What to Do in Winter in Budapest

Don’t let yourself be put off by the cold weather though as Budapest is far less packed this time of year, the prices are even more favourable than in the high season and there are some special winter activities that can’t be done at any other time.


Royal Castle Photo: David Lillywhite, Flickr


Obviously wearing plenty of warm layers is strongly recommended if you visit in winter but if you start to get too chilly you can always pop into any of the numerous cafés or bars dotted around the city center where you can warm up your frozen fingers.

Or, if you prefer, there are more than 200 museums with a wide range of topics awaiting you which will also provide a warm hideaway from the cold.

During the winter months temperatures can easily fall below 0 degrees Celsius (32 Fahrenheit), even during the day, but it rarely dips below minus 10 degrees Celsius (14 Fahrenheit).

In the last decade the amount of snowfall has been decreasing so unfortunately there is a smaller chance to be able to admire charming Budapest in its typical romantic winter scene with a crisp layer of snow.

Christmas Markets

In you visit Budapest any time between mid-November and the beginning of January, you can be part of some lively outdoor scenes thanks to the Christmas markets in the city center. With the festive illuminations and the decorated shop windows the city really comes into its own around Christmas.


Winter Illumination, photo: my friend Bús Mónika

Enjoy the holiday mood and keep yourself warm while lingering among the wooden market stands. The three most famous markets are located in the city center quite close to each other.


Winter Dishes Photo: Natures Fan, Flickr


Ice Skating

A remarkable winter activity is certainly gliding on the popular outdoor ice rink in the City Park (Városliget) just next to the impressive Heroes Square. The open air artificial ice rink is more than 140 years old and is overlooked by the spectacular Castle of Vajdahunyad, which provides a scenic background for the skaters.


Ice Skating in Városliget (City Park) with Vajdahunyad Castle in the background, Photo: Virag


You can rent skates in the neo baroque building next to the rink for a fee and a deposit, but be aware that the rink closes in the early afternoon.

Opening hours from mid November till mid February:

Monday – Friday: 9 am-1 pm and 5 pm-9 pm

Saturday: 10 am-2 pm and 4 pm-9 pm

Sunday: 10 am-2 pm and 4 pm-8 pm

Other sites close to the ice rink are; Millennial Monument on Heroes Square, Museum of Fine Arts (lately closed because of renovation), Kunsthalle (Műcsarnok), Vajdahunyad Castle, Zoo and Széchenyi Bath

Thermal Baths

After the active ice skating in chilly weather who wouldn’t want to submerge themselves into hot thermal water and enjoy a more passive indulgence? In this case the most feasible option is Széchenyi Bath as it is a short 5 minute walk away from the ice rink.

It’s pretty amazing to sit in one of the outside pools when the temperature is low and the hot thermal water is steaming around you. Somehow it has a magical mystical charm and if you are lucky snowfall gives added value to the extraordinary experience.


Széchenyi Bath in Colder Weather, Photo: Andy Nugent, Flickr



Széchenyi Bath with Snow, Photo: Philip Clifford, Flickr


Gellért and Rudas baths are also good options to get acquainted with local bathing culture.

Don’t forget your bathrobe, or to rent one, if you are one who feels the cold, as in some baths you have to walk a few meters in your swimsuit in the open air before you can plunge into some of the hot pools. Plastic sandles or flip flops are also recommended in winter time.

In Rudas a bathrobe or a bigger towel may come handy even more so as you have to take a few steps outside to reach the rooftop pool that offers an amazing view. It would be a pity if you missed out on that pool because of the chilly weather.

The thermal baths are open 365 days a year.  Here you can read more about my three favourite ones.

Concerts, Ballet, Opera and Theater Performances in Winter Mood

In the Hungarian State Opera (Andrássy út 22) it is traditionally the Nutcracker ballet with the wonderful music of Tchaikovsky that is on almost every evening in December as well as some matinees. Book your tickets well in advance as there is a high demand for these performances.

On the first day of the year there is a New Year Concert held in the Opera House. It is best to book your tickets well ahead for this too.



Hungarian State Opera House, Photo: Miroslav Petrasko http://www.hdrshooter.com


For musical and operetta lovers I suggest checking the program for the Operetta Theater (Budapesti Operettszínház – Nagymező utca 19) for seasonal performances.

For those who prefer classical music, you should take a look at the program for the Franz Liszt Music Academy (Liszt Ferenc tér 8). This institution pleases not just the ears but also the eyes. The beautifully designed and lavishly decorated Art Nouveau building is dedicated to music. About Art Nouveau architecture in Budapest more info here.


Main Hall of the Liszt Music Academy, photo: my cousin Mészöly Nóra

Organ concerts in the always gloomy Saint Stephen’s Basilica (Szent István tér 1.) are held four times a week all year round. You can reserve your tickets in advance or buy it at the cashier before the concert.



Saint Stephen’s Basilica, Photo: Miroslav Petrasko http://www.hdrshooter.com

The Basilica is one of the most significant churches in the country and is exceptionally rich artistically. Reliefs, statues, paintings and mosaics decorate the third highest building of Hungary.



About the authors: Virág and János

Virág, a native of Budapest, and János, who’s been living in the city since 1997 are real fans of the capital of Hungary and try to awake the enthusiasm of others. They are dedicated to helping tourists to make most out of their stay.

Here you can read more about them: http://katonaapartments.hu/

Christmas Markets in the Center of Budapest

Christmas Markets held annually in the city center open in mid-November and end either on Christmas day or on the 6th January.

Vörösmarty tér

This is the most well-known Christmas market and has been chosen as one of the 10 most attractive Christmas fairs in Europe.



Chrismas Stands at Vörösmarty tér, Photo: Budapest Moments, Flickr


No wonder, the location can’t be more central, the decoration is very festive, there are two stages which host various events to entertain all ages, the merchants sell delectable products and the food stalls will enchant you with the seasonal scents and tastes.

