We recently came back from a two week trip through Europe, visiting four countries via the rail system with Eurail and STA Travel. We had the most amazing time experiencing Europe in the winter for the very first time. Out of all the cities we visited, Budapest was one of the most magical during the colder months!
Check out our two vlogs below to see what we got up to during our winters day in Budapest, and keep scrolling if you would like to read more on top things to do in Budapest!
1. Bathe in a Thermal Bath
There are thermal bath houses all over the city and are the perfect spot to warm up on a cold winter’s day. During our visit we decided to check out the most popular thermal bath, Széchenyi Thermal Bath, and absolutely loved it. Just be prepared for the chilly walk from the change rooms to the warm waters – but it is all worth it one you are soaking in 39°C water. The only issue we had was we never wanted to leave!
2. Try Hungarian Food at Central Market Hall
If you are looking for an indoor area to taste some authentic, local cuisine than you need to check out the Central Market Hall. Located directly across from the Liberty Bridge on the Pest side of town you will find a large building dating back to the late 1800’s filled with stalls and markets selling plenty of tasty food.
Being vegetarians we decided to try Hungarian Rice Stuffed Eggplant and Hungarian Fried Bread (Langos) – both delicious! If you are a meat eater you can also try goulash and hungarian sausage here too.
3. Visit Famous Buildings… from the inside
Budapest is full of historical buildings and churches that are worth a visit. These are all beautiful for the outside, but also well worth to have a look inside (and have a moment out of the cold). Many historical spots are free of charge or only charge a small fee.
Some buildings we suggest checking out are:
St. Stephen Basilica
Hungarian Parliament in Budapest
Hungarian State Opera
4. Go Ice Skating on Europe’s Largest Ice Rink
The lake in front of Vajdahunyad Castle is used for boating in the summer and is transformed into Europe’s largest outdoor ice-skating rink in the winter! It is one of the most beautiful places to ice skate, open from mid-November to the end of February with skates available for rent.
5. Grab a Drink at the Ruin Pubs
Budapest is famous for its Kerts (meaning gardens in Hungarian). These ruin pubs have been around for 10 years since the founding of Szimpla Kert, the mecca of all ruin bars. These bars are built in Budapest’s old District VII neighborhood (the old Jewish quarter) in the ruins of abandoned buildings, stores, or lots. This neighborhood was left to decay after World War II, so it was a perfect place to develop an underground bar scene… however, not so underground anymore!
6. Go to a Ballet or an Opera
Budapest is known for its amazing ballet and opera performances, and winter is the perfect time to go see them as you are wanting indoor activities on those cold, winter days. In 2018 Budapest is showcasing Swan Lake and Snow White and the Seven Dwarves – make sure you book tickets in advance!
7. Eat a Chimney Cake
If you are looking for a traditional sugar hit that will warm you, up you need to try these sugar-dusted treats called kürtőskalács (chimney cake). During our visit we didn’t do our research and found a shop selling them that were not the best. If you are wanting to have a try here are some places worth a visit…
Molnár’s: This is where you need to go for your classic chimney cake.
Töltött Kürtős: Here they roll the pastry into an ice-cream cone then fill it with vanilla ice cream.
Hoppácska: These guys have decided to take the chimney cake to whole new level and cut the dough into half and top the unsweetened pastry with savory fillings, like piquant Hungarian lecsó, spicy meatballs, or zesty cottage-cheese spread, while sweet versions of the cake are served with chocolate cream or fruit fillings.
Street Cakes: Here they create chimney cakes according to each customer’s individual cravings, where everyone can mix and match the sugary fillings and toppings however they like.
8. Christmas Markets, Christmas Markets, CHRISTMAS MARKETS!
Budapest is becoming a top destination to experience Christmas Markets, with two very popular spots. The Vörösmarty Square Christmas Fair is one of the city’s most popular markets, with numerous wooden stalls lining the gorgeous plaza, where local craftsmen sell traditional Christmas gifts. Advent Feast at the Basilica has numerous Hungarian handicrafts, plenty of street-food to taste, and lots of fun programs, like light-painting shows projected on the Basilica’s façade, or a free ice-skating rink for children.
9. Visit some Museums
Budapest has over 220 museums offering all sorts of history, art and paintings. A museum visit is the perfect way to escape a rainy, cold day. Some top museum picks would have to be the Hungarian National Museum, Museum of Fine Arts and the House of Terror.
10. Warm up at one of Budapest’s Coffee Houses
Budapest is scattered with stunning coffee houses across the city. These are a great way to sip on a coffee while feeling like you are experiencing history as many of these coffee houses date back to the 19th century.
Some popular coffee houses to check out are Ruszwurm (the oldest cafe in Budapest), Angelika Cafe & Restaurant, New York Cafe, Lotz Cafe, and Hadik.
Some images featured sourced from Wiki Commons
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