Budapest's Terézváros (District 6) Offers More Than Andrássy Avenue

Use this map to find all places mentioned in the article below.

Often called "Budapest's Champs-Élysées," Andrássy Avenue is a 2.3 kilometer (1.4 mile) Unesco World Heritage boulevard, connecting Budapest's city center with Heroes' Square and the City Park. Lined with impressive Renaissance Revival buildings, Andrássy is the result of an urban renewal plan of the 1870s. Wealthy Hungarian businessmen, many of them Jewish, commissioned these lavish homes, motivated by a desire for upward mobility and social acceptance by the aristocracy, which also owned property here.

Budapest's Andrássy Avenue seen from above. Photo: terezvaros.hu
Budapest's Andrássy Avenue seen from above. Photo: terezvaros.hu

Named after Gyula Andrássy (1823-1890), Prime Minister of Hungary and later an important Foreign Minister of Austria-Hungary, the avenue's moniker bears witness to Budapest’s tumultuous history: it has been renamed a total of five times over the last century. Leading up to WWII, parts of it were named after Hitler and Mussolini, it went by "Stalin Avenue" and the "People’s Republic Avenue" during the Communist era (1948-1989). Since 1990, it's been back to Andrássy.

To appreciate Andrássy Avenue to the fullest, start out at Erzsébet tér and saunter all the way to Heroes' Square, a thirty-minute stroll. The first section, up to Oktogon, comprises Budapest's high-end shopping area, so it's here that you can quickly shell out a fortune on Gucci coats, Louis Vuitton bags, and handmade Hungarian porcelain. If you're curious about local designer labels, visit Spark Le Monde or Nubu (here, more shopping ideas). You might want to note for later that Budapest's leading cocktail bar, Boutiq, is located in a side street off Andrássy.

The Hungarian State Opera House (1875-1884) is a jewel of Budapest's Andrássy Avenue. Photo: Tas Tóbiás
The Hungarian State Opera House (1875-1884) is a jewel of Budapest's Andrássy Avenue. Photo: Tas Tóbiás

It's impossible to miss the striking Hungarian State Opera. Designed by Miklós Ybl, the building's Revival style brings to mind Venetian renaissance architecture as well as Gottfried Semper's opera house in Dresden. The decorative statues include Franz Liszt, flanking the entrance, as well as other famous composers such as Palestrina and Beethoven on the balustrade up top. Across the Opera stands the less conspicuous but comparably impressive Drechsler Palace, designed by Ödön Lechner, who later became Hungary's pioneering Art Nouveau architect (the building is home to a W Hotel currently). On a quiet street behind the Opera House hides Marlou, one of the city's top and also priciest wine bars.

The outdoor terrace of Café Zsivágó in Budapest's District 6. Photo: Tas Tóbiás
The outdoor terrace of Café Zsivágó in Budapest's District 6. Photo: Tas Tóbiás

Several excellent restaurants and cafés cluster in the side streets of Andrássy near Nagymező utca. Menza puts out top traditional Hungarian fare. If there's a wait, which can be the case, try the fashionable Fleischer around the corner. Ristorante Krizia is an elegant Italian restaurant specializing in delicate northern Italian fare. Two Michelin-starred Stand is also nearby. Zsivágó is a charming café with bourgeois-bohemian vibes, not unlike Kiadó Kocsma on the opposite side of Andrássy. For low-priced Roman style pizza, head to Pizzica.

The grand hall of the Liszt Academy in Budapest. Photo: Tas Tóbiás
The grand hall of the Liszt Academy in Budapest. Photo: Tas Tóbiás

Leading contemporary art galleries also concentrate in this part of Budapest, including Deák Erika, Viltin, and acb. They sell pricey post-war and contemporary pieces by Hungarian artists, but even if you aren't ready to drop thousands of euros, you might enjoy their free exhibitions. In addition, Budapest's two main photography museums are both in District 6 near one another: the Robert Capa Contemporary Photography Center and the Mai Mano House.

The Liszt Academy is known as the center of classical music in Budapest. Apart from its deep concert calendar, the building itself is noteworthy, layered with astonishing Art Nouveau details, especially the grand auditorium. There are weekly guided tours.

If you don't mind a small detour, amble over to the Nyugati Railway Terminal. The building is one of the oldest train stations of Hungary and its glass-and-iron structure was among the first of its kind in Budapest (the building was partly designed by Gustave Eiffel's office). Across the train station is Pinczi, a legendary bastion of meat, best known for its tender roasted sausages and crunchy pork belly cuts.

