All posts tagged Margaret Island Budapest

The new Music Fountain on Margaret Island, the lovely recreational park in the city of Budapest has been opened to the public recently, not long after the complete isolation of the island during the Danube flooding

The Music Fountain performs its music from May 1 to October 31 (spring, summer and autumn) in Budapest’s landscaped park, the Margaret Island. It is free to enter the park and enjoy some nice picnic while listening to the tunes of the Music Fountain. The choreographed music and water show features 25 meter high water jets.

Margaret Island Restored Music Fountain

Margaret Island New Music Fountain

The planned music program of the New Fountain on Margaret Island includes classical music pieces (Verdi, Brahms, etc.), and light music greatest hits like Let Me Down Slow by the Rolling Stones, or Cecilia by Simon & Garfunkel, also featuring The Shadows, or Credence Clearwater Revival. So the playlist has definitely been updated too as the 50 year old list only contained classics.

The fountain in show – opened in June 2013 by the Hungarian President:

Margaret Island New Fountain Budapest Istvan Huszti

Margaret Island New Fountain Budapest Istvan Huszti

The Fountain is well worth a visit at night for its colorful water jets and nice playlist. Margaret Island is also visited for its popular bars, like the open air terraced bar called Holdudvar.

Margaret Island Fountain at Night

Margaret Island Fountain at Night – Mark Mervai Photography

There are many new development plans for Margaret Island, even and overall free wifi network and a horse drawn train route. But for now, we are just glad to have a pretty new fountain with great music. Grab some picnic foods and drinks in the biggest Budapest market hall, the Great Market Hall, and enjoy the pleasures of Margaret Island, the Palatinus, the petting Zoo, the run track etc.

Compared to the old Music Fountain on Margaret Island built half a century ago, the new fountain is bigger, features more advanced technology and has a new context built around it. This is a photo of the old Music Fountain:

Margaret Island Musical Fountain Budapest

Margaret Island Musical Fountain – Seth Chandler Photography

Margaret Island in Budapest is one of the most scenic, and romantic parks with historical attractions, spa hotels, the Music Fountain with music, and even colorful water jets at night, bars, concerts, fun bike carts, a scenic running track, a lovely petting zoo with pony rides, tennis courts, a sports swimming pool, an open air water park (Palatinus Lido), and an Art Nouveau Water Tower. We think it is one of the top attractions in the city (see the Top 10 Budapest Attractions), and also one of the Budapest hidden gems for first time visitors.

Margaret Island Budapest

Margaret Island Budapest – Zsoolt Photography

Margaret Island Budapest

Margaret Island Budapest – Seth Chandler Photography

Margaret Island quick facts:

  • Danube Island in Budapest City
  • Recreational Park since 1908, with Attractions since 12th century
  • Ideal for Wellness, Picnic, Romance, Kids, Clubbing (Summer), Running, Cycling, Tennis, Frisbee, Nature Photo, People Watching, for Couples, Solo or Family travels
  • Length: 2,8 km (1,74 miles) & Width in middle: 0,5 km (0.31 miles)
  • Named after Hungarian Princess Margaret (14th century), daughter of King Bela IV
  • Former home of Convents, Churches, Nunneries, Cloisters (e.g. Knights of St John, Dominican)
  • Located between two Danube bridges: Margaret Bridge & Arpad Bridge
  • Isolated until 1900s, now Popular Park (public since 1908)
  • Attractions: Spa Hotels, Water Park, Ruins, Running Track (5.3 km), Petting Zoo, Water Tower, Musical Fountain & Well, Clubbing, Festivals, Japanese Garden, Bike Carts, Photography, Centennial Memorial, etc.
  • Features: Romantic, Natural, Relaxing, Contemplative, Fun, Outdoorsy


Opening Hours of Margaret Island

Margaret Island park is open all day, 24/7, all year round (except if the Danube is flooding and the water levels endanger visiting the island for a few days of the year).

Holdudvar Bar Budapest Nightlife Margaret Island

Holdudvar Bar Budapest Nightlife Margaret Island

Margaret Island is not fenced off, so you are free to come and go on the island as you wish all day and all night. Only taxis and the local bus can go to the island (and some vendors’ cars), so it is a very relaxed pedestrian area.

