Christmas in Budapest – Top Things To Do

Program Recommendations During Christmas Time

Are you planning to celebrate Christmas in Budapest this year?

We made this guide to help you plan your travel. In this post you will find:

  • Things to do suggestions for the 3 public holidays: December 24, 25 and 26,
  • Information about opening hours during the holiday,
  • Public transport services and, about some
  • Interesting Hungarian Christmas traditions.
trees with festive lighting at night lining Andrassy ave, , the column at Heroes sqr. in the distance
Andrássy Avenue At Christmas

Quick Links:

TOP 6 Things To Do At XmasTIP: Christmas Cruises – 🎶 Christmas ConcertsFestive MarketsHotels in BudapestOpening Hours at ChristmasWhich Christmas Markets Will Be Open At Christmas?TIP: Lumina Christmas Park – 🚋 Christmas Light TramsThermal BathsPublic Transport During the HolidayHungarian Christmas Traditions – 🌨 Weather Around Christmas in Budapest

In mid-November Budapest starts to prepare for the big December holiday, Christmas, which is a 3-day holiday in Hungray:

It begins on

  • Christmas Eve: 24. December, followed by
  • 25. and 26. December (Christmas Day & Boxing Day).

Three major Festive fairs and Winter festivals await visitors at various locations in the city centre, all three are open during the 3-day Christmas holiday, but with limited hours (check details below)

  • At Vörösmarty tér (Date: 17. Nov. 2023 – 01. Jan 2024.) – this is the best-known and the official fair,
  • In front of the Basilica (Date: 17. Nov 2023. – 01. Jan 2024.)  – an event becoming more and more popular each year: ice rink,
  • In Városháza Park (from November 24, 2023 till 07. January 2024): a Winter Festival with a range of free family programs, children activities, a giant Advent Wreath, charity events, Budapest’s tallest Christmas tree and a handicrafts fair.
Christmas in Budapest - bird's eye view of the festive market at the Basilica at night
Christmas Market By The Basilica

What To Do In Budapest At Christmas? – Quick Tips

Alright, so Budapest during Christmas is like a winter wonderland, and even though some places might be closed, there’s still a bunch of festive stuff to explore.

  1. Start your day by wandering around the Christmas markets – Vörösmarty Square and St. Stephen’s Basilica have these magical setups. You can grab some local crafts, savour delicious Hungarian treats (kürtöskalács/chimney cake, lángos, stuffed cabbage, strudel, flódni cake), and feel the holiday vibes all around. Oh, and don’t forget to warm up with some mulled wine.
  2. Now, here’s the kicker – take a scenic cruise along the Danube at night. Trust me, Budapest lights up like a Christmas tree (literally!) during the holiday season. The Parliament and Buda Castle look stunning, and you’ll get to enjoy the city’s panorama from a different angle. TIP: Hungary’s official Christmas tree, a tall fir stands in front of the Parliament on Kossuthy Square.
  3. Walk along Andrássy Avenue dressed in captivating Christmas lighting. Take a few minutes to admire the renewed Opera House.
  4. Warm up in a thermal bath: all baths are open during the holiday (see below). I recommend the Rudas Bath that sits at the foot of Gellért Hill and has a rooftop jacuzzy offering amazing views.
  5. Ride on the Budapest Eye – the Ferris Wheel in Erzsébet Square that operates all year round even at Christmas and New Year.
  6. Travel on the one of the festively decorated Christmas Trams (or buses)! We recommend tram 2, 2B, 23 along the riverbank in Pest for a scenic journey. See more below!
An artificial Christmas tree decorated in all red standing in the middle of the ice rink on Szt. István Square
Christmas Fair with Ice Rink At the Basilica

Turning On The Festive Lights – First Weekend of Advent

The Christmas city lights officialy light up on the first Sunday of the Advent period: at 17.00, 03. December.

Budapest’s mayor will light the first candle on the wreath at the Winter festival in Városháza Park.

More and more people set out to look for the ideal presents in shops, and the markets.

Besides shopping, the city also offers plenty of programs, concerts, special holiday tours to treat visitors to a memorable experience.

A large Advent Wreath with 3 candles lighted in Vörösmarty Square, the facade of Gerbeaud Cafe with festive light show on it in the background
Advent Wreath In Vörösmarty Square

Christmas Cruises With Dinner & Music, December 24 – 25-26, 2023

The most enchanting way to expreince this magical city is on a festive river cruise. We highly recommend the follwing special Christmas river excursions with dinner departing at 19.00 on

  • 24. December, and
  • 25., 26. December.

