All about Budapest
Winter can be a magical time in Budapest. From mid-November until early January, the city is dressed in Christmas lights and the locals embrace the spirit of the season with joy and enthusiasm. The Hungarian capital stays lively and active, with youth going clubbing, foodies discovering new gourmet hangouts, and spa-goers fighting the cold in one of the numerous spa baths that made Budapest legendary.
Beyond visiting the Christmas markets, and riding the Christmas Tram decorated with Christmas lights rides on two lines: 2A along the Danube promenade and 19 from Batthyány tér to Kelenföldi Pályaudvar, here are some of the most interesting to see and do in Budapest this winter.
Irgalmasok Veli Bej
Irgalmasok Veli Bej is one of the lesser advertised baths of Budapest, and, although they have been featured by several prestigious travel guides, they are still considered the “secret” baths of the city. Indeed, considering that most tourists choose between the famous Rudas Baths, Széchenyi Baths, and Gellért Baths, visiting Irgalmasok Veli Bej may not be as “trendy.” But it’s worth it. A historic landmark, Veli Bej is also the largest Turkish bath in Budapest.
One of the most beautiful Turkish baths of the city, Veli Bej boasts five thermal pools, which can benefit people with a variety of disorders, including chronic arthritis and neuralgia. Guests may also enjoy two steam baths with various essential oils, massage showers, Finnish sauna, infrared sauna, jacuzzi, and a swimming pool. The spa is also used for a variety of cultural events, conferences, dance, and entertainment.
Join the annual New Wine and Cheese Festival
The beloved tourist landmark known as Vajdahunyad Castle remains open in winter, offering visitors plenty to see and do. The permanent exhibition in the castle features the thematic collections of the Hungarian Agricultural Museum, but there are also visiting exhibitions with other interesting topics that crown the seasonal offer. Plus, you shouldn’t miss the annual New Wine and Cheese Festival, which takes place at the end of November. Visitors will enjoy a variety of wines produced by professional winemakers, indoor and outdoor activities, homemade cheeses from the countryside, a wine fair, a New Wine contest that will choose the best Hungarian wines of the year, and the procession of the Hungarian Wine Order members, among other events.
At the New Wine & Cheese Festival in Vajdahunyad Castle don’t forget to taste the famous Furmint wines.
Welcome 2018 from a cruise on the Danube
New Year is the season’s liveliest celebration, with many parties all over the city. For a spectacular, fun-filled step into 2018, book a cruise on the Danube. There are several choices, ranging from classy gourmet dining to booze parties, boogie and swing, and much more. This website lists cruises, boat parties, and other events that guarantee a New Year party to remember.
Go ice skating at Városliget
The City Park Ice Rink in Budapest is the main meeting point for locals and tourists alike in winter. The venue is open from November 20, 2017, until February 26, 2018. This year’s ice skating program includes ice skating lessons for children and adults, skating lessons for school and kindergarten groups, and skate sharpening workshops. They will also offer skate rentals in the future.
You can book tickets online for ice skating at the City Park, on the venue’s official website.
Eat delicious kürtőskalács
Kürtőskalács, the famous Hungarian chimney cakes, are a favorite treat on cold winter days. You will find many stalls selling the delicious dessert in the streets so you can still enjoy them even if you missed the festival in October. Cakes are cooked to order and you can choose your favorite toppings.
You can still enjoy warm chimney cakes in Budapest even if you missed the Kürtőskalács Fesztivál in October.
Where to eat the best chimney cakes in Budapest?
The following venues are quite popular with the locals.
- Molnár’s Kürtőskalács (Váci u. 31) is the definitive crowd pleaser. The cafe serves traditional Kürtőskalács, Molinari coffee, and Italian ice cream. They are open daily from 9:00 to 22:00.
- Körösfői Kürtőskalács is just a kiosk on Szent György tér 2 but it is popular and you will often see the locals queuing up to get their fix of chimney cakes. Their selection of toppings is, however, poor: chocolate, nuts, coconuts, cinnamon, and vanilla. Still, worth the wait. All Kürtőskalács are made to order here too.
- Vitéz Kürtős have two permanent bakehouses at the Budapest Zoological and Botanical Garden and at the Budapest – Csillagvár Shopping Center ( Rákóczi street 36). They offer classical chimney cakes, but also flavors like vanilla, nuts, cinnamon, cocoa, coconut, and almond. They also sell homemade chocolate, baking kits, and baking accessories. You will also find their stalls at the Christmass Fair at Vörösmarty square, and at the Autumn Fair at Erzsébet square at Budapest Eye.
- Töltött Kürtős (Erzsebet ter 13) is a kiosk too and they are known for their non-traditional approach: they fill their Kürtőskalács with Nutella, topped with ice cream and syrup. A decadent dessert, by all means.
