It has been 8 years since I moved to Budapest, so I decided to write a little summary.
Budapest looks a bit different since I visited this city for the first time, in spring 2009. I would not say it has drastically changed, but for some reasons I do not feel the same underground vibe, which I was so into when I moved here.
I will never forget those tiny dark streets and hidden bars, my first dodgy apartment on Peterdy street, which belonged to some mysterious Chinese guy, never ending taxi rides from Városliget to Blaha Lujza tér and its amazing prices (back then 600 huf for such distance). My first dubstep party in legendary Corvin Tető, which I ended up the same night I arrived to Budapest and of course Vittula – my second home for a very long time, and where my electronic adventure begun.
It was not easy to find a decent place to live in Budapest without speaking Hungarian. My first apartment was not that far from gypsy ghetto, but safe enough to come back home on foot. All I could witness at the house was Buddha statues and other crazy Chinese props. Shared room, never ending parties and no privacy – that is what I remember from 2010/mid 2011 – plus old, broken windows in my room (because of that I’ve got pneumonia and I nearly died, since in hospital doctors confused it first with appendicitis and later they gave me antibiotics for cystitis).
My second apartment was located on Dohány utca, which was one of my favorite streets. Spacious place shared with really cool people, amazing Indian food served almost each night and constant parties in nearby Vittula, remained me how happy I was that time. The street itself was really freaky with a mix of rich, poor, gypsies, prostitutes, students and tourists. You could literally find all sorts of characters, there. Worth to mention a deathless 24/7 Akácfa Söröző, where you could get the cheapest draft beer in the town for 250 huf only (let’s skip the fact the beer was tasteless).
Third apartment. In May 2011 I moved to modern and let’s say luxurious building in district IX (Lenhossék utca), attached to a gypsy ghetto. That was the reality of this district with newly built apartments attached to old buildings occupied by gypsy families. To be very honest with you, I truly disliked this district. Every time when I had to pass through Mester utca, I felt sort of nauseating and stressed. I was living on the ground floor, where theoretically I should have enjoyed my two terraces, but what I actually ‘enjoyed’, was bunch of ants coming to my kitchen.
In mid of 2012 I finally upgraded my living standards and moved to Újlipótváros (which is my hood till today) where I rented a small studio. For the first couple of weeks I slept on the floor, for another several months I slept on air bed, which became flat each morning. My kitchen had maybe 2 m sq. No tables, no wardrobe literally nothing and no proper mirror (which was precisely underlined by each of my friend, who happened to visit me). I was very happy in this place though, maybe because I finally got my peace.
In August 2014 I moved to my own, beautiful apartment in the same hood and the first thing which I bought, was a bloody MIRROR (the very first thing you going to notice entering my apartment).
Buying a property in Budapest is another story – one time I left my lawyer’s office at 2 AM, since we had hard negotiations with the owners of my current house. Another thing is a rental cost. Prices went up so drastically since 2015, that I feel sorry for all those miserable people, who are currently looking for a place to rent. Renting a room went up from 45K HUF to 100K huf in the same location. Nobody really expected that within few years only, Budapest becomes such desirable city. Nowadays, it’s hard to find a building in the city center, where at least one apartment is not Airbnb.
If you are looking for a room or apartment to rent, I suggest you to check various Facebook groups. But be careful, it happens frequently that many places are overprice. I think that sometimes it’s better to put an ad, and specify what are you looking for and what is your budget.
Here are few groups, where you can find something suitable
I have been strolling around the city for nearly decade and sadly, I have to admit I miss my old Budapest. VII district, for a very long time, was the synonym of something super underground, fascinating and mysterious. Unfortunately, it’s not the case anymore. The amount of cheap tourists (mainly drunk British) killed the vibe of this hood. Creepy and cheap bars in each corner, shouting and peeing people almost everywhere and one of the coolest streets: Király and Dob utca (where I spent a lot of time back in 2010) became so crowded that you can hardly walk there. I still have a few, favorite places across the city center, where the atmosphere remained the same.
I think it’s my favorite bar in Budapest. I love to sit at the bar and sip my Jägermeister (yes, I do sip it and one of my friend suggested me to have some collaboration with this brand, since it became my signature drink). Kisüzem is a really interesting place because of live concerts, good food and inspiring crowd. Every Thursday and Sunday you will have different bands playing there live. This place operates as a little gallery as well, where new exhibitions can be seen quite frequently.
Location: Kis Diófa Utca 2.
Located at Madách Imre tér. was the first surfer bar in Budapest. This place also hosts various exhibitions and dj gigs. During summer it is absolutely packed and it is one big gathering spot. Some people claim that this is a hipster joint, others say that there are too many high pitched noses. Honestly I never give a fuck. Until you feel good at some place, you will be simply coming back there. Although Madách Imre tér became a hot spot itself, its still great to hang out there, without being attacked by annoying masses of tourists (those can be spotted few meter ahead in Gozsdu Udvar).
Location: Madách Imre út 8
Definitely one of the coolest spot in the VIII district, with really good food and very relaxing atmosphere. There are many events going on there, including exhibitions or movie screening. I love their garden! Many great plants combined with industrial surrounding. Also it is a perfect place for digital nomads!
credit: We Love Budapest
Location: Horánszky utca 5.
We have been waiting for quite long time to have such a place in Budapest. It’s the largest disable-friendly cultural space in Europe, where you have a cinema, cultural center, and a café with several events. I was watching there a few great documentary movies, including one of my favorite “Raving Iran” – with English subtitles.
Location: Baross utca 1
One of the hottest spot, opened in Budapest. All fans of Mediterranean and Middle Eastern cuisine should check this place! Having Morocco, Algeria, Turkey or Georgia, on your plate, means a feast for your senses! I simply love a combination of real plants and industrial design of this place. You can truly feel this Middle Eastern vibe, especially when your food is served on beautiful dishes.