You will be welcomed on board of an air-conditioned ship, which will take you on a 3-hour-long river tour with an excellent warm served dinner of 4 courses by romantic candlelight and gentle piano music

You can enjoy the wonderful view of the city swimming in lights.

After dinner you can also admire the panorama and take photos from the open upper deck of the ship.

diners sitting around tables on a boat excursion at night in Budapest
Picturesque Setting For a Festive Dinner

Lumina Christmas – Open On December 25-26 – Ideal For Families with Kids

Visiting the special Xmas edition of Budapest’s 1st Lumina Park on Margaret Island is a wonderful program in Budapest during the holiday. Note: Lumina Christmas Park is closed on December 24/Christmas Eve but open onDecember 25 and 26.

Location, Getting There:

  • Római Strandfürdő – Római Outdoor Bath (View On Google Maps)
  • Address: Rozgonyi Piroska u. 2., Budapest, 1031
  • Getting there: H5 suburban train from Margaret Bridge Buda end, (7 stops, 14 min), walk cc. 4 min (350 m),

Opening Hours:

  • Every day till January 15 2024: 16.30 – 21.00, (except December 24 when the park is closed)
Christmas themed light installation in Lumina park Budapest
Lumina Christmas Park In Római Bath, Óbuda

TIP: The Christmas light park is located a bit farther from the centre than the original site on Margaret Island, but it still a very worthy program, considering that not many attarctions are open during the holiday.

The enchanting Christmas Village depicts the wonders and symbols of Hungarian and European Christmas celebrations along an approximately one-kilometer route.

As you prepare for the holidays, it offers an intimate experience through a family stroll into the realm of lights.

Attractions in Lumina Christmas Park

Here, you will find a

  • Christmas post office where you can send a letter to Santa,
  • The elves’ workshop with a gift factory, an
  • Ice world with penguins, icicles, a reindeer path, and a
  • Christmas tree forest that captivates both young and old.

In the park, you can ride the colorful sleigh, the Christmas bus, or the carousel, and finally, you can be a guest at Santa’s house.

The Lumina Christmas Park is open from November 11, 2023, to January 15, 2024; every day from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m.

Festive Church & Other Concerts

The whole city calms down for a couple of days.

You can hear only the sound of festive concerts and Advent songs in Budapest’s churches.

After the hectic shopping it’s relaxing to listen to melodies of organ works and contemplate about the meaning of Advent and Christmas.

Many Churches, Including

  • St. Stephen’s Basilica,
  • St Anne Church in Buda,
  • Church of St. Michael in Váci Str.,
  • Inner City St. Anne Church on Szervita Sqr.)
the Hungarian Virtuoso Orchestra performing in Matthias Church
Festive Concert In Matthias Church

will host festive concerts over the weeks preceding Christmas and during the holiday.

We recommend the Lights of Christmas Festival in one of the city’s most prestigious temple, the Matthias Church in Castle District.

TIP: See More Festive Xmas/New Year Concerts in Budapest’s Concert Halls & Churches! Enjoy a spectacular Hungarian Folk performance, and catch a glimpse of the country’s rich folklore traditions and passion for music and dance.

Here are some of the coolest Xmas programs taking place during the weeks preceding the holiday.

Stroll Along The Christmas Markets In Budapest

Budapest’s winter holiday fairs are quite popular and attract many visitors year by year. Here’s a roundup of the largest festive bazaars, some of them satrting as early as mid-November.

The Vörösmarty Square Christmas Fair has become one of the most popular of similar festive markets in Europe.


  • 17. November 2023 – 01. January 2024.

Opening Hours – Food & Beverage Stalls

  • Mon – Thurs: 10.00 – 21.00
  • Fri – Sun: 10.00 – 22.00
  • 24. December: 10.00 – 16.00
  • 25 – 26. December: 10.00 – 18.00
  • 30. Dec – 06. Jan: Mon – Thurs: 10.00 – 22.00, Fri – Sun: 10.00 – 23.00
  • 31. December: 10.00 – 04 00 am
the Christmas tree in the centre of Vörösmarty Square lighted up at night
Christmas Fair At Vörösmarty Tér

Merchant Stalls – Opening Hours

  • Mon – Thurs: 10.00 – 20.00
  • Fri – Sun: 10.00 – 21.00
  • 24. December: 10.00 – 14.00
  • 25 – 26. December: 12.00 – 18.00
  • 29, 30, and 31. Dec: CLOSED

Folk craftsmen offer authentic handmade artifacts and souvenirs in homey wood pavilons surrounding the lofty Xmas fir and the giant Advent wreath.

