Christmas Markets in the Center of Budapest

Christmas Markets held annually in the city center open in mid-November and end either on Christmas day or on the 6th January.

Vörösmarty tér

This is the most well-known Christmas market and has been chosen as one of the 10 most attractive Christmas fairs in Europe.

 

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Chrismas Stands at Vörösmarty tér, Photo: Budapest Moments, Flickr

 

No wonder, the location can’t be more central, the decoration is very festive, there are two stages which host various events to entertain all ages, the merchants sell delectable products and the food stalls will enchant you with the seasonal scents and tastes.

On the stages there are varied performances, like concerts (folk, world music, jazz, blues, soul, etc.), held every day; at the weekend, from late morning till early night, and evenings only during the week.

Each year there is also a heated area for children interested in arts and crafts. These free activities are usually held on weekdays in the afternoons and during the weekends in the mornings (10 am – 1 pm) and also in the afternoons (4 pm-7 pm).

Every Sunday afternoon the candles of the huge Advent wreath are lit, a very festive way countdown to Christmas.

Visiting the market is also a great opportunity to purchase some festive presents for your beloved ones like jewellery, ceramics, books, CDs, DVDs, musical instruments, wooden and other toys, puppets, horn goods, calendars, graphics, clothes, hats, caps, bags, leather products, knives, glass products, decorations, etc. As well as being a good source for seasonal  and artisanal food products, like gingerbread, honey, artisan chocolate, artisan cheese, tea and fruit wines.

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Christmas Market, photo: Budapest Moments, Flickr

If you’re feeling hungry, there are many food caterers offering delicious Hungarian and international Christmas dishes and other seasonal delicacies.

 

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Food Stall, Photo: Kirk Siang, Flickr

 

You can taste the indispensable stuffed cabbage that’s one of the most common Christmas dishes in Hungary. Mangalica pork sausages, homemade filled Hungarian flat bread baked on an iron griddle and cabbage in a rye loaf are some other classic dishes that can be tasted here.

Alternatively, you can grab a lángos (fried dough) most commonly topped with sour cream and grated cheese, but there are many other versions for the topping.

Another festive snack not to be missed are roast chestnuts.

For the sweet-toothed I suggest kürtőskalács (chimney cake) baked and caramelized above charcoal fire. The glazed surface is crunchy and the dough underneath is fresh, soft and warm.

Although it can be bought all year round, the seasonal flavourings, like ginger or poppyseed-raisin, will bring you into a festive mood.

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Chimney Cake (Kürtős kalács) Photo: Simon Q, Flickr

For a winter warmer try a strawberry wine, cherry grog or the traditional mulled wine.

The Christmas fair on Vörösmarty tér isn’t just about enjoying food and drink and buying gifts but also provides an opportunity to make donations to those in need. Look for the charity booth if you are interested in donating.

For further information a tourist information point is set up with printed materials and the staff speak foreign languages.

How to get there

Vörösmarty tér is a 5 minute walk if you head north from our apartments on Váci utca.

From the Castle district on Buda side take bus 16 and get off at the terminal (Deák tér).

From Heroes Square and Széchenyi Bath take metro no. 1 until the terminal (Vörösmarty tér).

If you are on the Pest side next to the river Danube, take tram no. 2 and get off at Vigadó tér stop.

St Stephen’s Basilica

This Christmas market is held in front of the St Stephen’s Basilica (Szent István tér).

The facade of the Basilica gives an amazing backdrop for the market and set up in the middle of the square there is usually an ice skating rink for children.

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Christmas at Basilica, photo: Kirk Siang, Flickr

 

Almost every evening there is an Advent or Christmas concert held in the church that helps to put you in the festive mood.

 

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Gingerbread, Photo: Budapest Moments, Flickr

 

How to get there

Szent István tér is a 10 minute walk from our apartments heading north.

From the Castle district on Buda side take bus 16, get off at the terminal (Deák tér) and cross Erzsébet tér.

From Heroes Square and Széchenyi Bath take metro no. 1 until Deák tér stop and then cross Erzsébet tér.

If you are on Pest side next to the river Danube, take tram no. 2 and get off at Széchenyi István tér stop. Walk along Zrínyi utca and the Christmas market will be at the end of the street.

