Budapest in January: in the arms of a fabulous winter
Love the Christmas atmosphere, but not the crowds? Appreciate the beautiful architecture and rich history? Welcoming winter, but don’t want to get cold? Dreaming of going to Europe and seeing something special at the same time?
Try Budapest in January. You’re sure to love the comfort and tranquility of its streets at the beginning of the year, and the magical taste of Hungarian food you’ll remember even when you return home. Kidpassage has tried to find out everything about vacationing in Hungary’s capital city during the most fabulous period of the year.
Holidays in Budapest in January: atmosphere and mystery
At first glance, Budapest in January may not seem like a good idea to travel. But it is not! Reviews of holidays in Budapest in January indicate that such a trip has a number of advantages.
- The main and most obvious plus is the absence of many tourists. Quiet quiet streets, no crowds, no queues – just you and Budapest, just the two of you, alone.
- An overcast, chilly January is the perfect time to visit museums. It can be frustrating to spend a warm, sunny day indoors in the summer, but mid-winter is another matter entirely.
- Thermal Springs. In the warm season their charms are not so obvious, but the winter contrast of cold air and hot water is exactly what you need to come to Budapest in January. Remember, no crowds and no queues at the beginning of the year.
- For those who care about the attributes and atmosphere of winter holidays – yes, in January they are still in the air of the Hungarian capital.
Recreation in Budapest in January has its disadvantages.
- The main one, of course, is the wet and rainy weather. Rain and unpleasant winds from the Danube can spoil any spiritual walk in the city.
- The limited number of sights available for you to see in the described weather conditions.
- Prices, which in January are quite high, especially in the first decade of the month.
- If you are a fan of noisy events and public festivities, in January in Budapest you may find it too quiet.
Weather in Budapest in January
The weather in early January is chilly, at three to seven degrees above zero. Temperatures in Budapest in mid-January can drop a little below zero, but overall, remains quite comfortable.
If we look at the weather in Budapest at the end of January, we also see nothing new – the same slight plus for walking. This stability is typical for a European winter. The weather in January and February is more like autumn, warm and wet.
You will not encounter frosts and snowfalls because of Hungary’s moderate continental climate. Temperatures in Budapest in January stay around the zero mark.
Temperatures in Budapest in January
The average daytime temperature is +1.7℃ and the average nighttime temperature is -1.3℃. While in previous years Budapest has experienced significant drops in temperature in January, last year the minimum temperature was just -2℃. The maximum temperature recorded during the day was +10.5℃.
The amount of precipitation
The amount of precipitation gradually increases as we approach the end of winter. The number of rainy days in January is two days (for comparison, one day in December and three days in February). The amount of precipitation is 32.4 mm, and it is mostly rain rather than snow.
Sunny, cloudy and overcast days
The weather in Budapest in January is more overcast than in the previous month. The number of overcast days in the first month of the year is 42% (29% in December), the number of sunny days is only eight (thirteen in December). The daylight hours range from 8.5 to 9.5 hours.
Budapest is one of the hundred most beautiful cities in the world and is part of UNESCO’s cultural heritage. City tours are what the vast majority of tourists come to Budapest for.
Where do you start your sightseeing? It’s difficult to answer this question, let’s just try to list the key ones.
Note that January may not be the most pleasant month for outdoor sightseeing, especially if you have children traveling with you.
St. Stephen’s Basilica, the main Catholic cathedral in Budapest. A beautiful temple that houses the relics of the nationally revered King Istvan.
The bell of the basilica is the largest in the country and the building itself is the tallest in the city. Under the dome there is an observation deck with a magnificent panoramic view of the capital.
Fisherman’s Bastion . The landmark of the city, a structure from which in early January offers a magnificent view of Pest.
Budean fortress , on the territory of which there is a magnificent church of St. Matyas with a unique tile masonry, as well as one of the most beautiful in Europe Plague Columns.
If, while walking around the city in the middle or end of January, you get cold and wet, you can continue your walk in one of the rooms.
. One of the most beautiful administrative buildings that is still used for its intended purpose. The parliament room houses the crown of St. Istvan. in front of the parliament building. A beautiful architectural structure built from one of the unrealized projects of its neighbor.
- The Museum of Fine Arts and the Museum of Modern Art next to Heroes’ Square.
Obviously, we will not stay in the capital of Hungary for just a day or two, but for at least a week.
For those who don’t get tired of a long walk around the city in the middle of January (which in itself is an active holiday) we recommend going to the skating rink.
The city’s main ice rink is located at the foot of Vaidahunyad Castle. It is here that locals prefer to skate, gazing at the unique architectural structure and warming themselves with mulled wine.
