Top 11 Reasons to Visit Budapest in the Winter

Christmas tram Budapest

It’s easy for a city to boast about summer but when a city has equal (some might say better) opportunities in wintertime, it’s a pretty magical thing. With thermal baths, cozy cafes, and mulled wine by the fire, it’s easy to stay warm and happy throughout a visit to Budapest in wintertime.

You won’t even notice the cold when you experience just how much fun you can have around Budapest outdoors. With so many amazing local experiences in winter, you might just find yourself booking to come back next year, or just staying, period.

1) Join the Grand City Tour and visit Parliament

Join the Grand City Tour on the first day of your holiday and see the most important attractions of Budapest. Enjoy the panoramic view from the hills of Buda and see the main sights on the Pest side. Finally, have a look at the interior of the Parliament with a professional, local guide.

Specifics:

  • What: Grand Citytour by Cityrama by bus
  • Where: Free pick up
  • When: every day except Monday 10.00
  • Time Investment: Approximately 4 hours
  • Cost: €40 for EU citizens
  • More info: cityrama.hu
  • Payment method: cash Hungarian forint
  • More information: ask Anna

 

 

2) Go Sledding at Normafa in Buda Hills

Providing there’s snow when you visit, have fun revisiting your childhood with a day of sledding on Normafa Hill. The atmosphere is tough to beat – kids (and adults) squealing with joy and excitement.

There’s a beautiful old Ski House that is now a Bistro where you will find tons of treats at very reasonable prices. Stop in for a cozy drink and nibble on a warm rétes (strudel) after an active day.

Specifics:

  • What: Sledding at Normafa (If sledding isn’t your thing, skiing and hiking are two other options)
  • WHERE: Buda Hills, (map here) take bus No. 21 or No. 21A from Széll Kálmán tér to Normafa
  • When: Any day of the week, but we recommend work days as it will be far less busy. The Ski House (Bistro) is open from 9:00 until 5:00 pm.
  • Time Investment: Half to full day (your choice)
  • Cost: Optional chairlift ride costs approximately 3.25 euro (one-way) or 4.50 (return)
  • Payment method: cash Hungarian forint
  • More Info: You may need to invest in a cheap sled (find one at Tesco etc.). The locals are partial to traditional wooden ones, but anything that slides is fine.

 

3) Ice Skating at City Park

Skating on open-air ice in Budapest

Beginner or pro, skating is always sure to give you a few laughs and lots of enjoyment. Budapest has several beautiful places to skate outdoors in wintertime.

Our favorite is the surface at City Park where you will glide among a beautiful backdrop of Vajdahunyad Castle and other historic monuments.

Choose to skate on a workday morning if you want to avoid the crowds, but evenings can be quite special under the lights.

Specifics:

  • What: Outdoor ice skating
  • Where: City Park (find directions here)
  • When: November through February, check website for current times (generally open for one morning session and one evening session)
  • Time Investment: Half day
  • Level of Difficulty: Moderate (hike uphill, approximately 4.2 km)
  • Cost: Admission is approximately 3.25 to 5 euro (depending on day) and a skate rental costs 3.25 euro
  • Payment method: cash Hungarian Forint
  • More Info: Consult the official website and purchase tickets online here.

 

4) Relax at a Warm Thermal Bath

Spa in Budapest Velibej

All year round, this is a popular activity but there’s something even more special about experiencing Budapest’s thermal baths in winter. If you’re looking for a lesser known bath, we recommend Veli Bej, the oldest Turkish thermal bath in Budapest.

Small, intimate and belonging to a hospital, Veli Bej is a cheaper and more peaceful, alternative to the popular Gellért and Széchenyi baths. We recommend visiting in the daytime when the light shines through the skylight for a stunning effect.

Specifics:

  • What: Visiting a thermal bath
  • Where: Along the Danube near Margit Híd Bridge (map can be found here). The nearest metro station is Margit híd, budai hídfő
  • When: Daily, open 6 am to 12 pm and 3 pm to 9 pm
  • Time Investment:5-3 hours
  • Cost: Entrance fee is approximately 9 euro, this allows you 3 hours. For a small fee, you can stay for the entire day.
  • Payment method:
  • More Info: Go earlier morning or at 3 pm to ensure space (it is a smaller bath than the others). Massages are available for approximately 6.50 to 29 euro depending on length
  • Tip for lunch or dinner: Trofea Margit hid

 

5) Go back in the time and drink coffee at Muvesz Kavehaz

While there are many unique and wonderful coffee shops to explore in Budapest, Muvesz is one not to be missed. Famous for being a local spot for prominent literary artists, this cafe is sure to inspire.

Bring your laptop and jot down a few notes and memories from your time in Budapest, while sipping on a delicious coffee or cocktail. A place where artists gather and creativity is abundant.