If you’re looking for unique one-of-a-kind presents you’ll definitely find something on the here.

Besides Vörösmarty tér, Budapest has a couple of other Christmas markets in and out of the city centre in the Advent period:

wooden booths with Xmas lighting and decorations in front of Budapest's Basilica at night
Advent Fair on Szent István Sqr., In Front Of The Basilica

TIP: Basically you can explore all festive markest in the city centre in one go. Start with the largest one in Vörösmarty Square, then walk along Fashion Street/Deák F. Street the end in Deák Ferenc Square, the Winter Festival in Városháza/City Hall Park is just a short walk from here, finish visiting the Advent & Christmas Fair by the Basilica.

Advent in Óbuda, Fő tér (Main Square) – Off The Beaten Path

Though the Advent fair in Óbuda is outside Budapest’s centre you can easily get there by public transport. This lovely holiday whirl is less touristy and if you happen to be here before December 24-25-26 try to make time visiting it.


  • December 01 – 23, 2023

Getting There:

  • By tram 1 and get off at Szentlélek tér stop, or
  • M3, blue metro, get off at Árpád híd station, from there take tram 1
  • Suburban Railway H5 from Batthyány Square (M2 red, metro), get off at Szentlélek tér

The Main Square of Óbuda hosts festive programs on the four weekends of Advent:

  • Concerts,
  • Puppet shows,
  • Ice rink, and
  • Folk craft market offer entertainment for the whole family.
vendor booths on teh Christmas Market in the Main Sqr of Obuda
Christmas Fair In The Main Sqr. of Óbuda

A tall Christmas tree and the life-size Nativity Scene create a special pre-holiday atmosphere.

The ice rink is open till 31. January from 8.00 to 20.00 every day. Entry is free. Renting of skates is available.

Tickets: entry is free but visitors have to purchase a mug for 500 HUF to be able to sip mulled wine or hot tea and taste the culinary delicacies. All concerts, performances and the ice rink are free.

More information: Advent & Christmas Fair in Óbuda or Advent in Óbuda

Which Christmas Markets Are Open on December 24, 25 & 26?

Not all of the festive fairs will be open on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day/Boxing Day. The two biggest ones: in Vörösmarty Square and at the Basilica will be open but with shorter opening hours.

The Christmas Fair in Vörösmarty Square will be open:

  • December 24/Christmas Eve: 10.00 – 14.00, children’s railway: 10.00 – 18.00
  • December 25/Christmas Day: 10.00 – 18.00, children’s railway: 14.00 – 20.00
  • December 26/Boxing Day: 10.00 – 18.00, hildren’s railway: 14.00 – 20.00

Christmas Market by The Basilica opening hours:

  • December 24/Christmas Eve: 11.00 – 15.00
  • December 25-26/Christmas & Boxing Day: 11.00 – 20.00

Christmas Magic Grove/Varászliget At vajdahunyad Castle (City Park)

Where To Stay During Christmas?

The city has ample hotels, apartments and hostels in all price categories.

The Pest side of the Danube boasts a good number of high-end hotels.

Most are part of large international hotel chains (Four Seasons, Sofitel, Marriott, InterContinental) – offering panoramic views of the Buda side and the river.

TIP: If you want to be close to the main festive market then stay at a hotel near Vörösmarty tér.

The list includes most 5-star riverside hotels as well as less costly options located within walking distance of the square.

Opening Hours During the Holidays

Shops are open for the Bronze, Silver and Gold Sundays on the three weekends before Christmas.

Shops close around early afternoon cc. at – 14.00 – 15.00 – on 24th December and reopen only on 27th December.

Some larger shopping malls might stay open until early evening on 24th December.

On Christmas Day and Boxing Day all shops, supermarkets are closed.

Many shops do not open between Christmas and New Year’s Eve. Life gets back to normal after 1st January.

Restaurants are also closed on Christmas Eve (24th December), but some of them are open on 25th-26th December.

Thermal Baths Holiday Opening Hours in 2023

The city’s famous thermal baths are open during the year end holidays though with Sunday opening hours except for on Christmas Eve/December 24 when they close at 2 pm/14.00.

Please note also that holiday ticket prices are in effect in this period: Christmas and New Year.