Bálna Cultural and Commercial Center

There is a third Christmas market held in Bálna, a cultural and commercial center on Pest side next to the Danube shore between Petőfi and Szabadság bridges. (Address: Fővám tér 11-12. ) This is the smallest one.

Bálna offers cultural programs, concerts, art galleries and a marketplace all year round.

In wintertime, each Sunday, a market called Antik Placc is held in the building where antiquarians and designers sell their products. It’s an indoor event accompanied by concerts and different activities for children and adults.

Gingerbread City is a contemporary Christmas statue. Anyone who is willing to participate in this social art can reserve a plot, and exhibit his / her own home made gingerbread building to the public by placing it on its plot at the city building reception. The illuminated Gingerbread City is open usually from mid-December till the end of January and the entrance is free.

 

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Photo: Zsolt Madarász (2015

 

 

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Photo: Zsolt Madarász (2015)

 

There is also an ice skating rink set up on the terrace of Bálna which has a great view of the river Danube, the bridges and Gellért Hill.

How to get there

Bálna is a 10 minute walk from our apartments heading south. Walk downstream along the river Danube and you will arrive at Bálna just after the green Szabadság-híd (Liberty Bridge).

You can also take tram no. 2 that runs along the river on Pest side. Get on at Március 15. tér and get off at Zsil utca (2 stops). It’s easy to spot the tram at this time of year as it is lit with Christmas lights and takes passengers between its two terminals Jászai Mari tér and Közvágóhíd.

From Heroes Square and Széchenyi Bath take metro no. 1 until Deák tér stop. There change to metro no. 3 and get off at Kálvin tér stop. Walk for about 5 minutes towards the green Szabadság-híd (Liberty Bridge) and then turn left and after a short walk Bálna will be in front of you.

If you are on Pest side next to the river Danube, take tram no. 2 and get off at Zsil utca stop.


About the authors: Virág and János

Virág, a native of Budapest, and János, who’s been living in the city since 1997 are real fans of the capital of Hungary and try to awake the enthusiasm of others. They are dedicated to helping tourists to make most out of their stay.

 

Here you can read more about them: http://katonaapartments.hu/

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What to Order in Restaurants in Budapest

What about a rooster testicle stew, toast with marrow, or fish milt and eggs with your fish soup?

Are you brave enough to taste them?

If you look for something traditionally Hungarian, run through this list, not all the dishes are that extreme, I promise.

SOUPS

Halászlé (hɒlaːsleː) = Fish Soup Made with Fresh Water Fish

It is a popular Christmas dish but also year-round, served with slices of fresh white bread and add as much hot paprika as you can take. For the daring ones I suggest to ask for fish milt and eggs to add to the soup.

Usually it is served either in a cup (small portion as a starter) or in a bowl or a cauldron (big portion as a main course).

The grandma of a friend of mine revealed to me once confidentially that fishermen at the Tisza River always added some mashed potato to the soup to get it thicker. This ingredient was a well-kept secret.
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Fish Soup in a Cup, Photo: Restaurant Gundel

Gulyás Leves (gujaːʃlɛvɛʃ)

The soup on all of the tourist menus, made of beef and vegetables. Originally it was cooked by herdsman (gulyás) in the open air in a cauldron, a big pot over a fire.

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Hideg Gyümölcs Leves (hidɛɟːʏmølʧlɛvɛʃ) = Cold Fruit Soup

The most common version is made of sour cherries. This sourish chilled soup is ideal in the warmer months.

Warm Starters

Velős pirítós (vɛløːʃpiɾiːtoːʃ) = Toast with Marrow

Some love it, some find it disgusting. If you are experimenting type, give it a go.

Hortobágyi Palacsinta (hoɾtobaːɟipɒlɒʧintɒ)

You may find it a bit weird that a crêpe is filled with minced meat and served with a paprika – sour crème sauce. This is one of my favourites and it’s quite common in all types of restaurants and eateries.
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Main Courses

Pörkölt (pøɾkølt) = Stew

This dish is made of chicken, beef, veal, pork, catfish or offal, like gizzard, is served in many restaurants.

If you’re looking for something extraordinary, look for an eatery where they have rooster testicle stew = kakashere pörkölt (kɒkɒʃhɛɾɛpøɾkølt) on the menu.

