The 11 Best Pastry Shops in Budapest

Walk around anywhere in Budapest, and before long you'll stumble into a pastry shop (cukrászda). Hungary's still vibrant pastry culture harkens back to the Austro Hungarian Empire (1867-1918) where people socialized over luscious cakes and rich tortes. And, frankly, who could blame them for it?

At the places below, you’ll find traditional Hungarian cakes like Dobos and Esterházy, but also featured are a couple of new-wave vendors that traffic in updated takes on the classics. Note that the well-known downtown pastry shops, especially Café Gerbeaud and Ruszwurm, are mobbed by tourists throughout day, so I also included neighborhood favorites (Auguszt, Nándori, Sommer) that better convey a sense of place and aren't usually so crowded.

Gerbeaud is a historic pastry shop and café in Budapest's downtown. It was Swiss-Hungarian patissier Emil Gerbeaud, who, after taking over the business in 1884, revolutionized the Hungarian confectionery industry with inventive sweets and pastries.

Today, still, Gerbeaud puts out some of the best traditional Hungarian and Austro-Hungarian pastries, including Dobos, Esterházy, and Sacher tortes, krémes, and the namesake Gerbeaud cake. You can also try two of their signature treats: konyakmeggy, a brandied sour cherry bonbon enclosed by a chocolate shell, and macskanyelv, a milk chocolate shaped like a cat’s tongue.

The inside is lavishly decorated with crystal chandeliers, marble-topped tables, and cherrywood paneling. Café Gerbeaud has always been known as a see-and-be-seen hangout for Budapest's upper crust; it maintained an air of splendor even in the Communist era (1947-1989), under national ownership and a less Western-sounding name.

While Gerbeaud is mainly a tourist attraction today, I recommend you stop by for the pastries and a glimpse of the city's now-vanished coffeehouse culture. Part of the experience is basking in the historic glow of the space, but note that all to-go orders are half-priced.

Known as the "Gerbeaud of Buda," Auguszt is an upscale pastry shop and a Budapest landmark. The family operation dates back to 1870 and is currently helmed by the fourth generation: 73-year-old József Auguszt, donning a chef's hat, still mans the cashier on most days. Auguszt has been through thick and thin in the past 150 years — during the Communist era (1947-1989), for example, the business was nationalized and the family deported to the Hungarian countryside. In 1957, they were granted a small space from which grew out the current premises.

Auguszt has an unusually wide assortment of pastries and cakes, which means you can try things like an indiáner and rigó jancsi, once Hungarian classics but rarely available these days. Prices are higher than elsewhere, but this is true of the quality, too. The upstairs section is reserved for sit-down clients and features some furnishings of the original location. The Auguszt pastry shop on the Pest side is run separately by another branch of the family.

Central is one of the few remaining coffeehouses dating back to Budapest’s golden era, before WWI. At the time, the city was swarming with cafés like Central that stayed open around the clock and attracted artists who've spent endless caffeine-fueled hours working and socializing under the sky-high ceilings. Today, one of Central's walls is blanketed in framed photos of prominent writers, poets, and editors who were once regulars.

The elegant space complete with mahogany wall paneling and red leather banquettes didn’t escape Budapest’s tragic post-war history, but in 2000, Central was restored to its former glory, preserving an essential slice of the city's cultural history. The place wears many hats these days, being a pricey café, a bar, and a restaurant all at once. Most people come here for breakfast, coffee, or cakes, and also to people-watch from the outdoor tables. Note that the pastries are among the best in Budapest.

If you feel that downtown’s pastry shops offer a slightly touristy experience and prefer someplace that locals also frequent, head to Nándori Cukrászda. This popular neighborhood joint, which is reachable from downtown by foot, has been going strong since 1957. You'll find here classic Hungarian cakes, tarts, savory biscuits, marzipan figurines, and also ice cream in the warmer months. They're remarkably consistent and just a notch below those of Budapest's celebrated hot spots like Gerbeaud and Auguszt.

Most recently, I’ve had an excellent Rákóczi túrós here, and an unexpected find was the light and tasty képviselő fánk, a profiterole-like cream puff with vanilla custard and whipped cream. On Saturdays, it’s not unusual that a line stretches outside the premises. Almost across the street from here is Jedermann Café, a local’s favorite bar that’s also worth a visit.

Perched atop the Castle Hill, Ruszwurm is the oldest existing pastry shop in Budapest. Since its 1827 opening, the place has attracted an enviable cast of customers, most notably Empress Sisi (1837-1898), wife of Habsburg Franz Joseph. Ruszwurm was nationalized during the Communist era (1947-1989), but continued to operate as a confectionery.

