Budapest Christmas Markets
We are frequent Christmas Market visitors. There is something truly magical about the old historic buildings all aglow with Christmas lights, a warm cup of gluhwein in one hand and a tasty treat in the other hand. We found the Budapest Christmas markets overwhelmingly charming and full of handmade crafts, which was a breath of fresh air.
The markets run from November to the end of December. The major market at Vorosmarty Sq runs the longest from (Nov 09, 2018 – Jan 1, 2019).
The markets are scattered through the city, we frequented both the Vorosmarty Square and the Bascilia markets due to their proximity to our Airbnb.
Vorosmarty Square Market: This is the oldest and most well known Christmas market in Budapest. It is located on Vorosmarty Square in the heart of the city (since 1998).
Basilica Christmas Market: You can’t have a better backdrop with the basilica. We really enjoyed the handmade gifts, tasty treats (including Chimney Cake) and the light show that they project onto the Basilica. You’ll find this market at Stephen’s Sq, Budapest, District V
The Advent Fair in Obuda (Old Buda) is not a well-known Christmas market in Budapest. This is where you want to head if you want to join in with the locals and see what a Christmas market was like in the past. It is only held during Advent weekends, so time your visit in December if this is on your bucket list. Head to Old Buda by the Arpad Bridge on the Buda side.
One of the things I really loved about Budapest was the love and care that was put into their products. You could see traditions being carried on from generation to generation. We found the traditional Hungarian embroidery and lacework breathtaking. But that also means, don’t expect cheap pricing. You get what you pay for.
The streets surrounding the markets were also lined with cute shops and an abundance of Christmas lights. Each night, it was amazing walking down the streets admiring the lights and the festivities.
What to eat/drink?
The famous Chimney Cake (KÜRTŐSKALÁCS) are a treat when strolling around the markets. We like to get them fresh off the stick with cinnamon sugar. It’s HOT, so make sure you’re careful as you peel off the layers. We also treated ourselves to some deluxe Chimney Cake’s, but we could hardly finish ½ of it, so best to share.
The goulash soup (GULYÁSLEVES) is another favorite and a national dish in Hungary. Grab it by the cup or in a bread bowl. It will warm your tummy and keep you full while you enjoy some shopping. Cozy up wherever you can find somewhere to sit.
Other favorites include sausages (HURKA, KOLBÁSZ), sampling the variety of cheeses (all locally made) and stuffed cabbage (TÖLTÖTT KÁPOSZTA). The stuffed cabbage was a favorite of mine!
We frequently sample gluhwein at European Christmas Markets. We actually really enjoyed the gluhwein at the Budapest Christmas markets. They have multiple varieties, so try out a few and see what you like best. You can choose between white wine and red wine as a base, add some spices, cinnamon, and fresh fruits. Delicious!
*Expert tip: bring a mug to pour your gluhwein into. It will stay warm, less likely to spill and you can return the cup for your pfand*
What to buy?
Shopping is always a personal decision. I’m the type of shopper that walks around the whole market and looks before returning for the items I really loved. Here is what we purchased:
-Dried fruit and spice garland: This is something I’ve never seen at any other market and I knew it would remind me every Christmas of our time in Budapest. You can even purchase essential oils to put on the garland year after year.
-Christmas market homes: we started a collection of little traditional homes at each market. A church, a bakery, a tower, just depending on the town and what it reminds us of. They are beautiful and fun to search for.
-Wooden toys: we found a lovely stall with wooden toys. We purchased two little crossbows that were easy enough for my 3-year-old to load and didn’t hurt when the cork flew!
-Gifts: beautiful flowers, candies, soaps, leather crafts and more.
More Christmas Fun:
If you want to spend more time at the Hungarian State Opera House, check out the Budapest Nutcracker Ballet. Make sure you book tickets ahead of time to get the best seats!
If you want to get some winter exercise, visit the Ice Rink in Budapest City Park. It is located near Vajdahunyad Castle, which provides a romantic backdrop.