Hungary: Weather Overview
Lying in the east of Central Europe, Hungary is landlocked by Austria, Slovakia, Ukraine, Romania, Serbia, Croatia and Slovenia, Hungary is largely made up of plains and low hills, though there are some points above 2000 feet in the north and west.
Because Hungary is landlocked it lacks the moderating influence of the Atlantic or the Mediterranean and so the climate is continental. From summer to winter there is a large temperature range. Winters can get blistering cold and summers scorching hot, though conditions do vary quite dramatically from year to year. As the terrain is not particularly varied, similar climatic conditions prevail in most areas. The small variations observed between regions are created by differences in altitude and proximity to lakes and rivers.
Hungary lies at the meeting point of three different climatic zones: continental, Mediterranean and oceanic. The west side of the country sees more rainfall than the east. As you approach the mountain ranges a more continental climate prevails with a great annual temperature range and more distinct seasons. The annual temperature range across Hungary is -14°C to 36°C.
Lake Balaton is known as the âHungarian Seaâ; as the country lacks any access to ocean or sea, the large lake is the closest alternative. And it is large: it is the largest lake in Central Europe. There is a variety of resort towns located on its shores. Due to the size of the lake, it has an effect on the local weather, with the region seeing 5 to 7 cm more precipitation than the rest of Hungary. The lake also has a moderating effect on the climate, keeping extreme temperatures at bay and producing more cloudy days.
Siofok is known as âthe party capital of Hungaryâ as during the summer months lakeside discos pump into the early mornings. Siofok is a favourite of young groups and students. In the height of summer, the water temperature of the lake is a pleasant 25°C: perfect for swimming and other water sports. The lakeâs pebbly beach has in places been replaced with sand.
Summers in Budapest can get very hot. The average high for July and August is 27°C. In August, 4 days on average will see the mercury rise above 32.3°C (90F), though humidity hovers around 60% which helps to keep the heat bearable. While rainfall is fairly consistent all year round, the months from July to September are driest, with August only averaging 9 days of rainfall, and September only 7 with an average of 33mm of rain.
Early summer is the least foggy time of the year. The skies are clear and the average hours of sunshine per day reach 9 to 10. From April through until the end of July, there are 15 to 17 days per month that witness noticeable fog, before picking up to 23 days in September and peaking at 25 days in January.
The temperature stays warm through into September, before dropping quite dramatically come October, when the average high is 16°C and the minimum falls to 8°C.
In November winter weather sets in with 5 days of the month seeing snowfall. November, on average, will have 13 days below freezing. December and February see 10 days with snowfall each, with December seeing 22 days for the month when the mercury drops below freezing. January generally has the most days of snow, averaging at 13 days. Daily hours of sunshine fall to 1 or 2 hours per day as the sky becomes overcast more frequently and the days shorten.
The coldest month is January, which has an average minimum of -3°C. December and February each see average daily minimums of -1°C, which is still tolerable and can be conquered by a good thick jacket, scarf and a pair of gloves. While in the winter Budapest can get very cold, the city looks amazing in its blanket of snow.
By March the winter is well into its retreat. The average daily maximum pick up to 11°C, sunshine rises to 5 hours per day and days with fog reduce to 22. Humidity also drops to 67%, before falling into the low 60âs as spring settles in. Springtime is an excellent time to visit Budapest as it is outside of peak tourist season and by May the average daily maximum has risen to a pleasant 22°C. However, May is generally the wettest month of the year; March and April are considerably drier.
Hungaryâs capital city is divided by the river Danube. It was originally two cities, Buda and Pest, which united in 1873. Buda lies on the west side of the Danube and Pest on the east. Many visitors to Budapest will express their preferences toward Buda or Pest, as the two halves see great contrasts. Budaâs green hills rise dramatically up from behind the riverside. You can ride a cable car up to the top of the hill and take in the spectacular view of the river and the vast cityscape. Pest is the âyoungerâ and âhipperâ part of town where you will find backpackers, vibrant nightlife and eclectic markets.
Budapest is considered one of the most beautiful cities in Europe. While it attracts more than 20 million visitors a year, it has managed to avoid a tacky tourist feel. This is an authentic Hungarian city.
Lying 220km East of Budapest is Hungaryâs second largest city, Debrecen, which sits in close proximity to the Hortobagy national park. Debrecen gets slightly cooler than Budapest, with winter lows falling to -6°C in the coldest month of January. Rainfall in Debrecen is pretty similar to Budapest though marginally higher. The wettest months see about 13 days of rain for the month, and the driest months about 8 or 9 days of rain. While the wettest month in Budapest (May) records 72mm of rain, the wettest month in Debrecen is July which sees just over 80mm precipitation. In terms of sunshine, conditions here are pretty similar to those described in Budapest, with the summer days seeing 10 hours of sunshine and the height of winter only seeing 2 hours.
See here for Debrecen weather averages across the year.