The lake turns into an ice rink in the winter.
The lake turns into an ice rink in the winter.
Vajdahunyad Castle in Budapest, Hungary. Photo by Flickr/RachelH_

An Awesome Tour In Budapest

Are you ready to explore a real treasure? If you’re in the mood for a mix of romance and mystery, look no further than  City Park in Budapest, Hungary.

This 200-year-old patch of land is home to an enchanting castle, a boating lake, museums, a well-kept green area and a scattering of fantastic restaurants.

City Park is easily accessible from many directions. By public transport, the easiest way to get there  is via the Heroes’ square stop on metro line 1.

As soon as you emerge from the station, you’ll know you’re in the right place.. City Park was created with this exact aim in mind.

It was designed so that anyone in need of a quick break in an enchantingly romantic and gorgeous open space may be able to find just that at the drop of a hat.

The most romantic patch in the heart of Budapest

City Park has seen its strengths grow in the last 200 years. Its willows and plane trees, shaded walks, grand museums and buildings are sure to enchant visitors with a unique side of the Hungarian capital.

As they have done entire generations in their 200-year history; the sense of romantic enchantment that suffuses the air here is almost palpable. It would be a crime not to immerse yourself in it.

You’ll be pushed to find another place on earth packed with somuch beauty. City Park is home to Vajdahunyad Castle, a large ice rink in winter that becomes a boating lake in summer with an imposing building along its side.

The entire patch is surrounded by ancient trees, which effectively turns it into an island of sorts.

If you fancy a bite to eat you have plenty of options, whether you’re in the mood for something quick and trendy or leisurely and romantic.

There is everything from coffee to champagne.
Visitors can find all kinds of dining experiences in the Műjégpálya. Photo by Flickr/Didriks

Spots for a romantic dinner in City Park

A romantic evening here could be anything from a deep, intimate conversation over coffee to a lavish dinner, depending on your mood.

You are sure to find just the thing for you in and around the large building by the side of the lake (Műjégpálya  stands for artificial ice rink and is pronounced moo-yeg-pa-ya).

The building of Műjégpálya has housed a cafe since 1895, and its atmosphere still harks back to the era of its infancy in what is now the freshly and exquisitely renovated City Park Café and Restaurant.

This reopened to the public on September 26, 2013. From its terrace you may enjoy a grand view of Heroes’ square, with the Museum of Fine Arts and Műcsarnok facing each other on either side.

If you turn in the other direction, you’ll see the great plane trees of City Park. The restaurant can be an ideal venue for anything from a cup of coffee to trying turn-of-the-century era Hungarian meals.

From the restaurant, which nestles in the neo baroque style ice rink hall, you may also glimpse the splendid view of  Vajdahunyad castle, built especially for the Millennial Exibition of 1896 and depending on the season, the boating lake/ ice rink.

The City Park ice rink is Europe’s biggest and oldest functioning artificial open air sheet of ice. In the summer, it becomes a lake, much to the delight of visiting families, be they human or duck.

One of the sections in City Park Cafe and Restaurant is the Törley Champagne and coffee bar.

This opens at noon and offers everything under the sun that is or might have anything , to do with this elixir of the gods, both when enjoyed on its own, and when combined with any combination of palate pleasers.

The bartender, by the way, is a veritable fountain of knowledge of all things champagne, which he is apt to illustrate with samples of the raw stuff too.

Would you like to spend a romantic dinner in Budapest? Book a table here: romantic restaurant Budapest.

This is also where the ice rink is located.
Műjégpálya is where the cafe is housed. Photo by Flickr/Istvan

The Grand Hall

Visitors  also enjoy  the Díszterem (Grand Hall). Though it mainly houses functions, if you’re in the mood for a matchless view of Vajdahunyad castle and the ice rink/boating lake, ask staff to show you around.

They’ll be more than happy to oblige. The Great Hall was built in 1895, following Francsek Imre’s plans, and was fully restored to its former neo baroque glory in the course of the renovations. The Hall also doubles as a ballroom.

Another extremely important part of the building is the Fitting Hall, which is directly adjacent to the path encircling the lake.

As you step out of the building, you’ll see the spendid view of Vajdahunyad castle directly opposite.

If you’re happy enough not scaling the peaks of gastronomical heights, and would be content enough with enjoying uncomplicated but delicious fare by the lakeside.

Then TóTerasz Kávézó (Lake Terrace Cafe) is the option for you. It’s open from April to September every day of the week.

All staff in the building and the restaurant speak English and  menus are printed in multiple languages.

In the winter you can skate on the frozen lake.
Iceskating at Vajdahunyad. Photo by Flickr/Gabriel Hess

The history of Műjégpálya

The Műjégpálya in City Park was opened to the public on January 29, 1870 by Grand Duke Rudolf.

The idea of the ice rink itself was the brainchild of the Budapest Skaters’ Group.They applied to the city council to set up an ice rink on part of the lake in City Park every year.

The first ever skaters’ hall” here was a two-room wooden shack, which burned down in 1874.

After this, the city council approved the construction of a more permanent structure, which got duly built in a few years, following the architect Lechner Ödön’s blueprint.

In 1895, Francsek Imre Sr. had the building remodeled, and significantly extended in a neo baroque style. The lake itself had firmer banks built all around it.

WW2 saw Műjégpálya fall completely out of use, due to the degree of damage sustained.

The Hungarian Skaters’ Association and the Budapest Skaters’ Group made huge efforts towards its restoration.

From an architectural standpoint, the next significant event was the rink’s extension in 1968. The size of the ice sheet itself was increased , much to the delight of skaters.

The former glory of both the building and the rink was restored in the course of the great renovations, which began in 2010.

To sum up, if you feel like immersing yourself in the zeitgeist of 19th century Hungary, City Park is there to spoil you.

If You Go

Hungary Tourism Office

Gabriella BellaAuthor Bio: Gabriella Bella – Journalist, Radio News Editor
Hungarian journalist Gabriella Bella is the news editor and host of Hungary’s popular 89.5 Music FM’s morning show. She’s also worked in print media, where her main focus was culture and economics. Since 2009 she has had her own business, which deals with press conferences.

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