Call me weird, but I am really embracing the cold, and loving winter travel. It has been three years and the novelty hasn’t worn off, ever since that first trip to Moscow in winter I have been hooked!
Winter travel has its merits, anywhere
There are things you can do that you can’t really enjoy in the heat of summer (ok, granted, there are a lot more you can do in summer, but it’s all about different experiences right?) – for example, a good soak in a hot thermal bath is pretty uncomfortable in summer but, in winter it’s an absolute luxury.
Cities are especially beautiful in winter. Most cities these days light up at night, and with the festive season (in the Northern hemisphere) the lights are especially spectacular. It’s a magical time to experience any destination.
And that what makes it great to visit Budapest in winter, and why you should also give it a go.
Speaking of a nice long bath… the Széchenyi Thermal Bath
You would have seen it in film or tourism adverts, scenes of people soaking in hot thermal baths surrounded by snow, of old men battling it out on the chess board surrounded by hot water.
Budapest has many baths houses around the city, and we paid a visit the Széchenyi thermal bath, not only was it the closest to our accommodation, but it is also known to be the most beautiful and spectacular of baths.
I cannot imagine being in this bath in the heat of summer, and that’s why I think, visiting Budapest in winter is so much more fun!
Pigging out on all the hearty food!
Ask any Hungarian about their country’s food, they’ll tell you the Hungarians eat a lot of meat. Many of their national dishes such as Székelygulyás (Goulash stew) and Paprikás krumpli (paprika-based stew) are very hearty and makes great winter food.
Notice I specify ‘stew’ in the Székelygulyás dish. The goulash that we know of in Australia, in Britain (pretty much anywhere that doesn’t come from a goulash culture) are stews, which are technically not a goulash.
Traditionally, goulash in Hungary is served as a soup called Gulyásleves. A hearty, full of meat and root vegetables soup that is well spiced and flavoured, as well as being completely winter compatible!
You’ll also find loads of other great meaty food in Budapest’s Christmas markets – as well as great cabbage roll stews as well as hot wine, ciders and schnapps punch!
So visit Budapest in winter and gorge on some of these yummy stews. I can’t think of a better way to enjoy the cold!
Less crowds at attractions
In general when you travel around Europe in winter, there are less (than usual) tourist crowds. It means, less people to compete for the best photographic spot, less queues at attractions and in general a more pleasant travel experience.
Plus, there are some attractions that require a ticket in summer, but free in winter. For example, the Fisherman’s Bastion at Matthias’ Church is a bit of wall you can go up for a great view across the river. In summer, they’ll charge an entrance fee, but in winter, we simply walked up and enjoyed the view!
Besides school taking us to the shopping centre skating rink for PE, we never really got into the spirit of ice skating before moving to London. Since our big move, we’ve had plenty of opportunities to skate at many of the London’s outdoor skating rinks during winter, as well as in cities around Europe that we are now loving ice skating!
In Budapest, right by the Hősök square, as you walk towards the Széchenyi baths, we came across a giant outdoor skating area. No barriers, just skaters going round and round in the great outdoors!
Besides the lake that had froze over in Iceland, this is the biggest skating area we’ve seen so far!
I simply love the winter atmosphere
Budapest is one of those cities full of architectural delights from all ages and era, and in winter they are often covered in a cold mist of code, or if you are lucky – snow! I personally feel winter adds a certain romantic and tragic atmosphere to cities like these, and I loved walking around Budapest feeling like being on a movie set.
Just like my experience of winter in Moscow – locals here in Budapest are also experts at winter fashion. Fur lined collars and boots as well as smart and fitted coats. Watching them enjoy their walks around the city is really like watching a film!
What about you? Have a favourite season to travel to Budapest?