Margaret Island (Margitsziget)

A Green Gem of Budapest

Margaret Island provides a peaceful hideaway from hectic downtown Budapest with large green areas, flowery gardens, old trees, and lots of entertainment.

The island’s attractions include:
  • romantic walkways,
  • medieval ruins, a small zoo,
  • a rose garden
  • two musical fountains,
  • a historic water tower,
  • swimming pools,
  • a water park,
  • playgrounds,
  • open air theatre and cinema, and
  • some great clubs.

It is a great place for a leisurely stroll  or a picnic in fresh air after the buzz of the city. Devote half a day or at least a couple of hours to explore and enjoy the serenity on Margaret Island.

Quick Links: Best Time to VisitMap, Location, Getting ThereHistory of Margaret IslandAttractionsMusical FountainPlaygrounds – Children Things To Do – Rose Garden –  Rare Plants –  Hotels and Restaurants on Margaret Island –  Bars and Clubs

Best time to Visit

The island is most beautiful in spring, perhaps in April-May when nature is green again after the long winter months.

It will also fascinate you in early autumn (Sept-till mid-Oct) when the foliage turns into a mixture of colours from yellow and orange to reddish-brownish.

Note that Margitsziget is very popular among Budapesti people especially on weekends.

Try to get to the island in the first half of morning on a bright, sunny day to find the park at its most peaceful.

This time you’ll meet mostly joggers. If you want to meet people, see Hungarians relax, visit the island on weekend.

Jogger on the island

Margitsziget is Joggers’ Paradise – there is a more than 5 000 m long jogging track around the island (5350 m/3.30 miles)

Location, Getting There

The 2.5 km/1.55 miles long and 500 m/0.31 miles wide Margaret Island stretches between Árpád Bridge and Margit Bridge in the embrace of the Danube.

Map of Margaret Island

The icons indicate the location of sights, hotels, cafes. By clicking on the hovering hand you can drag the map.

 

Walkways on Margaret IslandThe best ways to get to there is by tram 4 or tram 6, get off at Margit híd Budai hídfő stop (híd means bridge in Hungarian) or take bus 26, the only form of public transportation on the isle, from Nyugati tér (M2 blue metro, trams 4, 6) The bus travels through the island.

Only one motor way runs across the island, but only taxis and buses 26 and 234 are allowed to drive in and through the island.

Driving through the island is not allowed. You can leave your car in the spacious guarded parking lot. Parking costs 525 HUF/1 hour both on weekdays and weekends, holidays.

TIP: the Budapest Summer Festival partly takes place on the Open-Air Stage on Margaret Island. Opera, Musical, Comedy, Concert and Dance performances take place during the three summer months: June, July and August.

  • Ticket prices: 3900 HUF, 4900HUF, 5900 HUF, 6900 HUF, 8400 HUF, 12000 HUF
  • Tickets: Szabadtér Színház Jegyiroda (Open Air Theatre Ticket Office)
    (1065 Bp., Nagymező u. 68., opening hours: Monday-Friday: 9.00-17.00)
    More information: Budapest Summer Festival

Brief History of Margaret Island

gravestone of Princess MargaretThe isle was probably inhabited during the Roman era since the river Danube was the boundary of the ancient Roman empire.

In the middle Ages it was called the Island of Rabbits (Nyulak szigete) because it functioned as a royal hunting reserve.

The Urak szigete (Island of Lords) name was also used.

In the 13th century King Béla IV. founded a nunnery on the island after the Mongol Invasion.

The king made a vow to sent her daughter, Princess Margaret to a Dominican nunnery if he could rebuild the country devastated by the Mongols.

The Mongols had to suddenly return to their homeland so King Béla had a chance to reorganize and rebuild the country. Faithful to his vow Béla sent the 11-year old Margaret to the convent.

Since then the island has bore her name.

See photos about the ruins of the Dominican convent below.

A marble plaque indicates Princess Margaret’s burial place at the ruins of the church’ nave.

a newly-wed couple on MargitszigetJózsef palatine (nádor in Hungarian) started a large landscaping project of the island at the beginning of the 19th century and most of the area was turned into an English-style park with many trees, bushes and flowers.

From 1870 the public could visited the park on the isle for a fee.

During the he Great Flood of 1838 the whole isle was under water (2.5 m deep).

