Budapest and Hungary experiences the first heat wave of summer 2015 with daily maximum temperatures reaching and sometimes exceeding 30-35 deg. Celsius/86-95 deg. Fahrenheit.
What can one do in such extreme heat in a city?
Here are some tips to help you make the dog days (kánikula in Hungarian) bearable and even enjoyable.
On a scorching summer day nothing will ease the heat better than a dip in a pool.
You’re lucky because besides the historic thermal spas, our city has some great outdoor pools, and beaches to enjoy in summer: try one of the most scenic, the Palatinus Bath, with 11 pools and giant slides on Margaret Island.
Sightseeing in Hot or Rainy Weather
Sightseeing is a bit tricky in hot weather when the buildings, asphalt and concrete of the city radiate the heat and no one feels like going on a 2-hour walking tour.
TIP: If it’s unbearably hot during the day to trudge around in the city, sightsee at night.
Temperature starts to decline after around 17.00-18.00 and Budapest is really spectacular after sunset when with the city lights on.
For a convenient and air-conditioned sightseeing go on an Evening or Night cruise with Cocktails, Craft Beer or Dinner.
Take one of the several sightseeing cruises on the Danube to admire the UNESCO World Heritage city scape on the banks of the river.
You can go on a boat tour:
- during the day,
- in the evening or
- at night when the air has cooled down and the the buildings and bridges are illuminated against the dark, star-dotted sky.
Craft Beer Cruise, Every Day at 19.00
A glass of chilled beer, sunset, on a deck of an air-conditioned sightseeing boat in one of the most spectacular cities of the world.
What else would you need on a scorching summer evening?
Take our Craft Beer Crusie to stave off the heat while in Budapest and taste 5 of the top Hungarian artisan beers.
Snacks, live Gypsy music and a 2-hour boat cruise are all included in the 27 EUR price.[/box]
TIPS to Endure the Heat:
- Try not be in the sun during the hottest hours, cc. from 11.00 to 15.00. Find a museum that interests you, have a long lunch in a restaurant with air-conditioning, then sit in one of the city’s great coffee houses or confectioneries (have an ice cream or ice coffee) or take a nap to gather strength for a night sightseeing when the climate is more bearable. TIP: Drop by one of the best ice cream shops in Budapest for a delicious, high-quality gelato: the most refreshing choices are sorbets in any flavour: the lemon with mint in Gelateria Pomo D’oro is a real treat in summer.
- Don’t forget to drink enough water or non-alcoholic beverages. Take a bottle of cold mineral water with you on your walks in the city (or get one on the way in one of the shops.) and drink frequently to avoid dehydration.
- Try to avoid alcoholic beverages until late afternoon. On very hot days water is distributed at the most busy spots in Budapest.
- There are a couple of drinking wells as well to quench your thirst (the water in them as well as tap water in Hungary is clean and perfefctly safe to drink): the Petőfi well near the Pest end of the Elizabeth Bridge, or the fine spring and medicinal waters avaialble in some of the baths: the drinking halls in Széchenyi, Rudas and Lukács or a spring water in front of the Gellért Baths.:
Parks dotted with enough trees to provide sufficient shelter against sun rays are always a good a choice to take a rest on hot days. Besides the two largest green oasises, Margaret Island and the City Park, here are our favourite Budapest parks we often frequent on summer days:
Getting there: Károlyi utca 16., off Múzeum körút, district V., M3 (blue) metro line, Ferenciek tere or Kálvin tér station.
It is a small park tucked away in the city centre behind Múzeum krt and next to the classicist Károlyi Palace (today houses the Petőfi Literary Museum the garden of which regularly hosts concerts in summertime).
Ancient poplar and horse chestnut trees provide shade against the sun. It also has a small playground should you visit Budapest with small children.
Location: Kopaszi gát 10., district XI. Buda,
Entry: free (there’s a parking fee should you come by car9
The Kopaszi Dam is a riverside park and though it is not in the city centre but it’s worth getting there for a summer picnic or just strolling on the pathways along the Danube.
