City guide

Global guide series unveils The 500 Hidden Secrets of Budapest

Photo : We Love Budapest

No-one knows this town like revered local author András Török. In his latest project, the writer has created the Budapest version of the acclaimed city guide series, “The 500 Hidden Secrets”. Previous issues of this international title cover major destinations from Bangkok to Berlin. Similar to other publications in the same format, this new book navigates you to lesser-known landmarks, snazzy local shops and obscure bars, all featured in separate reviews. We talk to Török, best known for his regularly updated work A Critical Guide, about this special venture.

“For writing this book and including specific locations, I compared my personal experiences with lists available elsewhere,” begins Török, born and raised in Budapest and a long-time observer of the city’s constantly changing scenes. “We Love Budapest was also very beneficial during this process.”

Photo: Gábor Szabó/We Love Budapest

On the cover, The 500 Hidden Secrets of Budapest presents a photo taken at the city’s Zoo, where the camera lens focuses on the top of the menagerie’s main entrance gate, a less familiar Art Nouveau landmark. The image suggests that the book has lots of urban details to unveil, even for those who are not au fait with this series of city guides.

 

Spread across ten chapters, the publication reveals some of Budapest’s best-kept secrets, including restaurants where you can eat like a local, the best wine bars, the smoothest new-generation ruin bars, the oldest bookstores, the most impressive arcades and many more fascinating suggestions. District maps help pinpoint locations in the areas covered across the edition.

Photo: We Love Budapest

“I visited each and every location featured in this city guide,” continues the author. “While undertaking research for the book, I even stumbled upon several locations I wish I had known before, such as the Erdős and Fiai ice-cream place in Kelenföld and the Szputnyik vintage shops.”

 

While this project helped deepen Török’s affinity for the city, adhering to specific policies and directions set by the publishing house came as a new challenge for the writer. Török says that for this commission, he had to keep the length of each review to a maximum of 50 words, while specific guidelines were also provided for the featured content.

Photo: We Love Budapest

“At one point, the publishers said that they wanted less statues and more drink bars,” Török explains. “Meanwhile, I also served as the book’s photographer, but in the end, not all of my best shots were used.”

 

However, this is not the first travel-related paperback in Török’s long career. He is also the author of Budapest: The Critical Guide, an in-depth travelogue, first published in 1989. Given his significant background in travel writing, Török is concerned about the vanishing market for printed guides, gradually being replaced today by digital versions.

Photo: Gábor Szabó/We Love Budapest

“Travellers trust in free mobile apps and they hardly look for guides written by real insiders,” outlines Török. But then with this new travel book in his oeuvre, the author is even more inspired to continue working on his own series of city guides and spread the word about Budapest’s charms. “I would like to radically rewrite Budapest: A Critical Guide,” he concludes.