Warning: At night, in summer time, you can meet many young people clubbing on the island, e.g. debarking from a Budapest Party Boat, or enjoying the night at Holdudvar Bar.
If you decide to stay on Margit Island late at night, make sure to stay in well lit areas, and possibly do not venture into the protective darkness of the woods for a late night romance.

As any park in a big city, there are occasional complaints (thefts), so it is better to be on the safe side. If you party on Margaret Island, stay with friends, and take a taxi to get back to your hotel.

In the evenings, the Music Fountain at the southern tip of the Margaret Island offers a fascinating visual and musical treat with its playlist of classical and light music, and spiral, towering water jets colored with pink, blue, green, yellow shades of light.

Margaret Island Budapest Tourist Map

Margaret Island Budapest Tourist Map

The address of Margaret Island is Margitsziget Budapest. The island is located in the middle of the river Danube, between Margaret Bridge (south) and Arpad Bridge (north), relatively close to the city centre of Budapest, considering that it is a cosmopolitan city of approx. 1.9 million people.

By searching Margitsziget or Margaret Island, you can find the location on Budapest Tourist Map, and on any Budapest map (including Google maps where you can also get directions to and from Margit Island.

Visiting Margaret Island is completely free of charge, and there are quite a few attractions, which are free to enter or use (Petting Zoo, Running Track, 12th century Dominican church ruins, Musical Fountain, Musical Well, etc.).

However, the entry to major attractions, like the 19th century Water Tower, which hosts exhibitions, the fun thermal water park called Palatinus bath, or the spas in the spa hotels – the Danubius Grand Hotel, Danubius Spa Hotel Margitsziget – are not free. You can buy your ticket at each attraction on the spot.

You can choose from many options to get to Margaret Island, Budapest.

Tram: the big ring road of Budapest has a very frequent streetcar (actually two), number 4 and 6. Either will take you to the middle of Margaret Bridge. Getting of the tram, you can walk to the island in 1 minute.

Bus: Bus 26, running every 15 min between 8 am and 6 pm, less frequently before and after that.See the timetable here.

The only bus that goes to and from the island is Bus number 26. It is quite a busy bus in spring, summer and autumn, when we can enjoy the good weather and the recreational activities on Margitsziget. Bus 26 goes from Nyugati Train Station to Arpad Bridge. The bus leaves from Nyugati Railway Station, stops at Jaszai Mari Square, at the foot of the bridge, at the Sports Swimming Pool (Hajos Alfred Uszoda), where the water polo championships are often held, then at the Palatinus Bath & Water Park, the Open Air Stage (the venue of the Budapest Summer Festival), at the Musical Well (Zenelo Kut) in the northern tip of the island. The bus has been running here since 1932, as the thermal spa hotel (now Danubius Grand Hotel) has been extremely popular since the very beginning.

Margaret Island Map

The map of attractions and things to do on Margitsziget (Margaret Island), Budapest: interactive map based on Google maps, you can get directions, walking or transport estimates and more

View Margaret Island Map Budapest in a larger map

Take your pick from Budapest’s top ten tourist attractions, including free attractions, historic landmarks, and even 2 UNESCO World Heritage sites.

Top Ten Attractions Budapest

Top Ten Attractions Budapest – Roland Papp Photography

The top 10 Budapest attractions includes the major must see places, for Budapest hidden gems please visit our off the beaten track guide. Also, take a look at our Top Ten Things to Do Budapest list for inspiration.

Top 10 Attractions in Budapest

The following top ten attractions in Budapest are highly recommended by all locals and tourists (based on locals’ tourists’ votes and reviews on travel sites like TripAdvisor, travel guides like Frommer’s Travel Guide, Fodor’s Travel Guide, the Lonely Planet, travel forums, etc. and of course our own experience).

The top ten attractions in Budapest are highlighted in bold; neighbouring attractions and places of interest have also been added to make planning your Budapest itinerary easier. Click on the links of each attraction to get loads of useful info about them: detailed overview, history, architecture, opening hours, entrance fees, miscellaneous tips and info, etc.

Szechenyi Bath – Budapest Top Ten Attractions Number 1

Szechenyi Bath Budapest - photo by Felicia Violi

Golden Lights at the Szechenyi Bath Budapest – photo by Felicia Violi

Szechenyi Bath is one of the best thermal spa baths in Budapest, the City of Baths. Highly popular, highly rated, open all year round, with spa treatments, massages, and even spa parties. A great way to relax after your city walks and tiring flights. Entrance fees are not cheap, but affordable. Open all year round means even in winter time, or at Christmas.

