Black Friday is the second last Friday of November every single year. But for some reason, there is a general confusion about Black Friday in Hungary. This isn’t a new phenomenon in 2018, but it has been so for a couple of years. What is the consequence?
Black Friday in 2018 is officially November 23rd. But, quite a lot of stores in Hungary will run their Black Friday discounts on November 16th. We do not have a full list, and most likely stores, in general, will run the discounts on November 23rd, but quite a lot of online stores will run a Black Friday sale on November 16th.
Edigital.hu is a giant store selling all sorts of computer accessories, and lots of other products. They will run their Black Friday campaign fully on November 16th. Another online store that will run Black Friday sale on November 16th is aqua.hu. Now, it might be that they will have a bigger sale on November 23rd (as they only title the November 16 sale a pre-Black Friday sale).
No matter what, if you are looking for products to buy for yourself or as Christmas presents, now is the time to be on the alert and to watch out. You might find great products at lower prices than you normally would. But, you should also be careful, as lots of products are sold with giant “discount tags”, while the truth is that it still costs more than it normally would.
Our recommendation is, therefore, always check the price and compare it with the same product elsewhere online to see if it really is as great an offer and a fantastic discount as they try to present it to you!
Nothing can compare to the atmosphere in Budapest before Christmas. The city is illuminated with fantastic lights, and the famous Christmas markets are there to be enjoyed.
In this article, we would love to share some ideas and recommendations to you, that we believe will make your visit to Budapest and the Christmas markets even better. Read through the entire article, and we are sure you will get some good ideas, be inspired and maybe learn some things that might come handy during your stay in the Hungarian capital.
The ideas in this list are ideal for those coming to Budapest for the Christmas markets, but lots of these recommendations are also valid throughout the year. You should, therefore, read through the list no matter when you come, because you will probably learn something anyhow!
Ten tips to those coming to Budapest for the Christmas markets
1) Do not forget to bring warm clothes
This might sound silly, but it is so important. It can get quite cold in Budapest in November and December. The average temperature in this period is around 0 and 5 Celsius, but if the sun comes forth, it will often feel much warmer. But, the most significant enemy when you come to Budapest isn’t the minus degrees, but the wind. It is much better to stay in Budapest on a sunny day with 0 Celsius than a windy day with +5. Bring warm clothes, and some nice and warm shoes should also come along in your suitcase.
Some ladies might forget about warm clothes on purpose, as that will give them an excuse to do some extra shopping. That is fine for them, but those who want to avoid such extra shopping, bring along warm clothes from home.
2) Dare to taste new things
This is one of the most important advises when you come to the Christmas markets in Budapest. At the markets you will find lots of food stands, and they are great. The food is kind of pricy (be prepared), but what they serve you is delicious and will give you a taste of Hungary. When you see a Hungarian sausage (kolbasz), taste it! If you see other stuff you do not even understand what is, taste it! When you smell cinnamon from the chimney cakes, buy one! This is for sure one of the most exciting things about coming to Budapest before Christmas to visit the Christmas markets.
3) Do not forget about the Danube
Even though you come to Budapest to check out the Christmas markets, you should not forget about the beautiful Danube. The river that flows through Budapest is spectacular, and a walk along the Danube in the evening is fantastic. But, even more enjoyable than a walk along the Danube, is a river cruise on the Danube. There are lots of cruises to choose from, but from our point of perspective, the most enjoyable is a river cruise in the evening combined with dinner. You can read more about river cruises on the Danube right here.
4) Find an ATM and get some HUF
You can pay with Euro at almost all stands at the different Christmas markets in Budapest, but you are better off paying with the local currency, Hungarian Forint (HUF). The best way to get the local currency is using the different ATMs located all around Budapest. You can also visit an exchange office, but do not use the ones very close to the Christmas market. Look around and compare the exchange rates at 2-3 places, and pick the one with the best rates.
5) Get to know the city in an efficient way
You come to Budapest to visit the Christmas markets, but if you first visit our beautiful city, make sure to discover the rest of it as well. On a cold winter day you do not want to walk around for hours, so why not discover Budapest in a much more efficient way. What are we speaking about? Why not see Budapest on a private guided tour with one of our guides? We pick you up at your hotel and within 2,5-3 hours you have seen all the most famous spots in Budapest, you have walked at the Gellert Hill, seen the Fishermen’s Bastion from close (and taken some pictures there), you have seen the heroes located at the Heroes Square, and you have will have a guide who can answer (hopefully) all the questions you have about Budapest. Once you are finished with the tour you can continue your shopping at one of the Christmas markets. If you a freezing then our guides would love to give you advises on shopping malls where you can continue your shopping inside!
