City guide

When is the best time to come to Budapest: month-by-month guide

Photo : We Love Budapest (stockphotos)
Belváros, Vörösmarty tér

Perhaps you want to experience a white Christmas and the joy of roasted chestnuts and mulled wine at the winter markets? Or maybe you prefer the fresh spring weather coupled with exploring galleries and ruin pubs? It could be the heat of summer and Budapest’s music festivals and outdoor venues you find alluring? Or perhaps the beautiful autumnal leaves decorating the streets and the new season of the opera make fall the perfect time of year for you? No matter when you come Budapest is magical, but if you’re still wondering which month is the best, this guide explains what to expect.

Average weather: High 2.9°C / Low -1.6°C
The best things about Budapest in January: While this is the coldest time of the year, there’s also the chance of snow, making it a great month for snow-lovers. Head to the Buda Hills to toboggan or go ice skating on the City Park Ice Rink. Hungarian folk music and dance venues are heaving with many “dance houses” where you can even join in, and if the weather gets too cold, a shot of the Hungarian fruit brandy Pálinka will warm you up.
Major drawcards:
– If you’re in luck see Budapest blanketed in snow
– Opera and theatre seasons are in full swing
Average weather: High 5.5°C / Low 0°C
The best things about Budapest in February: A number of craft markets and food festivals take place in February and the lower temperatures are perfect for mulled wine and trying heavier Hungarian foods like “harcsa paprikás” – a paprika fish stew, or “hurka” – a type of liver or blood sausage. You could also enjoy a romantic Valentine’s weekend in Budapest – perhaps a dinner-cruise on the Danube or a luxury weekend-away at the Four Seasons Hotel – Gresham Palace. While February can be cloudy and cold this can be pierced by days of brilliant winter sunshine.
Major drawcards:
– Various food festivals such as the fish festival and the mangalica festival
– Spend an unforgettable Valentine’s Day in Budapest
– The Carnival Season or “Farsang” is the period before Lent and is marked by loud and colourful celebrations that take place between January 6 and Ash Wednesday
Photo: We Love Budapest
Average weather: High 10.6°C / Low 3.5°C
The best things about Budapest in March: Everyone has a spring in their step with the first of the warmer days, although galleries and museums are still popular. In the cooler evenings, head to the opera and theatre at venues such as the Hungarian State Opera or the Palace of Arts. It’s also time to head outside on warmer days – perhaps spend a few hours at the Budapest Zoo and Botanical Garden.
Major drawcards:
– Memorial day on March 15 commemorating the 1848 Hungarian revolution
Photo: We Love Budapest
Average weather: High 16.4°C / Low 7.6°C
The best things about Budapest in April: The city springs into colour with spring festivals, blooming flowers and more and more outdoor activities. The city also gets lighter much earlier now. The Cherry Blossom Festival and the Japanese Garden on Margaret Island are blooming beautiful. April is also a great time to experience Hungarian folk traditions including painting eggs at Easter.
Major drawcards:
– Easter celebrations and traditions (Easter can be in March also)
– Spring festivals that marry food, wine and music
Photo: Arnold Fang - Flickr
Average weather: High 21.9°C / Low 12.1°C
The best things about Budapest in May: The warmer weather takes hold but beware an unexpected May rain shower. Enjoy a picnic on Margaret Island, take the chairlift up to the scenic Buda Hills, or climb Gellért Hill for a stunning view of the city. Take a look at our guide of some of Budapest’s best walking tours, and then, if you’re still not exhausted by night, go on a bar-hop of Budapest’s best ruin pubs.
Major drawcards:
– Spring festivals that marry food, wine and music
Average weather: High 24.6°C / Low 15.1°C
The best things about Budapest in June: Summer is finally here but June is generally not as hot as July or August, and beware – June is also one of Budapest’s more rainy months. This is a very popular month to come to Budapest and there’s no shortage of things to do. This roundup of Budapest’s best alternative tours offers some great ways to get to know the city. As a bonus many cafes and restaurants open their outdoor terraces and gardens, so you can drink a beer or fröccs and enjoy a slower pace of life.
