress. The ruins were slyly behind a class and concrete enclosure that blended into the surroundings. I would have never thought to look through the windows if I didn't KNOW to look. Another great find on our journey: Jégbüfé. This bistro is a rare relic from communist era Budapest; a quick, cheap, stand-at-a-counter coffee and cake stop. We indulged. Charletta absolutely loved her gigantic pastry too. We sat outside instead of inside, but we still got to feel the nice vibe and made a point to use their free restrooms. The bistro itself is not very stroller friendly, so consider leaving the stroller at the door and carrying the kids in.
As we walked along we took in the Pest half of Budapest. We peeked into courtyards, stopped into random churches, shopped in little shops. And finally, we made it Central Market Hall. The market is a HUGE 3 story marketplace packed with food, trinkets and people. We had an adventure navigating the narrow aisles with our double stroller, but were delighted to find escalators that we rode from the first to second floor and an elevator we took to get to the basement. We loved the bustling vibe, but were happy to get what we needed and leave.
After a short break back at our apartment we headed out to visit the Buda Castle District. We walked across the famous Chain Bridge and headed straight for the super cool Funicular that would take us up to the sites. (You can walk up to the castle, but there are a ton of stairs) We waited in a brief line to get tickets and they they escorted Tavia + Kids (and stroller) up a separate accessible entrance while Jimmy went the normal route. We ended up having a car all to ourselves and enjoyed a quiet ride with spectacular views. (AND our giant double stroller FIT, so it's definitely stroller friendly)
Once up top, we started one of the best walking tours we've done. We walked the Buda Castle grounds, enjoyed breathtaking views of Pest (and Parliament) as a background to the commanding Danube River, enjoyed some ancient artifacts, walked along the main street and ended at the Mathias Church + Fisherman's Bastion. We bought tickets for both and decided to do the church first. The entrance is not accessible, so we did have to lift our stroller up to get it through the door. The inside of this church is unlike any other church or basilica we have visited. There is an incredible amount of detail everywhere you look. We left the church and had to change a diaper, so we headed for the public restrooms near the entrance of Fisherman's Bastion. We realized there is no way to bring a stroller up to the Bastion and were preparing to baby-wear both kids when we saw the most amazing kid's park. We went to the park and let Charletta loose while Latham slept in his stroller. Jimmy took the first tour while I played at the park, then I went.
Once we got our fill of photos, coffee from the conveniently located Starbucks and the mesmerizing views, we meandered back over to Pest where decided to re-visit the Easter Market for some delicious Hungarian dinner.
PS - I could have spent HOURS standing on Fisherman's Bastion looking out with my coffee in hand
Day 3: Szechenyi Baths, Millineum Monument, Hero's Square, Easter Market & Birthday Celebrations
This was one of the most relaxing days of our trip. Jimmy and I left our kids with my parents and took the metro out to the very famous Szechenyi Baths. We wanted to take our kids, but they have a rule that children must be potty trained to enter their waters....so no swim diapers. At the time, both babies were in diapers, so we decided to go alone. We enjoyed every single second of the warm water, the jets and the relaxing atmosphere. We tried the baths inside and outside. Then we headed upstairs where we each received a one hour massage. Since we knew we wouldn't be back to this part of Budapest, Jimmy and I took the time to walk over to the Millennium Monument (Millenniumi emlékmű) at Hero's Parkk before we took the metro back to our apartment. We stopped for lunch before going back to the kids and we can not rave enough about Montenegrói Gurman. The food and beer was delicious, the service was impeccable and the restaurant was child and baby friendly. We saw both children and babies with their families. This is a white table cloth type place and you'll pay a little more, but it's worth the stop.
Once we met up with the everyone, Ed and I took the metro out to Jegbufe to get a birthday cake for Charletta. She was turning two and we decided to do a photo shoot (my mom is a photographer). We came back, got her ready in her birthday outfit and set up a spot in front of St Stephen's Basilica. Both my mom and I were snapping photos of our girl when a crowd of curious Hungarians and tourists crowded around and started singing Happy Birthday in Hungarian. It was awesome and unforgettable. Our photos and the video will be one of our most treasured.
After the celebration, we cleaned up and headed out for a drowsy and slow evening. We took our time meandering Budapest, stopped to take all the touristy photos and ate at the Easter Market one last time. We spend the cool evening soaking up the unforgettable feeling Budapest has.
The very next morning our hired driver from miniBUD (the airport transfer service) picked us up at our apartment door and drove us to the airport and ended another spectacular Europe trip.
- Easter Market
- Jegbufe (Pastries and Coffee)
- Montenegrói Gurman (Higher end restaurant, but kid friendly)
- Jacks Burger American Style Burgers (but DELICIOUS)
- A 3 bedroom, 2 bath Airbnb in an unbelievably convenient location. (Don't forget to USE OUR LINK to save $40 off your first Airbnb stay and help support our blog!)
- Budapest Parks
- Playgrounds in Budapest
- Children's Museum (We did not visit here, but it comes recommended)
- Budapest Zoo & Botanical Gardens (We did not visit here)
- Kiderplatz (Children's Playground) next to Fisherman's Bastion
- Free Guided Walking Tours
- Rick Steves Budapest (with walking tours & self guides) <-- link to purchase the book
- Transfer to and from the Airport
- Budepest Metro information: We used the metro to get from the train station to our apartment and then a couple times to get around Pest, but we mostly walked everywhere above ground. It's extremely easy to use and highly recommended to get out to Hero's Square & the Baths!
Reminders: Great Market Hall & Frantz List Museum are closed on Sundays and MOST of Budapest's museums are closed on Mondays, so be sure to look up what you want to see and check their hours ahead of time.
If you have visited Budapest, we want to hear how it was!! We had such a wonderful time and HIGHLY recommend this city makes it in your top 5 Must-See European cities.
HIGHLY reccomend using the walking tours in Rick Steve's Budapest -- we LOVED having them with us when we had our children in tow! Click to get your own------->