Budapest is a popular destination for celebrating. Thousands of people come to have their stag or hen party in Budapest, others celebrate their birthdays in Budapest, while some decide to have their wedding in Budapest. Others, like you, come to Budapest to celebrate New Year’s Eve. But, what is Budapest like on the last day of the year? What’s going on in Budapest on December 31st? And what can you expect on January 1st?
We will try to cover as much as possible related to New Year’s Eve in Budapest in this article, including opening times for stores and shopping malls, restaurant options, and where people go to celebrate the start of a new year.
Opening times in Budapest on December 31st & January 1st.
Grocery stores and shopping malls.
December 31st is a quite normal day in Budapest, which means most stores, shopping malls, and offices operate with normal opening times. The only difference is that they close earlier, resulting in grocery stores often closing between 14:00 and 18:00 instead of their normal times. The same is true for the different stores in the different shopping malls and shopping streets of Budapest.
While all stores are open on December 31st, mostly everything is closed on January 1st. The only exceptions are smaller grocery stores. The shopping malls are closed, but the cinemas in the shopping malls are normally open and fully operating on January 1st. In other words, if it is cold and you are bored, why not go to the cinema?
Restaurants and cafés.
Most restaurants and cafés are open on December 31st, meaning you shouldn’t have trouble getting a cup of coffee, or a traditional Goulash soup as you get hungry on New Year’s Eve in Budapest. You should, however, be warned… lots of restaurants operate with dedicated New Year’s Eve menus and New Year’s Eve programs. As a result, you need to book a table beforehand, and you will often have to choose a menu at a set price (which is quite expensive). We will more information with some examples of how this works further down in the article.
January 1 is a national holiday, and many restaurants stay closed on this day, while most cafés decide to stay open. You don’t need to worry about finding somewhere to eat, but if you have something special in mind, do some research beforehand to find out whether the restaurant is open or not. If it is open, book a table as quickly as possible.
Museums and attractions.
Most museums have a shortened opening time on December 31st, while they are closed entirely on January 1st. There might be some exceptions with the tourist-centered museums (like Madame Tussauds). In other words, find the concrete information about your museum of interest before you plan your day on January 1st. It is also worth finding out exactly how long the museum you are interested in is open on December 31st. Some attractions are closed on both days, some are open only on December 31st, while some are open on both days.
Examples of opening times for different museums in Budapest:
- The Hungarian National Museum is open from 10:00 to 14:00 on December 31 (a Sunday), while it is entirely closed on January 1.
- The Terror House Museum is open from 10:00 to 15:00 on December 31 but is closed on January 1.
- The National Gallery is open from 10.00 to 16:00 on December 31. It is open from 12:00 to 18:00 on January 1.
- The Matthias Church is open from 13:00 to 17:00 on December 31. The church is yet again open from 9:00 to 17:00 on January 1.
- The Hungarian Parliament is open to tourists on both days, but there are a limited number of tickets, so book your ticket early!
The thermal baths in Budapest.
Doesn’t it sound cool to enjoy hot thermal water outdoors on the last day of the year? Or maybe even nicer to walk outside in a swimming suit outdoor in 0 Celsius on the first day of the new year? But is it possible? Are the thermal baths in Budapest open on December 31 and January 1?
The thermal baths follow the trend of the museums and stores, meaning they are all open on December 31, but they close earlier than they normally do. The good news, however, is that many of the thermal baths are open like normal on January 1st. In addition, you might even have the chance to celebrate the new year in one of the thermal baths in Budapest. Rudas had a so-called Sparty, or party bath, option in 2022, but we still don’t know if it will return in 2023 or not.
Below you can see the opening times of some of the most important thermal baths in Budapest on December 31 and January 1.
|December 31||January 1|
|Szechenyi bath||9:00 – 18:00||10:00 – 20:00|
|Gellert bath||9:00 – 18:00||10:00 – 20:00|
|Rudas bath||6:00 – 18:00||10:00 – 20:00|
Where to party in Budapest on New Year’s Eve?
At the main square in Budapest (Vörösmarty tér).
Would you like to party on the last evening of the year? There are different options available, but the most popular place to celebrate New Year’s Eve in Budapest is on the Vörösmarty Square, the location of the popular Christmas market in the center of Budapest. Here you have the traditional stalls from the Christmas market where you can buy pretzels, sausages, chimney cakes, and all the snacks you dream of. Hungarians say eating pig on New Year’s Eve gives you luck in the next year, so if you are ready to digest meat from the pig, that will not cause a lot of hardship. Besides eating, it is no problem buying cold and warm drinks which should provide the fuel you need to dance yourself into the new year.
