Traditional and popular winter markets are a major shopping event and are held from November onwards. The markets, with their iconic clusters of wood chalets offering custom holiday treats like mulled wine, gingerbread, sausages and specialties from various regions of Hungary, are an essential part of celebrating Christmas in Budapest. Hop On Hop Off collected you the must try food and drinks of winter markets.
A whiff of mulled wine and incense in the air is enough to take any visitor back to their memories of a real Hungarian Christmas market. One of the great pleasures is standing out in the cold (wrapped up well, of course) and enjoying a punch or a hot wine while looking at all of the passers-by.
Mulled wine is the main drink at the Hungarian winter markets. It is so popular that many of the markets have special decorated cups for the wine. You pay a deposit for these cups and get it back when you return them or just keep the cup as a souvenir of your visit. Forralt bor, as mulled wine is known in Hungary, is essentially red wine heated with spices, lemon and sugar – generally cinnamon and cloves are used in all recipes, with some adding aniseed or vanilla. A variation on the mulled wine is made with the addition of sugar caramelized by burning rum. For those who are not so keen on alcohol, it is common to see hot fruit punches and non-alcoholic herbal teas also being offered.
Apart from the usual staples of any Hungarian winter market (sausages), Christmas markets have some special delicacies that are particularly relevant to this time of year.
The ultimate Christmas favorite is gingerbread or mézeskalács. It has the perfect balance of sweet and spice. Gingerbread can be soft or hard and these days are frequently seen in the shape of a heart, a star or a pine tree with a message in icing on them.