When it comes to creating a festive mood for the holidays, Budapest knows better than to rely on snow. We’ll show you the best places to enjoy the holiday lights and get into the Christmas spirit.
City Park Ice Rink
One of the main attractions of wintertime Budapest is the huge ice rink found at the entrance of City Park, situated behind the recently refurbished Skating Hall, a masterpiece of Hungarian neo-Baroque architecture. This classic rink welcomes skate lovers since 1870, when Prince Rudolph opened its gates to the public. With Archangel Gabriel looking over from nearby Heroes’ Square and the massive building of the Vajdahunyad Castle standing in the background, this one’s a lovely venue for a winter date, with plenty of choices for a warming drink afterwards.
What you certainly can’t escape during the coming season is the marvellously lit-up city streets of Budapest, with the most gorgeous of them all being lavish Andrássy Avenue, the Hungarian capital’s response to Champs-Elysée. The festive spirit is further enhanced by the Christmas Trams speeding towards their destination, decorated with 30,000 bright LED lights each, making the yellow streetcars look more like space faring vessels.
A favourite pastime of many Budapesters and foreigners alike is spending a couple of hours in one of the city’s many thermal baths, especially during the colder months, when the legendary bathing complexes’ humid air and their healing water feel like a warm embrace from the past. If you’re looking for turn-of-the-century Baroque grandeur then visit City Park’s Széchenyi Baths, a giant maze of pools bearing a touch of the Roman fondness for spas. If you’d ditch the Romans in favour of the Ottoman Turks, then have a dip inside the octagonal pool of Rudas Baths or the dimly lit central pool of Király Baths, both dating back to the 16th century. And for Art Nouveau fanatics, there’s no other place to be than lavish Gellért Baths.
No holiday season would be complete without the heart-warming glow of Christmas Fairs – and lucky for us, Budapest is a world champion when it comes to that. The fair held on Vörösmarty tér every year is amongst the best in Europe, offering visitors music concerts, handicraft products, delicious mulled wine and all the tasty dishes of Hungarian gastronomy. There are Christmas Markets held on a number of other squares all over the city that await you to fill your heart up with festive feelings and your stomach with savoury treats, fairs like the Óbuda Advent or the ones held in front of St. Stephen’s Basilica and on Liszt Ferenc tér.