Autumn in Budapest is nothing short of spectacular. One of the greenest cities of Europe turns into a colorful cavalcade of sight, sound and flavors. It is a truly special time in Hungary, with perfect weather, taken you prefer a cool breeze to scorching summer heat. A typical Budapest autumn will have plenty of last minute Indian summer moments, but overall you can expect crisp, cool air, sunshine, and only some rainy days. Tons of indoor and outdoor activities, the best food (all super fresh because of the harvests), and also the best time to try spectacular Hungarian wines. Lots of folk and traditional festivities happen at this time, and these traditions are carried on into city life. So prepare to catch those last few rays of sunshine in Budapest with us, and let us show you our favorite things to do in town when the leaves turn brown.
Why Visit Budapest in the Fall?
Hungarian summers are sweltering, and although Budapest is the city of waters and parks, autumn is mostly greeted with open arms by its (non-school-bound) residents. The weather drops just enough to make being outside bearable in a sweater, but still ideal for hiking, biking, romping around and long walks in the many fascinating areas that abound in and around this city. Budapest in the fall is a spectacular place for vegans and vegetarians, as our world famous markets are chock full of this years harvests, with various squashes, cabbages, beans, lentils, and fruits galore. But this is also the time before the cold season, when geese and pork becomes available for the first time in the year, and the first wines and pálinkas start to make their appearances. The autumn is also the time when the last big parties take place, welcoming the new school year, and saying goodbye to summer. It has both the fun and optimistic energy of a transitional season, but is doubled with the celebration of a bountiful harvest.
Magyar Traditions and Heritage
In the days of old, Hungarian culture was very, very agrarian. This means that the seasons determined the folk customs and traditions, and autumn, the harvest season, was the time of festivities, and of preparing for the long, fallow winters. Drunken revelries, celebrations of love and life, and free time- something that was virtually non-existent in the olden days- are what made the happy harvest season special. This was the time when people who worked on fields all summer long got their payment, and was also the time when young men would propose to their lovers, and claim them as wives in the spring. The fall was also a time to be with family, to reinvigorate love and old friendships. It was the time that fruit harvested in the summer had already been turned into pálinka. The fall is when the “Búcsú”, a farewell to warm weather, is held, usually on an open field. Carnival rides and folk revelries can be had here, as well as a chance to buy candy for kids, these are basically fares that are held at the edge of town, on the fields. Typical Hungarian dishes are cooked in a bogrács, which is a large metal pot that is used over an open flame. St. Vendel’s day is usually when the búcsú is held, and another very important saint day is the Feast of St. Martin on the 11th of November. During this time, children make floating lanterns that fly into the sky, and the annual geese killings occur, and so this feast day is associated with liver pathé, a Hungarian delicacy. Hungary, like all Catholic countries, celebrates All Hallows’ Day on November 1st, when the cemeteries are lit up, and the graves are tended to by grieving relatives. We do not traditionally celebrate Halloween, although this is changing, and the fun American holiday is becoming more and more accepted here.
Events in Budapest in the Autumn
The fall is a great time for events, be they club gigs, shows, gallery openings, museum exhibits, or end of the year festivals. We have collected some bigger ones for you to check out, but there are innumerable smaller events all around the city.
Etyek Wine Festival (Etyeki Piknik)
Etyek is a town in the Buda hills known for its fine wine and film studios. In the fall, they hold a gastro feast, somewhat reminiscent of an old school Hungarian harvest ceremony, but with artisan food stalls, fine wines, and good music. It is a real slice of the cultured countryside, recommended to all who love pork, feasts, loud folk music, and fine wine. This year, it will be held on the 7th and 8th of September.
Normafa + Jánoshegy
Autumn is a great time for hiking in Budapest. The cool Buda hills become ever more enticing, and perhaps the best place in the hills is Jánoshegy. It has the Elizabeth observatory and is a short, fun hike. The Normafa is a great big slope besides Jánoshegy, and is absolutely beautiful in the fall, as the myriad of colors from the deciduous forests is best seen at this time. Starting late September, and going on into early November, these forests are the perfect place for leaf peepers!
A Boat Ride
A boat ride through Budapest is particularly great in the fall. Not too hot, and just cold enough to be enjoyable, Budapest is best seen from a boat, as the Danube runs right down the middle of it. You can see all the monuments from afar, enjoy the cool breeze, and have great photo opportunities. Meals can also be had on a boat, so its a great way to recharge before or after a hike, too.
Autumn Museum Festival
From the 23rd of September until the 10th of November, museums all over the country participate in a festival. There are themed exhibits that are different each year (this year is the celebration of the 5ooth year of Magellan’s journey), providing fun themes and big discounts on museum exhibits. Perfect activity for a rainy day. Just find a museum for you, and see what they are doing for the Autumn festival.
Budapest Autumn Festival
One of the leading exhibits for contemporary art in Budapest and around the world is the Budapest Autumn Festival. The main aim of the festival is to give lesser known talented artists from all varieties of art and music a chance to show their worth. The festival has a huge international following, and always represents the cutting edge of art.
Budapest Wine Festival
From September 5th till the 9th, the Buda Castle is home of the Budapest Wine Festival. A great chance to try great wines of Hungary and from around the world as well. A cultured and refined event where you can speak to vintners, sommeliers, and wine aficionados from all over the world.