With festive lights, Christmas markets, frozen lakes, and the smell of cinnamon-spiced mulled wine wafting through the air, Budapest is a magical place to spend Christmas and New Year’s. Here are a few ways to make the most of your festive stay in the Hungarian capital.
See the City Illuminated
During the holiday season, Budapest’s landmarks twinkle majestically after nightfall. Andrássy Avenue positively glitters throughout December, as do some of Budapest’s trams, which are decorated with thousands of LED fairy lights to mark the yuletide season.
Cruise the Danube
Some of the best views of Budapest are from the Danube River. River cruises depart throughout the festive season, offering front-row views of the floodlit banks of Hungary’s capital, and dinner and drinks on board. Opt for New Year’s Eve dinner cruises and toast the evening with sparkling wine, dance to live music, and watch from the upper deck as fireworks light up the sky and the revelers at riverside street parties celebrate the arrival of the new year.
Shop at Christmas Markets
Christmas markets are an annual tradition in Budapest. During the month of December, squares across the city, including the central Vorosmarty Square, fill with vendors selling handmade toys, gifts, and souvenirs, as well as mulled wine, roast chestnuts, and kürtőskalács (chimney cake)—a sweet cylindrical dough treat sprinkled with sugar, cinnamon, or nuts.
Catch a Christmas Concert
Budapest is renowned for its cultural—and, in particular, its musical—offerings. Attending a classical music performance is an excellent way to while away cold winter evenings. Over the Christmas period you’ll find a packed calendar of concerts, ranging from chamber orchestra performances of Vivaldi and Strauss works to solo piano shows, taking place in venues such as the neobaroque Danube Palace.