The sludge left behind by the Danube had reached to 1.5 m height.

Until 1901, when the connecting walkway from Margaret Bridge had been built,  the island could have been approached only by boat or ship. Richard Wagner had almost drowned during one of his visits when he fell into the river form his boat.

Part of the Margaret Bridge that now leads onto the island was constructed in 1901 while in the northern part Árpád Bridge was connected to the island only in 1950.

Margaret Island was declared a public park in 1908. At that time hot springs were discovered in the area that facilitated many developments, like the Grand Hotel Margitsziget.

The island became a popular health resort. The II. World War left its marks on the island too, some scars still can be seen on the tree trunks.

Today the romance of the island attracts many couples and it’s a popular place for weddings.

Attractions on Margaret Island

a red Bringo CartStart your walk at the southern part of the island at the Margaret Bridge end (this part is better accessible by public transport from the city centre than the northern part, see above).

TIP: rent a bringo cart or a boogie cart for smaller children if you don’t feel like walking. It’s also a convenient and fun way of exploring the island with kids.

You can also rent bicycles, roller blades, electric cars and motors there (see map for location).

If you don’t mind a bit of foot work then take a walk along the well-tended walkways running across the island.

First you’ll see the Centenary Monument (by István Kiss) made for the 100 anniversary of merging Buda and Pest in 1873.

Musical Fountain

water jet of the musical fountain on a clear, sunny morningNext you will see a stunning musical fountain that was completely renovated in 2013.

It is no secret that the city leaders wants the fountain on Margitsziget to be as popular as the one in Barcelona.

The 35-m wide pool with its 1000 sqm water surface is one of the biggest public fountains in Europe.

The water jets are spouted as high as 10 m.

After sunset the fountain is illuminated by 250 colourful LED lamps making it one of the No. 1 romantic spot in Budapest.

Complete Playlist and Schedule

Children Music at 11.00 and 16.00
  • Song of Vuk: Kati Wolf
  • A cinege cipellője: Judit Halász
  • Pumukli: cartoon movie music
  • Miki manó: 100 Folk Celsius
  • Abrakadabra from the Cinderella cartoon
  • Micimackó (Winnie the Pooh): Zsuzsa Koncz
  • Legyetek jók, ha tudtok: Napoleon Boulevard
At 12.00 and 17.00
  • Verdi: Aida, Grand March
  • Beatles: Mr. Postman
  • Vivaldi: Four Seasons – Spring
  • Simon & Garfunkel: Cecilia
13.00 and 18.00
  • Roy Orbison: Pretty Woman
  • Johann Strauss: The Blue Danube Waltz
  • Rolling Stones: Let Me Down Slow
  • George Ezra: Budapest
14.00 and 19.00
  • Brahms: Hungarian Dances  Part 1.
  • Dire Straits: Money For Nothing
  • Michael Bublé: Feeling Good
  • Verdi: Nabucco- Chorus of the Hebrew Slaves

Musical Fountain southern end of the island

15.00 and 20.00
  • Paddy and the Rats: Pilgrim on the Road
  • Del Shannon: Runaway
  • Dave Dee Dozey Beaky Mick and Tich: Bend It
  • Bocelli: Time To Say Goodbye
21.00
  • Verdi: Aida Grand March
  • Beatles: Mr. Postman
  • the musical fountain on a summer dayVivaldi: Four Seasons – Spring
  • Simon és Garfunkel: Cecilia
  • Roy Orbison: Pretty Woman
  • Johann Strauss: The Blue Danube Waltz
  • Rolling Stones: Let Me Down Slow
  • George Ezra: Budapest
  • Brahms: Hungarian Dances  Part 1.
  • Dire Straits: Money For Nothing
  • Michael Bublé: Feeling Good
  • Verdi: Nabucco- Chorus of the Hebrew Slaves
  • Paddy and the Rats: Pilgrim on the Road
  • Del Shannon: Runaway
  • Dave Dee Dozey Beaky Mick and Tich: Bend It
  • Boccelli: Time to Say Goodbye
Note: The isle has another musical fountain the Bodor kút close to the Japanese Garden in the northern tip. Actually that one is officially called zenélő kút/musical fountain or well and not the southern one.

