Though there’s not much snow around so far this year, there are bound to be a few chilly days when winter sports are called for. And even if stays pretty dry, there’s still plenty of skating to be had – and even curling!
Scottish sport of curling has only been played here for the last 20 years. For
the uninitiated, the game involves teams of four competing against one other, each
with eight stones they need to push to the middle of the target, concentric circles
somewhat like a dartboard, only on ice. Co-ordination and precise teamwork are
paramount. As late starters, Hungary is currently mid-ranking in Europe
– Britain still picks up Olympic medals, along with Switzerland and the Scandinavian
nations – but the sport is gaining ground here. According to Bálint Kiss, President
of the Hungarian Curling Association, to
play at professional level requires a lot of practice, but the basics can be
mastered in just a few hours, moving around the ice with friends and colleagues. The
HCA also organises open days so people can try it out for themselves – the
next will be on 11 February, then 4 and 18 March, admission 5,000 forints (HUF
3,500 for under-21s).
training is required for gliding across the ice and skating
moves all the muscles and forces you out into the fresh, open air in the winter
cold. We recently selected our favourite rinks in town here,
including the most picture-postcard one at Városliget, the free riverside one
at Bálna Budapest and the one with occasional musical entertainment at Müpa. Skate rental is possible at most venues. Hungarian-speakers looking to up the ante can train in the ways of figure skating
at the Hoffmann Skating Academy at
XIV.Istvánmezei út 3-5.
Budapest is usually
not a skiing idyll and it’s not just the lack of snow to blame. The ski
resorts around the capital in Visegrád and Dobogókő are closed for most of the season and are otherwise
only suitable for a warm-up before a larger ski tour. However, if you want to learn
how to ski, there are quite a few slopes available in Budapest. The 4seasons
Ski School at Bókay-kert in District XVIII awaits with three slopes equipped with a lift, and you can also patronise the
Pasarét Ski School in Buda. There is another centre
in Csepel, the Nanook, with a separate branch in District XI.
Sledging & bobsleigh
When a little snow
falls, the traditional sleighing slopes of Budapest fill quickly. At popular hilly Normafa, there are several great spots and the iconic Királydomb in City
Park is also a good option, especially if you want to sledge with
younger kids, with slopes for beginners and advanced alike. More spots
include Gellért Hill towards Rezeda utca (watch out for the cars), around Hármashatár-hegy
and Népliget. Experienced sledgers can approach the slopes starting from Nagyrét to the Kamaraerdő forest. The trails here are long, and you should be cautious as
you zoom through the trees. If there's no snow this winter, don’t
worry, because bobsleighing is just as good. The popular Visegrád bob
track 45 minutes north of Budapest is open to all, currently waiting for visitors with shortened opening hours, and you can also go sleighing
on the hill near the course. Closer to home in
District XI, a bobsleigh course will open on 1 March.