Discover Budapest’s 11th District
I may be a little bit biased because I think the 11th district is the best place in the city and not because I just happen to live there. I moved to the 11th district over a year ago now and I wouldn’t even dream of living elsewhere. I love the vibe of the people on the Buda side, the good variety of little cafés and underground bars, a lot of which I am still finding and trying every week. The 11th district is a place you have to walk through, exploring every nook and cranny as you go. I feel like I’m not in the city sometimes with so much green around me, but I am also so connected to the city because pretty much every tram line runs through the main square. I’d say the type of people in this district are very artsy, creative and hipster, with Bartok Bela being the main hub for galleries and funky cafes.
Gellert Hill and the Citadella
The best way to get to the 11th district is to cross Liberty Bridge towards Gellert Hill and hotel. If you’re a keen walker it will take you about 30 minutes to climb the hill and admire the 360 views from the Liberty Statue. I do this walk at least once a week with my yoga mat in hand to the top and across to the Citadella virágos kert. It’s a nice afternoon walk and the sunset is beautiful. If I don’t feel like walking to the top, I go up to the first or second lookout and admire the view from there.
Continuing into Buda, you will most likely find yourself on Bartók Béla avenue named after one of Hungary’s greatest musicians of the 20th century. The vibe of this street is very relaxed and full of creatives. The 11th district is part of the thriving art scene and Bartók Béla avenue promotes local and upcoming artist’s exhibitions in their galleries, The Contemporary Architecture Centre, Godot, and Faur Zsófi Galéria. The Zsófi gallery also have local bands playing nearly every weekend, which are usually quite good!
One of my go-to bars is Palack Wine Bar right on the corner of the street. This place has a very chilled out atmosphere and occasionally has live music and art shows inside. In the summer I love to sit outside looking onto Gellért and the Danube as I sip on the flavours of Hungary through wine. One of my other favourite spots is Spatula cafe, their coffee is good and they always have cute little sayings outside their door.
On one of Like Locals’ footprints, you will find another cafe called Kelet, as a freelancer who walks from home most of the time I love to come to this café and work in the company of others. They don’t mind if you sit at the table with your laptop and they have very good wifi and good food which is a pretty good combo if you ask me.
At night you won’t be able to miss Béla bar and café, it is one of the most popular places to hang out in the district. From what I’ve seen the people that go here are artists and creatives and the decor of the place matches them perfectly. No two chairs are the same and the art inside is very vintage in style, not exactly my favourite style but I do enjoy the vibe and the interesting people that I have met there.
Next to Béla is one of my favourite Yoga Studios, Downdog Jóga. they hold a lot of classes in English and they have such nice instructors. I love going to a morning class and having breakfast or a smoothie in one of the neighbouring cafes.
As you venture into the heart of the 11th district you will find yourself at Móricz Zsigmond Square, which is the main hub. You can get to pretty much anywhere in Budapest from here due to all of the trams and metros that pass through the square. If you keep following Bartók Béla you will find yourself at Feneketlen Lake and if you follow the 47 tram you’ll arrive at Allee mall.
In the middle of the square, there is a roundabout that has three food places which is quite a hub on the weekends. There is Alapozó Bar & food, 4 Street Coffee and Prosit Buda Bistro. These are quite good people-watching spots if that’s something you like to do and the metro and tram stations are right next to these places, so you can sit outside and watch the world go by.
From the square, you can walk to the Shisha spot called Rotana Cafe, which has been one of my favourite places to hang out when it’s cold outside. As soon as you walk through the small doorway and down the stairs you will find yourself in a Turkish tent, the walls and ceiling covered in material and the smoke hanging above your heads. I usually come here with friends to have a chilled night out. Make sure to book in advance if you want to go there on the weekend because they get very busy!
If you’re looking for a quick, cheap, and delicious snack look no further than Baobox! They have dumplings and bao buns for 300ft for three pieces, they also have some yummy sweets to choose from and I am yet to try them all. I usually grab these after I jump off the tram on my way home. Be quick though, they recently announced plans to close down very soon. So get there or you might miss it.
Another hang out spot of mine is Addicted 2 Caffeine, this little cafe has a workbench dedicated to people with laptops who wish to work but the best part is they’re pet friendly, which means I can take my puppy down there for a morning coffee or Banana Matcha Smoothie (my favourite) after a workout at the nearby lake.
Further down the road, you will find the bottomless lake aka the place where locals hang out to drink and chat with their friends on warm summer nights. I tend to work out here quite a bit because it is so pretty and also has a proper running track around the lake and an outdoor gym. There are lots of trees to sit under and have a nice picnic with friends. The park also has a dog run so you can let your puppy run free (in a fenced area) and meet some other local pups!
If you venture down Budafoki út between the university and Bartók Béla, you will find lots of little stores that sell local designer products and they are usually the ones in the store working too (check out my post Local Businesses and Designers in Buda for these stores). My favourite second-hand store Szia Plus is also on this street where you’re sure to have fun thrifting.
The university building looms over you as you walk down this street and there is no denying the magnificence of these fabulous buildings. Budapest University of Technology and Economics has over 20,000 students and has a very good education reputation. My favourite building on this campus is the round library, you can see this from Budafoki út and also on the campus, there is a beautiful Gothic Revival Reading room inside, it’s like stepping back in time. Explore the other buildings on campus such as the K building and R building both with unique architectural styles.
With lots of students around with not a lot of money, it comes as no surprise that there is a street known to the locals unofficially as ‘Pub Street’ or Bercsényi út. This street is full of the little hole in the wall pubs and bars and one of my favourite places which I think is a proper ruin bar, Mag Pub.
To get inside you have to fit through a small doorway and down steep steps to an underground basement. You can play darts, football and pick which little room you’d like to sit in. In true ruin bar fashion, all of the furniture is second hand and the pub is pretty dim. It’s a very local and cool place to hang out. If you don’t feel like sitting downstairs, in the summer they build a small terrace outside.
There are plenty of places to pick from down all of the small streets in this area and it is guaranteed to be a local spot because not many tourists venture to the Buda side at night, although I highly recommend that you do so.
I think this will take you a little bit of time to explore so I will leave you here. I couldn’t recommend exploring the Buda side enough there are so many things to see and unique spots to the city. The Buda side is full of little hidden treasures and as I said before I am still discovering them all the time!
Our Budapest insider Jordan has been scouring the streets to uncover some more amazing places for you to discover. Check out her guide to Staying Safe In Budapest and stay tuned for some exciting content on the way. Can’t wait? Be sure to follow her escapades on Instagram: @jordanleeblog, or follow her footprint on the Like Locals app. Available for free on iOS and Android.