Just as it straddles the legendary Danube River, Budapest is a city that straddles the old and modern. With its captivating history and extravagant architecture, Budapest is considered among the most beautiful European capitals. And the Hungarian capital, much of which has been granted UNESCO World Heritage Site status, is even more beautiful during the holiday season.

Experience the Christmas markets in Budapest, which have become increasingly popular, and rank among Europe’s favorite markets. Photo credit: Monique White

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Budapest is considered among the most beautiful European capitals, and even more so during the holiday season. Experience the Christmas markets in Budapest, which have become increasingly popular, and rank among Europe’s favorite markets. Photo credit: Monique White

The Budapest Christmas markets, which began in 1998, have become increasingly popular, even ranking as one of the most popular Christmas markets in Europe on Instagram in 2018.

Experience the Christmas markets in Budapest, which have become increasingly popular, and rank among Europe’s favorite markets. Photo credit: Monique White

Experience the Christmas markets in Budapest, which have become increasingly popular, and rank among Europe’s favorite markets. Photo credit: Monique White

Further evidence of its popularity is that one of Budapest’s main Christmas markets opens 2 weeks earlier this year than it has previously and the markets are expected to welcome nearly 1 million people during its 2-month run.

Vöroösmarty Square Christmas Market

Budapest’s oldest and largest Christmas market takes place on this square. In the center of the square is the huge Christmas tree surrounded by more than 100 wooden chalets with traditional Hungarian handicrafts, jewelry, holiday ornaments and more.

A huge Christmas tree surrounded by more than 100 wooden chalets is the focal point of the Vöroösmarty Square Christmas market, the oldest and largest in Budapest. Photo credit: Monique White

Highlights of this Christmas market include nightly live music acts, a light show shown on the walls of the famous Gerbeaud Café, and every Sunday during advent a candle is lit on the giant wreath that sits in the square.

Vöroösmarty Square Christmas Market is open from November 8, 2019 – January 1, 2020.

Experience the Christmas markets in Budapest, which have become increasingly popular, and rank among Europe’s favorite markets. Photo credit: Monique White

Christmas Market of the Basilica of St. Stephen 

While Vöroösmarty Square Christmas market is large and loud, the St. Stephen’s Christmas market is smaller, (slightly) more sedate and with the large Christmas tree in front of the basilica, more picturesque.

The St. Stephen’s Christmas market is marked by the brightly lit Christmas tree and the small children's ice-skating rink in front of the basilica. Photo credit: Monique White

The St. Stephen’s Christmas market is marked by the brightly lit Christmas tree and the small children's ice-skating rink in front of the basilica. Photo credit: Monique White

There are fewer chalets in St. Stephen’s square, but traditional Hungarian handicrafts are also available here. The small ice skating rink for children is a much-loved feature of the market, as is a 3D light show projected hourly on the façade of the basilica.

One of the highlights of the St. Stephen's Christmas market is marked by the brightly lit Christmas tree and a 3D light show projected hourly on the façade of the basilica. 

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Christmas Market of the Basilica of St. Stephen is open November 22, 2019 – January 1, 2020

Óbuda Christmas Market

Óbuda, the oldest part of Budapest, is the 3rd district, which, along with Buda and Pest, comprises the Hungarian capital. The Obuda Christmas market, which is about 30 minutes to reach via public transportation from downtown Budapest, is slightly off the beaten path, and mostly frequented by locals.

Stay warm while shopping the Budapest Christmas markets with a mug of mulled wine made with Hungary’s brandy and national drink, Pálinka, and combined with fruit juice, honey, lemon, and spices. Photo credit: Monique White

Situated around the historical Fo Square, the Obuda market is extremely charming. There are a handful of huts around the square selling traditional items and food – LOTS of food. In fact, I’d say the food huts outnumbered the others by 2:1. There’s also an ice-skating rink and a small petting zoo.

The Óbuda Christmas market, situated around a historical square in an area slightly off the beaten path, and mostly frequented by locals, is extremely charming. Photo credit: Monique White

The Óbuda Christmas market, situated around a historical square in an area slightly off the beaten path, and mostly frequented by locals, is extremely charming. Photo credit: Monique White

The Christmas tree at the Óbuda market is very special. The tree is made of wood by Hello Wood, which is then donated to charity for families who need the wood for heating.

