When is the best time to visit Hungary? When are the high, low and shoulder seasons? Is there anything interesting to do – indoors or outdoors – in the low season? We’ve been living here all our lives, and in this post we collected all the things to do in Hungary, Budapest and beyond, in each season. So let’s dig into it!
Hungary has four seasons
Hungary has a European continental climate with four seasons. Summers are hot, winters are fairly cold, falls and springs are usually pleasant – though we experience winter-like early springs and summer-like early falls from time to time.
The yearly average temperature is 8 to 11 °C. The difference between the north and the south regions is only 3 °C, because our country is relatively small. Most of the rain falls in late spring and early summer. Okay, okay, enough of the general blah blah, I know what you’re interested in the most…
Is there a best season to visit Hungary?
I wish I could answer that easily, but the truth is both more complicated and more promising. The high season for tourists, local and foreign tourists alike, is summer. School term ends somewhen in mid-June in most European countries, and summer break means flooded cities and beaches all over Europe until the end of August. Hungary is no exception. Summer brings crowds and high prices – but it also brings long, warm (and hot) days, festivals and beach weather.
Even though I love summer, it’s my favorite season in general, my favorite time to travel in Hungary is spring and fall, especially April-May and September-October. This is shoulder season. It offers fine weather, fewer visitors and more acceptable prices. It’s definitely the best time to visit Budapest, vibrant, eventful, pleasant to be outside and walk a lot, but escaping the summer crowds. Nature is also quite pretty – everything’s blooming in spring, and Hungary’s parks and seasonal forests impress with stunning fall colors in October. Though you won’t have beach weather, it’s the best time for hiking. (And you can enjoy Hungary’s countless thermal spas in any season.)
Low season is from November to March. Though winter is from December to February, late fall and early spring looks a lot like winter – and often feels like winter, too. Honestly, we like our winters the least. Nature is not tempting at all, it’s cold outside, but snow is rare, it’s mostly just the grey, bare landscape with the grey skies. We don’t really like being outdoors in winter. However, it can be good for a cheap sightseeing visit, while adding lots of museum visits and hot chocolate tasting to your agenda. 🙂
Oh, wait, and there’s a part of winter which is not low season: December! Budapest and other major Hungarian cities all have their shiny and busy Christmas markets, starting in the beginning of December and ending just before Christmas. Adding in other tempting cities (with stunning Christmas markets, of course) in Central Europe, like Vienna, Prague, Brno, Krakow or Zagreb, you can make a magical Christmas road trip in the region. And you can drink all the mulled wine and eat all the chimney cakes.
Now that we talked about what each season is like in Hungary, let’s see what to do in each of them. No more lengthy explanations, just lots of ideas!
What to do in Hungary in spring?
Stroll beneath blossoming trees in the city parks. Blossoming cherry trees included. Some nice places for a spring walk in Budapest are Baross Street, Reviczky Street, Gellért Hill, Kopaszi-gát, Millenáris Park (cherry trees!), Erzsébet Square, Károlyi Gardens or the streets of Buda Castle District.
Enjoy cherry blossoms in the countryside. I know, it’s not Japan, but the tiny village of Nagykörű is famous for its cherry trees, they also have a cherry blossom celebration each April.
Visit botanical gardens. Spring is the best time for this! Visit Füvészkert, the botanical garden of ELTE University. Or explore the countryside, enjoy the famous rhododendron blooming in Jeli Arborétum, the countless tulips in the botanical garden of Vácrátót or the hanging gardens of Lillafüred in the Bükk National Park.
Enjoy wildflower blooming in the seasonal forests of Hungary. Buda Hills, Pilis and Börzsöny Mountains are comfortable days trips from Budapest. But you can venture further and visit Balaton Uplands or Bükk National Parks, Kőszeg, Mátra, Bakony or Zemplén Mountains. Flowers have the chance to get some sunshine only until trees grow their leaves. It means that spring blooming is usually from late February to mid-April depending on the weather. Seasonal forests are lush green by May.
Visit Budapest Spring Festival in April. Taking place at multiple venues across the city, you can enjoy concerts, listen to readings or see theater shows.
Experience a traditional Hungarian Easter at the Open Air Ethnographic Museum (Skanzen) in Szentendre. Take part in Easter activities like egg painting and other arts and crafts.
Visit Hollókő Easter Festival in April. Well, at Easter which is usually in April. This UNESCO-listed rural village truly comes alive at Easter. The four days long Easter Festival is a celebration of spring and Hungarian Easter traditions. Beware, if you’re a woman, you’ll get wet!
What to do in Hungary in summer?
Enjoy thermal spas and their outdoor water parks in the summer. Like the Miskolctapolca Cave Baths or the Castle Bath and Aqua Palace of Gyula.
Enjoy Hungary’s most famous lavender blooming in Tihany in June. The Lavender Festival of Tihany is organized at the end of June each year. Late June and July are the best time to see blooming lavender fields.
