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Updated: January 24 2022.
Are you not entirely sure what to wear in Budapest in winter? I don’t blame you. Winter packing is a pain. in. the. neck. thanks to all the bulky items that you’re somehow supposed to stuff in a carry-on bag. I love winter trips. A lot. I don’t like packing for them.
Argh, if only airlines instituted different weight limitations in the snowy months, right?
Still, despite packing frustrations, you don’t want to strictly limit traveling to the summer. What’s the fun in wasting half the year at home? Not to mention, winter has it’s own special magic that’s palpable in the air, especially if you’re choosing to go to Central Europe.
Budapest itself was amazing in winter, you guys. I mean, just the Christmas Markets alone are enough to inspire me to zip my puffy coat and buy another plane ticket to the Hungarian capital.
Anyway, this packing guide for winter in Budapest will help you figure out the best clothes to bring on your amazing snowy trip.
I promise that Budapest is a real treasure this time of year and totally worth any packing hassles. So read your guidebook and prepare for an amazing time.
Table of Contents
Should I Visit Budapest in Winter?
Um. Was my gushing not enough to convince you to go yet? Pfft.
Come on, guys. You should absolutely visit Budapest in winter! Sure, some debate exists around when, exactly, is the best time to visit Budapest, but as for me, I fell madly in love with the city at the height of winter.
Budapest has a certain magic in winter that’s hard for me to describe in words. I’ll try my best, though.
You’ll probably walk over snowy cobblestone streets, as mulled wine warms both your palms and stomach. Bright silvery string lights cover Budapest’s old fashioned trams as they carefully turn tight corners with ease. These same lights decorate the exterior of Budapest’s most famous religious site – Saint Stephen’s Cathedral – brightening against the dark cloudy sky.
Satisfied? Good. Time to pack your bags.
Packing for Budapest in Winter Essentials
Bundle Up for Budapest in Winter
Winter travel means snow, ice, and wind.
Therefore, the most important piece of clothing to stow inside your luggage is a weather resistant winter coat. Personally, I would recommend a longer coat that covers up part of your thighs in addition to your upper body. No cute short jackets here, my friends.
Budapest’s streets, especially the roads closer to the Danube River, are windy. And the chill is something fierce.
As for specific items, I personally love this long hooded jacket by Columbia. These coats come in a variety of colors (although black is my personal favorite), and are fully water resistant – which is wonderful in the event of snow or freezing rain.
As a special bonus, this jacket also includes thumb-hole cuffs to keep your hands extra toasty and warm as you’re sightseeing in Budapest.
In addition to your durable coat, you’ll want to pack plenty of other essentials for your trip. Without a doubt, it helps knowing ahead of time what to wear in Budapest in winter.
However, before I start explaining the clothes and shoes, I want to encourage you to use packing cubes for your winter trip to Budapest.
As I said in the beginning of this post, winter travel (in general) is tricky, because your clothing is bulky. As a result, it’s easy to use up all available space in your luggage. By investing in packing cubes, you’ll save space and still pack your clothing essentials. Victory!
What to Wear in Budapest in Winter
Layers, Layers, and More Layers
First and foremost, I’m a huge fan of wearing thermal layers in the winter months. And I definitely think you should pack them for your trip in Budapest.
By using thermal underwear, you’ll feel less cold as you wander throughout Budapest, both day and night, in sun and snow.
As much as I loved Budapest in winter, I can’t emphasize the very real dangers of the cold weather enough.
For example, the coldest I’ve ever felt in my life (with perhaps the exception of snorkeling Silfra in Iceland) was when I waited to take a Danube River dinner cruise. Standing on the dock was the definition of hyperthermia.
Seriously, bring the thermal layers. I swear, you won’t regret it.
Not to mention, if you’re tight on space in your luggage, your thermal underwear could easily double as pajamas. I promise no one is judging you.
Waterproof Snow Boots
Budapest’s snow is stunning in the winter. The “white fluffy stuff” glistens on Budapest’s roofs, Gellért Hill, Széchenyi Chain Bridge, everywhere.
However, although glittering snow is undeniably beautiful, as a traveler, you’ll still want to protect your feet against the frigid slush on the streets.