You’re here for the historic air, the landmark-protected cherry wood paneling and Biedermeider furnishings, and the krémes, a vanilla custard cake to which all others in Budapest pale in comparison. During the colder months, also order a creamy hot chocolate topped with whipped cream. Being a historic establishment near the tourist-heavy Matthias Church means Ruszwurm is packed with foreigners at all times, but some locals, mainly senior citizens from the neighborhood, also come here.

In addition to Budapest's longstanding pastry shops, there's an increasing number of new-wave confectioneries. One of the pioneers is Desszert.Neked, ocuppying a spacious, distinctly modern space on a quite backstreet near downtown. Behind the glass display is the see-through bakery, where half a dozen bakers scurry around, forming and kneading dough, and putting on frosting. Here too, you'll find many of the classics — Dobos torte, Rákóczi túrós, isler — but they feature small twists, updates, and beautiful craftsmanship. I can also recommend "Royal," a layered cake packing an intensely chocolatey flavor, and the macaroons and chocolate pralines.

Auguszt is a famous family-owned confectionery in Budapest dating back to 1870. Although their Buda location, which is run by a different part of the family, is considered to be the crown jewel, this one, on Kossuth Lajos Street, is more conveniently located for people in Pest. The inside is cozy and comfortable with plush banquettes, floor-to-ceiling windows, and nooks and crannies upstairs.

You’ll find traditional Hungarian cakes and sweets here, including a Dobos and an Esterházy torte, krémes, isler, and marzipan figurines. Fans of modern pastries can gorge on chocolate mousse as well as sugar and lactose-free cakes. Unlike other downtown pastry shops, Auguszt isn't overrun by tourists and attracts a mainly local crowd. Closed on Sunday and Monday.

If the throngs of people filling downtown’s Strudel House put you off, go to Strudel Hugó instead, which gives any strudel shop in Budapest a run for its money. Located on the far end of the Jewish Quarter, Strudel Hugó quickly established itself as a favorite haunt of strudel fans when it opened in 2017 (its moniker pays hommage to modernist Hungarian painter, Hugó Scheiber). There are classic and unconventional strudels here, both sweet and savory. Of the latter, no one should miss the broccoli, bacon, and cream cheese version.

If sweet strudels are more your speed, try one with cottage cheese (túró), chestnut-raspberry, or cherry-chocolate. The strudels run a few euros apiece and two of them make for a satisfying dessert. Note that there are only a few seats inside, but you can take your order to go, as most people do. Closed on the weekends!

Strudel House is located on a tourist-saturated downtown street, but if you’d like to try some of the top strudels in Budapest there’s no escaping fellow visitors. Few people know that strudels evolved from the Turkish baklava, which was introduced in Hungary when the Ottomans ruled the country in the 16-17th centuries. It was from here that these filled phyllo pastries spread to the rest of Central Europe, most notably Austria, where the apple strudel became a national treasure.

At Strudel House, you can watch a dedicated baker freshly prepare the paper-thin strudel dough in an open kitchen right before you. I usually get one with a mixed filling of sweet cottage cheese (túró) and apricots. Unique to Hungary is the savory cabbage strudel, which tastes much better than it sounds. Strudels run a few euros apiece, and a couple of them make for a perfectly satisfying dessert (you can also take some to go, as many locals do).

Szamos is a well-known family-owned pastry shop operating more than a dozen locations across Budapest. This one, on Vörösmarty tér, is right in the heart of downtown, inside an elegant, high-ceilinged space once home to a bank. If you need to take a breather from sightseeing, it’s an ideal stop for coffee and sweets. You’re here for the light and creamy krémes and also the tortes, of which the szatmári plum cake and the Sacher are especially tasty.

But don't skimp on the marzipans — Szamos started as an artisan marzipan producer and there’s an entire counter here dedicated to figurines all of shapes and sizes. (The company even has a marzipan museum in Szentendre, the small town outside Budapest where the family empire hails from.)

Sommer is far from the top pastry shops in Budapest, but if you’re curious to experience a typical old-school confectionery, then head to this decor-deprived neighborhood favorite. The place is located a bit outside the city center but easily reachable by foot. Sommer serves an unusually wide range of dependable classic Hungarian and Jewish-Hungarian pastries, including a Dobos and Esterházy torte, and also less commonly seen treats like a Rákóczi túrós, which is an apricot jam and meringue-topped sweet cottage cheese tart.

There's also strudels, savory biscuits like pogácsa, and sajtos roló, a tube-shaped baked pastry filled with cream cheese. If you go in the winter, try the bejgli, a Christmas roll laced with ground poppy seeds and ground walnuts. Wallet-friendly prices!