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.

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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

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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.

5 things to do in enchanting Tallinn

If you only have a day to explore Estonia’s capital then be sure not to miss these five sites.

With a unique fairy-tale old town, Tallinn is one of my favourite cities to explore in Europe. If you are staying for a few days, I’d also recommend venturing out to the lesser known parts of Estonia on alternative day trip or visiting the eastern city of Tartu. If you only have a day or two, then be sure not to miss these five sites in the capital.

1. Explore abandoned Linnahall

This huge Soviet style building was completed in 1980 as a venue for the sailing events of the Moscow Olympics. The hall then became an entertainment complex and was finally closed in 2010. Despite recent plans for renovations, the area remains derelict, with grass growing through the concrete steps, graffiti on the walls and an a somewhat eerie feel- although these days it’s quite a popular tourist attraction.

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2. View the old city from above

The old town of Tallinn (Vana Tallinn) has a magical fairy-tale feel to it, in part due to the well preserved town wall and castle on Toompea hill. To get the best view of the old town (and to get your bearings for further exploring) head up the tower of St. Olav’s Church or the town hall in Raekoja Plats. Both are 3€ entry and require climbing of over 100 narrow stone steps!

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3. Visit the markets in Raekoja Plats

At the center of the old town you’ll find Raekoja Plats– the Town Square. As with many towns, the main square is the heart of the city. Here you’ll find regular weekend markets, plenty of restaurants, cafes and interesting museums.

Since 1441 the old Raekoja Plats has been home to a magical Christmas Market. It’s even been said that the Brotherhood of the Blackheads erected the world’s first Christmas Tree here, although others claim that neighboring Riga holds this title.

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Horse in old town

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Raekoja Plats Markets

4. Wander through Toompea Hill

Positioned above the rest of the old town, Toompea (Cathedral) Hill boasts impressive views of the city, the old castle- which is now the Estonian Parliament building and the stunning Alexander Nevsky Cathedral.

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5. Head to Telliskivi

If you want to see a different side of Tallinn then head out of the Old Town time-warp to Telliskivi, an inspiring “creative city for everything new”. Here you’ll find second-hand shops, homeware and arts stores, food and thrift markets and plenty of trendy cafes and bars. My favourite is F-Hoone.

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Exploring Bratislava on foot: 5 things to do in Slovakia’s capital

I spent four days exploring the old town and surrounds of Bratislava and it was such a welcome shift of pace from nearby Vienna and Budapest. It’s quite a compact city so getting around by walking is perfect.

Here are five things I loved exploring on foot in Slovakia’s capital.

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1. Climb up to the castle and have a drink overlooking the old town

After exploring the castle and gardens, head to the castle wall for unparalleled views, then grab a drink at the restaurant Reštaurácia Hrad where you can have a cocktail overlooking the old town. Drinks are similarly priced to elsewhere in the city but the food is relatively expensive.

2. Watch the sunset over the Danube and old town from above

For around 7€ you can go up the UFO Observation Deck where the views at sunset are worth every cent. There’s also a restaurant and bar at the top- you’ll need to book for the restaurant and prices are more than in the old town- but the view compensates!

3. Walk to the colorful Hotel Galeria Spirit and Blue Church

If you like unique tourist attractions then head to these colorful sites. The Hotel Galeria is a quirky colorful hotel of many angles and levels located 30 minutes walk from the castle. The Blue Church of St. Elizabeth is located on the far eastern side of the old town, around 25 minutes from the castle.

4. See the Slavin Monument

On the way back from the Hotel Galeria and up quite a hill, you’ll find this Slavic monument overlooking the city and river. It’s a memorial and burial ground for Soviet soldiers who died in WWII.

5. Wander the old town and try traditional Slovakian food

As is often the case when exploring, one of the best thing to do in an old town is to wander the maze like streets with no set plans and see what you find. There are plenty of restaurants to try traditional Slovakian food- my favorite was Segnerova Kúria.

 

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Have you been to Bratislava? What was your favorite thing to explore on foot?

Pula: top 5 things to do in Croatia’s ancient beach town

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The town of Pula is over three millennia old, and the history of the place is evident everywhere you look. From the wonderfully preserved Roman Amphitheater and Temple of Augustus to the Arch of the Sergii and 17th-century baroque castle, the old town is the perfect place for a lazy stroll.

