Budapest’s Margaret Island, or ‘Margitsziget’ in Hungarian, is a verdant haven in the heart of the Hungarian capital. This picturesque island, 2.8 kilometres long, offers a peaceful sanctuary from the hustle and bustle of the city.

With its lush gardens, footpaths, sports, leisure and cultural activities, and historic remains, Budapest’s Margaret Island is a landmark of the city, a veritable green lung where nature and history come together in harmony. Join us as we explore the charms and sites of this haven of peace, closed to motorised traffic.

History of Budapest’s Margaret Island

Formerly known as rabbit island, its current name comes from Margaret of Hungary, a 13th-century princess renowned for her piety and charity.
Over the centuries, the island has been the scene of numerous historical events. It was frequently used as a retreat by Benedictine monks, and later by Franciscan nuns. In the 16th century, it became the property of the noble Schwazenberg family, who built a monastery there. Over time, the island has undergone various transformations, passing through the hands of different aristocratic families.

One of the most significant periods in the history of Marguerite Island dates back to the 19th century, when public gardens were laid out on the island, giving it its present picturesque and peaceful character. Wooded paths, fountains and monuments were added, making the island a popular place of relaxation for the people of Budapest. Until 1901, the island was only accessible by boat until a passageway over the Margaret Bridge leading to the island was completed.
During the Second World War, Margaret Island was damaged in the fighting, but it was restored after the war to its former glory.

The main attractions on Budapest’s Margaret Island

Discover the musical fountain

the musical fountain

The musical fountain is located at the southern end of the island and is one of the first attractions encountered when coming from the Margaret bridge. It was renovated in 2013 and is beautifully illuminated at night.
It puts on a spectacular show five times a day at 10.30am, 5pm, 6pm, 7.30pm and 9pm, and is Budapest’s version of the famous animated fountains at the Bellagio in Las Vegas.
The water jets dance to the music of various composers, from Vivaldi to the Rolling Stones, and shoot up to 10 metres into the air. After sunset, the fountain is lit up by hundreds of colourful lamps!

The Palatinus baths

Opened in 1919, the Palatinus baths were the first outdoor baths in Budapest. It features a dozen pools, including giant slides, a wave pool, hot baths, thermal baths fed by 70-degree spring water and saunas in a park covering 75,000 m2.
This popular aquatic complex with its many activities is sure to delight children in Budapest. The outdoor baths are open from June to mid-September.

Address: Palatinus Baths, Margitsziget, 13th district. – mapwebsite.
Opening hours: daily from 09:00 to 19:30.

Visit the rose garden

Just opposite the Palatinus baths in the middle of the island is the magnificent Rose Garden, a wonderful place to visit in late spring when the flowers are in full bloom. Created in 1927, it is home to a wide variety of roses planted over an area of 15,000 m².

Sports and leisure activities on Budapest’s Margaret Island

Budapest’s Margaret Island is 2800m long and covers an area of 100 hectares, which lends itself to the many sports and leisure activities on offer:

Jogging track: For runners, there is a flat, rubberised 5.3 km running track that surrounds the outer perimeter of the island, with good views of the Danube and pleasant shade in places.

Bike and buggy hire: Marguerite Island offers bike hire services. You can explore the island at your own pace, using the cycle paths and discovering its picturesque landscapes.

Athletics centre: would you like to run on the athletics track, play padel or hire a mini football pitch? The sports centre is open every day from 06:00 to 22:00. For more information, click here.

The mini zoo for children: visitors can get up close and personal with a whole range of birds and animals, including fallow deer, peacocks, white-cheeked ducks, mandarin ducks, Asian silkies and owls. Younger children can also enjoy pony rides. Open from 10am to 6pm.

Climb to the top of the Margaret Island water tower
Margaret Island water tower

The Margaret Island water tower stands proudly overlooking the park. This octagonal Art Nouveau structure is both functional, supplying water to the island, and decorative. The water tower is also an observation tower: climb to the top for a breathtaking view of the impressive Hungarian Parliament building!
The 57-metre-high water tower also hosts exhibitions and events on its two levels.
Adjacent to the water tower is an open-air theatre where you can enjoy concerts, opera, ballet and other performances between May and August. Information and tickets on this link.

Margaret Island Japanese garden
Margaret Island Japanese Garden

At the northern tip of the island is a small Japanese garden, with a fish pond, rock garden, dwarf trees, water lilies, ducks, rock garden and artificial waterfall.

Discover the ruins of a Dominican convent

The convent was founded in the 13th century by King Béla IV, who sent his daughter Margaret to live there at the age of 11 after the Mongols invaded Hungary. The convent remained in use until the nuns left the island in the 16th century after the Ottoman invasion. When Budapest was reconquered by Habsburg troops in 1686, all that remained were the ruins of the convent and Margaret’s tomb. The ruins and the tomb can now be visited.

LUMINA Park in winter

Opening after sunset between October and March, this open-air Lumina multimedia exhibition guides you through a 1.5-kilometre trail. You’ll stroll past themed light installations in a fairytale land within the grounds of the Palatinus baths. Further information on the Lumina Park website on this link.

Where to eat on Budapest’s Margaret Island?

As well as the possibility of picnicking (permitted in the park), you’ll find a variety of dining options on the island. In particular, there are numerous restaurants and buffets with terraces in the middle of the island, along the Danube on the Pest side, such as Island Bistro, Hippie Island, Pizza Puzzle and Wonder island.

You can also have a drink or lunch at one of the 3 hotels on Marguerite Island: the Ensana Thermal Margitsziget, the Ensana Grand Margaret Island and the Danubius Hotel Helia.

Sziget Festival on Margaret Island ?

No, Europe’s biggest music festival, the Sziget Festival, takes place every summer on another of Budapest’s islands, the island of Óbuda. For 1 week, over 550,000 festival-goers from all over the world come to enjoy 600 concerts and shows on more than 50 stages. For full details, see our dedicated article ‘Budapest Sziget Festival’ on this link.

Useful information

Opening times: Margaret Island is open all day all year round.

Admission: Entrance to the Margaret Island park is free. Admission to the various activities may be subject to a charge (e.g. for the Palatinus baths).

Map of Budapest’s Margaret Island

You will find a map of Margaret Island and its main sites on this link, where you can also download the map. Another more detailed map can be found on this link.

How do I get to Budapest’s Margaret Island?

Budapest’s Margaret Island is closed to traffic and can be accessed via two bridges that cross the island at its northern (Árpád Bridge) and southern (Margaret Bridge) ends. The entrance via the Margaret Bridge is the one most people use, as it is closer to the city centre.

To get to Margaret Island by public transport:

Tram lines 4 and 6 both take you directly to the Margaret Bridge entrance at the ‘Margitsziget’ stop.
To enter from the Árpád Bridge, take the M2 metro line to ‘Árpád Híd’ and walk or take the bus number 16 directly to the island.
Bus 26, the only means of public transport on the island, leaves from the western station at Nyugati tér square, for example (line M3 blue metro, trams 4, 6). The bus crosses the whole island.
If you are coming from Buda, the best option is to take trams 19 or 41, which run along the Danube on the Buda side.

Parking: Private cars are not allowed on the island. You can leave your car in the guarded pay car park to the north of Margaret Island by entering via the Árpád bridge.

Finally, don’t miss this beautiful, short video of Budapest’s Margaret Island:

Also check out our article on the best baths in Budapest on this link, and our selection of the best activities for children in Budapest on this link.