Things to do in Budapest

Visiting Budapest In December – The Definitive Guide

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A blanket of snow envelopes the iconic architecture of Budapest through most of December, a picture right out of a fairytale. The crisp air has a wafting aroma of winter spices cooked into warm chimney cakes and poppy seed rolls. Everyone is out and about ice-skating, prancing from one Christmas market to the other and taking a magical ride on the city's iconic tram. The festive cheer is all around and there's no escaping it! Whether you choose to soak in the thermal baths or dance the night away at one of the many ruin bars in the city; Budapest is one of the most popular travel destinations in December for all the right reasons! Here is a guide to all that you must know before planning a visit to Budapest in December.

What makes Budapest in December special?

Budapest in November

  • Christmas cheer – Budapest is one of the coldest cities in Europe in December, but there is much to cheer about the holiday season. You can enjoy the open air ice skating rinks, Christmas markets and fairs, and New Year parties. The city is a beautiful sight at night and during the holiday season it transforms into a winter wonderland.
  • Celebrations with locals – International tourists steer clear of Budapest in December and you can truly experience what it is like to live like the locals. Enjoy visiting the attractions without the serpentine queues and participate in local events, concerts and workshops without booking weeks in advance for reservations.
  • Big discounts – The biggest benefit of low tourists are the discounts on accommodation and lower rates on airfare. The festive season also has free events that you can participate in and you can get upgrades at restaurants and services. Traveling to Budapest in December is a great option for budget travelers and backpackers!

Weather in December in Budapest

Budapest in December

December is chillingly cold in Budapest, and average day time temperatures are around 4°C with night time temperature lowering to 1°C. There is frost every day accompanied by light or moderate snow throughout the month. It is one of the coldest months of the year and the days are quite short.

Must-Do in Budapest in December


Danube Bend Tour

Budapest in December

Get some fresh air away from the bustling Budapest as you explore the countryside on this tour of the Danube Bend. Follow the river and its quaint picture-perfect towns of Esztergom, Visegrád and Szentendre. In December, you can explore the Christmas festivities in these towns steeped in culture and arts.

December Timings
Tour starts Wednesday and Friday at 9:30 AM


Gellért Spa

Budapest in December

Take festive indulgence up a notch by spending an afternoon at the Gellért Thermal Baths located in the beautiful Art-Nouveau Hotel Gellért. The spa is known to have healing properties and has been around since 1918! The salt chambers, aromatherapy massages and medicinal waters will do you wonders this December.

December Timings
Everyday – 6:00 AM – 8:00 PM

Budapest in December

Budapest, Kelenhegyi út 4, 1118
Getting There ›


Guided Tour of Buda

Budapest in December

Save time and energy on your trip to Budapest in December by going on a guided tour of Buda. The expert guide will take you through iconic attractions like Fisherman’s Bastion, Margaret Bridge, Castle District and end your trip at Vaci Utca. You would have walked through centuries of history!

December Timings
2-Hour Guided Tour starts daily at 10:00 AM & 2:30 PM
Guided Walking Tour starts daily at 2:00 PM


Guided Tour of Pest

Budapest in December

Find out what makes Pest different from Buda on a guided tour of the city. Most of Budapest’s modern history has played out on this side of the Danube and you can witness it in the landmarks like Hungarian Parliament, Liberty Square, St. Stephen’s Basilica and House of Hungarian Art Nouveau.

December Timings
Guided Tours starts daily at 10:00 AM


Budapest Parliament Tour

Budapest in December

A striking sight on the Danube River, the Hungarian Parliament House is a spectacular Gothic-Revival style building completed in 1904. The detailed symmetry of the architecture is complemented with rich interiors within and it has led to the recognition as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Go on a guided tour to learn more about the building and the Parliament.

December Timings
Tour starts Tuesday to Sunday at 10:00 AM

Budapest in December

Budapest, Kossuth Lajos tér 1-3, 1055
Getting There ›


Danube River Cruise

Budapest in November

The Danube has an iconic riverfront and it is worth a cruise to soak in the sights. In December, you can choose from both day or night cruises, and enjoy theme cruises with shows like Operetta, Folklore Show, Piano Battle or food cruises like Pizza & Beer, and Buffet Lunch cruise.

December Timings
Depends on chosen cruise


Hop-on Hop-off Tour

Budapest in December

Beat the December cold in a heated HOHO Bus tour as you can enjoy a well-planned itinerary with stops at major attractions. Enjoy the services like free onboard WiFi, informative commentary and perks like free sightseeing tours and river cruise. It is the most convenient way to explore Budapest in a short period of time!

December Timings
Tour buses run daily from 9:00 AM to 5:00 PM

Budapest in December

Lánchíd utca, BUDA CASTLE,
Getting There ›

Events in Budapest in December

Budapest in December

Budapest Christmas Fair at Vorosmarty Square

All Through December
Vorosmarty Square hosts the oldest Christmas fair in Budapest, it is where the locals come to shop for their Christmas gifts. The market has hundreds of craft stalls, food stalls serving authentic Hungarian cuisine, as well as free concerts and events to entertain the shoppers.

Budapest in December

Concerts at Müpa

All Through December
Müpa Budapest is one of the most recognisable landmarks in the city and is known for hosting festivals and events. There are musicals running throughout December on various themes like climate change and Romanticism. They also have ballet performances and an end of year concert on 30th December.

Budapest in December

Skating in the City Park

All Through December
The City Park hosts the largest open air ice skating rink in Budapest. You can even learn to skate in the rink and can rent all the required gear at the rink itself. The rink is open on all days of the month and there is a special party on New Year’s Eve that you can enjoy with fellow skaters!

