Summertime in Budapest is perhaps the best time to visit. The mood is friendlier, all the terraces to all the bars and restaurants open, and the cool evenings bring relief from the sweltering heat of the city. Many options to take a swim or ride a bike in the shade present themselves, and as the skirts and nights get shorter, festivals start to take advantage of the blessed circumstances. Budapest is known as a city of waters, and this is the time to enjoy that unique quality of the city. So many festivals, concerts, events, street fares, city days, open air and other shows and gigs abound, it can be difficult to navigate it all. The city has something for everyone in the summer months, though, and in this list, we hope to prove that to you. Read on to get the scoop about the best summer activities Budapest has to offer.
1) The Sziget Festival
Sziget is a week long music festival on a small island in the Danube called Hajógyári sziget, located at the foot of Óbuda. For an entire week straight, innumerable open air stages will host the cream of the music world, with loads more tiny stages and activity tents scattered throughout the island. This is an iconic Budapest experience, and the Sziget festival has become so popular in its 20 + years of existence, that it draws a loyal international following every year. Hundreds of thousands of backpackers, concert goers and music aficionados, along with pretty much every youngster in the city can be expected. Post Malone, the Foo Fighters, Ed Sheeran, Florence + The Machine, 21 Pilots, Martin Garrix, Richard Ashcroft, along with numerous local legends will be gracing the many stages of this spectacular festival. Tickets can be bought for single day or for the entire week, and permit re-entry.
2) Summer Festivals
Hungarians absolutely LOVE festivals, as proven by our Festival Guide! Almost everything has a festival here, but classic summer festivals like the Sziget festival are not unique. There are dozens of them, ranging in size, but all being fairly eclectic, with lots of great music,, cheap beer and fun loving local crowds who have been waiting for these events all year. Summer festivals are not just limited to Budapest either, so attending these well affordable and fun open air events is a great way to explore the country, and see one of the many other amazing cities that Hungary has to offer. VOLT, Hegyalja, Rock Maraton, Balaton Sound, B My Lake, EFOTT and many other premium, high quality music festivals abound, check our guide for details!
Hungary is a landlocked country, but that doesn’t mean there is any shortage of water to cool you down in the heat of the summer. Massive amounts of thermal water lies underneath the city, and huge aquifers all throughout the country. A great way to cool off and relax in the summer, not to mention the fact that many spas hold concerts and Dj sets in their halls when the night falls. If that isn’t a good enough reason to visit one of these age old and beautiful watery fun houses, I can’t imagine what is. Get your splish splash on!
4) Escape rooms
The next activity is not for the claustrophobic, or the faint of heart. Escape games or escape rooms are a trend that has been sweeping Hungary for the past few years. The hosts lock you in a room, and you have to use your powers of observation, reason and logic to escape. Sometimes the solution is part of a story, sometimes there is an intricate locking mechanism, and sometimes it’s a good old fashioned puzzle. Some are timed and some are not, but they are all perfectly safe ways of teasing your brain. Great for getting to know each other a little better, testing your skills, and tons of laughs. Escape rooms can be found throughout the city, and are usually linked with bars or hostels, so a great way to start a night of drinking and partying in the midsummer heat.
5) New Restaurants
Many restaurants have patios, open air terraces, and balconies you can sit out on and enjoy your meal. The inner city is packed full of these sit out venues, and you can take in the rhythm of the city as you absorb your nutrients, for a refreshing pit stop before enjoying the rest of the night. Many places open during the summer, in the peak season, when most visitors are about, schools are out, and everyone takes their vacation days. Enjoy a meal in the inner city, and see what the new restaurant trends are in Budapest.
6) Budapest Nightlife
Already revered the world over, the summer sees the world class nightlife of Budapest crank it up to the next level. Absolutely unbelievable in scale, accomplishment and atmosphere, the party district takes on a new form in the summer. The open air revelry begins, spilling out into the streets for a veritable cornucopia of drunken debauchery. The entire district becomes an open air adult playground. Many places have lots, lofts and other breezy places to enjoy a drink. During this time period though, we do wish to remind you that the party district is a residential area, so please do not be too loud in the streets.
