Budapest is a wonderful city with many bookstores and cafes. I was quite surprised actually because I didn’t expect so many and that too SO GOOD! Here’s my two cents on exploring the many bookstores of the city of Budapest:
The Bookstores of Budapest
Atlantis Book Island:
The first bookstore you should visit in Budapest is the Atlantis Book Island. Its quiet and not so crowded compared to the other stores in the city. The double storied bookstore has a cute stationary corner with bookmarks made only in Hungary. There is a large number of fiction and non fiction books on Eastern and Central Europe. It opened a new world for me!
When I visited Atlantis, I was the only customer in the English section. It was a pleasant surprise to see the number of English titles in this bookstore. The best part of visiting the Atlantis was that the owner knew English so you can ask for recommendations. Even though they are slightly shy to speak in English, you’ll find your way! I only wish they didn’t stand on my head while I was browsing!
Massolit Book & Cafe:
A quaint bookshop in the heart of the Jewish quarter, Massolit Book & Cafe is another great bookstore in the heart of Budapest. The owner owns a superb collection of historic books and is very helpful. There is also a good selection of travel fiction as well as second hand books in Hungarian.
You can sit here and read all day inside or in the garden, use the free Wifi and order tea with homemade cake!
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. Booksellers has an endless choice of Hungarian and Romanian literature.
I bought a Romanian author along with a bag of Penguin Books. It was fun befriending the lady at the counter who told me that Bestsellers engaged with its readers and authors and held book signings, author interviews and poetry sessions. The only downside of this shop is that since it is close to all the major landmarks it is usually full.
Formerly the Paris Department Store, Alexandra was a huge bookstore at the Andrassy Avenue. The English section wasn’t very impressive but there were so many classics that you could never get enough. Alexandra also had a baroque cafe in the same building. It was the biggest bookstore chain in Hungary. I visited in September 2016 and was informed by a dear reader that this chain of stores is now closed. I hope it opens again!
Hope you enjoyed this post. Do you also visit bookstores when you travel to new countries??
Budapest is a prime site for dreams: the East’s exuberant vision of the West, the West’s uneasy hallucination of the EastM.john harrison
Budapest: An Unexpectedly Remarkable City – ItalophiliaJune 11, 2020 at 12:16 pm
[…] Explore the many bookstores and beautiful libraries in the city. If you are a booklover like me, you will thank me […]
Anuradha Goyal (@anuradhagoyal)September 13, 2017 at 6:05 pm
Wow, This is like a dream post. I wish I could own such a bookstore – imagine spending the day surrounded by books – even though I still work out of my library. Goosebumps is all I have right now 🙂
IshitaSeptember 13, 2017 at 7:40 pm
So glad you enjoyed it!! Next time you go to Hungary, visit the Sbazo Ervin library 🙂 I wish to own a bookstore too!
Pippa PetersAugust 30, 2017 at 1:07 am
I had NO idea Budapest had such lovely libraries. Wish I’d read about this before I went there :/
IshitaAugust 30, 2017 at 8:59 am
it is such a great city that must be explored through its literature!
Pippa PetersAugust 30, 2017 at 1:45 pm
Will keep that in mind next time I visit!
IshitaAugust 30, 2017 at 7:04 pm
🙂 Yes cheers!
august43June 27, 2017 at 3:41 pm
Did not have time to visit shops, on our Viking tour. We did have great guides and got some insight into Hungarian food, architecture, history and art. A real eye opener!
IshitaJune 28, 2017 at 12:17 am
Yes I loved the history and architecture too. Viking tour I keep hearing so much but don’t know a lot about it.
august43June 28, 2017 at 1:07 am
Viking Tours are luxury tours. The service is excellent. It is a good idea to reserve early (June 30 for the 2018 season) to take advantage of two-for-one pricing.
IshitaJune 28, 2017 at 11:21 am
thanks for sharing! Sometime in life 🙂
simplyaffinityMay 21, 2017 at 7:05 pm
Budapest is a wonderful city! <3 Thank you for sharing!