Sport Activities – Running, Swimming, Biking

the Athletic Centre's outdoor tarck fieldSeveral facilities welcome sport enthusiasts: the Alfréd Hajós Swimming Pool with indoor and outdoor pools.

Alfréd Hajós, Hungary’s first Olympic medallist designed the complex that opened in 1930. The pool complex hosted the European Swimming Championship in 2006.

The Athletic Center manages the extremely-popular 5,3 km long rufathleticalnning track, the city’s most scenic spot for runners.

The Center has a 400 m running track, 3 street ball courts, a grass-covered football field, a handball field, 4 clay tennis courts.

two bikers on the green lawn of Margaret IslandYou can also rent sport equipment, some of them for free, like various balls (handball, football, basketball, volleyball), table tennis and badminton set (racket+ball).

Next to the pool is a newly built playground perhaps the best on the island.

Near the toys in a small hexagonal building you’ll find a well-house (Magdolna I. spring) the water of which is channeled into the Palatinus’ pools and the Lukács Bath.

tourists on a Segway tour on Margaret isleNext to the Palatinus is a tennis centre with several courts.

The largest sport facility of the island is the Athletic Centre with a football field.

They also look after the more than 5 km long running track (coated with soft rubber to dampen vibration to the knee) around the island.

TIP: Margitsziget on Segway – this self-balancing, electric vehicle with two wheels is sure a fun way to go round. Guided tours are offered by several agencies.

In the northern corner (beyond Árpád Bridge) of the island there used to be a clay-pigeon shooting field.

excursion train

TIP: You can explore the island on a small train: tickets: 1050 HUF/adult, 605 HUF/children (6-12 years of age).

The train has two stops: at the centenary monument at the Margaret Bridge end, and at the Árpád Bridge and near the parking lot.

Palatinus Beach – Lots of Pools, and Giant Slides, Great Fun in Summer

Opening hours: 09.00-20.00 every day from 22. June to 20. August 2013.
one of the larger pools on PalatinusTickets: adult weekdays: 2 600 HUF, weekends: 3 000 HUF, children, student, pensioners on weekdays: 1 900 HUF, on weekends: 2 100 HUF, family ticket (2 kids+2 adults) weekdays: 7 100, weekends: 8 100 HUF. There are discount tickets from Mon to Thurs from 17.00.

See up-to-date prices on the official website.

On a hot summer day have a dip in the outdoor pools of Palatinus Beach.

It has three types of pools: a swimming pool, a beach pool and a fancy pool with neck shower, effervescence generator and whirling corridor.

There are several pools for children of all ages: shallow for toddlers and slightly deeper for older kids. The two sides of the pool area are lined with fast food buffets, and ice cream sellers.

Prices are not too moderate: try the locals’ favourite,  lángos – yeast-based dough deep fried in oil then topped with sour cream and cheese or with just salt and garlic. The sour cream+cheese combo is around 600 – 800 HUF.

Opposite the bath you’ll find the island’s beautiful rose garden.

More Photos Taken on Palatinus

See more Beaches in Budapest.

Playgrounds

our oldest son on a balancing toy on the playgroundThe island has three playgrounds.

The best-known, most popular one is near the Margaret Bridge end of the island, almost opposite the musical fountain.

The slightly hilly ground is packed with a wide range of swings, slides, climbing frames and other activity toys with which children of all ages – from toddlers to 10-12 year old teens – can play.

There’s a well if you get thirsty (no toilet though right on the playground but there’s one at a short walk toward the island).

The Kő büfé selling, hot dog, grilled sandwiches, pretzels, other snacks, and drinks is right next to the playground but the stall and the tables are facing away so won’t tempt you and your kids with its “unhealthy” offer.

The small playground is tucked away further in the isle so it gets found less frequently so there’s no hassle and queuing for the slide, swing or other activity. It is most ideal for toddlers.

Eco-Playground – For Kids Between Ages 5 -12

This play area that was designed and constructed with  an ecological approach in 2011 is close to the Árpád Bridge, right next to the parking lot.

The unusual and interesting toys here will improve the sense of balance and coordination skills of kids.

Lots of informational boards on various environmental topics too if your young ones had enough jumping, climbing, balancing activity.

Ruins on Margaret Island

If you come form the southern end of the island the first ruins you’ll encounter are the ruins of the Franciscan Priory.

