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.


  • 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:
  • 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.


  • 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.


  • 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.


  • 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.


  • 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.


  • 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.


  • 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.


  • 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.


  • 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.


  • 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.