Tis the season to be jolly and deck the halls with boughs of holly. However, If you’re still not feeling festive, or need to get some last-minute gifts. Then a trip to one the cracking Christmas markets in Budapest should get you in the spirit. Every year some of the squares in the city are transformed. With stalls selling Mulled wine, traditional festive food, sweets and souvenirs set up shop. With the help of our local insiders, we’ve rounded up the Christmas markets in Budapest that you can’t miss.
Vörösmarty Square Christmas Market
Located in the heart of the Budapest, Vörösmarty Square is always buzzing with activity, as thousands of people pass through or hang out here every day. Enjoying the eclectic selection of shops, restaurants and bars nearby.
However, every year the square is transformed for the festive season, playing host to the longest and largest of all Christmas markets in Budapest. From November till January, vendors from across Hungary set up shop here. With a sea of stalls selling all kinds of awesome things. From food and drink to clothes, arts and crafts and souvenirs. One thing is certain that there’s something here for everybody to savour.
Bites and Sips
On the menu will be a selection of classic local staples such as langos, Stuffed cabbage, grilled meats, goulash, chimney cakes, pastries and strudels. As well as a whole host of treats which are a mashup of old and new. Think dishes like fois gras with honeyed pear and roast pork knuckles with onion and potato. There are also a decent selection of vegetarian foods available if you’re a “no meat on my plate” type person.
To wash it all down, you can choose from a long list of spectacular sips. From mulled and Hungarian wines to tea, coffee and hot chocolate. Or if you fancy something with a bit more kick, try the Krampampuli or Palinka, the traditional drinks preferred by locals.
There will also be live cooking sessions, where local chefs will show you how some of these tasty treats are prepared. Each week will follow a theme:
- 18 – 24 December: Christmas Dishes: These include local classics like fishermen’s soup, stuffed cabbage and poppy seed pudding.
- 25 – 31 December: The year will be ending with a Pork packed extravaganza.
Food and drink aside, there will also be plenty of other activities taking place to keep you entertained. From performances on two additional stages, with musicians belting out the sounds of jazz, folk and music from across the globe. These will take place every day from the 2nd to the 28th of December. There will also some children-friendly activities taking place throughout December as well. From puppet shows on Sundays to arts and crafts at the Playhouse, which is open daily between 10am – 1pm and 2pm-6pm.
Local Tip: If you’re stuffed from sampling the seasonal grub, or feeling tipsy after a few Palinkas. Then head over to PARLMNT bar to continue the fun or chill out. This cosy spot offers a selection of alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages and hands down the best shisha in Budapest.
Where: Vorosmarty Square | When: 8th November 2019 – 1st January 2020
St Stephen’s Basilica Christmas Market
Set in the shadow of Budapest’s architectural masterpiece, St Stephen’s Basilica. Of all the Christmas markets in Budapest, this is definately the most well known and loved around the world. So much so, that it was recently voted as the best Christmas market in Europe. Eclipsing the iconic markets of other European destinations such as Austria and Munich. This may come as a surprise to those who haven’t been before but ask anyone who has and they’ll most definately agree.
From stalls selling all kind of amazing food, drink and handcrafted goods. To a unique lighting display that you simply have to get for the gram. It’s a must-visit if you’re in town over the festive period.
Bites and Sips
Like the other Christmas markets in Budapest, the focal point of this festive fair is the food. So eat light, and get ready to take your taste buds on a culturally rich culinary escapade. With vendors serving a mouth-watering selection of the best traditional treats, Hungary has to offer. This includes Langos, which you can lather up with toppings to match your preferred flavour profile. From traditional sour cream and cheese to the obscure Nutella variants.
There’s also goulash, stuffed cabbage and a selection fine grilled meats. What sets St Stephen’s Christmas market apart from the rest are the vegan and gluten-free options available. So if you have any allergies, you’ll certainly find some tasty food that will sit well with your stomach.
Feeling thirsty, then take your pick from the plethora of sips on offer. From palate-pleasing Hungarian wines, craft beer, Unicum, palinka and more. Obviously, there is also mulled wine, with a sugar-free version if you’re diabetic, or feeling sweet enough.
Apart from the food, there are plenty of other things going on to convert even the most ardent scrooges into festive fairies. Firstly you have the iconic outdoor ice skating rink, which is free for children up to 14 years old. With skating lessons also available on the weekends between 2pm-6pm. If you don’t have your blades, then fear not as skate rentals are also available.
If that wasn’t enough, you’ll be glad to know there is a packed program schedule filled festive fun. From live music and folk dancing by talented local artists. However, what makes St Stephen’s stand out from the other Christmas markets in Budapest is the uber-cool 3D Lighting display. As the majestic St Stephens Basicilia is bought to life with colourful lights depicting traditional Christmas scenes. The lighting display happens daily, every 30 minutes from 4.30pm-10pm. So you’ll have ample opportunities to catch it in action.
Local Tip: If you’re feeling cultural, then head inside and experience the history behind the bricks of this magnificent building, with a guided tour.
Where: Szent istván Bazilika| When: 22nd November 2019 – 1st January 2020
Obuda Advent Fair
Obuda Advent fair is the most obscure. Unknown to tourists and frequented by locals who prefer it from the other Christmas markets in the Budapest. Located away from bustling the city centre, Obuda Advent Fair may be off the beaten track but is easily accessible by public transport.
Bites and Sips
Like the others, Obuda has its fair share of scrumptious traditional delicacies to delight your stomach and palates. In line with it’s more local vibe, the food for you try has an extra layer of authenticity.
Feeling something sweet, then choose from the tasty Hungarian pastries which include Bejgli. A rolled-up cake that consists of a variety of fillings, with tradition flavours being walnut and poppy seeds. However, with everything being more innovative, the vendors have come up with their own flavours.
If you’re a real cultural eater, then be sure to sample the mouth-watering selection of meats on offer. Want to be a proper local, then try the blood pudding. Sounds pretty grim, but is actually bloody delicious.
If you’re not feeling peckish, worry not, there’s plenty of other fun things on offer at Obuda Advent Fair. Firstly you have an eclectic selection of stalls selling awesome arts and crafts. From handmade clothes, jewellery and more. Ideal if you’re looking to grab a last-minute Christmas gift or a memento to commemorate your trip to Budapest.
There’s also the much loved outdoor ice skating rink, where you can get your skates on and slalom along the ice. The fun doesn’t stop at that, as there will also be daily live music and performances. From jazz and gipsy to folk, traditional dances and much more. To keep the Christmas spirit alive, there will also be a nativity scene and an animal petting area. Ideal if you’re accompanied with a slightly younger crowd.
Local Tip: Experience the roman connection of this area by taking a stroll along the Római Part. A walking trail on the banks of the Danube, which is very popular amongst the locals. A little bit different from the norm but no doubt fantastic.
Where: Fő tér | When: November 30th – December 23rd 2019
If you were scratching your head trying to find the best Christmas markets in Budapest, then this guide should be super helpful. Be sure to also check out our guide to the Best outdoor ice skating rinks in Budapest. Oh and if you’re in town seeking some quirky bars, traditional restaurants and other things to do, download the Like Locals app. Available on both iOS and Android devices.