Christmas markets 2023
The annual Christmas Markets in Budapest are turning more and more popular, and starting earlier and earlier every year. The most famous of the Christmas markets is the one located at Vörösmarty Tér in the heart of Budapest, but there are also several others, and on this page, you will find information on the different Christmas Markets.
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Below you can read about the most important Christmas markets in Budapest, find out where they are located, and what you should do if you decide to visit them while in Budapest.
Christmas Markets at Vörösmarty Tér
The most famous and popular Christmas market in Budapest is the fair located at Vörösmarty Tér (Vörösmarty square). This is located in the heart of Budapest, at the end stop of the yellow metro line sharing the name of the square, and at the end of the shopping street of Budapest, Váci Utca. Do not forget that all streets have two ends, and if you end up in the wrong end of the street you will find yourself walking inside the Grand Market Hall (not a bad place, but not the best if you would like to visit the Christmas market at the Vörösmarty square). If you live on the Buda side, you can simply walk across the Chain Bridge, turn right and walk towards the white bridge (Elisabeth Bridge). As you reach the Vigadó tér, turn left, and you will be at the Vörösmarty tér within seconds!
At this Christmas fair, you will find traditional Hungarian handicrafts and lots of delicious food which tastes extremely well as you feel the smell get into your nose and your stomach orders you to sit down to grab a bite. And yes, there are many benches and tables at the Christmas market at Vörösmarty square, which is one of the qualities making this one of the best Christmas markets in Europe. If you want some simple food, then you should try the traditional Chimney cake with the cinnamon taste, yummy!
It has been a tradition to have a big stage at the square. At the stage, there have been daily concerts, folklore programs, and similar programs with cultural value. This was removed in 2022, and it is not sure whether it will return later or not. You will not be bored, however, as there are lots of stalls you should visit and a little train for kids at the square. The little train is cool for the youngest kids, and the best thing is that it is entirely free.
The train only goes around a little round, but it is still an excellent experience for the children.
Christmas Markets in front of St. Stephen’s Basilica
Budapest’s newest Christmas market is in front of the Saint Stephens Basilica. This was opened for the first time in 2011, and it has an amazing atmosphere and great lights, and you can take nice pictures standing on the stairs of the basilica. You can buy mostly the same stuff as at the Christmas market at Vörösmarty Square, but here you can also go ice skating as you can find a small ice skating rink in the middle of the Christmas market. This market is also especially known for the beautiful lights that you can see as you visit the square in the evenings, as the entire area is illuminated with lights, making it feel just like you are in the middle of a magic moment from your favorite Disney film or something like that! Absolutely worth visiting, especially because the market is only 600-700 meters from the market at Vörösmarty square.
There are also special light shows at the church’s facade regularly in the evenings, something that many people will enjoy in addition to all the other things you can see at the square.
Other Christmas markets
There are some smaller markets located at different locations in Budapest. One can be found at Liszt Ferenc square (near Októgon). Another can be found in the Gozsdu Udvar, located inside the former Jewish ghetto of Budapest. The main entrance is from Király Utca. If you can not find it, ask some locals or write a comment to this article, and we will add a Google map showing you where to go!
If you live on the Buda side, the market next to the Allee shopping mall is a nice one, and the same is true for the little Christmas market located at the Moricz Zsigmond Korter. These are not the biggest ones, but you can still find chimney cake to eat, some hot wine, and of course, bags, handicrafts, and other articles like these on these and all the other smaller markets located here and there in Budapest.
If you live in Óbuda (old Buda), there is also a very nice Christmas market at the Fö square in district one of Budapest. This is a market for the locals, meaning that you will barely meet tourists at this location, which also influences the market’s price level. There is an ice skating rink here, and if you try to find it on the map, it is located just on the Buda side of the Árpad bridge (the most northern Budapest bridge for cars).
