10 Of The Best Cafes In Budapest

One of my favorite things to do when traveling is to find a great local cafe, relax with a coffee and absorb the new world around me. I love interesting, beautiful and quirky interiors, good people watching vantages, great service, and of course an excellent brew of coffee. Here are ten cafes that deliver all this in the heart of Budapest.

Coffee and Croissant-00609.jpg

1. Cafe Frei


You’ll find this coffee house on the touristy Vaci Ut, near the central market. With an inviting retro atmosphere, split over two levels, you’ll want to keep returning to try all of the different styles of coffee from around the world. There’s everything from Peruvian Orange Blossom to Cornflower Coffee, Coconut Hot Chocolate from the Philippines and a myriad of Italian coffee styles. They also specialise in alcoholic coffees from around the world. Expect to pay around 1€ for coffee, 2€ for hot chocolate and 2-3€ for alcoholic coffee.

2. Bluebird Cafe


This cute little cafe has excellent coffee, outdoor seating with swings and to top it off, the barista draws your portrait on a coffee cup. Unmissable. You’ll find it in the popular 7th district.

3. Double Shot


Just north of Magrit Bridge along Pozsonyi Ut are a cluster of inviting cafes. Away from the tourist heart of the city it’s here that you’ll find locals’ favourites. One of the best is tiny Double Shot. They have a couple of outdoor seats and an inviting area upstairs overlooking the leafy street. But it’s their coffee that is the real winner, their macchiato was one of the best we’ve had. Ever.

4. My Green Cup


Just across the road from Double Shot in Pozsonyi Ut this cafe has delicious baked goods, and excellent coffee. There are several outdoor seats and plenty of indoor seating.

5. Astoria Cafe


Just above the Astoria metro stop (which takes it’s name from the Grand Astoria Hotel), this place screams old world charm. Reminiscent of traditional Viennese coffee houses, Astoria is grand, quiet and refreshingly cool during hot summer days.

Open from 7am to 10pm, it’s the perfect spot to sit and read, write or just escape the buzz of the city. The coffee is a little more expensive than other places in Budapest (around 2€) but is high quality and the service is impeccable.

6. Fekete


Hidden down an alley off the busy Múzeum Krt you’ll find this trendy cafe. There’s seating in an interior courtyard and a few tables inside a small but beautifully decorated space. The coffee is delicious, as is the food- if a little expensive.

7. Szerpentin Szalon

I loved the quirkiness of this part antique store, part cafe. Sit inside amidst forgotten treasures or watch the world go by in one of their side walk seats. Their smoothies and ice coffee are particularly delicious in summer.

8. Central Cafe

Central Cafe-2

Founded in 1887, Central Cafe is another cafe with an old world cafe feel. Located at an intersection full of inviting cafes and bars, the place has a beautiful, huge interior and elegant classic music.

9. Budai Ketto


This cafe is another favorite of locals, in a residential area of Buda. The range of croissants is amazing and crazily cheap at 1€ each. They also serve sandwiches and their coffee is good.

10. Pekmuhely

Another local haunt in Buda, the line was out the door when we arrived. Freshly baked local pastries, bread and decent coffee, all at very cheap prices make it easy to see why.

Exploring Budapest on foot: 5 must sees

DSC02435.jpg

When I first arrived in Budapest I was a little overwhelmed by the size and scope of Hungary’s capital. I’d also heard a lot of good things, so my expectations were high. However, it didn’t take long for the charms of the city to win me over and in the end, I had a hard time leaving.

Here are my favorite five things I saw when walking around Budapest.

 

1. Vajdahunyad Castle

Standing in the courtyard of this castle I was blown away by the 360° splendor of the buildings and gardens. Built in 1896 to commemorate 1,000 years of Hungary, the castle is made up of replicas of different landmark buildings from the Kingdom of Hungary. As these buildings span different eras and architectural periods (Gothic, Renaissance, Baroque, Romanesque) the combined effect is a visual feast. The castle houses The Museum of Hungarian Agriculture and neighbors Hero Square. The popular Széchenyi Thermal Bath is also nearby.

2. The Metropolitan Erving Szabo Library

This is a hidden treasure that you won’t find in guidebooks or on the tourist trail. I was lucky to discover it from a friend’s recommendation! The library was once a 19th century mansion, and the old world feel throughout the 4th floor is unlike anything I’ve experienced before. It’s 3€ (1000 HUF) to go to the 4th floor but incredibly worth it. When you arrive on the 4th floor the first few rooms look like a regular modern library- you have to hunt a bit for the treasure.

3. St. Stephens Basilica: Szent István-bazilika

Completed in 1905, this huge neoclassical Roman Catholic Basilica is one of my favorite places in Budapest. Be sure to pay the 3€ (1000 HUF) fee to go up the bell tower for stunning views of the city. Oh and don’t miss Gerlato Rosa next door for stunning rose shaped ice cream!

4. Buda Castle: Budavári Palota

While the first castle on this site was built in 1265, the current green domed Baroque palace was constructed in the mid 18th century. The palace, courtyards and gardens are the perfect place to spend an afternoon taking in the views and absorbing the history. The palace also houses The Hungarian National Gallery and The Budapest History Museum.

5. Fisherman’s Bastion: Halászbástya

Built at the turn of the 19th century, this relatively new fortification never served as a defense but is built where an older castle once stood. Today, the all white fairytale terrace overlooking the Danube and Pest transports you to another world and is incredibly popular with tourists. Go early (before 8.30am) to have the place to yourself.

 

After a long day of walking, there’s no better way to relax at one of the many baths or ruin bars.

