I don’t usually do food posts, this is my first. Budapest has many good spots for coffee, gelato, drinks and food in general. Here are the best spots to eat in Budapest:
Where To Eat In Budapest
California Coffee Company: I saw it everywhere in Budapest. It was like Cafe Coffee Day of India. But only better. Coffee and smoothies were real nice even though there was a wait for it. California Coffee Company is in one of the busiest square of the city. It is also dog friendly so that’s a big plus.
Type: Budget and Medium
Goa Mama Coffee: This is the cutest cafe in Budapest and I stopped here only because of the name (Goa is a place in India). Goa Mama has very pretty interiors along with great iced coffee, shakes and home made cakes! It’s really worth visiting.
Ruin Pubs: I have to admit I only went to two ruin pubs in Budapest. Once with a Free Walking Tour in the day and once alone at night. I wish I had company to enjoy because it really did feel unfair sitting alone and sipping my negroni. But I love the concept of shady ruined dumped furniture and equipment being used to create these cool places. Szimpla and Instant are my recommendations for ruin pubs. A great place to eat in Budapest!
Type: Medium and Splurge
Vaci Utca: This is a shopping street laden with cafes, restaurants and stores. There are a ton of options to eat and contrary to what I thought they aren’t as expensive as it would be in other parts of Europe. Just pick one!
Type: Medium and Splurge
Gelarto Rosa: A famous Hungarian gelato parlour that gives rose shaped gelato. Not only is the packaging dainty and pretty but it is delicious too. There is gelato for vegans and lactose intolerant people as well.
Type: Super budget
My Little Melbourne Brew Bar: There are two bars by this name adjacent to each other, one is the espresso bar and the other is the brew bar. I had a filter coffee at the espresso bar- a very cool hipster cafe. The service wasn’t very friendly but I loved the coffee. Couldn’t believe how cheap everything was compared to other cities of Europe.
Frohlich Bakery: The Jewish quarter in the city has so many food joints that it seemed like a city within a city. What I specially liked was the fact that it was so traditional. Try the apple and poppy seed cake at the Frohlich- a modest bakery with Free Wi-Fi!!
Pizza Eataliano: Good Italian food only 5 steps away from the Andrassay tram stop. It has a beautiful terrace to relax after a long day. I also loved their selection of Italian wines though I only enjoyed a quick pizza here.
Callas Cafe: Callas is a very Parisian cafe in Budapest. Slightly expensive as its on the main street next to the Opera but it is worth a visit. You are on holiday after all! Try their gelato and coffee or if in the mood to splurge anything you don’t understand which could be very Hungarian. Another great spot for eating in Budapest.
Bamba Marha Burger Bar: At the corner of the Andrassay Avenue is this cool place serving delicious burgers. The place is packed at night and definitely seems like a very popular spot for locals. I tried their Elvis burger and loved it! The only problem here is that there are no alcohol options and few options for drinks.
TOP TIP: If you are not from around Hungary, please check what you are paying. I mean the currency is a bit confusing and a couple of times I ended up paying more Forints than I had to. I was lucky that both times I was returned the correct amount back. (Bless those people!)
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Budapest is a wonderful city with many bookstores and cafes. I was quite surprised actually because I didn’t expect them to be SO GOOD! Here are my two cents on exploring the bookstores of Budapest:
The Bookstores of Budapest
Atlantis Book Island: The first bookstore I visited was the Atlantis Book Island. I was probably the only customer in the English section and was surprised by the number of English titles. The store has a big section of fiction as well as non fiction from Central Europe. It opened a new world for me…..
The best part of visiting the Atlantis was that the owner knew English so I could ask him for recommendations. Even though he was slightly shy, I managed finding few new titles for myself. I only wish he didn’t stand on my head while I was browsing! The double storied bookstore has a cute stationary corner with bookmarks all made in Hungary.
Massolit Book & Cafe: A quaint bookshop in the heart of the Jewish quarter, Massolit was my absolute favorite! You can sit here and read all day inside or in the garden, use the free Wifi and order tea with homemade cake! The owner has a superb collection of historic books and iis very helpful. There is a good selection of travel related books and a second hand rack for the Hungarian readers.
Bestsellers: Right next to Budapest’s famous landmark St. Stephen’s Cathedral is the Bestsellers. Going by it’s name, it has a huge selection of bestsellers in English. The choice of Hungarian literature is massive as is for Romanian. I settled for a Romanian author and a bag of Penguin Books. Befriending the lady at the counter was fun because she told me there was always something going on at the shop whether it was book signings, author interviews or poetry sessions. The only downside of this shop is that since it is close to all the major landmarks it is usually full.
Alexandra: Formerly the Paris Department Store, Alexandra was a huge bookstore at the Andrassy Avenue. I visited in September 2016 and was informed by a dear reader that this chain of stores is now closed. The English section wasn’t very impressive but it had a lot of classics. There was a baroque cafe above the store with a lovely piano. Alexandra was the biggest bookstore chain in Hungary. I hope it opens again!
Do you visit bookstores when you travel to new countries??
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Every person’s style of traveling is different and we must respect that. For instance, when I was in Budapest, my friend recommended me to visit many museums that I was not interested in seeing. So I skipped some of them and instead did my favorite thing- visited bookstores and libraries!
Szabó Ervin Library
Budapest’s Metropolitan Szabó Ervin Library was a great find find. To tell you the truth, my love for this library grew after seeing a picture of it on Instagram. I instantly felt the need to visit and was so blown away by its interiors! Situated in the heart of the city, the library a 10 minutes walk from the tram stop and has no admission charge. (Go there before you have to pay forints to see it!!) Named after a Hungarian librarian and social scientist, Szabó Ervin is a baroque treat.
