10 things to do in Budapest in January

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Budapest in winter, Budapest tips, hiking tips

1. Bathe in a thermal spa

There is no better way to warm up in Budapest in January then heading to one of city’s many thermal bath houses. Széchenyi and Gellért are known by everyone who ever googled Budapest thus can be packed on random days. We rather recommend a lesser frequented spa: Lukacs. It might seem a weird local habit to head outside in your swimwear but it is part of the winter routine of locals.

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Szent Lukacs Gyogyfurdo

2. Etyeki piknik

It happens once every season that many of the wineries in Etyek open for a day to welcome wine lovers and foodies from all over… well mostly from Budapest.

Guided tours to the cellars, sausages and puddings to wash down the wine all back up with a beautiful landscape.

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photo credit: etyekipiknik.hu

3. Hiking in the hills of Buda

Getting out into the nature and exploring on two feet is a great way to enjoy the snow covered hills of Budapest in January.

Normafa, Ördögorom, Janos hill, Hármashatár hill are all popular with hikers and relatively easy to reach by public transportation.  

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Hiking trail crossroad on Harmashatar hill

4. Warm up in a cafe

Coffee houses in Budapest give you a chance to travel back in time to the turn of the 20th century. It was known not just the golden age of Budapest but also as the heyday of grand cafés.

While sipping an espresso feel the history of these coffee houses and make sure to try a slice of the delicious cakes!

5. Visit a museum

Probably the best time to visit a museum are the cold, muddy winter-days. Regardless of preference – classic art, history, music, photography there is definitely no lack of choice in Budapest.

Our choice of the month is the House of Terror Museum.

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House of Terror Museum

6. Sample craft beer

Although Hungary is mostly known for its wines there is an ever growing hype around craft beer that turned the city into sort of a mecca of craft beer lovers.

Sacred venues for craft beer lovers are: Neked csak Dezső, Hopaholic, Élesztő.

We can not be a bigger fan of a brewery tour. During a factory visit you can learn pretty much everything about the production and technology and tasting is also included.

7. Sled down Normafa

In case there is enough snow in January – and that is usually not a problem – then half of the city will head up to the hills of Buda to sled up and down the slopes of Normafa, or Anna meadow.
Mulled wine is served by the slopes and hiking trails, and foodies can sample strudels and langos.

Looking for another place for sledging? Read our previous post about the topic.

winter in the Buda hills

8. Try out an escape room

At the turn of the 20th century there was a grand cafe on almost every block of the city. Today Budapest has probably the highest density of escape rooms. The idea is simple: to get out from a locked room mystery puzzles have to be solved. Many of the rooms like this are also available in English.

9. Check out a farmer’s market

A visit to Budapest in January is not complete without spending some time in the most famous ruin bar, at Szimpla kert. Besides being a holy watering hole, Szimpla kert hosts a farmer’s market on Sundays. You can choose from 30-40 different first producer’s hand made products, like cheese, jam, honey, fresh produce, syrup and so on. The farmer’s market gets packed around 10.30am, in order to avoid the crowed try to arrive earlier.

10. Stay warm on board of a tram

Riding a tram instead is a good alternative to walk the streets of Budapest in the freezing cold weather. Fortunately many of the public transportation lines – especially tram lines – run by the key sites of the Hungarian capitol city. The lines listed below are our favourite ones:

line nr. 2. voted as one of the most scenic streetcar lines of the world by National Geographic. The line operates along the Danube on the Pest side, covering the UNESCO listed left bank of the river.

line nr. 59 Passes by the some of the residential neighbourhoods in the 12th district. No postcard views and key sites, however the

line nr. 41. Runs along the right bank of the Danube between Óbuda and Kamaraerdő connecting North and South Buda. Besides passing by the Chain bridge, the Castle Garden and many other essential sites, it provides an easy access to the charming old town of Óbuda and to the hiking trails of Kamaraerdő.

line nr. 56 Operates between Hűvösvölgy and Budafok. From the Törley factory to the hiking trails of the Buda hills in no time.

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tram line nr. 2