This post covers the top things to do in Budapest in January (updated for 2020), including nighttime activities, free things to do, and family-friendly options.
Be sure to read our master post on things to do in Budapest for even more ideas.
January is a great time to visit Budapest. While the weather is cold, there's plenty to do inside as well. We've made a list below of the top 10 things to do in Budapest in January, with a variety of indoor and outdoor activities for you to enjoy.
March 15th is an important national holiday in Hungary. It is the anniversary of the beginning of the 1848 Revolution against the Habsburg oppression.
There will be events all over the city, and you will see citizens wearing cockades (ribbons with the national colors of red, white, and green). There will be official celebrations at the Hungarian National Museum, where Hungarian revolutionaries, led by Sándor Petőfi, held a mass demonstration on the first day of the revolution in 1848.
You can view the Hungarian Holy Crown and the Crown Jewels for free at the Hungarian Parliament. There will also be free museums, dances and concerts around the city, and more. Be aware, banks and shops are closed that day.
See Santana play at the Papp László Budapest Sportaréna in Budapest on March 19th. Get your tickets here. Other performances taking place in Budapest in March include:
Keep an eye out for more great concerts in Budapest.
March 6-15, 2020
A great part of travel is the food you get to experience! A great way to try new cuisine is to partake in restaurant week. A number of places will have set menus for a set price, which usually makes it more affordable and lets you try places you might have originally thought out of your budget. Restaurant Week is a great reason to get adventurous and try a (or a few!) new restaurants.
We recommend reserving a table beforehand since a lot of places fill up ahead of time.
Check out more about Resturant Week here.
4. Fish Festival
March 2-4, 2020
This festival is dedicated to all things fish! Mingle with locals at this festival, where you can sample a number of fish dishes, including the hot and spicy Fisherman's soup.
The event takes place in Heroes' Square and will feature a cooking contest, wine/palinka tastings, live music, and a program for kids. To learn more, click here.
For more free things to do in Budapest in March, check out our free section below.
5. Warm up in a Bath House
Budapest is well known for its bathhouses, even nicknamed "City of Spas". They're great places to enjoy a soak and warm up on a cold day! There are a number of bathhouses around the city, and each one caters to different tastes and ailments you might have. The most popular ones are:
Most bathhouse entry fees range from $10-$30 depending on the place and when you go.
6. Take a Walking Tour!
There's no better way to explore a new city than on foot! Explore the history and stories of Budapest on a free walking tour. You'll have expert locals guides showing you around and teaching you things the guidebooks can't tell you. They are great for all ages!
For more family-friendly ideas, check out our things to do with kids section.
7. Black Food Festival
March 20, 2020
Do you prefer your food gothic black? That's the theme of this food festival- black colored food!
As weird as it sounds, there will be a whole variety of foods in the color, from black ice cream to gluten-free and vegan foods as well. It also falls on international French Macaron Day, so expect some dark macarons to taste.
This food festival has been touring internationally, starting in Berlin and making its way to Tel Aviv and Helsinki before a stop in Brooklyn, NY, and now it's landed in Budapest! Come out and try some strange new foods- you might be surprised!
Tickets are €6 and can be purchased in advance here.
8. See the St. Patrick's Day Parade
March 22, 2020
Dress in green and come out to celebrate St. Patrick's Day in Budapest!
The parade is free for the whole family and starts at the Erzsébet tér at 3pm (15:00). There will be an after-party at the Akvárium Klub.
To see details and learn more, click here.
For more family-friendly activities, check out the kids' section below.
Feb. 28- April 20, 2020
Budapest is taking a stand in photography with this photo festival. It's goal? "To create Budapest to be the 'City of Photography'."
For this, the festival will feature a city-wide exhibition series representing contemporary and classic values and local and international artists. There will be lectures, workshops, museum educational events, and more!
To see a full list of the program and featured artists, click here.
10. Hungarian Museum of Fine Arts
Built between 1900-1906, the Hungarian Museum of Fine Arts is in Heroes' Square and has over 100,000 pieces of art.
The art collection is made up of international art and is showcased in 6 departments: Egyptian, Antique, Old Sculpture Gallery, Old Master Paintings Gallery, Modern Collection, and Graphics Collection.
To learn more, click here.
Nighttime is a great time for exploring Budapest. With bars and after-dark activities, there's plenty to do around the city once the sun does down.
Below are a few things to do in Budapest in March at night.
Enjoy the Night Life
There are a number of great bars and clubs to enjoy in Budapest.
Szimpla Kert is a kooky-atmosphere multi-level pub with a number of concerts every week.
With two courtyards and eight bars, Instant is the biggest ruin bar in Budapest.
If you want a great view of the city, check out the 360 Bar, which features cocktails and an extensive wine list.
