9 Reasons for you to visit Budapest in the winter | Budapest Local 9 Reasons for you to visit Budapest in the winter | Budapest Local

9 Reasons For You to Visit Budapest in the Winter

budapest in the winter

Editor’s Note: This post has been updated for freshness, accuracy, and comprehensiveness on Wednesday, November 11th, 2017.

Are you planning a trip to Budapest in the winter but worried about not finding any fun and interesting activities in the city? Then we have good news: Budapest is a great city for a winter vacation and to prove that we put together a list of  9 activities that you should absolutely do if you want to get the most out of your trip. But first, watch our video and find out what the locals do in Budapest during wintertime.

1. Relax at a secret bath

Budapest is known for its great baths, such as Gellért and Széchenyi. However, if you’re looking for a more local experience, then we recommend that you visit Veli Bej, the secret bath of Budapest.

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veli bejThe central pool at Veli Bej Bath. Photo: epiteszforum.hu

2. See a ballet or an opera

Now that it’s winter, you’re probably longing for the outdoor concerts and festivals. However, if you’re coming to Budapest in the summer, you miss out on a great activity: going to a Nutcracker performance. Unfortunately, the Hungarian State Opera House is currently closed for renovation, but you still get tickets for one of the performances at the Erkel Theatre, which was renovated in 2013, and has been part of the Opera House since its reopening. Click here for the detailed program and ticket information.

The Nutcracker. Photo: opera.hu

3. Get a taste of the Hungarian Holiday Season

Coming to Budapest around the Holiday season gives you a great opportunity to explore the culinary traditions. So here is a quick list of foods that you should try while in Budapest: fisherman’s soup, fried fish, potato salad in vinegar, stuffed cabbage, beigli (traditional Christmas pastry with walnut or poppy seed), pork and cooked sausage on New Year’s Eve, and lentil soup on New Year’s Day – the latter is supposed to bring your great wealth in the new year.

budapest in the winterYummy beigli with nuts and poppy seeds. Photo: beatrixcukraszda.hu

4. Hunt for treasures at the Christmas markets

If there is one thing that we should be happy about during wintertime, when it gets dark so painfully early, is that it’s also the season of Christmas markets with all their pretty lights and decorations. And luckily Budapest has a number of great markets, where you can find the best Christmas presents. Our favorite Christmas market is the one front of the Basilica. Want to explore the wonderful Budapest Christmas markets? Join this small-group tour with a local guide and other curious travelers. The tour includes plenty of food and drinks, enough to serve as lunch!

budapest in the winterChristmas Market at St. Stephen’s Basilica. Photo: dailynewshungary.com

5. Ice skate in a fairy tale setting

Imagine an ice rink in a beautiful park surrounded by a pretty castle. Sounds like a fairy tale, doesn’t it? Well, this fairy tale is actually reality in Budapest. In fact, ice skating on the City Ice Rink is a popular activity among locals during wintertime so make sure you don’t miss out on it!

budapest in the winterThe City Ice Rink with the Vajdahunyad Castle in the background. Photo: budapest.varosom.hu

6. Try the Hungarian mulled wine

Drinking mulled wine (forralt bor) in Budapest during wintertime is a must. Luckily, Hungarian mulled is excellent as it’s never too sweet and has just the perfect amount of spices, so we are happy to give in to this tradition.

budapest in the winterForralt bor (mulled wine). Photo: femcafe.hu

7. Grab your sled and/or skis and hit the mountains for some winter fun

Did you know that the hilly Buda side is excellent for some great winter fun? Check out Normafa, where you can enjoy the beautiful view over the city, while skiing and/or sledding down the hill. It is also at Normafa where you can get the best rétes (strudel) in Budapest. During wintertime, Normafa Rétes is open between 10am and 4pm.

