Writers, painters, philosophers and poets have gathered for centuries around coffee-house tables in lively conversations, sampling desserts, drinking strong espressos. There were more than 400 coffeehouses in Budapest at the turn of the 20th century and some of the best are still in business.
Today's coffee-houses, after an admittedly shaky period following World War Two, are now as vital and vibrant as they have ever been. The choice of pastries is always impressive and any type of coffee you choose will be satisfying, especially after a day of sightseeing.
No matter which café you settle into, remember that taking your time is what it's all about.
Café Gerbeaud is one of the oldest cafes in Europe has extraordinary history, special atmosphere, world-class pastries.
Another must on the café trail is the elegant Café Művész whose location opposite the Opera House lends it a certain charged atmosphere. Pick a spot inside, where marble table tops and crystal chandeliers exude an old-world grandeur, or claim your seat on the terrace for prime people-watching.
Budapest's oldest café is the Ruszwurm in the Castle Hill district of Buda. This Biedermayer gem sports the same cherry-wood panelling and quality service as it did when it first opened in 1824. And you can still indulge in the same high-quality treats. The Ruszwurm's confectionery is so fabulous that couriers were once sent from Vienna to fetch desserts from here.
Café Central was originally also popular with writers for purely practical reasons: it offered a warm refuge from the cold rented rooms they could scarcely afford - and paper and ink were gratis. However, today you are more likely to rub shoulders with fellow tourists rather than struggling scribes.
Built by an insurance company as a company hall, the New York Café on the ground floor of the Boscolo Hotel in Budapest was a longtime centre for Hungarian literature and poetry, almost from its opening on October 23, 1894 to its closure in 2001. The café was reopened on May 5, 2006 in its original Italian renaissance and baroque pomp and serves a wide selection of coffees (of course) and famous Hungarian pastries.
After a lengthy remodelling, Lukács Cukrászda is now a faithful reproduction of a vintage coffeehouse. Located in the World Heritage area of Andrássy Boulevard, it is just a few minutes' walk from Oktogon, and not far away from the House of Terror.
This cafe is a place always bustling with people, anytime of the day. Once used as a setting in the Steven Spielberg movie Munich, it has seating options indoors or outside on the pavement, where you are promptly accommodated by the black-tied wait staff. Inside, the chalkboard announces the specials for the day. It also provides a great breakfast option for those who are tired of the hotels’ buffet with home baked bread and several types of omelette.
Located in Ráday street and at Jókai Square (both on the Pest side) the place offers an amazing selection of teas, peaceful atmosphere and helpful staff.