Hungary can get a little chilly during the winter. If you’re used to the cold and want to see the best of what Budapest offers, then January is the perfect month to travel.
You will find fewer tourists trying to see the same landmarks as you tour the city. Fisherman’s Bastion is much more accessible. It is an opportunity to take a leisurely stroll through your itinerary without feeling the same pressure to arrive early to the most popular destinations.
What to Bring for Budapest in January
Budapest in January will expose you to winter conditions. It is a little warmer than other spots in Eastern Europe at this time, although the average temperature remains below freezing for the month.
That means you will want to bring all of your winter accessories for your trip. A warm coat, wool socks, and gloves are essential. A scarf and a hat will protect you from the biting winds that sometimes blow. It is helpful to bring along thermal underwear in case a cold spell comes through that dips the temperatures even lower.
If you arrive in Budapest to celebrate the New Year, most of the sights and shops will close for the holiday. It’s also the perfect opportunity to explore the city when it is quiet.
It likes to snow in January sometimes, so you’ll want to be prepared to navigate through the white stuff during your stay.
Best Events to Experience in Budapest
January in Budapest provides several fun, seasonal events to experience that make traveling during the winter an enjoyable experience.
The Gozsdu Weekend Market takes place each weekend during the month in the party district. You can find almost anything you want here, ranging from local art to antiques.
If you don’t mind being out in the cold, then there is ice skating available in City Park. You will find it in front of Vajdahunyad Castle, where it has been a winter tradition since 1870. After you enjoy some time gliding around, you can visit the Szechenyi Baths or Heroes’ Square since they are nearby. It is open in the morning and in the evening.
The Christmas shops are closed this time of year, but you can find some fantastic deals since January is the off-season for most businesses.
The end of the month brings the annual Wedding Fair and Exhibition to the city. This unique opportunity gives you the chance to see the latest trends in wedding décor, dresses, and accessories. You can find the event at the Papp Laszlo Budapest Sports Arena.
Because the cold can numb the body when you visit Budapest in January, you will find that the most popular destination tends to be the thermal baths. A total of 118 natural thermal springs are in the city, including the famous Gellert. When you transition from the cold outside to the hot waters in the Turkish baths, it can be a pleasant and satisfying jolt to the system. Many of them offer massage rooms, steam chambers, and other treatments upon request.
You can also visit many of the most famous landmarks in the city during January, including Liberty Bridge and St. Stephen’s Basilica. Because the days are a little shorter, a walk along the River Danube to see the lights of Budapest can be breathtaking, especially with the Parliament Building in the background.
Travel Tips for Budapest in January
January gives you a chance to experience some local flavors that aren’t always available during the busy tourist season. One of the best items is called “beigli,” which is a traditional holiday pastry. It comes with either poppy seeds or walnuts.
If you are in Budapest on New Year’s Day, then you can enjoy a steaming bowl of lentil soup. It’s one of the traditions of the city.
You might also get a chance to see the performance of The Nutcracker at the Hungarian State Opera during your stay. The performance usually extends beyond the holiday season, and it sometimes goes until the end of January.
Another fun experience in the city during the winter is to experience life as a local with Budapest’s ruin bars. These businesses began to appear in 2001 inside the dilapidated buildings that dotted the landscape. Owners would transform them into friendly spots where you could find an inexpensive drink to enjoy. Special tours are available to let you experience this cultural element while tasting local wines or sampling dishes, or you can visit one on your own if you prefer.
Make sure that you get a chance to try Unicum, which is an herbal liquor, especially since many of the ruin bars provide discounted drinks during the winter months.
If it is too cold to stay outside for any length of time, then a Budapest café is the perfect way to experience the city. You can warm up with some great coffee, a warm pastry, or your favorite treat. It’s a social hub where you can chat with locals about whatever is happening during that day. Espresso Embassy is one of the best options to try in this regard.
Are You Ready to Explore Budapest in January?
January in Budapest can be one of the best times of the year to visit Hungary. The crowds are not as big, and the prices tend to be a little bit better. If you dress for the cold, then you will find that many of the treasures you want to see are very easy to access.
The crown jewel of your experience in the city will be Varkert Bazar and Buda Castle, allowing you to enjoy art and nature together under the scope of history. An excellent selection of restaurants and bars await your arrival at this imposing, but stunningly beautiful building.
Budapest offers literary events, ballet productions, and concerts all year long. The city will be moving a little slower since the holidays are over, but that means you have the perfect opportunity to explore at your own pace.
January in Budapest will exceed your expectations.