Address: Villányi út 29-43., south of Gellért Hill, district XI. (5-8 minute walk from Móricz Zsigmond körtér tram stop and M4 metro station
Opening hours: summer: 01. March-23. October: Mon-Fri: 8.00-18.00, Sat-Sun & bank holidays: only the lower garden can be visited: 8.00-18.00, winter: Mon-Fri: 8.00-16.00, Sat-Sun & bank holidays: only the lower garden can be visited: 8.00-16.00
This is another hidden green gem in Buda, south of the Gellért Hill. Divided into a Lower and Upper Garden, the arboretum has around 2000 woody plants, several hundreds flowers and 250 other rare plants.
Corvin Square and Park, Buda
Address: Corvin tér, Buda district I.
This is a charming little park just a short walk from the busy Danube bank in Buda at the foot of the Castle. Four baroque townhouses border it on the west side the only surviving edifices from the 17. century outside the Castle area.
The Budai Vigadó stands on the northern side, today home to the Hungarian Heritage House and a venue for folk dance performances.
A fountain adorns the centre of the park, its name is Lajos Kútja (Well of Louis), work of Barnabás Holló from 1904. A cafe serving coffee drinks, cakes and snacks and simple food makes the squareOther green oasises in the city are:
Szabadság Square – has an automatic fountain system integrated in the pavement (as seen on the first of photo in the top right corner of this article), walking though the moving water rays also helps beat the heat.
Kossuth Square at the Parliament– the mist swirling on the pavement comes from the vapour release system built in last year as part of the reconstruction works cools down the air for a while.
Lots of green lawn, statues of prominent Hungarians, and the huge Parliament building are the other attractions here.
There’s another park/playground north of the square called Olimpia Park – a bit busy and noisy with lots of kids running around.
Museums are always a great choice to beat the heat or cold/rainy weather in any city. Budapest has a wide variety of museums, galleries and exhibitions halls so you sure will find something that interests you.
Csontváry Exhibition – 05. July – 31. December
Location: Former Military Headquarters, (Honvéd Főparancsnokság), Buda Castle, Szent György tér 2., district I.
Opening hours: Tuesday-Sunday: 10.00-18.00
Tickets: adult (on-site): 3 600 HUF, online: 3 000 HUF, students, retirees (ages 6-26, and 62-70): on-site: 1 800 HUF, online: 1 500 HUF, free for children under 7 and elderly above 70.
Around 100 paintings and graphics, including The Lonely Cedar, along with interactive displays, movie screenings and a special glossary introduces the oeuvre of Tivadar Csontvári Kosztka (1853 – 1919), one of the most famous and extraordinary Hungarian painters.
The exhibition will be organized in thematic order in 17 rooms of the refurbished Military Headquarters in Buda.
Budapest History Museum
Address: Szent György tér 2., Buda Castle, Royal Palace “E” Wing
Opening hours: 01. March-31. October: Tue-Sun: 10.00-18.00, 01. November-28. February: Tue-Sun: 10.00-16.00
Tickets: full price 2 000 HUF, free with Budapest card, students (ages: 6-26), retirees (ages: 62-70): 1 000 HUF.
The buildings of the Royal Palace in Buda house the Hungarian National Gallery, the National Széchenyi Library and the Budapest History Museum offering plenty to see in a nice, cool environment. You can also take a rest on the benches of the new Renaissance-style garden.
Matthias Church – Centuries of the Church of Our Lady in Buda Castle
This new temporary exhibition showcases the history of Matthias Church through relics and photos. The exhibition can be visited until 18. October 2015. A quite detailed exhibit where you easily spend at least an hour if you’re really into ecclesiastical art and church history.
Buda, “The Seat and Throne of Royalty” − the Mediaeval Royal Palace
A new permanent exhibition at the Castle Museum introduces the history of the palace from the early middle ages (13. century) to World War 2: 3D animations, interactive displays, original, reconstructed artefacts, layout plans and a spectacular model of the castle building, and touchscreen displays help you understand the evolution of the castle.