Have a fröccs. Though this drink exists throughout the year, people usually drink it on hot summer days. It’s red or rosé wine mixed with different quantities of soda water.
Have the time of your life at Balaton Sound in July. This large open air electronic music festival is held each year in Zamárdi, on the southern shore of Lake Balaton.
Visit the International Palace Games of Visegrád in July. It’s one of the largest medieval summer festivals in Europe with tournaments, puppet theatres, musicians, dancers, comedians, jugglers and more.
Have fun at Sziget Festival in August. Each August the island of Óbuda turns into one of the largest music festivals in Europe: Sziget Festival. It offers more than a thousand different performances and a unique atmosphere.
Get lazy on a beach at Lake Balaton. Also referred as the “Hungarian Sea”, Lake Balaton offers warm, shallow water and various beaches from simple, free ones to well-equipped ones with an admission fee.
Enjoy the August 20th celebrations. Each larger city has spectacular fireworks that evening to celebrate the foundation of our country. The most unique way to celebrate it, however, is visiting Debrecen’s Flower Carnival.
Go roving in front of Vajdahunyad Castle in the City Park of Budapest. Ice rink in winter, lake in summer. It’s not just New York’s Central Park where you can go roving even though that’s what we usually see in movies. 😀
Visit one of the open-air bars in the summer. All major cities have them, the famous, quirky ones of Budapest are Pagony, AnKERT or Fellini Római with its own little beach.
What to do in Hungary in fall?
Marvel at the countless shades of fall in the city parks and in the seasonal forests. Walk or hike. Take a weekend getaway in any of the mountains – Danube-Ipoly or Bükk National Parks, Bakony, Kőszeg, Zemplén, Mecsek or Mátra Mountains. But what’s the best time? Usually, fall is the most colorful in the second half of October.
Choose your festival for fall. Several ones take place in fall. Budapest’s Pálinka and Sausage Festival. Budapest Wine Festival. Two-weeks Café Budapest Contemporary Art Festival that’s focused on contemporary arts like film, dance, music, photography and theater.
Visit the Harvest Festival in Badacsony in September. This annual festival of the Badacsony wine region on the northern shore of Lake Balaton celebrates wine making and gives insight into the process. There are live concerts and dance productions, too.
What to do in Hungary in winter?
Soak in one of Hungary’s famous thermal baths. In addition to the countless thermal baths of Budapest, almost every larger – and a lot of smaller – Hungarian cities have their own famous thermal baths. Thermal water is probably the most precious natural treasure of our country. So where to go? Hajdúszoboszló, a small town near Debrecen, hosts one of the largest spa complexes in Europe. But the thermal spas of Harkány (near Pécs), Zalakaros, Gyula, Makó, Egerszalók, Eger or Székesfehérvár are also among the best ones in the country.
Swim in Lake Hévíz, the largest thermal lake in Europe. While you can do it in any season, isn’t it fun to swim with your cap on in the winter? The temperature of Lake Hévíz is 23-25 °C in winter (and 33-36 °C in summer). It’s your most amazing thermal bath ever – created by nature.
Spoil yourself in a wellness hotel. Spending time outdoors is probably the least enjoyable in Hungary after the leaves have fallen. Landscapes are grey and bare, temperature is too cold for being outside for the whole day. Take advantage of all those spas that Hungary offers – they often have a wellness hotel built nearby.
If there’s fresh snow, enjoy the white landscapes. Snow makes even the bare forests beautiful! Hungary’s mountains (all around 500-1000 meters) are suitable for hiking year-round, though you have to be cautious with steeper sections when the trails are icy. You can also drive to some of the peaks, like Dobogó-kő peak (700 m, Pilis Mountains) or Kékestető peak (1012 m, the highest peak in Hungary in the Mátra Mountains). Or would you prefer a peak where one can only get on foot? Hike to Nagy-Hideg-hegy peak (864 m) from the village of Királyrét in the Börzsöny Mountains or Írott-kő peak (882 m) in the Kőszeg Mountains.
Dip into Christmas magic in December. Most cities have Christmas markets and Christmas decorations in the city center. Budapest Christmas Markets are the largest, but Szeged, Pécs, Debrecen, Eger or Győr have spectacular ones, too.
If it’s cold outside, drink mulled wine. Sweet, spicy and hot. It’s not only popular at Christmas markets but anytime in winter.
Go ice-skating on the rink in front of Vajdahunyad Castle in the City Park of Budapest. This is a lovely artificial lake in summer and an open ice rink in winter.
Visit Hungary’s largest field of blooming snowdrops in Alcsúti Arboretum Nature Reserves in February. The best time to see snowdrops blooming is from mid-February to mid-March. Of course, this nature reserve is very pretty all spring with different kinds of blooming flowers in the different months.
Experience ‘Busójárás’ in Mohács in February. This tradition is part of the Šokci folklore. People wear funny and scary traditional masks and march through the streets of Mohács to scare winter away. It lasts for several days, usually during February each year.
How many seasons do you have where you live? Which is your favorite?
200+ Travel Tips For Hungary
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