December 24/Christmas Eve

  • All baths are open between: 06.00 – 14.00 (exc. the Király bath which is Closed)

December 25/Christmas Day:

December 26/Boxing Day:

  • All baths are open according to Sunday opening hours: Széchenyi: 06.00 – 22.00, Gellért: 06.00 – 20.00
the arcaded hexagonal pool in the Turkish Rudas bath, some candles are lighted for Christmas
Rudas Bath

December 27-28-29-30:

  • All baths are open according to normal opening hours but with weekend prices (see on the individual pages of baths)

December 31:

  • Gellért, Széchenyi, Lukács the Rudas (for both sexes) and the Paskál Baths: 06.00 – 18.00 Király Bath: 09.00 – 18.00, Dandár & Palatinus: 08.00 – 16.00

January 01. 2024/New Year’s Day:

  • All baths are open from 10.00 till their closing time (see on individual bath pages)

Public Transport at Christmas in Budapest

Public transport vehicles run until around 15.00-16.00. After 16.00 night services carry passengers.

  • On 25th – 26th December vehicles run according to holiday schedule.
  • Between 27th and 1st January services run less frequently than they do on usual weekdays.
  • It’s also holiday at schools so all public transport runs according to schedules valid on school holidays.

TIP: You’ll find exact information on public transport schedules around the holidays on this page (official webiste of the city’s public transport company).

Trams In Festive Lights

Budapest trams and some buses will turn into charming Christmas vehicles on a dozen or so lines, twinkling with thousands of tiny LED lights.

The most popular festive tarnsport services include

  • Tram 2 that travels along the Danube Promenade, between Közvágóhíd and Jászai Mari tér), and this year – best for tourists because of the scenic route
  • Tram 47 (Városház tér/Buda – Deák Ferenc tér/Pest)) are dressed in decorative lights during the Holiday Season together with 11 other tram lines.

The special holiday services operate between 01. December 2023. and 07. January 2024. (except for December 24. and 31.).

Tram 4 will run on 01. January, the first vehicle departs at 17.00.

the yellow tram 2 in festive lighting at night
Tram 2 Dressed In Xmas Lights

See the departure times of the Christmas Trams here.

View our photos of Christmas Tram 2.

Some Hungarian Christmas Traditions

At Christmas we celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ in Hungary.

The main celebration takes place on Christmas Eve (it’s Szenteste in Hungarian, meaning Holy Night).

Family members get together in the afternoon on 24th December, and decorate the Christmas tree.

Grandparents or elder brothers and sisters look after the little ones, so they won’t see their presents placed under the tree.

The fragrant fir is adorned with colourful ornamnets and a special Hungarian Christmas candy (szaloncukor) wrapped in shinny coloured papers.

Christmas lighting turned on in Andrássy Avenue in the evening
Andrássy Avenue with Christmas Lights

Housewives cook traditional Hungarian Christmas dishes in the kitchen or nowadays order from restaurants.

We usually have

  • Fish soup,
  • Stuffed cabbage,
  • Pastry rolls stuffed with poppy seed, walnut or chestnut stuffing (it’s called bejgli in Hungarian).

TIP: See alos our collection of Authentic Hungarian Christmas Recipes!

Family members exchange gifts in the evening on 24th December while listening to traditional holiday songs.

In Hungary baby Jesus brings the presents, not Santa. (We celebrate the arrival of Santa on 6th December, St. Nicholas Day.)

4-4 slices of popppy seed and walnut Christmas roll (beigli)
Beigli – Traditional Christmas Pastry Roll

At midnight on Christmas Eve people go to the midnight mass.

Organ music and pine scent fill the air in churches where people sing together classical Christmas songs.

Even non-religious people attend this mass because of its festive and uplifting atmosphere.

On the following two days, December 25 and 26, relatives and friends visit each other at their homes, have traditional holiday dishes, cakes and desserts and enjoy each other’s company.

Weather Around Christmas In Budapest

Does it Snow in Budapest At Christmas?

The shor answer is: chances are low that it’ll snow during the holiday in 2023.

When I was a little kid thick snow covered the streets by the end of December. The first snowflakes fell usually at the end of November.

The temperatures were around zero or below. Today it is hard to tell what will be the weather like around the end-of-the-year holidays.

Due to global warming we have not see any snow in the city in the past couple of years during the holiday. Some snow might fall in northern Hungary and in the hills.

The weather around the holiday is sometimes rather mild and dull, with some rain, and it’s crispy and sunny with crystal blue sky at times.

I prefer the latter, though I long for white Christmas every year.

Find out more about Budapest Weather.

Other Holiday Programs In Budapest


See more programs in December in BudapestNew Year’s Eve & Day Programs in BudapestLikely To Sell Out: NYE Dinner & Cruise Party 2023/24Public Holidays In Hungary