Those who are not warmed by warm wine can try the second type of recreation, offered by the Hungarian capital. The thermal springs, of course.
The water temperature in the outdoor pools of Szechenyi baths is +20-+40 degrees Celsius. In early or late January, you get an unforgettable pleasure, enjoying the contrast of frosty air and hot water. Just for the sake of this feeling it is already worth visiting Budapest in the middle of winter.
A major European capital is always a good place for shopping. Although the main holidays are behind us in January, there are still Christmas discounts and promotions in stores, and you can take advantage of them in early January to buy gifts at pleasant prices.
For those who like to store, you should visit Váci Street, a pedestrian zone more than a kilometer long, where there are stores of major international chains, antique shops, art galleries, design studios, bookstores and confectionery stores.
If we talk about souvenirs and various things “to remember”, they in Budapest you can buy all year round, including in the middle and end of January.
You can buy ceramic dishes, wooden and metal products, traditional embroidery and much more. Be sure to bring back from your trip marzipan, from which artisans create souvenirs of incredible beauty, and the real tokai wine.
Holidays, events and festivals
Compared to the hectic December, Budapest’s January festivities are minimal (at least the public ones) – just New Year’s Eve and maybe the first days after it. That, however, has its charms.
New Year in Hungary is sometimes called Sylvester, after the patron saint of the same name on December 31. As in other European countries, it is inferior in its scope to Catholic Christmas.
It is a quiet and chamber celebration at home, with the family. People gather around the table to see and congratulate their families on the beginning of the year.
Young girls traditionally wait until New Year’s Eve to fortune-tell their soulmates. For fortune-telling special buns are baked, inside which they hide pieces of paper with men’s names. The belief is that the name chosen for the girl is the name of her future husband.
If we mention the festivals in Budapest in January, the main three.
- Festival of Verdi , dedicated to the works of the great composer.
- Circus Art Festival, held every two years and attracts artists and acrobats from all over the world. During the week you can watch the most advanced circus troupes in the marquee of the Capital Circus.
- Farsang , also known as the Hungarian Carnival, begins January 6 and lasts until mid-February. Bright colors, traditional masks, music and dancing – all the attributes of the favorite Hungarian festival.
In the Budapest Opera House and the Palace of Arts at the beginning of the month are festive concerts, where you can listen to classical music.
January is the month of vacations and Christmas vacations. The high demand for tourist services is the reason why prices in Budapest in January are quite high.
The prices of airline tickets to Budapest in January are at an annual high. We recommend that you plan your vacation in advance and pay for the flight as early as possible – it will save you money.
Please note that the highest prices are in the first week of the year, after the Orthodox Christmas prices go down by 25-40%.
The situation with the organized tours is exactly the same as with the carriers’ prices. We can see two options – either buy a tour long before the rush, or catch a last minute tour with a flight out “today. The second option, of course, is more risky.
Hotel accommodation prices in January are generally lower than in December. The average hotel rate in January is $105. If you want to make your vacation cheaper, go to Budapest in the second or third decade of the month, prices will be lower. The minimum cost for the cheapest room in January is $19.67.
As with any trip, the most budget-friendly way to eat is self-catering. If that’s not your option and you want to relax and unwind as much as possible on vacation – consider that a simple lunch for two will cost you $8-9, and dinner with a glass of wine will cost $23-24.
Street food is also popular in Budapest: kurtoshkalach, turosh tashko, gurosh, langos, pagacha, palacinta, and more. For example, langos, whose name translates as “flame”, costs only 1.3 euros.
It is a voluminous, oil-fried flatbread covered in sour cream and garlic sauce with grated cheese and the invariable paprika. Langosz are popular with locals and tourists alike.
- Hungarian specialties: What to try
What to bring and what to wear
The weather in Budapest in January is not sunny. It will be mostly cloudy and with occasional showers. You will need umbrellas or raincoats and warm clothes for long walks.
“Tourist kit” in January includes a jacket, hat, scarf, gloves, comfortable pants, and shoes. Thermos with a warming drink will also come in handy.
Recommendations for vacations with children
Going to Budapest with children, be sure to bring a set of clothes according to the season. Despite the relatively high temperatures, January can be cloudy, windy and humid.
You will need hats, scarves and mittens, warm shoes and breathable jackets or overalls.
School-age children will enjoy the museum tours of Budapest and the labyrinth in the Buda Fortress. Climb under the dome of St. Stephen’s Basilica and enjoy the view of the city, eat fresh marzipan in a café and warm up all those chilled in the wind in the thermal waters of the Szechenyi baths at the end of the day.
