Desserts are always served with a strong espresso, so it goes without saying there’s a vibrant café scene in Budapest. The most famous café and confectionary is the centrally located Gerbeaud (7 Vorosmarty Square), which has been serving up sweets, liqueurs, cakes, tortes and biscuits since 1858.
“If you haven’t been to Gerbeaud, you haven’t been to Budapest,” the locals say. The polished counter is lined with display cabinets of mouth-watering wonders that look almost too good to devour and the elegant decor and atmosphere echoes with a magic and charm of yesteryear that few coffee houses can match.
Pest’s nightlife hub is the Belváros (inner city), in the vicinity of the Deák tér Metro station. But there are plenty of good restaurants within walking distance that are somewhat cheaper.
Budapest is buzzing with bars, cafés and clubs and is one of the cheapest cities in Europe for food & drink. Explore the side streets or head into the ‘burbs if you’re after a really cut-price beer. Be sure to try some Hungarian wine, often excellent and very reasonably priced. Keep an eye out for the ‘ruin bars’ – abandoned residential buildings that have been turned into alernative, eccentric bars dotted all over Budapest. Here are a selection of the best clubs and bars.
Leafy and relaxed outdoor bar Sakkert is on Margit Island, about a 10-minute walk from the Margit Bridge. Sit under the stars and have a beer or two — or some apricot schnapps.
The Hungarian underground music scene is alive here as local bands play from 9pm. The club was built in what was planned to be an underground car park for a museum, but said museum ended up being built in another location. The glass roof of the bar is the glass bottom of a shallow fountain pool in the city square. Check out artists’ exhibits from at this hip joint.
Translated to ‘Simple Garden’ in English, this place was once a condemned block of flats but it was bought and revamped into a lively bar packed with partying local students. It’s well off the beaten track and you can get cheap booze and even cheaper Hungarian food here with a band in the beer garden.
‘Clutch’ in English, the walls of this open-plan bar once housed a mechanic’s garage. Now within its graffiti-covered walls you can drink away under a giant dinosaur-shaped lantern collection.
It’s cheesy and the tourists love it: this bar has aimed to recreate a drinking spot from the country’s Communist era. On the menu is Pizza à la Kremlin and Papa Marx’s Favourite, and the place is adorned with communist flags and wall paintings.
Across the garden path from Sakkert, you can sit under hanging lanterns at Holdudvar Bar. Follow the sound of the pumpin’ stereo.