When we planned our trip to Budapest we knew we just had to make it a Christmas market trip. There is nothing I like more than discovering a new city in the winter with all the Christmas lights up. And if there is snow, that is the icing on top.
Okay, there was no snow. But it was cold and there were Christmas lights. It was “almost perfect”. Anyway, it was wonderful and really worthwhile.
Follow us to the Christmas markets
In the city centre of Budapest, there are two Christmas markets every year, starting in November. They are within walking distance to each other and not terribly big so that one evening is enough to explore both of the markets.
One of the markets is on the Vörösmarty Square, the other one is in front of the St. Stephen's Basilica.
Personally, I liked the market at the Basilica a little bit better. That was partly down to the fact that we arrived at the market just as they turned on the Christmas lights on the tree for the very first time this year. And the Basilica in the background made this picture of Christmas perfect.
I noticed that the focus on both markets was clearly on foods and drinks. I did see a handful of traditional arts and crafts stalls but I had hoped for a bit more of that. But still, a stroll over the two markets is very worthwhile and some Christmassy gifts made their way into my bag quite quickly.
Foods and drinks on the Christmas market in Budapest
I am a huge fan of mulled wine, eggnog, mulled beer, punch or similar hot drinks that are primarily consumed in winter. So the first thing I check on every Christmas market: What drinks do they have!
In Budapest, they had a lot of punch, hot wine and tea. The first wine that we had was more water than wine, though. Hardly tasted of anything and was actually just hot. Thankfully there were other stalls with better hot wines, but none of them really swept me off my feet.
My verdict on the hot wine – I had better ones elsewhere!
Also very interesting was the food. Every county has its own traditions and I ate very well on the Christmas market in Budapest. Meat lovers will certainly find something that they fancy – sausages, pork legs, skewers, steaks… hard to resist temptation.
We picked something traditional to begin with: Goulash soup with bread. The goulash was very good but very different to what I expected. Almost not hot at all, only a little bit of liquid, a lot of vegetables and meat that took a little time to get used to. But overall very good. The bread got soggy over time and we hardly got through the soup. We shared one portion and didn’t even finish the bread and were still really full afterwards.
Potato fritters were also offered on the market. We were hesitant as we watched them prepare the dish and saw how much oil went into them. The fritter was gently floating in oil and got deep-fried until golden and crispy. They were fished out of the oil and sold almost immediately. If desired they added toppings to the fritter: Peppers, cheese, sour cream, sausages – some of them looked more like a pizza. We did go for one after our initial reservations and shared a fritter with sour cream and cheese. Why did we never eat that combo at home? It was so good!
Thankfully we spent more than a day in Budapest so that we were able to come back to the market again and try even more of the food. Obviously, we had to go for Lángos next (deep-fried yeast dough with garlic, cheese and sour cream). We picked the sour cream version again. I had already eaten that dish on Christmas markets in Berlin but it was never that good before. The dough had a far more intense taste.
The grand finale of our Christmas market treat tour was a Kürtőskalács. I already had this type of pastry in Prague but the ones in Budapest were a lot bigger. They tasted very sweet and definitely moreish.
What the Christmas market in Budapest lacked in hot wine it definitely had in terms of food. We were full and very happy.