Children of preschool age would be better to visit Budapest in a warmer season.
If you’re in Budapest in January you can enjoy the unique atmosphere of Europe’s winter capital without being overwhelmed by tourists. If you still have questions about planning a vacation with kids in Budapest, read other Kidpassage materials.
Budapest in January
Budapest in January – is it worth to go and how to dress? Weather, tour prices 2023, how much does it cost to travel independently? What to see in Budapest during the Christmas vacations, where you can go – Eurotraveler.ru.
Once, even before the coronavirus pandemic, a considerable number of Russian tourists immediately after the New Year set off on a trip abroad. Mainly in order to spend time usefully – it is ridiculous to sit still when in front of us looms 10 days off. Especially in winter.
At the same time, main destinations were Finland and Baltic countries: it was fashionable to celebrate New Year in Riga! The Czech Republic was also quite popular – mainly its capital, Prague.
Was Budapest popular in January? We would not say so – to see the Hungarian capital in the middle of winter only few Russians went. But Russians had far-reaching plans – a trip to Vienna for a day was almost an obligatory item!
Today the Danube megapolis is literally doomed to much wider popularity. After all, it is one of the few European capitals, where they again allowed Russian travelers.
Only inoculated with two Sputnik V components, really. But still!
Weather in Budapest in January
It is not always posh. But bad as well. It is a usual Central European winter with moderate cold, occasional frost and not so rare chance of sunny days.
The Danube, by the way, almost never freezes. And water walks on it and in the first month of the year continues almost on a regular schedule. Only 13.50 € per person and an audio guide in Russian is included – isn’t that nice?
Someone in the reviews calls the January weather in Hungary almost perfect for cognitive, sightseeing tourism. And we readily agree – if properly dressed.
By the way, there is a place where you can get warm – the water in the open reservoirs of Budapest thermal baths reaches temperature +38 even in winter. And to stop in a store or treat yourself to a mug of Christmas mulled wine outside is also an option, no?
But first things first!
The temperature in Budapest at the beginning of January doesn’t usually tend to go far from zero. And in recent years during the day it travels in the same direction – up.
From +1 to +4-+5 – that is the usual pattern for the afternoon. Though precipitations are rare, but perfectly clear days do occur. Sunny days indeed: with serene blue sky and marvelously clear, somehow crystal air.
In the evenings – and it gets dark early here on New Year’s Eve, around 5 pm – it quickly gets colder, to zero or even a little lower. But severe frosts are very rare. -4-6 is the limit that Budapest thermometers try not to go above in January.
Does it change in the second half of the month? Sometimes even seriously! In 2021, the third decade of January in Budapest began with a brief rise in temperatures. But not on a measly couple of degrees – the air warmed up to +10-+11 during the day.
In this case there were not many tourists in the city. But those who were there, right, were blissfully happy.
It should be noted that at this time should not just hang around without a particular purpose, but also look for something really worthwhile – there are enough art stores in the capital of Hungary. And there are plenty of shopping malls packed with discounted quality mass-market stuff, too…
But we digress – only a few days later weather was, of course, ashamed of its own haste. And retreated to its usual – inaudible – territory.
Although the potential it demonstrates in terms of warmth is still impressive. And it literally provokes to check on own experience – what if it will be the same! Or even better…
Snow is sometimes present in the form of gaps on the morning asphalt and park lawns. But even in the middle of winter you don’t usually have to wade through snowdrifts. At least because the average rainfall for the first month of the year is not much – 30-40 mm as a maximum.
But you will see for sure that there is ice here. Especially if you don’t mind taking a walk to Vajdahunyad Castle – there’s a huge ice rink in front of it during winter.
How to dress
Dress for winter. The Danube has a decisive influence on Budapest’s climate in all seasons. And in the middle of winter – even when it’s dry – it still gives the neighborhood high humidity.
When this is multiplied by the strong wind – and in January it sees no reason to hold back its gusts – it gets really cold. And those who do not put on a really warm jacket, do not stock up on a scarf, a warm hat, and at least leather gloves, will have reason to regret their own shortsightedness.
They will walk with their noses tucked into the bowels of their coats, and without taking their hands out of their pockets. And constantly begging their fellow travelers to warm themselves with Christmas mulled wine in street shops, sit in a cafe or go to a store a la mall.
The latter, by the way, is enough here. Although the reviews and widespread belief that as such shopping in Budapest.
But in the middle of winter – it’s time to arrange bargains (for customers, of course) sale. And that’s why you’ll be able to get a bargain.
Flights from Moscow to Budapest and back during the New Year holidays for two people will cost ~40 thousand rubles – at best. But if you move the dates of the trip a week ago, you can save up to five thousand rubles.