6) Make your reservations as soon as possible
The period before Christmas (the Christmas market period) is a time with lots of tourists coming to town. As a consequence, you will often visit a restaurant only to discover that it is packed. If you don’t care, then it doesn’t matter, but if you have a particular restaurant in Budapest that you want to visit during this period, then hurry up and make your reservation today. The same goes for river cruises and other activities. Other popular activities in this time that should be booked early are wine dinners and brewery visits.
7) Book a hotel near the Christmas markets
If you have come to Budapest to enjoy the Christmas markets, do not book a hotel far away from them. This might be cruel, but do not book a hotel at the Margaret Island (for example). You do not want to spend 30-60 minutes every day just getting from your hotel to the different Christmas markets in the center of Budapest. Book a central hotel in Budapest instead, and spend your time at the Christmas markets instead of spending your time getting to the Christmas markets. Some hotels in Budapest that can be recommended for this purpose are: Mercure City Center, La Prima Fashion Hotel, Eurostars Budapest Center and 7Seasons Apartments.
8) Take care of your valuables
This is an advise we do not really like to give, but we write it down, just to have it on the list. Budapest is a very safe city with few problems. There are some pick-pockets here and there, but they are few, and most people never see them, nor experience them. The best way to stay secure is to use common sense and to protect your valuables.
9) Do not use the taxies waiting next to the Christmas markets
Small problems might destroy a fantastic atmosphere. A cab driver who forces you to pay an unfair fare, a driver who gives you back money in the wrong currency (or the wrong amount of money), or someone treating you in an unfair way, can easily destroy your joy and happiness. For that reason, the taxies standing next to the Christmas markets should be avoided. In fact, most cabs waiting for you on the streets of Budapest should be avoided. If you need a cab, speak to the people in the reception of your hotel, in the restaurant you are at, or use your phone and call a taxi for yourself. You can read more about the problems we have with taxi drivers in Budapest right here.
Another good advice is to let us take care of your airport transfer. You will then have a driver waiting for you in the arrival hall at the airport, and he will take you directly to your hotel for a set price. That is very convenient and will help you get to discover the Christmas markets in Budapest even faster.
10) Make space in your suitcase for what you are going to bring with you home!
Our first advice was to bring warm clothes. That does not mean that you should arrive in Budapest with your suitcase filled up. At the Christmas markets, you will find lots of stuff that you want to buy to bring with you home. You will taste lots of fantastic Hungarian wine, and once you fall in love with the sweet Tokaj wine, you will buy a couple of bottles to bring home. It is essential that you come to Budapest with space in your suitcase because by the time you leave town, it will be full anyway!
11) Do you have any good advice to share with people coming to Budapest for the Christmas markets?
We would love to hear your advises! Do you have a question related to the Christmas markets? Ask your question in the comment field beneath!
If you press the link above you will be sent to Amazon.de, but you will notice one strange thing. The German store will be in English, making it much easier to do your shopping. It is no secret that German was the favored language in Hungary for a long time, but in the last ten years this has drastically change, and now English is the number one foreign language in the country. That is why you will be happy to press the link above and discover that you can shop from Amazon.de in English.
2022 update: This article is out of date. This was true in 2016, but it is no longer like this! You can still shop from Amazon.de, but you have to pay for the shipping. The shipping fees, however, are not that crazy, and normally products are delivered in less than a week. As a result, this is a great option.
One other thing that is nice to know is that you do not have to pay any import cost (VAT) on products ordered through Amazon.de as you order from within the EU.
What to shop from Amazon.de to Hungary in English?
Since we now enjoy free delivery on orders exceeding 39 Euro you can buy almost anything from Amazon.de. And there are lots of products that you will find to be much cheaper. It is for example often cheaper to buy games for your gaming console at Amazon in Germany, you will lots of clothes and of course international products. Look around at Amazon.de and be surprised at all the great products (and prices available).
You might wonder why we write about this here in our Budapest Guide! Well, you might find great stuff at the Christmas market in Budapest, but if you live in Hungary you might have greater use for the products available at Amazon in Germany then the ones you get at the Christmas market. Give it a try and see if this is shopping for you or not!
