District 8 is an up-and-coming neighborhood in Budapest. It’s the neighborhood that tourists were advised to stay away from for many years. Neglected throughout the communist era, densely populated parts of District 8, with a high proportion of Roma families, became some of the poorest areas in Budapest. Poverty brought along high crime rates and District 8's bad reputation. Bullet holes from World War II and the revolution in 1956 are still visible on buildings yet to be renovated. Today, District 8 is a district of diversity, art, music and architecture, full of hidden gems.
The core of District 8 is the Palace Neighborhood, where aristocratic families of the Austro-Hungarian Empire built more than 30 palaces and mansions between 1867 and World War I. Families like the Zichys and the Károlyis commissioned as many as four residences. Most of these grandiose palaces have been restored to their former glory and today they are home to institutions, universities, libraries and hotels. The best way to discover District 8 is to take a walking tour starting at the National Museum and exploring the surrounding areas, as most of the buildings located here are former palaces. Good examples are the Hungarian Radio (the former Eszterházy Palace, at Pollack Mihály tér 4), the Italian Cultural Institute (the former parliament building, at Bródy Sándor utca 8), the German-Language University (the former Festetics palace, at Pollack Mihály tér 3) and the Hotel Palazzo Zichy (the former residence of an aristocrat, at Lőrinc Pap tér 2).
One of the district's most charming squares is Mikszáth tér, with some outdoor restaurants and cafés ideal for lunch, dinner or laid-back cocktails.
To discover more hidden gems and learn about the history of District 8 we recommend a guided tour. Budapest Beyond Sightseeing specializes in unique guided tours of District 8. They also offer 'Socio-cultural' tours, which give an insight into the district's diversity through face-to-face meetings with locals, including Roma families.
Getting to District 8: District 8, also called Józsefváros, is located in Pest close to the city center, bordered by Múzeum körút, Rákóczi út and Üllői út. Grand Boulevard also runs through District 8.