The summer in Budapest is about the heat and a lot of better and better programs, where all ages will find the most exciting things for themselves. It is certain you won’t get bored here!
In the summer, Budapest is just as free as it is in a Hungarian song’s lyrics. How true it is. At such times, every street is filled with life, as almost every day or week there is an event, concert, or festival.
Along with the mere fact that the weather is wonderful, there is the Danube and the amazing environment that surrounds the city with many programs to experience.
Below I will help you with what to do in Budapest in the summer, be it a concert, festival, gastronomy experience, or trip.
What to do in Budapest during summer
1. Cool down at the best beaches in Budapest
Summer, heat, Budapest. What could we do in Budapest in the summer if we didn’t go swimming?
Although bathing in the Danube is forbidden at the moment, we don’t have to worry about being left without water on a scorching summer day. There are many bathing options waiting for you, from downtown spas to the slightly-more countryside areas.
Perhaps one of the most famous baths in the city center is the Dagály (Tide), which is located not far from the Árpád Bridge. It has been in operation since the 1940s and has recently undergone a minor refurbishment.
The special feature of the spa is that the pools are filled with the medicinal water of the Széchenyi Bath. In addition to the swimming pools, there is an outdoor wave pool, adventure pool, and children’s section as well.
Of course, there is also the Palatinus beach on Margaret Island. This open-air beach has been popular since WWI, and today has 11 swimming pools and many other entertainment options awaiting visitors.
If you prefer the slightly smaller, more familiar beaches, then there is the increasingly popular Csillaghegyi Bath, which has been recently renovated, but let’s also not miss out on the Roman Bath with its giant slides.
2. Let’s go to the Island! – One of the best things you can do in the summer is in Budapest
I don’t think I need to introduce The Island of Freedom Festival (Sziget Fesztival) to anyone. That’s why some people know Budapest first and foremost. This is the biggest festival in Hungary, which is a big thing at all levels. Amazing location, scenery, professionals, the whole organization. And of course, the music as well.
Every year, bigger and bigger names are on the list of performers, so it’s worth buying your tickets as soon as possible, which is not cheap either, let’s admit it.
If you want an unforgettable week in Budapest, where you can get to know the city during the day and party at night, then do not hesitate!
3. Smaller festivals
If you also desire this festival feeling, but your budget is smaller, or you just don’t want the hassle of a huge crowd, then here are a few smaller festivals in and around Budapest.
I would first mention the Colorado Festival. In its beginnings, the festival in Pest was started with the slogan, Buda Hills, which has since grown out, but its spirituality has remained.
The festival in Nagykovácsi is already considered as one of the best boutique festivals in Europe. In addition to a strong guard, great programs and important issues like the environment also play a role here.
The Katlan Festival is interesting because of its location: it is held within the walls of the Tárnoki Quarry. If you want to get to know Hungarian underground techno, this is the place for you.
The UbikEklektik is a real co-art festival in Zsámbék, where, in addition to underground musicians, the works of other contemporary artists are also included.
4. Night of Museums – Visit the museums of Budapest unlimited
For those who are receptive to culture and don’t know what to do in Budapest in the summer, here is a great idea.
Every June, during the evening, you can visit museums and galleries with extended open hours. All you have to do is buy a wristband which gives you the ability to enter or go anywhere (I mean museums, of course 😀 ). The ticket price is only 1900 HUF, which is less than 6 euros.
It’s not only that you can see wonderful exhibits for cheap money, but also that there are plenty of interesting programs as well. There are often guided tours, film screenings, and concerts.
Not only are the larger museums like the National Museum or the Museum of Fine Arts worth visiting, but there are a lot of smaller, even gallery-size, exhibition halls where we can see super things.
Of course, be prepared for the fact that everyone will get a lot of encouragement to cultivate at this time, so you should definitely expect bigger crowds, but even so, this program is worth it on the longest night of the year.
If you are interested to know which are the best museums in Budapest, read my article regarding this topic.
