Budapest, Hungary straddles the Danube, with Buda on one side and Pest on the other. These three elements, Buda in the hills, Pest on the plain, and this timeless, storied European river dividing the two, are the essence of the Hungarian capital. Budapest is known for its stunning art nouveau architecture of the turn of the 20th century, its thermal baths and spas, its remarkable views from the bridges over the Danube and its music that fills the air.
One of the best ways to take in the scene is sitting at a cafe table with a coffee, cocktail or glass of wine. March weather makes that a bit of a challenge, but if you have packed for the weather, hey, no problem.
March Weather in Budapest
Bad news first: Nighttime temperatures in March stay below 40 degrees Fahrenheit, ranging from 30 to 38 degrees. The good news is that toward the end of March, after spring officially arrives, daytime highs edge close to 60 degrees, with 57 degrees being the average. March sees a big warm-up in daytime temperatures, with highs early in the month more than 10 degrees cooler, averaging 47 chilly degrees. Spring might be in the offing, but it feels a lot like winter most of March in Budapest. March is also a cloudy month in Budapest, so don't expect a lot of sunshine warmth.
What to Pack
The weather in Budapest in March is not what you call delightful, but there is loads of relaxation and warmth to be had in the thermal baths and spas, plenty of stimulation on tours of the Hungarian Parliament and many museums, and just plain fun in its multitude of cafes and pubs.
Having the right clothes to stay comfortable is key. The trick is to pick pieces that don't load down your bag that will all work together to keep you warm no matter the temperature. Start with a warm leather jacket, peacoat, warm winter jacket or knee-length walker coat. (You will most likely be wearing this if you depart from most U.S. locations at this time of year. If you are leaving from a warmer place, choose the coat that packs the easiest.) Add a scarf to wrap around your neck with a European-style knot for extra warmth that doesn't take up a lot of space in your bag.
This scarf can also be worn with a lightweight jacket or sweater on warmer days to keep you warmer without a coat.
The rest of your bag should hold the usual pieces for layering: jeans, medium-weight pullover sweaters, a cardigan sweater and tops to go under the sweaters for warmth and layering possibilities. All these items should be in the same neutral palette to get maximum use from a minimum number of them. Ankle boots are the perfect footwear for March; shoes supportive enough for walking also are a good option.
March Holidays and Events
March 15, Revolution Day, is a national holiday in Hungary. It celebrates the uprising of 1848 with parades and other events. Budapest's Spring Festival marks the arrival of the season with concerts, performances, and a traditional fair.
Gluttonous Thursday occurs the day after Ash Wednesday. Participating restaurants offer a 50 percent discount on lunches and dinners -- great for travelers on a budget.