Major drawcards:
– Festivals for pretty much everything like beer, fröccs, street-food and lecsó (a paprika and tomato stew)
– Great cultural events like Night of the Museums and the Danube Carnival
– Outdoor live music festivals celebrating a range of genres
Average weather: High 26.7°C / Low 16.8°C
The best things about Budapest in July: July is truly summer and, along with August, is the hottest month of the year. While many locals head away on holidays, the city is heaving with tourists enjoying the city. There are many outdoor evening performances, for example enjoy live music under the stars at venues at City Park and Margaret Island. It’s also a great month to sunbake or bathe in one of Budapest’s many thermal baths or pools.
Major drawcards:
– Hungarian Formula 1 Grand Prix
– Festivals for pretty much everything like beer, fröccs, street-food and lecsó (a paprika and tomato stew)
Photo: Széchenyi Bath
Average weather: High 26.6°C / Low 16.5°C
The best things about Budapest in August: August is a very popular month to come to Budapest with the Sziget Festival drawing tens of thousands of young revellers to the city. But during this hot month there are also cultural events such as the Festival of Folk Arts in Buda Castle. Hungary’s most important national celebration – its found day – also takes place on August 20 with huge fireworks over the Danube.
Major drawcards:
– Sziget Festival
– Festival of Folk Arts in Buda Castle
– August 20 celebrations including huge fireworks over the Danube
Photo: We Love Budapest
Average weather: High 21.6°C / Low 12.8°C
The best things about Budapest in September: September often surprises with an “Indian summer” when the weather becomes hot again after a cooler spell. There are many special programs on including the start of the new seasons of opera, ballet and theatre. Autumn festivals also begin. It’s a great month to try a beer bike because it’s still warm enough to drink lots of beer and not too hot to pedal! On a cooler day try the warm waters of Budapest’s thermal baths.
Major drawcards:
– Get an introduction to Hungarian horse tradition at the National Gallop Festival
Average weather: High 15.4°C / Low: 7.9°C
The best things about Budapest in October: Autumnal leaves make tree-lined streets and Budapest’s parks simply breathtaking. A great month to go on hikes in the nearby Buda hills. Also, get fresh produce and try Hungarian specialties at one of Budapest’s many markets.
Major drawcards:
– Oktoberfest beer festivals
– October 23 commemorations of the 1956 Hungarian Revolution
– Halloween
Photo: Szimpla Market
Average weather: High 7.7°C / Low 2.9°C
The best things about Budapest in November: While it gets dark much earlier (around 5pm) and it’s definitely coat weather, there can still be beautiful fall days in November. The opera and theatre seasons are in full swing and there’s a plethora of craft markets and night markets to help with early Christmas shopping. Indoor venues are a hive of activity, yet it can still be possible to sit on the terraces of cafes and restaurants on the nicer days.
Major drawcards:
– All Saint’s Day on November 1
– St. Martin’s Day on November 11 is celebrated with festivals. Many consider that this is the best time of year to eat goose so many restaurants have goose specials. 
– Celebrations around the start of the “disznótoros” season where pigs are cut and sausages, bacon and other pork dishes are served.
Photo: Zsoolt - Flickr
Average weather: High 4°C / Low 0°C
The best things about Budapest in December: Budapest’s famous Christmas markets are a major drawcard for those wanting to do some gift shopping. Mulled wine, roasted chestnuts, kürtös kalács and the possibility of a white Christmas are the major attractions of a December spent in Budapest.
Major drawcards:
– Christmas markets at Vörösmarty Square
– Saint Nicholas Day on December 6 starts the Christmas season when “Mikulás” visits children
– Christmas is celebrated December 24-26
– New Years Eve parties
Photo: Kirk Siang - Flickr