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Consistently known as one of the best cities across Europe, Budapest’s Christmas Market atmosphere absolutely lives up to the hype. Christmas spirit covers the entire city throughout the day and into the night. Strings of lights drape over the streets while shop windows are packed full of elves and gingerbread men. It’s difficult to walk anywhere in Budapest during the holiday season and not find lights, trees and the scent of hot wine swimming through the air.
Being a large city, Budapest is not just home to one market, but multiple. As the central market is the biggest, there are other large markets located nearby as well as a few tiny ones scattered throughout. Each does their job in providing its guests with offerings of souvenirs and an extraordinary amount of food.
After having spent enough time at each market, Budapest has much more to offer in terms of its scenery and culture. Located along the Danube River, the second longest in Europe, this town provides views from every angle. As Budapest is broken up into two sections on each side of the river, Buda and Pest, both have a glimpse into famous architecture.
From the Pest side, you can look onto Buda Castle. Whereas from the Buda side, you can climb to the top of the castle and peer onto the famous view of the Hungarian Parliament and the Széchenyi Chain Bridge.
You can’t go wrong with Budapest anytime of year, but it’s Christmas Atmosphere only adds to its already exquisite glamour.
Market stalls and decorations start going up on November 8th, 2019 and continue their display through January 1st, 2020. The Vorosmarty Market is the first to open on November 8th, whereas the market at St. Stephens opens on November 22nd.
From Sunday to Thursday, 10:00 am – 8:00 pm and from 10:00 am to 9:00 pm on Friday and Saturday
There are markets located throughout the city, but the larger and most popular markets are located at St. Stephens Basilica Square and Vorosmarty Square.
St. Stephens Basilica offers a more beautiful market, with a larger amount of souvenirs. This location is home to a small skating rink and stretches a few blocks down Zrínyi Street, towards the Danube River. Throughout this market, you will find a lot of hot wine, chimney cakes and food stands. Every 30 minutes or so, a light show is displayed on the Basilica.
The market in Vorosmarty Square has more of a party vibe as you will find even more food and drink stands. This area is less of a family scene as it is a great spot for adults to meet with friends for some hot wine or beers. There are a few more food stalls here than the latter, but both have the same options. Each market makes sure that you won’t be going home hungry.
The only word I can properly use to describe the food scene is “overwhelming”. A lot of markets have their country’s specialties and nothing more, while Budapest has its specialties plus an extraordinary amount of options. They serve meats including pork, steak, sausage, chicken and turkey for those carnivores out there. If you’re feeling like hitting the sea, they serve a delicious smoked salmon in multiple locations. For those vegetarians out there, it isn’t tough to find an all veggie dish or soup often accompanied by fresh bread. For the foodies, the goulash is the winner as it properly plays its part as the most famous Hungarian dish. It is not only the goulash that plays a special part in Hungarian cuisine as a stuffed cabbage is another strong option. Don’t forget to grab a bag of paprika, the Hungarians put the ground red pepper on everything whether it may be sweet or spicy. If you’re looking for dessert, chimney cakes are the way to go as Hungary is their true home. And of course, hot wine, in every direction.
If you’re looking to venture away from the Christmas Market scene, the Central Market Hall is a good option. On the first floor you will find stalls upon stalls of fresh produce and cured Hungarian meats. This is the perfect spot to grab a bag of the famous Hungarian Paprika as a souvenir. Prices are much cheaper within the market walls rather than a shop elsewhere in the city. On the second floor, you will find an immense amount of Hungarian souvenirs as well as some small restaurants to grab a bowl of goulash.
If you’re going to eat one thing in Budapest, make it goulash. Hungarians are famous for the stew and for good reason. This Hungarian specialty contains meat, vegetables, broth and sometimes wine. You can find the dish on just about every street corner as most restaurants serve their own specialty.
The Christmas Markets all cook goulash in large cauldrons, starting early in the morning so that it has time to simmer and take in every pinch of flavor. From a market stall, you will typically find the most famous, a beef goulash, whereas in restaurants you can find other mixtures including the likes of chicken, pork, lamb and even duck. Make it an adventure and explore the goulash scene.
After goulash, there is another delicacy you cannot pass when visiting Budapest, chimney cakes. These incredible desserts are made from dough that is coated in sugar then wrapped around a wooden spindle before being placed overtop of an open fire. They take about 5 minutes to bake and are best served hot. Once off of the fire, you can add a wide variety of ingredients such as nuts, Nutella or even ice cream. However, I think they are best plain, with a small coating of cinnamon. When ordering a chimney cake, make sure you watch it bake before buying it. You don’t want to eat one that has been sitting around, plus, its just extremely satisfying to watch them spin around a fire while you stand there, salivating like a wild animal.
The two biggest trees can be found at St. Stephens Basilica and Vorosmarty Square. While the one at St. Stephens, is decked in colorful lights, the other in Vorosmarty is not, but it is much larger. The tree at Vorosmarty Square is huge and purely natural, whereas the tree in St. Stephens has a more aesthetically pleasing surrounding. Both trees have their positives, therefore the conclusion is simple enough, take multiple pictures of both.
The souvenirs are ordinary, nothing too extravagant. You can find many handmade products out of wood or glass. Angels and bells seem to be one of the bigger things here if you’re looking for something to show off from the city. It is always enjoyable to walk to each market stall and find the one thing that sticks out the most to purchase.
Budapest is easily home to one of the best markets in Europe. Christmas decorations can be seen at every street corner and everyone is always smiling and having a good time. It may become crowded at times, but it’s hard to blame people for wanting to visit the incredible city during the holiday season.
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