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, musical fountain, a water tower, swimming pools, a water park, open air theatre and cinema, and some great clubs.
It is a great place for a leisurely stroll 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.
Best Time to Visit - Map, Location, Getting There - History of Margaret Island - Attractions - 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.
Margitsziget is Joggers' Paradise - there is a more than 5 000 m long jogging track around the island (5350 m/3.30 miles)
One of the Wellness Resort Hotels on the Island
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 Margaret 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. By clicking on the +/- symbols (or by scrolling with your mouse) on the top left corner you can enlarge or reduce the map. Click on the icons to get additional information on the certain attractions.
The best ways to get to the island is by tram 4 or tram 6, get off at Margit híd Budai hídfő stop (híd means bridge in Hungarian) or take bus 26 or bus 234 from Nyugati tér (M2 blue metro, trams 4, 6) which travel through Margaret 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.
Brief History of Margaret Island
In the middle Ages it was called the Island of Rabbits (Nyulak szigete) and it functioned as royal hunting reserve.
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.
A marble plaque plaque indicates Princess Margaret's burial place at the ruins of the church' nave.
József 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.
Until 1901 the island could have been approached only by boat or ship. 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
Start 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 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.
Next 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.
TIP: If you want to hear the fountain's music it is good to know the schedule of music playing: every day at 10.30 and 17.00 4 musical pieces, at 18.00 the complete music list is played, at 19.30 4 pieces, at 21.00 complete list: Vivaldi's Spring from the Four Seasons, Simon and Garfunkel: Cecilia, Verdi: Nabucco-Chorus of the Slaves, Creedence Clearwater Revival: Who'll Stop the Rain, Brahms: Hungarian Dances, 1. piece, The Rolling Stones: Let Me Down Slow, Bocelli: Time to Say Goodbye
Sport Activities - Running, Swimming, Biking
Several 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.
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.
Next to the Palatinus is a tennis centre with several courts. The largest sport facility of the island is the Athletical 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.
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.
Tickets: 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 at the official website.
On a hot summer day have a dip in the outdoor pools on 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. In front of the beach is a beautiful rose garden.
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 reconstructed well-house at the ruins of the Dominican convent
To 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 on Margaret Islands.
Water Tower - Exhibitions, Beautiful Panorama
Open: 11.00-22.00 every day from May till end of October
In the middle of the island stands 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)
On summer you can enjoy opera, ballet, musical performances as well as light music concerts in the Open-air Theatre.
In the northern corner (beyond Árpád Bridge) of the island there is a clay-pigeon shooting field. Find out more about the Summer Festival.
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.
Mini Zoo/Game Reserve (Vadaspark)
Location: 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 200 HUF. You can buy tickets at the buffet in the park.
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 century. 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.
A small Japanese Garden adores the northern peak of Margaret Island with dwarf trees, artificial waterfall and a rock garden.
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.
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
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 - island on an Island
Tel: (+36 1) 889 4700, room reservation: (+36 1) 889 4752
You'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
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.
Location: 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.
There 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
Housed in a more than 150 year old Casino building, 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.
Cha-Cha-Cha or Brick Club Terasz (at the Athletic centre) is another open-air beach bar with funky parties during summer.