5. Outdoor concerts in several parts of Budapest
In summer, when there is no need for a jacket in the evening, a good outdoor concert feels even better. In addition, this is when the festival season really starts, and great and world-famous bands come to Budapest.
There are several cool outdoor concert venues: one of the most popular is Budapest Park. When you enter, you really leave reality behind; it’s like you’re at an endless festival here.
Here you can go into a different party every weekend: rock music, alternative, electronic, and everything in between.
Barba Negra Track
The other cult site is the Barba Negra Track, located next to the Kopaszi-Dam, and its main profile is hard rock metal.
There is also a party in Óbuda, thanks to the Kobuci Garden, where the Valley of Arts in Kapolcs often welcomes the festival atmosphere. They mainly move on the folk music, Hungarian alter line, but it is certain that everyone can find something for themselves in the summer offerings.
In addition, there are often film screenings and dance houses. And at the end of May, the members of the Association of Small Breweries in Hungary bring together a good little brewery festival here.
6. Hike in the Buda Landscape Protection Area
As good weather arrives, people immediately crave nature. Budapest is a city with a lucky location, as there are many wonderful excursion places nearby.
I would now like to introduce you to a few simpler and shorter tours. The Buda Landscape Protection Area has many good small routes, one of which is the Hermit Gorge-Hermit Cave-Devil-Ditch route (Remete szurdok-Remete barlang-Ördög-árok).
This is a roughly 5km hike that can be completed in 2-2.5 hours at a non-seizure pace.
A pleasant walking route, which is absolutely child-friendly, there are no horribly steep parts in it. If you are curious about the largest waterfall in the Buda Hills, head to the Paprikás stream.
An easy hike along the Rózsika Spring leads to Solymár Castle, about 6 km long. It is really family friendly, as it is even easy to take a stroller.
My other favorite excursion place is in the Budaörs mountains, which can be found right next to Budapest and is also easily accessible. Whichever peak we choose, we will have a beautiful view as our reward. I personally recommend Odvas Hill, Stone Mountain (Kőhegy), or Frankhegy.
You can read about the Budaörs mountains in this article.
7. Travel on the Buda Funicular
The Budavár Funicular is one of the favorites of tourists, which is an even bigger experience in clean and good weather. This vehicle was opened in 1870, giving visitors an amazing view. The funicular was a technical novelty when it was bombed during WWII and did not operate after that for a long time.
Another interesting fact is that it did not always function as a tourist attraction, but was a public transport destination and worked by steam.
Its creation is associated with such big names as the son of István Széchenyi, Ödön Széchenyi. Today, of course, it is powered by electricity, and people visit it because of the view of the Danube and the easy passage to the castle of Buda.
It consists of a total of three cars and it can transport 24 people at a time. It’s a real nostalgia flight, and travelers can take this unusual transportation device to feel like a time traveler.
8. August 20 – Participate in the founding celebration of Hungary
In 896, Hungarian tribes from Asia occupied the Carpathian Basin. They worshiped pagan gods and plundered the surrounding countries.
This was ended by our King St. Stephen, who took the Christian faith and forged a united country from the nomadic tribes. On December 25, 1000 with the blessing of Pope Silvester the 2nd, he was crowned as King of Hungary.
The date of his death and consecration fell on August 20th. We celebrate this, the founding of the state, and the thousand-year-old Hungarian state on August 20.
You can find more information about conquest and state formation in this article.
If it’s a holiday, there are a lot of super good programs in Budapest that are free of charge.
One such event is the Great Race. Spectators can also see Formula 1 racing cars up close and meet the pilots in person; you don’t even have to go far, as the street parade takes place in the center of our beautiful capital, on the Erzsébet tér – Andrássy út – Oktogon route.
Water and air parade
The water and air parade is also a must-see program on this day. In the morning, it is worth booking a place on the banks of the Danube, as the spectacle is provided by the Hungarian army.
The flying of aircrafts in a mixed convoy over the Danube or the individual demonstrations of helicopters are in themselves spectacular parts of the air parade.
