Pecs stands out as one of Hungary’s most picturesque and culturally vibrant cities. As the festive season approaches, Szechenyi Square becomes the focal point, with the Pecs Christmas Market illuminating the city.
This guide provides all you need to know for your 2023 visit, including dates, opening times and what’s on offer.
Pecs Christmas Market 2023
In the very centre of historic Pecs, the Christmas market takes over Szechenyi Square.
A towering Christmas tree takes centre stage, surrounded by wooden huts where 30 vendors sell handmade gifts and 20 huts offer Hungarian and international culinary specialties.
A highlight is the Advent lighting of the cathedral’s towers each Sunday, creating a memorable countdown to Christmas.
Santa will attend the Santa Claus Festival on the 5th and 6th of December. These are the best family-friendly days to visit.
Dates and Information
Pecs Christmas Market dates: 25th November to 24th December 2023.
Location: Széchenyi Square.
Opening times: 10am to 7pm.
Christmas Day: Closed.
Christmas lights: The Dzámi (the former Mosque of Pasha Qasim) will be lit up each night.
Santa: Yes, at the festival.
Ice skating: Yes, at Pécsi Műjégpálya.
Vegetarian: Yes, plenty of options.
Vegan: Yes, plenty of options.
Gluten free: Yes, but limited.
Pet-friendly: Yes, but not recommended during busy periods.
Parking: Traffic is closed in the city centre. Please take public transport to help limit congestion.
Reason to visit: One of Hungary’s most beautiful squares and the unique mosque that is now a Catholic church.
Food specialities: Chimney cake, Hungarian mulled wine, Pecs-style cookies.
Where to stay: Palatinus Boutique Hotel is a popular hotel, just around the corner of the main square.
Where I Stayed
I’ve only been to Pecs once and immediately fell in love with it. I regret never being able to return for a longer stay. I stayed fairly centrally at Palatinus Boutique Hotel and recommend it for its beautiful design and attention to detail.
To find more detailed information on festive events, read my Hungary Christmas Markets guide, which lists all the significant markets in the country.
Christmas in Pecs
Pecs’s festive season uniquely blends Hungarian traditions with Mediterranean influences, reflecting its historical climate and Ottoman past.
Kürtőskalács (Chimney Cake): You’ll find this spiral-shaped pastry at all of Hungary’s markets. It’s traditionally rolled in sugar and cinnamon after being cooked on a spit. More interesting toppings include coconut and chocolate.
Lángos: Deep-fried dough usually served with sour cream and grated cheese. This savoury treat is a crowd-pleaser and is easily found at many stalls. It offers variations that might include sausage or ham, but it’s primarily a vegetarian dish.
Töltött Káposzta (Stuffed Cabbage): Tightly wrapped cabbage leaves filled with minced meat and rice, usually served warm. It’s a hearty dish ideal for cold weather. The tomato-based sauce gives it a tangy kick. Try this at one of the restaurants in the city centre.
Palacsinta: These Hungarian pancakes often come filled with jam, Nutella or sweet cottage cheese. It’s a quick snack, allowing you to continue exploring the market with minimal interruption.
Gulyás (Goulash): A spicy beef and vegetable soup, this dish is a staple in Hungarian cuisine. The Pecs version frequently incorporates local spices and ingredients.
Halászlé (Fisherman’s Soup): If you love spicy soups, you’ll appreciate this. It’s a local favourite made primarily of river fish and paprika, especially around Christmas time.
Rákóczi Túrós: A dessert made of sweet curd cheese and apricot jam, topped with meringue. You’ll find it in some stalls and cafes.
Pálinka: A traditional fruit brandy, it has many flavours, including plum and cherry. It’s an integral part of the holiday experience, often consumed to keep warm.
Forralt Bor (Mulled Wine): Red wine combined with various mulling spices and citrus. Consumed hot, it’s a favourite for keeping warm while you wander through the market.
