The 11 Best Pastry Shops in Budapest

Walk around anywhere in Budapest, and before long you'll stumble into a pastry shop (cukrászda in Hungarian). Hungary still has a noticeably vibrant pastry culture that harkens back to the Austro Hungarian Empire where people often 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 packed.

#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 communism, 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 Cafe 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 engineered experience and prefer to go someplace that locals also frequent, head to Nándori Cukrászda. This highly 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.

#5 Ruszwurm Confectionery

If you’re exploring Budapest’s historic Castle Hill, don't skip Ruszwurm, 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.

#6 Auguszt Downtown (Kossuth Lajos Str.)

Auguszt is a renowned family-owned confectionery in Budapest dating back to 1870 and currently helmed by the fourth generation. Although their Buda location is considered to be the crown jewel, this one, along 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 cute nooks and crannies upstairs.

#7 Desszert.Neked

In addition to the city's 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 often shockingly beautiful craftsmanship.

#8 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.

#9 Strudel Hugó

If the endless throngs 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. Strudel Hugó, which is located on the far end of the Jewish Quarter and whose moniker pays hommage to modernist Hungarian painter Hugó Scheiber, quickly established itself as a favorite haunt of strudel fans when it opened in 2017.

#10 Szamos Gourmet House

Szamos is a renowned family-owned pastry shop operating more than a dozen locations across Budapest. This one, on Vörösmarty Square, 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.

#11 Sommer Cukrászda (Szív utca)

Sommer is far from the top pastry shops in the city, but if you’re curious to experience an old-school, typical confectionery in Budapest, 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. Prices are wallet friendly — the cakes run less than a couple of euros each.

Rankings are based on a combination of food/drink, atmosphere, service, and price. The author visits all restaurants incognito and pays for his own meals and drinks.