When you think of European Christmas markets, do you ever think of Hungary? Hungary has emerged as one of the best Central European countries for Christmas markets, with Budapest, its capital, offering show-stopping decorations, Christmas trees, and Christmas villages along with the accompanying calendar of holiday events.
However, other cities throughout Hungary host Christmas markets and winter festivals, having understood that travelers can’t get enough of this beautiful time of year—particularly in historic and romantic settings (of which Hungary has plenty).
Celebrate Christmas in Hungary in the following exciting locations.
When you visit the best Christmas markets in Hungary, look for local products such as honey, gingerbread in various shapes, and other edible gifts. Also try a spiced wine or Hungarian palinka—both will warm you during winter’s chill. Both traditional handicrafts and more modern souvenirs can be found at these Christmas markets, so if you’re looking for a unique stocking stuffer or memory for yourself, Hungary’s Christmas markets are the perfect place to do so.
Furthermore, you can take a ride on a Christmas-themed tram in some cities, enjoy parades and concerts, view the Christmas tree lightings and other light shows, and even take a Ferris wheel ride. Much more than simply Christmas markets, Hungary’s Advent and holiday celebrations involve light shows and a variety of creative ways to make the end of November and the month of December memorable, fun, and cheerful.
Take a look below for a list of some of the best Christmas markets in Hungary and what they have to offer.
As Hungary’s capital city, Budapest offers a variety of Christmas markets that visitors can enjoy.
Main Budapest Christmas Markets
Budapest’s Christmas markets appear in its most popular locations—in front of St. Stephan’s Basilica and on Vorosmarty Square, and some say these are the best Christmas markets in Hungary. The Christmas market on Vorosmarty Square has been running since 1998 and typically begins early in November and runs till the end of December. The Christmas market on in front of the basilica starts a bit later but typically runs until the start of January.
These markets are filled with the smell of roasting, baking, and spices for mulled wine, and you will certainly want to sample Hungarian street snacks, hot pastries, and warm beverages. Shop for gifts and holiday crafts to decorate your home, enjoy a holiday concert, and take in the glittering, warm atmosphere created by these Hungarian Christmas markets.
Budapest Design Terminal
If you’re into local design, check out the Budapest Design Terminal on Erzsebet Square. Where traditional Christmas markets in Budapest focus on, well, traditional handicrafts and gifts, the Design Terminal offers visitors a chance to see what Budapest’s designers have been up to, what trends are hot, and how art and function meld to produce one-of-a-kind items that you can only find on a visit to Hungary.
Obuda Christmas Market
On Advent weekends, the Obuda Christmas market on Fo Square offers a less-touristy version of Hungarian Christmas markets and a different, cozier feel, along with a full range of concerts, plenty to eat, and lots of stalls to browse, along with activities for children and a skating rink.
Debrecen, Hungary’s second-largest city and one of its cultural capitals, ushers in Advent and the Christmas season on Kossuth Square, where a cheerfully lit Ferris wheel, beautifully decorated Christmas tree, and public skating rink are only some of the attractions at this Hungarian Christmas market.
In the past, the Debrecen Christmas market has opened with a parade of Christmassy characters and a brass band concert. Another special feature of the Debrecen Christmas market is the candle lightings around its Christmas tree every Sunday.
Eger is the home of Hungarian “bull’s blood” wine, but during Christmas, you’ll want to visit it for more than its wine-related history, Baroque architecture, thermal baths, and castle. Eger embraces Christmas with Dobó Square given the full holiday treatment. Eger is so popular during Christmas that tour companies even offer a visit to its Christmas market combined with a visit to Eger’s famous castle.
Gyor’s Christmas market lights up the night with Christmas light sculptures that dispel any winter gloom. The focus of this Hungarian Christmas market is Széchenyi Square, where the Christmas tree and Ferris wheel are set up. A live Nativity scene and petting zoo are good for children, while adults can shop, warm up with a traditional beverage, or enjoy a concert.
Miskolc’s Christmas market attractions include a Christmas tram. While many of the best Christmas markets in Hungary have Christmas trams or trains, Miskolc’s has, in past years been judged the most beautiful in Europe, with the winning tram design being gingerbread themed. Every year, the design changes, but with such strong pressure to maintain its reputation, the Christmas tram in Miskolc is bound to impress year after year.
Nyíregyháza’s Christmas market appears on Kossuth Square. From a Ferris wheel to creatively decorated trees, this Christmas market makes a splash.
In addition to traditional Hungarian food specialties such as fish soup and traditional drinks, shoppers will be able to browse for folk art gifts and other items.
Lighting of the Christmas tree kicks off the season, and the advent wreath is also lit every week in the run-up to Christmas.
In Pecs, the Christmas market is located on Széchenyi Square with the Christmas tree in front of Town Hall. One interesting aspect of the Pecs Christmas market is the lighting of the cathedral’s towers (one each Sunday) leading up to Christmas as a way to countdown to the special day.
Szeged, Hungary’s third-largest city, gets all dolled up for Christmas with its Christmas market on Dom Square as well as a full range of events, decorations throughout the city, a straw maze, skating rink, and impressive light projections in this beautifully preserve southern Hungarian city.
Historically important Székesfehérvár takes Christmas celebrations in Hungary to the next level. From a model of the city made from gingerbread to the Town Hall’s surprise-revealing windows, this Hungarian city greets the Advent and Christmas season with creativity and joy. Ride the Christmas train or watch light shows that make use of the historic surroundings.
Szombathely’s dancing fountain gets into the Christmas spirit during the holiday season, while light shows cut through winter’s darkness in this Hungarian city. Head to the Main Square, appropriately decorated, to get in on the holiday action.
If you’re into all things Christmas, Hungary might just be the country for you to visit during the holiday season, whether you long to shop at traditional Christmas markets, snap photos of Christmas trees and decorations, or generally enjoy the atmosphere cultivated by the holiday scents, sights, and sounds that are a part of cities’ Christmas celebrations.
Though Budapest is the most obvious city to visit in Hungary during Christmastime, the large cities and towns throughout the country, famous for their place in history or sights, make unique and memorable destinations. Furthermore, the long Christmas season enjoyed by Hungary means that you have almost a full month to explore this Central European country as Hungary’s best Christmas markets and events calendars often run from the beginning of Advent (late November) through December.