The first snow in Budapest for 2016!
After a few days of freezing cold weather, it has finally snowed properly Budapest. This winter has seen a little snowfall already in Hungary, but today the snow fell for most of the day covering the city and creating a great photo opportunity. There are plenty of photos online of Budapest in the snow, but having spent two winters here already, snow is not quite as regular as many people would think. As soon as I realised it was snowing, I grabbed my camera and headed out for the day. If you are interested in coming to Budapest during winter, this article will help you with finding what to do and where to go.
The best locations in Budapest for photographing when it’s snowing.
Budapest is full of incredible architecture. As you drive into the city, you transition between different areas. From the more rural areas or Hungary, you start to enter the outer areas of the city which are dominated by large, grey, very plain square buildings which were built during the communist period. As you get closer to the inner districts, the older buildings start appearing. It seems that almost every building in Budapest has been built to look more elegant and beautiful than the buildings around it. Needless to say, most streets in Budapest look good in the snow, but the ones with less traffic keep the snow better, and an empty road makes for a far more pleasing photo than a busy street. Typical tourist icons like the Bazilika and the Chain Bridge are great, but often it’s hard to find an interesting way of photographing these places as they can be very busy. I think the best thing to do when it is snowing is to just walk around the city and keep your eyes open. Something which never “popped” out before, might suddenly be very appealing because of the snow. The old Hungarian ladies in long fur coats now look a bit more in place, and finally… Budapest actually looks as cold as it actually is!
Budapest feels like a different city when it’s snowing.
I love being in Budapest, but winter can start to feel a bit repetitive. The sun (when it bothers to show) seems to set soon after I leave the house, my nose is often runny and I get tired of spending five minutes covering up with coats, hats and gloves. …First world problems, I know. But today felt a lot different. The vibe in the city felt different. You could hear tyres spinning every few minutes as drivers struggled to adapt to the new snowy conditions. Old people were grasping building facades as they walked along in case they slip. Young people however, were running and trying to slide a further distance than their friends. There was a large delay with the trams which resulted in an unusual amount of people waiting at my usual tram stop. There were shop staff sweeping and scraping the footpaths outside their shops, and one unfortunate lady driver who was brushing the snow off her car windows slipped and hit her car quite loudly with the brush! One thing which really surprised me was the lack of tourists out today. Most days it is easy to spot tourists and hear many languages as I walk around. But today as I struggled to stay upright whilst walking along the streets to take some photos of iconic landmarks, I didn’t see as many people as I expected. That’s fine with me, because today it felt that Budapest was mine for the day.
Tips for planning your weekend to Budapest!
If you live in Europe, traveling to Hungary should be relatively quick and booking accomodation in this day and age is pretty straight forward. Budapest is full of things to do and I think any time of the year is good to visit. Throughout winter, if you are thinking of visiting Budapest for a weekend, I recommend trying to organise a trip for when the weather forecast predicts some snowfall. This means organising flights ( or other transport) and accomodation at the last minute which can make some people nervous, but it doesn’t have to be! Plan your trip as complete as possible, with a few accomodation options and methods of getting there. Know what you want to do and what you want to see, how to get around, how to say a few words in Hungarian (Most people speak English at a pretty high standard anyway), and any other relevant details. When the forecast for Hungary does predict snow, you only need to select what’s available from your short list of accomodation providers and book your transport arrangements! If it’s anything like it was today, you will have Budapest all to yourself as well (well, except for me too)!
What to do in the snow?
Funnily enough, some of the best options are indoors. Sitting in a small cafe with a warm Cappuccino warming up your numb fingers is always good. But it is so much better when you can watch people pass outside the window, sliding on the pavement looking like they wish they were also in that cafe. Sounds a bit mean now that I think about it, but I’m sure you all know the feeling. For a really good experience, check out the New York Cafe, which is part of the Boscolo Hotel here in Budapest. I have been a few times, and everything about the place can only be described as “crazy elegant”! The cakes and treats are delicious and look amazing and the interior alone makes just being there an experience in itself. It sounds a bit crazy, but have a look at some photos of the New York Cafe’s interior and you will understand what I mean. Another option which is semi-indoors is the Buda Eye. You will have to find out if it is operating for when you are here, but it provides a great view and will give you 10 minutes to warm up your fingers a bit before continuing on your day’s journey.
On a side note, I refrained from running around the city yelling at the top of my voice “WINTER IS COMING… WINTER IS COMING!!!!!!” However, I do encourage everyone to use cliche Game of Thrones quotes where applicable. Maybe next time it snows I will make a “Winter is coming – Budapest montage” video. Would anyone want to watch that?