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A green oasis with great activities in the heart of Budapest: Margaret Island

Margaret IslandBudapestGreater Budapest

We know of a place in Budapest that’s a real all-rounder. Looking for a romantic date? A bit of exercise? To take your dog for a long walk, or go see some animals indigenous to Hungary? Or are you simply in the mood for a picnic? Margaret Island in the centre of the Danube River is the perfect place for any of these. 

What will you find on Margaret Island?

Margaret Island is a fantastic green oasis in the heart of Budapest, an ideal place for true relaxation. However, there are also many attractions worth visiting.  

  • Water Tower
    This huge, octagonal tower was built in 1911. Its original purpose was providing the island with an uninterrupted water supply. However, today it has become more of a tourist attraction, with a full panoramic 360-degree view of the city. Go ahead and climb the steps. Believe us, it’s well worth a visit.
  • Japanese Garden
    Still your thoughts amidst the 100-year-old plants. Rest a while at the murmuring waterfall, and observe the peaceful inhabitants of the fishpond: the turtles, the wild ducks, the goldfish and the lovely water lilies.
  • Ruins of a Dominican monastery
    Visit the ruins of a monastery established in the 13th century by King Béla IV for his daughter Margaret (the origin of the island’s name) and her fellow nuns. While you’re there, don’t forget to visit the Roman-style chapel, named after St Michael.
  • Musical Fountain
    Take the weight off your feet at Hungary's largest musical fountain, and allow yourself to be awed by the gigantic water jets, with their varied musical repertoire, which sound every hour. If you agree that there can never be too much beauty, simply take a walk to the historic Bodor Well on the other side of the island, which also plays music: here, you can listen to songs typical of the style in vogue around the turn of the 19th-20th century.
  • Artists’ Promenade
    Stroll along the promenade, and take a good look at the sculptures of Hungarian artists displayed along the road. It doesn’t hurt to have a keen eye, as some of the sculptures are hidden quite deep in the tall grass, just waiting to be discovered. 

When visiting Margaret Island, you should definitely not miss the following activities:

  • Wildlife Park
    The petting zoo on Margaret Island offers an exciting experience for children and adults alike. It is a great place to spot deer, hares, waterfowl, ponies and various birds of prey in their natural environment.
  • Pedal carriages
    Pedal carriages are a big part of any visit to Margaret Island. Hop on, and pedal around the island at your leisure.
  • Open-air Theatre
    You won’t be bored on Margaret Island if you’re looking for a cultural event either. Music fans will find many delightful symphonic concerts, ballet productions, opera, folklore shows and light music concerts throughout the season.
  • Palatinus Thermal and Open-air Bath
    Make your way to the Palatinus Bath, which has been welcoming water activity enthusiasts for over a century now. Visitors will find adventure pools, swimming pools, and slides here; there are even wellness baths fed by thermal springs, ideal for a bit of relaxation.  

Why is it called “Margaret Island”?

Margaret Island has had many different names over the years. One of the most popular is “Island of Rabbits”. What is interesting is that this was merely the result of an “honest” mistake: the island was previously known as the “Island of the Lepers”, due to the sick being quarantined here. In Latin, this was “Isola leprorum”. This phrase was misunderstood to be “Isola leporum”: this single-letter difference changed the meaning to “Island of Rabbits”.

As for how the far more pleasant name of “Margaret Island” name came to be, that’s quite clear: King Béla IV made a vow that if his people were spared the large-scale depredations of the Tatars, he would submit his unborn child to the service of the church. This is how the king’s daughter, Margaret, became a nun. Béla IV built a beautiful monastery on the island for her and her fellow nuns. Margaret lived there until her death, with many legendary miracles attributed to her. The island continues to bear her name to this day.