Mézeskalács (Honey Cake): These are intricately designed gingerbread-like cookies, often shaped like hearts or animals. They are popular not only as a treat but also as a decorative item.
Tejfölös Krumpli (Sour Cream Potatoes): This dish consists of sliced potatoes baked in a sour cream and cheese sauce, providing a comforting option for a more substantial meal.
Gifts and Stocking Fillers
Zsolnay Ceramics: These unique ceramics come from a company that has roots in Pecs. Each piece is a work of art in itself, ranging from decorative plates to ornate vases. The vendors often provide history about each product, making them special gifts with cultural relevance.
Folk Art: Embroidery and wooden crafts often appear at Hungarian Christmas markets. Traditional patterns and motifs are expected, with colours and designs deeply rooted in the local culture. These items are usually handmade, providing an authentic touch to your gift list.
Pálinka Bottles: While Pálinka is also a drink, at the Pecs market, you might find special gift bottles that are more decorative. They’re often ornate, featuring etchings or unique shapes. These bottles serve a dual purpose, as both the drink and the bottle are highly valued.
Szekszárdi Vörös (Szekszárd Red Wine): This regional wine is a popular gift for connoisseurs. The local soil and climate contribute to its unique flavour profile. You’ll find it at specialised stalls, often accompanied by recommendations for food pairings.
Hungarian Spices: Spices like locally sourced paprika are popular gift items. They often come in decorative tins or jars, making them ideal stocking fillers. These spices can be used to recreate traditional Hungarian dishes at home.
Herend Porcelain: Though not exclusively from Pecs, these delicate porcelain items are found at local markets. The intricate designs and delicate craftsmanship make each piece a valued gift.
Matyó Embroidery: This specific type of embroidery comes from the Matyó people of Hungary. Items such as cushions or tablecloths feature colourful, intricate designs. Each piece is handmade and can take weeks to complete.
Traditional Musical Instruments: Smaller instruments like flutes and ocarinas can be found at specialised stalls. These are often handmade by local artisans, and they make unique gifts for music lovers or children.
Local Honey: Jars from local apiaries can make a sweet gift. These often include additional flavours or ingredients like acacia or lavender from the region.
Check out the City of Pecs website to stay updated on winter activities and the newest events during your visit.
Sustainable Travel Tips
Here’s how to travel more responsibly in Pecs:
Choose Eco-Friendly Hotels: In Pecs, you’ll find several hotels that rely on renewable energy sources. Stay at one of these to lower your carbon footprint. They commonly use solar panels or wind power.
Reduce Food Waste: Vendors are generally willing to customise portion sizes. Order smaller servings if you’re not sure you’ll finish the entire dish. Leftovers often can’t be recycled and contribute to waste.
Conscious Consumer Choices: Think before you buy at the market stalls. Pecs is known for its handcrafted goods, but don’t be tempted to purchase items you don’t need. Limit yourself to souvenirs and gifts that you’ll use or have meaningful value.
Sustainable Diets: While enjoying the festive food, look for stalls selling locally sourced produce. In Pecs, you’ll often find traditional Hungarian foods made from local ingredients, which reduces the food miles and overall carbon footprint.
Eco-Friendly Transport: Pecs has a well-connected public transport system that uses energy-efficient vehicles. Rather than taking a taxi or renting a car, use the local buses or trams for your travels around the city. Many parts of Pecs are also walkable, providing an opportunity to explore the city with a lower environmental impact.
Pecs offers a distinctive Christmas experience with traditional Hungarian crafts and festive foods that stand out from the usual offerings. Just a short journey from Budapest, it’s both accessible and affordable. I think it’s a lovely city that’s worth visiting for a few days.
Comment below if you want to leave a review of Pecs Xmas Market or have any questions.
Recommendations are independently chosen based on personal travel experiences and extensive research. This post contains affiliate links to hotels and tours in Pecs, Hungary. This means I get a small commission from any bookings at no extra cost to you.