Locals know that Budapest is magical during the holidays, and CNN Travel has even now acknowledged Budapest as Europe’s most beautiful wintertime city. With an increasing number of tourists coming to see this “jewel of Eastern Europe,” there are numerous things to do over the Christmas holiday, from outdoor markets to thermal spas.
Budapest’s famous Christmas markets can be found in various squares throughout the city, the most famous being at Vörösmarty Square and St. Stephen’s Basilica. Here, tourists can indulge in Hungary’s traditional dishes and mulled wine and also shop for gifts from numerous artisans offering jewelry, leather goods, ceramics and more. The Basilica’s Advent Feast also features ice skating and a 3D Christmas projection show in front of the beautiful church of St. Stephen, first King of Hungary.
A favorite Hungarian pastime is ice skating, and tourists can take advantage of some incredible locations to do join in on the fun. The City Park Ice Rink dates back to 1870 and is the most picturesque, nestled up against Vajdahunyad Castle and with a neo-Baroque main building. Right next to Heroes’ Square, people come to skate, eat, drink or just watch others on the ice and enjoy the views.
Budapest is also world-famous for its spas and thermal baths and is home to more than 12 spas that deliver medicinal waters via 118 natural thermal springs. One gem, the Kerályi Thermal Baths, is a Turkish bath dating all the way back to 1565.
Perhaps one of the most anticipated holiday arrivals is the Christmas tram. Covered with over 39,000 lights, locals and tourists alike can ride the festive tram – via normal BKK transit passes/tickets – throughout Budapest (mainly tram line 2) from 5 p.m. every evening, except on Christmas Eve and New Year’s Eve. There are countless other offerings, including operas/ballets, culinary tours, Hungarian folk dance programs, church organ concerts and Danube River dinner cruises. For more information, click here.