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This’ the season to be jolly!

Winters in Budapest get pretty chilly and darkness falls earlier, snowfall is common, many attractions are reducing opening hours but if you do come,  you’ll be rewarded with Christmas markets and snow-dusted scenery to snap some awesome scenic photographs. Here are 10 tips and a photo gallery why this is the best time to come if you are a first timer and how to make the most of your stay!

1.) Warm up! The winters are cold in Budapest, you will need boots, or warm and waterproof shoes, hat, scarf and gloves will come in handy on windier days, and a good warm coat is also necessary. To add some extra heat, mulled wine or a hot punch will come as a lifesaver, so get a mug and beat the cold so keep refilling!

2.) Get lost!  What makes many of the Christmas markets really enticing and outstanding in Budapest is that there is a real focus on trying to preserve authentic Hungarian folk art, traditions and offer really good quality handcrafts rather than commercialized kitchy Christmas gifts. So the Xmas fairs in Budapest are more about buying little hand made gifts, drinking mulled wines, nibbling Hungarian pastries (like the chimney shaped cylindrical ‘Kurtos kalacs’), eating traditional street foods (sausages, snacks, roast chestnut, etc.), and having fun by meeting, mingling, chatting and listening to the nice Christmas concerts on the stages of the markets.

3.) Slide away! The huge open air Ice Rink of Budapest is on the top 10 list of Lonely Planet as one of the best places in Europe in winter time, paired with a warm bath in the Budapest baths, and a visit to the cool and hip ruin bars, some of the best bars in Budapest.

4.) Sink in! Thermal baths are simply great ways to relax after a day of touring the city or after a busy year. They offer much more than just pools, there are saunas, steam baths, massage parlors as well as aqua-therapy etc.

5.) Sail away! If you wish to add a beautiful scenic river cruise to your Budapest itinerary, you can join the merry locals and foreigners on one of the nostalgia boat rides. The ships are heated!

6.)  Keep the faith! Midnight masses are night-time events which are considered to be at the core of a traditional Christmas.  Take part in a Midnight Mass in Budapest in St Stephen’s Basilica, Matthias Church or any other churches of Budapest, where you will be able to join the locals to celebrate Christmas Eve together.

7.) Enjoy folk heritage! Enjoy free Hungarian folk concerts in Budapest on Vorosmarty Square Christmas Market, you can also watch folk dance shows and discover the catchy tunes of the gypsy music.

8.) Add romance! An a la carte dinner cruise in Budapest on the river Danube on the sleek and beautiful Legenda cruise ship, couldn’t be more unique. Live music makes the candle lit dinner even more romantic, while the spectacular background is the night lit river Danube with the UNESCO World Heritage sights.

9.) Chase classics! The Hungarian Opera House, which is also the home of the National Ballet Institute, will present its traditional Nutcracker ballet performances throughout December in its more contemporary building, the Erkel Theatre (the historical Opera House is going through architectural modernization works until 2019).The spectacular ballet show is one of the highlights of classy Christmas holidays in Budapest. Not to be missed, if you love the most Christmasy ballet and story of all time. The Royal Ballet’s glorious production of ‘The Nutcracker’, created by Peter Wright 32 years ago, will have its screening from 4 pm in the fascinating building of the Puskin Film Theatre.

10.) Shine like a star! One of the loveliest Budapest Christmas sights is the Budapest Christmas Streetcar number 2, and some more Budapest trams turned into a festive sight with many thousands of lights (approx. 39,200 white and blue LED lights). There is no surcharge to travel on the Budapest Christmas Streetcar, you can use your Budapest Card or public transport travel pass, tickets as on any vehicles of the BKV company in Budapest. However, there will be special Christmas tram rides too (see details below). The trams are not well heated, so do get dressed well for the rides!


Photos: 123rf.com, text: the website of Budapest Christmas



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