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Sights & culture Nightlife

Where to celebrate carnival season in Budapest in 2024

Farsang, the Hungarian equivalent of the carnival season, stretches from January 6th until February 14th this year. Here is how to celebrate it.

Nightlife

Budapest's best winter terraces for 2017-18

From panoramic igloos to glass-fronted terraces augmenting Art Nouveau hotels, Budapest has any number of terraces to sip mulled wine in the warmth of indoors while watching the snow fall and Christmas lights tinkle. Some are seasonal additions or conversions to popular alfresco spots in summer, others imaginative creations that have only been unveiled this year. Those operating as extensions to top-notch restaurants can offer fine fare to go with your glass of red, a surprisingly affordable experience particularly if you factor in lunchtime deals as well. Live music is an occasional feature, DJs too.

360 BAR

It was perhaps the biggest surprise of this winter season that the 360 Bar has also dressed up for the occasion. The highest rooftop terrace on showcase Andrássy Avenue has always been a place of summer pilgrimage, but now that the elevator doors of the defunct Paris Department Store below have remained open, visitors can once more gain access to the 360-degree panoramic roof. For this winter, they have set up eight heated igloos, roofed the bar counter, stocked up on marshmellows and hot chocolate, and mixed a few seasonal cocktails. The transparent half-globes alternate in theme from vintage, ski lodge and palm house, but common to all are the small fireplace heaters, blankets, lights, music and, not least, the view. Around eight people can fit into one igloo and the good news is that you can reserve seats over the phone.

TÖRÖKMÉZ

Törökméz on Margit Street is always worth a revisit thanks to its stand-out signature breakfasts. And whenever you have been back, you were probably sitting on its lovely little terrace, made all the more pleasant by the appearance of a home-baked biscuit or two. This year, this convivial experience need not be limited to summer as, after a minor conversion, the terrace has been covered and heated, at the same time as a serious upgrade to the menu. So now in the winter cold, you can delight in the daily changing soups, from the Gundel-inspired palócleves of meat and sour cream to a paprika cream variety. If you’re lucky, there might even be some live acoustic music playing.

HIGH NOTE SKYBAR

The High Note SkyBar at the top of the Aria Hotel is a must whether it’s summer or winter, the view is that spectacular. The roof terrace at eye level with the Basilica alongside has covered and open sections – while one suits winter best, it’s worth having a look round the latter to take in all the Christmas decorations. A visit here is not as reckless as you would first think. OK, it’s not cheap but you can find a seasonal main course for 2000 forints and above, and a quality cocktail for 2,500. What’s more, they’ve put together a woodland theme, beautifully conceived, for food, drink and gifts.

MAZEL TOV

Mazel Tov is a tried and trusted option as far as winter terraces in Budapest are concerned. You can always count on it for that summer feeling in December. This does not mean that this stylish representative of the cuisine of Tel Aviv doesn’t have a surprise in store every year, with live shows, weekend jazz brunches and Hanukkah events. The current seasonal menu features Yemen chicken soup, Moroccan lamb chops, pastrami sandwiches, Jerusalem cheesecake, and the signature sharing platter. For live music with mulled wine thrown in, it’s worth reserving a table.

PAVILLON DE PARIS

On focal Fő Street in the waterside Buda district of Víziváros, you’ll find the Pavillon de Paris tucked away in a secret garden. In addition to the Gallic creativity of chef Ferenc Szabó, you can also love this place for its terrace, now also used in winter, with added warmth and windows. This provides romance a-plenty, enhanced by the white tablecloths and garden views. You can count on the Pavillon for a lunch menu of the more elegant variety, while a table can be reserved here for an evening meal.

LUMEN

Those who know the Lumen, a favorite new-wave café on Mikszáth Kálmán Square, might be surprised at its inclusion in a selection of winter terraces. At the end of October, the same team opened a larger outlet round the corner on Horánszky Street, actually a covered inner courtyard with glass façades. You can still expect the same new-wave coffees, weekly suggestions, random cakes and decent atmosphere, but in a larger space, with a more serious kitchen, and larger concerts or even folk dances. The only blemish is the closing time of 10pm, but after that you can always count on the original venue nearby being open.

0,75 BISTRO

The 0.75 is a popular wine bar on St. Stephen's Square, where you can enjoy the view of the Basilica in the background with a glass of wine in hand, along with a quality dish or two and a few savory snacks. And, whatever your initial impression might be, all for a reasonable price. This winning combination hasn’t changed since the arrival of winter – in October, the terrace was roofed over. Ordering the recommended mulled wine should be a warming experience, as it also helps towards the children’s clinic on Tűzoltó Street. The 0,75 is not only strong on wine, it also offers a lunch menu, and with Christmas upon us, bakes its own beigli cake. Do also keep a look out for its wine-tasting events.

ST. ANDREA WINE & SKYBAR

If you want to a bird’s eye view of the Vörösmarty Square Christmas Market, you can head up to the St.Andrea Wine & Skybar. This open rooftop hostelry, unveiled in the summer of 2017, has an roofed area where you can even sit when it’s snowing. Naturally, the establishment goes big on wine, but you can sample cocktails as well as the gourmet bar food. If you decided to visit, do bear in mind that this is a prime panorama, with prices to match, and you should dress according to the surroundings.

KOLLÁZS

Kollázs is the expanded eatery of Art Nouveau gem the Four Seasons Hotel Gresham Palace, with the atmosphere of a fin-de-siècle coffeehouse. In the kitchen, chef Árpád Győrffy prepares creative combinations, but the enticing menu does not mean that you cannot pop in for a glass of wine or a slice of cake. Indeed, it is ideal at this time of year to order a mulled wine or hot chocolate, and, if you wish, enjoy the same kind of prime view as you see here in summer. In early November, its well positioned terrace was wrapped in a glass façade, perfectly protected from the cold but letting in the glittering lights of Christmas.

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