My favorite public bath was Rudas Baths and the ever touristy but unfailingly cool Szimpla Kert was my favorite bar.

 

 

Budapest Favourites

Some of my favorite things to do in Hungary’s capital.

DSC01992DSC01599

Favourite Place to Read

Metropolitan Ervin Szabó Library. Head up to the 4th floor and you won’t want to leave. Definitely worth the 1000 HUF (3€) entry fee.

 

 

 

Favorite View

Looking down on the Danube and Pest from the top of the Liberty Statue. The view from atop St Stevens Basilica was a close second.

DSC01716.jpg

Favorite Building

Fishermans Bastion in Buda. A big tourist site but I couldn’t get enough of the enchanting all white fairy tale feel of the place.

DSC01547

Favorite Walk

Tóth Árpád Sétány. In spring the seemingly endless row of cherry blossoms behind Buda Castle and Fisherman’s Bastion create the perfect afternoon walk.

DSC02292.jpg

Favourite Old World Cafe

Central Cafe and Restaurant. Founded in 1887 this eatery has a beautiful, huge interior with classy calm music and an elegant other-worldly feel. Nearby Café Astoria Restaurant also has a similar vibe.

Favourite Cafe for the Perfect Coffee

Vaci Street Cafe Frei. This place serves coffee from around the world and with dozens to choose from you won’t be disappointed. They also have savory snacks and ice cream, all at reasonable prices- especially considering it’s location in a very touristy street.

 

Favorite District

The 7th. The old Jewish neighborhood is touristy but full of the coolest cafes, bars and restaurants. You’d need months to discover them all.

DSC02579

DSC02584-2.jpg

Favorite Public Bath

Rudas Bath.  Go in the morning during the week when it’s less crowded and don’t miss the traditional Turkish baths section. On weekends this part is mixed sex while during the week it’s mostly for men. Tuesday is a women’s day. There’s also sauna world, a swimming pool, a wellness center with different temperature thermal baths and a rooftop thermal pool.

 

Favorite Ruin Bar

Ruin bars are an institution in Budapest. Since 2001, old derelict buildings have been converted to ridiculously popular bars. You can’t walk far in the 7th district without stumbling onto one.

Szimpla is the largest and most well known and despite being tourist-filled I still loved the maze of rooms, graffiti walls and trees growing up through the courtyard. If crowds aren’t your thing then go in the afternoon on a weekday when it’s quieter. If you want a less touristy ruin bar try Eleszto.

Favorite Breakfast Spot

Fekete. I love the “hipster” vibe of this place and the fact you can eat in a sunny courtyard. Be warned it’s very busy on weekend, but the coffee is great and the baked eggs deliciously healthy. Good value for money- 8€ for baked eggs and a cappuccino. Simply (below) is similar but more expensive.

DSC02515.jpg

Favorite Langos 

Retró Lángos Büfé. Langos is basically a fried pizza with different toppings and this street food place is the best.

 

Favourite Street Food

Street Food Karavan Budapest. A range of delicious and cheap food trucks serving food fro around the world. Located in the 7th district, near Szimpla.

 

Favourite Hungarian Street food

Bors Gastro Bar. This place has loud character, a range of delicious street food (try the Hungarian cauliflower and sausage soup) and is conveniently right next to Szimpla.

 

Favorite Dessert Place

Gelarto Rosa. Perfectly positioned next to St Stephens Basilica, this ice cream parlor creates stunning rose shaped gelato. Accordingly there’s always a line out the door. Definitely worth the wait for both the eye candy and delicious taste.

 

What your favorite thing to do in Budapest?

Travel Budgeting: Budapest

Budapest has became a crazily popular tourist destination in recent years due to the beauty, culture, nightlife and affordability for western tourists. Below is a breakdown of what I spent during 6 days in Hungary’s capital.

DSC01330.jpg

 

City: Budapest

Travel Style: Budget

Currency: Hungarian Forint (HUF): 1€ = 300 HUF

Daily Spend: 40€

 

 

Cost Breakdown

Accommodation: 6 nights = 70€

  • Around 12€ per night for a 6 bed dorm room at Flow Hostel (10€ weeknights, 15€ weekends)

 

Transport: 6 days = 4€ 

  • Bus + metro from the airport: theoretically 2€ each direction, I got fined 25€ for having the wrong ticket. The best way to get from the Airport to the center is on bus 100E, this is slightly more expensive than other buses but worth it- still less than 2€ and it’s direct to the city. Locals have told me the transport system can be a bit of a tourist trap, so make sure you have the right tickets.
  • I walked around the city. Otherwise a 24hr transport ticket is around 5€

 

Food: 6 days = 102€  / 17€  per day

  • Breakfast: 5€ coffee and quiche or eggs at a local cafe like Fekete
  • Lunch: 5€ for a filling lunch at a local eatery
  • Dinner: 5-10€. A huge meat dish at The Central Market Hall or one of the nearby outdoor markets will set you back around 10€, while a range of dishes at Street Food Karavan Budapest is closer to 5€

 

Drink: 6 days = 42€  / 7€ per day

  • At local places beer is as cheap as 2€ a pint and cocktails can also be the same price
  • At more touristy places a pint is 3-4€ and cocktails are 5-6€

 

Activities:  22€

  • 3€ to go up to the 4th floor of the Metropolitan Ervin Szabó Library
  • 3€ to go up St. Stephen’s Basilica
  • 16€ to spend the day at Rudas Baths during the week- traditional Turkish baths, Sauna World, Swimming Pool, Rooftop Jacuzzi- so worth it!

 

Total spent: 240€ / 6 nights = 40€ per day