Spending 3 nights in Budapest with kids was not on our list when planning our family trip around the world. Thankfully, that oversight was corrected by travel logistics. The cheapest way for us to get from Slovenia to Dubai was to transit via Budapest. We jumped on what has become our favorite way to travel (FlixBus) from Ljubljana to Budapest, where we spent 3 nights.
We loved it! The value of Hungary was exceptional. We stayed in a very nice apartment for $60 a night, found both groceries and restaurants inexpensive, and loved walking around the city. Here is how we spent 2 days in Budapest with kids.
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- Dinner Cruise on the Danube with Ahoy! Cruises
Don’t miss this. The night views along the river are stunning, and you get the opportunity to eat traditional Hungarian food (as much as you want, to Abigail’s delight). Our kids thought it was so fun to be offered a special, non-alcoholic welcome drink. They loved getting to dress up for a fancy night on the river (although the overall atmosphere could also be very casual- either way you wanted to go). The ship had live music from a traditional 4-man band, great service, and kids are welcomed on board. The whole experience lasts about two hours which is perfect for kids who might get restless on a longer cruise.
We walked from our apartment to the river, where you can easily catch a train to Csillaghegyi for around $1 per person. The spa is a short walk from the train stop. It has excellent value for families and is much more kid-friendly than the other baths that aren’t recommended for kids under 14. There is an entire kids’ area and a multi-story tube slide that is open year-round. Unfortunately, the biggest slide was closed during our visit, but it was still amazing. There is also an adult’s area with multiple sauna and hot tub options. We felt very good to let our kids make multiple trips down the slide while we lounged in a hot tub. All this adds up to be a perfect day for kids AND parents!
This is iconic Budapest, and you should go. Outdoor, natural hot pools when it’s cold outside are amazing. However, here are your warnings. It is very popular and can be very crowded. Bring sandals with you; they are required and expensive to buy on-site. You need a swim cap to get in the lap pool which you can buy onsite. If you are good with all these warnings ahead of time, go and have a blast! Play a game of chess from the comfort of the main thermal pool, run around the circular current with your kids, and relax with the many other people in the sauna, steam, and hot tub areas.
This bath isn’t recommended for kids under 14 years old. They are allowed in; we just made sure they knew this day was for relaxing, no jumping or splashing, and that slides and wild fun would be coming the next day at Csillaghegyi Baths.
Csillaghegyi Baths (left), Szechenyi Baths (Right)
- TGI Friday’s
Yes, eat at that TGIF. We had been traveling in Europe for almost 3 months and had not eaten at an American restaurant for a single family meal. The craving for mozzarella sticks, buffalo wings, loaded nacho chips, and potato skins got the best of us. Ashley finally got the French onion soup that they refused to serve to her in France (it was August, and the waiter looked at her with disgust when she tried to order it. Apparently, it’s only a winter thing). Our meal was awesome. It was very crowded and we had to wait a bit, but the server was so kind, thanked us for our patience, and even brought us a free dessert!
While in Budapest, we also had to visit a medical clinic to get yellow fever vaccinations. Before leaving the USA, we weren’t sure what vaccinations we might need. Between COVID restrictions and world travel planning, we were okay with the need to improvise on the road. The Nemzetkozi Olkozpont travel clinic was amazing. It was expensive but had excellent communication and service. We paid $509 for our yellow fever vaccines and a week’s worth of Malarone (malaria prevention) each. If you are in need of travel medical services, Budapest is a great place to get help.
We were sad to only stay 3 nights in Budapest but made the most of our 2 full days. Then it was time for Dubai. It was very easy to reach the airport, costing only $12 for all 4 bus tickets. It was not very easy to reach our plane, due to a massive holdup with Wizz Air. That’s a story for another day, stay tuned. However, if you are on the fence about a trip to Budapest, do it!
Quick compilation of our top travel tips for Budapest:
- Arrive by FlixBus for $25 per person from Slovenia!
- All public transit options can be purchased from self-service kiosks that are very user-friendly. Just select English as your language, and it’s very straightforward.
- Hungary still has its own currency, but you really don’t need any for a short stay. Everywhere we went accepted card payments, and many places also accepted euros.
- If you do pay cash in euros, expect a terrible exchange rate. If you need cash, withdraw it from an ATM.
- Do a dinner cruise on the Danube.
- Be cautious when flying with Wizz Air due to flight check-in parameters. We were not allowed to check-in online. If they won’t let you check-in because it’s “too early”, just stand there at the front with the agents for a few minutes until it’s time.
Budapest was one of our stops during a year-long trip around the world! To see all our travel adventures, head over to our Instagram page.
If you have questions or tips for traveling to Budapest with kids, let us know!