Planning to travel to Budapest and Hungary, but don’t know the best time to visit? Spoiler alert… Every time! I mean it! The Hungarian capital always offers amazing adventures. The sights are beautiful during spring, summer, autumn and winter. Yep, we have all seasons. And it’s only up to you which face of Budapest you want to explore. This travel guide for every season will help you decide when to go to Budapest. So scroll down and check out my travel tips for spring, summer, autumn and winter.
I don’t like small talks about the weather, but you might be interested in it because it can affect your travel plans. Nowadays the weather can be crazy and confusing, sometimes it forgets what should be done in different seasons. Last year, we had a few snowy days in April. In August, one day is super hot, but the next day the temperature decreases by 20 degrees, and it rains.
Before travelling, make sure to check the weather forecast!
What’s the best time to visit Budapest, Hungary?
Best things to do during spring in Budapest
Spring is one of my favourite seasons in Budapest. The plants are starting to awake from their winter dream, the flowers are blooming and making the city more colourful. People are doing more outdoor activities, strolling in parks and enjoying the warmer days.
However, Hungarian spring is quite unstable, the weather changes every day, and it’s mostly rainy. Though May is much warmer, March and April are colder and mostly rainy (and snowy on crazy days…).
Top outdoor activities during spring
On dry days the best activity is to walk and hike in the parks and on warmer days you can also do a picnic. City Park (Városliget), Margaret Island (Margit sziget) Normafa are perfect places for it.
And of course, don’t miss the blooming trees…
Top places to see blooming trees in Budapest
- Almond tree on Gellért Hill (end of March) – Thanks to its blossoms, the tree is visible from Liberty bridge. It’s only a few minutes walk from Szent Gellért square. Just follow the main path and turn right towards the big cross. If you want to avoid the crowd, go as early as possible.
- Cherry trees of Tóth Árpád promenade in Buda Castle (2nd half of April) – The tree line stretches through the western castle wall, providing a panorama of Buda hills. Approach it from Kapisztrán and Dísz square and every street located between them. The promenade is busy on weekends, and fewer people visit it on weekdays.
- Magnolia and cherry trees in ELTE botanical garden (ELTE fűvészkert) (2nd half of April)
- Magnolia trees on Margaret island, just next to the fountain (2nd half of April)
- Cherry trees at Millenáris (2nd half of April)
- Just wander in the city, there are many blooming trees all around Budapest
Top foodie, art activities and events during spring
When it’s rainy, you can enjoy indoor activities like going to museums and attending events like:
- Budapest Art Week (end of April)
- Food truck show (begin of May)
- Budapest Beer Week (end of May)
- Gourmet Festival (mid-May)
Best summer activities in Budapest
In summer, the temperature sometimes is high, don’t forget your sunscreen and sunglasses. Enjoy your cold drink in outdoor ruin bars or watch the sunset at the Danube. Outdoor pools and baths can help you cool down. During weekends, the baths can be very crowded.
Budapest has the most tourists during summertime.
Ruin bars, outdoor bars and terraces
After sightseeing, it’s time to discover Budapest’s legendary ruin bars and outdoor bars. The 7th district is the best area to find ruin bars, where the abandoned houses have been filled with life, vintage furniture and a little hipster vibe.
The most famous is Szimpla Kert, and it can be busy on Friday and Saturday evenings, you have to wait in a queue to get in. Another popular ruin bar is Instant-Fogas (used to be Fogasház), a good party place and busy during the weekend.
Having a drink at the Danube bank and watching the sunset can be another fun way to end a warm summer day. Check out my blog post called Budapest’s best outdoor bars along the Danube for inspiration.
Relax in the pools of thermal baths
This could be part of every season because the baths are waiting for you all year long. Between the sightseeing and the ruin bars, you deserve some time to relax in one of the famous thermal baths and to enjoy the water’s healing properties.
Gellért Thermal Bath is my personal favourite, especially during summer because the outdoor pool functions as a wave pool every hour! Furthermore, the building is super beautiful with the mosaics and its historical indoor pools.
THE RENOVATION OF GELLÉRT THERMAL BATH WILL START IN 2022 AND WILL BE CLOSED FOR AN UNKNOWN PERIOD!
Other famous thermal baths in Budapest:
- Rudas Thermal Bath
- Széchenyi Thermal Bath
- Palatinus Bath
- St. Lukács Medicinal Bath and swimming pool
- Király Bath
Discover Budapest from the water
Discover the city from the boats of BKK (Center for Budapest Transport). The boat service (D11 and D12) operates from May to October between Római beach (Római fürdő) and Kopaszi dam (Kopaszi gát). The boats have many stations along the embankment, so you can take on and off wherever you want. Be aware, the ticket is available only for one journey. Check the timetables on the homepage of the BKK before planning.
