The Best Time to Visit Budapest

Hungary, Budapest, View over Pest from Buda
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The best time to visit Budapest is in the early fall (September and October) or late spring (May). Not only is the weather great, but you also get to escape the queues that come with the peak season crowds. However, Budapest has something to offer all year, even during the the hot summers and frigid winters.

The Weather in Budapest 

Winters can plunge to sub-freezing temperatures, and sometimes it can get so cold the Danube River freezes over. Summer temperatures can go as high as 105 degrees Fahrenheit (41 degrees Celsius) making things very hot and sticky. The heat is often broken by patches of heavy downpours and summer storms, so a umbrella is a necessity during that time. You can avoid the extreme heat and cold, as well as most of the heavy rainy season if you come fall or spring.

Peak Season in Budapest 

Despite the weather, summer and Christmas tend to be the busiest seasons. Accommodation prices are higher this time of year, and you may have to deal with crowds and long lines at the city’s most popular attractions. If you do want to come during peak season, it’s a good idea to book in advance.

Popular Events and Festivals 

Cultural and culinary festivals take place across the year though some events are more popular than others. Sziget Festival—one of the largest in Europe—takes place mid-August, so if you’re planning to come during that time, you will need to book accommodation well in advance, and you will likely higher prices. The crowds also pile into the Hungarian capital in December for its magical Christmas markets.

There are various Hungarian national holidays that you may not know about, like Aug. 20, Oct. 23, and March 15. Many attractions are closed around these dates and public transport runs on reduced service.

January

After New Year, January is quiet, since it’s the coldest month with average temperatures of 29 degrees Fahrenheit (-2 degrees Celsius). You’ll find that crowds thin out, prices drop, and shops have more sales.

Events to check out:

  • Make the most of the New Year with a New Year’s Day concert at one of the city’s many concert halls.

February

Budapest gets its festive spirit back with Carnival season. Temperatures tend to be around 34 degrees Fahrenheit (1 degree Celsius), but you can get some sunnier days towards the end of the month.

Events to check out:

  • Farsang, or Carnival, brings carnival doughnuts and parties to town. For the best Hungarian carnival experience, get out of Budapest and head to Mohács for the Búsójárás.
  • If you like pork, don’t miss the Mangalica Festival, featuring delicious dishes made from Hungary’s most famous breed of pig.

March

Spring eases its way into Budapest in March. This is still a quiet time to visit, and accommodation prices are low, so still good for those looking to do Budapest on a budget.

Events to check out:

  • March 15 is a public holiday marking the 1848 Hungarian Revolution against the Habsburgs. There are numerous cultural events, military processions, and even free entry to some of the museums.
  • Architecture lovers can catch the Budapest Architecture Film Days, a film festival (films are subtitled or screened in English) focusing on documentaries concerning architecture.

April

In April, good weather arrives and trees burst into bloom. Come for spring hikes and excursions into the Buda Hills, or for the artistic calendar of events.

Events to check out:

  • Budapest Spring Fair sees stalls filled with Hungarian artisanal and handcrafted products, along with a few snacks, pop up for the month.
  • Art lovers will want to hit up the Budapest Art Week, with around 100 exhibitions and art events scattered around the city’s galleries and museums.
  • The International Book Festival offers discussions, signings, concerts and more. Each year a well-known writer like Karl Ove Knuasgaard or Orhan Pamuk headline the event as the guest of honor.

May

May is a wonderful month to visit Budapest. Locals head outside to the parks, and it’s a good time to ride a boat up the Danube. Temperatures on average range from 51 degrees Fahrenheit (10 degrees Celsius) to 71 degrees Fahrenheit (21 degrees Celsius).

Events to check out:

  • Foodies will love the Gourmet Festival, an outdoor culinary festival featuring food from Hungary’s top restaurants, top confectioners and wineries.
  • Take a peek behind closed doors at Budapest100, an architecture festival where normally-closed-to-the-public buildings open their doors for a weekend.
  • Brain Bar hits the town with TED-style talks and seminars on the future towards the end of May, having featured speakers in the past like Jordan Peterson.
  • Rosalia is a springtime rose and champagne festival in City Park that’s great for wine lovers.
  • Get hunting for antiques at the Falk Art Forum, a street-wide festival on the antique-shop-lined Falk Miksa Street. 

