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