The Hungarian capital is teeming with tinkling market stalls and majestic architecture, so you’ve really got it all at your fingertips during a Budapest Christmas market break. Enjoy a cup of mulled wine, a bite of sweet chimney cake and a dash of festive cheer.
We have hand-picked the best Christmas markets in Budapest for you. When visiting the city, you don’t want to miss:
- Christmas market by St Stephen’s Basilica
- Vörösmarty Square Christmas market
- Óbuda Christmas Market
Let’s see them and all the necessary information you need to have before you plan your break.
Best Christmas markets in Budapest
Christmas market by St Stephen’s Basilica – the 2nd Best Christmas market in Europe
Set in the most stunning part of Budapest, St Stephen’s Basilica’s Christmas Market is the one not to miss. At half past 5 from Monday to Sunday 3D festive lights are projected on the walls of the Basilica with accompanying melodies. From last year on 3D glasses with which you can view the animation are available on the market. (The show can be enjoyed without wearing 3D glasses.)
Enjoy a (unique) mug of mulled wine alongside with roasted chestnut and warm and hearty street foods (beyond sausages) and enjoy the lights and the flavors.
The market opens 23rd November and remains open until 1st January 2020.
Mon – Fri: 11:00 – 22:00,
Sat – Sun: 10:00 – 22:00,
December 24.: 10:00 – 14:00
December 31.: 10:00 – 22:00
Skating Rink at the Budapest Basilica Christmas Market
Enjoy the artificial skating rink right in the middle of the Christmas Market at the Basilica in Budapest downtown. Skating courses also available every Friday, Saturday and Sunday. The age range of the course is 4-14 year old children. The price is not a question: they may join the free skating training on the nicely decorated rink at the center of the market.
Size of Skating Rink: 200 square meters
Entry Fee: Free of Charge for Kids aged 4 – 14
Opening Hours: daily (weekend skating classes scheduled, see below)
From the beginning of the Basilica Advent market, you can use the skating rink.
Skating Class Hours: Friday from 2-8 pm, Saturday from 10am-6 pm and Sunday from 10am-6 pm.
Free Skating Classes for children aged 4 – 14 years old. Wrap them up in warm clothes and let them enjoy the Advent Market in Budapest!
Vörösmarty Square – Christmas Market on a Classy Promenade
Considered one of Europe’s best as well, Vörösmarty Square Christmas Market is embellished with nativity scenes, handicrafts and a giant Christmas tree. Wandering the stalls is a feast for the senses, as the scent of cinnamon drifts from steaming cups of wine while you enjoy warm Hungarian honey cookies.
The Vörösmarty Square Christmas market is the oldest and richest of all the Christmas markets in Budapest. The Crafts Market is open from 9th November all the way to 29th December after which the food stalls remain open until 1st January 2020. There are about 100 stalls waiting for you to visit them, set around the Christmas tree that is decorated with different colours each year. From goulash to grilled sausages there is an endless selection of local food you can enjoy. Not a surprise that the market puts a great emphasis on food and wine which is truly Hungarian way to celebrate the Festive season.
The market is free to visit and it is open daily from 10 am to 8 pm.
Special opening hours apply on the following days:
Dec 24: 10:00 – 14:00
Dec 25: 10:00 – 18:00
Dec 26: 10:00 – 18:00
Dec 31: 10:00 – 22:00
Jan 1: 14:00 – 22:00
Location: Vörösmarty tér, district V., M1 underground (yellow line), M1, M2, M3 metro lines: Deák tér station or tram 2 Széchenyi tér stop: a couple of minutes walk from both stops.
Óbuda Christmas Market – away from the tourists
The Advent Fair in Obuda (Old Buda) is a lesser knownbut beautiful Christmas Market in Budapest held during the Advent weekends, where you will find lots of locals but very few tourists. So, if you prefer to visit off the beaten track, secret Budapest events, non-touristy places on your Budapest visit, head to Old Buda by the Arpad Bridge on the Buda side.
While most tourists and locals flock to the Christmas Market on Vorosmarty Square, or to the St Stephen’s Basilica Christmas Market, both in the heart of Budapest, many locals will head to the Christmas market in Old Buda (District III of Budapest) to avoid the crowds, tourists, and feel the Advent market atmosphere as if visiting the Fair in a small town.
The historical Fo Square in Obuda definitely has a small town feeling and is well worth the detour to join the Christmas events and activities, especially if there is a superb concert given by one of the best Hungarian bands. There are special programs (concerts, puppet shows, etc.) at the 4 Advent weekends. The programs usually start after 1 pm and are until 6-7pm.
Free ice-skating rink
An artificial skating rink awaits visitors at the Advent market in Obuda. You can use it free of charge. Skates can be rented at a very affordable price (approx. HUF 600 for adults and HUF 400 for children)
Browse and buy some handcrafts at the Obuda Christmas Market.
Monday – Thursday 2pm – approx. 9 pm
Friday – Sunday 10am – approx. 10 pm
Closed on Dec 24
Óbuda is the old part of Buda town established by the Romans as a border town. Aquincum, the Roman ruins of Old Buda can still be seen, and its museum is worth a visit if you like history, antiquity and the Roman era. It takes approx, 20-30 min to get to the Xmas Fair in Obuda from the city center of Budapest. The Christmas Market will take place in the nice Main Square (Fő tér) of Obuda, which is a short ride from downtown Budapest.