On the stages there are varied performances, like concerts (folk, world music, jazz, blues, soul, etc.), held every day; at the weekend, from late morning till early night, and evenings only during the week.

Each year there is also a heated area for children interested in arts and crafts. These free activities are usually held on weekdays in the afternoons and during the weekends in the mornings (10 am – 1 pm) and also in the afternoons (4 pm-7 pm).

Every Sunday afternoon the candles of the huge Advent wreath are lit, a very festive way countdown to Christmas.

Visiting the market is also a great opportunity to purchase some festive presents for your beloved ones like jewellery, ceramics, books, CDs, DVDs, musical instruments, wooden and other toys, puppets, horn goods, calendars, graphics, clothes, hats, caps, bags, leather products, knives, glass products, decorations, etc. As well as being a good source for seasonal  and artisanal food products, like gingerbread, honey, artisan chocolate, artisan cheese, tea and fruit wines.


Christmas Market, photo: Budapest Moments, Flickr

If you’re feeling hungry, there are many food caterers offering delicious Hungarian and international Christmas dishes and other seasonal delicacies.



Food Stall, Photo: Kirk Siang, Flickr


You can taste the indispensable stuffed cabbage that’s one of the most common Christmas dishes in Hungary. Mangalica pork sausages, homemade filled Hungarian flat bread baked on an iron griddle and cabbage in a rye loaf are some other classic dishes that can be tasted here.

Alternatively, you can grab a lángos (fried dough) most commonly topped with sour cream and grated cheese, but there are many other versions for the topping.

Another festive snack not to be missed are roast chestnuts.

For the sweet-toothed I suggest kürtőskalács (chimney cake) baked and caramelized above charcoal fire. The glazed surface is crunchy and the dough underneath is fresh, soft and warm.

Although it can be bought all year round, the seasonal flavourings, like ginger or poppyseed-raisin, will bring you into a festive mood.


Chimney Cake (Kürtős kalács) Photo: Simon Q, Flickr

For a winter warmer try a strawberry wine, cherry grog or the traditional mulled wine.

The Christmas fair on Vörösmarty tér isn’t just about enjoying food and drink and buying gifts but also provides an opportunity to make donations to those in need. Look for the charity booth if you are interested in donating.

For further information a tourist information point is set up with printed materials and the staff speak foreign languages.

How to get there

Vörösmarty tér is a 5 minute walk if you head north from our apartments on Váci utca.

From the Castle district on Buda side take bus 16 and get off at the terminal (Deák tér).

From Heroes Square and Széchenyi Bath take metro no. 1 until the terminal (Vörösmarty tér).

If you are on the Pest side next to the river Danube, take tram no. 2 and get off at Vigadó tér stop.

St Stephen’s Basilica

This Christmas market is held in front of the St Stephen’s Basilica (Szent István tér).

The facade of the Basilica gives an amazing backdrop for the market and set up in the middle of the square there is usually an ice skating rink for children.


Christmas at Basilica, photo: Kirk Siang, Flickr


Almost every evening there is an Advent or Christmas concert held in the church that helps to put you in the festive mood.



Gingerbread, Photo: Budapest Moments, Flickr


How to get there

Szent István tér is a 10 minute walk from our apartments heading north.

From the Castle district on Buda side take bus 16, get off at the terminal (Deák tér) and cross Erzsébet tér.

From Heroes Square and Széchenyi Bath take metro no. 1 until Deák tér stop and then cross Erzsébet tér.

If you are on Pest side next to the river Danube, take tram no. 2 and get off at Széchenyi István tér stop. Walk along Zrínyi utca and the Christmas market will be at the end of the street.

Bálna Cultural and Commercial Center

There is a third Christmas market held in Bálna, a cultural and commercial center on Pest side next to the Danube shore between Petőfi and Szabadság bridges. (Address: Fővám tér 11-12. ) This is the smallest one.

Bálna offers cultural programs, concerts, art galleries and a marketplace all year round.

In wintertime, each Sunday, a market called Antik Placc is held in the building where antiquarians and designers sell their products. It’s an indoor event accompanied by concerts and different activities for children and adults.

Gingerbread City is a contemporary Christmas statue. Anyone who is willing to participate in this social art can reserve a plot, and exhibit his / her own home made gingerbread building to the public by placing it on its plot at the city building reception. The illuminated Gingerbread City is open usually from mid-December till the end of January and the entrance is free.



Photo: Zsolt Madarász (2015




Photo: Zsolt Madarász (2015)


There is also an ice skating rink set up on the terrace of Bálna which has a great view of the river Danube, the bridges and Gellért Hill.

How to get there

Bálna is a 10 minute walk from our apartments heading south. Walk downstream along the river Danube and you will arrive at Bálna just after the green Szabadság-híd (Liberty Bridge).

You can also take tram no. 2 that runs along the river on Pest side. Get on at Március 15. tér and get off at Zsil utca (2 stops). It’s easy to spot the tram at this time of year as it is lit with Christmas lights and takes passengers between its two terminals Jászai Mari tér and Közvágóhíd.

From Heroes Square and Széchenyi Bath take metro no. 1 until Deák tér stop. There change to metro no. 3 and get off at Kálvin tér stop. Walk for about 5 minutes towards the green Szabadság-híd (Liberty Bridge) and then turn left and after a short walk Bálna will be in front of you.

If you are on Pest side next to the river Danube, take tram no. 2 and get off at Zsil utca stop.

About the authors: Virág and János

Virág, a native of Budapest, and János, who’s been living in the city since 1997 are real fans of the capital of Hungary and try to awake the enthusiasm of others. They are dedicated to helping tourists to make most out of their stay.


Here you can read more about them: http://katonaapartments.hu/

Which Bath to Choose in Budapest?

Visiting any of the baths is a great way to get fresh and well again after all the walking you do while sightseeing in our fabulous capital. You just can’t beat this type of relaxation.

If you have never been to any of the baths in Budapest, there are three that I would highlight to learn more about the Hungarian bath culture.
Rudas, Széchenyi and Gellért, all three have unique features and will surely be memorable. If you have already been to these three baths you should visit some others, like Veli Bej and Király.