The free shipping on orders exceeding 39 Euro is only available for orders dispatched by Amazon. It is important to check this before placing your order, if not you might get a surprise in the end.
Since March 15th in 2015 all shops in Hungary had to remain closed on Sundays, with a few exceptions. This law however did not last too long, and as of April 17th 2016 shops are free to stay open on Sundays again.
The entire matter of closed and open stores on Sundays has had 100% to do with politics, and it was politics that led the current leaders of the nation to go back on their decision and again let shops stay open on Sundays. There are people on both sides of the political world and normal Hungarians who are really happy about it, while both workers and other people are sad that stores will re-open on Sundays again.
Most shops might not open already from Sunday April 17th, because it takes quite a lot of work to reschedule everything, make new working plans and so much more, but as a tourist coming to Budapest you can expect to see more and more shops open on Sundays again.
A couple of years ago we wrote about ordering products from Amazon which is quite hard when you live in Hungary, but recently we noticed a change, because it is now possible to order a Kindle to Hungary.
You can not buy all sorts of Kindle (the e-book reader from Amazon), but the newest reader which is called Kindle Voyage can be sent to countries all around the world, including Hungary. So, if you want to order a Kindle from Amazon.com or maybe from Amazon.de and have it delivered to Hungary then it can now be done. Notice that the standard Kindle can not be sent, neither can the Kindle Paperwhite, but the newest product named Kindle Voyage can be sent to Hungary, so if you order it from Amazon you will have it sent to you within a few days!
If you want to buy a Kindle Voyage and have it delivered to Hungary the cheapest store is Amazon.de, the German Amazon Store, which is now also available in English. Maybe you have ordered from Amazon.co.uk earlier, but if you compare prices you will soon notice that products in general are cheaper in the German store.
What is great with a Kindle is that you can bring it with you all across the world, and even if it might be a bit hard to get it delivered if you live in a country like Hungary, then it will be so easy once you have it, because you just buy a book in the Amazon store and you will have it on your Kindle within seconds, so no waiting at all!
For a long time people in Hungary have enjoyed the liberty to go shopping whatever they want to, also on Sundays. That is why even the Austrians would cross the borders and come to Hungary on Sundays to go shopping, while all shops in Vienna and elsewhere in Austria are closed on Sundays. But, a new era has started in Hungary, because now shops will stay closed on Sundays here as well!
This sounds terrifying to many, both locals and tourists. In other words, if you plan on visit a shopping mall on Sundays in Budapest you will find mostly everything to be closed, except from some coffee houses and cinemas. The only place you can actually go shopping as of know is in the shopping street of Budapest, where shops are supposed to be allowed to keep open because it is a World Heritage site, and there are some exceptions if the actual owner of the shop actually works in the shop on that day.
The first Sunday where this will actually be taken into action is this upcoming Sunday (March 22nd). If you plan on doing a trip to Szentendre this will probably be causing no problems, because shops there will stay open as in most cases the actual owners actually work in their own shops, and because to keep closed on Sundays would make them loose so much money, most owners will actually do the work themselves, if that is what it takes to be allowed to open their small and cute shops!
What is the ideal present to buy your loved ones in Budapest for Christmas? In this article we will give you some nice tips on buying the best souvenirs and gifts for Christmas.
There are several opportunities to choose from, many stores and even Christmas markets where you can get the nicest and most unique presents for Christmas. Read on, and get some ideas for what to bring home after a visit to Budapest before Christmas. If you simply want to know more about shopping in Budapest, then we recommend this article.
Hungary has a traditional candy for Christmas called szaloncukor which you can hang on the Christmas tree as decoration. It comes in several flavours such as marzipan, coconut, caramel, different flavoured jelly and so on which is covered in a thin layer of chocolate. You can get this at very low prices (with very low quality), so if you plan to bring this home with you, buy with higher quality, be it Milka, Szamos, Stuhmer or some other a bit more expensive version.
The other popular gifts from Hungary is Erős Pista (Strong Stephen) which is one of the most popular hot sauce in Hungary. It is an ideal gift for everyone who is into cooking. Erős Pista is made of minced hot paprika and salt and it could not be more Hungarian for sure. Hungarians use it in the different national dishes such as gulyás (goulash), lecsó and paprikás csirke. It can be really useful if you want to give some spiciness to your dish, and it is perfect to give some nice Hungarian taste to food lacking taste or in need of some more spice. This can be bought almost everywhere, in the market hall, in grocery stores and so on!
