Outdoor Activities in Budapest
Information on the facilities in Budapest for outdoors activities: walking, cycling, swimming, climbing, horse riding and adventure playgrounds...
Budapest is one of the greenest capital cities in Europe, and has plenty of parks, heaths and commons open to the public, many of them with sports facilities. There are numerous organisations and associations which provide information for hikers, cyclists and swimmers, and there are also facilities for horse riding, boating and fishing within the city.
Budapest is a great place for walking, not just in its many parks and open spaces, but also along the River Danube. There are also a number of cobblestone pedestrian streets in the city centre. The main one, Váci Street, runs from Vörösmarty Square (the main square in downtown Budapest) to the Great Market Hall, but there are many more pedestrian streets in this area and new ones are continuously under development.
Another popular walking route is Andrássy Boulevard; the so called "Cultural Avenue". It runs from downtown Pest to Heroes' Square and City Park and offers a view of historical buildings such as embassies, the State Opera, the former institute for ballet, Liszt Square, Harkány Palace, the House of Terror museum and many cafés and restaurants.
Other popular walking areas include the City Park, Castle district, Jewish quarter, and areas in the Buda Hills, such as János Hill, Normafa, Széchenyi Hill and Zugliget. There are numerous organisations offering guided walking tours in Budapest, and there are also many walking groups which meet up, usually at weekends, for organised walks.
- For information about free guided walking tours in Budapest: Click here
The use of cycling as a mode of transport has increased dramatically in Budapest in recent years. There are well established cycling areas in the city centre and along the main traffic routes and, as more designated cycling paths are being built in the city, it is becoming increasingly cycle-friendly. Budapest currently has around 170 Km of pathways designated to cycling, and the municipality aims to increase this to 300 Km by 2015.
The Hungarian Cyclists Club (Magyar Kerékpárosklub) has worked with the City Council to promote a culture of cycling within the city, and to improve facilities and safety for the city's cyclists.
Margaret Island, with its long cycling paths running through the landscaped parks, is one of the preferred areas for recreational cycling in Budapest. The banks of the River Danube also provide a popular source of scenic cycling routes, as does the Buda Hills area. Bikes can be taken up to the hills by the Cogwheel Railway (Fogaskerek? Vasút) that runs between Városmajor and Széchenyi Hill railway stations.
- See the Business Directory for Cycling & Mountain Biking
There are several hundred indoor and outdoor swimming pools, baths, lidos and beaches in Budapest, some of which can be found in the main Budapest parks. Most of them are managed by local government authorities.
Budapest is famous for its thermal waters, and there are over 100 thermal springs within the city. There are many public thermal baths in Budapest, as well as private baths located within some luxury hotels.
- For more information from Budapest City Management Centre (BVK Holding): Click here
Between spring and autumn the public ice rink in the City Park is transformed into a boating lake, where rowing boats can be hired. The artificial lake is surrounded by parkland and close to restaurants, the zoo, the national circus, Heroes' Square and the amusement park.
There are also some rowing and canoe clubs based on the River Danube; mainly on the islands.
Horse riding is a popular activity in Hungary and is an important aspect of the country's heritage. Ancient Hungarians were nomadic tribes that excelled in horse riding. To celebrate and maintain this tradition each year in mid-September the biggest Hungarian equestrian festival, the National Gallop, is held in Heroes' Square.
As equestrian parks are normally located in the countryside, most of Budapest's riding schools can be found on the outskirts of the city, but there are also some in the city itself.
- For a list of equestrian parks within Budapest: Click here (in Hungarian)
- For a list of equestrian parks within Pest County: Click here (in Hungarian)
The Hungarian Equestrian Tourism Association can also provide details of riding schools, centres or arenas in Budapest (website in Hungarian).
- Also, see the Business Directory, Equestrian: Horses & Riding
Climbing and Mountaineering
The old quarries and boulders of Budapest, particularly in the Buda Hills area, provide some opportunities for outdoor climbing in the city, and there are also many indoor venues, as well as clubs which organise trips away for hill-walking, scrambling, climbing and mountaineering.
- See the Business Directory, Walking, Hiking & Climbing
There are a number of adventure parks in Budapest that are suitable for both adults and children. Some of the most popular include:
- Challengeland: Located in a woodland setting, the facilities provided by the park include treetop rope courses, climbing towers, underground labyrinth and obstacle courses
At: 1121 Budapest, Konkoly Thege Miklós út, Csillebérc 21
Tel: (1) 274 5705
Open: Monday to Sunday, 10:00-18:00 (high season) / Saturday to Sunday, 10:00-16:00 (off peak - weather permitting)
- Orczy Adventure Park (in Hungarian): Facilities at the park include tree climbing, camping, laser tag, go-karting and a forest rope obstacle course
At: 1089 Budapest, Orczy út 1
Tel: (20) 236 1214
Open: (March to October, weather permitting) Tuesday to Sunday, 10:00-18:00 / Monday, 12:00-18:00