There are two sections to the library and I am talking about the baroque section called the Wenckheim Palace. It consists of countless books in Hungarian and is very antique. Excuse me for my pictures but I hope you get the drift of what I am intending to show.
This part of the library has rooms with ornate furniture. There are chandeliers and fireplaces that make you want to get a warm cup of cocoa and sit by the fire to read. It is almost like a scene from the Gryiffndor Common Hall. You will also see several students going about their day as normally as you could imagine (just like in Hogwarts). I on the other hand was gawking!
It was a dream to be there!
Imagine this place in the wee hours or probably on a rainy day…. I would love to keep coming back and sit and read to my heart’s content. If you are a book lover and you are visiting Budapest, this is something you surely don’t want to miss!
Weekdays: 10:00 to 20:00
Saturday: 10:00 to 16:00.
Szabó Ervin tér 1, 1088, Budapest
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Did I say how much I loved Budapest?? Okay I probably did but here’s another post to prove my point 😉
The Fisherman’s Bastion at the Buda side of the city is situated on Castle Hill. It is a unique monument whose name comes from the fishermen who defended the walls in the Middle Ages. The entire area on Castle Hill is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and also houses the Buda Castle, gothic styled Mathhias Church and National Gallery of Hungary. Completed in the 13th century, the Buda castle is one of the most imposing structures of Budapest.
Reaching the Castle Hill in Budapest is very easy as there are several options to chose from. You can walk, take a bus (No 16) or get the funicular. I chose the first one as it was a short walk and I could stop to see the amazing views of the city!
The entire area is like a small town that also includes a five star hotel and a Starbucks.
There are many expensive shops in the area sell “Hungarian” goods but I didn’t know the authenticity of them so I chose to ignore. The Buda Hill is very intriguing and well kept and walking back to Pest I noticed how quiet that side of the city was compared to the hustle and bustle of the Pest side.
I had no idea about the history of Hungary and got curious to know more after visiting Buda Castle. So after my visit, I stopped at a bookshop to read more on Budapest.
A touch of splendor and air of grandeur- that is how I can explain my time in the most beautiful cafe of the world! Say hello to the New York Cafe in Budapest! This cafe is located in the Boscolo group of Hotels in Budapest which happens to be an Italian chain. It is a treat to walk in and see the baroque splendor and Venetian chandeliers along with gold paintings, marble tiles, silk cushions, hand painted walls and velvet upholstery!! The New Cafe in Budapest oozes charm and class and reminded me of a time long gone by.
I had breakfast there on my first morning in the city and was so impressed. Taking a seat on the ground floor by the window, I was smitten with its interiors. No photograph can explain the beauty of it.
Coming to the food, I would say I had little expectations from it which is why I chose slightly less riskier options. However, I was impressed in that department too. It was fresh and tasty. I ordered fresh juice, coffee, toast and Hungarian sausages with horse raddish and salad. Later I also had a pastry which wasn’t photographed. Did I say I was having breakfast?? Well …No… it was definitely lunch for me 😉
Sitting and marvelling at the interiors was a great experience. I was mostly ogling at the ceiling and met two girls from China doing the same. I clicked at least 25 pictures for them and returned to my table as my coffee was getting cold. But fun day!! Had I been in a more touristy place such as Vienna or Venice I would have definitely spent a bomb but thanks to the comparatively cheaper prices in Eastern Europe it wasn’t even half of what I expected! Next time I definitely want to go there late at night because the place is open till 3 a.m. Cocktail time!
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Few talk of Budapest as they talk of Rome, Paris or London. Even I wouldn’t have been aware of this city had I not visited it. It feels nice to know of a not-so-famous city that turned out to be so good!
On my Ryanair flight from Milan Bergamo airport to Budapest, I had no idea what to expect. For starters I was panicked since my ATM and credit card did not work at the airport. I had no local currency (Forints in this case) and was carrying only some euros to last me a day. This was also a useful lesson for me to be more prepared during travel. Luckily, a young lady helped me in reaching the city centre without taking any money for the ride. She herself was taking a flight to Africa but her parents who had come to drop her gave me a ride in their car and also got me a tram ticket for free. I am now connected with her through Facebook and hope to visit her someday in her home in Africa and/or Romania. Bless her and her folks!
Once I reached the city and settled in my room, I realized my card worked in the city. So thank god for that! I was also pleasantly surprised by what I saw around me. Not only was Budapest a gem of a city filled with wonderful things to do but is also home to stunning Neoclassical and Gothic architecture. Having been through a lot of destruction during the World War II, Budapest has fought back to keep itself on the high. It definitely shows the resilience and power of its people.
For those who don’t know, Budapest is divided into parts – one is the Buda side and the other is the Pest side. The former is laid back, residential and quieter while the latter is the “happening” side of the city. As a famous side of Eastern Europe, Budapest is a financial centre and is also ranked as one of the 7th most livable city of the continent. I think it deserves attention, a lot of attention and you will see the “why” in the posts to follow. For all the 5 nights I was there, I felt this every single day…..more people should visit Budapest!
What did I do there all those days?? I walked and walked around the city, ventured into different bookstores and cafes, a historic library, food festival and also drank lots of beer!
Sunsets on the Danube were surreal and the magic of Budapest came alive at night. I clicked several pictures from my phone camera and was wondering what the effects would have been if I had had a DSLR. So if you are there this year don’t miss the opportunity to get some great shots with a good camera. I got 2 of mine printed for my room.
I will be writing more about Budapest in the coming posts. For those who are traveling in the summer it will be easy to refer to the posts, while for others- why don’t you take a trip to Budapest??
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