Friday 31 July 2015

Budapest Margaret Island Running Route

Click here for route map
Length 5.5 km (3.4 miles), terrain: flat

I didn't take a camera on this run: thanks to Google Maps for the images!

The greenest, most popular run in Budapest is definitely the loop around Margaret Island (Margit-sziget) in the Danube. It has everything that a great running route needs: a scenic, shaded, waterside trail around a popular park, with views across the Danube, leading you past fountains, sports fields, a zoo, ancient ruins, hotels and the city's main outdoor swimming pools. And the trail has been paved in springy rubber matting, making it gentle on your legs.
On the soft Margaret Island trail, looking towards Pest
The 5.5-kilometer trail is easy to get to: just head to the middle of the Margaret Bridge (Margit-híd), either by foot or tram (lines 4 or 6). The bridge takes you to the south end of the island, which is right in the middle of town, just a few blocks west of the main train station (Nyugati).
The long, low spans of Margaret Bridge, with island on right
Standing there on the bridge, take the connecting bridge to the island. You are on the main pedestrian trail, which goes up the middle of the island. But after the metal railing ends on the right side, take the steps down to the right, leading you to the waterside running trail.
Start of run from Margaret Bridge: straight onto the island
You'll recognize it immediately by the strip of red-rubber paving in the middle. Most people run it counter-clockwise, so we'll turn left and run northwards, with the water on your right side. Across the water, to the right, you can see the "Pest" side of Budapest, with its apartment buildings and lots of riverboats lining the shore.
The musical fountain
You'll now pass some of the main park attractions, like the musical fountain (the fountains dance in time to classical music, which is played at shows during the summer). You'll then pass a little zoo, where it's nice to run on the parallel path that goes directly along the zoo fence.
At the zoo
There are several parallel trails going up the island's interior, and maybe, for later runs, you might want to explore them, too.

You'll soon pass the foundations of an old Dominican monastery church, left over from the days when the whole island was a big monastery.
Dominican church ruins
After that, you'll probably notice the tall water tower in the center of the island, surrounded by a terrace restaurant: looks like a great hangout!
The water tower and restaurant
Now you'll come to a stretch next to a little road and parking lots for the island's two hotels: first the elegant Grand Hotel, and then the modern Danubius spa hotel.
The Grand Hotel from the trail
You're almost at the northern tip of the island now, with its big playground. There is another bridge here (the Árpád híd), but the trail turns to the left and goes under the ramp leading up to the bridge, then turns left again on the west shore of the island.

NOTE: If you want to double the length of the route, you could take the pedestrian ramp up to the Árpád bridge and cross it to the west, then turn right to take the first little bridge to Obuda Island, where you could also do a loop. Obuda is green but less park-like, with dirt roads and paths crossing grassy fields. The island is mainly known for its Sziget music festival every August.
Rounding the northern tip, around the playground
Now you're running south on Margaret Island with a view of Buda to the right.

This side of the island has a fence along much of the running track, to the land side. You'll run by a series of fenced-in swimming areas and an athletics stadium.
Along the western shore
If you look out over the river, you should be able to see the hills lining the river in Buda, to the south.
Passing the athletic stadium
After you run past the tennis club, the trail returns to the Margaret Bridge, where the trail curves to the left and goes under the span connecting the island to the bridge.

In just a few steps you'll see the stairs leading up to the left, taking you back to the main park entrance where you started.

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