If you’re up to a more dynamic boat tour on the Danube and want to cool down a bit, Redjet is for you. Their speed boat is the fastest boat operating on the Danube and goes between Rákóczi and Margaret Bridges. During the 30-minute extreme boat ride, you can enjoy Budapest from a totally different perspective, excitement and velocity included. In the end, you’ll get extra rounds to get wet 🙂
For more silent water, visit the Városliget Boating Lake (Városliget Csónakázótó) and enjoy the view to Vajdahunyad Castle. You can rent a paddleboat or a boat and get ready for some movements.
Sziget festival, the island of freedom
The Sziget festival in the middle of August attracts many people. Sziget is more than a festival, it’s the island of freedom! You might wonder about the name, sziget means island, and Óbudai island gives place to the festival.
During a week, you can experience concerts from musicians worldwide, performances, cinema, shows, art exhibitions, installations, workshops and even more. The infrastructure is also improved a lot over the years. You won’t even have to leave the island. There’s everything from foodie places, supermarket, yoga places, cinema, chill area, party aaaaand more parties.
I could talk a lot about it, but it’s easier if you experience it yourself! See you there?!
How to spend autumn in Budapest?
You can still enjoy some summer activities in September, though colder days will arrive by October. Colder days also mean stunning autumn colours and falling leaves. Aaaaand the best thing about autumn is the colours. (And pumpkin…)
Best parks to visit for autumn colours
The scenery is dressed in yellowish and reddish colours in October and November. You can explore the best autumn colours in the following parks and areas:
- Normafa + Hűvösvölgy
- Gellért Hill
- Margareth island (Margit sziget)
- City Park (Városliget)
- Millenáris park
Wine and foodie festivals
- Budapest Wine Festival – At the 1st weekend of September, the Buda Castle hosts the Wine festival with the best Hungarian wineries. You can try out the top Hungarian wines and enjoy the view from the Royal Palace’s panorama terrace.
- Sweet Days Festival will wait for you in the middle of September in front of the St. Stephen’s basilica featuring chocolates and artisan sweets.
- Chimney Cake Festival (Kürtőskalács Fesztivál) is usually kept in the middle of October. Go to City Park (Városliget) and follow the scent. More than 30 kiosks will wait for you with many chimney cake specialities. Check my local’s guide to the best chimney cakes in Budapest to find out my favourites.
- Saint Martin’s Day (Márton nap) is the 11th of November. Hungarians celebrate it by eating goose because there’s a saying, „if someone does not eat geese on St. Martin’s day, they will starve the whole year after”. But, of course, you don’t want that, so choose from the special offers of many restaurants.
Art festivals and cultural events during autumn
- Telekom Electronic Beats festival in mid-September is waiting for you with concerts, art, design, and fashion events.
- Eleven Ősz festival (Lively Autumn Festival) in mid-September on Bartók Béla Boulevard is a cultural event with concerts, gastronomical venues, exhibitions and workshops.
- World Press Photo exhibition in Hungarian National Museum represents the best photos every year for a month, usually from mid-September till the end of October.
- Budapest Design Week is a 10-day long event in mid-October. You can attend exhibitions, presentations and workshops by artists from Hungary and worldwide.
- The international art fair, Art Market is also part of the design week.
- CaFe Budapest Contemporary Arts Festival in October hosts contemporary music, jazz, dance, theatre and fine art events.
Top things to do during winter in Budapest
Winter can be cold and snowy, so pack your warm clothes and shoes. The beautiful snowy landscape of Budapest will compensate for the cold. You can warm up yourself in the Christmas markets with mulled wine and warm chimney cake. The thermal baths are also popular during wintertime, thanks to their steam baths.
Best Christmas markets in Budapest
Most of the Christmas markets start in mid-November and last until December. Many tourists and locals visit them, especially during the weekend. To avoid crowds, try to go on a weekday.
Local artists and small businesses also present themselves at the Christmas markets. If you’re looking for a souvenir or a memory from Budapest, you can wander from kiosk to kiosk to find your favourite handicrafts.
The most visited stalls serve food and mulled wine. Although, don’t stop to eat at the 1st option. Look around because the quality is not the same at every food stall. The prices are designed for tourists, and sometimes the quality doesn’t match the price.
Kürtőskalács (chimney cake) won’t let you don’t. It’ll warm up your hands and your heart. The best vendors are Kató néni finomságai and Vitéz Kürtős. Check out my blog post on the best chimney cakes in Budapest, Hungary, for more details.