At the square, you will find a stage from which there is live music throughout the evening and the night. There are lots of people selling New Year’s Eve effects, there are fireworks and lots of champagne.
On a boat on the Danube.
Doesn’t it sound quite awesome to celebrate the end of a year and the start of a new year on a river cruise traveling up and down the Danube? You can sing, dance, drink, and eat while eating the most beautiful scenery on earth (Budapest by night). There are lots of companies offering such trips and as always, you need to buy your ticket in advance if you want to be sure that you get a place on the boat. Below you can find links to cruises on December 31 in Budapest. You can read more about the trips and also book a ticket if any of them sounds ideal to you.
- 4-hour cruise: 4-hour cruise with unlimited champagne, beer, soft drinks, and wine. It lasts from 22:00 to 02:00.
- Gala dinner and cruise: A 6-hour cruise with a 5-course dinner included, welcome cocktail, midnight champagne, and more. It starts at 19:00.
- New Year’s Party cruise: A 7-hour cruise with a 5-course dinner, unlimited drinks, DJ, folklore show, and more. It starts at 19:00.
- 3-hour cruise: Dance to popular party songs on this Danube cruise with unlimited drinks included.
These are some of the options if you want to celebrate the new year on the river Danube in Budapest.
In a ruin-pub or a disco.
Budapest has lots of fantastic places for partying and that is true also on December 31. If you want to dance into the new year, visit bars or clubs such as:
- Szimpla Kert
- Morrisons 2
It is also worth knowing that lots of the four and five-star hotels in Budapest have celebrations as well. These often contain dinner, live music, dancing, and other popular New Year’s Eve activities. In other words, contact your hotel to find out if there is something taking place in your hotel.
Where to eat dinner on New Year’s Eve?
You definitely need something to eat on the last day of the year. It is well-known that many restaurants are closed on December 24, meaning that it can be very hard to find an open restaurant with free tables on Christmas Eve in Budapest. What about New Year’s Eve?
We mentioned it earlier in the article that most restaurants are open on December 31. Many of them, however, have special New Year’s Eve programs with special menus and set prices. In other words, you need to book a table in advance and pay for the full program or a part of the program in advance to secure your reservation. Other restaurants operate with normal opening times and a normal menu. No matter what, you should reserve a table as early as possible.
Restaurants with special New Year’s Eve menu.
There are lots of restaurants with special New Year’s Eve menus. Menu prices on December 31 vary between 80 euros and 200 euros per person (normally). Here you can see some restaurants with special menus available on New Year’s Eve in Budapest.
You can read more about the restaurants by clicking the links. You can use our website to reserve a table in these restaurants on New Year’s Eve, but be aware that the reservation will only be finalized as a prepayment for the program has arrived in the bank account of the restaurant.
Restaurants with normal menus and no special New Year’s Eve program.
These are some examples that will help you find a place to eat dinner on New Year’s Eve in Budapest.
Frequently asked questions about New Year’s Eve in Budapest.
How cold does it get in Budapest on New Year’s Eve?
It is hard to say something for sure, but you should expect temperatures between -5 Celsius and 0 Celsius around midnight. If that sounds cold, the Hungarians drink the popular fruit brandy (Palinka) to keep warm. Another option is to dance, and a third option is to wear a lot of clothes. The most important thing to pay attention to is the wind. You can take a look at the weather forecast for Budapest in the coming days here.
Can I pay with Euros in the different restaurants, at the river cruises, and at the New Year’s Eve party at Vörösmarty Square?
The Euro still isn’t the official payment method in Hungary, but it is very normal for stores, restaurants, and others to accept payments in Euro. In other words, you will most likely be able to pay for all your activities and your food using Euro. It is worth knowing, however, that some places charge you more (using a poor conversion rate) if you pay with Euro instead of the Hungarian Forint. You can read more about the local currency and get some practical tips in this article.
When does it get dark in Budapest on December 31st?
The sun goes down around 16:00 on December 31 in Budapest. It takes some minutes before it gets dark, but you can expect it to be dark and the buildings to be illuminated from 17:00.
Can I use my own fireworks on New Year’s Eve?
You can buy fireworks in many stores all around Budapest and Hungary between December 28 and December 31. You are only allowed to use the fireworks between 18:00 on December 31 and 06:00 on January 1. It is illegal to use them before this period or after this period. You are only allowed to use officially accepted fireworks, so fireworks bought on eBay and not inspected by Hungarian authorities are illegal to use.
It is also worth noticing that you must keep your distance from others and only shoot the fireworks at safe locations. As a result, you are not allowed to shoot your own fireworks at crowded locations like Vörösmarty Square and other popular locations on December 31.