Lobby of Gellért Bath, Photo: Miroslav Petrasko http://www.hdrshooter.com


General Rules and Procedure

Different baths have different rules and procedures. I’ve collected some that are probably common to all baths.

The prices and the services available are displayed in English at the entrance. In some baths the hosts and hostesses will give you a hand.

In most baths you will receive a ‘wrist watch’ to wear which will grant you access into the baths as well as being a ‘key’ to your locker, which magnetically locks and unlocks.

If you are a rather bashful type you can choose the individual changing cabins instead of the shared locker rooms. The changing cabins are more private and comfortable but cost a bit more.

Before entering the pools showering is obligatory and, also, a step through a foot bath is required.

Shooting photos in baths is not allowed.

What to Pack

– Bathing suit/swimming trunks – Anything from speedos to board shorts for men and bikinis or one piece outfits for women.

– Flip-flops or plastic sandals – Not required, but advised as you have to walk between the pools some of which may be outside.

– Your own towels – You can also rent towels but depending on the bath the rented ones are rather like bed sheets (bathing sheets) and their absorbency is almost zero.

– Soap and shampoo

– Plastic bag to pack your wet towel and bathing suits in after the baths

– Swimming cap for lap pools (for lane swimming) – They can also be bought on site or rented with a deposit. It is usually only the lap pools where it is obligatory to wear, so for bathing it’s not necessary.

– A bathrobe in colder weather may be a good idea as getting from one pool to the other in chilly weather is a quick dash without a robe especially when you visit the outside pools as well.

Rudas Bath

Who Should Go?

Rudas is primarily about relaxation. This bath is most suited to adults without children as the services of Rudas Baths cannot be used by under 14s. Those with children should choose either Széchenyi or Gellért or one of the beaches in the summer time, eg. Palatinus on Margit Sziget (Margaret Island). Here even just toilet trained children are allowed into the pools.

For the night owls I suggest the night bathing every Friday and Saturday night from 10:00 PM until 4:00 AM but unfortunately the sauna world is not available during this time.

If you plan to visit with livelier friends, I suggest Széchenyi. The Saturday night SPARTY is probably for you. (Continue reading below for more information on SPARTIES).

What Not to Miss in Rudas

The oldest and youngest parts of the complex are the most interesting ones: The 500 year old Ottoman octagonal indoor pool and the brand new roof top pool. In the latter, you will surely be amazed by the view; you can enjoy a soak in the warm water whilst watching the sunset and the lights of Budapest. You will even see the spectacular Parliament building from the rooftop terrace.


Octagonal Pool in Rudas Bath, Photo: Ted Sullivan


Roof top pool in Rudas Bath, photo: Virag

During colder months it may be a bit uncomfortable to get to the rooftop pool as you have to walk through the outside terrace.

In fact, walking around Rudas can be a bit confusing as there are a few zigzagged pathways and stairs but it’s worth it when you find hidden rooms like a steam room or a salt chamber. You definitely don’t want to miss those.

If you get a bit peckish during your visit, there is a very nice restaurant that serves gourmet food and lovely teas and coffees. If you go during the week between 11am and 5pm they often have a lunch time menu which you pay for as part of a ‘special ticket’ which includes both the lunch and your entrance. Ask us for the ticket during your check-in.

How to Get to Rudas

Rudas is only just outside the city centre so it doesn’t take long to get there. From Ferenciek tere metro stop cross Erzsébet híd (Elisabeth Bridge) with bus number 7 or 107 (907 or 973 at night) and get off at Rudas Gyógyfürdő or you can walk across, it won’t take longer than 5 minutes, take a left at the end of the bridge and the bath is along the river front.

Warning about Rudas

The 500 year old octagonal pool covered with a cupola (a domed roof) is just for males only or females only during the weekdays (Monday and Wednesday and Thursday for males, Tuesday for females). The other parts of the bath can be used by both sexes during the whole week. For mixed groups the best time to visit is on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays so that all can enjoy the historical part of the bath.

Széchenyi Bath

Who Should Go?

Flickr-Thierry Kennes

Thermal Pool in Széchenyi, Photo: Thierry Kennes

The water of the bath is not recommended for children under the age of 14, although children can still enter Széchenyi. In the case of very young children and babies, he/she can enter the pools only if toilet-trained. However, your children will surely enjoy the thermal outdoor activity pool with a jacuzzi and whirlpool.

Have you ever thought about dancing in the pool? Does it sound weird? Well, on Saturday nights, Széchenyi is open for those who are looking for a special party experience in the hot water. These parties called SPARTIES are mainly suited to young adults but it’s definitely worth going there, whatever age you are, because of the amazing venue and the visuals. Check their timetable as the Sparties are not held every Saturday.

What Not to Miss in Széchenyi

Look for the elderly Hungarian men sitting in the water and playing chess. Quite an odd attraction of the baths but whenever I have been they are always there in the warmest outside pool on the right hand side.

You may not think it but it’s a fabulous feeling to sit in the hot baths outdoors in cold winter weather with the mist floating over the water and when snow falls this adds to the experience.

Also, I find the ornamentation of the lobby at the back side of the building wonderful; the whole building is filled with lots architecture of its time.


Lobby at the Back of Széchenyi, Photo: Virag


Lobby at the back of Széchenyi, Photo: Virag

How to Get There

Széchenyi bath (Széchenyi Fürdő) has its own stop on the yellow metro line (metro no. 1) and it’s not hard to miss as the building is bright yellow.

Other Sights in the Vicinity of Széchenyi

There are many other attractions near the bath which you could visit before or after you experience the baths such as Heroes Square (5 minute walk), Vajdahunyad Castle (3 minute walk), the Zoo (2 minute walk) or Műcsarnok Museum (5 minute walk)

Gellért Bath

Who Should Go?

This bath is suitable for everyone except babies. There is an outdoor children’s pool and a wave pool which are suitable for kids and the adults can enjoy the steam rooms and saunas. Note that the wave pool is only available through the summer months.