Christmas Market at Vörösmarty square
Vösösmarty square and its surrounding streets are always decorated with attractive Christmas lights. Fashion street is enhanced with illuminated fashion accessories, and Váci street will activate your festive mood with the lights.
In December after 5 pm, Café Gerbeaud’s facade acts as a giant Christmas calendar. A new window opens up with a light show and music every day. The square is full of kiosks selling food, mulled wine and handicrafts.
Christmas Market at St. Stephens basilica
The most beautiful Christmas market is at St Stephen’s Basilica and Zrínyi street. The street is lined with kiosks and leads you to the square, which has a fascinating Christmas tree, a small ice rink and many food stalls. The best places to drink mulled wine are the Divino stands.
Every half-an-hour after sunset, the facade of St Stephen’s Basilica is dressed in light projection, don’t miss it.
Relax in thermal baths
As I mentioned before, thermal baths are open every season. However, hot steam and thermal water can make miracles on a cold day.
In Széchenyi Thermal Bath, the outdoor pools provide a mystical atmosphere thanks to the steam. In Rudas Thermal Bath, soak yourself in the rooftop pool and enjoy the pleasing panorama of the Danube and Gellért Hill.
Enjoy the snowy landscapes and do winter sports
If you’re wondering when it snows in Budapest, I can’t just say during winter because nowadays the weather is crazy and unpredictable. In the past years, some winters weren’t so snowy. The snow melts quickly in the city centre, though it remains at higher located places. At Normafa, you’ll have a better chance to see snowy landscapes. Take a walk from Normafa to Erzsébet Lookout Tower and enjoy the winter wonderland.
City Park (Városliget) also gives you a piece of winter thanks to its ice rink. While skating, you can enjoy the view of Vajdahunyag Castle. However, you won’t meet me there… I’m horrible at ice skating, I’ve tried it many times, but that’s not my sport.
The Danube can partly freeze if it’s freezing and snowy, and its surface might be snowy. Ice drifting on the Danube is a special occasion, so the opportunity would totally compensate you for the freezing weather. Grab a mulled wine and head to the Danube to experience these rare moments. The last ice drifting happened in 2017.
Visit Lumina Park Budapest at Margaret island
Lumina Park is an open-air park with illuminated attractions located in Palatinus Baths. The areas also have authentic sound and music to enhance the experience. The parts of the bath are integrated at many installations.
It has different themes with various countries and continents. Besides taking a trip to Australia, India, China, Korea, the Pacific Ocean, America and Africa, you could also witness a rocket station, light corridor and green labyrinth. My personal favourite was the “Wonderland”, imitating a vast baroque garden with a light show harmonised with the music.
Dress warmly and wear layers, you’ll need them in the cold weather.
How to get to Lumina Park?
- Palatinus Thermal Baths on Margaret island is reachable by bus or on foot. Bus 26 departs from Nyugati railway station or Árpád bridge, and take off at “Palatinus fürdő” station.
- Or walk 1,5 km from Margaret bridge or Árpád bridge.
- At the entrance, you can grab a map showing the attractions, buffets, toilets and the recommended road (there are many illuminated arrows, so you can’t get lost).
Opening time and prices (in 2022)
- Open from mid-October till mid-February
- Opening time: from darkness – 9 pm (last admission at 8 pm)
- Visit duration: 1,5-2 hours
- Price from Monday to Thursday: 4100 HUF
- Price from Friday to Sunday and holidays: 4400 HUF
- Possible to buy tickets online
Check the website for more information.
Adore the Christmas light trams and street lights
During winter, Budapest gets dressed in Christmas lights. Every year, the city decorates more streets, trees and buildings. Don’t miss Andrássy avenue and the rings.
Every December, BKK (Center for Budapest Transport) decorates a few public transportation lines with Christmas lights. You can travel on the light trams and trolleybuses between 3-8 pm. The timetable is available on the website of BKK, click here to check out the included tram and bus lines. Photo from the website of BKK.
As you can see, Budapest is worth a visit every season. Spring, summer, autumn and winter are the best times to visit Budapest. It’s only up to your preference.
Of course, there are more things to do in Budapest, I just highlighted the season-specific programs.
More Budapest travel inspiration for you:
- How to explore Budapest in 2 days? – a local’s travel guide with prices and map
- Budapest’s best Hungarian restaurants
- Top 5 viewpoints in Budapest, Hungary, recommended by a local
- 12 mistakes to avoid when visiting Budapest
In which season would you visit Budapest? Tell me in a comment below.
Pin the photos for later to have it on Pinterest. Write a comment also on Pinterest and tell me your opinion.
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