The 11 Coolest Things to Do in Summer in Budapest

Summer in Budapest is magical. The Hungarian capital offers a unique mix of history and culture, alongside stunning architecture, beautiful parks, and delicious food. This city has something for everyone, from young families to backpackers.

If you want to see the best of Budapest, then you need to check out these top 11 activities.

How is the Budapest Summer Weather?

You'll find that summertime in Hungary is the perfect time to visit the capital city. It’s easily one of the most popular times and many people agree it’s the best time to visit Budapest. The weather is pleasant and sunny during the warmer months, with the occasional thunderstorm rolling through.

Budapest has a humid subtropical climate, which means summers are hot and winters are cold. Grab your sunscreen and get ready to enjoy the city!

Let’s dive into the 10 coolest things you won’t want to miss out on in summer in Budapest.

1. Go for a Picnic at the Best Budapest Parks

Unlike some urban metropolises, Budapest has a lot of green space to offer. Why not pack a picnic and get back to nature in these Budapest parks?

Margaret Island

Photo Credit: gokhanadiller

Margaret Island is nestled in the Danube right above Margaret Bridge. All you have to do is hop on the 24-hour, 4/6 tram, and you're transported from a busy city to a quiet green oasis.

Margaret Island is mainly pedestrianized, perfect for carefree bike rides and long strolls. Its handful of colorful bars and food kiosks swell to bursting during the summer, when Budapestians crave green surroundings for their afternoons in the sun.

Of course, if you'd like to avoid waiting in lin es, you can always pack a picnic and stretch out on one of the large expanses of lush, green field. Palatinus pool and the neighboring waterslides are also popular destinations for those looking to cool off. Margaret Island also has a(n):

  • 5k running track
  • Outdoor concert pavilion
  • Japanese garden
  • And more!

Városliget (City Park)

Photo Credit: Nenad Nedomacki

Városliget is one of the largest parks in Budapest and has quite a few attractions. Vajdahunyad Castle is a striking piece of architecture, made up of various styles from different centuries. A lake surrounds the castle, and during the summer months, you can rent a boat and go rowing. You'll also find

  • Széchenyi Turkish Baths: It's not often that you get to swim through history, but it's possible at these baths. The large outdoor pools will help you keep cool in the summer heat!
  • The Hungarian Circus: A perfect activity if you have kids or are a kid at heart!
  • The Budapest Zoo: Technically outside the park and next to Heroes Square, the Budapest Zoo provides a full day of family entertainment.

Cafes and outdoor bars are dotted throughout the park, ensuring you have plenty of options to rest your feet and raise a glass.

2. Toast the Sunset at a Rooftop Bar

Photo Credit: Geza Kurka Photo Video

Rise above the city and take in breathtaking views from a Budapest rooftop bar. See all of the iconic landmarks from a different angle, whether you're atop a luxury hotel, perched on the roof of a historic building, or relaxing in a chicly modern space.

Here are some Budapest rooftop bars you can't' miss:

  • 360 Rooftop Bar: Located above the high street of Andrássy Út, gaze out across the city to the sound of some of Budapest's best DJs. Entry is free Monday-Thursday
  • Sky Garden: Sip cocktails from atop the Mystery Hotel. Take a peek at the exquisitely decorated hotel on your way up!
  • Leo Rooftop Bar: This bar gives you a chance to take in the views from the Buda side. See all of Pest spread out before you.

No matter where you go, don't forget to try out the most refreshing of Hungarian drinks--a fröccs! You'll see people sipping this wine/seltzer spritzer all summer long. With this in hand, you'll be well equipped to keep the summer heat at bay.

3. Rock Out at a Budapest Music Festival

Photo Credit: joyfull

Balmy summer weather is perfect for outdoor music festivals. Did you know that Hungary has several?

In late August, international crowds descend on the city for one of Europe's largest music festivals: Sziget. It makes sense that "sziget" means "island" in Hungarian, as an entire island north of the city turns into a revelers' paradise. What started as a local Hungarian festival has evolved into a mega-event that draws partiers and artists from all over the world. Past headliners have included Ed Sheeran, Mumford & Sons, Lana Del Rey, and others.

Of course, summer in Budapest can get hot--so why not take advantage of a music festival at a lake? Every summer, two major techno/dance festivals happen at Lake Balaton. Splash around by day and party all night at Balaton Sound (late June) and/or Strand Festival (August).