What Not to Miss in Gellért


Swimming Pool in Gellért, Photo: Carlos Espejo

The Gellért Thermal Bath built in a Secession (Art Nouveau) style opened its gates in 1918 so you can enjoy the beautiful architecture and wonderful Art Nouveau ornaments.


Thermal Pools in the Gellért Bath, Photo: Sergey Melkonov, Flickr





Lobby of Gellért Bath, photo: Sergey Melkonov, Flickr


Don’t miss the outside wave pool in warmer weather and the steam baths all year round.

How to Get to Gellért Bath

Take metro line 4 till Gellért tér stop or from Pest side cross Szabadság híd (Liberty Bridge) on foot and the bath is located within the building of the four star Gellért Hotel with the entrance on the Gellért Hill side. Gellért hotel is a rather grand building so it’s easy to spot.

Other Sights in the Vicinity

Like with Széchenyi baths, Gellért baths also has many other attractions nearby like the Cave Church (2 minute walk), Gellért Hill and the Citadel (15-20 minute walk up to get to the top) or Great Market Hall (10 minute walk) on the other side of river Danube.

Contact us: http://katonaapartments.hu/


These topics may also interest you:

The Amazing Metro Line 1 in Budapest is 120 Years Old

Your Shoes Were Made for Walking: Jewels of Budapest by Foot

Day trip from Budapest to Szentendre

Hungarian Local Food Products

About the authors: Virág and János

Virág, a native of Budapest, and János, who’s been living in the city since 1997 are real fans of the capital of Hungary and try to awake the enthusiasm of others. They are dedicated to helping tourists to make most out of their stay.

Here you can read more about us: http://katonaapartments.hu/

Your Shoes Were Made for Walking: Jewels of Budapest by Foot

I’m always eager to know what our guests experience during their stay with us, good or bad, and I’m glad to get constructive criticism as that’s the best way for us to improve.

This is what our previous guests, Vivian and Daniel from the US wrote to me after the holiday they had spent in our Apartment D in March 2016:

‘In terms of improvement, we only think that the website could include more information about the location of the apartment, for example, how much time it takes to walk to major attractions. When we initially found the apartment, we had no idea that its location was so outstanding. We think this would be very attractive for potential visitors to know!’

Indeed, Vivian and Daniel are right. So here I have included more details about major attractions near the apartments which previously were not on the website.

For each destination below the estimated walking times and the distance from our apartments are indicated in brackets.


2. Chain Bridge (14 minutes, 1.1 km = 0.68 miles)

The oldest and one of the nicest permanent bridges in Hungary linking Buda and Pest dating back to 1849. If you head from Pest to Buda, you will be facing the tunnel leading through the Castle Hill and the funicular railway, that takes you up the hill.

From Buda to Pest you will overlook the Gresham Palace, a gem of Art-Nouveau (Secessio) Style.

Take a walk over the Danube day or night to take in some of these views. I recommend starting on the Pest side as the views of Buda are awesome.

Chain Bridge with Rainbow and Parliament, Photo: my cousin, Mészöly Nóra

Chain Bridge with Rainbow and Parliament, Photo: my cousin, Mészöly Nóra

On Pest Side (Right from the River Danube):

3. Basilica of Saint Stephen (12 minutes, 1 km = 0.62 miles)

It’s the largest temple in Budapest. Take the lift or the stairs, if you’re feeling fit, up to the dome of this Roman Catholic church for 360 degree views of the city.


Sergey melkonov - Flickr Bazilika2.jpg

Basilica, Photo: Sergey Melkonov (Flickr)


4. Opera House (15 minutes, 1.2 km = 0.75 miles)

What a glorious building! One of its most admired features is the grand staircase as well as the auditorium. They will surely provide you a breathtaking experience with their unusual beauty.

Opera House, Photo: my cousin, Mészöly Nóra

5. Great Synagogue (7 minutes, 550 m = 0.34 miles)

This house of worship is the second largest Synagogue in the world, more than 150 years old and was built in an Oriental-Byzantine (Moorish) style. Major events and concerts take place here as well as accommodating the Jewish Museum.


Photo: Sergey Melkonov, Flickr

6. New York Café (18 minutes, 1.8 km = 1.1 miles)


Built in eclectic Italian Renaissance-style and opened in 1894, the New York Café won the title of “the most beautiful café in the World”.


New York Café, Photo: my cousin, Mészöly Nóra

New York Café, Photo: my cousin, Mészöly Nóra

7. National Museum (11 minutes, 900 m = 0.56 miles)

This neoclassical building houses permanent exhibitions about the history of Hungary and a collection of Hungarian scientific achievements and inventions. A priceless treasure exhibited is a coronation mantle which was stitched for the first Hungarian king, Stephen in 1031.

National Museum, Photo: Virág

8. Great Market Hall (12 minutes, 1,2 km = 0,75 miles)

The oldest and biggest market in Budapest where locals and tourists mingle. Buy fruit, vegetables, meat, fish, spices, local products, etc on the ground floor and in the basement.
For souvenirs and eateries visit the second floor. You can have a hearty Hungarian style breakfast or a lunch here.

Great Market Hall Interior, Photo: Virág

9. House of Terror Museum (24 minutes, 1.9 km = 1.2 miles)

The building used to be the headquarters of the dreaded Communist Political Police during the cold war times. Interrogation, torture and murder were rife here behind the walls. Now it’s a museum dedicated to two terror regimes, Fascism and Communism.

10. Parliament (21 minutes, 1.8 km = 1.1 miles)

It is Hungary’s largest and probably finest building that lies on the bank of the Danube. Take a guided tour and admire the magnificent interior and you will be amazed by its grace. Its stunning exterior can be viewed from a cruise boat or simply a stroll along the river, especially at night when it’s bathed in light.
Parliament, Photo: Virág

Parliament, Photo: Virág

11. Shoes at the Danube Memorial (19 minutes, 1.6 km = 1 miles)

A touching, thoughtful and an extremely moving monument dedicated to the Jewish people who were murdered at the shore of the river Danube in WW2 in 1944. I would suggested having a quick read about it before you go there.