Specifics:

  • What: Visiting unique coffee shops
  • Where: Andrassy ut 29, Budapest, Hungary
  • When: Cafe open daily from 8 am until 9 am
  • Time Investment: A couple of hours
  • Cost: The price of a coffee/drink and or meal
  • Payment method: Maestro / Creditcard / Hungarian forint

 

6) Do a Mulled Wine Tasting or Hot Beverage Tour

two cups with gluhwein Budapest

Think of this one like a pub-crawl, only now you’re older, wiser and more refined (or something like that). With so many great contenders it can be tough to choose the best spots to get mulled wine in Budapest.

Although honorable mentions include KIOSK, Ellátó, and ÉS Bisztró, our top suggestion for quality combined with the atmosphere is DiVino. This Michelin-recommended wine bar will have you sipping the best, authentic Hungarian mulled wine in the city.

Specifics:

  • What: Wine tasting (non-alcoholic beverages and food also available)
  • Where: DiVino, various locations (consult their website to view their locations)
  • When: Generally open from 4 pm until late (midnight or 2 am) consult their website for specific location hours
  • Time Investment: We suggest an evening, or visiting several spots over a few days
  • Cost: Dependent obviously on how much you drink but expect approximately 3 euro for a mug of wine plus a small deposit that you will get back upon returning your mug
  • Payment method: Maestro/ creditcard/ Hungarian forint
  • More Info: Reservations are always a good idea. Visit the website for any further information.

 

7) Basilica Christmas Market

Christmas Market in Budapest next to Karacsony Bazilika

Though this is an obvious one, we would be amiss if we did not mention the breathtaking Christmas markets that take place during the winter season.

Go on a treasure hunt for unique and beautiful souvenirs or gifts, taste street-food treats, learn Hungarian folk dance, watch the light show, and just generally soak up the festive merriment.

Specifics:

  • What: Christmas market and festival
  • Where: Stephen’s Basilica (map can be found here)
  • When: Mondays through Thursdays, 11:30 until 8 pm, Fridays and Saturdays open until 10 pm
  • Time Investment: A few hours
  • Cost: Admission is free, any additional activities (skating etc.) may cost a small fee
  • Payment method: cash Hungarian forint
  • More Info: Find more information about the Basilica Christmas market and others here and on their Facebook page.

 

8) Take in Some Impressive Collections of Artwork

National Gallery Budapest

It goes without saying, cooler weather is an excellent opportunity to duck into warm museums and breathe in some culture. For a truly cultural experience in the arts, visit the Hungarian National Gallery.

If you only visit one museum or gallery, this is it. Wander through medieval and renaissance stone carvings, Gothic period paintings and sculpture, and view the works of renowned Hungarian artists.

Specifics:

  • What: Viewing art in a gallery or museum
  • Where: Hungarian National Gallery, (map found here)
  • When: Tuesdays through Sundays 10:00 am until 6:00 pm
  • Time Investment: Half or Full day
  • Cost: Access to all collections will cost approximately 9 euro
  • More Info: Closed on Mondays. Consult the official website here for more information.

 

9) Take a Hungarian Cooking Class

Typical vegetables used in Hungarian cooking

What better souvenir to take from your Budapest visit than being able to reproduce authentic Hungarian dishes for friends and family when you return home. Chefparade Cooking School offers not only a cooking class but an entire experience.

Visit the Central Market Hall with your guide and chef, purchase fresh ingredients and then prepare a three-course meal. Give yourself the gift of the premium upgrade and enjoy a bottle of fine wine, cookbook, apron and a taxi from your accommodation.

Specifics:

  • What: Hungarian cooking class
  • Where: Chefparade Cooking School, Páva utca 13, Budapest 1094, (map can be found here)
  • When: Different courses offered on different days, consult their website for specific days/times
  • Time Investment: Half day
  • Cost: Will depend on course but expect to pay between 70 and 90 euro (premium upgrade is 39 euro)
  • Payment method: cash Hungarian forint
  • More Info: Classes are in English. Market visit is optional for an extra 19 euro. You can book online here.

 

10) Drink in a Panoramic Cityscape at a Rooftop Bar

Sky bar in Budapest

While the ruin pubs are a given, another “must” on your list should be drinks or dinner at dusk on a rooftop. High Note Skybar is open year round and has covered, heated areas to stay warm.

With a breathtaking view of both the Pest and Buda side and all of the landmarks visible, this is the spot to see the beauty and lights of Budapest.

Specifics:

  • What: Drinks or dinner on a rooftop
  • Where: High Note Skybar, at the Aria Hotel (map can be found here)
  • When: Open daily from 11 am until 12:00 midnight
  • Time Investment: Approximately 2 or more hours
  • Cost: You pay a little more for the view, but still within reason. A glass of wine will start at approximately 5 euro
  • Payment method: Maestro / Creditcard / Hungarian forint
  • More Info: For reservations, or to see the menu visit their website or Facebook page.

