Budapest has a continental climate with distinguished seasons. All the seasons have their own beauty so anytime throughout the year is a good time to visit.
Extremities are not common but can occur for example in August 2002 there was a huge flood on the river Danube endangering Budapest. However, the flood soon became a tourist attraction for a while.
Flood on the river Danube in 2013 – Chain Bridge and the Royal Castle Photo: my friend, Bús Mónika
Flood and tourists in 2013 – building of Hungarian Academy of Sciences, Photo: my friend, Bús Mónika
Drought can also be an issue like it was in September 2015. In fact, there is a famous rock in the Danube at Gellért hill which usually can’t be seen. When there is a period of drought the level of water decreases and the rock becomes visible and will be above the water level. When this happens it is said to bring famine on Budapest.
Rock of famine next to Liberty Bridge, photo: Wikipedia
Throughout the year the two wet and two dry periods alternate. The two wettest periods being early summer and late autumn and the two driest periods being the middle of winter to spring and early autumn. We can expect the least rainfall in February and March and the most rainfall in May and June.
Probably the best time to visit Budapest as the weather is mild and appropriate for long walks. Margaret Island, City Park, Gellért Hill and all parks are glorious at this time of year. The terraces of the cafés, restaurants and bars are alive with locals, as the crowd of tourists have not arrived yet. There are many festivals going on in the city, like the Pálinka (traditional Hungarian spirit) Festival, Budapest Dance festival and the long-standing Budapest Spring Festival.
In March and April you may still need a few layers of clothes as it can still be a little chilly. May is much warmer, most of the time a T-shirt and shorts are enough during the daytime.
Lilac on Margaret Island, photo: my friend, Bús Mónika
June is usually pleasant but July and August are very hot. Each year there is a short period of about a week when the temperature may rise to 35 degree Celsius (95 degree Fahrenheit) or sometimes even more. In the summer months short and heavy rain falls occur which can refresh and cool the air temporarily. At this time of the year an apartment with air conditioning may feel like a salvation.
Budapest is full with tourists in the summer and in the city centre you can seldom hear Hungarian.
I would recommend bringing comfortable sandals with you rather than flip-flops to keep your feet cool as the best way to discover Budapest is on foot. Flip flops are not very suitable for this and may cause blisters.
Colours, photo: my friend, Bús Mónika
September usually brings an Indian summer, with warm sunny days and moderate temperatures, which favour tourists. The temperature may reach 20 degree Celsius (68 degree Fahrenheit) during this timebut come October and November the weather soon starts to get colder and rainier. The end of November may bring snow but it usually melts quickly. A pullover or even a warmer coat is needed and waterproof shoes may come in handy.
Some annual festivals are held at this time of the year, like the Budapest International Wine Festival and the Café Budapest Contemporary Arts Festival. Also, outdoor Christmas markets open at the end of November.
Plane tree dressed in red on Margaret Island, photo: my friend, Bús Mónika
Winter days are short and cold. All Hungarians wear warm hats, gloves and scarves. In the last few decades snow has not been too frequent so you need some good luck to be able to stroll in a romantic snow fall. In December, the outdoor Christmas markets are a must visit where you can tune yourself into the festivities. The smell of mulled wine and the festive delicacies will surely seduce you.
Don’t forget to bring your winter boots and winter coat.
Terrace of a café – Winter arrived too early, Photo: my friend, Bús Mónika
If you have any questions, please contact us. All feedback is welcome.
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.