Cafés 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.
Coffee culture was thriving in Budapest from around the early 1910’s until the beginning of the 1930’s. In this era the around 500 cafés were scattered around the city. Some of the coffee houses are famous for their history, while others used to be the center of intellectual life. They served as common meeting places of talented writers, poets and artists. Some of them spent most of the day in their favourite place, musing or writing at their regular tables. Ink and paper were free for them and they could eat the “writer’s menu” (bread, cheese and cold cuts) at discount price. Besides artists, ordinary people also sat in for a cup a coffee on Sunday afternoons. Coffee houses were a home to real cultural life.
CAFÉ RUSZWURM – the Oldest Coffee House in Budapest
Address: Szentháromság utca 7., Castle District (near Matthias Church – Szentháromság tér)
This baroque coffee house operates since 1827. The small but cozy place welcomes guests with beautiful and original interior,
delicious cakes and coffee. The pastries were so tasty that Elizabeth, Austrian Empress and Queen of Hungary (1837-1898) sent couriers
to get cakes for her breakfast. The owner of the coffee house was imprisoned after the fall of the 1848/49 Revolution and War of Independence. One of his cell mates, Rudolf Linzer inspired him to make the Linzer biscuit (two slices of shortcake glued together
with apricot jam). The area has many historic sights and attractions in Castle District.
CAFÉ GERBEAUD – A sweet place in the heart of Budapest, pampering sweets-lovers since 1858
Address: Vörösmarty tér 7., 5. district, M1 metro
Standing in the heart of Budapest Gerbeaud is usually filled with tourists no matter what time of the year you come. It is one of the oldest and most famous cafés of Europe operating since the middle of the 19th century . The Gerbeaud represents tradition and style. The café has three separate shops and a terrace at Vörösmarty Square. The main shop opens from the square. Do spare some time to walk through all the rooms and admire the varied decoration!
You’ll see the portrait of Emile Gerbeaud the Swiss pastry chef who bought the place in 1884. He created the famous Hungarian bonbon, konyakosmeggy: sour-cherry soaked in cognac and covered with dark chocolate.
Its flagship is the ‘Gerbeaud cake’: walnut cream and jam filling between layers of sponge covered with chocolate.
NEW YORK CAFÉ -on the ground floor of the New York Palace
Address: Erzsébet körút 9-11., 7. district, M2 metro Blaha Lujza tér station, tram no. 4 or 6
The New York Café was the most elegant and popular at the turn of the 20th century. Writers and poets formed the regular guests. According the story writer Ferenc Molnár wanted the café to stay open day and night so he threw its key into the Danube. Besides writers, actors, journalists, artists people who wanted to enjoy the bustling atmosphere also favoured the New York.
The tables in New York Café witnessed creation of many important pieces of Hungarian literature.
The New York Café together with a luxury hotel reopened in spring 2006 so you can see the place in its original splendour.
CENTRAL CAFÉ – Respecting the traditions and being open to novelty
Address: Károlyi Mihály utca 9 ., 5. district, M3 metro Ferenciek tere station
As the grandest of all historic Budapest coffee houses, the Central was not only a place for drinking coffee and nibbling cakes but a meeting place for writers, poets, editors and artists. The coffee house functioned as a focal point of urban social life where new ideas, notions were discussed and dispersed. Many literary works were inspired and born here at the turn of the 19th-20th and in the first half of the 20th century. The staff of the famous literary periodical, the Nyugat, were regulars here. They worked on the gallery, where the Central’s restaurant section operates today. The Centrál reached its heydays between the two world wars with famous writers Frigyes Karinthy and Lőrinc Szabó among the regular guests. The communists did not tolerated popular and unique places like the Centrál, so they shut the place down. The grim times ended and the Centrál Café was the first classic coffee house that reopened.
Enjoy its excellent coffee specialties, cakes and patisseries!