Budapest in December

New Year Bath Party

December 30th
Start the New Year celebrations by heading to the Szechenyi Baths for a Pre-New Year’s Eve bash! Bath parties are a rage in Budapest and a must-do activity while in the city. With New Year around the corner, there is no better occasion to party. With eclectic music and a fun crowd, these bath parties are a hoot!

Budapest in December : 3-day Itinerary

If you're visiting Budapest in December and are looking for an itinerary that you can simply adapt, here's our handcrafted 3-day itinerary. You can also take a look at our 2-day and 1-day itineraries to visiting Budapest.

What to eat in Budapest in December?

Budapest in December
Rakott Káposzta

Hungarians are ingenious in their use of the humble cabbage and the Rakott Káposzta is a testament to it! This dish is a mix between a cabbage roll and lasagna, in which layers of cabbage are stuffed with meat, rice, sour cream and sausage. This dish is the ultimate winter comfort food in Budapest!
Where to order: Belvarosi Lugas Restaurant.

Budapest in December
Hortobágyi Palacsinta

While in Hungary you can choose from a variety of pancakes, but the savoury pancake known as Hortobágyi Palacsinta is a winter staple. Crepes are filled with minced meat seasoned with paprika and spices, and then dunked in sour cream sauce to create a tasty twist on pancakes.
Where to order: Kehli.

Budapest in December

The best way to keep warm in Budapest in Hungary is to dig into the variety of hearty soups. A Hungarian favorite is the Bableves or Jokai Bean Soup. Made of Pinto Beans, this soup is laden with vegetables, meat and beans that make a meal out of the soup.
Where to order: Pozsonyi Kisvendeglo.

Budapest in December
Mulled Wine

Mulled wine and winter in Hungary go hand in hand! Also known as Forralt Bor locally, mulled wine is a popular item on the drinking menu all through winter. The warm wine is added with mulling spices like cinnamon, ginger, cardamom, star anise, orange zest and clove to bring in the kick.
Where to order: 0.75 Bistro .

Budapest in December

Come December and the bakeries of Budapest will start making the delicious Beigli. The poppy seed roll is a popular pastry that is made of sweet yeast bread with a rich filling of poppy seed paste, raisins, rum, vanilla, honey and apricot jam. It is a perfect snack for the long winter evenings.
Where to order: Gerbeaud.

Budapest Essentials In December




Time zoneGMT+2


Country Code+36


Socket Type C & F


CurrencyHungarian Forints (HUF)

Budapest Weather in December

Dark and cold is the persistent weather throughout December in Budapest. Only afternoons witness some sunshine and temperatures around 4°C but it can go as low as -1°C during the nights. The days are also the shortest; the sun rises at around 7:15 AM and sets around 3:50 PM, giving you around 8 hours of daylight.

Where to Stay in Budapest in December

Budapest is one of the cheaper European cities and while you usually can make your Euro work for far more here, in December you also get to enjoy discounts on accommodation thanks to low tourist season. There are a variety of hotels, B&Bs and hostels you can choose from according to your budget. Some of the tourist-friendly neighbourhoods are Castle District, Terézvaros, Erzsébetváros and Belvaros. Here’s our pick of favorite hotels in Budapest –

What to Pack for Budapest in December

Budapest in December is going to be cold with frosty winds, and it is one of the coldest European cities. Layering is the best option for making it easier to move indoors and outdoors. Start with a trench coat, waterproof jacket and heavy woollen sweaters. The inner layers can be long sleeved topwear, full length jeans or pants, gloves, scarves and thermal wear. Wear comfortable anti-slip shoes that can be worn over frost and snow.

Getting around in Budapest in December

Your trip to Budapest in December has to be well-planned given that you have shorter days to finish your sightseeing. It is advisable to use public transportation as the weather can be cold and not convenient to walk around. You can buy a Budapest City Card to enjoy access to free transport plus entry to attractions. There is also a HOHO Bus option which is the easiest way to cover all the spots. Here are the public transport options you can use –

  • Metro – Four lines (M1, M2, M3 and M4) cover all parts of the city.
  • Tram – Best option for shorter distances, 2, 4 and 6 lines cover all the attractions.
  • Bus – Cheapest way to get around with more than 200 routes.

Tips for Visiting Budapest in December

  • Take a moment to admire the colossal Christmas tree that stands infront of the Parliament Building in Kossuth Square. The tree towers almost 20m in height and is adorned with beautiful ornaments.
  • Make time for a concert at the Hungarian State Opera. The performances lined up for December 2019 are The Nutcracker, Swan Lake (Royal Moscow Ballet), and La Boheme.
  • The Budapest Tram Number 2 route is considered to be one of the most scenic tram rides in Europe. It will take you through all the tourist attractions and in December the street cars are decorated with fairy lights. With a Budapest City Card you can board this tram multiple times and enjoy the sights.
  • The St. Stephen’s Basilica is a sight worthy to admire during the day but in December, the white facade of the church becomes a canvas for a light show. Every 30 minutes after dark, a light show runs on it depicting church themes and beautiful visuals.
  • The Central Market Hall in Budapest is a great place to pick up souvenirs from your visit. You can buy paprika, thermal bath soaps, honey, jams, wine, and jewellery to gift to your friends back home.

A Month-By-Month Guide To Visiting Budapest

Budapest in Oct

More Budapest Guides

Looking for more things to do in Budapest? Here are a few guides that will help you plan your trip to Budapest in December.