While we’re all sweating like crazy and trying to survive the double-sided Hungarian summer which
seems to flip from scorching heat to monsoon rain and epic storms, when faced with the former, the outdoors beckon. People flock to City Park or Margaret Island and the outdoors starts to feel a bit crowded.
However, there is an interesting place that lies far outside Budapest’s Grand Boulevard and on the Buda Side, which many “expat” may tell you is a deserted wasteland (it’s not, but a lot of people believe there is no life beyond the VII District), but get in touch with your inner explorer and head over to Kopaszi Gát.
Gát in Hungarian means “Dam”, and the area stood as a neglected piece of land that stuck out in the Danube between the Kelenföld Power Station and the beginning of Csepel Island. It was a no man’s land, starting just underneath double Rákóczi Bridge where the rumbling from the trains echoed across the Danube a more industrial area of Budapest.
Now the 1km stretch of land sticking out into the Danube like a needle houses public park houses various bars and restaurants, green spaces where you can sit down, stroll around and simply relax – it even has a sandy beach heading down into the Lágymányosi Bay. While the Danube normally carries a strong current, this bay is protected by the dam, so quite popular with locals as a swimming spot – although personally I am not sure if I would go swimming here.
The dam was originally constructed in the 19th century to offer docking for the nearby factories in the industrial areas of the XI and IX Districts, along with Csepel Island. It not only served a practical boating reason, but also protected the factories from flooding.
In the early 2000s, the abandoned man-made peninsula got a makeover, and the landscaping began in 2003. Today you’ll find picnic areas, bars and bistros, like Fruska’s seasonal picnic and bistro or go through Beld’or’s impressive catalogue of Belgian beers with one of their excellent burgers.
Getting to Kopaszi Gát may seem tricky. There is a ferry port, but it seems like the BKK ferry doesn’t go so far anymore (it used to), so the easiest way is to take the number 1 tram and get off at Infopark. You can also get off on the 4 or 6 tram at Petőfi híd, budai hídfő and walk (there is a bus too, but it doesn’t come too frequently) about 10-15 mins.