The closing spectacle of the day is the Fireworks, which start at 9 p.m. You have to see this! Suffice it to say that more than 26,000 visual effects are shot into the sky from the Danube, Gellért Hill, and the bridges of Budapest during the half-hour show.
9. Best sunbathing spots in town
Who wouldn’t want to return home from a vacation with chocolate-brown skin, even if they didn’t spend it on the beach, but in Budapest.
On the one hand, there is the Danube, the bank of which provides many places suitable for sunbathing, and on the other hand, there are plenty of other areas suitable for getting tanned. All you have to do is bring towels and sun cream.
Szent István Park
The Szent István park is a great favorite of the residents of the area, not only because it is very close to the Danube, but also because there are so many opportunities here.
In the well-looked-after park you can run, rollerblade, walk, and of course sunbathe. No one will bother you. And there are many good places nearby where you can sit down for a refreshment.
The Bottomless Lake (Feneketlen-tó) has excellent facilities to make you feel close to nature in the city center.
While the fitter visitors make laps on the running trail around the lake, we can lie down anywhere to bake our bellies. If we’re lucky, we might even see special birds coming here to drink or hunt, like the gray heron.
If you are looking for a very secluded place, there is Lake Naplás, which is a fishing lake in good weather, and in winter when it is all frozen you can go ice skating on it.
Here, then, we don’t have to be afraid of crowds, and instead we can just enjoy the fresh air, the sun, and the water.
Of course, there are even better-known places like Margaret Island or the Kopaszi Dam, so there are plenty of sunbathing areas in Budapest.
And for those who want to splash in the water while sunbathing, I can recommend the lakes around Budapest. Which one should you choose? Check out my article regarding this topic.
10. Parties on a roof terrace
Who doesn’t want to relax on the top of the city? Visiting rooftop bars is almost a mandatory summer activity for Budapest residents.
One of the best known is the 360 Bar, on top of the Paris Department Store, from which a wonderful panoramic view unfolds in front of our eyes.
Live musical performances and themed parties are often held here, and the parties run from noon to dawn.
In the middle of the party district, on Kazinczy Street, there is a place called BRKLYN that stands out from all others. Literally.
The roof terrace is not large, but the atmosphere is very good; unfortunately, you can only come here on Thursdays, Fridays, and Saturdays.
Gozsdu Sky Terrace
The Gozsdu courtyard may not need to be introduced, with 90 percent of foreigners visiting this place.
The Gozsdu Sky Terrace is a bit hidden, but with a short lift we can find ourselves on the spacious terrace, from which we can admire the Basilica and even the Buda Hills.
Speaking of the party district, in Budapest, everyone can find entertainment that suits their needs. Those who are attracted to ruin bars and don’t know which one to choose should read my comprehensive article on this here. And fans of nightclubs, casinos, and cocktail bars will find where to go in this article.
11. Beer and gastro festivals
In the summer, you can hardly find a part of Budapest where there is not a festival or a series of programs of a smaller or larger caliber.
One of these biggest festivals is the Downtown Beer Festival (Belvárosi Sörfesztivál), which is in the first week of September, but the Indian summer is still raging at this time.
Here you can find all kinds of artisanal beers, from the well-known to the specialties. In addition to the various breweries, we can also find a number of delicacies that go down well with liquid bread.
If you are looking for a big street bustle, it is worth scheduling a trip on August 20, which is a celebration of the founding of the Hungarian state. This is when the whole country celebrates. Markets, delicious food, and drinks await visitors on the quay and in many parts of Budapest, and the evening ends with a spectacular fireworks display.
12. Romantic stargazing
Is there a more romantic activity than stargazing? Not really. There are quite a few places in Budapest from which we have a perfect view of the sky, and if we are lucky, we can catch a summer star falling.
On the north side of Hármashatár Hill there is a slope, the Virágos-nyereg (Flower Saddle). This is the perfect location as the horizon is not shaded by anything.
Another option is the Budakeszi Wildlife Park, which has a lot of excitement at night. In the meadow next to it you can also admire the sky and the stars at night.
Not far from the center of Budapest is the Sashegy (Eagle Hill), where in addition to the special flora and fauna of the place, we can also see the gradually-lit lights of the city. The starry sky is just the cherry on top.