Shoes at the Danube Memorial, Photo: Virag

On Buda Side (Left from the River Danube):

12. Rudas Baths (16 minutes, 1.1km = 0,68 miles)

Rudas Thermal Bath was built in the 16th century in the time of the Ottoman Empire, more recently a modern part was added to it. There is a variety of pools now as well as saunas and steam baths.
It is a delightful and relaxing place where you can unwind and watch the sunset over the Danube, from the rooftop pool, after a tiring day of sightseeing. The view of the city is spectacular from here.

13. Gellért Bath and Swimming Pool (19 minutes, 1.5 km = 0,9 miles)

The thermal bath is located in a splendid hotel building which opened in 1918.  It has a magnificent Art Nouveau style interior specific to the beginning of the 20th century in Hungary.

Inside and outside swimming pools, thermal pools, saunas, an ice bath, steam rooms and an outside wave pool are all sure to repose you.

14. Gellért Hill and Citadel (24 minutes, 1.6 km = 1.0 miles)

A hike on a lovely walkway uphill with a fair number of stairs and breathtaking views over the city await you. You can also choose the lazy option by taking a bus instead. It is best to do this when the weather is clear so you can really admire the views once you reach the top.

Gellért Hill and Citadel as seen from Liberty Bridge, Photo: Virág

15. Royal Castle (29 minutes, 2.3 km = 1.4 miles)

It’s either a steep climb up or  you can use the Funicular Railway that’s leaving from the Buda side of the Chain Bridge to get here. The architectural beauty of the Castle is scenic and gorgeous offering a glimpse into the city’s imperial past. You will find the view amazing and unforgettable.

Royal Castle, Photo: my friend, Bús Mónika


16. Matthias Church (29 minutes, 2.3 km = 1.4 miles)

The architecture is prodigious and the ceramic roof tiles are picturesque and you will be blown away by the interior as well. A combination of patterns and colours on the walls and columns are one of a kind and the stained glass windows are very pleasing to the eye. It is a great opportunity to get the chance to attend one of the many concerts here.

17. Fisherman’s Bastion (29 minutes, 2,3 km = 1.4 miles)

A magical place day and night  with a breathtaking view of the city and the river Danube. It is a very romantic spot for couples but can sometimes be a bit crowded but it’s worth it. Don’t forget to bring your camera.
sunset from Fisherman's Bastion

Sunset from Fisherman’s Bastion, Photo: my cousin, Mészöly Nóra

18. Cave Church (19 minutes, 1,6 km = 1.0 miles)

It’s an utterly unique Roman Catholic church in the Gellért hill that consists of a natural cave and an artificially created rock cavern system. During the Socialist times the state power closed the entrance with a 2 meter thick concrete wall and the cross on the top was removed. Since the political changes it can be visited again. Services are regularly held here.


Entrance of the Cave Church, Photo: Virág

There are many places to stay in Budapest, but our location is one of the best in the city. In addition to the nearby attractions listed above, we are also within walking distance from these two UNESCO heritage sites:

1. The view of both banks of the river Danube, the Castle District of Buda, and the area stretching from Petőfi Bridge, past Gellért Hill and Tabán, to Castle Hill and the Water Town on the Buda side.

2. Andrássy út and its immediate surroundings, like the Millennium Underground Railway Line and Memorial in Heroes’ Square.

When you stay with us, the whole city is yours to explore.

Please contact us for further information. We will be glad to help:



These topics may also interest you:

Art Nouveau Buildings in Budapest

Day trip from Budapest to Szentendre

A natural formation transformed into a hospital

Arriving at Budapest Airport -­ How to Exchange Money and Where to Buy Bus Tickets

About the authors: Virág and János

Virág, a native of Budapest, and János, who’s been living in the city since 1997 are real fans of the capital of Hungary and try to awake the enthusiasm of others. They are dedicated to helping tourists to make most out of their stay.

Here you can read more about them: http://katonaapartments.hu/

7 Curiosities about the Chain Bridge in Budapest


There are many wonderful sights in Budapest, loved by both locals and visitors. The Chain Bridge has become one of the most well-known symbols of Budapest and is an indispensable feature of the city and Hungary.

The Chain Bridge was built between 1839 and 1849 and was one of the most outstanding technical works of its era.

Not only was it one of the first permanent bridges across the river Danube, but it is recorded among the largest and most beautiful bridges in the world.
Chain Bridge and the Royal Castle

Chain Bridge and the Royal CastlePhoto: my cousin, Mészöly Nóra


I have collected 7 interesting facts and stories about this beloved bridge, but there are many more.

1. Origin of the Chain Bridge

The idea of building a permanent bridge over the river Danube in order to bind the two towns, Pest and Buda facing each other, derived from Count Széchenyi István. He was a theorist, writer and politician, and one of the greatest statesmen of Hungarian history.
In the winter of 1820 he was not able to cross the river due to the heavy ice breaking and so he could not attend his father’s funeral. This was the moment when he conceived the idea of a permanent bridge.

Ice breaking on river Danube, Photo: Fortepan, / Budapest Főváros Levéltár

2. Symbol of Burden Sharing

Right after its completion the Chain Bridge became a symbol of burden sharing, as no one was exempt from the payment of toll. In these times noble men had many privileges, but crossing this bridge was not one of them.

A pedestrian crossing from Buda to Pest or back paid one kreutzer. If the pedestrian had a load on his back he had to pay double, for a cow it was 3 kreutzers and for chariots it was 5 for a small one and 10 for a big one.