The Christmas tree at the Óbuda market is made of wood, which, after the holidays is donated to families who need the wood for heating. Photo credit: world-architects.com

Óbuda Christmas Market is open November 30, 2019 – December 23, 2020

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Városháza Park

The Városháza Park Christmas market can be described in one word: cozy. Located about a block away from Vöroösmarty Market, the Városháza Park market, surrounded by tall trees with twinkling lights, is very family-friendly and offers workshops and performances for both children and adults.

The cozy Városháza Park Christmas market is notable for its family-friendly vibe and the glasshouse in the center of the market that features many cultural and musical events. Photo credit: Monique White

A highlight of this market is a glasshouse in the center that features many cultural and musical events.

Városháza Park Christmas Market is open November 17 – December 27, 2019

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Christmas Trams 

Obviously, not a Christmas market but something that will add to your holiday cheer is the Christmas trams. If you can’t have a one-horse open sleigh, then why not go for a Christmas tram decked out with 40,000 LED lights. The Christmas trams run from 5 pm to 9 pm every evening from December 1 – January 7, and standard tram tickets can be used for the fare (children 6 and under are free). While trams along several routes are decorated, Tram #2, which goes along the Danube Promenade, is the most scenic route.

The Budapest Christmas trams run from 5pm to 9pm every evening from December 1 – January 7, and standard tram tickets can be used for the fare (children 6 and under are free). While trams. Photo credit: click and go

Market Specialties

The Budapest Christmas markets have a large selection of Hungarian handicrafts such as wooden tools and toys and pottery. Indulge! The products are of high quality and the prices are unbeatable. Another thing to indulge in while at the Budapest markets is the food!! The Hungarian culinary specialties include Kolbasz and Pecsenye (grilled sausages and meat), töltött káposzta, which is stuffed cabbage with sausage and paprika served with fresh cream and vegetables. Hungary’s legendary street food, Lángos, has to be my favorite savory dish. The deep-fried flatbread topped with sour cream and grated cheese and followed by anything else, such as meat, onions, cabbage…whatever your tastebuds desire.

Hungary’s legendary street food, Lángos, is deep-fried flatbread topped with sour cream and grated cheese and followed by anything else, such as meat, onions, cabbage...whatever your tastebuds desire. Photo credit: Monique White

Töltött káposzta is stuffed cabbage with sausage and paprika served with fresh cream and vegetables.

On the sweet side, there’s Bejgli, the typical Hungarian Christmas dessert filled with poppy seeds or raisins and walnuts, Rétes (Hungarian strudel), ginger cookies and roasted chestnuts.

While at the Budapest Christmas markets, be sure to indulge in the Hungarian culinary specialties like Rétes (Hungarian strudel), Bejgli, the typical Hungarian Christmas dessert filled with poppy seeds or raisins and walnuts, and ginger cookies. Photo credit: Monique White

While at the Budapest Christmas markets, be sure to indulge in the Hungarian culinary specialties like Rétes (Hungarian strudel), Bejgli, the typical Hungarian Christmas dessert filled with poppy seeds or raisins and walnuts, and ginger cookies.

Budapest is cold in December, so a nice, warm drink is appreciated.

Stay warm while shopping the Budapest Christmas markets with a mug of mulled wine made with Hungary’s brandy and national drink, Pálinka, and combined with fruit juice, honey, lemon, and spices. Photo credit: Monique White

The Christmas market staple, mulled wine, is available, and at the Budapest markets it’s made with Hungary’s brandy and national drink, Pálinka, and combined with fruit juice, honey, lemon, and spices.

Stay warm while shopping the Budapest Christmas markets with a mug of mulled wine made with Hungary’s brandy and national drink, Pálinka, and combined with fruit juice, honey, lemon, and spices.

It definitely keeps you warm.

How To Get There

Budapest is easily accessible since it’s home to the country’s largest airport and several railway stations. Most international carriers fly into Budapest’s Liszt Ferenc International Airport, formerly known and still often referred to as Ferihegy, which is located 15 miles (25 kilometers) from the city center. A shuttle bus goes from the airport to the city center and takes about 35 minutes at a cost of 900 HUF (approximately 3 EUR or 3 USD).

There are also three international train stations in Budapest: Nyugati (Western) and Keleti (Eastern) Stations are on the Pest side, and Déli (Southern) Train Station is on the Buda side.

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