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

The grand Andrássy Avenue anchors Budapest's Terézváros, but the less-traveled side streets are also worth visiting for an immersive neighborhood experience.

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

Often called the "Champs-Élysées of Budapest," Andrássy Avenue is a 2.3 kilometer (1.4 mile) Unesco World Heritage boulevard, connecting Budapest's city center with its City Park. Lined with impressive Renaissance Revival buildings, the area is the result of an urban renewal plan from 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 Hungarian aristocracy, which also owned property here.

Andrássy Avenue is lined with trees and a consistent revival architecture.

Andrássy Avenue's moniker bears witness to Budapest’s tumultuous history: it has been renamed a total of five times over the last century. In fact, leading up to WWII, parts of it were named after Hitler and Mussolini, and it went by "Stalin Avenue," and later the "People’s Republic Avenue" during the communist era. Since 1990, it's back to Andrássy, named after Gyula Andrássy, a Prime Minister of Hungary who later became the Foreign Minister of the Austro-Hungarian Empire.

To appreciate Andrássy Avenue to the fullest, start your trip at Erzsébet tér and saunter all the way down to Heroes' Square, a light, 30-minute stroll. The first section of Andrássy, up to Oktogon, comprises Budapest's high-end shopping area, meaning that 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 the Berlin Store and NUBU, or walk a block over to Paulay Ede Street and dropy by The Garden Studio and Je Suis Belle (see here for more shopping ideas). Note that Budapest's leading cocktail bar, Boutiq, is also in Paulay Ede Street.

The Hungarian State Opera House on Andrássy Avenue. Photo: Wikipedia

Back on Andrássy, it's impossible to miss the ornate building of the Hungarian State Opera, decorated with statues of famous composers. Across from it is the less conspicuous but comparably impressive Drechsler Palace, designed by Hungary's pioneering architect, Ödön Lechner (the building is slated to become a W Hotel soon). Hajós utca is a quiet pedestrian street behind the Opera House and best-known for its excellent gyro takeout joint, Gyros Kerkyra.

The outdoor terrace of Café Zsivágó in Budapest's District 6.

Several great restaurants and cafés cluster around Nagymező utca. Menza puts out some of the best traditional Hungarian dishes in the city. If there's a wait, which can be the case, try Két Szerecsen a couple of blocks down. Ristorante Krizia, tucked away on a side street off Andrássy, is an elegant Italian restaurant specializing in delicate northern Italian fare. Michelin-starred Stand is also nearby. Zsivágó is a cute café with bourgeois-bohemian vibes, not unlike Kiadó Kocsma on the opposite side of Andrássy.

Several leading contemporary art galleries are tucked away in the side streets of Andrássy, including acb, Deák Erika, and Viltin. These galleries sell expensive modern pieces by Hungary's top artists, but even if you aren't ready to drop thousands of euros you might enjoy their temporary exhibits which can be visited for free. Also, Budapest's two main photography museums are both in District 6 near each another: the Robert Capa Contemporary Photography Center and the Mai Mano House. If you're near Liszt Ferenc Square, be sure to catch a glimpse of the immense, art-deco inspired Academy of Music (or peruse their event calendar).

Beyond the Grand Boulevard, the side streets of Andrássy, on both sides, 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 era in the 1950s and in many cases has lasted to the present day (these buildings are a good approximation of what much of Budapest looked like in the 1990s).

A fruit and vegetable vendor at the Hunyadi Market.

There's little commercial activity in these mainly working-class neighborhoods and even the main market, Hunyadi, feels like a journey back in time. An exception to this is Cube, a cute specialty café by the park. It's worth quickly stopping by the University of Fine Arts to appreciate the frescoes of its sumptuous yet disintegrating lobby. Next door is the Franz Liszt Museum, a small exhibit inside the apartment where the composer once lived.

Across the street from the university is the House of Terror, one of the city's most visited museums. The exhibit showcases the savagery and ignorance of the Nazi, and especially the ensuing communist regimes in Hungary. Szondi Street, two long blocks away, is becoming a mecca for international food: Saigon Bistro, a takeout-style Vietnamese, and Taj Mahal, an elegant Indian restaurant are the two highlights. If you'd like a drink, try Pótkulcs, an adorably grungy bar with a hidden outdoor terrace. Also near here is Brody Studios, a hip, members-only private club popular among Budapest's expat community.

The outdoor tables at Pótkulcs bar in Budapest's District 6.

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-clad facade and slender frames are worth seeing (the building was partly designed by Gustave Eiffel's office; yes, that Eiffel). Across the train station is Pinczi, a legendary bastion of meat, best known for its tender roasted pork belly.

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The last section of Andrássy, from Kodály Körönd to Heroes' Square, is dotted with handsome villas. The families who once lived here and their descendents are long gone thanks to the Holocaust and the subsequent communist regime. 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 Streets. If you're in for an elaborate dining experience right on Andrássy, visit La Perle Noire, whose outdoor terrace is especially enjoyable during the summer months.

Half-finished statues lying around Epreskert.

On the other side of Andrássy hides the weirdly 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).

Andrássy Avenue terminates at Heroes' Square, a famous plaza packed with monuments. Around the central obelisk stand the equestrian statues of the seven chieftains who led the Hungarians tribes to the Carpathian Basin in the 9th century CE. Two important museums flank Heroes' Square: the Museum of Fine Arts, the biggest in Hungary and with a renowned collection of Italian Renaissance paintings, and Műcsarnok (Kunsthalle), known for its excellent temporary exhibits.

The monuments on Budapest's Heroes' Square.

Behind Heroes' Square lies Budapest's City Park, home to the Széchenyi Baths and the Vajdahunyad Castle. But since this is no longer Terézváros territory, you can read more about those and other points of interests in the Zugló neighborhood guide. If you're low on energy, instead of walking, take the charming, century-old Millennium Underground Railway / M1 back to downtown.

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