Other Budapest bath choices: for an elegant, less crowded feeling you can visit Gellert Spa, for a time travel to the Turkish times see Rudas Bath.

See our guide for Which is the Best Bath in Budapest and Why? Other cities have many museums, castles, palaces, galleries, but we think Szechenyi Bath is a unique attraction in Budapest, so this is our number 1 pick.

Buda Castle Hill – Budapest Top Ten Attractions Number 2

Buda Castle Hill by Day Romantic Budapest Laura Lafond

Buda Castle Hill – Laura Lafond Photography

Buda Castle Hill  with the Buda Castle (World Heritage site), the fairy tale Fisherman’s Bastion and the 700 year old Matthias Church, the 19th century Funicular, the nuclear shelter of the Hospital in the Rock, the 18th century  Cafe Ruszwurm Confectionery or the old Alchemist house, now the Golden Eagle Pharmacy Museum is a fascinating, historical, romantic and fun place.

The whole Castle Hill or Buda Castle quarter could be a one day programme in itself. You can take the best panoramic photos of Budapest from Fisherman’s Bastion without a fuss.

Central Market Hall – Budapest Top Ten Attractions Number 3

Central Market Hall (Vasarcsarnok) is the queen of all Budapest market halls:

Central Market Hall Budapest Vasarcsarnok

Central Market Hall – Jjackfre2 Photography

The Central Market Hall is a great place to try Hungarian fruits, Langos (yummy snack) in the summer, and buy the most traditional gift items.

From the Central Market Hall you can walk over the 19th century Liberty Bridge to the Gellert Baths, or go to Raday street full of restaurants, or continue your walk back to the city centre through Vaci utca pedestrian only shopping street (more shopping) to arrive at Vorosmarty square (Cafe Gerbeaud), Gresham Palace and the Chain Bridge, the symbol of Budapest.

House of Terror Museum – Budapest Top Ten Attractions Number 4


House of Terror Museum Budapest

House of Terror Museum Budapest

House of Terror Museum: the most popular and unique historical museum in Budapest revealing the horrors of the Communist and Nazi regimes in Hungary. Unique content, great displays, recommended as a ‘must see’ by most tourists, a great favourite amongst local Hungarians. After the exhibition it is good to step outside from the House of Terror museum to feel relieved in the UNESCO World Heritage site called Andrassy Avenue – from terror to beauty. A memorable experience, followed by a good walk.

Alternatives for those interested in the history of Hungary, Central and Eastern Europe:

  • National Museum of Hungary (also a great place for looking at old artefacts, and century old applied arts)
  • Budapest History Museum (located in the Buda Castle with many old remains and some interesting exhibits of Budapest)

Opera House – Budapest Top Ten Attractions Number 5

Budapest Opera House

Inside Budapest Opera House

The Hungarian State Opera House is on Andrassy Avenue (Andrassy, Budapest’s Champs Élysées is a World Heritage site): the Opera House is like a jewel box, 19th century architecture, superb acoustics, tickets from low prices up to elegant stalls and prices.

The opera performances are not only great, but can be the best budget programmes you can have in Budapest. Romantic, beautiful, high quality and inexpensive. The only problem is that there are no performances in summer. That said, the singers and dancers of the Opera House perform on the Budapest Opera Cruise and Show from May to October under the direction of Laszlo Csanyi opera singer.

For those only interested in the architecture but not the music, opera building tours are also available.

Hungarian Parliament – Budapest Top Ten Attractions Number 6


Budapest Parliament building

Budapest Parliament & Crown Jewels

Hungarian Parliament in Budapest. The Parliament building by the river Danube was modelled after the English Parliament (in Gothic revival style). The Parliament is magnificent, opulent, and also home of the Hungarian Crown Jewels.

From 2013 January visiting the Parliament is NOT free for EU tourists any more. Please expect long queues as places are limited for a given day (it is still the Parliament of Hungary with many sessions). You can book your Hungarian Parliament tours online in advance to save you some time.

Once at the Parliament, you can walk along the Promenade of the river Danube, or take a day or night Budapest river cruise on the Danube.

