Photo: © Cafe Gerbeaud
Can you imagine a better way to while away the time than enjoying a hot cup of rich, dark coffee and a temptingly delicious pastry? Perhaps the only way to step it up a notch is to do so in one of the grand cafes in Budapest.
Known as kávéházak to the locals, these coffee houses are living proof of the glamour of the past; their old world pastries, decadent décor, and artistic reputations offering patrons a myriad of delicious treats. Whether you opt for the glamour of the Ruszwurm or the boho charm of Művész Kávéház you’re never too far away from a café in Budapest offering steaming cup of java in the snowy wintry months.
1. Café Gerbaud
With gilded stucco walls, crystal chandeliers and marble-topped counters and floors, café and patisserie Café Gerbeaud is hardly Starbucks. Opening its doors back in 1858, this iconic coffee shop is one of the oldest cafés in Budapest. Sit back and take in the glamour of days gone by with a glass of Hungarian sparkling wine, and of course a cream-filled delicacy, just like a member of the Hapsburg monarchy.
A stone’s throw from the Buda Castle, the charming Ruswurm makes up in confectionary what it lacks in space. Established in 1827, this café boasts carved wood interiors and a large golden chandelier, giving the restricted space the aura of a grand living room. Make sure to sample the Dobos Torte – a Hungarian multi-layered caramel sponge cake – you can thank us later.
3. Centrál Kávéház
Grand cafes in Budapest tend to give a lot of importance to the year in which they were established, and the old world Centrál Kávéház is of course no exception. Proudly founded in 1887, this kávéházak is surely amongst one of the Capital’s most popular. Its high ceilings and lavish interiors transport you back to a golden era, with the added perk of complimentary newspapers right by the door.
4. Callas Café
Not every café in Budapest requires a century-long heritage, and Callas Café is definitely a great example of this. Designed by famous interior designer and architect David Collins, this café definitely blends in well with its older counterparts. Expect Art Deco chandeliers, patterned marble flooring and towering gilded archways, which are almost as impressive as the Szatmári plum cake.
5. Művész Kávéház
The name literally translates to ‘Artist Coffeehouse’ and this simply adds an additional dimension to this widely popular bohemian café. Opening its doors back in 1989 just steps away form the Hungarian State Opera House, this café has served coffee to a number of artists in the past, however today its main clientele would include hungry operagoers drawn to the vast assortment of cakes and pastries.
6. Hadik Kávéház
Being temporarily shut down for a number of years after World War II, the Hadik Kávéház has since been restored and opened to the public once again. This café is known to be a hive for the city’s artists and intellectuals, which probably explains the large number of murals and creative tête-à-têtes that regularly take place. We invite you to admire its grand past while enjoying one of their delicious custard pastries.
7. Auguszt Cukrászda
More often described as a patisserie than a café in itself, the Auguszt Cukrászda is an old world icon that first opened its doors back in 1870. If you’re wondering what to do in Budapest, browsing through the dessert menu would be a good start. Of course, the cosy yet regal surroundings do help, as will the Esterházy cake, a traditional Hungarian walnut cake with vanilla cream.
8. Alexandra Book Café
Where better to house a café than in the heart of a bookshop? After all, if you’re hiding away from the cold, there’s nothing better than a hot coffee and a good book. Nevertheless, keeping focus on the printed pages may prove tricky. Alexandra’s Book Café’s soaring, fresco-covered ceilings tend to prove a pleasant distraction.
9. Múzeum Café and Restaurant
With globe lights, impressive chandeliers, stuccoed ceilings, and large antique cabinets packed with quirky trinkets, the Múzeum Café and Restaurant is located beside the Hungarian National Museum and has been serving coffee and cake since 1885. We suggest you venture beyond sweets in this particular café, their savoury menu is equally enticing.