You feel it in your fingers, you feel it in your toes – during the holiday season, Budapest fills with a jolly Christmas vibe. Downtown squares, the District VII party vortex and cobblestoned Óbuda get festive, their Yuletide bazaars chockablock with wintertime merchandise, chimney cake and spicy mulled wine. Here’s our guide to the merriest Christmas markets in Budapest.
Open since 9 November, Budapest’s biggest Christmas market is the one that gets featured among Europe’s most beautiful holiday-season fairs year after year. Celebrating its 20th anniversary in 2018, this merry bazaar offers select local handicrafts, traditional trinkets and some of the most typical Hungarian dishes – stews, lángos and grilled sausages. On 6 December, Joulupukki, the real Santa Claus, lands here from Finland to meet children between 4pm and 7pm.
9 November-1 January
Szent István tér
From 23 November, central Szent István tér by the Basilica hosts its annual Advent fair with all things jolly. The whole Christmas market is centred by a small ice-skating rink open to children, while the biggest attraction is a 3D light show projected onto the Basilica façade every hour after sunset. Prime Hungarian-made gifts, hot drinks and street-food treats are sold from ornate wooden stalls.
23 November-1 January
Steps from the central transport hub of Deák Ferenc tér, this Christmas fair is full of bright attractions thanks to its tasty wintertime treats, live shows and workshops staged in a heated chalet. Adorning the square is a giant advent wreath, its first candle to be lit on 2 December. This is one of Budapest’s most family-friendly Yuletide markets.
22 November-28 December
You only need to hop on the HÉV suburban train from Batthyány tér for what might be Budapest’s most traditional Christmas fair. Alighting at the Szentlélek tér stop by Árpád Bridge, a short stroll takes you to this winter wonderland, where an ice rink welcomes skaters of all levels. Free training sessions are even offered to beginners on Saturdays between 8am and 10am. Enhancing the square is a charity tree 16 metres tall, made of firewood by the local Hello Wood team – logs will later be donated to families in need.
30 November-23 December
In Budapest’s party hub, Gozsdu Udvar is laying on its very own Christmas market, running Wednesdays to Sundays from 30 November. Surrounded by tourist-friendly bars and restaurants, this bustling bazaar is a treasure trove for leather goods, jewellery, notebooks, posters and bags. While browsing here, warm your hands with mulled wine or take selfies with real reindeers on 6 December. Open from noon to 7pm on weekdays and from 10am to 7pm at weekends.
30 November-23 December