Budapest slowly becomes the leading destination in Europe, especially during winter and when Christmas preparations begin. The city comes alive with incredible winter and Christmas lights, decorations, scents, and beauty. In this article, we would like to show you the top ten things to do in the capital while you are waiting for Christmas to come, based on the article by CNN.

Christmas Markets

Central European Christmas markets are what dreams are made of, but Budapest’s offerings are a cut above the rest. Mulled wine, Christmas strudel, traditional dishes, and arts and crafts line the stalls at both Vörösmarty Square and St. Stephen’s Basilica Christmas markets. Taking place from November until early January each season, the markets welcome a large number of visitors from all around the world and deliver an authentic Hungarian Christmas experience you will never forget.

CLICK HERE to learn about the history of Christmas markets and Vörösmarty Square!

Budapest, Christmas, market, Hungary

City Park Ice Rink

First opened in 1870, this ice rink is one of the oldest and largest in Europe. It is usually filled up with water during the summer months and serves as a boating lake for tourists looking to pedal around while basking in the sun. Just a stone’s throw away from Heroes’ Square and Széchenyi Baths, the City Park Ice Rink is the perfect way to end a day of sightseeing and soak up the steam in the nearby spas.

Did you know that Budapest’s highest ice rink has been reopened? CLICK HERE to find out more! 

Ice Rink, Budapest, City Park

Basilica light show

The winter season offers the best light show experience, where religious stories and fables are recited with colourful lights with sound. Dazzling 3D animations are beamed onto the front of the St. Stephen’s Basilica in the heart of the city, often creating the illusion that it is moving or falling down. This show is definitely a must when you are in Budapest.

CLICK HERE to learn about four incredible Hungarian basilicas!

Budapest, Christmas, basilica, light show

Spas and thermal baths

Budapest is nicknamed the “City of Spas,” thanks to its 118 natural thermal springs that deliver 70 million litres of therapeutic waters each day. The Turkish baths here are astonishingly beautiful, renowned the world over for their relaxing and medicinal benefits. The two most famous ones are Széchenyi Thermal Bath (located in the City Park) and Gellért Thermal Bath (on the Buda side of the city in front of the Liberty Bridge).

Gellért Thermal Bath, Budapest, Hungary
Gellért Thermal Bath (Photo:

Hungarian State Opera House

Designed by Hungarian architect Miklós Ybl, the Hungarian State Opera House, which was completed in 1884, remains exactly the same as when it was constructed more than 130 years ago. The building is regularly used in blockbuster films and has become an iconic national treasure. Each year, thousands of visitors arrive here to take in the sheer beauty of the opera house, while the lucky ones are able to purchase a ticket for a show.

Hungarian State Opera House, Budapest, Hungary

Christmas Light Tram

Christmas is not Christmas without shining lights. Covered with over 39,000 lights, the Budapest Christmas “light tram,” or Fényvillamos, is put into operation across the city from 5 p.m. each evening throughout December and early January. From the tram, you can admire the incredible view of Budapest next to the Danube.

Light tram, Budapest, Hungary

River Danube cruise

Extremely popular in both the summer and winter months, tourists from all over the world take to the river to catch a sight of landmarks like the Parliament Building, Buda Castle, Liberty Statue and Margaret Island, which can all be seen from the river. If you’re staying in Budapest for just a few days, the best way to experience the city is to take one of the River Danube winter cruises.

Budapest, Hungary, scenery

Ruin bars

Budapest’s ruin bars deliver interesting and unique locations that are perfect for grabbing a drink and seeing the city at the same time. Various special buildings and outdoor spaces have been transformed into bars and restaurants, serving food and drink all year round. Szimpla Kert in the Jewish Quarter was the first ruin bar to be established in the city, while Ankert in the 6th district puts on themed nights throughout the week.

Szimpla Budapest Bar

Andrássy Avenue and Fashion Street

Andrássy Avenue and Fashion Street are two of its most popular shopping and tourist destinations at any time of the year. Stretching between Heroes’ Square and Elizabeth Square, Andrássy Avenue houses Gucci, Ralph Lauren, Louis Vuitton, Burberry, and Rolex, just to name a few. Covered with thousands of lights, the tree-lined avenue comes to life during the winter months, offering up many Christmas-themed attractions. The avenue is part of the UNESCO World Heritage Sights.

Andrássy Avenue, Budapest, Hungary

Buda Castle and Várkert Bazár

Buda Castle and Várkert Bazár are the jewels in Budapest’s crown. The iconic Buda Castle is a powerful, beautiful, and imposing building that overlooks the city, while the Castle Garden, or Várkert Bazár, brings together art and nature with a selection of bars and restaurants and a space for outdoor events.

Buda Castle Kastély Vár

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