Városliget is the largest of Budapest’s public parks, a vast expanse of 302 acres (1.2 km²) of public space with its main entrance at the monumental UNESCO-listed Heroes’ Square (Hosok Tér). It was originally an area of rural swamp but was mentioned as the royal hunting grounds as far back as the 13th century.
By 1751 the swamp had been drained and more trees planted in an English-style landscaping that became Hungary’s first public park. One hundred years later, the park became the focus of the Millennium celebrations, with museums, lakes, zoos and follies being built for 1896. Around the same time elegant Andrássy Avenue was constructed, which leads from the city center Erzsébet Square to Heroes’ Square.
Today the park is an idyllic spot for a summer picnic under the shade of gigantic sycamore trees or around the lake. Városliget is a one-stop destination for kids: Budapest Zoo, a permanent circus, the transport museum and Budapest Amusement Park provide a day’s worth of entertainment. The agricultural museum in Vajdahunyad Castle and a brace of art museums are also found within the park’s boundaries as well as the gorgeous neo-Baroque Széchenyi thermal baths. There’s a flea market here on Sunday morning and visitors don’t even have to leave the park to eat; there’s a choice of decent restaurants, including Budapest’s famous (and expensive) gourmet choice, Gundel.