You’ve seen the Christmas markets, warmed up with mulled wine, and now you’re ready for more Budapestian adventures. I’m sure you’ve seen my list of skating rinks (http://wp.me/p1Mrmn-9V), but how about a sledding party? Cross-country ski lessons? Downhilling or snowboarding? For the latter you’d best venture outside the city, but here’s a list of fun snow-filled sports venues in Hungary:
Sledding (the Brits call it sledging or tobogganing, I believe):
The top spot in Budapest for sledding is Normafa. It’s near the top of János Hill, the highest in Buda (and hence all of Budapest). Take a sled – Hungarians are partial to the traditional wooden ones, but a plastic version will do – on bus 21 or 21A from Széll Kálmán tér or up Istenhegyi út and Eötvös út to Normafa. There’s a parking lot at the top, but it gets quite crowded on weekends so get there early! And you might want to use a four-wheel-drive if there’s freshly fallen snow. Then join everyone flying crazy-fast down the hill, using their feet, or other people, for brakes. Trudge back up to the top and treat yourself at the little huts to a
warm rétes (strudel), mulled wine or hot apple juice to warm up. Or plan for a nice lunch at the Normakert Vendéglő, http://www.normakert.hu/ (no English info).
You can cross-country ski in the forests around Normafa with ease! I do! If you don’t have equipment, don’t know how, or need a refresher, you can join XC ski pro Anna Bozsik and her colleagues for a session either up at Normafa (actually at Anna-rét field next to the playground). There’s a schedule here http://www.sifutas.hu/index.php (in Hungarian), and you could sign up for one of her weekend XC ski camps in Slovenia or Austria…
She also has her own shop, Thököly út 131/B. II/1. In District XIV., open Monday through Friday, 1pm to 6pm. Or do what I did, buy an ancient pair of boots and skis at a used ski shop like the one in Budakeszi (Admiral Sport Port, Fő utca 38, right next to the Pizza Porta restaurant) and then just hit the trails. Then when I went to Austria
for a downhill skiing trip, I tossed them in and in addition to downhill, I enjoyed the luxury of 100km of groomed XC trails that you’ll find at any Austrian ski resort…
Some, usually children, are brave enough to ski at Normafa. Or at least they have parents willing to help them back up the hill. There are several ski schools in the city, believe it or not, that teach kids how to ski on small hills covered with a special plastic rug. One is the Pasaréti Ski School, http://www.pasaretisiiskola.hu/index.php?nyelv_valaszt=en and another is Fogarasi, with three locations, click on Ski Courses at http://fogarasisiiskola.hu/. A third is Budapest Sisuli at Normafa, no English on site, though, at http://www.sisuli.hu/.
For weekends, though, head for the hills! There are two ski resorts in Hungary to choose from:
The Sípark (ski park) in Mátraszentistván opens Dec. 14, having produced 25,000 cubic meters of snow, for a snow depth of 30-80cm. It’s got 4 runs, and 5 lifts for a total of 2km of skiing and snowboarding. It also has a snow tubing run that’s open regardless of the weather since it has a special plastic coating. Mátraszentistván is about an hour and half east of Budapest, here http://goo.gl/maps/NKHoL. Day passes are 4,500 for adults and 3,500 forint for children until Christmas, and 5,500/4,500 thereafter, plus a 1,000 forint per ticket deposit. Rental and ski school available. On the web (in Hungarian, sigh) at http://www.sipark.hu/ .
The Nordica Síaréna in Eplény, near Veszprém, also opens Dec. 14 with 2 lifts open and skiing through 9 p.m. Altogether they have 7 lifts (including the one for the sledding hill), 16 runs and 4 sledding trails, as well as the longest continuous run in Hungary, 1.93 km. They also have a Freeski and Funpark, Hungary’s largest, with a jump appropriately called “BigAir.” It’s 115km southwest of Budapest, also about 1.5 hours, directions here http://siarena.hu/megkozelites-2/ and map http://goo.gl/maps/JrfJI. Tickets are by the hour. For example, a four-hour pass is 5,000 forint for adults and 3,900 forint for kids. Separate sledding tickets are available, 3,500 forint for adults and 1,500 forint for kids for two hours, which includes sled rental and use of the lift. Rental and ski school available. On the web (also in Hungarian only, sigh) at http://siarena.hu/.
Tired of the cold, but need to get out and move after that holiday indulgence? Well, as you may know by now, my favorite place for indoor fun is the extreme sports park called eXbox, where you can rollerblade, skateboard, climb, zipline, and Trikke around to your heart’s content! See www.exbox.hu (yes, it’s in English, because I translated it :)).
Enjoy the winter! Keep an eye on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/AdriKnows?ref=hl if you want to know when Adri(knows) is out skiing or skating with (or without, for that matter) her family!