Feature: Winter in Budapest

Budapest Winter Vacation Tips

Here are some recommendations regarding what to do and see on a Budapest winter vacation. Don’t think that Budapest isn’t fun during winter. The Hungarian capital has a lot to offer even in the coldest months of the year, so come and have some winter fun in Budapest. Budapest offers a wide range of events, exciting programs throughout winter, starting with the Christmas marketon Vörösmarty square at the last weekend of November.

Sightseeing During Your Budapest Winter Vacation

Most of the important historic and cultural sights of Budapest can be explored on foot if you plan it well.

For example you can devote half a day to the Castle District in Buda, enjoy the fine view, visit one of the museums housed in the Royal Palace, or taste fine wines in the historic Faust Wine Cellar.

A good way of seeing the must-see monuments of the city is by planning the sightseeing based on Budapest’s World Heritage Sites. If you’re interested in Jewish history and monuments include a Jewish heritage tour in your sightseeing program.

For further help to plan your winter holiday check out guide to Sightseeing in Budapest, Top Budapest Attractions, and Budapest in One Day.

If the weather is not nice for walking use Budapest’s extensive public transport system including the 3 metro lines.

Cruise on the Danube
For sightseeing in winter I highly recommend a Cruise on the Danube. You’ll not only see some of the most significant sights standing on the two riverbanks (Hungarian Parliament, Gellért Hill, Chain Bridge), but you’ll be on a nice warm ship. During a Lunch & Cruise starting at 14.00 you’ll be treated to a 3-course buffet lunch.

Tips For the Evenings – Budapest Winter Vacation – Night river cruise, concerts, wine tasting, nightclubbing – just a few good program tips for a night out in the Hungarian capital.

TIP #2 For a romantic night out take the evening cruise with dinner & live
starting at 19.00. Besides the sightseeing, where you can admire illuminated Budapest, a generous buffet dinner, drinks and live gypsy music provide for a lovely evening program. If a later starting time is more suitable for you than take the Night Danube cruise with buffet dinnerstarting at 22.00. Each tours lasts approx. 1.5 hours.

Tickets for the Dinner & Cruise with Live Music at 19.00

  • Dinner and Cruise: 36,15 Euro/9400 HUF/adults, 33,05 Euro/8600 HUF/student,
  • Cruise without Dinner: 16,15 Euro/4200 HUF/adult, 15 Euro/3900 HUF/student

Tickets for the Dinner & Cruise at 22.00

  • Dinner and Cruise: 30,4 Euro/7900 HUF/adult, 27,7 Euro/7200 HUF/student
  • Cruise without Dinner: 13,85 Euro/3600 HUF/adult, 12,7 Euro/3300 HUF/student

On another evening of your stay you can have a delicious meal in one of the many Budapest restaurants, or you can sample great wines produced by the best Hungarian wine producers from Villány, Szekszárd, Tokaj, Eger and from other lesser known wine growing areas of Hungary.

For some cultural entertainment visit one of the Folklore shows performed by talented Hungarian folk artists.

The Duna Palota in downtown Budapest (Zrínyi utca 5., V. district) regularly hosts Classical Music Concerts performed by the Danube Symphony Orchestra and the Danube Chamber Orchestra.

Christmas Time in Budapest
If you time your visit to Budapest during the Christmas season the city will definitely enchant you.

Streets, shop windows adorned with festive lights add magical beauty to the city, diverting your attention from the cold, dreary November-December weather.
Budapest’s Christmas Market on Vörösmarty Square has become one of the most popular Xmas fairs in Central Europe where you can get cool gifts for your loved ones, sip hot mulled wine and nibble Hungarian pastries (Kürtös kalács, a cylinder like pastry baked on the spot, is a must) and other snacks. The programs of the Christmas market allow you to get a glimpse into Hungary’s folk culture. Craftsmen sell their authentic artworks in more than 100 wooden stalls.

An Advent Calendar is dispalyed in the windows of the Gerbeaud Coffee House and at 17.00 every day between 1st-24th December festive chime play announces the opening of a new window in the calendar. There’ll be Christmas markets at other spots within Budapest: perhaps the one at Liszt Ferenc Square (trams 4, 6 Oktogon, or M3 metro Opera station) offers the same festive atmosphere than the main Xmas fair at Vörösmarty tér.

Christmas Concert in Budapest– 25th December, 2011 20.00, Duna PalotaMake your Christmas Day evening special by listening to a festive chamber concert by the Danube Chamber Orchestra in the splendid Duna Palota in the city centre just a few blocks from the Danube bank in Pest. See details and booking for the Christmas Day Chamber Concert.

Christmas Program for Kids in Budapest                                                                        The Fairy Tale City of Christmas in front of the Parliament Building at Kossuth tér (M2, Kossuth tér station) is the country’s official Christmas event offering various programs for children and the whole family.

A huge Christmas Tree stands in the middle of the square. It is a beautiful 40-old and 17.5 high spruce tree adorned with colurful balas and festive lighting.

The Santa Claus and the jacks wait for the children daily in the Santa Claus House.

