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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Arriving at Budapest Airport -­ How to Exchange Money and Where to Buy Bus Tickets

Tourists traveling to Hungary for the first time may be a bit confused about currency issues and the public transport system. Here are some suggestions to help things go smoothly.

Exchange at the Airport

Be aware! If it’s not completely necessary, don’t change cash at the airport. The exchange rates there are ludicrously unfavourable. Unfavourable for you, not for them.

Don’t go for their “No Commission” offer.

In other parts of the city including the city center you can find fair exchange rates.

It’s a much better option to get Hungarian Forints (HUF) cash from the ATMs at the airport.

Read more about currency issues here.

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ATMs at the airport

Where to buy tickets for the bus and metro

Both on Terminal A and B there are BKK (Centre for Budapest Transport) offices and newspaper stands where you can buy your public transport tickets. This is the cheapest way to get to the city center, but it is also the slowest and most challenging.

Read more about the suggested route here.

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Newspaper stand at the airport

The BKK Ticket Office is open from 8 till 22 (10PM) on Terminal A, and from 9 till 21 (9 PM) on Terminal B. The newspaper stand on Terminal A is open from 8.30 till midnight. The terminals are a 3 minute walk from each other. Both the ticket offices and the newspaper stands accept bankcards and HUF cash, but no EUR cash.

The second option is to buy tickets is from the ticket vending machines that are installed in the bus stop of bus 200 E between Terminal A and B. They feature touchscreens in multiple languages and they are easy to use. Bankcards and HUF cash are accepted but they don’t accept banknotes with a higher denomination than 2000 HUF. The machines are accessible 24 hours a day .

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Ticket vending machine at the airport in the bus stop

The third option is to buy a ticket from the bus driver on spot. Instead of 350 HUF it will cost you 450. Buying a ticket from the driver is not an option on all buses in Budapest but it is possible on the airport bus.

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Bus stop 200E at the airport

Your whole trip to the city center with public transport will cost you 700 HUF (one ticket to the bus 200 E, and another to the metro 3. Each costs 350 HUF) but it may vary from the exact place you go. It’s cheaper with a transfer ticket (costs 530 HUF).

For a more confortable transfer take a taxi that will cost you roughly 7800 – 8800 HUF depending on the actual traffic. Send us an email to info@katonaapartments.hu if you’d like us to book one for you.


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/

Budapest Weather During the Seasons

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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.
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Flood on the river Danube in 2013 – Chain Bridge and the Royal Castle Photo: my friend, Bús Mónika

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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.
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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.

SPRING

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.
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Lilac on Margaret Island, photo: my friend, Bús Mónika

SUMMER

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.
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Colours, photo: my friend, Bús Mónika

AUTUMN

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 time but 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.
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Plane tree dressed in red on Margaret Island, photo: my friend, Bús Mónika

WINTER

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.

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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.

http://www.katonaapartments.hu

info@katonaapartments.hu

These posts may also interest you:
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Arriving at Budapest Airport -­ How to Exchange Money and Where to Buy Bus Tickets
Art Nouveau Buildings in Budapest
Your Shoes Were Made for Walking: Jewels of Budapest by Foot


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/