For those who are interested in romance but don’t know where to go, I recommend my article regarding the most romantic places in Budapest.
My article on Romantic things to do may be of more interest to you.
13. Take possession of the Liberty Bridge
In 2016, due to the construction of the tram, the Liberty Bridge was closed and people took possession of the bridge for the first time. It went so well for those few weeks that it has become regular ever since. In the summer, for a few weekends, the bridge now belongs entirely to pedestrians.
Everything is available here: yoga on the bridge, music, and even a circus. It is an amazing experience to be present in these over the Danube.
Grab a bottle of wine, a blanket, then sit in one of the corners of the bridge, stare at the water and the surroundings, and enjoy the often-spontaneous concerts.
This is sure to add to the list of non-routine programs.
In 2020, due to COVID-19, the Liberty Bridge was not closed for these activities. Instead, the new mayor closed the quay on the Pest side from the traffic. Hopefully the tradition will continue and next year pedestrians will have the Liberty Bridge again on summer weekends.
14. Taste the best ice creams in Budapest
If it’s summer, it’s ice cream time, although I guess that doesn’t have to be explained to anyone. How lucky that Budapest is full of really good ice cream makers: no additives, real cooked ice cream, and real fruits. These are the basic criteria for good ice cream.
If you don’t want to eat things disguised as bad-tasting plastic ice cream, I have a few tips on where to go. If you’re craving real Italian ice cream, head to Dolce Intervallo on Szív Street, where you can meet different flavors every day and the quality is unquestionable.
Then there is the long-established Nádori Confectionery on Ráday Street where they like to experiment with new flavors, but of course the classics are not neglected either.
Flower-shaped ice cream? Would you like to taste it? Then head to Szent István Square and to the Gelarto Rosa, where the ice creams are not only beautiful but really delicious as well. Although many people pilgrimage here to eat ice cream, it’s worth waiting for our turn.
The last one is my personal favorite, which when you first see it, you may have a hard time believing it’s good. The Bocskai confectionery in the immediate vicinity of the Bottomless Lake does not have fancy decorations and pretty tables, but it does have very delicious cakes and ice creams. Amazingly cheap, yet very good, this is a confectionery known to few.
15. Surf on Margaret Island
At first, it may sound impossible to surf in Budapest, where there is no sea or ocean.
However, there is a Palatinus beach on Margaret Island where, thanks to SURFinPALA, even surfing is possible in the wave pool. A few hours before the opening, the pool belongs to the surfers, where they can learn the basics with instructors or just be enterprising.
Sure, the experience isn’t exactly like surfing on the ocean, but if you’re a beginner, for example, it might be good to experience this in artificial conditions at first.
And if you’re a little more confident on the board, there are tricky waves here, too. In the summer, what could be a more refreshing program than doing anything in a pool?
16. Eat hake downtown
In the Hungarian dictionary, in addition to summer, hake may be the first term listed. This dish can be found on almost every private beach.
If you want to try some authentic summer activities, visit the Danube bank and eat a good hake. One obvious place for this is the Roman coast, where many places sell this food, and you can also enjoy the beautiful surrounding area.
If, on the other hand, you do not want to move out of the city center, head to the Dunaparty Megálló. Here you will find the usual pancake, fried dough bread, hake, and, of course, beer combos. Nothing fancy, yet that is what makes it so good.
17. Discover the Chinatown of Kőbánya
Um, the flavors of summer… good Chinese food. Connect your getaway in Budapest with a real gastro tour. Almost every big city has its own Chinese quarter, and it is no different in Budapest.
The Chinatown of Kőbánya is a completely different world, with all its colorful, fragrant characters, restaurants, and shops. In addition to the typical hustle and bustle of street food, there are more and more restaurants out here that may not seem so confident at first, though they are fantastic.
Food specialties that are foreign to European eyes are made here: squid legs, well-seasoned carp, and chicken wrapped in lotus leaves.
