20 Feb Get out of your comfort zone!
With all the vibrant charms that Budapest’s Jewish Quarter and Inner Pest neighbourhoods have to offer, it’s tempting not to leave their confines for the entirety of your trip. It would be sad if you didn’t though because Budapest is a city with many faces – and there are other neighbourhoods that have plenty to see and do for the adventurous traveller.
Bartók Béla Avenue
Located over the river in Buda, across the Liberty Bridge – itself, well worth a walk over – and in the shadow of the famous Liberty Statue, Bartók Béla Avenue has achieved somewhat of a renaissance in recent years, thanks for the new Metro 4 line which has made accessing the area easier.
The street itself could be described as artsy and is lined with cute cafes and exhibition spaces. Some of the street’s youthful energy is thanks to the daily influx of students from the nearby BME University. And, as the street is named after one of Hungary’s most famous musicians, it tends to attract a cult crowd.
Places worth checking out include famous writers the Hadik Café, the Polish-themed Gdansk, Kelet which serves great coffee and daily menus, the inspiring Faur Zsófi Gallery and Veganlove which, as the name suggests, serves vegan food – really delicious burgers to be exact.
Located just past the borders of the downtown, VIII district has been a much-unloved part of Budapest for many years. While it contains some of the most stunning examples of architecture in the city, many of the buildings have been left to decay and there is little in the way of entertainment or attractions for either locals or tourists – or so people think.
Dig a little deeper and you’ll find a thriving art scene and local entrepreneurs taking advantage of the cheaper real estate and the fact that the area is, for now, free from gentrification. The neighbourhood is a great place to spend the day wandering and you’ll find plenty of nice bars, galleries and cafes all worth stopping in.
So must-dos include brunching at the very popular Csiga Cafe, going for a drink and indulging with local activists at Auróra cultural center or Gólya ruin bar, having a stroll or a picnic in János Pál Papa Square park, or stopping for a craft beer or three at the always lively Lumen Cafe.
Not a neighbourhood, but rather a relic of Budapest’s socialist past. You see, after Hungary’s break from the USSR, residents wanted to see no more of the many commemorative statues that the regime had placed all over the city – so they tore them down and dumped them in a field on the outskirts of the city.
After several years, someone saw the tourist and historical appeal the statues held and turned it into a museum called Memento Park Visit today and you’ll find statues of Lenin, Marx, and Engels, as well as several Hungarian Communist leaders. There are also various exhibits explaining what life was like in the era.
Újlipótváros – “New Leopold Town” in English – is the neighbourhood on the Pest bank of the river next to Margit Island. Despite being quite close to Parliament and downtown districts, it’s thankfully managed to avoid the wave of gentrification that has overtaken over parts of the city and offers a good glimpse of what the city used to look like.
Pozsonyi Street is where the action is, lined with cafes, cosy bars and small boutique shops and great examples of art deco architecture. One street over on Hollán Ernő Street you’ll also find the wonderful Madal Cafe, which offers some of the best craft and speciality coffee in the city.
And, while you’re in the area, be sure to check out the little-known, but utterly beautiful synagogue on Hegedűs Gyula street.