Café Culture in Budapest

4 comments Posted by: Roberta Gyori

Legendary grand cafés of Budapest

Hungarians like to start their day with coffee, usually a super strong espresso, followed by more throughout the day. Coffee-to-go and American-style drip coffee are not very popular and traditional coffee houses are still preferred over chains. Even the many Mc Cafés along with Starbucks – yes, Starbucks has now stores in Budapest – try to adapt to the local coffee drinking traditions by serving their drinks in china cups.

Cafés (kávéház) have a long tradition in Budapest. The coffee culture began as early as the 16th century during the Turkish occupation and it flourished during the Austro-Hungarian Empire in the 19th century, when there were over 400 coffee houses in the city. Ever since, Budapest has always had many cafés where people sit and chat. Some of the coffee houses are famous for their history, while others used to be the center of intellectual life. In recent years many of the grand cafés were restored to their original splendor keeping the coffee culture very much alive. So, in a milieu like this, why would anybody want coffee-to-go in a paper cup?

Café Culture in Budapest

Café Gerbeaud

Gerbeaud - The legendary Gerbeaud, in the heart of Budapest, is one of the largest and most traditional cafés in the city. The café was established in 1858 and was expanded by its late owner, Emile Gerbeaud, a Swiss confectioner. He bought the store in 1884 and his invention, sour cherry, matured in cognac and covered with dark chocolate, or ‘konyakos meggy’ is definitely something to try and is one of the reasons behind Gerbeaud’s rise to fame.

Central Kávéház - One of the oldest Vienna-style cafés in Budapest is the Central Kávéház, which opened its doors in 1887. Journalists, writers, actors, artists, musicians and university professors frequented the place, as it was open late. Many famous Hungarian artists became regulars here. After undergoing renovations Centrál reopened in 2000, keeping its original, elegant appearance, so customers today can get a feel for what a coffee house used to look like in the Austro-Hungarian Empire.

Café Culture in Budapest

The famous New York Café

New York Kávéház - In the beginning of the 20th century the New York was the most beautiful café in the city. Located on the ground floor of the New York Palace this was a popular spot among writers and editors. Virtually all intellectuals of the era were either regulars here or dropped by from time to time to catch up on the latest news and gossip. Many authors wrote and sometimes even sold their books here and some of the most influential newspapers were edited on the second floor. Today the New York Palace, built between 1891 and 1894, gives home to the New York Palace Boscolo Hotel. With the opening of the hotel in 2006, the New York Café also reopened and while it caters to a different audience the atmosphere is lively again, thanks to the many tourists.

Café Culture in Budapest

Hadik Coffee House

Hadik Kávéház - Hadik is also one of the old traditional coffee houses of the city, which has become popular once again. Established in 1911 and once popular with writers and journalists, Hadik was recently restored to its original splendor. If you are planning a visit to the famous Gellért Baths be sure to head over to Hadik for a coffee and some delicious pastries.

Café Culture in Budapest

Ruszwurm on Castle Hill

Ruszwurm - Ruszwurm, a cozy little café on Castle Hill is also one of the oldest pastry shops in the city. It opened in 1827 and despite its size it still offers a great experience, especially now since it’s owned and operated by the Szamos family, a famous confectionery dynasty. They make delicious cakes and ice creams.

The coffee culture in Budapest is definitely something to experience in the traditional way. There are many more coffee houses to visit, like Auguszt, Művész, Callas, Lukács, Európa, Anna, and the list goes on. And, finally here is one more reason to try out one of the places mentioned above: cafés in Budapest serve more than just coffee, they also carry delicious cakes and pastries.

True coffee aficionados should also check out or post on Budapest's best independent coffee shops.

You are reading: Café Culture in Budapest
Posted in: Budapest Blog & Articles  Category: Arts & Culture, Wine & Cuisine

tags: food pastry shop

  1. Tom Smith opines:

    Good morning Roberta,

    I can not thank you enough for providing all of this great information about Budapest-this is awesome stuff!!

    My wife, a good friend of mine and me are heading to Budapest for several days in June and we are anxious to see this beautiful city. My wife’s family is Hungarian and she wants to research their genealogy for a possible book. Do you have any suggestions for contacts for her? Any information is greatly appreciated! Thanks, again grin

  2. Roberta Gyori responds:

    @Tom Smith - Thanks for your kind note, I’m glad you like the site. A good place to start is the National Archives at They do family research and their website is available in English & German. You can start your research online and/or visit the archives in person when you are in Budapest. Hope this helps and enjoy your trip!

  3. Johannes von und zu Gellert opines:

    Thank you very much for these informations about the Coffe-cultur in Budapest. I have to prepare a presentation about this topic, so its a big help for me. By the way im at the moment in Budapest with my profile-group and tomorrow we are going to visit the New York Coffehouse. Have a nice day.

  4. Botond999 opines:

    One of the oldest confectioners is Auguszt. There are three shops, one in the downtown, near Astoria metro station. I loved the atmosphere. There was a quartett playing beautiful music, when we were there, and I had an excellent Dobos cake!

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