They built their convent in the middle of the island towards the end of the 13th century. The buildings were destroyed during the Ottoman rule in the 16th century.

The knights of St. John had also had a centre here.

The ruins of the Dominican convent from the 13th-16th century are the most notable ruins. King Bela IV founded the convent after the Mongol invasion (1241-42). He vowed that if  his country survived the Asian peril then – if God gives him another daughter (after loosing two in the war) – he would assign her to the service of God.

Margit, his daughter was born in January 1242 and was raised by the Dominican nuns as of the age of 11. The convent had evolved into a real powerhouse with vast estates in the area and was accountable only to the Pope.

Hungary’s most prestigious noble families sent their daughters to the convent that had functioned as an elite boarding school for girls.

The nuns left the island in 1540 during the Turkish invasion.

the white-walled hexagonal well-house on Margaret Island
The reconstructed well-house at the ruins of the Dominican convent

Franciscan Monastery Ruins

Premonstratensian ChapelTo the north of the ruins you’ll see the medieval Premonstratensian chapel of St Michael .

The oldest bell of Hungary hangs in its tower.

The bell was cast in the 15th century and it was found under the roots of a tree torn by a storm a few decades ago.

Around the chapel runs the Promenade of Hungarian Artists (Művészsétány) with busts of the country’s prominent poets, writers and other artists.

The tranquil surroundings with groves, stately trees, flowers is ideal for leisurely walks.

János Arany (1817-1882), the great Hungarian poet wrote his most beautiful poems under the mighty trees of Margaret Island.

More Photos About the Dominican Convent

Water Tower – Exhibitions, Beautiful Panorama

water towerOpen: 11.00-22.00 every day from May till end of October

In the middle of the island stands its the tallest building, an octagonal Water Tower (Víztorony), built in 1911.

The 57 m high, protected industrial monument has been nicely renovated and it houses exhibitions and events on the two levels of the tower.

The tower also offers a fine round panorama of the city and the Buda Hills from the cupola on top.

Open-air Theatre – Budapest Summer Festival

(in June, July, August each summer)

Open-air theatre on the islandOn summer you can enjoy opera, ballet, musical performances as well as light music concerts in the Open-air Theatre.

Find out more about the Summer Festival.

The Bodor Musical Fountain

In the northern corner of Margaret Island, near the Japanese garden stands a water-powered musical fountain (Bodor kút).

A Transylvanian handyman, Péter Bodor, crafted the original fountain in the 1820 for the people of Marosvásárhely.

This copy on the island was made in 1936. The Neptun Statue perched on its top does a full circle in 24 hour and displays the exact time.

Every hour you can listen to different Medieval-inspired Hungarian melodies.

From spring till end of autumn you can sip drinking water from the three small fountains created on the ground floor.

Mini Zoo/Game Reserve (Vadaspark)

a mini zooLocation: Danube embankment, Pest side

Opening Hours: 15th Apr-23rd Oct: 10.00-17.00 every day

There’s pony riding for the little ones. A round costs 500 HUF. You can buy tickets at the buffet in the park.

There’s also a buffet selling snacks, sweets and drinks.

Rare Plants

The island gives home to several hundred tree species, bushes, colourful flowers.

The Dominican convent had already a garden in the 13th century for growing herbs.

Real landscaping of the island started in the beginning of the 19th Flowers on Margaret Islandcentury.

An English-style park was developed. The planes are at least 150 years old and were planted at that time.

Since then they have witnessed many great moments of Margaret Island.

Colourful flowers delight the eye all over the island. On of the most interesting plants of the island is the White cypress. Some fern pines stand near the medieval chapel ruins.

The Rose Garden

The Rose Garden is the most imposing spot located right in the middle of the island. The garden was created in 1927 with all types of roses then known having been planted on a 15 000 sqm area.

It’s a wonderful, romantic place for a leisurely walk.

The Japanese Garden

statue of a woman in the lake, Japanese GardenA small Japanese Garden adores the northern peak of Margaret Island with dwarf trees, water lilies, ducks, an artificial waterfall and a rock garden.

Paths wind through the area lined with centuires-old trees and evergreens.

Nagyrét (“Big Meadow”)

The Nagyrét is a vast, landscaped green meadow at the northern tip of the isle, closer to the Árpád Bridge end. It’s inviting for picnics, playing badminton, reading a book or having a little nap.

