Given Budapest's extreme cold, January isn't the most popular month to travel to the Hungarian capital city. The brave people who do, however, are able to enjoy the top landmarks and attractions without having to fight through crowds.
Don't let the chilly weather deter you from booking a plane ticket to this picturesque city—the airfare will probably be cheaper this time of year, anyway.
Budapest Weather in January
Budapest is slightly warmer than other Eastern European destinations, with an overall average temperature of 30 degrees Fahrenheit (-1 degree Celsius) during the month of January. The average high is 36 degrees Fahrenheit (-2 degrees Celsius) and the average low is 27 degrees Fahrenheit (-3 degrees Celsius). Winter, which runs from December through March or April, is the country's coldest and gloomiest season. It's also the snowiest month, receiving up to 15 inches of snow on a single day, which has occurred in the past.
What to Pack
Winter in Budapest is wildly unpredictable, so come prepared for anything (besides bikini weather, that is). Layers and waterproofs are both good ideas. Heavy coats and winter accessories are a must. Make sure you bring:
- Thermal underwear
- Sweaters and fleeces
- A very warm winter coat (the longer, the better)
- Woolen socks
- Warm, waterproof boots
- Hats, gloves, and scarves
January Events and Activities
Even after the holidays are over, Budapest's seasonal events are still in full swing. The most popular attractions in the entire city—for Hungarians and tourists alike—are its many thermal baths. There are 15 spas in Budapest, among them the famed Gellert Bath and Széchenyi Thermal Bath.
- "The Nutcracker" at The Hungarian State Opera: Seeing "The Nutcracker" ballet around Christmastime is a global tradition. In Budapest, showings at The Hungarian State Opera run through the first week of January.
- Ice skating and shopping: If you're okay with the cold, try ice skating in the City Park (Városligeti Műjégpálya) or shopping January sales at Budapest shops. Many local shops offer special discounts even after the Christmas Markets close on January 2.
- Gozsdu Weekend Market: This eclectic emporium takes place every weekend in the city's party district. Vendors offer everything from antiques to local art.
- Wedding Fair and Exhibition: In late January, Budapest holds a bridal expo to showcase wedding dresses, decor, accessories, and venues around the country. It's held at the Papp Laszlo Budapest Sports Arena.
- Visit the city's famous attractions: Take advantage of the off-season by visiting the Liberty Bridge and the Citadel on Gellert Hill, or by taking in a concert at St. Stephen's Basilica without the crowd.
January Travel Tips
For the residents of Budapest, January is about discovering fun ways to avoid the cold while still soaking in the culture of the city. One of the best ways to do this is by visiting one of the many quirky pubs, bars, and restaurants in town.
- Winter is the time to try such Hungarian culinary staples as beigli (a traditional Christmas pastry with walnut or poppy seed) and lentil soup, which is traditionally eaten on New Year's Day.
- The city's name comes from the two sides of town: Buda and Pest. The Danube River cuts right through the middle. Completed in 1849, the chain bridge that connects the two is now considered to be one of the city's most significant landmarks. Buda is hilly and much more traditional, whereas Pest is flatter and more modern.
- Ruin bars, initially founded in Budapest around 2001 inside dilapidated buildings and then transformed into friendly dive bars, are where the locals go for cheap drinks and camaraderie. Szimpla Kert was the first ruin bar, but it has since relocated from its original location to the Jewish Quarter of Budapest's seventh district.
- When you need to warm up, go inside for a coffee at My Little Melbourne, Tamp & Pull, or Espresso Embassy.