By Paula Paredes
Christmas is a synonym for many wonderful things and one of them is skating! Whether you are an expert, like to skate once a year or have never experienced snow let alone ice before, ice skating is for everyone. It can be a great idea for a romantic but fun date, a nice afternoon with friends or a good place to take family visitors as well as a good way to take some fresh air! Budapest has a variety of ice skating rinks that range from kid-friendly to free entry ones, with the most popular being the one in the city park.
The most popular ice rink is the one located right in front of the castle in City Park. In summer, there is an artificial lake in front of the castle, but it is frozen in winter to give way to this fun and popular rink. Many tourists decide to spend an afternoon here, there are also loads of Hungarians: especially younger ones! The rink is brightly lit and music is played all the time, so, now you know what to do, call a group of friends and put on some skates!
If you have already tried the Szechenyi thermal baths or feel like having a refreshing experience, this rink is right next to the baths as well as Hero square. There is no better way to end your visit day than by going for a spin coupled with some mulled wine or hot chocolate! What is great about this place is that you do not need to have your own skates, so if you are a tourist, an Erasmus student or do not want to invest in them, you can simply rent a pair when paying for your ticket at the entrance.
Another iconic rink is the one in front of the Bazilika, easy to miss due to its size but always buzzing with kids. You will never see adults here because the rink is reserved for children under 14 years of age. This ensures that children can have fun in a safe environment while parents can enjoy the festivities of the Christmas market and still watch their kids. It is endearing to see how children have fun around a giant Christmas tree and to listen as their laughter fills the chilly air mixing itself with the smell of mulled wine, cinnamon and chimney cake! The amazing part of this is that the rink is completely free!
Another famous but not touristy place is the rink right next to the Balna shopping mall. Situated on the bank of the Danube, this rink is wonderful to admire the illuminated Liberty bridge as well as Gellért Hill. Surprisingly once again, the rink is completely free and therefore mostly locals bring their children and their skates to enjoy a Christmas afternoon. The rink can be enjoyed by people of all ages, with music being played after six in the afternoon. The proximity of the shopping gallery is very convenient if children are cold and families need to warm up with some seasonal drinks. It is worth noting that the rink has a maintenance break between two and three in the afternoon.
Overall, even if small in sizes, Budapest has everything you need when it comes to ice skating rinks to satisfy the dreams of tourists and locals who know where and when to go to which rink. The one near the city park castle is magical and considered to be the biggest while the others have a friendlier and more family-centered atmosphere: there is definitely a choice to satisfy every need!