 

11) Take Christmas tram 2 along the Danube

Christmas tram Budapest
Tram Budapest Christmas

Budapest Christmas would not be complete without a bit of public transport in a Christmas mood: the Christmas tram. One of the loveliest Budapest Christmas sights is the Budapest Christmas and some more Budapest trams turned into a festive sight with many thousands of lights (approx. 39,200 white and blue LED lights).

  • What: Travelling with Christmas tram 2
  • Where: From Haller utca take tram 2 to Jaszai Mari ter
  • When: in December
  • Time Investment: 30 minutes
  • Cost: Free with public transport ticket
  • More Info: For reservations, or to see the menu visit their website or Facebook page.

 

Final Thoughts

The locals will tell you, it’s tough to find a better place in wintertime than Budapest. Festive, merry energy streams through the city and people embrace the season every bit as much as summertime.

Whether visiting for the holidays or not, you will find there’s just never enough time to see and do everything this beautiful city has to offer in the winter season.

Top 10 Things to Do for a Relaxing Holiday in Budapest

People travel and explore new places for a variety of reasons but one thing is for sure, everyone can benefit from some stress-free, relaxation in a new city. Not only is it good for your mind and body, you will create some incredible memories of your experiences in this charming city.

So hop on a riverboat, take a stroll in nature, listen to opera music, or take your pick pampering yourself at one of the city’s numerous renowned thermal baths. In Budapest, you’re in the perfect place for abundant opportunities to rest, relax, pamper and spoil yourself.

1) Leisurely Cycle Around Margitsziget (Margaret Island) on Go-Kart Bikes

Margaret Island is a small island in the middle of the Danube River where you can relax in the parks, check out fountains, ancient ruins, a Japanese Garden and stop for a drink or light lunch.

This is a fantastic place for recreational activities and sightseeing. Leisurely cycle around with a friend in a Go-kart or High-wheel bike for some amazing pictures and lots of smiles.

Specifics:

  • What: Cycling around Margaret Island
  • Where: Szaküzlet: 1013 Bp. Várkert rkp 16. Kerékpár kölcsönző: 1138 Bp. Margitszigeti Atlétikai Centrum (Map found here)
  • When: 10:00 am until sunset March until October
  • Time Investment: Half to full day
  • Cost: A Gokart will cost between 7 and 16 euro (can fit up to 4 people) depending on the length of rental
  • Payment method: Hungaria Forint
  • More Info: You can make reservations ahead by phone or email. Check out the GoMobility website here.

 

2) Go All Out at the Thermal Baths

When it comes to Budapest, the thermal baths are a pretty standard ‘must-do’, but we suggest if you’re going to do it, do it right!

Spend a whole day relaxing, getting a luxurious massage and perhaps an additional spa treatment. Our recommendation is the Lavender Dream massage at Gellért Baths.

Specifics:

  • What: Full day of thermal baths including spa treatments
  • Where: Gellért Thermal Bath, Szent Gellért Gyógyfürdő és Uszoda H-1118 Budapest, XI. kerület Kelenhegyi út 4 (map here)
  • When: 6 am until 8 pm daily
  • Time Investment: Full day
  • Cost: Expect to invest between 55-65 euro for a massage (remember this is a once-in-a-lifetime experience), perhaps set aside 100 euro total for the whole day
  • Payment method: Creditcard/ Maestro/ cash Hungarian forint
  • More Info: Check out their website and massage descriptions at http://gellertspa.com/

Contact Anna for discount

 

3) Sip Cocktails and Drink in the Sunset View

Nothing is more relaxing than being in the moment, sipping on a delicious drink and watching the colors of the sunset appear. Spoon The Boat Restaurant is a stunning option for a drink at the end of the day.

A three-deck boat that is docked on the Danube, the cafe has a huge terrace and 5 bars overlooking the Chain Bridge and Castle Hill.

Specifics:

  • What: Sunset cocktails and nibbles
  • Where: Spoon Cafe, Budapest, Vigadó tér 3. kikötő, 1052 Hungary (map here)
  • When: 12 noon until midnight daily, all year round
  • Time Investment: Full day
  • Cost: Expect to pay anywhere from 3-6 euro per drink (remember, you are also paying for the view)
  • Payment method: credit cards or Hungarian forint
  • More Info: Check out their website at http://www.spoonrestaurants.hu

 

4) Leisurely Walk with Hungarian Food

On the Eat Hungary tour not only do you get a perfect day of eating with the help of a knowledgeable local guide but you’ll also learn a little about Hungarian history, traditions, & culture along the way. The local guide takes you off the beaten path, to local eateries & shops not frequented by all the regular tourists.

Having a local guide is a great way to experience the best the city has to offer.

