Oh, Budapest, the Hungarian capital, known as the Pearl of the Danube, is one of the most dazzling cities in Europe. Full of beautiful architectural wonders, unique spas and thermal pools, dazzling lights and romantic settings, it’s a wonderful city to visit at any time of year and whatever the weather.
Try as we might, though, to carefully plan our whole trip, trace out a foolproof itinerary to see as many sights and experience as many things to do in Budapest as possible, the rain will sometimes catch us off guard. No need to feel under the weather, dear traveler, for we’ve got you covered with our special tips so that rainy days in Budapest won’t steal your thunder.
There's lots of things to do in Budapest on a rainy day. Here’s our list of what to do in Budapest when it’s raining or the weather is bad, and a few things to know about the weather in Budapest!
So, does it rain much in Budapest?
Budapest is also known as "Paris of the east", but is rain as constant in Hungary's largest city as it is in the French capital? The answer is no. While Paris has an average annual rainfall of 641 mm, Budapest’s annual rainfall is around 550 mm. However, the location of the city on the banks of the majestic Danube makes it very humid. On the one hand, this causes the windchill factor to be intensified, and on the other, this high humidity provides rainfall throughout the year. It is good to be aware of that during the months of November, December and January as this is when rainfall, and even snow, is most abundant in Budapest.
But as every cloud has a silver lining, we are here to help you with a list of indoor things to do in Budapest when it rains.
Take a ride on Tram No.2
Riding public transport, while often a necessary part of a trip, may not seem like such an attractive prospect when on holidays. However, we suggest that you set that thought aside when in Budapest and take at least one ride on tram number 2. Voted the most beautiful tram line in Europe, Budapest’s tram no. 2 runs along the Danube riverfront from where you can enjoy a privileged view of the city from the Buda side.
One tip for an even better experience is to take the tram towards Jászai Mari tér and look for a seat on the left side; then you’ll be able to see the Royal Castle, the Matthias Church, Fisherman’s Bastion, the Funicular railway, the Parliament building, and also the beautiful bridges that connect Buda and Pest. For sure, this will be one of the highlights of your trip in any weather, but especially while you're tucked in the carriage, away from the rain.
For the best insight to Budapest, the sights & sites, the history, and culture don’t miss our free tours in Budapest
with excellent local guides. We have free walking tours in Budapest every day, whatever the weather!
Soak in Budapest baths
The best way to avoid getting soaked in the streets, is to soak in the Baths that Budapest is renowned for. Bathing in some of the many indoor hot spring pools is by far one of the most relaxing indoor activities in Budapest. Encompassed by Art Nouveau architecture, the world famous Gellert Baths offers its patrons a royal treatment and one we recommend highly.
Open every day from 9 am to 6 pm, it is also possible to enhance your treatment with massage and mud bath services, all for an extra fee. For massage services, you must be at least 18 years old and schedule at least 72 hours in advance, all online. So don't forget to pack your swimwear!
Everyone who has planned to visit Budapest has certainly heard of the grand Széchenyi baths, but just a few steps away, you’ll find another delightful way to escape any unexpected downpour: Vajdahunyad Castle.
Despite its appearance, it was built only in 1896 to celebrate Hungary's 1000th anniversary. Encircled by a large artificial lake, this castle was supposed to be a temporary structure, made only of cardboard and wooden planks, but people liked it so much that the government ended up building it with real stones. We adore the touch of fairy-tale magic that turned a castle made from cardboard to stone by the desire of the locals!
Today, not only can you take a tour of Vajdahunyad Castle, but you can also check out the Hungarian Agricultural Museum, or enjoy the many festivals, concerts and exhibitions that are held here!
Great Market Hall
Built in 1897, the Great Market Hall is the ideal destination for those who want to revel in Hungarian cuisine under a multicolored glass ceiling. Across its three magnificent floors, you will find not only a variety of spices, fresh fruits and vegetables, salami, beverages, pickles and good restaurants, but also many Hungarian souvenirs, clothing items, bags and traditional shops. While there, be sure to try at least two amazing typical Hungarian dishes, Langos and Goulash.
Located within just a 5-minute walk from the center of Budapest, The market opens Monday through Saturday at 6am, but closes Monday at 5pm, Tuesday through Friday at 6pm, and at 3pm on Saturday. So, plan accordingly and don't schedule your visit for Sunday, agreed?
Museums in Budapest
If you are one of those people who cannot casually walk past a museum without feeling the urge to pop in, Budapest is your mecca. The city has a multitude of interesting museums and galleries, with its hot-spot being (not without reason) the Hungarian National Museum, located in Buda Castle.
With a large and valuable collection of works by Hungarian artists and from the rest of the world, the national museum in Budapest will quickly have you forget about the rain outside. The full price to get into this museum is HUF 1,800 (approx. 6 euros), and it opens from Tuesday to Sunday from 10 am to 6 pm.
For those of you looking for a different kind of museum experience, head to the House of Terror. Located in the same building where the Nazi headquarters and communist secret police were housed, the dark Nazi and Communist history is combined to showcase a chilling narrative of terror; a visit to the basements where hundreds of people were tortured and killed by both regimes is a sobering experience. Also open from Tuesday to Sunday between 10 am to 6 pm, the full price is HUF 3000 (approx. 10 euros).
Budapest Ruin Bars
When rain tries to ruin your nightlife experience in Budapest, let the ruin bars rescue it! With a hipsterish appeal, the ruin pubs of Budapest are what the name might suggest: bars set up in old, abandoned buildings, embracing the ruins as an aesthetic and decorated with art, oddities, and second-hand retro & vintage wares to create unique, fun, social spaces.
Many of the ruin bars are located in district VII (known as the Jewish district), but you shouldn't miss two of them in particular: SzimplaKert, who took the city by storm and first started this trend, and Instant, the largest ruin bar complex in Budapest that houses several bars and clubs in one building.
You can visit them on our nightly Budapest pub crawl
which also gets you free entry to all venues, including the nightclub, free drinks and shots, and a ready-made group of happy party-people and local guides to explore Budapest by night with.
Come rain or shine, there are many ways to enjoy Budapest. Nothing can stop the fun in this city. So, let it rain! What are your tips on things to do in Budapest when it rains, or indeed anywhere? Tell us in the comments!