The 12 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 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 (Nándori, Strudel Hugó, Sommer) that better convey a sense of place and aren't usually so crowded.

#1 Café Gerbeaud

Gerbeaud is a historic pastry shop and café in Budapest's downtown inside a gleaming white building lavishly decorated with crystal chandeliers, marble-topped tables, and cherrywood paneling. 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. Café Gerbeaud has always been known as a see-and-be-seen hangout for Budapest's upper crust. Even when it was nationalized during the communist era it maintained an air of splendor.

#2 Auguszt Buda (Fény utca)

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: seventy-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, 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.

#3 Central Cafe

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.

#4 Nándori Cukrászda

If you feel that downtown’s pastry shops offer a slightly touristy experience and prefer to go 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.

#5 Ruszwurm Confectionery

Perched atop Budapest’s Castle Hill, Ruszwurm is the oldest existing pastry shop in the city. Since its opening in 1827, the place has attracted an enviable cast of customers, most notably Empress Sissi, wife of Habsburg Emperor Franz Joseph (Ruszwurm was nationalized during the communist era but continued to operate as a confectionery). You’re here for the historic air, the adorable — and landmark-protected — cherry wood furnishings, and most of all 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. Prices are surprisingly reasonable for the area.

#6 Desszert.Neked

In addition to the longstanding pastry shops, there's an increasing number of new-wave confectioneries across Budapest. One of the pioneers is Desszert.Neked, ocuppying a spacious, distinctly modern space on a quite backstreet near downtown. Here too, you'll find many of the classics — Dobos torte, Rákóczi túrós, isler — but they feature small twists and updates and beautiful craftsmanship. I can also recommend "Royal," a layered cake packing an intensely chocolatey flavor, and Mademoiselle, which is a white-chocolate mousse laced with raspberry jam.

#7 Auguszt Downtown (Kossuth Lajos Str.)

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.

#8 Strudel Hugó

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 onebroccoli, bacon, and cream cheese version.

#9 Strudel House

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.

#10 Szamos Gourmet House

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 Budapest‘s downtown, inside an elegant, high-ceilinged space. 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.

To remain unbiased, I visit all places incognito and pay for my own meals and drinks. But this also means I must rely on readers to support my work. If you're enjoying this article, please consider making a donation.

#11 Sommer Cukrászda (Szív utca)

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.

#12 Fischer Cukrászda

Around since 1973, Fischer is one of the oldest pastry shops in Budapest. Not much has changed inside this tiny standing-only space over the last century, which is part of its charm. Owner Aurél Fischer, now well into his eighties, still mans the counter on most days. As you can imagine, the selections include many of the Hungarian classics, though not all of them are made equally well; local regulars would tell you to go for the fresh and crumbly pies — red currant jelly! — and the ice creams in the summer. For the full experience, also order a shot of espresso with a dollop of whipped cream on top. Once here, use this guide to discover the neighborhood. Note that Fischer is closed on Wednesdays and Thursdays.

Rankings are based on a combination of food/drink, atmosphere, service, and price. To remain unbiased, I visit all places incognito and pay for my own meals and drinks. But this also means I must rely on readers to support my work. If you've enjoyed this article, please consider making a donation.