Unfortunately for the lovers of winter sports, Hungary scores pretty low on the list of Europe’s best ski resorts. Still, that doesn’t mean you don’t have a handful of options to choose from if you want to enjoy the bite of fresh air on your rosy cheeks while wrapped up in several layers of clothes like a marshmallow. Below we’ll give you the best spots in Budapest to visit this winter!
One of the main attractions of wintertime Budapest is the huge ice rink found at the entrance of City Park, situated behind the impressive Skating Hall, a masterpiece of Hungarian neo-Baroque architecture. This classic rink adored by young and old alike welcomes sakte lovers since 1870, when Prince Rudolph opened the gates of Europe’s largest outdoor skating rink to the public. With Archangel Gabriel looking over from nearby Heroes’ Square, and the massive building of the Vajdahunyad Castle towering over skaters in the background, this one’s a lovely venue for a winter date, with plenty of choices for a warming drink afterwards. In case you don’t have an ice skate with you, you can rent a pair in the Skating Hall, while skating classes are also available.
Besides the Ice Rink, City Park awaits you with a number of other fun winter activities. The naturally hot spring waters of Széchenyi Baths, Europe’s largest bathing complex, keep bathers warm and cozy even during the winter months, offering a unique and unforgettable experience. If you’re not a fan of spa culture or ice skating, you’re welcome to check out City Park’s Királydomb, an artificial mound “built” in the 1970s, whose varied slopes can give plenty of excitement for both amateur and seasoned sledders.
A popular outdoor destination among city-dwellers all year long, Normafa turns into Budapest’s number one sledding spot once the first snow falls, filling up its peaceful slopes with a soft layer of slush and hundreds upon hundreds of children. The hilltop location provides visitors with an awe-inspiring view of the surrounding area, including the Buda mountains, and the whole city of Budapest. For a perfect winter day, take the cogwheel railway from Városmajor park to Széchenyi-hegy, take a ride on the world-famous Children’s Railway, then warm yourself up with a mug of mulled wine, hike up to the Elizabeth lookout tower, and finally board the Zugliget chairlift to treat yourself with fantastic forest views.
Not even a century ago, this crowded neighbourhood (nestled between Castle Hill and Naphegy) was known as the Bohemian quarter of the city, home to bars, restaurants, and brothels, as well as thousands of Serbs, Greeks, Vlachs, Croats, Gypsies, and Slovaks, who lived in such poor conditions that the city council decided to demolish the whole area in the 1930s. Now, Tabán functions as a quiet park, its slopes (once giving place to famously crooked streets) perfectly suited for sledding on a crisp winter day, with the magnificent view of the Royal Palace in the foreground.