Around 1898 Chain Bridge with the customs houses, Photo: Fortepan / Budapest Főváros Levéltára. Levéltári jelzet: HU.BFL.XV.19.d.1.07.106

3. The Legend of Lions Without Tongues

Numerous anecdotes have been circulated about the Chain Bridge. The one best known is regarding the tongues of the four lion ornaments guarding the bridge at each bridgehead.
The sculptor had been mocked so much for forgetting to carve the tongues that it was said that he committed suicide by jumping into the Danube.
But in fact, this was not true and he was alive right up until the 1870s. The truth is that the lions do have tongues they just can’t be seen from the level of the sidewalk.



Lion guarding the bridge, Photo: my friend, Bús Mónika


4. A Joke

This can be heard from Hungarians quite often: If it rains the Chain Bridge can be pushed into the Castle Hill Tunnel so that the bridge doesn’t get wet.
The tunnel is in line with the bridge and connects it with the eastern side of the Castle District Area. They are almost the same length, the Chain Bridge at 380 meters (1246 ft.) and the Tunnel at 340 meters (1115 ft.)
This is where the joke comes from.

Bridge and Tunnel in one line

5. Apartments in the Tunnel

Would you actually think that there are apartments in the Castle Hill Tunnel? Well there are, the caretaker of the bridge and his family used to live there, but these days the caretaker just uses it as his office.
His tasks include traversing the entire length of the bridge several times a day to ensure that everything goes well technically and the traffic flows smoothly. Cleaning away any graffiti is also one if his duties. In addition to this, he is responsible for the maintenance of the 350-meter-long tunnel under Castle Hill. His office in the tunnel comes in handy as you can’t get much closer to your work place than that.

6. Chain Bridge on Currency

The Chain Bridge has been depicted on several Hungarian coins throughout history, most recently on the 200 Forint coin that was released in 2009.

Chain Bridge on the 200, Photo: Virág

7. No Vehicles on the Chain Bridge

The bridge is closed to traffic during the weekends of the summer months and on some ceremonial occasions. On those days it is only pedestrians and cyclists that are allowed to cross it. The Chain Bridge Festival is held on a weekend in late June and people can join diverse programs and activities on the bridge whilst admiring its surroundings.

If you have further questions about this or traveling in Budapest, please contact us.



These topics may also interest you:
Art Nouveau Buildings in Budapest
What (not) to bring with you for your Budapest stay
18 Suggestions for What to Do in Budapest in Rainy Weather
A natural formation transformed into a hospital


About the authors: Virág and János

Virág, a native of Budapest, and János, who’s been living in the city since 1997 are real fans of the capital of Hungary and try to awake the enthusiasm of others. They are dedicated to helping tourists to make most out of their stay.

Here you can read more about them: http://katonaapartments.hu/

5+5 Budapest Activities Guaranteed To Put a Smile on Any Kids Face

This carefuly selected list will surely convince you that it’s worth visiting Budapest with your kids both in sunny (1-5) and in rainy (6-10) weather.  Who else could give you the best ideas other than local parents such as ourselves.

In sunny weather

1. Special vehicles tour in the Buda Hills


Start your tour at Széll Kálmán tér and take a short ride on tram No. 61 to Városmajor.

From here take the cogwheel railway to Széchenyi-hegy (Széchenyi hill); it’s the highest peak in Budapest.

Change to the Children’s Railway which is operated by children. Kids aged 10 to 14 years old manage the traffic, operate the switches and signals and sell the tickets – they do everything except drive the train. It was originally set up in Socialist times where it was staffed by young pioneers.

Take the train (diesel or steam engine) four stops until János-hegy. The Erzsébet lookout tower offers panoramic views of the city and Buda Hills.

Finally take the two-way chairlift (libegő) system providing beautiful panoramic views along the way from János-hegy down to Zugliget. Bus 291 will take you to Nyugati pályaudvar metro stop. There change to metro 3 and get off at Ferenciek tere stop.


A busy day at Szépjuhászné stop, Photo: Gyermekvasút



Frieze left from Socialist times on one of the buildings of the Children’s Railway at Csillebérc stop, photo: Jo Peattie

2. Playgrounds


Your kids will be tempted by many great playgrounds in the city. Here are my favourites:

– Károlyi-kert: See my blog post The closest playground to our apartments for more information.


Playground in Károlyi Kert, photo: Virág

-Olimpia Park:

For more info please visit:

Olimpia Park – A great playground next to the Parliament


Playground in Olimpia Park, photo: Virág



Coolest and probably the biggest gungle gym in town with slides, Photo: Virág

-Also visit a smaller one in front of hotel Kempinski at Erzsébet tér.


3. Margaret Island (Margit sziget)


Margaret Island is an oasis for most locals. There are so many things to do there that you should allow at least half a day to discover it.

If you don’t want to walk too much you can rent bikes or a pedal coach for four at the southern entrance of the island. Also, a few hundred meters away from the southern entrance, you will find a fountain that plays music regularly.


Fountain on Margaret Island, Photo: my friend, Bús Mónika

About 50 meters from the fountain there is a very special playground that will also entertain your children for a while.


Playground on Margaret island, Photo: Virág

In the middle of the island lies a tiny zoo that is the home of domestic and even some wild animals under recovery. The entrance is free and sometimes they offer horse riding for a fee.

If you head further north along the island you can walk up the water tower which will reward you with a stunning view of the island and the city.

Also on the island is the Palatinus strand (beach) which has a dozen outside pools for the summer.

Just before the northern end of the island, hidden away, is a Japanese garden with a waterfall and special flora and fauna. You can also find a huge romantic rose garden full with flowers of vivid colours at the northern end of the island.

To go back to the apartments take bus 26 until Jászai Mari tér stop. There change to tram 2 until Március 15. tér.


Giant plane trees on Margaret island, photo: Virág

4. Gellért hill


The green leafy Gellért hill stands in the heart of the city overlooking the river Danube. It offers great hiking areas for families with kids. Your little ones will love the long slides that are close to Szabadság-híd (Liberty Bridge) and will be also amazed by the fortress on the top of the hill. The Statue of Liberty, which was inaugurated by the Soviet army after WW2, may also be of their interest. Most of all, the view will amaze the whole family.  Last but certainly not least, after this tour your kids won’t have problems with going to bed early :).

