Christmas 2021 in Budapest: what to do, practical info and advice

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Lluis Enric Mayans

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Since Christmas is upon us, and it's time for gifts again, why not treat yourself to a holiday to discover the Hungarian capital?
December is the ideal month to visit Budapest, not only for Christmas, but also for the celebrations of Hannukah, the traditional Jewish religious holiday. Here is a detailed guide to organize yours Christmas in Budapest!


  1. The Budapest Christmas markets
  2. Girocittà on foot or by bus between the Christmas lights
  3. Cruise on the Danube
  4. Relax at the spa
  5. Light show at the Basilica of S. Stefano
  6. Ice skating
  7. Show at the Opera House
  8. Visit to the ruin pubs
  9. Shopping on Andrassy Avenue and Fashion Street
  10. Attending the Christmas mass
  11. Taste the typical specialties
  12. Which museums and attractions remain open?
  13. What means of transport are available?
  14. Climate in Budapest at Christmas
  15. User questions and comments

Covid-19 emergency: events, concerts and demonstrations could undergo last-minute changes due to the Coronavirus pandemic. We recommend that you inform yourself well about the situation of the destination you intend to visit before departure. If you are planning a trip, follow government guidelines and make sure you are in line with safety measures.

1 - The Budapest Christmas markets

When one thinks of Christmas markets, one usually imagines steaming glasses of mulled wine, colorful woolen hats and wooden toys. Certainly no one in the world would think they would find chicken testicles floating in a tomato sauce. Well, a similar experience can happen to you at the market in Vörösmarty square. We advise you not to miss this particular market (Get directions), open every day from November to the first week of January approximately from 10:00 to 20:00 (on some days the closing is postponed).

Do not despair, you can also taste other less "extreme" typical products, such as lángos (a kind of fried pizza), chimney cake and local sausages. Another rather well-known market is the one located near the Basilica of Santo Stefano, with over 160 stalls where you can buy cakes, sweets, handicrafts, mulled wine and traditional Christmas gifts.

2 - Girocittà on foot or by bus between the Christmas lights

When Budapest lights up for the Christmas celebrations, it's like it transforms! The city takes on unprecedented outlines and colors, especially along the streets of the center and along the Danube. With a tour on the hop-on hop-off panoramic bus you can enjoy the show and above all stop whenever you want, with stops between shopping centers or Christmas markets, and then go back up and continue the tour. With a guided walking tour you can experience a more intimate atmosphere, together with a guide who will tell you the thousand stories of Budapest!

3 - Cruise on the Danube

Music on board, romance, a dream panorama and a royal dinner will delight the most romantic. All thanks to an evening cruise on the Danube with a view of Parliament, for lovers of chic Christmas, rising from the cold sparkling wine while admiring the festively illuminated city on the river bank. Boats depart from the Szent István Park port.

4 - Relax at the spa

In Budapest, whether it's Christmas or any time of the year, you cannot miss a visit to the thermal baths, in particular to the Széchenyi Baths, which for the occasion are lit up for the occasion. The ideal is to purchase a 1-day priority pass which includes skip-the-line entry and a 3-course gourmet meal!
The bathrooms, reachable by public transport in 22 minutes from the center (you leave with the S70 train from Budapest-Nyugati Railway Terminal up to Rákosrendező, then walk in a few minutes to the Teleki Blanka utca stop and take bus no. 74) are ideal for enjoying a day soaking in a very hot common pool, to literally "share" the emotions of the Christmas period.

5 - Light show at the Basilica of S. Stefano

St. Stephen's Basilica is truly a beautiful piece of architecture, but what makes it even more pleasing to the eye is the light show that is projected onto its facade.
You can observe religious stories and traditional fairy tales projected with colored lights, dazzling 3D animations, accompanying sounds, graphic illusions and more. If you are traveling with children, don't miss this experience. The light show takes place every half hour between 16:30 pm and 22:00 pm during the winter.

6 - Ice skating

There is no Christmas movie in which you don't see young people, children and families armed with skates, hats and woolen scarves dashing on ice rinks between pirouettes and ... some comical fall! If you want to be the protagonist of your film, go to Városliget, the city park, overlooking the castle to try your hand at skating and take unforgettable photos!

7 - Show at the Opera House

Designed by the famous architect Miklós Ybl, the Budapest Opera House, completed in 1884, still retains the beauty and charm it originally had when it opened 130 years ago.
The imposing building has been the location of international films several times, and is today one of the most important treasures of the region. Every year it attracts thousands of visitors willing to admire its beauty. The best way to enjoy this wonderful place is by watching a show inside.
If you are a fan of classical ballet or opera, you can enjoy historical performances such as "The Nutcracker", "La Boheme", "Billy Elliot", "The Magic Flute" and "Tosca" during the Christmas period.

