Top 10 parks and gardens in Budapest
ELTE University's Botanical Garden (Füvészkert)
Open from 1st of April until 31st of October. This was the first ever botanical gardens in Hungary, founded by Jakab Winkler in 1771. The garden has an internationally-recognized collection of identified plants. It's under the protection of National Cultural Heritage, and is a member of the Botanic Gardens Conservation International organization. Every year most beautiful Cherry Blossom Weekend is held here. The collection has 85 local endangered, and 250 foreign endangered species. Admission requires a ticket (price: 400-850 HUF). Open every day, all year.
Some say this is the "most beautiful public garden" in Budapest, but it is definitely the oldest. Károlyi Garden is hidden among the houses of the 5th district, close to Kálvin Square and the National Museum. Admission is free. Open from 7 a.m. until sunset. No dogs allowed.
City Park (Városliget)
The City Park is the second largest park in Budapest. Head to the Heroes' Square with the yellow underground line. The City Park includes the Budapest Zoo, the Castle of Vajdahunyad with the Agriculture Museum, the Ice-rink, which operates as a boating lake during the summer. In the park you can find table tennis tables and soccer courts for free. Entering the park is free, the various institutions have prices for entry.
Népliget (Public Park)
Népliget (pron. nap-lee-get) is the largest public park in Budapest completed in the 1860's. In this park, you can find a sun-dial, the Planetarium and the Centenary Memorial Stone of the union of Buda, Pest and Óbuda . The park is easy to reach by underground line blue or with the tram line 1. Next to the park is the Népliget Bus Station. Entyr to the park is free, but the Planetarium charges for entry of course.
Margaret Island (Margitsziget)
There are many gardens throughout the island. These are full of flowers and nice trees from April till September. But if you're looking for something special, check out the Japanese Garden at the Northwest side of the island. There you can see turtles, water lilies and rare oriental plants. Margaret Island gives place for, among other things, the Palatinus Strand, a tiny zoo, the Music Well, the Music Fountain. Admission is free.
Officially the full name of the zoo is the Budapest Zoo and Botanical Gardens, because it has a Japanese Garden and a Palm House, but the whole zoo itself is a beautiful park with rare and indigenous Hungarian trees and flowers. Admission with ticket.
Orczy Park is a small oasis in the concrete jungle of the 8th district. The easiest way to reach this park is to aim for the Nagyvárad Square underground station. Orczy Park is both a place for walking, sitting out on blankets or outdoor sports . There're tennis courts, a running track, table tennis tables, football and basketball courts, and more. Entry to the park is free, but some of the sport courts may charge a fee. Official site.
This is a fully-renewed peninsula in southern Buda, close to the Rákóczi Bridge. The 1 km long dyke has outdoor bars, restaurants and quite unusually, a childrem's playground surrounded by cafés. This is a perfect place to end a biking city tour, or have a pleasant walk with friends or your love. Admission free. Official site.
In August, this is the home of the Sziget Festival, but for the rest of the year, it's a huge park, where you can walk, ride your bike, take pictures, play outdoor games, or have a picnic with your family. They also have a playground with a great set of long metal slides. Admission free.
Chain Bridge Park
This is the newest one of the list, and the most environmentally friendly one in the city. It uses a minimal amount of pavement slabs, and even those are permeable. The paths are mostly made of larch instead of concrete. This small park lies at the Buda end of the Chain Bridge. Admission free.
The Gellért Hill
Officially it's name is Gellért Hill Nature Reserve, so it's not a park, but we have to mention it, because the whole hill – around the Citadel – is such a great place for a romantic walk. Nice trees, paths and stairs, secret banches and look-out points with breathtaking panoramic views of the city. It IS one huge hill hough, so make sure your calf muscles are well warmed up!
(Photo: ELTE University's Botanical Garden / Source: fuveszkert.org)