4. Take a River Cruise

Photo Credit: Kochneva Tetyana

Budapest's Danube river splits the city into two parts: Buda and Pest. Exploring Budapest on foot is all well and good, but taking a river cruise will show you the city from different angles. Sail underneath Budapest's iconic and beautifully wrought bridges as you enjoy the summer breeze and striking views. You simply can't leave Budapest without the majestic sight of seeing Parliament lit up from the water.

When it comes to choosing a Budapest river cruise, you are spoiled for choice.

Choose from sightseeing cruises with knowledgeable guides to dinner cruises offering traditional Hungarian food to party cruises with unlimited drinks and dancing all night long.

5. Take a Walking Tour

Photo Credit: Yulia Grigoryeva

At the crossroads of Eastern and Western Europe, having been home to empires, occupations, and everything in between--it's no exaggeration to say that Budapest is brimming with history.

Walking tours are an effective way to understand the layout of the city while learning something new. With the fantastic Budapest summer weather, there's no excuse not to take a walking tour. There are different types such as:

Enjoy a Free walking tour! This will give you an overview of Budapest, stopping at the most famous landmarks such as Parliament, Buda Castle, the Fisherman's Bastion, and more. You'll get a taste of Budapest's storied past (and trust us, the city has a lot of stories to tell).

Doing a Budapest walking tour is also a convenient way to meet other travelers and maybe even make a friend or two. Set aside your afternoon to explore the city and, yes, even though it's free, it's polite to tip your experienced guides!

For tours with a more specific focus, consider

If you’re not interested in a guide tour, take yourself on a scenic walking tour of Budapest’s most stunning cathedrals.

6. Cool Off and Go Swimming

Hot summer days call for a refreshing splash, and Budapest has many places to get your feet wet.

Budapest Beaches

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Even though Hungary is landlocked, there are still options to visit the beach! Sho Beach is a recently opened urban beach in the south of the city. Come hungry and enjoy snacks and meals from their classy restaurant while soaking up the sun.

When the Budapest summer really starts to heat up, a popular option is a day trip up to Lupa Beach. This man-made oasis north of the city gives you the chance to tan, party, and swim in the Danube. Uniquely, you can take part in water sports like stand-up paddleboarding, wakeboarding, windsurfing, and more. You can get there via public transport or one of the organized buses.

Budapest Pools

Photo Credit: maximilian_mn7 via Instagram

Think that thermal baths are just for steaming? Think again! Thermal water might not be what you're looking for in the heat of summer, but the thermal baths also have ways to keep you cool.

Stretch out on a sunbed next to an outdoor pool, or build stamina playing in a wave pool. Gellért Baths is an Art Nouveau masterpiece, while Széchenyi is a remnant of Hungary's Turkish past. Rudas and Lukacs are notable favorites as well.

If you want fun for the whole family, a trip to Aquaworld is essential! This indoor water park boasts entertainment for the kids and relaxation for the adults. There is a kids club to supervise children during the day (when they’re not having fun in the swimming pools, that is), and children under 7 stay for free!

7. Go for a Barbecue

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Is there anything better than a cookout with your friends in the open air? No one wants to be stuck inside when there's glorious summer weather. A barbecue is the perfect solution. Stock up at the supermarket with your friends and then head to a grill point.

Normafa is a 20-minute bus ride up into the Buda hills, and has outdoor grills. People go here for fresh air, hiking, and a bird's eye view of Budapest and beyond. There aren't supermarkets too close by, so make sure you have everything you need before you catch the bus.

Romai Part is about a 40-minute bus journey from the city center and offers Danube beach access as well as barbecue possibilities. Head towards the double-decker buses-turned-bars at Két Rombusz and you'll find your next grilling destination. Here you can use their grilling equipment for free (with a small payment for gas). Their one rule is that you only buy drinks from their bar, and not bring any in yourself.

Time to grill and chill!

8. Enjoy the Budapest Nightlife

Photo Credit: Spectral-Design

Budapest's nightlife scene is vibrant, and there are plenty of places to go out at any time of the day or night. If you're not sure where to start, your best bet is to go to the Jewish Quarter, known as Budapest's main party district. One of Budapest's main tourist attractions is its ruin bars--don't leave the city without experiencing these!

What is a ruin bar?