Specifics:

  • What: Eat Hungary- Gourmet walking Tour
  • Where: The tour begins at the Cityrama office with stops at Belvárosi Piac the downtown market hall on Hold utca (NOT to be confused with the Central Market Hall), local butcher shop, cheese shop, traditional restaurants & finally a neighborhood pub for a taste of locally made artisanal beers.
  • When: Various days and times depending on your tour
  • Time Investment: Between 3,5 hours
  • Cost: 50 euro
  • Payment method: cash Hungarian forint
  • More Info: Check out their website at www.cityrama.hu

 

5) Explore the River by Canoe

Though some sections of the river have strong currents, a very unique and safe way to see the city by boat is on a guided canoe tour. Paddle along the Parliament buildings, under bridges to Gellért Hill and Castle, and beside modern buildings like the National Theatre and Palace of Arts.

The tour guide and company will arrange for pick-ups when you have completed the tour, and you will be left with a very special memory of Budapest. The company also rents out canoes and kayaks at certain locations if you wish to paddle at your own pace.

Specifics:

  • What: Canoeing and kayaking on the Danube
  • Where: Rómaifürdő SE aquatic plant: III. Dist. Nánási út 53 (map of area found here)
  • When: May through September (if you are visiting during wintertime, there are year-round motorized boat tours always available, see #8 below)
  • Time Investment: Half to full day
  • Cost: Consult their website for prices. Group sightseeing tours start at 80 euro
  • Payment method: cash Hungarian forint
  • More Info: You can find more information and contact information at http://www.romaifurdo-se.hu

 

6) Enjoy a Performance at the World Famous Budapest Opera House

Opera lover or not, you might be very pleasantly surprised by a visit to the world-famous Budapest Opera House. Choose to do a tour of the building’s beautiful Neo-Renaissance architecture or take in an incredible performance.

This experience has something to offer just about everyone. From rich history, incredible acoustics, artful statues, and elaborate costumes, the Opera House is something you won’t want to miss in Budapest.

Specifics:

  • What: An opera performance
  • Where: Budapest Opera House
  • When: Daily tours in the afternoon, consult the website for evening performance calendar
  • Time Investment: Two to Three hours
  • Cost: Tickets can start from 10 euro for upper sections
  • Payment method:
  • More Info: Consult with their website for current program and prices

 

7) Stretch and Relax at a Gentle Yoga Class

Beginner or expert yogi, a yoga class is an excellent way to keep your body and mind relaxed while also exploring a new part of the city. Sound Light Yoga offers a variety of classes from Vinyasa to Acroyoga.

As an added bonus in spring and summertime classes are held outside at various locations like City Park.

Feel relaxed and rejuvenated after a long day of walking and sightseeing. You might even find yourself going out afterward to a quaint coffee shop with new friends.

Specifics:

  • What: Yoga classes
  • Where: Sound Light Yoga, Indoors in wintertime, outdoor classes in warm months at various parks
  • When: Consult their Facebook page for specific class times and locations
  • Time Investment: 1-2 hours
  • Cost: Varies. Past workshops have cost approximately 13 euro. Consult their website or Facebook page for more details
  • Payment method: Hungarian forint

 

8) Cruise Down the Danube for a Panoramic Boat Ride at Night

A very relaxing and enjoyable way to see the lights and sights of the Danube is by boat cruise in the evening. Legenda Tour company has it down to a science, including a drink and video/audio guide.

We recommend the one-hour Danube Legend tour in the evening time. Not only is it affordable, it’s a great way to wind down after a busy day of sightseeing.

Specifics:

  • What: Boat cruise down the Danube
  • Where: Legenda Sightseeing Boats, Dock 7 Jane Haining rakpart, Budapest (map here)
  • When: Start time depends on the month, please consult their website for times
  • Time Investment: 1 hour
  • Cost: Between 13 to 18 euro, depending on type of ticket
  • Payment method: Creditcard /cash Hungarian forint
  • More Info: Consult their official website at https://legenda.hu

 

9) Enjoy Afternoon Tea at New York Café

Perhaps one of the more well-known cafés in town, New York Café is an opulent experience from start to finish. Ranked as one of the most beautiful coffee houses in the world, this café is built in an eclectic Italian Renaissance-style.

Enjoy traditional afternoon tea and sandwiches, or coffee and cakes while absorbing the breathtaking architecture and exquisite live gypsy music.

Specifics:

  • What: Afternoon tea or coffee
  • Where: New York Café, 1073 Budapest, Erzsébet krt. 9-11 (map here)
  • When: Daily from 8 am until 11 pm
  • Time Investment: One to two hours
  • Cost: Afternoon tea for two costs 60 euro while coffee and cakes for two costs 43 euro
  • Payment method: Hungarian forint and card
  • More Info: Due to its popularity, we recommend booking a reservation on their official website

 

10) Have a Peaceful Picnic at Károlyi Garden

Visit the oldest garden in Budapest and sit by the fountain with a sandwich and book, or have a chat with a friend or partner.

Károlyi Garden Park combines style from the Baroque era with English-style geometric designs. It also contains one of the country’s oldest white mulberry trees.

