Budapest Christmas markets are some of my favorites! With a good mix of traditional options, artisan crafts, and Hungarian goodies all in one place, what more can you ask for?
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I kicked off the 2022 Christmas market season with a visit to Budapest!
The Budapest Christmas markets have a great balance of artisan crafts and food stalls with a few corporate booths mixed in. There are plenty of classics, like mulled wine and nutcrackers, along with a ton of local specialties as well!
What to Eat and Drink at the Budapest Christmas Markets
Eating is one of the biggest draws of any Christmas market, and Budapest doesn’t disappoint!
Some food stalls sell one thing, like chimney cakes, and some are massive affairs selling all manner of classic Hungarian dishes. You can pretty easily try all the staples without setting foot in a restaurant!
Hungarian Chimney Cakes
No trip to Budapest is complete without trying a chimney cake! I first tried them in Prague and fell in love with them. Called kürtöskalács in Hungarian, you’ll see them labeled in English everywhere so don’t sweat the pronunciation too much. They’re dough wrapped around a metal cylinder, coated in sugar, and cooked over hot coals. The outside gets a sweet crunch while the inside is still soft.
Traditionally they’re not doused in tons of toppings, but you’ll find plenty of options at the markets. My favorite is the cinnamon! The chocolate-filled was pretty amazing too.
They’re best fresh off the fire, so don’t be surprised if the booth tells you it’ll be a 15-minute wait! A piping hot chimney cake is absolutely worth it.
Forralt Bor – Mulled Wine
No trip to a Christmas market is complete without a cup of mulled wine, or forralt bor in Hungarian!
As someone who doesn’t like overly sweet drinks, Hungarian mulled wine has quickly become one of my favorite versions. Every booth I tried was full of flavor without being syrupy. Even the fruity versions, where you add a shot of blueberry/plum/sour cherry liquor to the mulled wine, had a balanced sweetness. The white wine version was good too – not always true at every market.
If you need a break from mulled wine, there are plenty of other options. I highly recommend visiting one of the DiVino stalls (there are a bunch). DiVino is a local wine bar/shop serving only Hungarian wines. They have great mulled wine as well as plenty of local wines available by the glass. There are even Jack Daniels and Beefeater booths serving specialty drinks if you want a proper cocktail!
Unfortunately, the Budapest Christmas markets don’t do collectible mugs. But the upside is that the serving seems bigger than at other Christmas markets.
Where Are the Budapest Christmas Markets?
There are three major Budapest Christmas markets, with lots of small rows of booths mixed into the city. My advice is to spend some quality time at the big ones and then let yourself meander Budapest to find as many of the tucked-away spots as you soak up the architecture!
St. Stephen’s Basilica Christmas Market
The Christmas market in front of St. Stephen’s Basilica is the main one and a must-see! It’s centered around a Christmas tree that’s wrapped by a tiny ice skating rink!
The rink is pretty small, better for kiddos than anyone wanting to stretch their legs. If you want to ice skate for real, head out to Városliget, or City Park – there’s a massive rink next to Vajdahunyad castle!
Most evenings, a countdown clock appears projected on the basilica. As it hits zero, they show a condensed Nutcracker story! It’s very cute and lasts about five minutes, meaning you’re not standing around for too long. Perfect to be enjoyed with a glass of mulled wine in hand!
Vörösmarty Square Christmas Market
Only a few minutes’ walk will take you to the Vörösmarty Square Christmas market. It specializes in crafts and gifts, so make sure to save some souvenir shopping for here. There are several artists making their crafts right in the booth!
Hilariously, they have a big screen perfect to drop the boyfriends, husbands, or otherwise less Christmas-minded to watch the World Cup while you enjoy the market.
Erzsébet Square Christmas market
Another midsized market sits directly under the Budapest Eye, the city’s massive Ferris wheel. Its location makes it a bit of a bridge between the Basilica and Vörösmarty markets, making it easy to wander though!
Fashion Street Market
I put the Fashion Street market last because it’s the smallest of the main ones. It’s just adjacent to the Vörösmarty market, on the opposite side of the Erzsébet market, so see these two together.
Helpful Things to Know for the Budapest Christmas Markets
A few random bits that will help you going in:
Hungary is part of the EU, but they’ve continued to use their own currency, the Florint. Some places (but not all) will accept Euro, usually at a really bad exchange rate, so best to get a little!
All the Christmas market booths take credit cards – a huge help. So if you don’t have florint or need to save it for something else, you’re good!
The markets – like the city – get going slowly in the mornings. Booths begin opening at 10 am (the official start time) but don’t really get fully going until 11 or 12.
I’ve got a guide on Thatch that covers everything you need to know for a trip to Budapest – check out my master guide to Budapest on Thatch!
Want more Christmas market inspiration? Check out all my Christmas market guides!