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Where to practise winter sports in Budapest

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  • Zsófia Nagy

13/01/2022 12.00pm

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!

Photo: Magyar Curling Szövetség - Facebook

Curling

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The ancient 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).

Photo: Kőrösi Tamás - We Love Budapest

Skating

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Little 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.

Photo: Dobogókő/Facebook

Skiing

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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.

Photo: Csudai Sándor - We Love Budapest

Sledging & bobsleigh

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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.

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