If you are visiting in cold weather, take a stroll through the garden then warm up at Csendes Társ Winebar just a stone’s throw away. (here)

Specifics:

  • What: Picnic in a garden
  • Where: Károlyi Garden, Budapest, Károlyi kert 25, 1053 Hungary (map here)
  • When: Any time you wish
  • Time Investment: An hour or two
  • Cost: Inexpensive if you pack a lunch
  • More Info: For information or photos of Csendes Társ Winebar, check out their Facebook page,

 

Final Thoughts

With such a wide variety of things to do and see in Budapest, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed and let the time fly by without sitting and simply enjoying the present moment. Taking time for some enjoyable, relaxing activities will have you going home feeling even more energized and rejuvenated than when you arrived.

8 Hungarian Dishes and Desserts You Will Love

Hungarian food has found its stride and taken off, making it a destination for foodies and culinary enthusiasts, as well as your average traveler. With incredible quality and value, it’s tough to find things to complain about when wining and dining in Budapest. From world-famous strudels to cheesy deep-fried flatbreads, your taste buds will thank you when you’ve sampled some of our top 8 recommendations.

 

1) Goulash Soup at For Sale Pub

 

Goulash, with the warm comforts of a soup combined with the heartiness of stew, this hybrid soup/stew trademark dish in Hungarian cuisine. Although it won’t be tough to find a place that serves it, we strongly recommend you give it a try at For Sale Pub, where you can slurp your delicious goulash while leaving your mark on the wall with a note, picture or painting.

  • WHAT: Goulash Soup
  • WHERE: For Sale Pub, 2 Vámház körút, Budapest, 1093, Hungary (map here)
  • COST: Approximately 6-7 euro per person
  • Payment method: Cash. Local currency
  • MORE INFO: Check out their Facebook page

 

2) Rose-shaped Ice Cream at Gelarto Rosa

 

Not only is this an Instagram-worthy moment, it is a moment for your taste buds too. While in Budapest you must taste the rose-shaped ice cream. Not only is it beautifully presented, it is made with fresh, local, organic ingredients. Our favorite is the to-die-for lavender white chocolate. You will not be disappointed in this cone.

  • WHAT: Rose-shaped Ice Cream
  • WHERE: Gelarto Rosa, 1051 Budapest, Szent István tér 3, Hungary (map here)
  • COST: Approximately 2 euro
  • Payment method: Cash. Local currency
  • MORE INFO: http://gelartorosa.com

 

3) Strudel at Central Market Hall

 

Tick off one more thing on your bucket list and taste the world’s best strudel at Central Market Hall. Here you will find the freshest, most delicious strudel with at least a dozen different flavor options from sweet to savory. Our top recommendation is the Central Market Hall, but you can do a whole tour of the best strudel in the city. Honorable mentions include the First Strudel House of Pest Cafe & Restaurant and Szalai Cukrászda.

  • WHAT: World famous strudel
  • WHERE: Central Market Hall, Vamhaz korut 1-3., Budapest 1093, Hungary (map here)

 

4) A Ruszwurm Kremes at Ruszwurm Cafe & Confectionary

 

Regarded as one of the most important confectionary complexes in the country, Ruszwurm is not just dessert but a whole experience of history. The Ruszwurm cream pastry is a classic Hungarian pastry that is made with a special twist (hint, it has to do with the eggs). Thick, creamy and made by hand every step of the way, this pastry will satisfy your sweet tooth in every way.

  • WHAT: The Ruszwurm Cream Pastry
  • WHERE: Ruszwurm Cafe & Confectionary, 1014 Budapest, Hungary, Szentháromság u. 7 (map here)
  • COST: Approximately 2.00 euro each
  • Payment method: Cash. Local currency / Card
  • MORE INFO: http://www.ruszwurm.hu

 

5) Langos in Szentendre

 

No list would be complete without a recommendation of Langos, Hungarians’ favorite street food. This is a deep-fried flatbread with sour cream and grated cheese (optional garlic). Our local tip is that some of the best Langos are found in Szentendre near the Danube. Find the small alleyway that leads to St. Janos church in the main square and you will find a “Langos” sign,that will direct you to a stall. With a little publicity help from CNN travel, this stall might just need a bigger and better location and fast.

  • WHAT: Langos in Szentendre
  • WHERE: Alleyway leading to St. Janos Church (stall), 2000 Szentendre, Bajcsy-Zsilinszky u. 2 (map here)
  • COST: One to two euro each
  • Payment method: Cash. Local currency
  • MORE INFO: If you happen to be downtown, our runner up is Retró Büfé, popular among locals. In the citypark next to Szechenyi bath you can find also a tasty Langos.

6) Chicken Paprikash and Dumplings at Paprika Vendéglő

 

A staple in Hungarian cuisine, chicken paprikash is also the Hungarian national dish. Of course. it uses ample amounts of paprika spice in its sauce and is traditionally served with nokedli or dumplings (made from boiled egg noodles).

For a genuine Hungarian experience, we recommend Paprika Vendéglő. For atmosphere, the interior has traditional Hungarian decor that makes you feel like you are sitting in a cozy log cabin. Their prices are reasonable for dinner, they generally provide great service and be prepared that they have generous portion sizes.