St Stephen’s Basilica – Budapest Top Ten Attractions Number 7

Altar of St Stephen's Basilica, Budapest

St Stephen’s Basilica Budapest – Neil Alderney Photography

St Stephen’s Basilica is the biggest church in Budapest.

The church building is a beautiful, richly ornamented Catholic cathedral, which almost took 40 years to build.

It is located in downtown Budapest, and serves as an excellent landmark for navigation while walking on the Pest side of Budapest.

Admission is free, and there are some special organ concerts in the Basilica to enjoy. The mummified hand of the first Hungarian king, St Stephen, is also on display here.

Steps or lift will take you to the lookout tower of the Pest side, as the Basilica is the highest point on the flat Pest side of Budapest.

Heroes’ Square – Budapest Top Ten Attractions Number 8

Heroes Square by Night Romantic Budapest Zsolt Andrasi

Heroes Square – Zsolt Andrasi Photography

The Heroes’ Square in Budapest is a grandiose and historic landmark with the Millennium Monument, the Museum of Fine Arts, the Kunsthalle, the Outdoor Ice Rink of Budapest (only in winter) and the backdrop of the City Park trees, or the towers of the Vajdahunyad Castle. The Heroes’ Square (Hosok tere) is also the crescendo of the Andrassy Avenue (UNESCO World Heritage site).

Take the Millennial Underground to Heroes’ Square for a fun nostalgia ride (feels like travelling on a kid sized metro), or if you have ample time and like walking, take a stroll on Andrassy Avenue from Oktogon Square to Heroes’ Square. Drop in Lukacs Confectionery for a proper tea or a nice coffee and cake.

Nearby attractions include the Budapest Zoo (Art Nouveau buildings), Szechenyi Thermal Bath, the old fashioned Budapest City Circus, the Museum of Transport, the Anonymous Statue

Great Synagogue in Dohany Street – Budapest Top Ten Attractions Number 9

Dohany Street Grand Synagogue in Budapest Hungary

Great Synagogue in Budapest – Estevao Passarinho Photography

The most well known European Synagogue, i.e. Budapest Great Synagogue in Dohany Street is the second biggest synagogue in the world.

The Synagogue has lots of further must see attractions, like the Jewish Museum, the Jewish Cemetery, the Holocaust Memorials, and the nearby Jewish Quarter (Budapest had a big Jewish community before WW2). The Great Synagogue in Budapest is enormous (seating 3,000) and beautiful.

There are several concerts, and tours, but visiting the Great Synagogue is not free.

In the courtyard, at the back of the Synagogue you can see the most touching Holocaust monument, the Wheeping Willow Tree where each leaf has a name on it to remember.

Please note that there is an entrance fee to visit the building (Jewish Tours in Budapest usually include the entry).

Margaret Island – Budapest Top Ten Attractions Number 10

Margaret Island Margitsziget Budapest Justin Cozart

Margaret Island Margitsziget Budapest – Justin Cozart Photography

Margaret Island park: to relax, rest and have fun in a bit of nature in the middle of the city of Budapest go to Margitsziget (Margaret Island).

Take a ride on 4 wheeled bike carts, electric cars, have a Langos (surprisingly great sour dough with sour cream, even if it doesn’t sound so), drink and dance in Cafe Holdudvar, visit the pet zoo, throw frisbees, have picnic, splash in the pools of Palatinus lido, watch the Hungarian water polo team in Hajos Swimming Pool, etc.

Related: Top ten things to do in Budapest, Hungary: the top ten list includes activities and other

It is a great challenge to put together an ultimate guide to the top ten Budapest attractions as have had to pick from more than 50 great things to see in the city, nice markets, 10 bigger historical spa baths, over 50 museums in Budapest, dozens of churches, and a range of beautiful 19th century buildings (some of which are built in amazing Art Nouveau style), some historical cafes and restaurants.

Fisherman's Bastion in Budapest - photo by Vincent Buchoux

Fisherman’s Bastion in Budapest – Vincent Buchoux Photography

If you only spend 2 days in Budapest, you will regret how little time you have to enjoy the attractions and things to do Budapest has to offer, but you may have time to see at least the World Heritage sites.

Please check the following Budapest tours for a good sightseeing experience.

Sightseeing Tours  Budapest