For most people, New Year's Eve—or, Szilveszter, as the Hungarians call it—means popping a bottle of champagne and celebrating with friends and family. But in Budapest, New Year's Eve offers a wide variety of festivities to welcome in the New Year.
In addition to traditional parties, such as those held in the Buda Castle, there are plenty of events taking place throughout the city. From concerts to cruises, there's something for everyone.
Check out these fun activities in Budapest during the holiday season. Just make sure to book reservations as soon as possible!
Don't be caught unaware by the slightly different holiday schedules.
As in any city, taxis will be difficult to book on the most popular night of the year, so familiarize yourself with public transportation options, just in case.
Public transportation will be running on the Sunday schedule, so transport won't be as frequent. However, a boon to partiers everywhere, the 4/6 tram runs 24 hours long, and will even run extra frequently on the night of the 31st, coming every 5 minutes.
The tram runs the route of the main boulevard, so it's likely that it can at least get you close to where you need to go. The metros run until 1am and will start again around 4:30, and the far-reaching night buses continue throughout the night.
Since the 1st is a public holiday, most shops and grocery stores will be closed, with the exception of some corner stores, called ABCs. Make sure to do your shopping beforehand!
Do as the locals do and ring in the New Year with Hungarian traditions! Unsurprisingly, many of them revolve around food!
For example, if you wish to come into money in the new year, enjoy a bowl of lentils when the clock strikes 12, as lentils are considered to be a symbol of wealth. If it's luck you're after, then eating pork is the way to go, especially crackled pork skin.
And what about what not to eat? There are Hungarian superstitions about this, too! Avoid eating fish or poultry, as it's believed that these animals will either fly or swim away with your luck.
And as for the morning after...seek out one of the Hungarian hangover cures: Korhely leves is a hearty pickled cabbage soup laden with sour cream.
What are some other Hungarian New Year's traditions? Make sure to avoid any faux pas by avoiding forbidden things, such as:
In general, it's a common belief that New Year's Day will set the tone for your entire year. So, make sure to start your year off with a good attitude.
Of course, the highlight of the New Year's Eve celebrations in Budapest is the spectacular fireworks show. With some planning, you can get the best possible view for this unmissable event. Here are some of the best places to watch the NYE fireworks in Budapest.
Since the fireworks are shot off from the riverside, you may as well be over the river, too. Every year, large crowds gather on the uniquely decorated structures that span the Danube. The Budapest bridges always fill up quickly, so make sure to get there early if you want a chance at the best spot.
Gather to watch the fireworks on:
Rooftop bars are a prime place to watch the fireworks with a drink in hand. If you're able to book a spot for one of their NYE parties, you can be sure to be in for a memorable night as you wave goodbye to the old year.
Book a table high above the city at:
If you've already climbed Gellért Hill to the Citadel in order to visit Budapest's famous Statue of Liberty, then you know this is one of the most superior lookout spots in Budapest.
High above the city, the Citadel is almost like another world, quiet and clear. Put on your walking shoes and prepare for a first-class view of the fireworks breaking over the city!
How cool would it be to say that you watched NYE fireworks from an actual castle?
Buda Castle may look beautiful perched on Castle Hill, but if you make the trip up there, you'll find that the view itself is even better. You'll be able to look out over all of Pest, with the beacon of Parliament shining front and center.
Once you make it up the hill, you can choose where you'd like to stake your place: at the classical terrace of Buda Castle or among the fairytale spires of the Fisherman's Bastion.
Thanks to its wild nightlife, Budapest has gained a reputation as one of the party capitals of Europe. One of the unmissable experiences is doing a boat party cruise.
Sail past Budapest's most iconic sights while tearing up the dance floor with a live DJ and enjoying hours of an open bar.
One of Budapest's most famous attractions is its ruin bars. Not only is a pub crawl a great way to meet new people, but it allows you to see a vital part of what makes Budapest Budapest.
Ring in the New Year with new friends around and a drink in your hand!
We'd recommend visiting Budapest's thermal baths at any point in your trip, but the Sparty is an opportunity to see the iconic Széchenyi Spa in an entirely different light.
We don't know what'll be more interesting to look at: the historic bathhouse or the many dancers and acrobats.
Bask in the bubbling waters as you feast your eyes on a spectacular laser and lights show, capped off with a fireworks display at the end of the night!
Party with the locals at one of the open-air parties in streets and squares across Budapest! Going to one of these parties is a great way to get caught up in Budapest's thrumming energy as the city heads toward another year.
Vörösmarty Square is one of the popular gathering points where you can stay warm with mulled wine or Hungarian food from the street stalls as you wait for the clock to tick down to midnight.
