Christmastime in Budapest is like no place else in the world.

While every place has its own traditions for the yuletide, the sights, sounds and smells of the Christmas Markets in Budapest earn the city international acclaim as one of the most festive places in the world. The “Queen of the Danube” is truly a feast for the senses, bursting with light and joy with its music and booths filled with unique seasonal treats, distinctive crafts and gifts, and the spirit of the season.

The Christmas Market in Vörösmarty Square is one of Budapest’s oldest and most beautiful experiences to behold. Beginning in early November and continuing until New Year’s Day, the square is chock full of food stalls, shops and free open-air concerts. Despite it being one of the most popular holiday markets in Europe, it still retains all its charm and family-friendly nature. Peruse the intricate and beautiful ornaments and Hungarian handicrafts. Stop at a stall and grab a kürtőskalács, a chimney cake roasted over charcoal while basted with melted butter until its surface cooks to a golden-brown color. It’s a Hungarian specialty and a staple of any Hungarian Christmas.

In fact, cakes, pastries and sweets are a timeless Hungarian tradition. Sample the traditional Hungarian chocolates like the Christmas fondant candy (szaloncukor) or a Beigli (a sweet cake roll with walnut, poppy seed or chestnut). Indulge in a tempting piece of flódni, the traditional Jewish-Hungarian plum and poppy seed cake, and wash it down with a hot beer with sour cherry. Explore the wide choice of winter warmers on sale such as raspberry schnapps punch, apple cider or blackcurrant rum punch – a wine-based winter tipple that is a sweeter alternative to the mulled wine on sale.

Within the markets, you’ll find many unique gifts and crafts. Discover some Hungarian Christmas souvenirs such as handcrafted bags, jewels, Christmas mugs or handmade Christmas tree décor. Spot a ceramic Santa smoking a pipe surrounded by garlands, which are made of dried orange, paprika, cinnamon sticks and bay leaves, and covered in hand-painted tree decorations. Even gingerbread takes a creative turn at these markets, transformed from the well-known gingerbread house into gingerbread foxes, frogs and hedgehogs.

Vörösmarty Square isn’t the only market in Budapest. The Advent Market by St. Stephen’s Basilica is just a short walk from Vörösmarty Square and offers other programs and treasures. This market was first held in 2011, organized by the National Association of Folk Artists. The skillful members of the Association of Hungarian Folk Artists sell their unique and high-quality traditional crafts in their wooden stalls. Entering the giant Advent gate, you will find yourself among a hundred handicraft stalls and a sizeable skating rink set up on St. Istvan Square (Szent István tér) in the heart of the city.

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