March 15 – Hungarian National Day

March 15th is an annual Hungarian National Day. This is a day that is celebrated to remember the Hungarian revolution against the Habsburgs and the Austrians back in 1848.

This article is not meant to be a historical introduction to the day, but instead, it will help tourists coming to Budapest know what to expect as they come to visit the Hungarian capital (and other Hungarian cities) on March 15th.

The Hungarian National Day on March 15th
The Hungarian National Day on March 15th

What to expect on March 15th in Hungary?

March 15th is not a big national celebration in which people rejoice and walk around eating hot-dogs and celebrating with Hungarian flags outside all day.

To most people, March 15th is simply a day of relaxation, and a nice forced “day-off” from work and school.

But, there are programs around the city on March 15th, and most of these are related to the commemoration of the revolution in 1848. And it is also a day of political meetings, meaning that the different political parties often meet with their own people to listen to what the leader has to say. Normally this is all about explaining why all the other political parties in the country are stupid.

Are stores and restaurants open on March 15th?

The normal grocery stores and clothing stores (and shopping malls) are closed on March 15th. But, restaurants, cinemas, and museums are open on March 15th. In fact, many museums run with free entrance to their localities on the Hungarian National days, making this a wonderful day to visit museums in Budapest if you are on a budget!

The thermal baths are mostly open, and the most popular of them all, the Szechenyi Thermal Bath, is running with normal opening times also on March 15th.

Recommended programs on March 15th

If you come to Budapest on March 15th, we recommend visiting some museums during the daytime. It is also possible to enjoy one of the many river cruises on the Danube, and it is also a nice day for visiting the city of Szentendre (where the stores are open).

As most restaurants also keep open, this can be a nice day for a wine tasting experience, or just a great dinner in a nice Budapest restaurant.

Budapest in March

After a long winter March comes with hope and normally temperatures that make Scandinavians think it is summer. So, what has Budapest got to offer tourists dropping by in March?

It is useful to know that March is still pre-season in Budapest, meaning that you should be able to find cheap hotels and lots of half-full restaurants eager to have you visit them. If you are lucky you can experience temperatures above 15 degrees, but if you are unlucky it can be between 0 and 5 Celsius. In the best years the average temperature in Budapest is 10 Celsius in March, while in less tourist friendly years the average temperature can be around 2 Celsius.

Spring Festival and Spring Fair

The most important festival in Budapest in March is the Budapest Spring Festival. The dates differ from year to year, but the festival normally last for two weeks and it is packed with national and international stars performing in several different venues in Budapest. If you like ballett, classical music, jazz and similar expressions, this is the festival for you.

Budapest Spring Festival 2013: March 22nd – April 7th

Another popular activity that comes together with the Spring Festival is the Spring fair at the Vörösmarty square. This is very similar to the Christmas market at the same square, except from the fact that the weather is better and it stays bright for much longer. If you come in this period, make sure you visit the Spring Fair and have some Hungarian sausage, eat some Chimney cake and buy some hand-made souvenir.

If you are lucky with the weather you should also enjoy the best cakes in Budapest at the Gerbeaud confectionary sitting outside enjoy the first rays of the sun at the Vörösmarty square.

More cultural events in March

Since tourists start coming to town in March some of the typical programs start showing up again. In March you can for example take a look at a traditional Hungarian folklore program several times in the beautiful Danube Palace. Another popular program is the traditional Puszta programs arranged at several spots around in the nation of Hungary. At such programs you will normally enjoy a spectacular horse-show combined with lots of food and lots of drinks on the table.

If you like organ music there are concerts availabe in the St. Stephens Basilica a couple of days a week during this period, so that could be an option for some of you.

If you want to know more about Hungarian gastronomy and handicraft, why not visit the Handicraft Fair of Hungarian Flavours from March 8th to 10th in 2013.

Other March activities

If you are really lucky with the weather a great place to go is the Romai part. It is located north of Budapest, not far from the Aquincum museum. Here you can stroll along the Danube and eat and drink in an area that reminds you more of a traditional seaside than Hungary. Do not forget to visit the museum while in the area, as it will give you great insight in the history of the area.

Visit the Franz Liszt square and enjoy a lunch outside in open air together with both locals and tourists. At the square you will be able to eat traditional Hungarian courses and a whole lot of other stuff, of course depending on what restaurant you choose. We can warmly recommend Menza and Fresco Cafe.

In addition to these advises, here comes some general advises valid for Budapest throughout the entire year!

River Cruise in March in Budapest

All year round Budapest advises

  • Take a swim in Szechenyi Furdo, the hot springs are delicious
  • Go taste some wine on a Hungarian wine tasting
  • Enjoy the night view of Budapest on a Danube Cruise
  • Visit the Grand Market Hall and feel like a local
  • Taste the Goulash soup in 2-3 restaurants, just to get to know the national soup of Hungary

We wish you a pleasant stay in Budapest in March. If anyone have further advices or experiences, please write a comment. We would love to hear from you!