The 9 Best Bakeries in Budapest

For every handmade sourdough loaf and pillowy chocolate pastry, there are dozens of dreadful alternatives at Budapest's bland bakery chains. But a small group of bakers, many of them recently returned from abroad, are committed to changing the status quo using top ingredients and updated recipes. Be it a local favorite like the cottage cheese-filled túrós batyu or a cardamom bun, you're unlikely to be disappointed by the bakeries below.

Arán, which means "bread" in Old Irish, is a pricey craft bakery in Budapest's hip Jewish Quarter run by Kinga and Attila Pécsi. The couple spent a decade living in Ireland and it was there that Kinga mastered her baking skills. Arán lives up to its moniker: the whole wheat, rye, and white breads are all wonderful, imparting the signature, slightly sour taste of long-fermented sourdough. On Fridays, they also make kalács, a sweet roll similar to a challah.

While bread is the specialty here, some of the pastries are also good, especially the light and moist and sugary cinnamon bun, which is impossible to stop eating (and the first thing they tend to run out of). There's also cruffin, a half-croissant, half-muffin concoction made with a rotating set of stuffings. Unfortunately, Arán makes only international favorites, so don't go looking for Hungarian classics like túrós batyu (cottage-cheese bun) or kakaós csiga (chocolate roll) here.

Specializing in sourdough breads and morning pastries, Artizán is one of the top craft bakeries in Budapest. Under the helm of Gergő Fekete, who honed his skills in countries across Western Europe, in 2015 Artizán has brought a new level of expertise to a city where dreary bakery chains and bland croissants are still the standard.

Artizán serves many kinds of long-fermented sourdough breads, including spelt and barley loaves, but best of all are the kakaós csiga chocolate roll and the cardamom bun, a tender Scandinavian-inspired pastry bursting with red berries and vanilla custard. Being smack in the middle of the financial district, Artizán is usually mobbed by office workers so try to go early for the best selections. Once here, be sure to glimpse at Hungary's most important Art Nouveau masterpiece by Ödön Lechner, located just across the street.

Pékműhely's motto — "all you need for a good bread is excellent flour, water, salt, sourdough, and a pinch of love" — neatly encapsulates the candid spirit of this unassuming Budapest bakery, which has two additional locations apart from this one. Unlike other craft bakeries with on-trend minimalist design, here the focus is purely on the treasures of the oven.

Take the whole wheat bread, for example: the crunchy crust yields to a tender, air pocket-filled interior that impars the unmistakable tang of sourdough. But best of all is the kakaós csiga; I know people who journey from the other side of the city for this tiny but delicious chocolate roll (often spiked with sour cherries).

Vaj, which translates to "butter," is a spacious all-day bakery located a bit outside the city center by Rákóczi tér. The sprawling glass display is crowded with flaky, steaming, and aromatic breakfast pastries, breads, and bagels just come out of the oven. Some people claim that Vaj serves Budapest's best túrós táska, a traditional Hungarian pastry filled with sweet-tart túró. I wouldn't go that far (more stuffing please!), but it's very good, as is pretty much everything else here: the pain au chocolat, the pistachio croissant, the apple and vanilla-topped danish, the plum and pecan-sprinkled roll. The only downside is the prices, which are so high that most locals in Budapest can't afford to come here.

Nor/ma is a hip craft bakery in Budapest serving the usual suspects of contemporary international bakery staples like cardamom buns and filled croissants. And sourdoughs of course: If you glance behind the counter, you can watch as beautifully crusted loaves of rye, oat, and whole wheat breads emerge from the electric oven.

The morning pastries include two local favorites: the túrós batyu, a soft bun stuffed with a generous portion of sweet-tart cottage cheese (túró), and kakaós csiga, a delicious chocolate roll. Nor/ma's moniker is a portmanteau of "Nordic" and "Magyar," inspired by the time the Hungarian owners spent in Copenhagen to study and research Scandinavian breads and pastries. Nor/ma has another location with more seating on the Buda side of the city.

Három Tarka Macska is a fashionable bakery located in the heart of Újlipótváros, a well-off residential area near the Danube. Step inside, and a paradise of aromatic and still-steaming sourdough, whole wheat, and rye breads, brioches, and rolls in all shapes and sizes await you. The two must-try local favorites are the túrós batyu (a sweet-tart cottage cheese-filled laminated pastry) and the kakaós csiga (a snail-shaped chocolate pastry roll).

While mainly a takeout bakery, omelets and freshly made sandwiches are also available for a sit-down meal. The customers are a cross-section of the local residents, comprising snazzy Millennials, families with young children, and moneyed senior citizens with purebred dogs by their sides. Once here, be sure to also roam around this charming neighborhood.

A hipster paradise, Freyja bakery brings a pocket of East Williamsburg to Budapest complete with tattooed bakers, bearded baristas, and minimalist design elements. And, unfortunately, prices too. Freyja specializes in croissants, which are among the best you'll find in Budapest: rich and flaky and buttery. Every three months, they rotate the fillings, but you'll usually find pistachio cream, marzipan, and raspberry jam among the options (some savory stuffings are also available). There's new-wave coffee and enough space to linger.

Opened in 2012, Butter Brothers has been putting out sourdough breads and expertly made croissants for longer than most Budapest bakeries. Today, you can still get a tasty whole wheat loaf or kakaós csiga (chocolate roll) here, but not all pastries stand up to the ambitious new bakeries around town.

You’re mainly here for the rolls — chocolate, cinnamon, walnut. There’s also coffee and half a dozen tables to linger at. Butter Brothers is located on an uneventful side street in Budapest's District 9, which means that customers consist of local residents and students from the nearby Corvinus University.

In 2012, Mihály Juhász decided to leave his cushy corporate job as a lawyer and instead try his hand at baking. This bold move seems to have paid off as Mr. Juhász's tiny craft bakery, Jacques Liszt, hiding on a downtown backstreet, has become a popular destination for bread aficionados in Budapest.

Sourdough loaves of all kinds and sizes take center stage here and there's also ciabatta, baguette, and kalács (rolled bread). Though the morning pastries don't always stand up to the best ones in town, they're still miles ahead of what you'll find at Budapest's bakery chains. Note that the space is tiny and most people take their orders to go.