If you have some friends who like a good wine, and especially sweet white wine, then you should buy them a sweet Tokaj wine and bring it home to them for Christmas. This is a magnificent present that will make them happy, and especially women often enjoy this wine. Some sommeliers in Hungary call the sweet Tokaj wine Viagra for women. That might be a small exaggeration, but it for sure tastes good! If you are more into full bodied red wines, then the more expensive wines from the region of Villany is to be recommended. If you want some really Hungarian taste on the wine, and not follow the typical trends from abroad, then the red wines from the Szekszard region can be recommended, these are often light bodied and has a very nice spicy taste to them.
Souvenirs from the Christmas markets
If you would like to buy other type of presents such as bags, different Christmas decorations and similar products you can find them on the Christmas markets in Budapest. At the markets there are plenty of handmade gifts such as the most beautiful lamps, different bags, scarfs, hats, gloves and all kind of accessories, toys for children, mugs and kitchen accessories as well such as wooden cheese boards and serving platters.
Túró Rúdi, Sport szelet, ischler and more
If you want to bring some of the basics of Hungarian chocolate and sweets with you home, then the number one favorite to bring home is the Túró Rúdi. This is a piece of cottage cheese (sweet) covered with dark chocolate in the standard version. This is served cold, so if you plan on bringing it home with you, then make sure to put it in the fridge as soon as you get back home again. Another famous chocolate is the Sport szelet. The paper almost looks like a chewing gum, but beyond the paper you will find a piece of dark chocolate with rum among its ingredients. For those in love with cakes the Ischler is ideal, because you can bring it with you home, at least if you get it packed in a piece of paper. This is a kind of biscuit cake with jam on the inside and covered with chocolate on the outside.
These are some ideas and thoughts for what to bring home from Budapest with the goal of giving them away as Christmas presents. But, do not forget to buy double portions of everything, because you will for sure want to keep a bottle of Hungarian wine and some Erős Pista yourself.
There are lots of good books about Budapest out on the market, but it is not always so easy to find them. If you are a tourist you will probably find yourself looking for a travel guide with maps and useful information on the inside. If you are an expat living in Budapest you might be looking for historical books which will give you deeper insight in the culture, and if you love a good novel you might be looking for a good book which has a story that takes place in Budapest.
If you fit into any of the categories mentioned we have recommendations and some titles we believe might be interesting to you. You will not find all of these books in bookstores in Budapest, so therefore we add links to where you can order all the books online from Amazon.com. And do not forget to buy yourself a bottle of wine suitable to the book, because that will make the feeling even more authentic. Don’t get it? In Alexandra Bookstore in Budapest on Andrassy avenue they have a beautiful bookstore, a nice confectionery and a wine store. In the wine store they have a small booklet where they recommend wines to the different books mentioned in the booklet. So when you buy a book, you also get a bottle of wine and enjoy the two of them together. If you read this article somewhere outside Hungary it will be hard for you to get hold of Hungarian wine, but then you can either buy some local wine instead, or maybe just a good cup of coffee or some hot chocolate. Most important; enjoy your reading and enjoy the book!
Seven good books about Budapest
Rick Steves’ Budapest
In this travel guide you will find the thoughts of the author on Budapest and its attractions, restaurants, activities spiced up with maps, practical advices and some excursion information. There are lots of pictures added to the texts, and if you want to walk with a book in your hands as you get to know Budapest on your own, this might very well be it!
Budapest Noir: A Novel
This is a novel written by the Hungarian writer Vilmos Kondor, born in 1954. He has studied in Paris (at Sorbonne) and after that returned to Hungary. Budapest Noir is his first novel which has been praised by both Hungarian and foreigners. In this book you will get to know Zsigmond Gordon who feels like both Clark Kent and Sherlock Holmes at the same time. The story is set to the mid 1930s, and it „offers a haunting social and political critique, empowering us not to forget the emergence of one of history’s darkest moments: the rise of Adolf Hitler’s Nazi Germany.”
The Siege of Budapest: One Hundred Days in World War II
Maybe you have read many books about the Second World War, but very few of them focus on Hungary and on the battles taking place in Budapest. In this book written by Krisztian Ungvary you will get much more insight in the battle which describes one of the fiercest battles of World War II; the siege of Budapest. Both Stalin and Hitler demanded victory at all costs, and the cost was extreme: 80,000 Soviet troops, 38,000 German and Hungarian soldiers, and 38,000 Hungarian civilians perished. The book provides the first full account of this shocking battle.
