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!