Travel tips: 15 things to do in Budapest on colder, rainy, snowy days

Budapest travel tips for the autumn/winter: 15 things to do in Budapest on colder, rainy, snowy days

6 October, 2016




Have you ever worn bathing suit in snowfall?
Have you ever been caving in natural caves under a big city?
Have you ever sat under a breath taking fresco in a beautiful art nouveau building drinking coffee and eating cake?

These are just few things that you can do if you visit Budapest, the beautiful capital city of Hungary at winter. But we collected for you a list of things that you can do, places that you can visit even in the grey, cold autumn and winter days. Check out our pinterest board too for the photos.


No 1. In-door sightseeing:

  • Visiting the Hungarian Parliament, the amazing neo-gothic building on the Danube Bank that actually Freddie Mercury wanted to buy according to the urban legend, but also the biggest building in the country and the home of the Holy Hungarian Crown.
  • The St Stephen Basilica (Neo-renaissance style) and the mumificated right hand of our first king, St Stephen, who was the founder of the Hungarian state and the Christian Church in Hungary.
  • Travel on the more than 100 year old Millenium Underground, the oldest metro line on the continent and second oldest one in the world!
  • Visiting the Opera House: This neo-renaissance masterpiece of Hungarian architect Miklós Ybl was finished in 1884. Backpacker tip: instead of getting a guided tour for almost 10 eur, you can actually buy a ticket for 3 eur for an opera to the top seats.
  • Coffee/Luch break at Divatcsarnok under the breathtaking fresco of Karoly Lotz: Few steps from the Opera house on the same road, Andrássy Avenue you can have a coffee break at “Divatcsarok”. This building consists of two parts: the back side was built in neo-renaissance style which hosts the magnificent ball room of the former Lipótváros Casino from 1883, while the street front was finished in 1911 in Art Nouveau style. In the ball room - decorated with huge mirrors and the great fresco of Karoly Lotz - now is a café, where you can rest for a nice easy lunch or for a famous Hungarian cake and admire the beautiful well preserved fresco and the trip back in time.


No 2. A ride on the tram Line No. 2

A sightseeing tour by bus doesn't come up to a ride on tram No. 2. It runs between the Margit Bridge and the Rákóczi Bridge all along the Pest side of the Danube offering a beautiful view of the Gellert Hill, Castle Hill, the Parliament, the Danube bridges and finally arriving to the National Theater and the Palace of Art. I believe that this is the most beautiful tram line in whole Europe! Don’t miss to take it day and also in the evening with the city lights.


No 3. Great museums

  • Ludwig” Museum of Contemporary Art: The permanent collection contains valuable pieces of American pop art (Andy Warhol, Claes Oldenburg, Robert Rauschenberg etc.). Yet focusing on Eastern and Central European art, it also puts a special emphasis on presenting the Hungarian art of the 60's to recent days in an international context. Be sure to explore the Museum's colourful place, the whole „Palace of Art” building which is indeed a contemporary work of art as well.
  • Pinball Museum: One of the many reasons to stay at Aventura Boutique Hostel: Europe's biggest interactive pinball museum is just few meters behind Aventura! For about 8 eur admission fee you can play unlimited time on more than hundred well maintained pinball machines. Some of them are real oldies!
  • House of Terro r : It contains exhibits related to the fascist and communist regimes in 20th-century Hungary and is also a memorial to the victims of these regimes, including those detained, interrogated, tortured or killed in the building.


No 4. Lunch at one of the Market Halls

The Main Market Hall is very popular, well known and well promoted shopping destination for tourists. Everything from meat through spices to vegetables is available here in the most beautiful, largest and richest market of Budapest. On the top floor you find cheap eateries where you can have some real Hungarian specialities, such as roasted saussage or „Langos” (a kind of fried dough). But if you are ready for bigger adventure than try one of the smallest market halls of Budapest, the Hunyadi Square Market. It radiates a pleasant atmosphere with local people buying good, locally produced food stuff. It is in an old run down building but it's listed as a national treasure. Don’t miss the tiny coffee stall towards the back.


No 5. Visiting one of the famous Spas and Thermal Baths

Budapest is not only the city of World Heritage Sites, but also the city of spas. The land under our feet abounds in natural springs and wells that contain several beneficial minerals. They supply the warm, healing waters for the nearly 50 Budapest spas, baths or public pools. If you are happened to be here on a very cold day in snowfall, then you can have the unique experience sitting in an outdoor hot pool letting the ice-cold snow falling on your arms and face. It looks and feels best after dark! Most Budapest spas are worth a visit because of their history and architecture as well.
And if you are ready for a very unique party experience that you only find here in Budapest, than come visit one of the Cinetrip parties organised randomly in Rudas, Lukács or Szechenyi Thermal Bath. DJs, sound systems, giant screens and spot lights add to the dramatic effects.