Be among Budapestians as the New Year chimes; it's a feeling unlike any other to hear the solemn national anthem rise up around you as Hungarians welcome a fresh start.
Music has that magical ability to lift the spirits and bring people together. No wonder so many people across Budapest want to spend their New Years Eve at a concert!
Here are some popular venues and examples of the genres you can expect from their NYE shows:
Are you itching to dance the night (and year) away, but don't know where to go? Start with this list of some of Budapest's clubs:
If large crowds and boisterous parties aren't your thing, here are a few tranquil options to celebrate the Budapest NYE.
Nothing says coziness better than putting on some comfy clothes and cooking yourself a nice big meal with a glass of wine in hand. By booking one of our vacation rental homes in Budapest, you’ll have all you need for a great night in right at your fingertips.
Plus, given our location on Gellért Hill, you could still pop out to the Citadel to catch the midnight fireworks if you get a wild hair.
Booking a New Year's Eve dinner means that you can ring in the New Year with good food and good company.
Budapest has no lack of fine dining, the city has 21 Michelin-associated restaurants, after all, and we've highlighted a couple of our favorites. These are only a starting point for those looking for a calm experience with elegant cuisine and a tasteful environment.
In the heart of the old Jewish quarter, this is the refined restaurant of one of the finest hotels in Europe, which was once a luxury hotel for the rich and famous. It offers a unique experience with a sophisticated ambience and a delicious cuisine.
On New Year’s Eve, they offer a special gala dinner with an exceptional tasting menu.
Located in the Castle District, 21 is a restaurant offering traditional Hungarian dishes with a modern twist. It has a sophisticated atmosphere and is particularly famous for its carefully chosen wine list, which features some of Hungary’s finest wines.
Celebrate the New Year while surrounded by the decadence of the recently renovated Matild Palace. Spago is the much-anticipated gourmet restaurant, helmed by none other than Wolfgang Puck. This is the perfect place to truly toast to the New Year in style!
New Year's Eve is one of your last chances to stroll through Budapest's famous Christmas Market during the festive season.
From 10am – 10pm, St.Stephen's Basilica Market is transformed into a charming square where you can indulge in classic Hungarian foods and sweets to your heart's content, of course accompanied by a steaming cup of forralt bor (mulled wine).
Take the chance to pick up some thoughtful souvenirs and maybe even let your little ones take a spin around the ice rink (adults will have to sit this one out--the small rink is for children only).
To make it even more colorful, a laser and light show plays across the Basilica's facade every half an hour!
A perfect way to welcome the New Year is by sailing down the Danube River aboard an elegant ship.
The Danube is one of the main arteries of Budapest, separating the two parts of the city. It’s also a river that has inspired innumerable composers and writers for centuries, so what better place to celebrate the Budapest New Year than with a night out on the water?
There are plenty of companies who offer river cruises during the evening, almost all including a delicious dinner, live music, and some of Budapest’s finest sights, so you can pair celebrating with sightseeing. Parliament, Buda Castle, and the Fisherman's Bastion all have another level of splendor when you see them lit up from the water.
Most cruises start at 6 pm, giving you enough time to get to your chosen spot before the fireworks begin.
A few of our top recommendations include:
January 1st is normally a quiet day in Budapest, but there are still activities you can do to enjoy your time in the Hungarian capital.
Steam the cares of the past year away and start fresh with a visit to the thermal baths on New Year's Day. One of Budapest's best-known attractions are its thermal baths, many of which date back to times of the Ottoman Turk occupation.
Of these, Széchenyi Baths, with its cheerfully yellow arcade and swirling outdoor pools, may be the most iconic. Whether you're going for a recovery soak or an invigorating start to the year, the thermal baths are a prime location to spend the beginning of your New Year in Budapest.
The beautiful Duna Palota, or Danube Palace, will host not one, but two concerts on New Year's Day.
From 17:00, lovers of classical music can enjoy a performance by the Danube Chamber Orchestra. Expect to hear exquisite selections from the likes of Mozart, Gershwin, or Hungary's own Liszt.
For those who want to see some of the local culture, there will be a concert and dance show at 20:00 featuring the Danube Symphony Orchestra as well as Gypsy folk artists.
In case you didn't make it to the river the night before, you can enjoy a New Year's Day dinner cruise! Let your first dinner of the New Year unfold on a 2-hour dinner cruise, complete with a 5-course meal and live entertainment by a Hungarian Folk Orchestra.
Budapest is a truly spectacular place to ring in the New Year. Whether you want to party in one of the city's iconic ruin bars, catch the fireworks from a river cruise, or just enjoy a tranquil dinner with loved ones, use this guide to enjoy your New Years Eve in Budapest!