June

Summer is here, and although the temperatures go up and the skies are often blue, June can be the wettest month with storms and heavy rain. But with the summer come the music festivals.

Events to check out:

  • Budapest Summer Festival kicks off from the beginning of June till the end of August with cultural events like opera, ballet, and concerts in the city’s parks and theaters.
  • Kolorado Festival takes place in the Buda Hills. It’s a growing music festival with local and international bands and DJs.
  • Culture vultures take advantage of the Night of the Museums when Budapest’s museums open late night with events, concerts and free entry.

July 

July is the hottest month. Locals will grab a picnic on Margaret Island, sit out on a terrace overlooking the river to watch the sunset, or head to the crumbling “kerts,” (outdoor ruin bars) to handle the heat.

Events to check out:

  • The rainbow flags come out for Budapest Pride at the beginning of July. Pride Week accompanies the parade with a week-long cultural festival featuring film screenings, concerts, parties, and discussions.
  • The Formula 1 Hungarian Grand Prix draws the crowds to the Hungaroring Grand Prix just outside the capital.
  • Weekends in July usually mean it’s time for the Szabihíd Liberty Bridge street parties. The entire bridge is closed off to traffic, and people take over with early morning yoga sessions, afternoon concerts, evening parties, picnics, and even aerial circus acts.

August 

August’s main highlights are the Sziget Festival and Aug. 20, Hungary’s most important national holiday, so make sure you book in advance. 

Events to check out:

  • Thousands flock to Óbuda Island for one of Europe’s largest music festivals, Sziget Festival. Previous headliners have included Muse, Lana del Rey, Rihanna, and more. If you plan on coming, you’ll want to get tickets in advance. 
  • Aug. 20 is affectionately dubbed as “Hungary’s Birthday,” marking the founding of the country by King St. Stephen. Expect folk festivals, open-air concerts, and a huge fireworks display. 
  • Budapest Short International Film Festival showcases work from young filmmakers in the region. All films are subtitled in English. 

September 

September is all about wine and culture. The weather is still good enough to hang out outside without it being too hot and crowded.

Events to check out:

  • Head up to Buda Castle for the Budapest Wine Festival and enjoy a few glasses of Hungarian wine with one of the best views in the city.
  • The Jewish Cultural Festival kicks off early September with theater shows, concerts, and performances in various locations.

October 

The plentiful, rust-colored trees make the city extremely photogenic and make October a great month to visit the city.

Events to check out:

  • Art Market Budapest at the beginning of October celebrates contemporary art, sculpture, photography, and installations from local and international galleries.
  • Budapest Design Week is an interactive festival showcasing fashion and design through a range of events from workshops to exhibitions in various locations.
  • CAFe Budapest Contemporary Arts Festival hits up various venues with concerts, exhibitions, and productions across the city and multiple genres. 
  • Oct. 23 is a national holiday commemorating the 1956 revolution. There are cultural events and programs across the city.

November 

November is a quiet time before the Christmas crowds arrive, so this is a good low season period to come. The temperatures can be chilly, and it gets dark as early as 4 p.m. once the clocks go back.

Events to check out:

  • All Saints’ Day on Nov. 1 is a national holiday when Hungarians go to the cemeteries to commemorate their loved ones with candles and flowers.
  • Food lovers may want to make a reservation a Hungarian restaurant for St. Martin’s Day (Nov. 11) when goose and new wine feature on the menu.

December 

This month, the festive spirit is in the air: the Christmas markets are in full swing, the ice rinks are packed, and stalls sell spicy cups of mulled wine to chase the winter blues away.

Events to check out:

  • The Christmas Markets are the ultimate highlight. You’ll find these scattered around the city with stalls selling artisanal gifts, local delicacies, mulled wine, and hot-off-the-grill chimney cakes.
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