I bet that everybody can name some world-famous parks around the globe, like Hyde Park, Central Park, Park Güell, Bois de Boulogne, Golden Gate Park, etc. Let me introduce you to our very own world-famous park, called Margaret Island (Margitsziget), the green heart of Budapest, the leisure escape from the hectic city.
Explore the park
The 2.5km long and narrow island lies in the middle of the Danube between Margaret and Árpád Bridges, and offers stunning walking routes through lush meadows and gardens. It has been a public park since the mid-19th century. It used to be known as The Island of Rabbits but at end of the 19th century it was named after Béla IV’s daughter, Margaret who lived and died here. You can see the ruins of the convent where she lived, and a little church which was founded in the 13th century.
Water Tower and Open-air Theater
The octagonal Water Tower was built in Art Nouveau style in 1911, designed by Hungarian architect Rezső Vilmos Ray. Ray visualized a structure that is both functional and decorative. The tower ensures the water supply for the tenants of the island and also functions as a lookout tower for visitors. Since the renovation in 2011 it also serves as a venue for art and photography exhibitions. The Water Tower overlooks the large Open-air Theater with a seating capacity of 3500, which hosts a variety of events during the Budapest Summer Festival.
If you’re an animal enthusiast, don’t leave without popping into mini petting zoo where visitors can get up close to a range of birds and animals. Kids can also enjoy pony rides.
The Musical Fountain is one of the highlights of Margaret Island; it is the Hungarian version of the famous Bellagio Fountains in Las Vegas. A variety of music is played from Brahms to Bocelli, from Simon and Garfunkel to Vivaldi five times a day: at 10.30 am, 5 pm, 6 pm, 7.30 pm and 9 pm. The fountain is beautifully illuminated by hundreds of colorful lamps after sunset, so it could be a memorable closing to a day spent on Margaret Island.
Take a dip in the pool
Margaret Island, this lovely clean green park, is great for taking walks and perfect for sporty people as well. If you have visited Budapest, you’ll know that the city is a legendary spa destination. There are two swimming pools with indoor and outdoor facilities on Margaret Island: Alfréd Hajós National Pool Complex, and the Palatinus Beach.
Alfréd Hajós National Pool Complex
Alfréd Hajós National Pool Complex named after (and designed by) the first Hungarian Olympic champion was the first covered swimming complex of Hungary. This is the centre of Hungarian waters ports: in addition to junior, youth and adult competitors (swimmers, water polo teams, synchronized swimming teams, freedivers, divers, pentathletes, and triathletes) residents can also enjoy the options it offers for sports and recreation.
Palatinus Beach is the oldest open-air beach in Budapest, always attracting a jolly crowd of people who would like to plunge into a pool in the heart of the city. It has a lot more to offer than your standard, stuffy thermal baths. Not only are there thermal pools, but also adventure pools, water slides and wave pools, making it the ideal place to relax and have fun at the same time.
Take a stroll in the gardens
Japanese Garden and Music Well
On the northern tip of the island there’s the Japanese garden which was created in the ’70s. This perfect relaxing urban getaway has a fish pond, a rock garden, dwarf trees and an artificial waterfall. In the neighborhood you will find the famous a small pavilion, which is the Music Well itself. Built in 1936, it is a replica of the original well that was created in 1820 by Péter Bodor. The well used to play music on the hour and the statue of Neptune on top of the pavilion started to circle.
Just opposite Palatinus Beach you can find the stunning Rose Garden, a wonderful place to visit especially in late spring, when the flowers are in full bloom. The garden was created in 1927 with all types of roses then known, having been planted on a 15,000 sqm area.
Dine in on the Gastro Promenade
The gastro promenade locates on the east side of the island, close to Margaret Bridge. There are a few restaurants and bars lined up in a row. With their ambient atmosphere, like “beach bars”, they are ideal for drinking and eating during the day or at night.
Hippie Island is a comfortable café and bar, offering a wide variety of sandwiches and salads that can satisfy most cravings. Main courses are also offered. And there is a huge variety of cocktails. ‘Don’t worry, feel hippie’
Champs Island has an elegant, huge terrace decorated with sports trophies. LCD TVs and giant projectors welcome sports fans to watch major sporting events around the world. You can soothe your hunger with some pizza or hamburger. Thirsty visitors are welcomed at the cocktail bar or at the spritzer bar of Champs.
Steg is the oldest place on the island, and only a few people know about it. It is a perfect place to chill and eat some local dishes and enjoy an ice-cold beer in the summer heat. But there is also a hostel here. So those who fall in love with the atmosphere can also spend the night here!
Stay in a fancy spa hotel
Ensana Thermal Margaret Island
Thermal Margaret Island Hotel is a health & wellness oasis with a unique location on Margaret Island, the quiet leisure paradise in the heart of Budapest. This four-star Ensana Hotel is by far the best health hotel in Budapest with its proprietary thermal water springs, expansive spa and wellness area, modern fitness centre and medical expertise in balneotherapy, rehabilitation and cosmetic surgery.
You can check available rooms HERE.
Ensana Grand Margaret Island
Grand Margaret Island Hotel is the destination for a true holistic getaway in charm and style. It is sure to please the mind, body and soul. The elegant fin-de-siècle architecture of the hotel and the panoramic view overlooking the Danube and the mature trees of Margaret Island will simply take your breath away. Equally impressive is the medical expertise and treatments specially designed to get your musculoskeletal system back on track.
You can check available rooms HERE.