In the eleventh district of Budapest, next to the Etele mall at the Etele square (and the Kelenfoldi railway station and metro stop), you can also find a nice little market. Here you can enjoy an ice skating rink and buy hot wine, chimney cakes, and other things you often enjoy at such markets. There is also a stage here for different programs. It might not be the biggest market, but it has a nice atmosphere!
What weather can I expect in this period?
The Christmas markets normally open around November 20th and last until December 24th, and some even until January 1st-2nd. If you are lucky, you can enjoy some sun and 5-10 Celsius during this period, but you should not be surprised if you experience some light snow and about 0 Celsius. Budapest typically has a very nice climate, but if the wind blows, make sure to bring a jacket, so as you prepare for your stay, check whether it is supposed to be windy or not. The average temperature in December is about 1 Celsius.
Budapest Christmas Market dates 2023
- Vörösmarty square market – not yet announced
- St. Stephen’s Basilica market – not yet announced
As you can see, the dates for the Christmas markets in 2023 are not yet published. But what can we expect? Based on the dates for the Christmas markets in 2022, our primary guess is that the markets will open on November 17th, 2023. If they wait a bit, then they will open latest on November 24th. Of course, these are just guesses, but those are very likely guesses (unless something unexpected should happen, like COVID-19).
The Christmas market dates in previous years.
November 18th, 2022 – December 31st, 2022 (Market at Vörösmarty square)
November 18, 2022 – January 1st, 2023 (Market by St. Stephans Basilica)
Would you like to eat a delicious meal near the Christmas markets in Budapest?
- Read more about the fantastic Aszu restaurant right here.
- Read more about river cruises with dinner right here.
Where should you stay in Budapest in November and December?
What to eat at the Christmas markets in Budapest?
We touched on the topic of gastronomy earlier in this article. But what exactly should you eat as you come to Budapest and visit the Christmas markets? This is a perfect place to taste traditional Hungarian gastronomy. Let us take a closer look at what you should taste.
Above, you can see a picture of a very popular meal in Hungary, the lángos. This is a dough with yeast that is fried in oil. After it is fried, it is often served with sour cream and cheese or with garlic oil. This is extremely popular, and it has also been exported to several other countries. As a result, you can also find it at the Christmas markets in Vienna, Bratislava, and Prague. We have even heard that it is an extremely popular thing to eat at festivals in Sweden!
The Chimney cake (Kürtöskalács) is extremely popular, not only among adults but also among kids. This is a sweet dough with yeast that is formed as a long spaghetti. It is then placed around a tool as you can see in the image above, and grilled. Sugar is added to the outer layer before this process, making it shine and even sweeter. In the end, the chimney cake is dipped in either cocoa, cinnamon, vanilla, or walnut and served. It is extremely delicious. You shouldn’t be surprised if you meet this on Christmas markets elsewhere in Europe because it becomes a big hit wherever it is sold. Several stores in Budapest are dedicated to the Kürtöskalács, meaning that it is possible to buy it all year round. You can even add cream, Nutella, and other snacks to the Kürtöskalács) in some places, but that isn’t really necessary!
Hungarians love meat, and they love to use every single part of the pig. The sausages are really tasty, and if you eat the biggest sausages served with bread and topping, you will not get hungry for the rest of the day. Another side-effect is that you will barf later in the day and feel the spices of the sausage for hours afterward. Don’t be afraid of this, though; it is part of the fun!
In the picture above, you can also see the hock from a pig. Hungarians like to use all parts of the animal, and this is a very tasty part. At some Christmas markets, you can also buy hen-testicle stews and more, so make sure to look around and be open to tasting new things.
The Hungarians love using a lot of onion and traditional paprika to prepare food. You can see a stew made from a cow in the middle of the picture above. This has a delicious taste, and it is often served with dumplings and sometimes with potatoes. You will often find similar stews (pörkölt) made from chicken and pork.