I personally love Clarks snow boots and own a pair that is still in great condition after three years. Yup, these boots not only last, but Clarks has a lot of cute options.
For example, the Muckers Mist Snow Boot comes in black and brown, is completely waterproof, and has a comfortable ortholite foot bed, which is a wonderful addition for sightseeing travelers.
Whatever you do: don’t leave your snow boots at home. Wear them on the plane to save space.
A Fuzzy and Cozy Scarf
You don’t want your neck to freeze. Honestly, I can’t think of anything more uncomfortable. And yeah, I know you technically can’t catch colds from cold weather, but I’d still feel like I was courting the flu if I didn’t pack a warm scarf for my winter vacation in Budapest.
I personally love loop scarves for when I’m traveling, because I’m a bit hopeless at tying scarves and don’t always readjust them the right way. Don’t laugh at me.
These winter loop scarves are ribbed, come in many colors, and designed with warmth in mind. Not to mention, they’re fashionable and fun!
At Least One Warm Dress
Budapest is a world class city. I’m sure you’ll want to go out to dinner or to the opera at least once on your winter visit. And unlike other European capitals, a night out in Budapest is pretty reasonably priced.
And I don’t know guys. There’s just something about devouring an exquisite meal, with wine, and then seeing a heartwarming performance in the theater. It makes my heart sing.
So bring a dress with you!
For instance, pack a long-sleeved travel dress (with pockets) and bring a few spare warm tights. Boom! You’re now ready for a night on the town.
Long Dark Pants
Regarding what to wear in Budapest in winter, I’m partial to classy dark colors that are easy to pair with multiple items.
You’ll want to stay warm. Although I wouldn’t exactly recommend ski pants in Budapest, I’d pack a couple pairs of dark fleece leggings that look stylish, but provide plenty of warmth.
If you prefer pants, you can’t go wrong with Columbia’s Back Beauty Boot Cut pants with your thermal layers worn underneath them.
Plenty of Sweaters in Different Colors
I adore wearing sweaters in the winter, and I think another great packing idea is having a couple sweaters available on your trip.
With the black pants, it’s simple to match all the sweaters, meaning you won’t have to worry about wasting space for the sake of coordinating colors.
My advice is to stick with lightweight sweaters that won’t take up substantial room inside your packing cubes.
As for how many sweaters to bring, it depends on the length of your trip. As a rule of thumb, I wear the same shirt for two days. Hey, as travelers, we do what we need to do, right?
A Beanie and Matching Gloves
In addition to your body, don’t forget to protect your ears and fingers against Budapest’s raging cold weather and snow.
Personally, I don’t go crazy with hats and gloves in my daily life, even in New Jersey, but without a doubt, you need to pack these winter essentials for Budapest.
Think about it! You’re outside for 90% of the day! Your hands will hate you for walking around without gloves.
Purchase a set with both the beanie and gloves to save money. These gloves include touch screen fingers so you don’t have to worry about using your phone.
A Cute Bathing Suit
Last but not least for what to wear in Budapest in winter, don’t forget to bring an adorable bathing suit with you.
“Say WHAT?” you might be thinking, “A bathing suit in the dead of winter? Why? WHY?”
Luckily for you, Budapest is home to two wonderful thermal baths or spas: Széchenyi Thermal Bath and Gellért Thermal Bath. And, yes, both of them are open for business in winter.
So don’t forget to bring a cute vintage swimsuit with you on your winter adventure in Budapest. Given my body type, I’m partial to the vintage styles, but go for whatever suits you best.
… and Don’t Forget Travel Insurance
Yeah, yeah, yeah. I know. No one actually wears travel insurance.
However, I always make it a priority to emphasize the importance of travel insurance in every single packing guide on this blog. And I’m saying it again here.
On my European trips, I usually purchase a World Nomads policy to cover all potential mishaps. The money spent on a policy is well worth covering your peace of mind. Seriously, whatever you do, don’t forget travel insurance.
I hope I helped you figure out what to wear in Budapest in winter! Budapest is one of my favorite cities in the world, and I know you’ll have a wonderful time. Enjoy!