May Flowers

Budapest is invigorated by fragrant flowers every May, springing up beautifully in secret gardens tucked between hillside villas or sprouting in colorful splashes across spacious parks dotted by lazing locals. An abundance of variegated vegetation lies strewn across the city to provide vivacious oases amidst the metropolitan bustle, including these florid destinations that are in full bloom this month.

Clark Ádám Square
Between Budapest’s glorious Chain Bridge and the cavernous tunnel under Castle Hill, a roundabout bursts with golden and pastel annuals in a circular layout—in contrast to locals’ memories of this space brimming with scarlet blooms landscaped into a giant red star as a monument to Hungary’s communist government. For a bird’s-eye view of the square’s lavish gardens alongside uplifting Danube panoramas, hop aboard the funicular—the steep ride is framed with flowers and tiered foliage.

Royal Palace
Once upon a time atop Castle Hill, only Hungary’s aristocracy could stroll along the Royal Palace’s cobblestone promenade to enjoy its sweeping Budapest views and manicured planters, but today everyone is welcome here. Multihued pansies flank the majestic horseback statue of Prince Eugene of Savoy, and near the regal Matthias Fountain in the western forecourt, rings of white, yellow, and purple posies are laid symmetrically to the palace’s noble Corinthian columns.

Gül Baba’s Tomb
Renowned as Hungary’s “Father of Roses,” the 16th-century Turkish dervish poet Gül Baba is buried in an octagonal tomb set in a peaceful open-air arcade adorned with ornamental mosaic tiles. According to legend, it was he who introduced the first rose to the Magyars during Europe’s era of Ottoman conquest, and now fragrant rosebushes surround this public monument in Buda’s hilly Rózsadomb neighborhood, a frequent destination of Muslim pilgrimages.

Margaret Island
Spring’s awakening is palpable at the city’s green river isle, a place that celebrated Hungarian writer Mór Jókai called “the enchanted garden of Budapest.” The site earns such praise with its immense lawns and peaceful shaded walkways leading through delightful collections of florid plots, including a swirl of blooms circling the Centennial Memorial at the island’s southern entrance. A tranquil Japanese garden rests at the isle’s northern end, featuring a serene water-lily pond.

City Park
These fairy-tale meadows of sycamores and weeping willows, now enveloping lakes and majestic palaces, all used to be swamps until they were drained in the 18th century. Today these revered fields host vernal flora like the vivid violets by orange and yellow pansies rooted before the Chapel of Ják, found inside Vajdahunyad Castle’s ornate walls. For exotic experiences, visit the Budapest Zoo and Botanical Garden, with global greenery brightening up wild exhibits.

Károlyi kert
This lush downtown hideaway is one of Budapest’s best-kept secrets, enclosed behind an elaborate wrought-iron fence on the grounds of an illustrious palace that now belongs to the Petőfi Literary Museum. Each spring, hundreds of spritely tulips enliven the park with flaxen and crimson shades, accented by clusters of violets and sculpted topiary. Along the winding paths leading past this charming park’s playgrounds and fountain, relax on the antique benches overlooking this urban Eden.

Füvészkert Botanical Garden
More than 6,000 varieties of plants and flowers thrive in Hungary’s oldest botanical garden, famous for its delicate orchid collections and Chinese Ginkgo trees. Amid its three-acre terrain, this animated preserve also showcases kaleidoscopic hanging baskets, roses, and geraniums, as well as more than 200 endangered species, many of which are found among the rare specimens in the palm house and Japanese garden. Pest VIII, Illés u. 25.