Opening hours:

Weekdays: 12 AM – 8 PM

Weekends: 10 AM – 8 PM

Santa’s Residence: weekdays 4 PM – 7 PM; weekends: 10 AM – 8 PM


  • Visit the Hungarian Santa Claus in his residence Load up on holiday treats and presents at our Christmas Fair
  • Send Christmas cards at our Winter Post Office with special holiday stamps
  • Taste Hungarian food and drinks of the season and the fresh-baked cakes of our special Christmas train

Weekend programs

  • Join folk dance shows or simply enjoy the fire-eaters’ performances
  • Watch our open-air puppet shows at weekend afternoons
  • Try our kids’ corner with lots of traditional Christmas games and winter fun
  • Hop-on Santa’s Christmas train

Find out more about Hungarian Christmas Traditions. See also our guide to Opening Hours During Xmas in Budapest.

New Year’s Eve & New Year’s Day Celebrations in Budapest                            People in Budapest love to party especially on the last day of the year. A range of New Year’s Eve parties welcome the New Year throughout the city.

For a festive and romantic end-of year farewell carousal see the Budapest New Year’s Eve party tip.

At midnight fireworks welcome 2012 at several places in downtown.

Cruise & Dinner on the Danube on New Year’s Day
1st January 2012

Celebrate the New Year on a Cruise on the Danube – Reward yourself and your family with a wonderful evening that includes:

  • a splendid 4-course buffet dinner,
  • live music (at 19.00 cruise) and
  • the enchanting sights of illuminated Budapest.

Reserve your ticket for the New Year’s Day Cruise & Dinner :

Note: You have to pay the rest of the ticket price in person (cash only) in the Duna Palota (Zrinyi Street 5, V. district) at least one day before the party. You’ll receive a confirmation email after online reservation that includes all the details.


Gala Dinner Menu:

Hors D’oeuvre

  • Mousse of smoked salmon tartare with cucumber dill salads and caviar, Pesto bread chips,


  • Cream of parsley roots soup with Truffle oil and Mille feuille

Main Course

  • Braised duck leg in rosemary crust with juniper berry gravy and with apple red cabbage and potato purée


  • Dessert specialty with Cointreau

Midnight Dinner

  • Mini stuffed cabbage with grilled sausage

New Year’s Day Concerts in Budapest – 01. 01. 2012

Chamber Concert by the Danube Symphony Orchestra with Cimbalom Show on New Year’s Day – Danube Palace, Budapest

The beautiful Danube Palace hosts a wonderful Chamber Concert performed by the Danube Symphony Orchestra on 1st January 2012.

Spend the first evening of 2012 by listening to classical music including pieces like:

  • Hungarian Dances by Brahms,
  • Csárdás by Monti,
  • Blue Danube Waltz, and Radetzky March by Strauss and many more.

Date: 1st January 2012., 17.30, the concert lasts about 70 minutes without intermission.

Venue: Danube Palace (Duna Palota), Zrínyi utca 5., V. district

Tickets: 30.35 Euro/7900 HUF/adult, and 27.70 Euro/7200 HUF/ student,

TIP: Save money by booking the New Year’s Day Chamber Concert together with a Dinner & Cruise on the Danube.

Symphony Concert by the Danube Symphony Orchestra – 01.01.2012.

On New Year’s day evening there’ll be also a Symphony Concert in the concert hall of the Danube Palace starting at 20.00.

Musical pieces by Berlioz, Erkel, Haydn, Liszt, Bartók will be performed during the 2 x 45 minute concert performed by the Danube Symphony Orchestra.

Date: 1st January 2012., 20.00

Venue: Danube Palace, Zrínyi utca 5., V. district

Ticket prices:

  • Adults: 31.15 Euro/9900 HUF/adults,
  • Students: 27.70 Euro/8900/students

Book Your Ticket for the New Year’s Day Symphony Concert:

TIP: Save money by booking the New Year’s Day symphony Concert together with a Dinner & Cruise on the Danube. This way you pay a discount package price for the two programs saving 2.7 Euro.

Symphony Concert + Cruise and Dinner at 22.00 Package Prices:

In Euro:

  • Adults: 58,85 Euro
  • Students: 55,40 Euro

Reserve Your Ticket in Euro.


  • 20 900 HUF

Reserve Your Ticket in HUF.

For the Active Ones – Ice-Skating in Budapest

Go for ice skating on City Park Lake (Városligeti Műjégpálya) one of the largest outdoor skating rinks in Europe.

The rink welcomes skaters usually between mid-October and end of February.

You can hire ice-skateswith your passport or other personal ID.

There’re a couple of other ice rinks in Budapest like the one in front of the Parliament building or another one on the rooftop of the West End Shopping Centre

For the Active Ones – Ice-Skating in Budapest
Go for ice skating on City Park Lake (Városligeti Műjégpálya) one of the largest outdoor skating rinks in Europe.The rink welcomes skaters usually between mid-October and end of February.You can hire ice-skateswith your passport or other personal ID.There’re a couple of other ice rinks in Budapest like the one in front of the Parliament building or another one on the rooftop of the West End Shopping Centre


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