8 - Visit to the Ruin Pubs

For those looking for more intense notes, we recommend a tour of the Ruin Pubs, pubs made from old premises and buildings in ruins, with a unique charm that only a city like Budapest can offer!
Szimpla Kert, in the Jewish quarter, was the first ruin pub to open in the city, while Ankert in the 6th district is famous for its themed nights throughout the week. There are more than a dozen ruined bars scattered around Budapest and special tours are often organized to allow revelers to experience the city while tasting local wines and Unicum (herbal liqueur). A 2 hour tour of the best ruin pubs can be enough to get in full contact with the atmosphere of the place!

9 - Shopping on Andrassy Avenue and Fashion Street

Shopping in Budapest during the winter is a magical experience. Not only can you browse the best boutiques, but also immerse yourself in the Christmas spirit on the beautifully decorated boulevards.
Andrassy Avenue and Fashion Street the most popular shopping streets at any time of the year.
Stretching between Heroes' Square and Elizabeth Square, Andrassy Avenue is home to luxury stores such as Gucci, Ralph Lauren, Louis Vuitton, Burberry and Rolex to name a few. Covered by thousands of lights, the tree-lined avenue comes alive during the winter months, offering many Christmas-themed attractions.
Equally fascinating is Fashion Street, which leads to Vörösmarty Square. The bustling street has become a huge tourist attraction thanks to its displays and installations, which help make the winter season that little bit more special.
The shops here are generally open from 10am to 00pm.

10 - Attending the Christmas mass

Obviously, it is also possible to attend the Christmas Mass in Budapest. Each district has several churches, but to enjoy a unique and special celebration, we suggest exceptional "locations". Choose one of the most beautiful churches in Budapest, such as St. Stephen's Basilica (Get Directions), Matthias Church (Get Directions), St. Elisabeth's Church (Get Directions), Kőbánya Church (Get Directions) or the Queen of the Rosary Parish (Get Directions) ).

11 - Taste the typical specialties

Hungarian families usually gather at home on Christmas Eve to eat traditional Christmas dishes, such as fish soup, the stuffed cabbage, the stuffed roast (generally turkey stuffed with chestnuts), and of course sweets like bejglit (roll of dough stuffed with a poppy seed filling) or the zerbó cake (stuffed with jam and nuts.). To accompany the meal there is no shortage of traditional wines such as Kadarka or Tokaji aszú. during your vacation, do not miss to taste these tasty specialties.

Which museums and attractions remain open?

Unfortunately, most of Budapest's shops, restaurants, museums and attractions are closed on Christmas (December 25), Boxing Day (December 26) and New Year (January 01).

However there are some attractions that remain open, albeit with some limitations in the hours, among these we mention the main spas such as the Széchenyi Baths or the Gellért Baths, major churches like the Basilica of Santo Stefano and the Matthias Church (in which religious functions are held) and some entertainment areas such as the Christmas markets, the skating rinks, the Budapest Ferris wheel, the Zoo, etc.

What means of transport are available?

In the days of 24/25/26 December, public transport services are regularly guaranteed, and operate according to the holiday schedule. On some special days, for example on New Year's Eve, the night services are even intensified and the hours extended. The metro lines that affect the historic center remain operational throughout the holiday period, and parking in public rest areas becomes free in the evening from the end of December until New Year's.

  • Recommended solutions: getting around budapest is simple, you can reach any place by metro or bus. The single fare costs € 1,20
  • Useful passes and cards: We recommend the purchase of the Budapest Card, with transport, 30 attractions and tours included

Climate in Budapest at Christmas

During the holiday season, the climate is cold and dry in Budapest. Average temperatures fluctuate between a minimum of 0 ° C and a maximum of 3 ° C and rainfall is not very frequent. It is possible that snowfalls may occur, but these are hardly abundant. So for your trip, you just need to bring classic winter clothing.

Christmas Offers in Budapest: Flight + 4 nights in Hotel

  • Return flight to Budapest from € 59,00 -
  • 4 nights in Hotel from € 174,00 per room -
  • Flight + hotel package:
    Return flight + 4 nights / 5 days in 3/4 star hotel from 23 to 27 December - from € 292,00 per person - see the offer

Tickets, tours and bookable activities

We propose some activities and tours to do in Budapest. Click on the tour you are interested in for more information or to book.

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