The holidays and winter wouldn’t be complete with a few rounds around a scenic skating rink, and warming up afterward with a cup of hot chocolate or mulled wine! Budapest has some great places for a skate, all with skate rental, lessons, opportunities to rent rinks for parties, and a good time to be had by all. I think I’ve been to every rink in the city, since I started teaching my kids to skate when they were 3! Here are my Top 5…
- Városligeti Műjégpálya – Don’t try to pronounce it, just go! This is the biggest open-air skating rink in Budapest, in Hungary, and probably in Europe. It’s not just big – it’s the most stunning setting for a skating rink outside of Rockefeller Center. The imposing, newly renovated neo-Baroque building (built in 1893) greets you at the entrance to the City Park, adjacent to Heroes’ Square. Once you’re on the ice, you’re looking at the Vajdahunyadvár castle as you skate ‘round and ‘round. There are huts dotted along the edge with hot tea, mulled wine and other snacks, or you can step inside the vast changing rooms to warm up. Or pair your skating outing with a trip to the Szechényi Baths just a few minutes’ walk across the park! On Facebook (in Hungarian) at https://www.facebook.com/mujegpalya.varosligeti with an English website (which sounds like a poor computer translation but more or less comprehensible) at http://www.mujegpalya.hu/?lang_id=2&p=articles&articleGroup_id=6. Prices: entry is 1,200 forint on weekdays, 1,400 forint on weekends. Multi-session passes available. Skate rental is 700 forint for an hour, on up to 2,200 forint for four hours.Opening hours: Most days from 4 p.m. or 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. or 9 p.m. and mornings too. Check http://www.mujegpalya.hu/ on left-hand panel, or you can try the English version at http://www.mujegpalya.hu/?lang_id=2.
- The “Ice Terrace” (Jégterasz) moved this season to the Arena Plaza mall from WestEnd City Center, where they’ve built a go-cart track instead. The good thing about the move is that parking is free at Arena Plaza, and the rink is still outdoors. It’s in front of the old grandstand that once overlooked Budapest’s horse-racing track. The racetrack was located here until 2004 and the grandstand was preserved as a designated historic monument. The website is http://www.jegterasz.hu/, in Hungarian only, same for their Facebook page, https://www.facebook.com/jegterasz. (Do you know how to say “shame on you” in Hungarian? It’s pretty funny, “enjye-benjye” – just pout and say en-yeh ben-yeh!). Prices: 1,100 forint (adult) and 800 forint (kids) on weekdays, and 1,300/900 on weekends, with family discounts and passes available. Skate rental 600 forint for an hour, 1,800 forint for four hours. Opening hours: 8 a.m.-10 p.m, Fridays and Saturdays 8 a.m. to midnight with ice disco from 6 p.m.
- Óbuda Main Square – If you’re just looking to soak up some cozy neighborhood holiday cheer, try the tiny outdoor rink on the charming, little-known main square (Fő tér) of Óbuda. Skating is FREE here, from December 1st, with skate rental and a snack bar in the adjacent tent. During Advent, there will be a Christmas market on the same square. Think artisans offering traditional crafts – a VERY miniature version of the Vörösmarty tér Christmas market, and kürtőskalács, that irresistible fresh-baked sugared curly pastry…. No English information for this tiny rink, so I’ll put a link to a map instead. http://goo.gl/maps/ytEZ3. Prices: FREE entry, skate rental prices not listed on website. Opening hours: Daily 8 a.m. to 10 p.m.
- Marczibányi Sportcentrum: This rink is under a tent on Márczibányi tér, behind Mammut II mall and the Millenáris complex. It’s got a heated tent with snack bar and features lessons with a skating school owned by Hungary’s former Olympic figure skater, Júlia Sebestyén. I take the kids here after school, especially on Fridays, when at 6 pm they turn off the lights, turn up the music and the disco ball starts spinning, reminiscent of the rollerskating parties I went to as a kid… The website is http://marczibanyi.hu/en/skating_ice_hockey, but the English version of the skating part of the site has virtually no useful information apart from a link to a map (click on Contact). Prices: 1,650 forint for adults, 1,200 for kids, passes available. Skate rental is 1,200 forint for adults, 800 forint for kids. Opening hours: open skate most afternoons, all day Saturday and Sunday. Schedule (in Hungarian) is here, and open skate is “közönségjég” http://marczibanyi.hu/hu/korcsolyazas.
- Jégkert: I’m biased toward this one, because this is where my son plays hockey. It’s a tent-covered rink right at Széna tér opposite Mammut II mall. It has a tiny snack bar, but it does have a good and reasonably priced restaurant above it, which makes it a good option for a Sunday family outing or a child’s birthday party. They have ice hockey for girls and boys from age 6, and skating lessons for all ages. Not much of an English website here either but for what it’s worth: http://www.budaijeg.hu/hunice/app;jsessionid=D29EF1C6AB21B7016266CE0AE319A815?service=page/EnglishHome. Prices: 1,250 forint for adults, 800 forint for kids, family discount available. Skate rental is 1,100 forint for adults, 700 forint for kids. Opening hours: Unfortunately open skating times change every week. They’re marked in green on this timetable, so check before you go: http://www.budaijeg.hu/hunice/app?service=page/SimpleTimeTable.
Enjoy! Let me know if you want to know next time I’m out skating with my kids and we can go for a round together. firstname.lastname@example.org.