Relics, gothic statues, and carved stone fragments found at excavations after WW2, weaponry, pottery of the various periods provide additional background.
Budapest – Light and Shadow – The 1,000-year History of a Capital
This rather new permanent exhibit is on the ground floor and if you have limited time to spend in the museum visit at least this one: it really captures the most important and exciting moments of Budapest’s history. Hands-on displays abound so kids can have a good time too.
Hungarian National Museum
Address: Múzeum krt. 14-16., district VIII.
Opening hours: Tue-Sun: 10.00-18.00
Tickets: full price: 1 600 HUF, discount tickets (students, retirees): 500 HUFWebsite
The graceful white building of the National Museum guards some of the most prized treasures of Hungary, including the coronation mantel of the country’s kings, statues, furnishings, jewelry, medieval armours, weapons.
It currently has 6 permanent exhibitions providing extensive information about Hungary’s history including the life and work of renowned scientists: Albert Szent-Györgyi (vitamine C), János Neumann (information scientist), György Oláh (chemist) and many more.
Similarly to the History Museum, you can easily spend here a couple of hours whether it’s exceedingly hot or raining cats and dogs outside.
Natural History Museum
Address: Ludovika tér 2-6., district VIII.
Opening hours: Tue-Sun: 10.00-18.00
Tickets: full price: 1 600 HUF, discount tickets (students, retirees): 800 HUF
The Natural History Museum always has some exciting temporary exhibitions about Dinosaurs, Predators of the World, Mummies etc. It also owns a a vast collection of minerals, meteorites, rocks and ore. Find out more about the Hungarian Natural History Museum.
Zelnik Isván Gold Museum
Address: Andrássy út 110., district VI.
The close to 1000 artefacts shed light on the history, culture and art of 11 nations of Southeast Asia from the ancient to the 20. century. the museum’s teahouse elegantly furnished with Asian pieces, small artifacts and lots of green is also a must.TIP: see other museums in Budapest from art, history, children as well museums of specialist interest.
Insided churches it is usually a couple of degrees cooler then outside. Some lovely downtown temples that are worth wondering around are:
St. Stephen’s Basilica
Address: Szent István tér, city centre, district V.
Open (for tourists): Mon-Fri: 9.00 – 17.00, Saturday: 9.00-13.00, Sunday: 13.00-19.00
The largest church and also the highest building of the capital, houses a precious relic, the mummified right hand of Hungary’s first king, St. Stephen.
The hand is kept in a climatized glass cabinet that lights up if a visitor drops a coin in it. The relic is carried around the Basilica in a process on 20. August, a state holiday devoted to St. Stephen.
Experience the fine acoustic of the church on an Organ Concert organised regularly almost all the year round.
The square sprawling in front of the Basilica and the neighbouring streets are lined with great restaurants (one of them, Borkonyha/Wine Kitchen in Sas utca, has a Michelin star), cafes and bars.
Inner City Parish Church
Address: Március 15. tér, city centre, district V., tram 2
The twin towered historic church is right next to the Pest bridgehead of Erzsébet, the starting point of the Danube Promenade.
This beautiful church was built on Roman fortress ruins, Contra Aquincum and witnessed numerous historic moments: royal engagements, the placement of the St. Gellert relic or the performances of Franz Liszt (Missa Choralis, Via Crucis).
Március 15. Square is one of the most captivating and popular parks in Budapest with a couple of good cafes, restaurants (Kiosk, Terasz, a fine dining restaurant, Babel) close by.
St. Michael Church
Address: Váci utca 47/b., ditsrict V.
A small baroque church, mostly from the 18. century is in the less busier part of Váci Street. It hosts organ evenings every Wednesday starting at 18.00. Tickets: full price: 4 500 HUF/18 EUR, students, retirees: 4 000 HUF/16 EUR
Inner City St. Anne Church
Address: Szervita tér 6., district V.
Opening Hours: Mon-Sat: 10.00-18.30, Sun: 8.30-18.30
The Order of the Servites settled down in Pest in 1689 after the the freeing of Buda from the Turkish rule in 1688.