TIP: It is also a venue for yoga classes. Ashtanga yoga is held here at a large sycamore tree every Sunday starting at 11.00.

Hotels & Restaurants

Two excellent hotels provide for accommodation in the northern part of the island that utilize the three natural thermal springs discovered on the island at the turn of the 19th-20th centuries.

Danubius Health Spa Resort Margitsziget (former Thermal Hotel Margitsziget) ****

One of Europe’s top spa hotels
Tel: (+36 1) 889 4700,

Room reservation: (+36 1) 889 4752

Danubius Spa Hotel front view

Platánus Restaurant offers Hungarian and international cuisine. It has a nice garden terrace.

Other facilities for eating and drinking:

  • Boróka Lobby Bar,
  • Neptun Pool Bar,
  • Kamilla Coffee Shop

Danubius Grand Hotel Margitsziget **** superior

Tel: (+36 1) 889 4700, room reservation: (+36 1) 889 4752

Danubius Grand Hotel Margitsziget facadeYou’ll experience turn-of the century atmosphere on the serene and picturesque Margaret Island.

The hotel is connected to the neighboring Danubius Health Spa Resort by a heated underground corridor.

The hotel’s Széchenyi restaurant has a garden terrace leading out to the park. You can taste Hungarian and international dishes and there are meals for people on diet.

Other facilities for eating and drinking:

  • Grill Terrace,
  • Gösser Brasserie,
  • Begonia Café
  • Victoria Drink Bar

See more Spa & Wellness Hotels in Budapest.

Selection of other 4 star Hotels in Budapest.

Hotel Margitsziget **

Address: Hajós Alfréd sétány 75.,
Tel: (+36 1) 452 0104
(+36 1) 452 0105

A budget hotel next to the Alfréd Hajós Swimming Pool complex. Admission to the pool is free for the guests of the hotel.

See more Budget Hotels in Budapest.

Island Hostel

entrance of the Island hostelLocation: on the southern part of the island on the Danube bank overlooking Pest

It is a good value hostel in beautiful location close to Hajós Alfréd Swimming Pool, the Palatinus Beach, and the river bank.

The hostel has a sport bar with large screens to watch sport programs, draft beer, pizza, pancakes.

There is free coffee and tea all day, free WiFi, hot shower, a good kitchen with modern appliances, lockers in the rooms.

Eating Out

food vendor offering grilled meats, drinksThere a couple of food and snack vendors along the walkways offering grilled sausages, hot dog, cooked corn, ice cream and drinks.

The few restaurants offer food of varying quality: avoid Margit Terasz

Restaurant at the Water Tower: it’s very touristy which may not be a problem if meals were of decent quality, price are lower though than in the city centre.

Try the restaurant in Holdudvar (see below) or the Szigetklub Terasz Beer Garden.

You can enjoy your meal and drinks on a nice terrace in both places.

Bars, Clubs on Margitsziget

Holdudvar Restaurant, Bar & Gallery

Open: 12.00-24.00 in summer

Holdudvar Club gardenHoused in a more than 150 year old Casino building designed by the famous architect Miklós Ybl, Holdudvar offers versatile entertainment: great music, tasty food, art exhibits. It also has an open-air cinema (in case of rain the screenings are held in the ballroom) and a design club.

Art exhibitions showcasing the works of young painters, video and movie makers can be seen from mid-April till September. The restaurant offers Hungarian as well as international classics at reasonable prices.

Zippp Club

Location: (at the Athletics Centre, Southern end of the island, tram 4. 6 Margitsziget lejáró stop)

Open: Wednesday – Saturday: 20.00- 05.00

a party at Zipp Club Zippp is a fairly new open-air beach bar with funky parties during summer with live DJ performances on 4 days of the week, from Wednesday to Saturday.

Two dance floors, three bars, cheap drinks, varied music from local underground bands, to electronic, hip hop, d’n’b, and many international performers – a perfect riverside venue to chill out on a summer night.

According to news, a huge complex will open here under the Zippp Margitsziget name including 3 previously independently operating venues: the Zippp Beach a place for beach volley and other summer sports, Zippp Terrace and the Zippp Club.

 

One comment

  1. great facilities..the spa is a dream…

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