  • WHAT: Chicken paprikash and dumplings
  • WHERE: Paprika Vendéglő, Dozsa Gyorgy ut 72, Budapest 1071 (map here)
  • COST: Generally expect to pay approximately 13 euro for a dish
  • Payment method: Cash. Local currency
  • MORE INFO: Their official website: http://www.paprikavendeglo.hu/

 

7) Gundel Pancakes at Gundel Restaurant

Perhaps one of the better known Hungarian desserts is this crepe-like pancake. It is named after its inventor Karoly Gundel, a Hungarian restaurateur and his original recipe has been kept a secret.

It is made with ground walnuts, raisins and rum filling, served flambeed in a dark chocolate sauce. The most well-known place to taste the Gundel Pancake is, of course, at the Gundel restaurant. This is a gourmet restaurant, so you will pay a little more for the dish as compared to street food, but we’re certain you won’t be disappointed.

  • WHAT: Gundel Pancakes
  • WHERE: Gundel Restaurant (map here)
  • COST: Approximately 11-12 euro for dessert
  • Payment method: Maestro / creditcard / Hungarian forint
  • MORE INFO: Their official website: https://gundel.hu/en

Tip of Anna: Try the Sunday brunch all you can eat Hungarian dishes and live music

 

8) Hungarian Fisherman’s Soup at Bajai Halaszcsarda

This soup, known as Hungarian Fisherman’s soup is a local favorite. It has been prepared for centuries by fisherman and their families along the banks of the Danube. The traditional way to prepare it is in a cauldron over an open fire.

There are several versions of this soup, some have cream, others served with pasta, but the most important part is the freshly caught fish such as carp, pike, perch, catfish, or sterlet. With such a large variety of fish, this soup has great depth in taste and also uses traditional seasoning including paprika, peppers and onions.

Our recommendation for incredible tasting Halaszle is Bajai Halaszlcsarda. They specialize in fresh fish dishes and are consistently high quality.

  • WHAT: Bajai Halaszle (Hungarian Fisherman’s Soup)
  • WHERE: Bajai Halaszcsarda, Hollos ut 2, 121 Budapest
  • COST: Approximately 7-10 euro
  • Payment method: cash Hungarian forint
  • MORE INFO: Their official website: www.bajaihalaszcsarda.hu

 

Final Thoughts

Whether you have a sweet tooth, a love for spices, or you enjoy seafood fresh-off-the-boat, Budapest has something to offer everyone in the food department. From funky out-of-the way, traditional restaurants to street food and stalls to high-end Michelin rated restaurants, you can be sure to have some wonderful adventures tasting traditional Hungarian food and drinks.

Top 12 Things to Do in Budapest for an Active Holiday

There’s no doubt about it, while traveling and exploring a new place it’s a win-win situation to do it while being physically active. Not only can you have fun and cover a lot of ground, but you can also stay on your game with your health and fitness (not to mention working off all those langos – a Hungarian delicacy of fried dough with sour cream and cheese).

Even above and beyond the usual generic tourist activities (galleries, museums etc.) Budapest has some incredible and unique opportunities to be active while taking in the beauty of the city. Chat with Anna and she will be your go-to expert for arranging all of your tour needs.

1) Walking Tour of the Jewish Quarter

We’ll start with the obvious. Go to any city and people will recommend walking tours. Most of them are free or inexpensive and they allow you time to saunter along, take photos, and pick up some local food along the way.

One particular highlight we recommend is the Jewish District walk which has a place on the UNESCO World Heritage list. It shows you not only a large number of religious sights of great historic importance, it also offers arts and culture, architecture, scientific contributions, gardens, and pubs. As an added bonus, you’ll end up near Szimpla, Budapest’s most famous ruin pub.

Specifics:

  • What: Walking tour of the Jewish quarter
  • Where: Meet at Vörösmarty Square near the lion fountain
  • When: Two tours daily, beginning at 10 am 3:30 pm
  • Time Investment: 2.5 hours
  • Level of Difficulty: Easy
  • Cost: Free (but tipping your guide is a nice thing to do)
  • More Info: No need to book, see their website www.triptobudapest.hu/tours

 

2) Running Tour of the Danube River

If you’d like to lace up your sneakers and get some cardio into your visit, try stepping up your game for a running tour. There are various private tours around the city for everyone from beginners to hard-core marathoners, ranging from 25 to 50 euro. Alternatively, map out your own free tour on Google ahead of time.

We believe this is one of the best ways to see the Danube, starting at the Buda Side near the Chain Bridge and ending at Boráros tér at the Petőfi Bridge in Pest. It’s a beautiful thing to do in the early morning before rush hour and at only 10 km you’ll be back to your accommodation, showered and ready for a full day by the time most people are having their first sip of coffee.