Not recommended with strollers as the hill is quite steep with many stairs.

To get there cross Szabadság híd (Liberty Bridge) and to come back to the apartments cross Erzsébet híd (Elizabeth Bridge).


Gellért hill, river Danube and Elizabeth bridge as seen from the Royal Castle, Photo: my cousin, Mészöly Nóra



Our daughter on a slide on Gellért hill, Photo: Virág

5. Zoo


The Budapest Zoo and Botanical Garden is one of the oldest in the world with 150 years of history. This amusement will surely be one of the highlights for your kids during your visit.


Mommy and baby in the zoo, Photo: my friend, Bús Mónika

The zoo can easily be reached using metro No. 1 from Vörösmarty square and getting off at either Heroes square or Széchenyi bath stop.

The Széchenyi bath and Vajdahunyad castle are just around the corner from the zoo so you could combine these three activities into a whole day out for them.


Skaters in front of Vajdahunyad Castle, Photo: Virág

In rainy weather

6. Tropicarium


Tropicarium awaits visitors with animals from all around the world such as lazy alligators, exotic reptiles, small monkeys, free flying birds, sharks and thousands of colourful fish species. The stingray petting pool is one of the highlights as well as a shark feeding once a week.

Tropicarium is open every day of the year as well as on bank holidays. It is located in Campona Entertainment and Shopping Centre, which is also where you will find the Palace of Wonders.

To get to Tropicarium, take bus 133 from Ferenciek tere in the direction of Nagytétény, Erdélyi utca and get off at at 11th stop Lépcsős utca.


Under the water, Photo: Tropicarium


7. The Palace of Wonders (Csodák Palotája)


The Palace of Wonders aims to introduce the laws of physics and the wonders of nature through more than 100 games in a visual, entertaining and exciting way to all members of family. It’s not simply an exhibition, but a physics play house. All exhibited games are interactive installations, so you are not only allowed, but encouraged to touch, feel and try all of them. Live physics shows are held daily.

To get to Palace of Wonders take bus number 9 from Astoria (7 minute walk from the apartment). Get off at Kolosy tér stop (10th stop direction Óbuda, Bogdáni út). Bécsi út 38-42 is a 4 minute walk from the stop.

Physics Show, Photo: Tamás Péter


Giant kaleidoscope, Photo: Tamás Péter

8. Aquaworld waterpark


The indoor adventure pool complex offers a variety of activities for kids: children’s pool, water slides, playground, playhouse, etc.
Every day a free shuttle service is available between Heroes Square and Aquaworld.


Aquaworld, photo: Aquaworld

9. Caves under Buda Hills


If you aren’t claustrophobic you can book a regularly scheduled cave tour which is guided by qualified caving guides. During some tours you often have to crawl, climb, scramble or creep but there are also tours that lead on paved passages.

To visit Pál-völgyi stalactite cave walk to Astoria metro stop (5 minutes from the apartment). Take bus number 9 to Kolosy ter (10 stops). Change to bus no. 65 to Pál-völgyi cseppkőbarlang stop.

With strollers and small kids I recommend Szemlő-hegyi cave.


Quite tight, Photo: my friend, Bús Mónika



This is also Budapest – stalactites, Photo: my friend, Bús Mónika

10. Miniversum

This special model train exhibition can be interesting mainly for boys. It’s located in the center of the city close to the Opera House. Take metro No. 1 from Vörösmarty square until the Opera stop or just walk from Katona Apartments. It will take about 15 minutes.

A great family program in case of bad weather


Miniversum, photo: Virág



My daughter on a raised wooden plank admires the model trains, Photo: Virag


For more rainy day activities please visit 18 Suggestions for What to Do in Budapest in Rainy Weather


If you have further questions or your kids have a special interest, please contact us. We will try our best to suggest different types of activities so you can have your very own tailor made trip. All feedback is welcome.



These posts may also interest you:
Arriving at Budapest Airport -­ How to Exchange Money and Where to Buy Bus Tickets
Which Bath to Choose in Budapest?
The closest playground to our apartments
What (not) to bring with you for your Budapest stay

About the authors: Virág and János

Virág, a native of Budapest, and János, who’s been living in the city since 1997 are real fans of the capital of Hungary and try to awake the enthusiasm of others. They are dedicated to helping tourists to make most out of their stay.

Here you can read more about them: http://katonaapartments.hu/

Three Day Visit Itinerary for Budapest

This is an extended version of our two days visit post: Two Day Visit Itinerary for Budapest

Day 1

Take a walk along Váci street, this is the main pedestrian and shopping street in Budapest. It is one block away from Katona Apartments.


Váci utca early morning, Photo: Virág


At the southern end of Váci street you will easily find the Great Market Hall. It is open from 6am Monday to Saturday but is closed on Sundays and bank holidays. It is definitely worth going there in the morning as you can have a Hungarian breakfast on the first floor.


Great Market Hall (Nagy Vásárcsarnok) Photo: Virág



Food stands on the first floor of the Great Market Hall, Photo: Virág


If you cross the Liberty bridge (Szabadság híd), either on foot or take tram 47 or 49 (one stop), you will reach the Buda side of the Danube. Here, at the foot of the Gellért Hill you will come accross the Cave Church.



Liberty Bridge, Photo: Miroslav Petrasko, http://www.hdrshooter.com


If you are tired:

Opposite the Cave Church you will find the Art Nouveau style Gellért hotel, here you can relax in the lovely thermal baths.


Gellért Bath, Photo: Miroslav Petrasko http://www.hdrshooter.com


To get back to your apartment from the Gellért baths take Metro Line 4 from Gellért tér to Kálvin tér. Our apartments are a 5-10 minute walk away from Kálvin tér.

If you haven’t run out of energy…

…and the weather is nice, you can walk up Gellért hill to the Citadel where you will see the  Statue of Liberty and can admire the amazing views of the city.


