#StStephensBasilica #CityCenter #DownTown #Elegant #Fancy #4SeasonHotel #GreshamPalace #PedestrianStreet #Gastronomy
When it comes to terms like "downtown" or "city center" in Budapest this is the area that most people think of. This is the famous and popular "the 5", "the fifth" or on its full name, the fifth district of the Hungarian Capital. At least a part of it.
Where is this neighbourhood?
Surrounded by the popular Erzsébet square on the South, the river Danube on the West, the big Bajcsy-Zsilinszky Road on the East and the elegant, green Szabadság Square on the North.
The centerpiece of this significant middle part of the district is doubtlessly the St. Stephen's Basilica. One of the most visited historical buildings and tourist sights of Budapest. The second tallest building in Budapest after the Parliament and the third tallest building in Hungary. It is majestic and dignified, seems to be much older and historic as it actually is. It was designed in the middle of the 19th century and actually raised up only in 1905. Its origin story has a lot of interesting plot twist and filled up with urban legends. It is really worth to visit and dive into the story details. You can also go up to the tower, exit to the circular balcony to get a beautiful panorama on Budapest.
Also the related Szent István square is a well kept urban square. In terms of Budapest it can be described as an unusual wide and open square. With modern colorful pavings and a lot of tourists taking snapshots or resting on the squares of the Basilica. Szent István Square is also the spot of one of the most popular Christmas fairs in Budapest.
Of course the square is surrounded by lot of gastronomical venues like popular chains: Starbucks, DiVino Winebar, California Coffee Company, but also more unique units such as Platz, 0,75 Bar & Bistro or Bestia gastropub.
This is one of the most elegant areas in Budapest, also the most popular among apartments seekers. If new people are looking only in one district for apartments in Budapest this is their zone.
But also district 5 consist of different parts and this Basilica quarter is less chaotic than the area of Váci street and Ferenciek square but on the other hand much more lively than the outer district parts after Szabadság square. Let's say that this middle part is the perfect middle ground of the district.
It is elegant from corner to corner and only the closest street sections to the Basilica are so touristy. You don't have to go far away for everyday life.
The near Bank Center and the neighboring offices ensure workplaces for many people.
For this reason you can see how running white collar workers with their cellphones on their ears, holding coffees in paper cups are alternating the open-mouthed, wondering tourist crowd.
The streets are relatively clean, well kept and especially safe. No wonder that many people prefer to have their apartments nearby. The building frontages are also in better condition generally than in other part of Budapest.
It's an interesting fact that there are exceptionally few newly built or completely reconstructed apartment buildings in this Budapest area. There wasn't much space for them thanks to its rich historical past of this neighborhood. One of the rare counterexamples is the Vigyázó Ház in the Vigyázó Ferenc street that was completely reconstructed.
The streets of Basilica Quarter
The most significant axis street of the neighborhood should be the Zrinyi street, a pedestrian street promenade that runs from the river Danube directly to the Basilica. It starts and goes on with a direct and constant beautiful view on this monumental and powerful building.
Starting a walk from the other end (Szent István square) welcomes you with the popular sculpture of the "Fat Policeman". Quasi every tourist stops to take a photo with him.
Zrinyi street is fully packed with restaurants, bars, club coffees and art galleries on both sides.
The Október 6. street is the gastro street of the neighborhood. You can spot all type of "bestseller" street food (Mexican, Thai, Italian, Turkish, Burger, Take Away Soup, Donuts and Bagels) here
mixed with some traditional Hungarian restaurants. This is a long semi-pedestrian street that runs from Erzsébet square (where the "Budapest Eye" Ferris Wheel is) to the elegant and green Szabadság (=Liberty) square. It is also a section of the so called "main street of Budapest".
Two important parallel streets of the Október 6 are the Sas street and the Hercegprímás street. Nice modern cobblestone streets with restricted traffic and lot of small shops (galleries, art and design studios, souvenir shops, tiny confectioneries, some clothe boutiques) and gastronomic venues (from burger joints to high gastronomy restaurants), even some quite hidden bars and clubs.
This fourth parallel street haven't mention yet is the Nádor street that could be considered for years as the campus of the Central European University (CEU) that attracted a lot of international students. This is in transition because the university is about to move its seat to Vienna.
The biggest road related to this neighbourhood represents the actual borderline of the district: the Bajcsy-Zsilinszky street. This is a five lane street that shows a quite different picture than any other street above.
It has always big traffic is busy, not a romantic walking lane but despite all it is not something to neglet. There are a lot of good thing like the old fashioned but renovated art cinema, the "Toldi mozi" and quite a few creatively fresh street food venues to its side (just steps away from this current area), even at its biggest connecting 5th district square at "Arany János utca" subway station, the Podmaniczky Frigyes tér.
