Spring tends to bring out the best of just about anywhere, and Budapest is no exception. After an often cold winter, leaves start to come back on the trees, the cold wind abates and it starts to stay increasingly lighter, further into the evening. If you’re visiting in the spring and looking for some ideas, here they are:
1. Take a hike in the Buda Hills
Normafa, nestled up in the Buda Hills, is a great place for some fresh air, a walk or even a picnic once the temperatures improve. With easily marked hiking trails and Elizabeth Lookout Tower offering stunning panoramic views of the city, it’s easy to spend the day up there. You can also take the Children’s Railway for a fun and retro way of exploring this area of Buda or try the Budapest Chairlift (libegő) for a unique experience!
2. Enjoy a picnic around the cherry blossom trees
Luckily, there are several places where you can enjoy the warm weather while taking in the beautiful colors of cherry blossom trees. We recommend that you visit Füvészkert (25 Illés Street, 1083, Budapest view map), one of the most beautiful botanical gardens in the city. With unique trees, plants, flowers and even birds that you can’t see anywhere else in the city, this garden in the 8th district is a real oasis in one of Budapest’ busiest areas.
Füvészkert was established in 1771 and the garden’s orangery, built in 1865, is one of the oldest ones in the entire country. Each year, you can celebrate the Sakura here with picnic, activities for kids and more. This year, the celebration will take place over two weekends: April 7th & 8th and April 14th & 15th, and Kitsune, a Japanese café and restaurant will also serve Japanese treats at the botanical garden.
If you’re looking for a spot on the Buda side to admire the gorgeous colors of cherry blossom trees, then take a walk on Tóth Árpád Sétány in the Castle District while also enjoying the beautiful view over Buda.
3. Sign up for a walking tour
When the weather is warm and sunny, one of the best things to do in Budapest is to just walk around and discover the city on foot. However, if you want to make sure that you also learn about the city’s culture and history or about the wonderful culinary scene, then you should definitely sign up for a walking tour.
We guarantee that on a small-group tour with other like-minded travelers, it will feel like as if you were exploring Budapest with friends. You can always read or watch videos about a city, but nothing compares to having a local guide showing you the best places in town and telling you about all the local secrets. And what’s more, you can always ask plenty of questions from the guide on things to do during the rest of your stay in Budapest. Check out our list of recommended tours and make sure you book in advance as small-group tours fill up quickly!
Photo: Zoltán Perényi / Budapest Local
4. Take a day trip to Szentendre
With the weather looking better, spring is a great time to visit Budapest’s nearby picturesque artist town of Szentendre. Just a short ride on the the HÉV (suburban train), the town sits on an idyllic part of the Danube Bend and has plenty of galleries, small winding streets, cafés and restaurants to enjoy. In Szentendre, you can also visit the Skanzen, the Hungaraian Open Air Museum, where you can learn about Hungarian rural life, traditions, customs and more.
Photo: Szentendrei Körkép
6. Visit one of the local farmers’ markets
If ever you needed a good reason to go out on a Sunday, Budapest’s growing love for farmers’ markets would be a good one. Ruin pubs, looking for another reason to pull in the punters outside of the nighttime, have become their homes.
One of the most popular markets can be found in the famous Szimpla. Another, newer one is at Élesztő, one of the best craft beer bars in the city. Or visit Anker’t, another trendy ruin pub located in the heart of the Jewish District.
At all of them, you’ll find a great range of organic produces, including dairy, sweets, nuts, honey and snacks from local farmers as well as live entertainment and, of course, great beer.
Photo: Szimpla Kert
6. Enjoy the Budapest Spring Festival
Starting on Friday, March 30th and running until Sunday, April 22nd, the Budapest Spring Festival brings a diverse range of performances to Budapest. This year, you can expect over 150 events from classical music, opera, jazz and world music to dance, contemporary circus, theatre, visual arts and more, performed at almost 40 venues, including MÜPA (Palace of Arts), Liszt Academy, A38 Ship, Budapest Jazz Club, Akvárium Club, Kunsthalle, Central Market Hall, Uránia National Film Theatre, and many public places.
Try to get tickets for the Kati Zoób fashion show (April 4th), Mozart’s Magic Flute at the Budapest Airport Terminal 1(!) on April 22nd and for the dance performance of the Wayne McGregor Company at Trafó on April 18th. ‘A Quiet Place’ by Leonard Bernstein, who was born 100 years ago, will be another highlight of the festival (Neue Oper Wien, conductor Walter Kobéra). There will also be about 70 visual arts exhibitions throughout the city during the “Budapest Art Week” event series, including the 36th Hungarian Press Photo Exhibition at the Robert Capa Contemporary Photography Center.
The Promenade – This is when Andrássy Avenue turns into one of the festival’s venue with live performances! Photo: Budapest Spring Festival
7. Explore the local craft beer scene
Budapest’s craft beer scene is definitely growing with over many bars and resturants serving hundreds of different local craft beers (both bottled and on taps). And if you’re lucky enough to visit Budapest during the week of May 20th – May 27th, then make sure you check out the first BPBW – Beer Week in Budapest, a 1-week-long event dedicated to great craft beer from both Hungary and around the world. Brewers, such as Jester King, Pipeworks (USA), BrewDog, Magick Rock, Tempest (UK), To Øl, Amager (DK), Bakunin, AF Brew (RU) – just to name a few – will all be there as well as Hungarian brewers, including Horizont, Monyo, Mad Scientist, Balkezes and many more.
You can also meet the brewers in person and participate in tastings and other beer events. And of course, there will be live music and great parties. This will be a major happening in Budapest, so it’s worth planning your trip around this week.
To purchase your tickets, head over to the BPBW website and you can use the special Budapest Local coupon code BPBWBPLOCAL to receive a 10% discount off the cost.
9. Make the most of Hungarian Ice Cream Day
Even though you’re not in Italy, you’ll find that Hungarians tend to take their ice cream very seriously, with boutique vendors to be found all over the city (look out for bikes painted purple for example). They are so committed to it in fact that May 8th is Hungarian Ice Cream Day where you’ll find queues at popular parlours stretching around the block. You can also get great discounts on this day. Some of the best places to get ice cream in Budapest are Gelarto Rosa, where you can get rose-shaped ice cream and they also have dairy-free options, or you should check out Cserpes, Fragola or Szamos.
Photo: Gelarto Rosa
9. Dine alfresco
Budapest has some great restaurants, and come summer most of them spill outside to give diners the chance to catch some rays while eating. Finding one is your chance to enjoy some good food while people watching and taking in the stunning architecture that Budapest has to offer.
Some good places include Csendes Társ, a little diner that sits behind the better known Csendes ruin pub. With a a few seats and tables nestled on the pavement, it’s a great place to enjoy the pleasant atmosphere of the Károlyi Garden it sits next to.
Looking for some lively atmosphere while exploring Budapest’s wonderful culinary scene? Right in the heart of the city’s buzzing Jewish District, Gozsdu Passage is a street lined with trendy restaurants, bars and clubs. While open all year round, as the sun comes out, so does the outdoor seating which offers a great way to people watch and enjoy a drink at the same time. And on Sundays, there is a small flea market there as well.
If you’re in City Park, be sure to visit Kertem for one of their famous Balkan Burgers, or perhaps head off to Pagony Kert if the idea of dining inside an old thermal bath sounds appealing.
Finally, a little way up the river and out the city lives Fellini Római Kultúrbisztró – a bar that sits on Budapest’s very own little ‘beach’ and serves up great food to the adventurous. Highly recommended on a warm day in Budapest!