Statue of Liberty and the fortress, Photo: Virág



Admiring the view, Photo: Virág

If you walk down the hill on the other side, to reach Elizabeth bridge, you will find the 500 year old Rudas Baths. Here you can take a dip and relax after all that walking.

To get back to your apartment from Rudas Baths cross the Elizabeth bridge and in 10 minutes you will be back in Katona Apartments.


Elizabeth bridge at night, Photo: my cousin Mészöly Nóra

For the evening:

The Budapest Eye Ferris wheel is available in spring, summer and autumn and only a 5 minute walk from the apartment.

A 3 minute walk from the Ferris wheel is Saint Stephan’s Basilica. This is the most important church building in Hungary and also the third highest church in Hungary.

As seen from the tower of St Stephen’s Basilica Photo: my cousin Mészöly Nóra



Basilica, Photo: Miroslav Petrasko http://www.hdrshooter.com


Side door of St Stephen's basilica. Door-handle with fish motifs

Side door of St Stephen’s basilica. Door-handle with fish motifs, Photo: my cousin, Mészöly Nóra

From the Basilica, within 15 minutes, you can walk to the Parliament building, one of Europe’s oldest legislative buildings with its Gothic and Renaissance architecture. It lies in Lajos Kossuth Square, on the bank of the Danube.



Parliament, Photo: Miroslav Petrasko http://www.hdrshooter.com



Parliament, Photo: our guest, Daniela Tentis

Further onto the River bank you can find the Shoes on the Danube memorial honouring the Jews killed in WWII.


Shoes on the Danube Memorial, Photo: Virag


Take a walk back to Katona Apartments along the bank of the Danube and admire the stunning view. (About 20 minutes from the memorial). You can also take tram No. 2 to Erzsébet Bridge.


Day 2

To start the day cross the Chain Bridge and walk up the Castle Hill (about 30 minute walk from the apartment). Alternatively, you can also take the Funicular Railway or if you prefer public transport look for the bus No. 16 on Erzsébet Square.


Castle Hill, Photo: Miroslav Petrasko http://www.hdrshooter.com


Once at the top of the hill you can visit the Royal Castle (from the outside), Matthias ChurchFisherman’s Bastion and take a rest in the charming Ruszwurm Café (7, Szentháromság Street).

View from Fisherman’s Bastion, Photo: my cousin, Mészöly Nóra



Castle district area, Photo: my cousin Mészöly Nóra



Admiring the view, Photo: my cousin Mészöly Nóra


Afterwards you can descend to the spooky cave system that stretches under the castle district area. I have two suggestions for you:

If you are interested in Budapest’s 20th century history, visit my favourite museum, Hospital in the Rock (Lovas út 4/C). Click here to read more about it: A natural formation transformed into a hospital


An alternative program is a 1 km (about 0,6 miles) long walk in the Labyrinth (Úri utca 9). Be prepared for steep stairs and a temperature of 16-18 degrees Celsius (about 65 Fahrenheit) during the whole year. It might be a bit scarier than anticipated.

If you still feel like walking, take bus No. 16 back to Erzsébet Square and head north to Szabadság tér and take a look at the only communist statue left in the city, just next door to the US embassy.

In the evening

You can go for a stroll heading south from the apartments. If you follow Károlyi utca and then Kecskeméti utca you will reach Ráday utca. Here you can have a dinner in one of the many restaurants along this street.

Day 3

At Vörösmarty tér catch the Metro Line 1 to Hősök tere. Getting off here will bring you to Heroes Square where you can see its iconic statue complex.


Heroes Square, Photo: Miroslav Petrasko http://www.hdrshooter.com

Close to Heroes Square (5 minute walk) is Vajdahunyad Castle where you can take a romantic walk around the grounds and take in the various architecture.



Vajdahunyad Castle, Photo: Miroslav Petrasko http://www.hdrshooter.com


Round the corner from the castle is Széchenyi Baths, one of the largest spa complexes in Europe with a variety of indoor and outdoor pools.


Széchenyi Bath, Photo: Miroslav Petrasko http://www.hdrshooter.com


From Széchenyi Baths take 4 stops with Metro Line 1 until Vörösmarty utca stop (not Vörösmarty tér!) and visit the House of Terror (Andrássy út 60). It contains exhibits related to the fascist and communist dictatorial regimes in Hungary.

On the first floor of the building of Andrássy út 39 you can visit the former ball room, called Lotz Café. It operates as an impressive and elegant café with authentic 19th century atmoshere, decorated ceilings, chandeliers and numerous large guilded mirrors.

Another splendid 19th century building is the Hungarian State Opera House (Andrássy út 22). If you don’t plan to attend a performance, I highly recommend taking part in a short guided tour each day at 3 pm or 4 pm to have a look at the stunning interior.


Hungarian State Opera House, Photo: Miroslav Petrasko http://www.hdrshooter.com


To head back to the apartment from here take Metro Line 1 until Vörösmarty Square (terminal). From there, Katona Apartments can be reached within 5 minutes. We suggest you walk along Váci street.

If you prefer to walk from the Opera House, it takes about 20 minutes to reach the apartments.

For the Evening

You can take a nice walk in the Jewish Quarter (5 minute walk from Katona Apartments): Here you can view the Great Synagogue (from the outside) and explore this area to find the famous ruin pubs. You may also want to pay a visit to Gozsdu Court with its many cafés, restaurants, galleries and shops all within one complex.


Ruin pub from outside, Photo: my cousin Mészöly Nóra



Ruin pub from inside, Photo: my cousin Mészöly Nóra

These posts may also interest you:
Arriving at Budapest Airport -­ How to Exchange Money and Where to Buy Bus Tickets
Which Bath to Choose in Budapest?
Facts about the quality of Budapest’s tap water
Money Exchange and Budget in Budapest

About the authors: Virág and János

Virág, a native of Budapest, and János, who’s been living in the city since 1997 are real fans of the capital of Hungary and try to awake the enthusiasm of others. They are dedicated to helping tourists to make most out of their stay.

Here you can read more about them: http://katonaapartments.hu/