Sure, Budapest is far more complex in the white season. You will have to explore it at your own pace to discover more than what travel guides reveal. Or ask your hotel concierge for recommendations. There are two delightful Mamaison Hotels in Budapest waiting to pamper you this winter season: Mamaison Hotel Andrassy and Mamaison Residence Izabella. So keep an eye on our blog, Facebook page, and Instagram updates, for other travel tips, places to see, special offers, and more.
Vajdahunyadvár Summer Festival
When you stay at Mamaison Hotel Andrássy Budapest here are the attractions that are just a short walk from our hotel.
One of the gems of Eastern Europe, and the Pearl of Danube, Budapest is a fascinating destination – a city with pulsating nightlife, charming parks, stunning architectural landmarks, and museums that will inspire, surprise and even provoke.
Children's Railway (Photo by Maurits90 via Wikimedia Commons)
The Children’s Railway in Budapest is one of the city’s most celebrated attractions. It’s known locally as Gyermekvasút, and the special thing about it is that it is entirely operated by little ones – aged 10 to 14 – under adult supervision.
June is a busy month in Budapest, with plenty to do and see. You have a choice of two Mamaison hotels to book for your Hungarian adventure: Mamaison Hotel Andrassy Budapest and Mamaison Residence Izabella Budapest. Make sure you book directly on our official websites for the best online prices. You can also check out our HOT TOWN special offer for discounts of up to 20% in the warmest season of the year.
The first festival of the month is Belvárosi Fesztivál (or BelFeszt) also known as the Inner City Festival Budapest, a free event that offers entertainment in the streets from Erzsébet tér to Szabadság tér along Zrínyi utca for three days, from June 3rd to 5th. You can see the upcoming schedule of concerts and events on the official Facebook page of the festival.
The prestigious Danube Carnival will kick off on June 3rd this year, promising a rich program till the closing day, June 18, 2017. The festival features an international dance competition, a spectacular parade between the Danube Promenade and Vörösmarty tér, and the crown gala presented in the fabulous surroundings of the Margaret Island Open-Air Theater. Tickets are already available online on the official website of the festival. Book early, as they sell fast.
June also has a festival for bibliophiles: the Budapest Book Week on Vorosmarty Square. Although the event is mainly designed for Hungarian readers, you will also find books for English speakers. Plus, there will also be free concerts to add a plus of fun to the festival, which in 2017 takes place between 8 – 12 June.
Beer lovers can attend two different thematic festivals in June: the Craft-Beer Festival in the City Park (Városliget) from June 10 till June 12, 2017, and the Buda Castle Beer Festival at the Royal Palace’s Oroszlános and Hunyadi courtyards, and the Savoyai terrace on June 11 – 14, 2017.
Culture buffs will enjoy the prestigious Night of Museums in Budapest on June 24 this year. The theme of the event in 2017 is “Heroes, explorers, innovators/Hősök, felfedezők, újítók” and you can enjoy a variety of programs supporting the theme in museums and art galleries all around the city. The Hungarian National Museum will turn into a “Square of Superheroes.” Check out detailed information on participating venues and routes here.
Budapest is a year-round destination. The charming Hungarian capital beckons with something interesting and exciting every season. There are two Mamaison hotels that will welcome you like a VIP here: Mamaison Hotel Andrassy Budapest and Mamaison Residence Izabella Budapest. Check out their special offers page for deals that are not available anywhere else.
The UK Post Office Travel Money ranked Prague among the top budget-friendly destinations for UK travelers in 2017. The Czech capital follows European destinations like Algarve (Portugal), Sunny Beach (Bulgaria), Costa del Sol (Spain), and Marmaris (Turkey). The top continues with Paphos (Cyprus), Budapest (Hungary), Sliema (Malta), Corfu (Greece), Porec (Croatia), Sorrento (Italy), and Nice (France). Tokyo (Japan), Cancun (Mexico), and Cape Town (South Africa) are also considered to be among the most affordable destinations for UK vacationers according to the Holiday Money Report 2017.
The UK Post Office Travel Money monitors the price of eight tourist items – comprising dinner for two with wine, a range of drinks, suncream and insect repellent to generate its Holiday Money Report. Out of 44 resorts and cities around the world, the report has found that Europe takes 9 of the top 10 places – with Tokyo at number 8 before Sliema and Corfu.
Prague and Budapest offer excellent value accommodation and dining opportunities, as well as quality entertainment year-round. For visitors interested in luxury without paying an arm and a leg, Mamaison offers a good choice of accommodation and dining at the two destinations: Mamaison Hotel Riverside, Mamaison Residence Belgicka, and Mamaison Residence Downtown in Prague, and, in Budapest, Mamaison Hotel Andrassy and Mamaison Residence Izabella. Booking directly on our corporate website guarantees guests the best online prices and a variety of other perks.
