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Vacationing in Budapest during December (Winter) Are We Crazy?


We are coming to Budapest 12-3-2019 thru 12-17-2019, we've never vacationed in Budapest, Hungary before...
All suggestions are welcome and appreciated, for the enhancement of our Hungarian Vacation.
We are in the process of configuring an itinerary, thinking of possibly also visiting Prague and Vienna.
So far, we've planned on visiting the Christmas Markets in Budapest.



Posted by
10339 posts

Were you aware, before you booked your trip, of the likely weather in this part of Europe in the winter?

Posted by
6544 posts

Wikipedia shows all cities' weather--average highs, lows, precipitation, days of sunshine, etc.
If I was going to numerous cities that time of the year, it'd be Munich, Vienna and Budapest. The Christmas Markets are quite popular for tourists then.
PM me if you're looking for places to stay in Budapest and Vienna.

Posted by
337 posts

It's going to be quite chilly, I'd imagine! But that's no reason to avoid it if you don't mind the cold - I love Europe in winter, and the Christmas markets and overall festive atmosphere (along with seeing and experiencing the Christmas traditions of other cultures and countries) is one of my favorite things about it!

There's holiday-themed productions at the opera (like the Nutcracker ballet), the thermal baths will be open, ice skating rinks will be open, Parliament tours still happen, markets, Christmas lights, and more! While the days will certainly be shorter, Budapest is a gorgeous city at night (then add in Christmas and holiday lighting and that just adds to how beautiful the city is).

Posted by
3 posts

Yes...we knew that the weather would be very cold and possibly snow. That's not a problem.
What I was curious about, was whether anyone had suggestions of places and things that are a must, to Budapest, Vienna and Prague.

Thanks to all that have responded and continue to make suggestions.

Posted by
767 posts

Hello from Wisconsin,

That might depend on where you are from. I am from Wisconsin, snow doesn't bother me. Budapest is a city, so sun light doesn't reach the sidewalks before 10AM, and goes back into shadow...gosh, before 4PM. SO some snow and little day light to bask in.

One of our more memorable trip to Budapest was December for the Christmas Market in Vorsomarty ter. It has been more than 10 years ago, but Budapest in about 2005 for Christmas looked like 1935 in my imagination. Real pine boughs for decoration on the lamp posts. Kiosks selling wrapping paper by the sheet. It was magical come evening.

I wore a trench coat with a wool liner over a wool sport coat. Leather gloves and chucka boots. That way I was warm enough and could look modestly dressed.

Check to see what is playing at the Opera House. 7 years ago tickets were available for $7 in the third tier. Across the street from the opera house is the Cafe Muvesz. I tried to hit that place twice a day. Once in the morning for coffee and to see the display cases filled with cakes and then in the evening for coffee and to see them empty.

I have a map I built for Budapest tourists as there were none when I first arrived in 1995. It has many of the sites to be seen along with the mass transit needed to get to them. Send me an email asking for the map at and I will send you a copy.

wayne iNWI

Posted by
11458 posts

Check to see what is playing at the Opera House.

Unfortunately being renovated, but there are a number of other good and beautiful period venues available. If thats an intrest, glad to help.

I have a map I built for Budapest tourists as there were none when I
first arrived in 1995. It has many of the sites to be seen along with
the mass transit needed to get to them.

Since 1995 a new metro line has been added. You might want to add it if you havent. And the D2, 11, 12 and 14 have been added since 1995.

Posted by
3 posts

Hi Again,

What percentages of our purchases would you recommend using our credit cards for, versus cash?

We are going for two weeks, how much cash should we take, as everything else: flights, lodging and
transportation to and from the airport to our hotel both ways have all been paid for in advance.

This is our first trip to Budapest and we are thinking about taking a few day trips while there, possibly Vienna and Prague.

All advice is Greatly Appreciated!


Posted by
17379 posts

You don't need to take cash with you to Budapest, and you might find it challenging to find a source for forints in the US (or Canada?). Plus it would be difficult to guess how much money you'd need, and there's always a bit of risk to carrying substantial sums of money around. Wait until you get to Budapest and use an ATM. I was unable to find a bank ATM at the Budapest airport in May 2018, so I swallowed hard and used a suspicious-looking commercial device. I think it had a Euronet logo. I was very pleased that I was not charged a fee by the machine. I was given an opportunity to record the transaction in terms of US dollars, which would have been a very big mistake, allowing the owner of the machine to use a terrible exchange rate. I opted to conduct the transaction in forints and everything was fine.

In a pinch (if the airport ATMs don't work or you have trouble with your ATM card) you should be able to change a small amount of US currency at a staffed booth in the airport, but that will be very costly and is extremely unlikely to be necessary.

I used my credit card a lot in Budapest, but you may run into some individual places (including some stands at markets) that want cash (forints). I don't remember whether the vending machines for public-transit tickets take cards.

Prague is about 6-1/2 hours from Budapest by train, each way, so it's not a viable day-trip.

Posted by
11458 posts

Ive been coming here a few times a year for almost 20 years. How much cash to carry is always a personal issue. Me, even knowing my way around, I come with forints. Usually I have some from the prior trip, but this time, because I gave them to a friend, I had to go to BoA. Their exchange rate is reasonable. If you are flying in, the taxi will cost about 8.000 forints, They will take cards, euro and dollars, but Hungarian Cash is just easier and a bit cheaper. Then another 10.000 for the unexpected. This way I dont have to mess with anything from the plane to the apartment. Is it necessary? No, just easier for me.

Almost every place a tourist will go takes credit cards, but again, cash can be easier at times. I generally keep about 20.000 cash in my pocket for the occasional odd beer. A credit card for a 450 forint beer seems like a lot of trouble.

If you end up going home with 10.000 forints, consider it a souvenir. Oh, if you are flying out keep 10.000 for the taxi to the airport and a cup of coffee once there.

Posted by
11458 posts

Prague is too far for the trouble, but Vienna is doable, although I would spend the night. Good day trips are Szentendre, Vac, Pannonhalma Archabbey/Gyor. Good overnight trips are Eger, Pecs, Tihany.

Posted by
11458 posts

The other good thing at Christmas are concerts and theater, but book now cause they sell out.

Check out the concerts at Pannonhalma too, but will require spending the night.

I doubt the Opera house renovations will be done by then, but the Budapest Operetta will have good shows as will be the Erkel.

The metro vending machines do take credit cards, but this trip the one I tried rejected my card. I walked about 5 min to the ticket office at the Deak Ferenc ter metro station and the same card worked just fine. DO! get a TravelCard as it will make your stay a lot more memorable.

Posted by
613 posts

Always use credit cards. Currency exchange is a hassle. Vienna beats Budapest. Prague bets Vienna. If in Budapest long enough, take a day trip to Pecs (pronounced 'pesch'),