IshitaMay 22, 2017 at 12:13 am
Indeed. I wish to return
Traveling DivaApril 24, 2017 at 1:54 pm
Hi, thanks for sharing your research! I only wish I had found your blog before I went to Budapest! But now I know where to look before my next visit. By the way, I think it’s safe to say I’m also an Italophile.
IshitaApril 24, 2017 at 5:26 pm
That is so kind of you. Yes pls bookmark it 🙂 when do you go next?? Hello from another Italophilie 🙂
Traveling DivaApril 24, 2017 at 6:00 pm
No plans, I just got back a week ago, but I would like to return sometime. It’s really an amazing city and requires a lot more coverage by my feet in the future!
IshitaApril 24, 2017 at 7:52 pm
Wow lucky you! A week 🙂 yeah you are right.
HelsinkiBudapestApril 25, 2017 at 4:51 am
It feels so nice to have this city loved by so many people, despite its faults. I feel like its’s mine (albeit only by 1/4), because I lived here before (even if only for five years) but after fifteen years of absence, I’m also the tourist all over again, the newcomer, discovering everything anew.
IshitaApril 25, 2017 at 7:51 pm
🙂 it is nice that a city is not as touristy yet and still wonderful.
HelsinkiBudapestApril 25, 2017 at 11:51 pm
That’s true. I’m sure I’ve been to overly touristy places, and definitely areas in some cities. We’d sometimes go to typical touristy areas / cafes with friends in our hometowns just to see what it’s like, but I tend to block them. From what I gather, if you take a boat cruise here it can get really touristy. Some of them can. Last time we did that was 25 years ago, and it wasn’t one of those themed boats, just a means to get to Esztergom. But if there was a 200-year-old boat somewhere, I’d do that in a heartbeat.
RichnightsonApril 23, 2017 at 1:35 pm
i love your writes, ishi..
i love bookstores, and yes ofcourse it will be 3rd place of my “mustvisitslist” while am going around new place, after beach and culinary ofcourse.. xixixi
keep doing freakingreat works!!! 😀🙌🏻🙌🏻🙌🏻
IshitaApril 23, 2017 at 1:43 pm
Thanks so much 🙂 I am glad you enjoyed it. The bookstores of a city speak a lot about the city no??
RichnightsonApril 23, 2017 at 1:48 pm
speak more than a guide travel book we buy before we visit that place haha
and recommended place to buy something to bring home☺️
ktb99April 22, 2017 at 11:05 am
Thanks for your interesting book store blog. Will be following you, especially more after I finish my travelling. Blogging takes time and learning!
IshitaApril 22, 2017 at 11:04 pm
That’s so kind of you. Thank you. Blogging needs time and passion both. Learning comes with time
Ticker Eats The WorldApril 15, 2017 at 4:27 pm
Wasn’t aware that Hungry or rather Budapest had so many wonderful bookshops. A very different aspect of the city that I haven’t seen anyone talk about. Brilliant.
IshitaApril 15, 2017 at 6:43 pm
Thanks a lot Raghav 🙂 I missed visiting many…Hoping to return someday!
travelratApril 14, 2017 at 11:11 am
Only been in one bookstore of note … the Selexyz Dominicanen in Maastricht, Netherlands. I used to frequent Beach’s in Salisbury (where I once met former Prime Minister Sir Edward Heath) but, sadly, it’s now an Italian restaurant!
IshitaApril 14, 2017 at 1:56 pm
Wow meeting a PM in a bookstore 😉 fancy bookstore I’d say.
travelratApril 14, 2017 at 2:27 pm
We had a conversation, too! (He said ‘Don’t forget your umbrella’ and I said ‘It isn’t mine!) 😀
IshitaApril 14, 2017 at 7:41 pm
LOL!! Memorable 😉
HelsinkiBudapestApril 14, 2017 at 3:48 am
Bestsellers was my lifeline when I first lived here. Way back when. Alongside a variety of secondhand bookstores.
