Where to slip and slide down the snowy mountains of Hungary
Budapest might not be the first place you think of when planning a skiing trip, but with gentle mountains outside the city and ample snowfall in winter, it’s an excellent place to take to the slopes. When visiting Budapest in the colder months, get out into nature for a day and visit one of these fantastic ski centres.
Situated on a beautiful curve of the great blue Danube, the small town of Visegrad is just one hour from Budapest, and it’s here that you’ll find the Nagyvillám resort. Welcoming all abilities and ideal for beginners or children, what Visegrad lacks in thrills and spills it makes up for in gorgeous vistas across the river’s twists and turns. Its peak elevation is 377m, and there are two slopes measuring 150m and 250m. At the base of Nagyvillám you can rent skis, snowboards and equipment.
An hour and a half northeast of Budapest, Mátraszentistván Ski Park is one of Hungary’s most popular ski runs. With nine different slopes of varying difficulty levels running across a 4km system, it caters to skiers of all skills. For beginners, Mátraszentistván is home to the largest ski school in the country and it’s incredibly child-friendly, holding courses from six years and up.
A small but beautifully scenic course, Dobogókő is the closest ski resort to Budapest at just 39km from the city centre. You’ll glide down a glistening piste, sheltered by a snow-sprinkled forest at the Danube Bend’s highest point of 699m. Dobogókő Ski Centre has two slopes; the lower parts of both are perfect for beginners, while the upper parts are more challenging. You can hire equipment, take lessons by the hour, and don’t leave without dining in the incredible wooden ski hut restaurant designed by famous Hungarian architect, Imre Makovecz.
Piste-fiends and novices alike will love Intersport Ski Arena’s 16 tracks for all levels. Located in the village of Eplény, an hour and half from Budapest, it features Hungary’s longest uninterrupted ski route and is the only FIS-accredited course in the country. Ski and equipment rental is available and there are four-seater chairlifts to whisk you up to the top of the snowy peak. Instructors and restaurants are available, too.
For those that love a dizzying challenge, Kékestető is at Hungary’s highest peak in the Matra Hills, northeast of Budapest. Atop its vertiginous slopes is a ski centre with training school, restaurant and He-Do bar where you can warm up apres-ski with mulled wine or warm punch. With eight slopes so high they’re kissed by the clouds, Kékestető offers plenty of variety. You can even ski at night for an especially atmospheric experience.