This author loves to travel but could never imagine living anywhere other than his beloved Budapest.
Are you longing for some quality time alone with a good book, your favourite artist's new album, or a bunch of snack food and a nice coffee? Forget about the places in the middle of the most crowded tourist attractions. Instead, let’s follow the locals and explore Budapest's most charming hidden parks!
10 Best Parks in Budapest (That Tourists Don't Know About):
- Epreskert ("Strawberry Garden")
- Margaret Island
- Barabás Villa Gardens
- Károlyi Garden
- Jókai Natural Garden
- City Park (Városliget)
- Szilágyi Dezső Square
- Füvészkert Botanical Garden
- Vérmező ("Blood Field")
- Gellért Hill
Scroll down for details about each of these delightful parks.
1. Epreskert ("Strawberry Garden")
This fantastic garden is part of the University of Fine Arts (MKE) and is located between Bajza street, Munkácsy street, and Kmety György street, not far from Heroes' Square. This hidden garden had a strawberry field until the end of the 1800s (hence its name) and is a little slice of heaven for sculpture lovers. Alajos Stób started renovations here at the beginning of the 1880s, even going so far as to save an 18th-century baroque chapel and move it step-by-step from Kálvária Square to Epreskert.
The caveat? Only MKE students are allowed in Epreskert. But if you have a friend at MKE—or the janitor is in a good mood—they might let you in. If these options are not available, you may have to wait for the next exhibition when Epreskert is open to the public.
2. Margaret Island
I could never get tired of this place. I often wander here for hours, and I always leave feeling completely cleansed, both mentally and spiritually. Usually, I start from the entrance at the Margaret Bridge, and sometimes I take moment to dwell at the Centennial Memorial. If you have the courage to climb inside for a closer look, you will see what happened in the city in 1873 (the unification of Pest, Buda and Óbuda) and 1973 (the year of the centennial).
One of my most exciting memories of Margaret Island is the ruins of the Dominican convent. Béla IV of Hungary built it for the nuns of the Dominican Order, and it was there that they raised his daughter, Margaret. In a moment of desperation, Margaret's parents made a vow that if Hungary was liberated from the Tatars, they would give their next child to God. And then a miracle happened: the Great Khan died unexpectedly, and the entire Tatar army headed back home. True to their promise, the king and the queen entrusted their next child, Margaret, to nuns of the Dominican Order.
3. Barabás Villa Gardens
This three-storey villa and accompanying gardens are a feast for the senses. I used to attend weddings and social events here, and I often come here on my own to read. No matter how many times I come back, I can never get enough of this place. The garden is open for visitors daily between 9 AM and 6 AM.
It is a little hard to find because you can only see the villa from the street, but is definitely worth looking for. If you ask me, you should bring a book you want to read slowly, find a comfortable spot, and give yourself some time to let your eyes wander this gorgeous environment.
4. Károlyi Garden
Károlyi Garden is the oldest park in the city centre, but few know of it. The park is located between Henszlmann Imre Street and Magyar Street. The garden and the baroque palace next to it used to belong to István Werlein, but in 1768, the property came into the possession of the Károlyi family. In 1932, Károlyi Garden became a public park, and it has been open to everyone since then.
Not many people are aware that one of Hungary’s oldest strawberry trees is found in this park. There is also a bunny sculpture, which is not the bunny from Alice in Wonderland, but a memory of Karcsi, the only animal ever allowed in Károlyi Garden.
5. Jókai Natural Garden on Sváb Mountain
Jókai Mór—a writer who had a passion for gardening—bought a plot of land on the Sváb mountain at the age of 28. There, he planted lindens, maples, horse chestnuts, walnut trees, fruit trees and grapes in a terraced garden. He also bred roses.
The garden was a beloved place of rest for Jókai, and he spent much time there. It was in his garden that he escaped from the noise of the world, but at the same time, it was also the central venue for the get-togethers of the Jókai mansion and a hive of intellectual life.
The Jókai garden has been a natural reserve since 1975, and it became a protected historical garden in 2007. The directorate of the Duna-Ipoly National Park is responsible for the garden, and it can be visited free of charge during opening hours.
6. City Park (Városliget)
Budapest’s second biggest park can be found in the heart of the city, yet its size makes it ideal for anyone who wants to break out of the concrete jungle for a while. You can choose from numerous, easily accessible walkways and look at some architectural wonders along the way. The Vajdahunyad Castle and the Széchenyi Thermal Bath are particularly eye-catching.
7. Szilágyi Dezső Square
It’s hard not to fall in love with the neo-Gothic church in Szilágyi Dezső square! The church was designed by Samu Pecz and built in 1890. Outside the church is a fountain featuring a sculpture of the architect. Some famous marriages were held here; Endre Ady and Csinszka got married here, and István Horthy (the son of Miklós Horthy) married Ilona Edelsheim-Gyulai in this church. All in all, this square is an ideal place to spend some alone time with a good book.
8. Füvészkert (Botanical Garden)
Füvészkert was originally established in Nagyszombat, but it has been moved several times since. This nature reserve is home to an amazing collection of species. The park transmits tranquility and harmony, and it is not usually crowded. If you have a green thumb or are in love with peaceful spots in nature, Füvészkert is the ideal place for you. The property belongs to ELTE university, but unlike Epreskert, anyone can purchase a ticket to enter Füvészkert.
9. Vérmező (Blood Field)
Unlike the name suggests, Vérmező is an ideal place to relax. The park was named after the execution of the Jacobin leaders.
In 1795 Ignác Martinovits, Jakab Sirgay, József Hajnóczy, Ferenc Szentmarjay, János Lackovits, Pál Őz, and Sándor Szolártsik were beheaded here. The leaders of the Hungarian Jacobin movement were loyal to the Habsburg crown and Joseph II and expected reforms from the noblemen. As they became increasingly disappointed in the nobles, they started organizing, spreading pamphlets and creating their own political program. As the Jacobins became more radical, one of their main goals was to do away with noble privileges. In spite of the fact that the movement lacked widespread support from society and did not pose a real threat to the authorities, Frances I—being afraid that the movement could have results similar to those in France—decided to have the leaders executed.
Vérmező was turned into a park about 200 years ago and functioned first as a shooting range. Now, even though the park could still be improved a bit, it's the perfect place to listen to some music, read a nice book, and spend some time in nature away from the rush of the city.
10. Gellért Hill
Gellért Hill is the perfect destination for those who wish to go for a short walk but are looking for higher elevation at the same time. At 235 meters above Budapest, it offers a marvelous view of the Danube and the city. We certainly don’t have to introduce you to the Citadella, but you shouldn't miss a visit the other side of the hill, where you can find large, spacious parks.