The squares of the Basilica Quarter
The Podmaniczky Frigyes square is a traffic junction (M3 line, buses, electric buses) but also a street food focal point on one of its edges. It isn't trendy at all but its out of date trashy style makes is somehow unique and one a kind and quite favored. Here you can get the maybe most praised Lángos (Hungarian street food) of the city alongside few other street food joints.
The Széchenyi Square is a green park space close to the Danube, Chain Bridge and "Duna Korzó" promenade.
From here you can have a nice sight on the Buda side with the Buda Castle, the Citadel and Gellért Hill. Turning on again towards Pest, you find yourself immediately facing the stunning building of the Gresham Palace which serves nowadays as the Hungarian Four Season Hotel.
There are no more squares directly in this currently picked neighborhood but it is connected to two important downtown green squares, the Szabadság square and the Erzsébet square.
The stores and gastronomy of the Basilica Quarter
This is not a typical everyday shopping area but you can still find quasi every type of shops around. Most of the stores (from every genre) are more exclusive and expensive samples of the categories. There are certain type of shops you can spot easier and more frequently than others for example the Budapest souvenir shops:
and any possible kind of gastronomical venues like. Starting from here we line up few random, independent examples from the area that people frequently talk about and refer too. (The list is not complete, and we'll continue as we explore new unites. This are not places that we necessarily have tested, this are places that whether we know personally or venues that local people frequently talk about.)
Fancy and / or beloved, praised restaurants
Costes Downtown (Michelin-star restaurant) in Vigyázó Ferenc street.
Borkonyha, restaurant, wine bar and professional wine bottle shop at once in Sas street. One of the most famous Budapest restaurants of current days. It also won Michelin-star in 2014.
Café VIAN in Hercegpirímás street, french bistro and restaurant - also with daily menu.
La Fabbrica - Mediterranean restaurant, one of newest places around, very fancy interior place, terrace, bar and rich Mediterranean cuisine
Diverse nation's cuisine or street food
Montenegro Gurman Grill and Wine Bar - Cuisine from Montenegro and Serbia from authentic chefs in Hercegprímás street.
Wasabi Extra - Japanese Sushi Restaurant in Hercegprímás street
Japanika - Japanese Restaurant in Szent István tér
Tattoria Mamma - Italian Restaurant in Hercegprímás street
Jack's Burger - American Street Food in Hercegprímás street
Smaller bistros or Gastropubs
Mák Bistro in Vigyázó Ferenc street - a french bistro-like high level restaurant
Platz - Industrial design gastrobistro on two levels inside with Bavarian beer (Paulaner sortiment) and big terrace in good weather with nice view to the Basilica
BESTIA in Hercegprímás street - a more masculine gastro pub with bigger food servings, several meat plates and (most Hungarian) craft beers and live or DJ music events.
New Wave Cafes and Specialty Cafes
Coffea Arabica in József Attila street and Bajcsy-Zsilinszky street corner. Coffee, brunch, sandwiches and sometime karaokee.
Bars and Pubs
High Note Sky Bar in Herceprímás street - trendy Roof Top Bar on the top of the Aria Hotel which was elected by tripadvisor users to the best hotel of the world in 2017.
Hedon Bazilika Taproom - Craft Beer Bar, a very progressive one. One of the newest places around. You can tap your beer yourself from 30 different beer taps on the wall and pay with a card system. Hedon is a brewery at lake Balaton. They sell here their general and also unique portfolio together with some Hungarian and international craft beer hits and contemporary pub food next to them.
Fröccskocsma - Typical Student Bar venue, rare in this area. Named after the noted Hungarian wine and sparkling water combination: fröccs.
Café Montmare in Zrínyi street - A grown up rock bar, also not to find in every corner nearby.
DiVino - One of the first units of an expanisve wine bar chain which is to find in several Hungarian cities (two in Budapest). It comes with rich bar food selection and wine tasting events. Directly this unit has a nice view on the Basilica from its terrace.
0,75 Bar & Bistro - On Szent István square. Wine bar and bistro with an additional breakfast spot in the corner (own entrance). Besides the wines there is also the permanent sortiment Hungarian Craft Beer from a long running, well known Hungarian microbrewery, "Fóti sörfőzde" available.
Gelato Rosa in Hercegprímás street - Ice Cream to go in Rose shape servings. Very popular choice and quite famous. You can give flower to the ladies in ice cream form without cutting a new flower.
Of course there are more general gastronomical chains to find here too: Starbucks, California Coffee Company, Subway, Pizza Me (Hungarian Pizza slice chain)