By December, the main streets and major squares of Budapest are all dressed in colorful Christmas decor, lending them an exalted ambiance that you may or may not want to share with all your pals online. As our pre-Christmas gift to you, we’ll give you a few ideas on where to go if you want to take the best visual representations of Christmas-clad Budapest.
As a UNESCO World Heritage site and one of the main arteries of the city, Andrássy út is draped in lights all-year-round, but it becomes especially Insta-worthy during the winter season. Illuminated by rows and rows of Christmas lights on a stretch of more than 2 kilometers from the city center to City Park, taking a stroll along the famous avenue and its elegant villas will get you in the Christmas mood in no time. Before starting on your journey, make sure to load up on hot drinks and some sweet snacks at the Vörösmarty tér Christmas fair, located just a few minutes’ walk from Andrássy út.
Városligeti műjégpálya, Budapest’s oldest ice rink, has been awaiting skaters since the winter of 1869: situated in City Park, its Neo-Baroque main building (a national monument, and one hundred percent grammable) was opened in 1895, in preparation for the 1896 Millennium Celebrations. Overlooking the marvelous Vajdahunyadvár castle complex and the grand statues of Heroes’ Square, the place has everything you need for creating magical pictures, including a 180×67 metres large skating rink. Entry is free for children under 6, while tickets on the weekdays range from 1,000 to 1,500 HUF, for students and adults, respectively.
Another great spot for taking flawless Christmas-themed pictures during the holiday season is the large square in front of St. Stephen’s Basilica, offering countless programs, including monumental 3D mappings at night, ice skating, flash-mobs, charity concerts, workshops and more. The Basilica Advent Feast is organized for the ninth consecutive time this year, turning Szent István tér into a buzzing meeting point of flavors, music, and the holiday spirit. Browse through the remarkable products of almost eighty craftsmen, and find unique, hand-crafted works of folk and applied art, textile and leather goods, pottery and jewellery along with designer clothes and accessories, or works of photographers and graphic artists.
Located within a few hundred meters from St. Stephen’s Basilica, the Parliament, and the Danube, the rooftop terrace of Hotel President offers a breathtaking panoramic view over the city, as well as its most exclusive, highest-lying ice skating rink. What’s more, till 12 January, you can take part in unique “après ski” activities every Sunday from 5 to 9 PM, enjoying delicious drinks and skating to invigorating electronic beats at the Hütte Party series of Be Massive Horizon and Intermezzo Ice Terrace.
No article focusing on the holiday essentials of the city is complete without a paragraph devoted to the famous Budapest Christmas trams. The first tram fully decked with Christmas lights appeared on the streetcars of line nr. 2 exactly ten years ago. Ever since then, a number of other tram lines joined in on the festive fun on both sides of the river (including tram nr. 19, which runs on a similarly scenic route as nr. 2), but you can also travel on Santa’s trolley bus on various routes till 23 December. Decorated with 4,000 LED lights, these special vehicles make for a simply unmissable Christmas experience, as well as for some fine photo ops.
Last but not least, this one is for those who don’t mind leaving the city center behind in exchange for capturing cozy Christmas moments. The Óbuda Advent is organized each year on the district’s cobblestoned main square, swapping its sleepy-town mood for a grand and lavish atmosphere of Christmas merriment till the end of January. Ornaments hanging from every tree, a nativity scene, a recyclable Christmas tree made by the Hellowood team, the scent of cinnamon-flavored mulled wine and various other culinary delights permeating the air, live music concerts and handicraft stalls all surround the Baroque square’s main attraction, its free-to-use ice rink.