Budapest Christmas Route
Celebrate the month of December in Budapest, one of Europe’s finest cities, and discover the Christmas markets, the beautifully lit boulevards and the romantic backdrop of the Budapest Castle along the Danube. While walking around the city center, the constant fragrance of roasted chestnuts will catch you, as is the smell of the typical Hungarian Chimney Cake. This Budapest Christmas Route is the perfect city walk for those visiting the Hungarian capital this December.
- Route name: Budapest Christmas Route
- Suggested duration: 1 day. Actual walking time is around 3 hours.
- Best time of the year: December
- Distance: 16 KM
- Best on foot. You can also decide to take the metro to the City Park, or the 8 Christmas Trams with 39,500 blue and white LED lights (after 17.00).
- Highlights: Christmas markets, thermal baths, and the Nutcracker ballet at the Hungarian State Opera.
Budapest Christmas Route
Start your Budapest Christmas Route early in the morning at one of the warmest and coziest places of the city: the Széchenyi thermal bath. The originally Roman thermal bath is the largest in the city and is located in the City Park. After your warm dip into the pool, it’s time to practice your spins and twists at the Ice Rink in Budapest City Park. This is the largest ice rink in the city and is surrounded by the beautiful background of the Vajdahunyad Castle, especially in the dark.
You can decide to take the metro into the city center, or walk the beautifully lit Andrassy Avenue, which is listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Walk over to the Városháza Park where you’ll find the first Advent and Christmas Festival of the day and the tallest 16 meter Christmas tree.
Continue your route out of the city center to get to the Open Air Winter Festival at Müpa (the Palace of Arts). At the festival you’ll find lots of local performances, such as the circus and theater programs, pop-music concerts, the Müpa Budapest Sound Machine playing popular Christmas melodies in the marquee. The giant skate rink for the kids should not to be missed at this festival.
From here, continue your route crossing the Danube, towards the Gellrt Spa. From more than 60 baths in Budapest, this thermal bath is the most fancy of all in the city and is known for its clearest waters. From the 1st to the 3rd of December, you’ll find the Hot Chocolate Festival just outside the doorsteps of the spa, selling delicious chocolate drinks such as white hot chocolate, strawberry hot chocolate and also lactose and sugar-free options. A great way to relax before continuing your route.
Stay on this side of the Danube for a bit, you'll reach the Fisherman’s Bastion, the most beautiful viewpoint over the city – especially when the city is covered in snow. The 19th century tower is similar to the Walt Disney logo, and looks over the Buda Castle and the rest of the city. You can excess the balconies with the beautiful view for free.
Time to head back to the city center! Walk across one of the famous bridges back to the center until you reach Erzsébet Square, where you’ll find a Christmas market focused on quality artisan food and drinks. Try the local jams, honeys, cheeses, and salamis. Not to miss is also the Kürtöskalács/Sekler Cake, filled with strawberries and whipped cream.
From here, you’ll be close to the largest Christmas market in Budapest on Vörösmarty Square. The market is listed as one of the best ones in Europe and is located in the center of the city. Enjoy the coziness of the decorated trees and the cottage-style wooden stalls, combined with the scents of traditional honey cookies, mulled wine, cinnamon and fir, luring you to the market.
A few minutes walking away, you’ll enter the last Christmas market of the day at the St. Stephen’s Basilica. The most visited Christmas market of Budapest that is decorated with a 8 meter Christmas tree and an ice rink. At the many market stalls, you can find tasty nibbles, goulash, pastries and cakes, fragranted winter drinks, and a wide range of gifts.
The final destination of this route is the Hungarian State Opera, a perfect Christmas activity for the night. During the month of December, the popular Christmas ballet by Tchaikovsky, the Nutcracker, will be performed regularly and is a favorite amongst locals and foreigners. Make sure to get your tickets in advance, as this ballet is one of the highlights of Budapest during its Advent time.