After engaging Insight Cities for unforgettable tours in Vienna and Prague, we ended our trip with 2 more from the company. After 5 tours, we can easily recommend this company. The guides are superb. Hope to see them in more cities in the future.
Café Wandering: An Excursion through Budapest’s Belle Epoque
Cosmopolitan Café Culture & Budapest’s Artistic Elites
Café Gerbeaud, Central Café, Museum Café, Urania Café, New York Café, Muvesz Café
Exploring the dazzling interiors and famous confections of Budapest’s legendary coffee houses, you might think you’ve stepped back in time to Hungary’s Belle Epoque. This 3-hour tour of Budapest’s café scene explores Hungary’s traditional cakes alongside Budapest’s artists and cultural icons from the late-19th and early-20th centuries. Experience the ambiance of the decadent Fin de siècle when Budapest was on the rise as the newly-created second capital of the dual Austro-Hungarian Empire, a time when some of the most remarkable pieces of Hungarian modern literature were penned in the very cafés we will visit.
Begin in the heart of the city at Vörösmarty tér (or Vorosmarty Square), with the 100-year-old, exquisite Café Gerbeaud, offering us an authentic insight into Imperial Budapest and its legendary traditional cakes.
Stroll along the Danube to the Central Café, a dignified space that epitomizes the café culture, and enjoy your first traditional cake and coffee, while hearing tales of the Central’s famous artistic patrons.
Experience the Museum Café, in operation since 1885, whose guest book has become a historical document showcasing the distinguished names of their prominent clientele.
Walk to the Urania Café, which houses the oldest Film Theater in the city and is famous for lectures given by intellectuals before large audiences of Budapest cosmopolitans.
See the elegant New York Café and discover for yourself why it is considered one of the most beautiful cafés in the world.
Finish with traditional cakes and coffee at the Muvesz Café near the Opera House, where we may just catch a glimpse of the city’s celebrity actors on their rehearsal breaks from the nearby Budapest Broadway.
Private tours – $270 USD (1-10 persons)
*your guide all to yourself
Small groups – $75 USD per persons
*still intimate with 8 persons or less
Private tours daily at 10 AM and 2 PM
- Monday 2 PM
- Tuesday 2 PM
- Thursday 10 AM
- Saturday 2 PM
Private tours include a pick-up at your central hotel or flat
Small groups: Café Gerbeaud, Vörösmarty tér 7-8, 1051, Budapest
Year-round except December 24, 25 and January 1
Private tours: 1-10 persons
Groups of over 10 should contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org in order to get a special rate for their party.
Small groups: 2-8 persons
As this is a walking tour, please contact us if you have any mobility issues or concerns
Your coffees and traditional Hungarian confections are purchased independently. However, your guide helps you to select and discover authentic cakes and Budapest café specialties.
What to bring
- Comfortable walking shoes
- Cash or credit card for your café treats
About your guide
Read about our Budapest guides
For cancellations 48 hours prior to your scheduled tour, Insight Cities offers a full refund. We cannot refund cancellations within 48 hours of a scheduled tour as we need to pay our guide.
Overview of Your Tour
Sitting in one of Budapest’s many café houses, sipping on coffee and tasting a delicious cake or pogácsa is a journey back to the Belle Epoque age of Hungary when Budapest was flourishing as a newly-created European capital, full of ambition and creativity.
This tour is a celebration of masterpieces of Hungarian architecture as well as poets, artists, and writers who forged the most remarkable pieces of Hungarian literature during the second half of the 19th century until the first half of the 20th century, many of them habitués of the cafés we visit.
Unfortunately, during the Communist regime, cafés were closed, altered or even ruined in order to prevent people from gathering and sharing anti-regime sentiment. This censorship, in turn, destroyed a whole urbane Budapest culture of social gathering, spiritual and culinary refreshment, and the lively exchange of views. Thankfully, we can see several original cafés in the city, alongside ones that were modeled after them in the past century which still offer us a rich impression of Budapest’s café esprit.
Our 3-hour Budapest Cafe tour starts at Vörösmarty tér (or Vorosmarty Square), in the heart of the city. Our first café quickly gives us a deeper insight into the ambience of Imperial Budapest. The Gerbeaud, with its exquisite interior and more than 100 years of history, served as a central social hub for both tourists and locals during the late 19th century.
From Café Gerbeaud, we stroll along the Danube to the Central Café, a space so dignified that it epitomizes what café culture really meant during the 19th century pinnacle of the Habsburg Empire’s economic and cultural power. The scenery, the delicate decor, the delicious meals, delightful desserts, and refreshing drinks give us a full taste of the atmosphere of a bygone culture’s social rituals.
Next, we’re off to the Museum Café, in operation since 1885. Prominent clientele were regularly entered in the guest book, now a historical document, including the names of many Members of Parliament, distinguished writers, and famous Hungarian actors. The lavish walls are covered in tiles from the world-famous Zsolnay porcelain works. The grand 19th-century Venetian mirror is another unique feature.
After another short walk, we come to the Urania Café on Rakoczi street, which houses the oldest Film Theatre in the city. It is famous for lectures given by major intellectuals before large audiences of Budapest cosmopolitans.
From here we will walk towards Blaha Lujza tér to reach our next site, the elegant New York Café, one of the most beautiful café houses in the world. We end our walking tour sitting down for a coffee and cake in the Muvesz Café on Andrassy Avenue, near the Opera House. We might even catch a glimpse of the city’s celebrity actors and actresses, who regularly patronize the venue during their rehearsal breaks from the nearby Budapest Broadway.
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See What Our Guests are Saying
Despite the rather damp and coolish weather, we had a very good walking tour and overview of the downtown area. Henke is a good communicator. He accompanied the other 2 people on our tour back to their hotel using the tram – nice man and good tour. I feel I learned a lot about the city, and some of the recent history of Hungary, in a few hours. Very informative tour.
The best way to see and get immersed in the culture and history of this city is with a local historical guide that lives here.