(First published on http://welovebudapest.com/budapest.and.hungary/hot.in.budapest.here.are.some.quick.escapes, 4 May 2014)
Summer in Budapest can be stiflingly hot especially with the air getting stuck between all the buildings. But while the searing heat can feel inescapable there are some cool escapes not so far away!
Városliget – City Park
This park is just behind Heroes’ Square but with lush green grass and giant swaying trees it’s easy to forget you’re in the heart of the city. Locals come to this park to sunbake, run or walk their dogs. But this park is so huge you’ll be able to find an area to yourself and if you close your eyes all you’ll hear is rustling leaves.
Margit Sziget – Margaret Island
Although the island is jam-packed during summer, it’s still a great place to sunbathe, take a picnic or feel a cooler breeze come off the Danube waters.
There’s plenty scattered throughout the city… smaller gardens generally with a playground, some benches, a flower garden and often an ornate wrought-iron fence. Find one near you and take a book and unwind even if it’s just for a short break. We recommend Károly Kert and Király Kert.
János Hegy – János Hill
It takes about an hour to get to the top of this hill in Buda…but it’s worth it. Once there you can go for a walk or take a picnic or just find a patch of grass and laze in the sun. This place is huge so you can definitely find a luscious bit of grass and get some peace.
This park is also on the Buda side and it’s a big green park that’s also worth a visit to escape the heat of the city and be amongst some greenery. Not to mention it’s recently undergone some upgrades.
It’s about a 20 minute walk from the Szent Gellért tér metro station to this dam area that juts out of Buda into the Danube. There you’ll find a well-designed park with timber walkways and a promenade that has bistros, restaurants and ice-cream stands dotted along it. This is one of the best places to escape for the afternoon…or evening.
Strand - Baths
There are loads of thermal baths and what Hungarians call a “strand” which means either a pool or the banks of a lake or river where they bathe or sunbake. There are plenty of these, for instance: Palatinus Strand (pool), Dagály Fürdő (bath), Gellért Fürdő (bath), Lukács Fürdő (bath) and Rudas Fürdő (bath).
This is probably one of the best of the city’s thermal baths because it has plenty of outdoor pools and lots of space to sunbake too. The beautiful building in the surrounds of the City Park also make this one of the best (and most popular) summer escapes.
It takes an hour by boat (using the public transport BKV boat) to get to this part of Budapest but you’ll feel like you’re on holiday once there. There’s a warm and casual feel to this place, which is basically a few wooden huts and bistros set up along the banks of the Danube. Eat some fried fish with pickles and have a beer for a great afternoon with friends. Or you could even try to snare and hammock and relax in the sun with the Danube river just meters away.
Almost everyone’s favorite summer escape is the Lake Balaton but because it’s Europe’s biggest lake there’s no shortage of spare space for you to call your own. There’s a Balaton experience for everyone – from a luxurious getaway to cheap and cheerful camping or you could even rent a holiday home for something more personal. And different parts of the Balaton have a different vibe: the opulent Balatonfüred to the partygoers’ Siófok to other areas that are favoured by older German holidaymakers. Wherever you choose the water will be warm and you’ll experience the special atmosphere that has people returning summer after summer. And if you’re into watersports there’s loads on offer including windsurfing or sailing. For a challenge try cycling around the Balaton!
Not far from Budapest this is a popular holiday destination but you can also take a day trip and basically feel like you’re on holidays. There’s a few “strand” (official bathing spots) here too where they set up things like toilets, showers, sunbeds and water games for hire and food stands.