As a side dish choose nokedli (its synonim is galuska) which are small cooked dumplings.
Rooster Testicles Stew

Töltött Káposzta (tøltøtkaːpostɒ)

This is cabbage leaves filled with a mixture of minced meat and rice, and are cooked.
We also add sour cream to the top. It’s quite heavy dish and mainly eaten in colder seasons.

Desserts

Gundel Palacsinta (gundɛlpɒlɒʧintɒ)

It’s a crepe with filling made from walnut, raisins, rum and lemon zest drizzled with chocolate sauce. At some posh places it is served flambéed.
The most authentic place to taste it is in the famous Restaurant Gundel close to Heroes Square. For my taste it’s a bit too sweet there but worth a try.
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Gundel Pancake, Photo: Restaurant Gundel

Mákos Rétes (maːkoʃɾeːtɛʃ)= Poppyseed Strudel

Any dessert with poppy seed may be authentic to Hungary. Try plain poppy seed or poppy seed with sour cherry strudel.

The strudel is a frequent dessert of Hungary, Austria and Serbia. Presumably it has a Turkish origin (baklava). The dough is stretched by hand very thinly and then most commonly it’s filled with poppy seed, cottage cheese, apple, plum, apricot, nuts, etc. The number of variations is endless.

Mákosguba (maːkoʒgubɒ)

It’s a simple dish (main ingredients: rolls, milk, sugar or honey, ground poppy seed, lemon zest) usually served in smaller and not too fancy home style restaurants.

Originaly it’s a dish served at Christmas. Poppy was supposed to bring luck and wealth in the New Year. Nowadays we prepare this inexpensive and filling dessert throughout the year.

 

Túrógombóc (tuːɾoːgomboːʦ)

These cottage cheese balls are favourite of all. We consider it to be very Hungarian but the origin is not clear. It is common in the surrounding countries as well, but in each region it’s prepared a bit differently.

In Hungary usually it’s served with bread crumbs, sour cream and sugar or honey. Some prefer it with fruit or berry sauce. It is said that the texture should wobble.
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Somlói Galuska (ʃomloːigɒluʃkɒ)

This is definitely not a sophisticated dessert but a very common one flavoured with rum.

Three types of sponge cakes (basic, with walnut and with cacao) are sprinkled with vanilla and chocolate sauce and then whipped cream is added to the top.

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This is just a short list where I included mainly my favourite dishes. The Hungarian cuisine is rich and diverse and includes many other courses.

Bon apétit. Let us know if you liked them.

Contact us:

http://katonaapartments.hu/

info@katonaapartments.hu

These topics may also interest you:

Fast Food in Budapest

Shopping in Budapest

Hungarian Local Food Products

Four Mistakes You Don’t Know You’re Making in Budapest

About the authors: Virág and János

Virág, a native of Budapest, and János, who’s been living in the city since 1997 are real fans of the capital of Hungary and try to awake the enthusiasm of others. They are dedicated to helping tourists to make most out of their stay.

Here you can read more about them: http://katonaapartments.hu/

Hungarian Local Food Products

If you want to live like a local during your stay in Budapest, I suggest you to try out these products that can be bought in any supermarket or even in smaller food shops anywhere in the city. You can also take them home as a present to your loved ones.
They may love or hate you for that.

1. Erős Pista (Strong Steve)

A very popular Hungarian sauce that is made of minced raw red hot paprika.
Hungarians use Erős Pista in gulyás soup (beef and vegetable), fish soup and pörkölt (stew).
In restaurants they will put it on your table and you can add it to your dish.
Édes Anna (Sweet Anne) is a mild version of it. You can buy both in a glass jar.
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Anne and Steve, Photo: Virag

2. Paprika (Bell Pepper) Powder

There is a hot and mild version mainly from two areas of Hungary: Szeged or Kalocsa. Some have a simple packaging (plastic), others are wraped in a textile bag with some traditional Hungarian embroidered motifs on them.
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Selection of paprikas, Photo: Virag