They started to use the biggest of the five mosques, the Büjük Mosque.
In 1717 they begun to build their own church and a couple of years later a monastery at the present site at Szervita Square.
The temple was destroyed in later times (in the 1848/49 War of Independnce then in World War 2). The current facade is from the restoration of 1873.
If you have time drop by to absorb the old-world atmopshpere, browse among sheet music, view the current exhibition, and sip a cup of coffe in the upstairs cafe.
The so-called Turkish Bank House at Szervita tér 3. boasts a colourful ornate facade depicting the Birth of Hungaria, patrone saint of the nation, a work of Miksa Róth a master glass mosaic maker
Most downtown cafes, restaurants, bars, clubs and pubs are air-conditioned so you won’t have trouble finding a good place where you can sit around for a while nursing a cup of iced coffee or other beverage in a nice cool environment.
Many places have terraces equipped with vapour cooling system that make sitting outside quite pleasant if you don’t do it in the hottest hours of the day.
A couple of rooftop bars opened mainly in the city centre where you can enjoy the scenic view along with cocktails and other drinks.
Here Are Some Recommendations
- Halászbástya Restaurant –
- MIX Club, Bar & Restaurant
- Ötkert Bar
- Ráday utca
- Gozsdu Court
- Liszt Ferenc Square
- Kertem – City Park
Fellini Római Kultúrbisztró
Kossuth Lajos üdülőpart 5., Óbuda, district III.
Head underground: besides being famous for its thermal baths Budapest is also known as the city of caves 2 of which can be visited without caving experience (the Szemlőhegyi Cave and the Pálvölgyi Cave)
The temperature is around 10-12 degr. Celsius all the year round so don’t forget to take a sweatshirt with you to avoid catching a cold after entering from the 30-35 degr. Celsius heat to the coolness of the underground area.
The guided cave tours are approx. 35-40 minutes long on paved walkways by lighting (the Szemlőhegyi Cave can even be explored in wheelchair).
For the more adventurous ones longer (2-3 hours) tours are also available (equipment is provided (protective overall, helmet and light).
Find out more about Cave Tours in Budapest and the Szemlőhegyi and Pálvölgyi Caves.
Miniversum – a must for kids and train model funs: the tables show famous cities, attractions in Hungary, Austria and Germany: beautiful models, lots of detail, buttons to interact – there’s a new exhibit that allows you to learn a lot about life in communism between 1949-1990 with the help of period photos and descriptions (multilingual). You can have refreshments, snalcks in the cafe. A great palce to be on a sultry day!
Museums for Children
The Military Museum in Buda Castle (Kapiszrán tér 2-4., distr. I.) can be interesting to older kids (for ages 10 and up), the Natural History Museum also offers exciting exhibits for all ages.
The Millennium Underground Museum at the underpass on Deák Square (city centre) has a small exhibition organized in an original sectio of the M1 underground showcasing netrocars, scale models, and photos. Open: Tue-Sun: 10.00-17.00, admission: full price: 350 HUF, students, retirees: 280 HUF.
The Children’s railway meandering in the hills of Buda
Kid-Friendly Outdoor Baths in Budapest
Most kids love splashing in a pool and our city has no shortage in open-air baths. The ones our children love to go most are: the Palatinus Bath on Margaret Island (open: from 22. Jun till 20. Aug: 09.00-20.00, 21. Aug-14. Sept: 09.00-19.00) with its 11 pools, various slides, playground, sport activities and lots of green.
The Dagály Thermal Bath (Népfürdő utca 36., distr. XIII., open: every day. 06.00-20.00) also has several pools, including a wave pool, recommended for children.
The Római Lido (Rozgonyi Piroska út 2., distr. III., Óbuda, open: 31. May-06. Sept: every day: 09.00-20.00) has 2 pools for children equipped with various exciting elements: water jets, neck shower, fountains and slides. There’s also a playground.
Find more tips on what to do and see in Budapest with children.