There is more! In the second half of January two Muscovites can fly to Budapest for a few days for only 28-30 thousand.
Hotels are in a similar vein. But if you are not inclined to bind yourself to the most central locations like Váci Street in Pest, you can still find not too expensive option.
The Budget Hotel Victoria in Buda is in demand. It is very reasonable: 54 € for a room for two with 18 square meters and breakfast from January 3 to 9 is a very interesting offer. Moreover, its location is almost “ah”: 5 minutes walk to the Chain Bridge, no more.
Relatively inexpensive and designed in an interesting design style individual apartments (45 m2) Design Flat in Central Castle District. Anyway, for 70€ per night for two you won’t find many alternatives. If at all!
And literally a gift for a traveling family of 4 looks apartment Budaiapertment with equipped kitchen and even a washing machine. The castle is within walking distance, and that for less than 50 “euro-rubles” a day!
Tours and excursions
Buying a tour to Budapest – for example – from Moscow is less hassle (was once – the same 2022). But expensive – the trip cost from 68-70 thousand rubles for two people. And sometimes the action promised frustration because of the poor quality hotels.
As for excursions … In principle they are cheaper than in most European capitals, the same Prague. And in January you can also count on a substantial discount – because tourists in the Hungarian capital is only a few.
In general, for 17-20 € you can go on a walking tour of Buda. And with a Russian-speaking guide and in a very small company. More individualized walks in Budapest cost more – from 30-33 €. But this is understandable – piece goods are rarely sold at the price of mass-market.
What to see
The Christmas rush in January in Budapest almost comes to naught. The fairs in the squares are cleared away, the tourists fade away, and the city itself is quieter.
Which naturally affects the mood – you stop rushing anywhere. And suddenly you realize that you will have time for everything and even more – even if the weather prepares an unpleasant surprise and throws wet snow.
The territory of Buda Fortress will be traversed in its entirety, and perhaps more than once. All panoramas on the Danube and the down-to-earth Pest will be seen. As well as monuments – there are many of them, and almost all have their own legend.
Fishermen’s Bastion and Matyas Church, nice old houses of Buda – at least a day is needed for a leisurely exploration. And a couple more are guaranteed to be spent on the treasures of Pest. Parliament and the Basilica of St. Istvan, Varoshliget Park and Vajdahunyad Castle, Vöresmarty Square, Vaci Street and the Central Market.
Don’t forget the boat trips on the Danube, although they may not be taken in windy or excessively cold weather. And also the famous Budapest baths, which work regardless of the predictions of the weather forecasters.
And of course take the opportunity to try the traditional Christmas mulled wine. In Hungary, it is called forralt bor and in winter it is served literally in every cafe.
Many Russian tourists also willingly go to the Hungarian Opera House. If not to listen – the building is being renovated – at least to see the interiors on a tour.
Once upon a time, Russians arriving in Budapest never had a shadow of a doubt about the need to travel to Vienna. What’s easier – take the train and in 3 hours you get out at the main railway station of Austria!
But in the epoch of coronavirus such an action causes fears – will they let you through without European Green Pass? Most likely yes – they just won’t notice!
After all, mass checking of appropriate documents at the land borders is unlikely to be due to lack of resources. And there are not so many Russian travelers infiltrating Western Europe that would bother the EU authorities.
Is it worth going further than to Austria? For example, by rented car to Italy?
We would not advise – “checks on the roads” on the Alpine passes – a routine matter. Since Austrians have long been concerned about the stream of illegal immigrants, trying to get from Italy to the “more civilized” countries.
However, even if you don’t get out of Hungary (this time) you won’t regret. Because there is a lot to see inside too.
From the territorially nearest to Budapest, we’d single out the pretty town of Szentendre and its museums: of marzipan, of Christmas, of the Soviet era… The ruins of the castle in Visegrad, where Vlad Dracula was kept. And the beautiful baroque city of Győr.
Naturally, it is worth paying attention to the lake Balaton. In January, however, does not look like a body of water suitable for bathing.
Spa Lake Heviz is famous for its healing properties, and is popular at any time of year. In the neighborhood you can also visit the town of Keszthely with its sprawling palace of the Festetics.
If you are near Hévíz, it is a shame not to stroll along the trail to the castle Sümeg. It is very interesting place in Hungary.
Is it worth to visit the national park Bükk in the middle of winter? Those, who were there at this time, do not advise. You waste your time”, they say, “and get your feet wet”.
If you want, you’d better go to Eger. Enjoy the silence and solitude, look at the surroundings from the walls of the legendary Eger fortress.
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