7) Boat trips on the Danube
According to the folk song, “the wind always blows off the Danube”. One of the best views of the city is from the river, especially at night. On the Danube both Buda and Pest are visible, the shores of both lit up and shining bright, giving you a beautiful view of Budapest in the summer. Many boats specialize in night cruises, and there are themed ones, focusing on a given drink or atmosphere as well. Whichever one you choose, the city of bridges will open up like an oyster, revealing its pearls. A great night time activity, and short enough to leave time for enjoying some locales up close and personal too.
8) Jewish Art Days
The Jewish Art Days are not a single event tied to a single location. Just as the Jewish people are a diaspora, so is the Budapest festival that celebrates Jewish artists, musicians and creators of all sorts of culture: it is held in multiple locations in the inner city. Budapest has very close and longstanding ties to the Jewish community, and the contributions of one to the other are a finely woven tapestry dating back centuries. From theater to Klezmer, to poetry, pop music, classical, choir meetings, film, dance, and pretty much everything that has to do with artistry and Judaism, the aim of this festival is to emphasize the contribution Jews have given to European art and culture. See their website for a full list of events!
9) Concerts in Budapest
The summer festival circuit brings many great international acts to the stage in Budapest. You won’t believe some of the venues Budapest has to offer! Huge outdoor spaces, stadium gigs for an affordable price, along with many clubs and concert halls. 30 Seconds to Mars, Three Days Grace and Cigarettes After Sex, Sting, the final Slayer tour, the Sum41 reunion tour, and Dropkick Murphys will all have Budapest dates this summer. Not to mention the tons of extremely talented Hungarian performers, like Besh O Drom, Szabó Balázs, and a host of others.
10) Óbuda World Music Week
Óbuda is a magical part of Budapest, the northern end of Buda. It is seldom mentioned in tourist brochures, despite its many amazing sites, including some of the only Roman ruins in Budapest. An amazing and innovative festival that focuses on world music and reinterpretations of folk can also be seen here, from June 16th- June 23rd. It will take place in Kobuci kert, the most atmospheric and chill outdoor bar in the city, which has an enchanting ambience that is quickly making it extremely popular.
11) Summertime Museum Fun In Budapest
Museums make an effort to invite people in during the summertime, and many interesting educational events occur in the hot season. The Night of Museums is an event where many museums are open all night long, free of charge or for a greatly reduced price. It is truly a spectacular bonanza of knowledge. See their website for information about participating museums in Budapest. This year, June 22nd will be the night when the repositories of human memory will open to invite all who seek to better themselves.
12) Classical Music in Budapest
There are several venues for classical music in Budapest that are world class, and all of them are looking forward to the holiday season. The Music Academy has a concert hall that has won fame internationally, and is visited by the premier musicians of the world. The newly renovated Müpa will also be holding chamber music and symphonic concertos this summer. The Bartók event of the year will be held at the Music Academy on July 1st and 2nd, the St. Ephram men’s choir, a Tchaikovsky night and a Matinée of the Franz Liszt Academy will start the season in the coming weeks. Perhaps the most important classical music event in the Müpa will be the Wagner days, in which the works of Wagner will be brought to life, but check out their website for more details.
13) Formula 1
The Formula 1 Hungarian Grand Prix will be held on Sunday August 4th, at the Hungaroring. A major event for all fans of the sport, that is sure to be attended by thousands! Tickets are going fast, so if you want to get in on the action, make sure to buy them soon. Please note that the Hungaroring is located outside of Budapest, in a town close by called Mogyoród. While there, why not cool off at the Aquapark, another great thing to see while in Mogyoród?
14) August 20th Celebration
August 20th marks the anniversary of Hungary becoming a Christian country and becoming a state. It is celebrated each year by massive fireworks, huge throngs flooding the streets, fairs and events all day long. Being a part of the event will grant you a unique experience, and you can get to know many aspects of Hungarian culture and lore through this important holiday. Protip: skip the Danube corzo because it will be absolutely jam packed with people.
15) Urban Exploration
Budapest is hailed as one of the greenest cities in Europe, with lots of parks, forests, hiking trails, arboretums and other places that are just perfect to visit in the summer. The Margaret Island, with its many tiny hidden places to explore under shady trees, the Fűvészkert, with thematic gardens and greenhouses, the majestic Buda hills are all perfect for a day trip.
No matter who you are, what you are looking for and how you choose to enjoy the summer in Budapest, be prepared for 40 C weather, intense sunshine, and very long days. Fair skinned visitors are encouraged to use sunblock or sunscreen, and although siestas aren’t a typical thing in our country, they are a good idea for those coming from colder climates.