Margaret Island

Margaret Island (Margitsziget) is a park, located in the heart of the Danube

Margaret Island
The water tower
In the fall
photo by Phil Watkins
In the summer
The Japanese Garden in the fall

Why visit: park, recreation, history, outdoor & indoor pools, running, Danubius Health Spa

A Brief History of Margaret Island

In the Middle Ages, Margaret Island was called the Island of the Rabbits, simply because there were many rabbits there. The island received its current name after Saint Margaret (1242–1270), the daughter of King Béla IV, who lived in the Dominican convent on the island. King Béla IV vowed to raise his daughter as a nun if Hungary survived the Mongol invasion. Ruins of this 13th century Dominican church and convent can still be seen.

Among the present historical monuments on the island are the 13th century ruins of a Franciscan church, as well as a Premonstratensian chapel with a Romanesque tower from the 12th century. Churches and cloisters dominated the island until the 16th century. During the Turkish occupation, the monks and nuns fled and the island was turned into a harem. In the 18th century, the island was chosen to be the resort of the palatines. Palatines were the highest dignitaries after the king. It was declared a public garden in 1908. Since then, Margaret Island serves as a recreational park. The island houses various sports establishments, like the Palatinus water park, the Alfréd Hajós sports pool, tennis courts and an athletics center.

Things To Do and See on Margaret Island

Walking the length of the island takes about 20 minutes, but most visitors spend time at the Hajós Alfréd and the Palatinus outdoor pools. The Palatinus water park is a popular place in the summer, especially on the weekends. The 11 outdoor pools, including two for children, are in a beautiful setting. If it is too cold to go for a swim, an island tour introduces relics hailing back to the island's religious origins, including a 12th century convent and ruins of a Franciscan and a Dominican church. During summer months, bicycles, inline skates and 'bringóhintó', a four-wheeled bike for four, are available for rent. Since vehicles are prohibited, the island is a fantastic escape from the bustle of the big city and a great place to work out, swim a few laps, or go for a run.

Margaret Island

The music fountain

Other attractions on the island include the Centennial Memorial which commemorates the 100th anniversary of Budapest, a Japanese Garden, a tiny zoo, a music fountain, and an octagonal water tower, built in Art Nouveau style in 1911. The outdoor theater hosts operas, concerts and plays during summer.

The thermal water on Margaret Island is famous for its healing effects. The natural, thermal water running beneath the island was first brought to the surface in 1886. In addition to its healing power, a day at the Danubius Health Spa is also a great way to relax and unwind.

Margaret Island is not only a popular destination during the day, it comes alive after sunset too. Young adults mingle and dance to a backdrop of canned music underneath a ceiling of stars in Holdudvar, a popular summertime restaurant, bar and open-air cinema. Another favorite hang-out, known for its artsy vibe, is Wndrlnd.

Getting to Margaret Island: Streetcars 4 and 6 have stops on Margaret Bridge. Margaret Island is only a short walk from there.

Insider Tips: If you like to run, there is an excellent rubber-coated jogging track around the island (3.3 miles / 5350 meters, marked at 500 meter intervals). When the weather is nice Margaret Island is also great for a picnic. In the summer, take in an outdoor concert at the open-air theater located next to the famous Art Nouveau water tower.

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Posted in: Budapest Travel Guide » Budapest Attractions

tags: child friendly city center parks