3. Pick or Herz Téliszalámi (Winter Salami)

This very tasty pork product is a Hungarian speciality and is seasoned mainly with pepper and paprika. It’s name derives from the fact that it was formerly produced solely in winter. The reason for this is that in those times cooling was unavailable in warmer weather. The product must be first cured in cold air and then smoked on beechwood in order to extract water. During smoking a special grayish white noble mold is formed on the casing of the salami.
For a wide selection of Pick products visit the Pick store in Kossuth tér close to the entrance of the metro station. This store is next door to the Parliament building.
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Herz and Pick salamis on the same shelf, Photo: Virag

4. Pálinka

Pálinka is a traditional Hungarian fruit spirit that is solely made from fruit, like plum, apricot, pear, cherry and apple, but it can be made from any fruit. It is not allowed to be sweetened or coloured.
The spirit contains at least 37.5% alcohol, so a shot may be enough to cheer most of us up.
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Pálinka, Photo: Virag

5. Negro Cough Drops

The black negro candies that are used as cough drops have existed since the 1930s. The Negro (”NAY-GROW”) is Hungary’s leading brand of hard candy. They have a taste similar to anise but the ingredients are a well kept secret.
Its slogan is well known to all Hungarians: Chimney sweep of the throat. An old fashioned chimney sweep can be seen on its packaging sweeping a chimney.

The traditional negro is black, but negro exists in other colours and flavours as well; like honey (yellow) or black currant (red) and the extra strong negro is white.

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Cough drops, Photo: Virag


6. Túró Rudi

This sweetish-sourish cottage cheese roll with a chocolate coating is a favourite of all Hungarians. I noticed that non-Hungarians find it a bit bizarre and not all are enthusiastic about it, although it is worth a try.
Look for it in the fridge of any shop and choose the original one which has a red packaging with white dots.
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Favourite of all Hungarians, Photo: Virag

7. Gesztenyepüré = Chestnut Puree

My Hungarian friend living in the US misses it so much.
You probably wouldn’t expect it but it has a sweetish taste. We eat it with whipped cream. It’s a dessert that doesn’t need too much preparation and it’s not risky either, as everybody likes it.
It’s a frozen product, so if you want to take it home with you, it must be well wrapped in many layers of paper.
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Chestnut puree, Photo: Virag

As you can see, living and eating like Budapest locals is both fun and easy.

If you have further questions about this or traveling in Budapest, please contact us.

http://www.katonaapartments.hu

info@katonaapartments.hu

These posts may also interest you:
Facts about the quality of Budapest’s tap water
Four Mistakes You Don’t Know You’re Making in Budapest
Three Day Visit Itinerary for Budapest
18 Suggestions for What to Do in Budapest in Rainy Weather


About the authors: Virág and János

Virág, a native of Budapest, and János, who’s been living in the city since 1997 are real fans of the capital of Hungary and try to awake the enthusiasm of others. They are dedicated to helping tourists to make most out of their stay.

Here you can read more about them: http://katonaapartments.hu/

Facts about the quality of Budapest’s tap water

Most of our guests ask me during their check-in if the tap water is safe to drink.  The good news is that it’s not necessary at all to buy bottled mineral water for drinking or washing your teeth, as the tap water in Budapest is of excellent quality.

I’ve been drinking it since my childhood and during my travels I haven’t been to many places where the water tasted better than in Budapest.

In order to provide you with facts, I got hold of a brochure from the department  responsible for the Budapest’s water supply.

víz

In summary 76 % of the water supplied  comes from the Szentendre Island, which is north of Budapest.  The water is of excellent quality and does not need cleaning. It is treated  with UV radiation and chlorination. The drinking water is  checked every day of the year. Department experts perform 211,000 tests  from 11,000 samples each year.

Data concerning the hardness of the water shows that in the Budapest area the drinking water is moderately hard.

Some say that the tap water in Budapest tastes better than the bottled water. Let me know how you find it.

 

These topics may also interest you:

Which Bath to Choose in Budapest?

What to Order in Restaurants in Budapest

Hungarian Local Food Products

18 Suggestions for What to Do in Budapest in Rainy Weather

Contact us:

http://katonaapartments.hu/

info@katonaapartments.hu

 

About the authors: Virág and János

Virág, a native of Budapest, and János, who’s been living in the city since 1999 are real fans of the capital of Hungary and try to awake the enthusiasm of others. They are dedicated to helping tourists to make most out of their stay.

Here you can read more about them: http://katonaapartments.hu/