Visiting Budapest During Christmas Week

October 5, 2019 11:26 pm29 commentsViews: 48

Budapest may be cold in December, but the Danube River continues to flow and the daily cruises that take visitors past iconic buildings like the Parliament still play Strauss waltzes and serve hot drinks. Every restaurant serves a version of goulash while a glass of Tokay or a shot of Szilvapalinka warms the blood.

Visiting Budapest During Christmas Week

Budapest between Christmas and New Year is, like many European cities, magical, featuring an extensive Christmas market with local crafts and food vendors. The aroma of gluhwein is everywhere, a hot concoction of red wine and spices. Budapest is comparatively inexpensive and affords a glimpse into Magyar culture that pre-dates the time of Charlemagne.

Affordable and Centrally Located Lodging

We lodged at the Hilton Budapest WestEnd Hotel, conveniently located in a bustling area of the city with transportation connections within blocks of the hotel. The hotel adjoins a shopping mall – one of Budapest’s newest and finest. The Arrabona restaurant in the hotel featured one of the best breakfasts encountered in a hotel and is worth including in any room package.

Day Trips to Outlying Villages near Budapest

Travelers can opt to spend the day at one of the outlying villages within driving distance of Budapest. Public transportation is also available. Cruises also include optional visits to these historic hamlets. We visited Szentendre. Numerous shops and restaurants dot the cobbled streets. Beyond the standard souvenirs, shops sell crafts like home-made table cloths and other textiles produced by the local population.

The Marzipan Museum, besides selling delicious confections, includes a life-size figure of Michael Jackson made out of Marzipan. Other celebrities are on display as well as the Hungarian Parliament building.

Across the Danube River in Budapest

The best views of the city are from the heights on the other side of the Danube River. It is here that visitors can visit the royal palace and the Matthias Church, where the last Hapsburg emperors were crowned. The “Castle District” features shops, cafes, and restaurants and is a superb place to book a New Years Eve dinner.

Budapest in the History of Central Europe

For a somber recollection of Hungary’s recent past, a visit to the Budapest Terror House museum should be part of any tour itinerary. The museum details the brutal years of Communism, when torture was a common feature of state control. In 1956, the Hungarians rose in revolt against the Soviet-supported system, but were ruthlessly crushed by Soviet tanks and the aftermath of arrests and torture.

The Raul Wallenberg Centre in Budapest was established to commemorate the heroic efforts of Swedish activist and special envoy Raul Wallenberg, whose tireless and courageous efforts saved the lives of thousands of Budapest Jews in the final days of Nazi occupation of Hungary.

Visiting Budapest in Late December

Spending Christmas week and New Year in Budapest is a unique and colorful experience. Budapest characterizes a blending of cultures that reach out to both Western Europe and Central European traditions. Proper planning can make a Budapest holiday adventure affordable and memorable.

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