As Pula is also a coastal town, there are beautiful swimming spots nearby. In summer this means the town becomes incredibly busy with tourists, so I’d definitely recommend visiting in shoulder season (late April to May) when the weather is lovely and the crowds are yet to arrive.

 

Here are five unmissable things to do in Pula

 

1. Swim at Uvala Valovine and Cyclon’s Beach

Perfectly clear blue/green water accessed by large rocks or pebble beaches. There’s also a camping ground here and shops with ice cream, bakery items and a seafood restaurant.

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2. Sunset Drinks at the Amphitheater

There’s a perfect little local bar on the northern side of the amphitheater that serves local Istra Bitters for 1.5€ and has outdoor seats looking out to the ruins and sea beyond.

3. Walk the Foreshore and Explore Abandoned Areas

To the north-west of the train station a patchwork bridge leads over the river to a path along the foreshore where abandoned buildings, jetties and boats abound. My favourite kind of place to explore.

4. Enjoy a Seafood Dinner in the Old Town

For 20€ at one of the many restaurants near the Forum area of the old town you can get a whole grilled fish with vegetables, a glass of wine, delicious tiramisu and espresso to finish off the meal.

5. Take a Day Trip or Evening Cruise to Brijun National Park

In the end I didn’t visit this island but it’s something I’d love to do on a return trip. You can take a local bus to Fazana for around 2€ and then a boat to the island (around 20€ for the boat and entrance fee) or take one of the many excursion boats directly from Pula. I saw a 3 hour evening cruise around the national park from 5-8pm where they point out the main sites and hope to see dolphins. The cruise is around 25€ including all the wine and beer you can drink in 3 hours.

Travel Budgeting: Croatia- Zagreb, Pula & Rovinji

Coming from Vienna, Croatia was a welcome return to budget travel. Here is what you can expect to pay in shoulder season (late April/early May).

City: Zagreb, Pula and Rovinj

Travel Style: Budget

Currency: Croatian Kuna (Kn): 1€ = 7.5Kn

Daily Spend: 43.5€ / 320Kn

 

Cost Breakdown

Accommodation:

11 nights = 145€

12€ per night for one nights a 8 bed dorm at World Wide Hostel. This place is amazing if you’re in your early 20s and still love to play beer pong every night. If not then head to Swanky Mint or similar.

15€ per night for three nights a 8 bed dorm at the Swanky Mint in Zagreb. This hostel is touted as the best in Croatia and while the bar, common areas and bedroom facilities definitely lived up to that, I had the worst night sleep during my stay because of noise out the courtyard window and squeaky wooden beds.

11€ per night for six nights a 6 bed dorm room at Riva Hostel in Pula. This hostel is in a great location, a little run down but good value for money and run by a local with a big heart. Romano has recently bought the place and plans to renovate it soon.

22€ for one night in a 4 bed dorm at Roubdabout Hostel in Rovinji. This was the cheapest option I could find but also highly recommended.

Transport:

11 days = 63.5€ 

-Flexibus from Vienna to Zagreb: 15€

-Tram to the centre: a ticket is cheap but in Zagreb tourists can often get away with not having one- unlike Budapest!!

-Walking around Zagreb- it’s small and manageable by foot

-Flixbus from Zagreb to Pula: 21€

-Pula is also small and you can walk. To get to the beach is around an hour walk from the old town, bikes can be rented for around 13€ a day. A local bus in the region costs around 2€.

-Flixbus from Pula to Rovinj: 4.5€

-Again walking around Rovinj is the way to go.

-Flixbus from Rovinj to Venice: 23€

Food & Drink:

11 days = 260€ / 23.6 day

Breakfast: 15kn (2€) for a cappuccino and large savory pastry at a local bakery

Lunch: 10Kn (1.3€) for a huge salad roll

Ice cream: 8kn (1€)

Dinner: 130Kn (18€) for whole grilled fish with vegetables, glass of white wine, amazing tiramisu and espresso at a restaurant near the Forum.

Aperitif: 10kn (1.3€) for the local Istra Bitters at the outdoor bar overlooking the Amphitheater

Activities:

11€

7€ (50kn) entrance to the amphitheater

4€ ticket to the local cinema

 

Total spent:

497.5€ / 11 nights = 43.5€ per day

 

 

Exploring Budapest on foot: 5 must sees

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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