Our hotels and residences are centrally located and close to some of the most interesting and attractive tourist and cultural landmarks of the two cities. You can choose Mamaison hotels for accommodation when you travel on business too, as well are equipped to satisfy your needs, offering free WiFi and business amenities. You have dining choices at your Mamaison hotels, or you can explore their neighborhoods to find something for your budget too.
The New Year’s Eve in Budapest is a celebration of light and joy, livelier than Christmas, and full of hope.
The Mohács Busójárás is one of the highest anticipated Farsang events in Hungary. Mohács is a good three-hour drive from Mamaison Hotel Andrassy, and about two and a half hours from Mamaison Residence Izabella, but it is all worth the trip if you want to see authentic Hungarian traditions.
The program for the 2017 edition of the Busójárás festival has already been announced, as many visitors plan their trips to Hungary to see the event early. It is wise to book your hotel early too, to take advantage of the early bird offer with Mamaison.
The festival kicks off on February 23, in the morning, at 9:00 am, with preparations for the youth center, and a wealth of activities for children. The carnival procession on the route Táncsics utca – Szabadság utca – Széchenyi tér starts at 15:30. The day ends with traditional dances at Duna Irodaházban- Szabadság u.4-6.
The second day at the carnival starts at 13:00 and features contests, folk dance groups, live folk music, the „Busók és Jankelék” drawing competition, an exhibition of folk art objects at Kossuth Filmszínházban, followed by a concert (admission charge) featuring guitarist Szörényi Levente, and a concert by the Slavic dance orchestra at the same address mentioned above.
Saturday is full of exciting events, starting early, at 9:00. Among these, don’t miss the Serbian cultural gastronomy, folk dances in the Serbian Church yard; dances and presentations of Busós masks at Szechenyi Square; mask-carving demonstrations, carnival games, and chariot decorations at Síp utcában; wreath-laying at the statue of the three soldiers in Széchenyi Square; plus other events revolving around the Busós tradition.
The popular art and craft fair opens Sunday, February 26 at 9:00 am – this is the most interesting part for tourists who want to leave Hungary with something handmade, culturally representative, and valuable. The prices are competitive and attractive, as the purpose of the festival is to promote local heritage and values.
A note for foreign women attending the festival: traditionally, Busós dance kóló with the girls and the women, and make inappropriate jokes. Do not feel offended, though: this is not personal, it’s tradition.
It may be colder, it may be rainy, it may seem dull and gray, but, in fact, October is a very exciting month to visit Budapest. There are many festivals that turn autumn into a season of true celebration.
The month begins with Oktoberfest when Felvonulási tér becomes the capital of beer. Popular breweries, as well as small microbreweries and craft breweries, will line up the stalls at the City Park. This is the fourth year when festival participants can experience the celebration in the Bavarian Paulaner Oktoberfest tent. A 40-meter high Ferris wheel will offer visitors the opportunity to see the city from up high. The festival begins the last weekend of September, on the 29th, and lasts till the second day of October.
Café Budapest Contemporary Arts Festival is the second festival of the month, brightening the city with a wide range of events, from contemporary classical music to theatre premieres, from popular music to contemporary circus, from dance to visual art and beyond. The venues of 2016 include Müpa Budapest, Liszt Academy, A38 Ship, Budapest Music Center, Castle Garden Bazaar, Vigadó, Akvárium, Millenáris, and Bálna Budapest.
Who could miss the Budapest Pálinka and Sausage Festival, which takes place at the iconic Buda Castle on Castle Hill in the first two days of October? There will be several types of palinka available for tastings and purchase. Palinka is usually paired with sausages, so visitors will also enjoy such regional specialties. Music and live entertainment make this event even more appealing.
Kürtőskalács, the Chimney Cake Festival, is another interesting event that you shouldn’t miss. It takes place in the second weekend of October at the City Park, Vajdahunyad Castle. This festival celebrates the Hungarian kürtőskalács pastries and will present various technique of preparing chimney cakes, over charcoal or fried in oil, in many sizes, and different flavors.The highlight of the festival is the great chimney cake bake-off.
Art Market Budapest will take place from October 13 until October 16 this year. The international art fair at Millenáris will feature a variety of art and crafts objects for purchase. There will also be an exhibition, CHIM: Children of the War, and other interesting events.
The Budapest Restaurant Week ends this list of festivals with an invitation to gourmet cuisine. It takes place from October 10 until October 16 in several participant restaurants, including our own
La Perle Noire Restaurant and Lounge at Mamaison Hotel Andrassy. If you plan your vacation in Budapest during the restaurant week, we invite you to check out our Joy of Autumn City special offer, which is available throughout the season, until December 1st, 2016. Booking directly on our official site you can save 15 % of the usual rate when staying 2 nights, and 20 % when staying 3 nights or more. See you there!
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