Budapest may be most famous as a summer destination, but the city in the snow is a sight worth travelling for. When Budapest’s lakes freeze over and its historical castles receive a dusting of white snow, the whole city takes on a new appearance that’s, quite simply, breathtaking; picture a charming winter scene in a snow globe and you’re almost there. And as it’s quieter during winter in Budapest, there are also fewer people to get in the way of your explorations. From ice skating at City Park Lake to the thermal baths of Budapest and even a warming glass of Hungarian wine, here’s how to get the best out of Budapest this winter.
Get your skates on at City Park Lake
During the summer, Budapest’s lakes are places of relaxation, but in the winter when the waters freeze over, they develop a whole new character and become action-packed ice skating rinks. Whether you’re a beginner or an expert, there are plenty of opportunities for ice skating enthusiasts to strap on their skates and take to the ice. As one of the oldest and largest rinks in Europe, City Park Lake is the most famous. It’s also one of the most picturesque, set in the shadow of the magnificent Vajdahunyad Castle.
Enjoy snow-capped sightseeing
Don’t shy away from sightseeing in fear of the freezing temperatures. Some of Budapest’s most monumental buildings look that bit more spectacular with a coating of fresh power. Every year when the snow starts to fall, the castle district is transformed into a picture-perfect winter wonderland fit for a king. The snow-capped Royal Palace alone is worth venturing outside for. Throw in the Matthias Church and the Fisherman’s Bastion and you’ll be so awe-struck you’ll forget about the cold.
Visit the thermal baths of Budapest
A visit to the famous thermal baths of Budapest is a highlight for most visitors, but the experience is even more satisfying during winter. If you’re feeling brave, visit Széchenyi Baths on a chilly day and submerge yourself under the steaming waters of its outdoor thermal pools, where the contrast of cold air and hot water does wonders for the body. Alternatively, steer clear of the crowds at the lesser-known (but equally striking) Ottoman-style Veli Bej baths, the oldest Turkish hammam in the city. You can even treat yourself a massage while you’re there.