Let’s be curious and try them, while those who are fussy miss out on this point. Those who are open to new things and would like to see a hidden part of Budapest should definitely visit here.
18. Large meals on the terrace
Everything is much better in the summer when it can be eaten outdoors. There are many restaurants with terraces in Budapest, where you can hide in a well-kept garden and enjoy the flavors on a warm summer day.
Pótkulcs (Spare Key)
It is almost unbelievable, but the center of Pest also hides green terraces where we can enjoy the relative silence and plants: one of them is the Pótkulcs.
Before the place became a restaurant and a pub, it was owned by a grinding family. The slightly chaotic garden still exudes an unusual atmosphere.
Kertem (My Garden)
Remaining still in Pest, I have to mention a place called Kertem, which is not a terrace, unless the whole City Park can be considered as one.
Nestled in the middle of the grove, among the trees, is a small cozy place with furniture here and there, good music, and the divine Balkan burger.
Czakó Kert (Czakó Garden)
The Buda side is obviously in a better position in terms of green terraces and lovely back gardens. The Czakó Kert is located in one of the oldest buildings in Tabán, which exudes a real rustic atmosphere.
There is also a patisserie and bistro here, and on Saturdays it becomes a farmers’ market.
19. Live music for free
On a balmy, fine summer evening, only a little live music with good drinks is missing. If you want, you can even party in a different place every night, where real, flashy bands provide the entertainment.
The Pontoon soon became a truly cult place, partly because of its location as it lies at the foot of the Chain Bridge, and partly because of its inimitable atmosphere.
From here you have to stare at the Danube, the setting sun, with a good drink while they always play good music. They mostly move on the electronic line and there are huge parties in the evening, but there are often outdoor concerts here as well.
The Mazel Tov is a place based on real Jewish and Israel cuisine, which is always full. Every Tuesday is a jazz night, but almost every day we can find some good little live concerts.
The wonderful environment, the delicious food, and the good music… you can imagine it.
The Hadik has a past, and it swings around a building that commands all authority.
It is not only the venue for literary evenings, meetings, and reading evenings, but also for live music on the terrace every Tuesday from 19:00. Great food and drinks will help make the atmosphere even better.
20. Great brunches
I didn’t dare write about breakfast, because in the summer, unless we go to work, it’s almost mandatory to chill in bed well past breakfast time. However, a good brunch somewhere, in the still-awakening, somewhat-comatose city, is unsurpassed.
In a previous article, I’ve already put together quite a few places to have breakfast, but there are still places where you can brunch like a king.
One of them is the Gentry Coffe & Brunch, where they make almost everything from the dishes on the menu: from sausage to kombucha tea. Of course, home-roasted coffee can’t be missed on their table either, and to make it better, they can also have beer or champagne alongside the food.
It is even possible to raise the bar in the name of the high life, as the dreamers behind the Champoint 4 Monkeys did. Real premium food awaits everyone here: fried sandwiches made of fledermaus, tapas, and even oysters.
21. Watch the sunset from the most beautiful places in Budapest
In style, just like a good day in Budapest, I will close the article with a sunset. I mean, of course, only with places where this celestial phenomenon is really enjoyable. Gellért Hill itself and the Citadel on it are sure to be the perfect place to do so.
Then there is the Árpád Lookout Tower, located on Látó Hill. Of course, the Elizabeth Lookout Tower should also be mentioned, where you can reach up to 10 kilometers.
Staring at the top of the Tunnel is an intoxicating experience with the setting sun and the hustle and bustle of the city.
And in the St. Stephen’s Basilica, which is one of the symbols of the city center, there is a panoramic lookout tower, so from here we can have a wonderful view.
Regardless, sitting at any point on the banks of the Danube, we will have a majestic sight. Whichever one we choose, we will not be disappointed in it.
What to do in Budapest in the summer? Summary
Enjoy every face of Budapest even in the summer, be it a romantic walk, a family beach day, or endless parties and festivals. You can do countless things in Budapest in the summer. Plus, this is where all ages are sure to find the activity that suits them best. The opportunity and the activities are there, the rest is up to you.