Specifics:

  • What: Running tour of the Danube
  • Where: Meet at Clark Adam square (Chain Bridge, Buda bridge head), basement of the funicular
  • When: Daily, start time is individual (but you can request your preference)
  • Time Investment: 1 hour, 45 min
  • Level of Difficulty: Easy to moderate
  • Cost: 45 euro (or free if you plan your own)
  • Payment method: check the website
  • More Info: Includes digital photos and a pickup service if requested. Book ahead at: www.gorunningtours.com

 

3) Hike up Hármashatár-hegy

Get your dose of nature among ancient oak and fir trees by doing a day trip to this hill, located within the city. Its name comes from the fact that the 3 borders of the city met at this point back in the 19th century.

In warmer months you can hike, bike and paraglide, while in wintertime it’s a great place to sled. Take the National Blue Trail all the way to the top and claim your reward of a spectacular panoramic view of the city.

Specifics:

  • What: Hike up the Hármashatár-hegy hill
  • Where: Hármashatár-hegy (to access by public transit, take the 65 or 65A buses from Kolosy Square in the city center)
  • When: Any time you wish (we recommend earlier in the day)
  • Time Investment: Half to full day
  • Level of Difficulty: Moderate (hike uphill, approximately 4.2 km)
  • Cost: Free, minus your transportation
  • Payment method:
  • More Info: Map found here

 

4) Caving Through Pál-völgyi

Whether you’ve donned a jumpsuit and headlight in the past or it’s your first time, don’t dare to leave Budapest without going on a cave tour.

For those who love a challenge, we recommend the 3 hour, 30km tour through Pál-völgyi, the longest cave in Hungary. If you aren’t feeling quite that ambitious, don’t despair. There’s a cave walk tour that is quite gentle yet scenic.

Specifics:

  • What: Adventure caving
  • Where: 2nd district, Budapest, 162 Szepvolgyi Street (Take a 30-minute bus ride, No. 65 from Kolosy Square, stop is named Pál-völgyi cave. Or a taxi will take approximately 15 minutes)
  • When: Daily
  • Time Investment: 2.5-3 hours
  • Level of Difficulty: Beginner to advanced available
  • Cost: Between 18 and 23 euro (consult website for exact prices)
  • Payment method: check the website
  • More Info: Book at least 3 days ahead. For further information consult their website www.caving.hu

 

5) Cycling Tours also with Dutch guide

There’s nothing more European than a gentle cycling tour around the city. Budapest boasts some of the most wonderful tours along the Danube, around the city and in countryside towns on the outskirts.

You can take a half-day tour or a more lengthy 4-5 hour tour that includes a meal. Tours will range between 22 and 60 euro but speak with Anna since she’s got the inside scoop on the best cycling tours the city has to offer!

Specifics:

  • What: Cycling tours
  • Where: at the entrance of California Coffeeshop Company on St. Stephens Square Basilica.
  • When: Daily, Start times vary in mornings and afternoons (consult website)
  • Time Investment: 2.5-4.5 hours
  • Level of Difficulty: Beginner to Moderate available
  • Cost: From €22,00  (consult website for exact prices)
  • Payment method: cash in Hungarian forint
  • More Info: Some tours include refreshments and/or meals, operate in all types of weather, book ahead www.budabike.com or ask Anna for assistance

 

6) Swim, Workout, Relax and Heal at Szechenyi Baths

And then, there are the thermal baths….

No trip to Budapest is complete without a visit to the thermal baths. Szechenyi baths are known as the most praised attraction in Budapest. This magical place includes 15 indoor and 3 outdoor pools, an outdoor fun pool with waves, spa treatments, and fitness classes.

A daily entry fee of 18 euros gives you a full day’s access including aqua fitness classes which happy every 30 minutes. These are a great idea if you’ve just finished a rigorous hike or run the previous day! There’s also a fitness center if you decide you’ve got extra energy to burn.

Specifics:

  • What: Szechenyi thermal baths and spa
  • Where: Budapest, Állatkerti krt. 9-11, 1146 Hungary (map can be found here)
  • When: Open from 6 am to 10 pm
  • Time Investment: Up to one full day
  • Level of Difficulty: Beginner (Moderate to High intensity if you choose to workout)
  • Cost: From €18,00, consult website for your preference
  • Payment method: creditcard/maestro/Hungarian forint
  • More Info: The official website of the Szechenyi thermal baths can be found at: szechenyispabaths.com
  • Contact Anna for discount

 

7) Scooter Sightseeing Tour

Want a story to tell your friends or some hilarious and awesome Instagram photos? Take a tour of the city on a kick scooter. They show you car-free routes where you’ll be able to coast along and look around without worrying about oncoming traffic. Peek into historic buildings and discover alleyways and courtyards off the beaten path.

