Winter is a tricky thing: it either brings gloom and depression, or it inspires you to go out and have fun. Fortunately, Budapest not only offers heaps of cool-as-it-gets parties, but also has great spots for skiing, hiking and relaxing. Within a one-hour radius, there are quite a few places worth visiting.
The Rocky Mountain of Budapest – NormafaThousands of Budapest-dwellers flood the Normafa area every time snow hits the city, even though after every slide, they have to walk back up due to the lack of lifts. One of the great advantages of this place is that it’s easy to reach from Széll Kálmántér by public transport, or by the Fogaskerekű (Cog-wheel Railway) that goes from Városmajor. In addition, the slopes are totally ridable with whatever one considers suitable. Of course the romantic factor is very important as well; the view and the surrounding mountains provide the perfect background for kisses and tears. If you don’t mind walking a little bit from here you can quickly get to Makkosmária or Széchenyi-hegy where even more opportunities hide. Be careful though, warm clothes, hot drinks are essential up here.
Nagyvillám-hegy - VisegrádBudapest dwellers mainly remember Visegrád as the location of Fellegvár, the Alpinecoaster and many happy elementary school trips. Of course these venues can be visited during the winter, but in this season there are even more activities: the hill is a perfect place for family trips, skiing, snowboarding, or sledding. Visegrád is located about 50 kilometers from Budapest and can be reached by car a lot faster than many suburban districts by public transport. Of course, without a car it takes a tiny bit more time to get here, but fortunately bus lines between Szendentre and Visegrád are quite effective.
On the North side of Nagyvillám-hegy (Great Lightning Mountain) is hard to confuse with the French Alps even after a bottle of whiskey, but the snow cannons, the 8 lifts, and the restaurant make it look serious compared to other Hungarianslopes. Fortunately the course is available even in case of just a little snow (10cm) so it’s worth watching the weather forecast. Those adults who choose to slide here have to have 3500HUF in their pockets on weekdays and 4500 during the weekend, but there are also cheaper half-day tickets for 2500-3500 HUF and special tickets for evening skiing for 3000 HUF.
The sacred ground – DobogókőAmong the well-equipped hillsides this one is the closest to Budapest; the distance between Árpád híd and Dobogókő is only 30 kilometers. By car it can be reached on Road 11, and by public transport, the fastest way is from Pomáz where a bus with the “Dobogókő” sign should be taken. The course is divided into two, roughly 1-kilometer-long sections whose lower, more gradual parts are perfect for those who just started their winter sport career. Those who are more experienced can enjoy a more romantic serpentine path in he forest, so it’s definitely worth practicing. Daily tickets for adults are 3500 HUF on weekdays and 4000 HUF on the weekends.
Dobogókő is also an amazing place for trips, for it has gorgeous tourist paths swirling up the mountain. Many who believe in higher powers and energies come here quite often on pilgrimages to visit the Earth’s heart chakra and to get a positive recharge.
Nagy-Hideg hegy – BörzsönyNagy-Hideg hegy means Big Cold Mountain. We know it sounds a little bit like the twin brother of Mordor, but we promise it’s okay to take the trip, because there are no orks and werewolves around (at least we haven’t seen any yet). Börzsöny is also a lot easier to reach than the dark mountain in The Lord of the Rings: it’s only 70 kilometers away from Budapest. If you want to get there, you have to take the train from Nyugati Pályaudvar, get off at Kismaros, and from there it only takes just a little bit more by bus.
The Duna-Ipoly National Park is one of the best places in the country for taking long trips. Unfortunately it’s not possible to ski here this year, for the course will not open due to technical problems. However, it still would be a big mistake to forget the sleds at home; there are really cool slopes fitted for a couple of crazy rides.
Nearby Királyrét is where many tourist paths start or end. From here it’s easy to reach the gorgeous Várhegy csúcs from where, because of the lack of leaves, the whole area can be seen. Those who need more and miss Budapest should buckle up and climb all the way up to Csóványos, the highest part of Börzsöny (938 meters above sea level), and take a look at the remote Hungarian capital.
Photos: due.hu, hojelentesek.hu, termeszetvedo.network.hu, idokep.hu