What can I buy as a Christmas gift in Budapest?
There are many gifts you can take home from Budapest from your Christmas visit or winter holiday in Hungary. Some of the Hungarian Christmas gifts or souvenirs from Budapest could easily be bought at any of the Christmas fairs in Budapest, e.g. handcrafted bags, jewels, Christmas mugs, or handmade Christmas tree decor, traditional Hungarian chocolates, like the Christmas fondant candy in Hungary (szaloncukor), a roll of Beigli (sweet cake roll with walnut, poppyseed or chestnut, from the best Budapest confectioneries), etc. You can also visit the Budapest Central Market (not open during the Christmas holidays and on Sundays), or look at the Budapest Shopping Map for more ideas and information.
What to drink at Budapest Christmas markets?
The staple drink of winter in Budapest is the mulled wine with soul-warming spices. Typically, it’s made of red wine, but you can find the white version of it as well. Be careful and try to get the kind made of higher quality wine. When it is cold you might feel like sending down something even stronger. There are two kinds of Hungarian shots. For those who don’t mind the bitter herbal taste, try Zwack Unicum made of more than 40 kinds of herbs, made since 1790. There’s a lighter version of it made with plums, the Unicum Szilva if you like sweeter notes.
What to eat at Christmas markets in Budapest?
Alongside mulled wine chimney cake (kürtős kalács) is a true Hungarian legend that makes people addicted for hundreds of years. Chimney cake has a perfect crisp exterior and a soft inside making the most delicious dessert for the cold winter evenings. What’s even better it is coated in cinnamon and sugar.
Winter weather in Budapest
The weather is cold in Budapest in December, often with chilly winds, temperatures below zero degrees Celsius (0°C). December and January can be both cold and snowy. While the snow gets quickly cleaned up, it can be about 15 cm thick in the parks or more, which is ideal for those who love snow, or have children to enjoy building snow men. The average temperature is between -1°C and +4°C in Dec, and Jan traditionally gets colder with an average temperature of -4°C and +1°C in Jan.
What to pack for visiting Budapest in December?
A very warm jacket, a chunky scarf, a hat and some warm gloves are crucial besides making sure you wear plenty of layers. You’ll move around a lot spending time outdoors and it may be freezing on the streets and you always want to keep warm. However, in museums and cafes you will want to lose some layers and feel nice and cozy. Your packing list should include your essentials for winter conditions:
- Long sleeve jumpers
- A very warm coat
- Hat or beanie with a warm scarf
- Warm shoes or boots
Christmas Eve and Christmas Day celebration in Hungary
Before 24 December, people decorate their houses and start cooking and baking. It’s 24th December when people start decorating the tree with colourful ornaments and put the wrapped presents under it. As opposed to most European countries, in Hungary gift-giving happens on Christmas Eve when young children are waiting for the arrival of Baby Jesus. The family exchanges gifts after dinner and after singing carols around the tree.
On Holy Night, Hungarians listen to holiday songs such as “Silent Night” and sing or attend Christmas mass. As an old tradition we also burn candles on the Advent wreath during the four weeks before Christmas, lighting up one more new candle each Sunday.
Do Christmas opening hours differ from standard opening times?
They do, so please consider the below information before making your plans:
- Dec 24: Most things are closed in the afternoon and evening on Dec 24, with a few exceptions. The morning opening hours on the day of Christmas Eve are generally as usual in most places in Budapest, up until noon or 2 pm.
- Dec 25: Most things are still closed on Christmas Day on Dec 25, with a few exceptions.
- Dec 26: Many places, like restaurants, are back on track with the Sunday opening hours on Dec 26, but museums are still typically closed on this day.
Budapest has many beautiful Christmas markets – in facts, it has some of the best ones in Europe! The Christmas market by St Stephen’s Basilica was chosen the 2nd best Christmas markets in Europe.
Budapest is thought to be a “cheap” destination, but this, of course depends on your needs. The city is more affordable than most European cities, offering a very wide variety of fun things to do to the budget traveler as well as the luxury jet-setter.
Most Christmas markets in Budapest start mid to end of November and open until the beginning of January.
Some of the Hungarian Christmas gifts or souvenirs from Budapest could easily be bought at any of the Christmas fairs in Budapest, e.g. handcrafted bags, jewels, Christmas mugs, or handmade Christmas tree decor, traditional Hungarian chocolates etc.
Alongside mulled wine, chimney cake (kürtős kalács) is a true Hungarian legend that’s made people addicted for hundreds of years.
Budapest’s best Christmas markets traditionally are St Stephen’s Basilica and Vörösmarty Square Christmas market. These markets are loved by tourists as well as locals, however if you’re looking for something less mainstream, visit the Christmas market in Obuda which is less touristy and held every Advent weekend.
December and January can be both cold and snowy. While the snow gets quickly cleaned up, it can be about 15 cm thick in the parks or more.