Do you have any clue about what you see in the picture above? It is very fun to buy something and taste it without actually knowing what it is. But, if you don’t want to take such risks, we can tell you that what you see is a so-called tócsni. It is yet another tasty Hungarian meal that is fried in oil. What is it made of? A tócsni is a meal based on potatoes, and later eggs, flour, salt, and pepper is added to the dough. In the end, you end up with something looking like pancake dough. This is fried in oil, and a few minutes later, you will happily eat it at one of the Christmas markets in Budapest!
If you travel to Austria and Vienna, you will find the Strudel everywhere. This is an important part of the local gastronomy, and as you probably already understand, the Hungarian and the Austria kitchen have a lot in common. There is no wonder why the Hungarians consider the Wiener schnitzel to be their invention! As you visit the different Christmas markets in Budapest, you will find the rétes (strudel) everywhere. If you follow tradition, you will likely buy a strudel with either apples or cherries. But if you want a more local version, then you should buy a strudel with sweet cottage cheese or with poppy seeds inside. If you choose the latter (the poppy seeds) bring a little mirror to see how much is left between your teeth as you finish eating.
What to drink at the Christmas markets in Budapest?
We have written a lot about what you should eat at the Christmas markets in Budapest. But, what should you drink? You will normally find lots of local drinks at markets such as these, and the same is true in Budapest.
The most important drink is obviously the hot wine, glühwein or “forralt bor“ as the locals call it. This warm wine is often spiced up with cinnamon and other Christmas spices. Kids normally don’t like it, simply because it tastes like wine. Adults, however, lover it, especially if it is cold outside, as it warms your soul and your body at the same time.
Above you can also see that there it is possible to taste hot white wine and hot red wine. In other words, there are differences between the different stalls, and also whether or not they add spices to the drinks or not. If you pay attention closely, you can also see the Budapest Christmas market cup which is the most authentic cup to use for drinking hot wine.
If you want to drink something else, then Hungarians love their palinka (fruit spirit), especially in cold weather like you can expect in November and December. There are lots of different Palinkas available in Hungary. Most of them are made of one specific fruit (like apricots or plums), while some are mixed fruits. A normal palinka has an alcohol level of between 40%-45%, but you can also find stronger versions of this popular drink.
What to buy at the Christmas markets in Budapest?
We have told you a lot about what to eat and drink at the Christmas markets in Budapest. But, what you should you buy as visit the different stalls? There are a couple of products you can buy every single year, and then there are products you only find one year but then it is gone the next year. The most important thing to remember is that the markets are meant to be found handicraft products, that is, products made by people with their hands. These are not mass-produced products from a factory, but products made with love and sweat all around Hungary.
Above, you can see something that tends to return for the Christmas markets yearly in Budapest. These are hand-made sweets with all sorts of fillings. These are really exclusive, and the price per piece is approximately 1000 HUF. But these might be a great pick if you want some delicious and exclusive sweets for Christmas!
Christmas is a time for eating gingerbread cakes, and that is a tradition in Hungary as well. In Hungary, the most important ingredient is honey. That is why they call it honey-sweet-bread (mézeskalács) if you translate the Hungarian word. You will find them fully decorated and in all sorts of colors and shapes. There isn’t anything really revolutionary about these cakes, but they might become a nice decoration on a Christmas tree when you travel home or just eat it while drinking some hot wine.
Hungarians are creative and good with their hands. As a result, you can find lots of ceramics of all sorts and in all shapes at the Christmas markets. Above, you can see different beautiful objects that you can use to make your home nicer, warmer, and more colorful. These are popular among adults and kids, and it can remain a memory from Budapest that lives with you for the rest of your life.
You end up buying some things in Budapest because you need it there and then. An example of such an object might be a warm hat. But it is nice to know that you will be the coolest man at home when you walk into the office using one of these hats that will make you look like a pilot from the Second World War (or something like that). At the left, you can also see all sorts of gloves, something many will find useful as well when the temperatures go below 0 Celsius in Budapest in December.
Want to travel home with another souvenir that will remind you of Budapest for many years? Buy a handmade lamp at the different Christmas markets in Budapest. These are very popular objects and often have very nice pictures of famous Budapest attractions and locations.