Such as most of the big cities around the globe Budapest changes its face as Christmas time is approaching. Outdoor celebrations, Christmas markets are showing up all around and suddenly the whole city gets decorated with Christmas trees and fabulous fairy lights are overwhelming the streets.
Hungary is celebrating Christmas evening on the 24th of December every year to in the exultancy of the birth of baby Jesus, who is actually bringing all the gifts and places them under the Christmas tree. Yes, that’s right, no Santa, he did his job on the 6th according to Hungarian traditions, now it’s time to baby Jesus bring some presents.
All decent homes are getting decorated in the country with pines packed with ornaments; the dining tables are shining in a Christmas table decoration. Oh yes, and about those very tables: after the fast, coming the feast! Fish and packed cabbage are the traditional Christmas eve menus in Hungary, followed (in fact: ongoing) with typical Christmas sweets such as the infamous bejgli – sweet dough filled and rolled with poppy seed, nuts, chestnuts, sometimes honey, but maybe that’s too much for even a Hungarian stomach.
Unlike some spots on the globe where life just stops for weeks this time, in Hungary it’s exactly on the contrary. You can choose from hundreds of indoor and outdoor activities, this city has so much to offer this time that a book wouldn’t be enough to enumerate them all, so here it goes, we collected the best you should see and do in the capital around these days!
Even if you’d try it’s impossible to avoid Christmas markets in Budapest, there are countless of them. But the first to exist and still the first in atmosphere is definitely the one on Vörösmarthy square. Artisan gift shops, mulled wine, typical and progressive Christmas food, live performances, you name it. Next to Saint Stephan Basilica, which is a must see monument of the city too, one of the best choices for a sunny winter day is to visit this unique Christmas market!
But as the city is evolving so does the idea about the Christmas markets. Just 10 minutes walking from Vörösmarthy Square you can find one of the most glamorous and newly fashionable Gozsdu court. It’s like a little inner city inside the city, with loads of posh cafés, clubs, artisan shops it’s one of the newest sensations of Budapest. From the 5th to the 23rd of December it’s not only Gozsdu court, but – behold- Gozsdu Holiday Amusement Court! With an additional stage built in just the centre of it there are daily performances from smooth live music to child’s play, just to give one more boost to the Christmas atmosphere.
If you’ve done enough freezing outdoors and the mulled wine doesn’t seems to be effective (which is doubtful), here it comes, the posh of the posh Christmas market in the lobby of Four Seasons Gresham Palace Hotel! The building itself is an architectural miracle mixing Art Deco and secession styles. This year it’s the 10th anniversary of the hotel, which is fair enough cause to celebrate. Rare perfumes, clothes and other goods made by the most outstanding masters of their own field are selling their goods here for the worthy!
Ever thought that winter time outdoor swimming is only the privilege below the Mediterranean and below areas, or maybe at the geothermic hot tubs of the far north? Well, not anymore. The famous baths of Budapest, Széchenyi and Rudas are open all year, and that’s right, even the outside pools of Széchenyi. The water is around 38 Celsius warm, so don’t worry, you won’t get cold, you can relax, swim and play chess in the steamed up pools of Budapest’s historical Baths.
Away with relaxing and playing chess? You got it , Aquaworld Budapest is open too in the winter season, so if you want to ride water slides in the middle of a jungle area to end up in a water football game: there’s no time to hesitate, let’s get to Aquaworld!
If you’re more into typical winter sports, but don’t want to travel hundreds of kilometres to a super expensive ski empire don’t worry, Budapest is here for the needy! There is a free ski path up at Normafa, one of the hills of Buda, but to go even further, there are some awesome ice skate parks just a jump away from inner downtown. Behind Heroes square you can find the biggest ice skate park of the city. Just between the city park and Vajda Hunyad castle, it’s like skating in fairy town!
Up for an ice disco? We have something for you again. On Jégterasz behind Arena Plaza your dreams of the 90’s are coming true, and you can party on ice to the biggest hits of all time, just be careful with that hot wine over there!
Last but not least, we have some ideas for the ones who want to be entertained in the inside with some more modern fun things to do. Ever tried wall climbing? If no, why not try it on a Christmas holiday occasion? At Mászóbirodalom (Climbing Empire) you can test your skills as a wall climber, worry not if this is the first time: pro trainers and equipment are granted!
If you think paintball is so yesterday and it hurts anyways, here is a suggestion: with the holy spirit in your heart let’s beat your friend in the Lasertag arena! No painful spots on your back and paint dots on your hand that’s impossible to wash, but still, keep attention: you’ll need your reflexes, speed and tactics to win this game!