Nobody knows why they closed the café, which was truly beautiful and out of this world (think 1920s Bohemian posh but not pretentious). Guesses range from bankruptcy to corruption scandal.
IshitaApril 14, 2017 at 9:09 am
Bestsellers English collection is hands down the best! I feel sad when bookstores and cafes close
HelsinkiBudapestApril 14, 2017 at 9:55 am
Same here! And they belong together! And should stay open!
LynApril 14, 2017 at 3:14 am
I love book stores and libraries. I visit them often both here in Australia and when I travel
IshitaApril 14, 2017 at 9:07 am
🙂 kindred spirits
Dippy-Dotty GirlApril 14, 2017 at 2:44 am
You are driving me crazy, lady! This is what happens when you go with two boys. My husband and a friend respectively. All we did was shiver and shudder, down shots of Palinka to prevent our life force from freezing, and do crazy runs from cafe to bars to Christmas markets. But thank you, I am adding new names for the next time we land up there x P.S.: Alexandra is a fitting name to live up to its prettiness.
IshitaApril 14, 2017 at 9:07 am
😀 your trip sounds fun to me in its own ways.. I’m just giving you a good enough list for next time. don’t know if I would go to libraries with anyone. These are things that I prefer doing by myself.
Dippy-Dotty GirlApril 14, 2017 at 1:28 pm
Yes not with my husband who would get restless after 10 minutes of walking into one 😛 I agree with you. These are kind of places you do when you mostly on your own unless you are with like-minded individuals x
IshitaApril 14, 2017 at 1:30 pm
Yes true. I hope you can take some time off to see it though 🙂
Dippy-Dotty GirlApril 14, 2017 at 1:51 pm
Yeah next time I shall drag Adi and let him sleep it off in a chair in the library. He has to pay the price of being my husband (which he actually does often). You have a lovely day x
IshitaApril 14, 2017 at 1:55 pm
haha you too 🙂
DarleneApril 14, 2017 at 1:43 am
I always visit bookstores when I travel. They are like a magnet to me. It is always interesting to see what treasures one can find. I like that you make friends with the sales clerks as well. I do that too!! Sounds like some great bookshops in Budapest.
IshitaApril 14, 2017 at 9:08 am
Similar habits 🙂 it’s always good to talk to people in a bookshop
polentaebaccalaApril 14, 2017 at 12:47 am
Yes, there are a lot in Budapest, and unfortunately few weeks ago they closed the building in Andrassy utca where there was the Alexandra library, and at the second floor one of the most beautiful cafè in town, the Alexandra Bookcafè – Lotz Hall….I hope it will re-open soon:
IshitaApril 14, 2017 at 12:49 am
Oh my that is so sad to know. Why?? Thanks for the update to the readers too.
polentaebaccalaApril 14, 2017 at 12:51 am
Alexandra closed all its libraries because of economical problems I think…the cafè was in the same building, but I don’t know if it was related to the library. The only thing I know is that unfortunately is now closed 🙁
IshitaApril 14, 2017 at 12:58 am
🙁 that is sad.
davidrpharmerApril 14, 2017 at 12:38 am
What a lovely tour round. Thanks
IshitaApril 14, 2017 at 12:40 am
Thanks David 🙂
RedheadedBookloverApril 14, 2017 at 12:29 am
Hi there! I just came across this post of yours and your blog in general and I couldn’t help but comment and tell you how much I adore your blog and love this post! Keep up the great work, I am going to follow you so I can keep up with all your new posts!
IshitaApril 14, 2017 at 12:33 am
Thank you so so much. You made my evening!! 🙂 Keep reading. cheers!
RedheadedBookloverApril 14, 2017 at 1:28 am
Aww you are so welcome! You have a wonderful blog. Do you have Twitter or Instagram? I just made accounts and would love to follow you!