People standing in line at Pinczi, an iconic Budapest sausage shop across from the Nyugati train station. Photo: Tas Tóbiás
People standing in line at Pinczi, an iconic Budapest sausage shop across from the Nyugati train station. Photo: Tas Tóbiás

Beyond the Grand Boulevard, the side streets of Andrássy look and feel a little different. The unkempt condition of the otherwise beautiful housing stock shows long decades of neglect that started during the Communist period in the 1950s and in many cases lasted to the present day (these buildings are a good approximation of what much of Budapest looked like in the 1990s).

There isn't much commercial activity in these mainly working-class neighborhoods and even the lovely market on Hunyadi tér feels like a journey back in time. An exception: Cube, a cute specialty café by the park. Back on Andrássy, the Ferenc Liszt Museum is a small exhibition inside the apartment where Liszt lived toward the end of his life. It's worth stopping by the University of Fine Arts next door for a glance of its sumptuous lobby.

Across the street from the university is the House of Terror, one of the city's most visited museums. The exhibition showcases the cruelty and sheer ignorance of the Communist regime in Hungary, especially its most extreme early period in the 1950s. Szondi utca, two blocks away, is becoming a mecca for international food: Saigon Bistro, a takeout-style Vietnamese, and Taj Mahal, an elegant Indian restaurant are among the highlights. For cheap drink and good vibes, head to Pótkulcs, an adorably grungy bar with a hidden outdoor terrace.

The outdoor section of Pótkulcs bar in Budapest's District 6. Photo: Tas Tóbiás
The outdoor section of Pótkulcs bar in Budapest's District 6. Photo: Tas Tóbiás

The last section of Andrássy, from Kodály Körönd to Heroes' Square, is dotted with handsome villas. The wealthy families who once lived here are long gone because of the Holocaust and the subsequent Communist regime, both of which persecuted them. Today, many of these buildings serve as embassies. To appreciate the neighborhood's quiet charm and dramatic palazzos, venture out also to Benczúr and Bajza utca. If you're in for an elaborate dining experience right on Andrássy, visit La Perle Noire, whose outdoor terrace is enjoyable during the summer months.

Half-finished statues are lying around in Budapest's Epreskert, a training ground for students of the University of Fine Arts. Photo: Tas Tóbiás
Half-finished statues are lying around in Budapest's Epreskert, a training ground for students of the University of Fine Arts. Photo: Tas Tóbiás

On the other side of Andrássy hides the strange and wonderful Epreskert, an exotic artists' colony from the 19th century. Today it's a training ground for students of the Hungarian University of Fine Arts as evidenced by half-finished statues scattered around its lawn (Epreskert isn't open to the public, but you can see much of it from outside).

Heroes' Square consists of two sets of colonnades enclosing statues of Hungary's historic figures. In the center, Archangel Gabriel tops the triumphal column, whose lower part is crowded by Hungarian chieftains cast in bronze. Photo: Tas Tóbiás
Heroes' Square consists of two sets of colonnades enclosing statues of Hungary's historic figures. In the center, Archangel Gabriel tops the triumphal column, whose lower part is crowded by Hungarian chieftains cast in bronze. Photo: Tas Tóbiás

Andrássy Avenue terminates at Heroes' Square, a famous plaza packed with monuments. Around the central triumphal column stand the equestrian statues of the seven chieftains who led the Hungarians tribes into the Carpathian Basin in the 9th century CE. Two important museums flank Heroes' Square: the Museum of Fine Arts, the greatest picture gallery in Hungary with a renowned collection old masters paintings, and the Műcsarnok (Kunsthalle), known for its temporary exhibitions.

The recently completed Museum of Ethnography is located in Budapest's City Park and features a dramatic roof garden. Photo: Tas Tóbiás
The recently completed Museum of Ethnography is located in Budapest's City Park and features a dramatic roof garden. Photo: Tas Tóbiás

Behind Heroes' Square lies Budapest's City Park, home to the Széchenyi Baths, the fairy-tale like Vajdahunyad Castle, and two recently completed architecture treasures: the House of Music, designed by Japanese starchitect Sou Fujimoto, and the swooping Museum of Ethnography by Marcel Ferencz. Both with an excellent permanent collection. If you're low on energy, take the charming, century-old Millennium Underground Railway / M1 back to downtown.

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