Specifics:

  • What: Kick scooter tour of the city
  • Where: Marcius 15 square
  • When: Specify your preferred time upon booking
  • Time Investment: 2 hours
  • Level of Difficulty: Beginner to Moderate
  • Cost:  From €24
  • Payment method: Hungarian Foriint
  • More Info: Tour is in English, for further information consult their website www.budapestelectrified.eu

 

8) Go Geocaching

If you’ve never gone geocaching before, you’re about to discover an incredible way to explore a new city. Geocaching is a real-world, outdoor treasure hunt using GPS devices.

Budapest has a whole series of caches (essentially a “route” to discover the prize) including the Szemlohegyi cave, Roman Beach, Fisherman’s Bastion, Elisabeth Tower, and several churches around the city. Grab a friend or make a new friend, and go on an adventure in search of a treasure.

Specifics:

  • What: Geocaching
  • Where: Various routes around the city
  • When: Start and stop anytime you wish
  • Time Investment: As long as it takes to find your cache!
  • Level of Difficulty: Beginner to Advanced
  • Cost: Free
  • More Info: Consult the official website here for more information on specific routes

 

9) Play Golf in Obuda

Golf Course in the heart of the city and only a few minutes from Budapest’s downtown.

Unique 9-hole city golf course with high quality learning center. exclusive and friendly atmosphere and amazing view.

Specifics:

  • What: Golf
  • Where: Perenyi ut 6, 1037 Budapest
  • When: daily from 8.00-19.00
  • Time Investment: half day
  • Level of Difficulty: beginner to Moderate
  • Cost: take a look at the website
  • Payment method: Hungarian Forint
  • More Info: Consult the official website www.academygolfbudapest.hu or ask Anna

 

10) Get Your Yoga on at an Outdoor Class

With stunning venues like hotel rooftops, dams, green parks, and along the riverside of the Danube, give yourself the gift of an outdoor yoga class in Budapest.

At the top of our list is the sunset vinyasa class to the beats of a live DJ along the Danube. For approximately 10 euro you can take part in this amazing experience hosted by Pontoon bar. 

Visiting Budapest in cooler months? No worries, there are plenty of beautiful English-speaking indoor yoga studios around the city with a wide variety of classes for everyone from beginner to expert yogi.

Specifics:

  • What: Outdoor Yoga Classes
  • Where: Pontoon Bar, 1051 Budapest, Id. Antall József rakpart 1 (near the Chain Bridge, map can be found here)
  • When: Wednesdays, 6:30-8pm through summertime, consult website or Facebook event page for more information
  • Time Investment: 1.5 hours
  • Level of Difficulty: Beginner to Moderate
  • Cost: Approximately 10 euro
  • Payment method: Hungarian Forint
  • More Info: On nice evenings it is on the beach but if it is raining they move inside. If you do not have a mat they can provide one but we recommend emailing ahead and signing up at  [email protected]

 

11) Attend an Outdoor Festival in the Spring or Summertime

 

There are plenty of outdoor festivals to choose from if you are visiting Budapest in the spring or summertime. Perhaps the most popular is the Budapest Summer Festival that takes place from June until August on Margaret Island with many cultural activities to see and do.

Other notable festivals in summertime include the Sziget Festival, Festival of Folk Arts, and the Jewish Summer Festival. The Spring Festival takes place in April and includes programs at 40 different venues in the city.

Even if you visit in fall or the holiday season, there’s always a very good chance you will catch a festival, such as the Contemporary Arts Festival, Craft Beer or Wine Festival. Budapest is a Festival City so enjoy and have fun!

Specifics:

  • What: Outdoor festivals
  • Where: Various points around the city
  • When: Spring festival takes place in April, various summer festivals from June until end of August
  • Time Investment: Your choice
  • Level of Difficulty: Beginner
  • Cost: Varies, some have admission and tickets for special events
  • Payment method: check the website
  • More Info: The official Summer Festival website can be found here.
  • Ask Anna for discount the Summer and Spring Festival

 

12) Listen to a Live Open-Air Concert

Most people know about the opera music in Budapest, but some people are surprised to find that Budapest is home to some incredible talent and world-class music performed outdoors.

From May until August, the city has organized short performances of Hungarian music at various venues in the city and they are absolutely free. Some of the churches and cafes also host free concerts through the week.

The Vajdahunyad Castle is a romantic place to see summer evening concerts while the Budapest Zoo and Botanical Garden offers jazz and other light music in the evenings.

Specifics:

  • What: Open-air concerts
  • Where: various points around the city
  • When: Throughout the spring and summertime
  • Time Investment: Your choice
  • Level of Difficulty: Beginner
  • Cost : some of  these are absolutely free
  • More Info: You can find a list of concerts and live music available here or ask Anna

 

Final Thoughts

Whether you currently live a fairly active lifestyle or you’re hoping to improve upon that aspect of your life, there are plenty of opportunities to do so when visiting Budapest. With such a wide variety of choices, you can start small with gentle activities (walking tours, swimming) or go the aggressive route with a challenging caving adventure.

Regardless of your decision, you can be sure that you will be taking in some incredible sights and sounds of this beautiful city while simultaneously doing something great for your mind and body!