After emerging from two world wars and the fall of communism in the 90s, many buildings in Budapest were left worse for wear. Students started to decorate abandoned venues, and they slowly grew in popularity. Now, the result is a network of eclectic ruin bars--no two are the same! These are specialties of the Budapest nightlife scene. Here are a few you can't miss:

  • Szimpla Kert
  • Csendes Vintage Bar & Cafe
  • Udvar Rom

With the good weather, you can enjoy long summer nights in artfully decaying courtyards with a cold beer in hand. Ruin bars are a staple of Budapest nightlife--don't miss out!

Where to go dancing in Budapest?

If ruin bars aren't enough, you can go dancing in ruin clubs as well. The Instant-Fogas Complex is the largest ruin club in the city, with room after room of the top latin, techno, r & b, and dance hits. You can get lost in the colorful labyrinth over a memorable evening. When you finish there, another popular Budapest club is Doboz. Ladies get in free!

If you want a truly unique Budapest party experience you can't find anywhere else, then Sparty is the place to go. Does dancing in a centuries-old Turkish bath sound like fun? After the sun goes down, the famous Széchenyi Baths turns into a reveler's paradise, with laser displays, live performers, eccentric DJs, and a tangible party atmosphere. It's a Grand Budapest Bath Party you won't want to miss.

What do you drink in Budapest?

Now that you know where to go, what about what to order? Masses of travelers come to Budapest to party, one of the reasons being the affordable nightlife.

You can find a Borsodi or Soproni beer practically anywhere you go. If you're in the mood for something stronger, you can try of Hungary's famous liquors:

Unicum is a bitter, herbal liquor made of over 40 herbs and spices. If you'd like to learn more, you can even visit the Unicum factory for a tour and tasting.

Pálinka is a fruit brandy known for its stealthy strength (between 37% and 86%). Some of the most popular flavors are:

  • apple/alma
  • pear/körte
  • sour cherry/meggy
  • plum/szilva

Whatever you choose to drink, don't forget to cheers with a cheerful "egészségedre" (to your health)!

9. Go Cycling Along the Riverside

Photo Credit: Sergiy Palamarchuk

The city has been putting more money into making Budapest a cyclist-friendly city in recent years. One of the most scenic places to do this is along the riverside. Pass sights like Parliament, Buda Castle, the Fisherman's Bastion, and others.

Where to rent a bike in Budapest?

If you want to mix it up with a different set of wheels, consider booking a segway or MonsteRoller tour around the city!

Did you know...? The city shuts down the Pest side riverfront on weekends to make it pedestrian-only. You can walk, bike, or rollerblade your way down one of Budapest's most scenic routes!

10. Take a Daytrip to Lake Balaton

Photo Credit: Raketir

Did you know that Hungary has the largest lake in Central Europe? Just a day trip from Budapest, Lake Balaton is a convenient city break from Budapest--especially in the summer heat. With towns dotted all around its shore, some of the closest only an hour by train, Hungarians flock here for a summer getaway.

There are different vibes among the coastal towns. As a rule of thumb, towns on the north shore (such as Badacsony or Tihany) are quieter and focused on winemaking and tasting, while towns on the south shore (like Siofok) are known for wild parties that go all summer long.

While there, make sure to enjoy a tasty lángos (fried bread with various toppings, normally cheese and sour cream) and a refreshing fröccs. Grab your sunscreen and towel and hop the train down!

Tip: Make sure to book your train ticket in advance at The train fills up especially quickly on summer weekends, and you'll want to snag a spot in an air-conditioned carriage!

11. Go for Ice Cream

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Hot summer weather in Budapest is the best excuse to indulge in fagyi, or, ice cream. If you're in the mood for a cool treat, rest assured that there is no shortage of ice cream parlors around the city.

Two popular chains have locations dotted around Budapest: Levendula and Fragola. Both have extensive offerings of flavors, from classic chocolate or vanilla, to floral violet and rose, to constantly changing specials. If you prefer to stay plant-based, Anjuna Ice Pops offers vegan sorbets and popsicles.

In Conclusion

Budapest is a delightful city to visit during any season, but there's something special about summer in this Central European capital. From tours to river cruises to rooftop parties, any of these activities will help you to keep cool and enjoy all that Budapest has to offer.

Grab a sunhat, your sense of adventure, and dive on in!