The 10 Best Pastry Shops in Budapest

Walk around any Budapest neighborhood 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 socialized over luscious cakes. And, frankly, who could blame them for it?

At most of the places below you’ll find traditional Hungarian cakes like Dobos and Esterházy torte and krémes, 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 that better convey a sense of place and aren't so thronged.

#1 Café Gerbeaud

Gerbeaud is a historic pastry shop and café in Budapest anchoring downtown's Váci Street. It was Hungarian-Swiss patissier Emil Gerbeaud, who, after taking over the business in 1884, revolutionized Hungarian confectionery with inventive sweets and pastries. The place quickly became a see-and-be-seen hangout for the city's upper crust. Gerbeaud was nationalized during the communist era but even then it maintained an air of splendor, continuing to draw Budapest's high society, especially elderly ladies.

#2 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, attracting 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 these prominent Hungarian writers, poets, and editors.

#3 Auguszt Downtown (Kossuth Lajos Str.)

Auguszt is a renowned family-owned confectionery in Budapest dating back to 1870 and currently helmed by the fifth generation. Although their Buda location is considered to be the crown jewel, this downtown venue, on Kossuth Lajos Street, is more conveniently located and also more comfortable, featuring plush banquettes, floor-to-ceiling windows, and cute nooks and crannies on the upstairs floor.

#4 Nándori Cukrászda

Do you feel that downtown’s historic pastry shops like Cafe Gerbeaud offer a slightly engineered experience? Would you prefer to go someplace that locals also frequent? Nándori Cukrászda is here to help. This wildly popular neighborhood pastry shop, which is easily reachable from downtown by foot, has been going strong since 1957. You'll find here classic Hungarian cakes, tarts, savory biscuits, marzipan figurines, and more. During the summer, there's also ice cream.

#5 Ruszwurm Confectionery

If you’re exploring Budapest’s Castle Hill, it would be a mistake to skip Ruszwurm, the oldest existing pastry shop in the city. Opened in 1827, the place has attracted an enviable cast of customers over the centuries, most notably Empress Sissi, wife of Habsburg Emperor Franz Joseph. Ruszwurm was nationalized during the communist era but continued to operate as a confectionery; today it’s part of Szamos, a local confectionery dynasty with dozens of locations across Budapest.

#6 Desszert.Neked

In addition to downtown’s pastry shops that offer traditional Hungarian pastries and a travel back in time, 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 while retaining their chief ingredients. All of the cakes are so beautifully crafted that it pained me to bite into these artistic concoctions.

#7 Strudel House

Strudel House is located on a tourist-saturated downtown street, but if you’d like to try the best 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.

#8 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 edge of the Jewish Quarter and whose moniker pays hommage to modernist Hungarian painter Hugó Scheiber, quickly established itself as a favorite haunt for strudel fans when it opened in 2017.

#9 Sommer Cukrászda (Szív utca)

Sommer is far from the top pastry shop 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, Rigó Jancsi, flódni, 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.

#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.

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.