There are three months of the year known to be very hard for everyone who works with incoming tourism in Hungary; November, January and February. That is not so hard to understand as November is a quite cold month, not much happening at all and people stay at home preparing for Christmas. Some might be planning a tour to some large European city to visit some Christmas markets and so, but the travel itself normally takes place in December.
By the end of November change is in the air, and the major reason for the change is the opening of the annual Christmas markets in Budapest. This is getting larger and larger every year, and more and more tourists keep coming to Budapest, so if you plan a visit to Budapest, why not plan it so that your arrival will be towards the end of the month. The most famous Christmas market in Budapest is the one located at Vörösmarty square and this market normally opens around November 20th. And if you first come to Budapest to enjoy a Christmas market we can warmly recommend that you do a day trip to Vienna in addition to visit the extraordinary and beautiful Christmas markets in the Austrian capital.
At the Christmas markets you need to taste the glühwein (hot wine), the chimney cake and the thing that looks like pizza, only with sour cream at the bottom (töki pompos). At the markets you will be able to buy traditional Hungarian handicraft and as you come to Budapest, make sure to see how magical the Vörösmarty square looks after sunset, almost Disney magic!
Weather in November in Budapest
The average temperature in Budapest in November is somewhere around 4 Celsius. The warmest temperature ever measured in this month was 22 degrees, but do not prepare for that, as it is not at all normal. But, if you experience temperatures around 10 degrees during daytime, that is not very special. Temperatures normally do not go between 0 degrees, but be aware of the fact that if is is 5 degrees, but with a cold wind, you will need a cap, winter jacket and maybe also gloves. The wind is the lethal part of the climate in Budapest, so check the weather forecast and maybe pay especially attention to how strong wind it is expected to be. It might be useful to know that it is very little snow in Budapest, so you do not need to prepare for snow, at least not in November. If it should snow, it is normally gone within a day or two.
November activities in Budapest
In November you need to find some nice indoor activities, and a great thing to do in this month is to visit a private SPA where you can get some delightful treatment of your body. There are lots of places offering Thai massages, Swedish massages, pedicures, manicures and other treatments, so you should easily find a place. But, be aware of the fact that the quality differs a lot from place to place, and so does the prices. If you live in a five star hotel in Budapest you should be aware of the fact that the services inside your hotel are much more expensive than if you visit a private spa somewhere else.
Another activity relaxing and cool in Budapest in November is a visit to the Szechenyi Thermal Bath. Enjoy the warmest outdoor pool with a temperature of 38 Celsius. The feeling of freezing as you walk towards the pool, and then the joy of the hot water as you step into it is extraordinary and worth a try. Of course it gets very cold as you step out of the water again, but that is part of the fun.
Special events in November
As I wrote earlier there are not to many things going on in Budapest in November, but there are some festivals and events that might be interesting to at least some of you. Here you will find a list presenting those:
St Martins Day
- Budapest Fridge Festival
On November 11 St Martins Day is celebrated in quite some nations, and also in Hungary. The day is also known as Feast of St Martin of Tours, and what few people know is that this guy was born in Hungary. Normally you will find special programs around on November 10th, 11th and 12th commemorating St Martins Day, and in Hungary the goose is popular to eat then. So if you visit a restaurant, do not be surprised if they have lots of goose meals available. The legend in fact sais that if you do not eat goose on St Martins Day, you will stay hungry in the next year.
Budapest Fridge Festival
This is not Budapest Fringe Festival, this is the Budapest Fridge Festival (only 1 letter making the difference). This festival is arranged in the City Park at the ice skating rink between Vajdahunyad Castle and Heroes Square. At the Fridge festival you can enjoy live concerts and lots of crazy sports events and competitions.
There are of course different concerts and other ongoing programs available in Budapest in November as well such as folklore performances and Danube Cruises, but if you are interested in larger programs and events, the programs mentioned are probably the most important ones.
Where to live in Budapest in November?
As it might get cold in November, you want to live somewhere central and maybe also with nice SPA facilities, sauna and quite a lot of indoor opportunities. If that is you, I would recommend Hotel Kempinski as a good five star hotel located in the center and very near the best Christmas markets. If you want the same, but with one star less, then maybe Mercure Korona can be a good option (though a bit further away from the Christmas markets).
Be aware of the fact that due to lack of visitors to Budapest in November most hotels have super offers on their rooms, so you should be able to find some really good offers on hotels with lots of stars and high quality in this period.
Summarizing all of it
As you come to Budapest in November you should not expect it to be crowded in shopping streets or elsewhere. But, if it is possible, try to make arrangements so that you will visit Budapest sometime between November 20th and 30th, and in that way you will be able to visit the Christmas markets as well. Since hotel prices are cheap, this is a great chance to visit Budapest and live for a small amount of money in high class hotels.