If the cold doesn't bother you, we recommend seeing the sunset from Gellért Hill. There's a beautiful Garden of Philosophy on top, a peaceful place to see the sun go down. If you're more of an early riser, you can also catch the sunset from there. It's a beautiful view of the city!
Late Night Bath Party
We mentioned some popular bathhouses to visit in the top 10 section above, but we want to highlight a cool thing that goes on in the Szechenyi Baths after dark on the weekends- bath parties! Starting in February and going through March, you can come out to enjoy the bathhouse after dark. It will feature electronic music, drinks, laser lights, and more. They are a great place to warm up hang out after dark and take place from 10:30pm-3am.
Walk Along a Bridge
If you want a great view of the city, walk along the Széchenyi Chain Bridge connecting Buda and Pest. The view of the Danube is incredible at night and offers great photo opportunities of the city.
Go to the Opera
The Hungarian State Opera in Budapest is well known for its opera and ballet shows. This month's program includes a number of Italian operas with English and Hungarian subtitles but also productions for younger audience members, like baby sing-alongs great for families.
Currently, the opera house is closed until 2021 but they are doing productions in the Erkel Theater. Different venue, same great experience! To learn more and get your ticket, click here.
Budapest has plenty of free things to do! A lot of the items we've listed in other sections like seeing the sunset from Gellért Hill are completely free to do!
Here are a few more free activities to do in Budapest in January.
Visit Central Market Hall
This indoor market is a great place to explore on a chilly day. At over 100,000 square feet, Central Market is Budapest's most expansive indoor market and is a great place to shop for food and souvenirs. Shop meats, vegetables, desserts, and wines, and be sure to grab some paprika to take home!
They are open every day except Sunday.
Visit Heroes' Square
An iconic landmark in Budapest, Heroes' Square (Hősök Tere) is a must-see when visiting the city. It features the Millenial Monument, which includes a 36-meter column on which is a statue of the angel Gabriel. Around it are statues of notable men who made their mark on Hungarian history.
This is one of the most photographed places in Budapest!
Explore the Fisherman's Bastion
For one of the best views in the city, check out the Fisherman's Bastion. It features Neo-Romanesque lookout terraces and is located right across the river from the Parlament Building, so you'll get a great view of that as well as the rest of the city. It's free to visit, but if you want to explore the upper towers there is a charge.
Visit the Buda Castle Gardens
Buda Castle is a great place to stop on your visit to Budapest. While there is an entrance cost, you can explore the grounds and gardens for free! Although the garden is not in bloom this time of year, reviews from people who have visited in the winter say that the garden is a peaceful and impressive place to explore and relax in.
Visit St. Stephen's Basilica
St Stephen’s Basilica (Szt Istvan Bazilika) is one of the top attractions to see in Budapest. The most notable feature inside is the mummified right hand of the first Hungarian king, St Stephen (Istvan).
The basilica has beautiful architecture and is knows for its incredible organ concerts. You can go up into the dome and get an amazing view f the city.
Entering the basilica is free, and you can get tickets for tours for extra. To learn more, click here.
Budapest is super family-friendly! There are so many things to do, there is sure to be something to fit everyone's tastes.
A few activities we've listed above are also kid-friendly, like attending the St. Patrick's Day parade, so be sure to read through the other sections for more ideas.
Visit the Zoo
The Budapest Zoo is one of the oldest zoos in the world, opened in 1866. It has over a thousand species and welcomes over a million visitors every year.
The weather in March is warming up, and the zoo is a great way to go out and explore with kids on a warmer day.
The zoo is open Monday-Friday 9am-5pm and Saturday & Sunday 9am-5:30pm. Tickets are 3300 HUF for adults and 2200 HUF for children.
Visit the Parliament Building
The Parliament Building is an iconic landmark in Budapest. It's impressive from the outside and beautiful inside. March is the perfect month to take a tour of it! Included with the purchase of a ticket is a 50-minute guided tour of the building. Children under 6 years can visit for free, just be sure to email them beforehand.
To purchase tickets and learn more, click here.
Visit the Puppet Theater
The Budapest Puppet Theatre is one of the largest puppet Theatres in Central Europe and has been around since 1947. The puppet theater is a great experience for children and adults alike, with performances written by Hungarian and foreign writers as well.
You will enjoy an incredible display of puppets and beautiful music for both folk story-type shows and more contemporary productions.
For prices and tickets, click here.
Visit the Palace of Miracles
The Csodák Palotája, or Palace of Miracles, is a really cool, interactive museum that gets kids of all ages to participate in experiments! Their mission is to get kids to learn about the world and science in fun, relatable ways. There are themed exhibits each month so there's something new to see no matter when you come. This is a great indoor activity to enjoy on a chilly March day!
To learn more, click here.