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8. Stay warm at the legendary coffee houses

Coffee houses in Budapest give you a great chance to explore what it was like to be living at the turn of the 20th century – often referred to as the golden age of Budapest. While sipping your coffee, you can literally feel history as some of these coffee houses date back to the late 19th century. So escape from the cold, have some coffee and try the great selection of delicious cakes!

budapest in the winterThe interior of Művész Coffee House (est. 1898). Photo: muveszkavehaz.hu

9. Enjoy the ruin pubs open also in the winter

Who hasn’t heard of the great Kerts (meaning gardens in Hungarian) aka ruin pubs in Budapest. You’ve probably seen pictures of these great outdoor places where the atmosphere is laid back, the design is a mixture of old and modern, and where everybody seems to be having a blast. But did you know that many of these places are also open during wintertime? Make sure you check them out.

budapest in the winterOutdoor and yet indoor at Mazel Tov. Photo: Mazel Tov official Facebook page
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16 Comments

  • michelle says:

    HI we are a group of 4 adults visiting your beautiful country at the end of Feb (26th-1st March 2018) we enjoy good inexpensive local food or street food if you can recommend anywhere? we also want to make the most of our time so is there any ‘cant miss’ places you can recommend as a tourist? ie river cruises or guided tours where we can really get the most out of it and contact details or addresses please.
    we will most definitely be visiting the baths as well.

  • silja Gschib says:

    Hello. My family and I are visiting Budapest in the end of February. What is the easiest way to visit Wien?

  • Ian McArthur says:

    Hi- I’m hoping to be in Budapest from the 8th – 14th January. Are any flea markets/antique malls likely to be open then?

    Ian

    • Budapest Local says:

      Hi Ian,
      You should check out Antik Placc, a flea market that’s open every Sunday. Also, Ecseri Piac is open every day. And there are some great antique shops on Falk Miksa utca. Have a great time in Budapest!

  • Sam says:

    Hi,
    Me and my wife are visiting Budapest from 23-27 dec 2017. We would definitely try the secret bath/ruin pubs/bistro but also we are quite adventurous and would like to know if there are any such options in Budapest or near buy cities that we could add to our stay.
    Appreciate your reply in advance.

    • Budapest Local says:

      Hi Sam,
      Have you looked into the escape rooms in the Budapest? There are also some great hiking trails around the city. I would also recommend visiting Szentendre, a cute little city just outside of Budapest. It has a unique charm especially during the Holiday season!

  • Manu VOHRA says:

    Hi
    Me and my husband are visiting Prague and Budapest and confused whether to include Vienna as well in our 11 night trip in second half of Janaury.
    Could you share some advise on what all to experience in Budapest , weather-will it be unbearably cold? and fairly how many days will be required to explore Budapest.

    • Budapest Local says:

      Hi Manu,
      I would definitely include Vienna as well as the three city would give you a great overview of the region. For Budapest, I would leave at least 3 days. The weather can be pretty cold, but it’s hard to say. What kind of experiences are you looking for? Eg. culture, food related, etc.

  • Vanessa says:

    Hi there,
    Great article! We (4 adults) are coming to Budapest over New Years and are really looking forward to exploring this city.
    On New Years Eve we think we would like to have a delicious dinner somewhere before joining in the festivities in the squares etc of the city rather than do a dinner cruise, for example. Can you please recommend a good (but not really expensive) restaurant for New Years Eve dinner that we can looking at booking?
    Thanks so much for your help!

  • Manish says:

    Hi, We are coming to Budapest Vienna during this new year. We have four days in total. & we wish to give half day to bratislava too. Can you suggest in which city we should spend 2 days and in which city 1 & 1/2 day, Budapest or Vienna. Thank you

    • Budapest Local says:

      Hi Manish,
      Sounds like a great trip! 🙂 I would spend 2 days in Budapest, 1 day in Vienna and a half a day in Bratislava.

  • Vanessa Petch says:

    Hi. We’ll be coming to Budapest in Dec 2017. Is there a particular ruin pub or area for them that you would recommend checking out. Also are they child friendly in the afternoon/early evening? We’ll have our 7yr old with us. Thank you!! We’re very excited to explore your wonderful city.

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