If you’re here this winter and not sure how to best spend the day, here are ten great suggestions for what to do when it’s chilly outside but cosy indoors.
Start the day at the Aranypinty
The Palace Quarter behind
the National Museum is an attrative part of town all year round, with
plenty of cafés worth popping into for a warming snack or mid-morning coffee. The Aranypinty
on Puskin utca is one
such place. After breakfast amid the Herend and Zsolnay porcelain, surrounded
by French chansons, you can head to your next destination.
Browse for secondhand books
the National Museum, a row of secondhand bookshops offers treasure a-plenty. Not just books, including many publications in
English, but also maps, vintage posters, postcards, drawings and prints. Each
boutique feels cosy and lived-in, overseen by helpful staff. Even if
you’re looking for nothing in particular, it’s a great way to kill an hour
out of the winter cold.
Admire the Ervin Szabó Library
Another bookish attraction
in the vicinity is the Ervin Szabó Library close to Kálvin tér.
It’s housed in the Neo-Baroque Wenckheim Palace, built in the late 1880s,
students from the faculties nearby poring over sturdy editions beneath
chandeliers in beautiful reading rooms. No
wonder it has doubled up as a set for several film shoots.
If you don’t have a reader’s ticket, don’t despair, because there are also
Stroll in City Park
Now replete and ready for
the day, you’ll be up for a stroll, and where better than expansive City Park behind Heroes’ Square.
Brimming with new attractions such as the House of Hungarian Music opening to the public from late January, Budapest’s most popular green getaway
offers an atmospheric ice rink in winter alongside age-old favourites such as
the Zoo, Vajdahunyad Castle and the Széchenyi Baths.
Soak at the Széchenyi Baths
After your stroll, you’ve
earned a couple of hours at the Széchenyi Baths, Budapest’s biggest and most
ornate spa. Győző Czigler conceived the Classicist and Neo-Renaissance design for
the largest spa complex in Europe in the late 1800s. You can dips in 11 pools,
indoor and outdoor, of varying temperatures, but there are also steam rooms,
saunas, plunge pools and relaxation areas.
Visit the Museum of Fine Arts
If you opt for culture
over the spa, there’s plenty to see at the Museum of Fine Arts alongside
Heroes’ Square. Currently two exhibitions merit a visit. This week, it’s your
last chance to see Discovery of the Pharaoh’s Tomb, showcasing unique treasures from
Ancient Egypt and the story of the French archaeologist who found them in 1898.
The show closes on 9 January. Under the same roof, until 13 February, is the
exhibition From Cézanne to Malevich, exploring the relationship between the
Post-Impressionist artist and the French Avant-Garde of the early 1900s.
Take tea in luxury
you’re here for a winter weekend, it’s worth booking a tea party at the exquisite
cocktail bar at the high-end Gresham Palace hotel, Múzsa. For
one afternoon only, you can feel like royalty amid the Art-Nouveau splendour,
where the turquoise mosaics, stained-glass windows and atmosphere evoke the
elegance of the early 1900s.
Discover the villas of Gellért Hill
For a winter walk with a
difference, Gellért Hill is dotted with beautiful villas,
hiding behind rich foliage all year round, except during winter, of course. This
is when the Neo-Baroque façades of the former bourgeoisie become
visible. Many also have fascinating histories, such as the exact replica of a
Genoese place on Orom utca and the villa on Berc utca where the main commander
of the Waffen SS in Budapest lived during
World War II.
Relax at the Normafa Ski House
Where better to end a
winter wander than at the Normafa Ski House,
imbued with the atmosphere of an Alpine chalet, where you can warm body and
soul with a hot drink in your hands. As much as you might love the bustling
city, a forest walk high above it and the silence around it always provide
peace and quiet. This is why Budapest is such a great place, because you don’t
have to go too far to be in nature. Normafa, of course, shows its true charm when
covered in soft snow, so here’s hoping for a few flurries this winter to build
a snowman, go sledging or fashion the perfect snowball. Between sleigh rides,
head to the Ski House for friendly conversation over mulled wine, mingling or
finding your favourite winter read on the communal bookshelf. (x)
...or at secret cocktail bar, The Duchess
While rooftop bars and
cocktails are more of a summer pastime, in winter you can enjoy a much more
magical view of the city bathed in light. The cocktail bar at the top of the Matild
Palace awaits with delicious snacks and wonderful cocktails even in the colder
months – just follow the key logo after you enter the hotel to find your way to The
Duchess. It’s a whole adventure where
you’ll forget that you’re in the heart of town as you bask in the 360-degree
panorama, sample the special taste of festive cocktails and indulge in majestic