The Advent period is always exciting even if one means to escape the hassle and stress ahead of the Christmas holidays. One way to do so is travelling and once you’re in Budapest it is really worth checking out the city’s most popular or even a few less-known Christmas markets. A blog by our first-ever guest blogger Anna.
1. The Christmas Fair on Vörösmarty Square
Undoubtedly, the most famous Christmas market in town is the Budapest Advent and Christmas Fair on Vörösmarty Square. It opened its gates early November and will stay open until 31st December. This is basically an art fair, where only verified artisans may sell their beautiful goods. There is also a huge food court in the middle of the market, where you can taste the fine winter specialities of Hungary – drink fine mulled wine or krampampuri, eat kürtőskalács, a sweet speciality, or fantastic sausages. Children can play in the playhouse, while musicians perform on the small stage.
This is all in the middle of the city, on the square next to Café Gerbaud, one of the most famous cafés in Budapest. From the market, you can wander on Váci street, the pedestrian shopping street, and do the rest of your Christmas shopping.
If you would like to know more, visit their Facebook page www.facebook.com/budapestchristmasfair
From 10th November to 31st December
2. Christmas Market in front of St Stephen’s Basilica
If you are looking for a more chic crowd, your place is in front of St Stephen’s Basilica, not far from Vörösmarty Square. This is the Advent Feast at the Basilica. In the middle of the square there is a free ice skating rink for children. There is a 3D mapping show every evening, as well as flash-mobs and some concerts. Food-wise you can taste the best flódni in town (Ráhel flódnija, which is an apple, walnut, poppy seed and plum jam cake, a nice example of Hungarian-Jewish tradition). Otherwise you can eat the traditional foods of any fairs in town, or drink wonderful pálinkas. This is a more food-focused market for travelers and locals looking for culinary pleasures.
3. Várkert Bazár by the foot of the Castle
For the Advent market with the most beautiful view, cross the Chain Bridge from the previous two locations and visit the advent market in front of Várkert Bazár, the renovated cultural centre at the foot of the Buda Castle, along the Danube river. This is a rather small and less known affair, with a free skating rink, music, tasty mulled wine and wonderful food. To enjoy the lights of the Chain Bridge and the city, visit the market after dusk. Later, take the lift or climb the stairs to the Buda Castle, and check out the view from there.
If you would like to know more, visit their Facebook page www.facebook.com/events/227079477705852/
4. Christmas in the Buda Hills market
For more intimate adventures and once you’re on the Buda side, definitely visit another one of the smaller markets. Take the bus from the centre and visit the Advent in the Buda Hills (Advent a Hegyvidéken). This is a local market, starting at the beginning of December. It is a child-friendly affair with concerts, puppet theatre, and a visit from Santa on the 6th December. If you want to find some small gifts or ornaments for your tree, this is a nice little place to look. It is about a 20-minute bus ride from the city centre by bus 105, or take the tram 59 from Széll Kálmán tér.
If you would like to know more, visit their Facebook page www.programturizmus.hu/ajanlat-advent-a-hegyvideken-budapest
5. Christmas market in Óbuda on Szentlélek tér
Óbuda organises its winter market on Szentlélek tér in the old town of the district. It opens on the 1st of December with concerts, beautiful lights, a free ice skating rink just the right size. It’s open every weekend. The candle on the Advent wreath is lit each Sunday amid singing. The market itself is open all week. You need to take the suburban train (HÉV) from Batthyány Square to get there.
If you would like to know more, visit their Facebook page www.facebook.com/adventobudan
6. Gozsdu Christmas Market
To be able to go straight to a nice restaurant or one of the famous bars in the party district of Budapest, your place to be is the Gozsdu Christmas Market from the 1st December. There will be Hanukah celebrations as well, just like every year, as well as the usual New Year’s party. This little street, lined with restaurants and bars on each side, connects two streets in the old Jewish district of Budapest. The atmosphere is guaranteed, as the most famous bars are just around the corner.
7. Christmas in Szentendre
To get out of the city, visit Szentendre, a beautiful little town north of Budapest. It’s situated on the bank of the Danube, is popular with tourists, but its Christmas market is not yet that well known. The centre of Szentendre is an old town, with a wonderful square and a beautiful church in the middle. Also, you can have a stroll on the bank of the river with a hot tea or mulled wine to keep you warm.
Detailed program of the fair is coming soon. You can take the suburban train (HÉV) form Batthyány square to get there, or a coach.
If you would like to know more, visit www.szentendreadvent.hu
From 2nd December to 7th January.
8. Christmas Tram
Now this one is an extra, since this is not a Christmas Fair or Market, but it sure adds to the Christmas spirit to travel with the Christmas tram. It is a tram decorated with 3500 meters of lights with 39 200 light bulbs that runs on line nr.2 every Christmas for the past several years. You don’t need any special tickets on this tram, the regular tickets or passes will get you a ride.
It’s timetable for Christmas 2017: