Budapest offers endless enchantments- even in below freezing temperatures.Despite walking around in 12 ºF (-11ºC), Budapest was still one of my top favorite stops on my winter trip through Europe. When the cold cuts the crowds in this city, it’s the perfect time to bundle up, get out, and explore.
The castles of Budapest are the real-deal fairy tale storybook castles. Walking around Vajdahunyad castle is like jumping in to the pages of one of your childhood classics, while on a more grown-up note: Buda Castle is more Game of Thrones. It didn’t snow while I was there, but a dusting of snow on the turrets would have made the castles that much more magical.
2. Winter Markets
During the winter, markets spring up everywhere. Plazas and popular streets become home to Winter Markets where local hand made goods are sold alongside delicious traditional foods such as sausage, turdlenik, and spiced mulled wine. I’d recommend Saint Stephen’s Basilica Square market for it’s very beautiful and iconic scenery and Vorosmarty square for it’s fun atmosphere and variety of food both are such perfect places to enjoy Hungarian culture.
3. Historic Strolls
Budapest is one of the most romantic and historic cities I’ve ever walked through; it is breathtaking by day or night. With the cold keeping the majority of tourists at bay, the streets are wide open to enjoy.One of my favorite ways to spend the afternoon was walking and popping into various little cafes for espresso, hot chocolate, or a strudel to fuel more exploration. The area around Buda Castle was especially charming while the area around Saint Stephen’s Basilica was full of good cafes and restaurants.
4. New Year’s Eve
I spent the New Year’s Eve celebrating in Vorosmarty square having the time of my life! New Year’s Eve or Silvester in Hungarian is so much fun. Winter Market venues are transformed into huge outdoor parties with music, dancing, mulled wine, and fireworks. All the locals come out to ring in the new year with loved ones. The mood is just so festive, authentic, and non-commercial.
5. Ice Skating
Budapest has some of the most beautiful outdoor ice skating in the world. My favorite is the ice skating rink in Budapest’s city park. In the background is a castle and in the foreground is the beautiful ice rink hall and cafe. Families and friends line up, skates in hand a couple hours before it opens to secure a spot on the ice.