Location: Dob u. 5.
It’s one of those places where I work, drink and meet my friends. I love the interior of this place, carefully selected old furniture, massive tables and many great decoration give you this homey feeling. If you are a fan of Mediterranean cuisine with some Jewish, Arabic, Turkish side dishes, this place is for you. Go for beetroot mezze, nothing else can beat it in Budapest!
Location: Pozsonyi út 3.
I think it was a love at first sight. Industrial but in a way quirky interiors remind me of one of the many places in Berlin. With its great bar, random chairs and tables plus amazing terrace, you can easily become a serial chiller. Together with my friends, we love to pop up there for cup of coffee, or grill some food on Sunday afternoons.
Location: Szabadság tér 17.
This Danube-bank place, it’s the newest spot in Budapest – far away from tourists and the city noise. Offers movie screenings, concerts, performances, workshops, training and great art festivals. It’s open until the weather permits, which is usually end of September. If you miss parties there, there is another good activity organized by folks from Valyo community – a mobile sauna! They turned a small bus into a sauna, to show that it is possible to use the Danube embankment even in the winter. This 6 person heated sauna is a perfect solution for cold evening, where you wish to stay warm, but still enjoy the company of your friends.
Location: Hajóállomás utca 1.
Even if some parts of the city changed a lot, there is one thing which seems to be constant – BAD CUSTOMER SERVICE. I wrote about this phenomenon several times already, and I kind of lost my hope it will ever improve. Majority Hungarians simply do not give a fuck while doing their jobs. We can argue if this is because of low wages, heavy past, national depression or bad government – it’s not going to solve the problem. Either you enter a store or a random bar, the whatever attitude is mainly the same. I think Hungarian society has been greatly portrayed by amazing Marcus Goldson in his posters and postcards. Especially the one called The Grumpy Crowd which is what you see on the means of public transport every Monday morning.
On the other hand, Hungarians love to chill and favorable weather conditions easily justify it. This leads also to positive changes in Budapest, where pop up parks appear in the city center and new hang outs are established on the Danube bank. Living in this city could be also a good test for all hot blooded people, who need their shit to be done NOW. Word ‘now’ does not really exist here, you need to learn how to be patient. Things take time.
If you are a newcomer or expats who live here several years, I would suggest to explore a bit more VIII district. There is a great tour, organized by Hungarian guy from Budapest Flow which I described here.
Other option is to join street art tour which includes the history of the murals and the artists behind them. Very interesting thing, especially when you hear also little anecdotes about the neighbours (they can be a real pain in the ass).
Finally, there is another relatively new thing in the city – Budapest open mic. This is great event for everyone who would like to show his musical talent (if he actually has any). Together with some of my friends, we think to create a fun club for one of the singer, who we met during one of the open mic events.
I was introduced to Hungarian fashion scene in 2014. During those years, I met a lot of designers and had opportunity to attend various fashion events. I interviewed many people from this industry, as well. What is my opinion about Hungarian fashion? I still need to go to Poland to buy a decent pair of shoes. However, I can recommend you a few of my favorite places where I shop or I think you would be able to find something interesting, there.
If you need good clothes but do not have big budget, this is the place for you. Literally half of my wardrobe (and it is relatively small wardrobe, believe it or not) came from this store. You can get up to 70% discounted clothes (all brand new), including brands such: COS, ONLY, VILA, VERO MODA, the Other Stories or ZARA. If you are lucky, you will find there some unique pair of shoes or leather bags from premium brands.
Location: Teréz körút 47.
Located in one of the old buildings on the buda side, it’s like a little paradise for all vintage lovers. Once you enter this little store, you will be able to find many t-shirts with iconic print, leather and denim jackets, tons of jewellery bags and shoes. Personally, I love their jackets selection and high quality old school t-shirts.
Location: Margit krt. 62. Fszt. 5
You just feel the Scandinavian beat the moment you enter this store. A lot of wooden elements, plants and great designed furniture give you a feeling, that you are in your friend’s living room, not really a shop. PSTR store offers a mix of vintage clothing, like legendary Levi’s boyfriend jeans with completely new items from brand such as: Cheap Monday, Herschel&Supply, Fjallraven, Toms, Urban Classics, Ucon Acrobatics, Vans and many more small, independent labels. I am totally in love with their clothes selection, as what they offer perfectly fit my personal style. I found there also many interesting dresses and great vintage jackets, plus jewelry! Minimalist, gold platted necklaces topped my list!
Location: Dohány utca 16
If you are looking for some trendy pieces, straight from Hungarian designers, this is your place to go. One Fashion Budapest has in its portfolio brands such: Dora Abodi (my favorite fashion designer), Annamaria Pap (great leather bags) or DYAN and their fantastic shoes. You will be able to find also unique jewellery from Karman. Prices are high but you will definitely find some quality pieces.
Location: Ráday utca 9.
There is nothing to write. It’s like a black comedy.
Budapest changed in the past 8 years. Infrastructure is much better, many buildings have been renovated and even district VIII (the bad part) looks quite decent. We can observe something like a “revolution” in the gastronomy scene – places with craft beers, street food, new wave coffee shops spring up like mushrooms. On the other hand, Budapest still has a huge problem with homeless, who can be found in each part of the city center. I don’t see a real improvement regarding this issue, moreover I noticed more and more people with mental distress. Sad to admit it, but Budapest has definitely its dark side as well. Even if Hungarians are not aggressive (which is a big plus) and you feel safe in this city, you can not pretend that problems don’t exist here.
I am not sure how long I am going to stay in Budapest – somehow I feel my journey slowly coming to an end. I still might provide you with some useful tips regarding this city, but my interest started to shift in a bit different direction.