As is well known, the Hungarian capital city is the convergence of two formerly separate cities on the east and west banks of the River Danube. To get at the georgraphical and figurative heart of both banks (Buda and Pest) simultaneously, the obvious choice is Margaret Island (Margit-sziget).
Though little more than a mile-and-a-half long and less than 600 yards wide, this island offers an array of recreational activities, methods of aquatic recreation, views, and opportunities to either engage or evade the city’s resident population (depending on your prerogative).
Like the city surrounding it, Margaret Island is the result of the combination of formerly separate parts (the islands of Festő, Fürdő and Nyulak, which were fused into one during the 19th century in order to help control the flow of the river), and from the iconic water tower (itself a protected UNESCO site), one can take in the whole of Budapest and contemplate its combined grandeur.
Travelers hoping to interact with regular Budapestians will take to the island during the weekend, when thousands of people swarm the island to splash in the famed Palatinus Baths complex, avail themselves of the various sports centers and boathouses, and bolster their spirits in the profusion of reputedly restorative thermal waters. Sunday can be ideal, as many of the tourist attractions elsewhere in the city will be closed.
Less sociable tourists (or those simply worn out by the challenges of international travel) will find the island much more sparsely populated on weekdays, when it is visited mainly by joggers and children skipping out on school.