In this book you will find 320 pages filled with information about the Hungarian gastronomy. You will get to know more about local traditions in different parts of Hungary and of course specialties and various details. But, the book does not only contain dry information. It also includes beautiful pictures and of course good recipes. If you are interested in the Hungarian cuisine, this is probably the book you are looking for. The book is written by Aniko Gergely.
Prague: A Novel
No, it is not a mistake. Even though the cover photo of the book feature the Charles Bridge in Prague, and the title is Prague: A Novel, the story of the book takes place in Budapest. The story is about five expats who come to Budapest in the 1990s to seek their fortune, and also get an answer to their suspicion that Prague is a bit better. This book written by Arthur Phillips is not a personal favorite, but if this sounds like something you would like to read, then why not!
Twelve Days: The Story of the 1956 Hungarian Revolution
October 23rd and the following days shook the world in 1956. The Hungarians stood up against the Communist rulers and impacted the world. In this book you will get to know the story of the Hungarian revolution, get to know what happened when, and also get to know the parts of the city where the most important events took place. You can say it like this that “Twelve Days adds immeasurably to our understanding of this historic event and reminds us of the unquenchable human desire for freedom.”
The Will to Survive: A History of Hungary
There are lots of books about the history of Hungary on the market, and most of them are written by Hungarians. This book is not written by a Hungarian. While some people judge the book because of that, others claim that the greatness of this book is exactly the fact that it is not written by a Hungarian. John Lukacs writes the following: “There are occasions when the sympathetic and interested eye of a foreigner may penetrate the jungle of confusing events and complicated sentiments with a clarity of vision amounting to something more than the antiseptic desideratum of “objectivity”. Such is the case with The Will to Survive. Many professional historians, including Hungarians, could learn from the judgments of this former guest in their midst.” If you want to know the Hungarian history in details that will make your tourist guide look at you with big eyes and maybe start asking you questions instead, this book might be it!
We eat lots of meat in Hungary, but mostly pork and chicken. If you visit larger food stores you will normally find some cow, but not in large quantities, because it is too expensive for the average buyer. But, if you need some high quality meat for a special occasion, you could consider MeszarSteak.
We wrote an article about Hegyvidek centre not long ago, and of of those shops fitting into the gourmet category in the mall is MeszarSteak. Do not be fooled though, it isn’t as expensive as it sounds. As I visited the place one kilo of chicken filet costed only 1600 HUF per kilo, which was the same as in Tesco.
In MeszarSteak you can buy meat for your hamburgers, ribs from lamb, T-bone steaks, Rib-Eye steaks, Angus meat and other snack that you make your lunch or dinner a real highlight. The quality should be good, because MeszarSteak deliver meat to restaurants such as Olimpia, Alabardos, Onyx, Borsso Bistro, Rokusfalvy Fogado, Babel and lots of others.
Getting hungry? Visit Hegyvidek centre and buy some premium meat yourself!
[stextbox id=”info”]I bought some meat from Meszar Steak myself and we have used it for several meals. It all tasted great, but I am not a gourmet guy, so I am not the guy to judge whether this is extremely high quality, good quality or only average. If you are a gourmet that taste the difference, write a comment after trying it and share your thoughts.[/stextbox]
I am going to Budapest and would like to buy a Hard Rock Cafe t-shirt while there. How much does it cost?
There are quite a lot of products you can buy in the Hard Rock shop in Budapest, but if you want to buy the traditional short armed Hard Rock Cafe t-shirts with white or black color the price is 7700 HUF per t-shirt. If you are new to Budapest and do not really know how much this price is in other currencies, then we can tell you that with the actual exchange rates of today this is:
6500 HUF is in American Dollars about 31USD. If you come from Great Britain and London then the price is about 20GBP (Sterling). For those located within in a country with Euro the price is approximately 25 Euro. This may of course change from time to time, but currently the HUF is very strong, but that can change within days, and then the price of the Hard Rock Cafe t-shirt will feel cheaper to people arriving from abroad.
Most people buy Hard Rock t-shirts because they collect. If you don’t then you should probably not buy one in Budapest, because the price is really high. If you go to other stores you will find normal t-shirts at much lower prices, so you can probably buy 2 t-shirts for the same price as the t-shirt from Hard Rock Cafe. But if you collect, then money is not a question, and of course you should buy a t-shirt!