No 6. Caving under the Buda hills

This is something more adventurous than the usual sightseeing. Go caving in Budapest and discover its underground natural beauties! Budapest is the only capital that has natural caves in the middle of the city. Would you think that it has about 170 smaller and bigger caves? You can actually go to one of these caves with helmet, headlight and overall and discover it yourself! The temperature in the cave is constant 12 °C! But if you want to go easy, than just take the normal tour through the built path. It is also very nice.

No 7. Xmas and design shopping

From mid-November till end December the whole centre of the city is beautifully lighted for Christmas and Christmas Markets open up at several places. Cottage-style wooden stalls and an outdoor stage take over one of Budapest's most attractive squares where you can buy something unique and original for your loved ones.

  • The Christmas Market at Vörösmarty Square: This market represents the sort of Advent atmosphere that we most long for. You can smell the scent of traditional honey cookies, mulled wine, cinnamon and fir from far. The rich fragrant simply lures you to the market. The famous Gerbeaud Confectionery has an Advent Calendar in its windows. The pages turn over day by day, each day a decorated window opens at 17.00. On the market you find quality folk and applied art products, decorations made from traditional materials and with authentic techniques. All products are hand-made and the Hungarian Society of Folk Arts guarantees their quality. You can watch many cultural programmes and listen to folk music while you're looking for gifts. Just before XMas days a small Bethlehem comes alive on the square with a crib and live animals.
  • WAMP – The Design Fair: If you are interested in all the products of Hungarian Designers than the best is to plan your shopping day for Sunday. Once in a month on Sunday (more often around Christmas) there is a big Fair of Hungarian Designers, where you can buy real unique design items, clothing, home decoration, toys, souvenirs, stationary, jewellery, etc. This is the place where design meets urban Hungarians, tourists and ex pats. It is also a meeting place for creative and trend setter young people.

No 8. Have a drink or two in one of the so called „Ruin Pubs”

The beginning of the 21st century was an exciting turning point in the nightlife of Budapest: in the central area of the city new places were opened one after another in abandoned houses and factory buildings. These were equipped with rejected furniture of old community centres, cinemas, and grandmothers’ flats, bringing a retro feeling into these places. They were soon called „ruinpubs” and became popular very fast among the youth of Budapest. Ruinpubs often move to a new place, or close for some years, then open in a new place again. They are are not only good places to drink and have a party but also function as cultural community areas with film clubs, theatre performances, concerts, exhibitions, and creative workshops, too. Every place has a unique style and atmosphere – this is the real Budapest nightlife experience!

No 9. A new hpe in Budapest: Escape rooms

Lasergames, Paintball games are popular all around the world, but in the last couple of years a new type of game appeared, the challenges of „Escape rooms” for those who dare to break out of locked rooms using only logic puzzles and by solving a labyrinth of tasks. While this sensation has been around since 2011, the number and styles of room escape adventures - known as "szabadulós játék" in Hungarian - are on the rise. Your challenge, should you choose to accept it: escape the everyday by getting locked up. Good luck!

No 10. Very local, very retro cafés with the atmosphere of the socialist era

If you are looking for a real cultural experience, a journey back in time, than visit these retro cafés left here from the past: Bambi Eszpresszó in Buda and Ibolya Eszpresszó in Pest. Hungarians have a strange feel of nostalgia towards the decades of socialism. While in other parts of Europe, people view the second half of the last century with bitterness, we Hungarians have a special love for the socialist-realist furniture, toys, coffeehouses and bistros representative of the era. Don’t miss to visit one of these places and experience the retro feeling.

No 11. Ice Skating Rink - Városligeti Műjégpálya

The Ice Skating Rink in Budapest City Park is surely one of the most beautifully located one in Europe: surrounded by the big statues of Hero's Square and the Vajdahunyad Castle. Skates for rent available. Lots of fun in a beautiful scenery.

No 12. Food and wine

Hungarian Gastronomy is really famous. Fine dining is accessible on a reasonable price, but also you can find lots lof good quality budget places or street food. Good quality Hungarian Wine is also easy to find in the numerous wine bars around Budapest. Prices are also much more reasonable than in Western Europe. A nice glass of Hungarian wine can warm you up after sightseeing in the cold winter days.

No 13. Aquaworld

Aquaworld is a huge indoor aqua centre with slides, wave pool, saunas, children area - great place in the winter time too. Outside of Budapest, but accessible by public transport.

No 14. Tea houses

If you are cold from walking around in the winter in Budapest, teahouses are great places to get some rest and warm yourself up with a nice cup of tea. There are many hidden teahouses around the city. Take time to discover them. In Jokai Street – few minutes from Aventura - there are at least three. They warm and cosy - just what you need in the cold winter days.

No 15. Xmas lightning

Like all the big cities around the word, in the winter times Budapest is also shining in Xmas lights. The Christmas city lights officially light up on the first Sunday of the Advent period.