With summer still with us for a while longer, we’ve roamed Budapest in search of the best ice cream – in cones, fashioned as rose petals and as part of an elaborate dessert with sprinkles. What’s common to all is the quality of the product and the amazing range of flavours. From outer Őrmező to alongside the Basilica, here are our 19 favourites!
Anjuna Ice Pops
These colourful, healthy, cooling delights sold at several locations are an exception, in that they’re not served in a cone but on a stick. This ‘real-plant-natural’ product philosophy favours both vegans and those dealing with some kind of allergy, plus those looking for something sweet yet healthy can also consume these with an easy conscience. If you just don’t want iced ice cream, you can also find great smoothies and acai bowls.
Artigiana Gelati Fagylaltozó
A vintage favourite in Buda, Artigiana Gelati has been offering amazing cooked ice cream on Csaba utca for nearly 30 years, and was the first place to delve into the world of allergen-free treats as well. There are plenty of exciting and imaginative options among their 20-plus flavours, such as marzipan-and-chocolate, Nutella-and-banana cream, strawberry-and-cheesecake and ‘opera’. They also have alternative, sugar- and lactose-free, as well as rice milk-based varieties, so those on a diet or with intolerances can enjoy these sweets worry-free. They have a couple of tables inside, but you can also take a stroll in Városmajor park and enjoy your treat alfresco. Roletti wafer tubes are free, and there’s always a level of innovation to their products.
The owners of specialty coffee haven My Little Melbourne opened this place on Madách tér, putting a colourful and modern twist to a classic, old-school treat: soft-serve ice cream. The trendy, urban interior is imbued with a Catalan atmosphere, and the scent of high-quality specialty coffee. There are no traces of the tried-and-tested chocolate-vanilla that these twisted treats once almost exclusively came in – instead you find five different options with fascinating names: Panna Rosa is raspberry-lychee-and-rose, Emma Green pistachio-and-matcha, Melbourne Blue blue algae, and Peter Black coconut mixed with activated charcoal. White Flower, meanwhile, is creamy with vanilla the key element.
Pozsonyi út is lined with attractive outlets, whether you’re looking for a nice meal, a decent cup of coffee or a fine dessert, but the small Italian confectionery, Cioccolatte, stands out even here. Their technology and most of their ingredients when it comes to ice cream are Italian and, despite the small space, there’s a great range of both classic and new-wave flavours to choose from. Their seasonal fruit ice creams are made with contents sourced from small-scale producers around Hungary. There are also exciting vegan options to be found at the counter, while this summer they also bring us various flavours from all over the world, in the spirit of post-pandemic travel restrictions.
This heavenly ice cream parlour on Arany János utca does not offer the classic cone solution: frozen sweets await in small glasses, prepared in advance. Alongside two or three servings of ice cream, they add dried and fresh fruit, sprinkles and sponge of varied flavours around it, so you receive not only an ice cream, but a complete iced dessert. Some offerings change every few weeks, but we especially recommend this place to those open to special combinations such as violet-blackcurrant-and-yoghurt or mango-passion-and-coconut.
Czakó Garden is the last surviving old farmhouse building in Tabán, representing a small chunk of the past century in the heart of Buda. Only ten minutes from the city centre, it combines everything from a bistro to an occasional farmers’ market and a confectionery – with great ice cream, too. For the most part, they play it safe and offer classic fruit varieties, working only with natural ingredients, as well as some of the best ice-cream machinery in the country. Ice creams are made on the spot, the fruit versions with fresh ingredients and no lactose, while the chocolatey versions are created with Valrhona. Two of the biggest favourites here are the mango and the pistachio.
Erdős és fiai Cukrászda
This pâtisserie on Etele tér is a real oasis in Kelenföld. They have a huge selection of standard flavours but are really strong when it comes to recreating desserts and other sweets as ice cream. The huge selection has fixed options, but many flavours are changed every fortnight or so, so it’s worth visiting them often in case you miss out on anything. In addition to customer-favourite fantasy ice creams such as Oreo or the house special Erdős, they don’t shy away from surprising combinations like basil-and-tomato sorbet or wasabi milk chocolate.
We already know that good ice cream is not exclusive to downtown Budapest, but one of our great favourites is quite far from the centre. The Fazekas Confectionery in District XVI is a real family business, the ice creams prepared by Ádám Fazekas and the cakes by his brother. They accept no compromise when it comes to avoiding artificial ingredients and flavour enhancers – here, even the base ice is made with fruit. Their speciality is twisted ice cream, also created with purely natural ingredients.
Fragola - Kiss János altábornagy utca
Since its opening, Fragola has maintained the standards people have loved for yonks – although different members of the franchise don’t always have the same offerings. The outlet on Kiss János Altábornagy utca is particularly dear to everyone’s hearts because there are few places in the area that offer this kind of high-quality ice cream, and you can stroll with your cone or cup in the shaded Gesztenyés kert gardens. There are seasonal novelties and allergy-free varieties, while the Nutella-and-cream-of-pistachio is just unbeatable.
Gelateria Pichler, on the corner of Városháza and Kossuth Lajos utca, is famous for two things. On the one hand, you can find ice creams by a master of the genre, Balázs Damniczki from Székesfehérvár, and, on the other hand, obviously due to the downtown location and tourist trade, you can ask for it in chimney cake instead of a cone. You also choose between 24 flavours at the counter at any one time, but since they have a basic range of 60, it’s worth checking every so often to see what novelties they’ve come up with next.
Gelateria Pomo D'oro
Gianni’s little ice-cream outlet was perhaps one of the first in town where you could get two flavours for the price of one scoop and, because of their variety, it is usually suggested that you sample a teaspoon before they serve you your cone. Their other big advantage is that you can still come here until nine o’clock in the evening if you’re after a late evening ice cream.
A few steps from the Basilica, Gelarto Rosa has long served some of the most exciting ice creams around. Apart from the standard cone-and-cup offer, they fashion their treats in the shape of a rose. In addition to the aesthetic experience, you are also being handed some of the finest flavours in town, standards maintained since the place opened. The offer varies seasonally and every few weeks. There’s always a queue but it’s worth the wait. And if you’re in a hurry, take a peek at the Gelarto Bistro opposite, where you can choose vegan ice cream for lunch.
I love Gelato
This ice-cream parlour overseen by semi-Italian siblings on Mester utca has long been a favourite, but they’ve also made plenty of improvements in recent years. They pay special attention to the ingredients, and create everything themselves. One of the owners, Renato, says that their customer base is so used to extraordinary flavours, they complain whenever there are only basic options at the counter. Usually it doesn’t come to this though, as they are always experimenting with curious combinations, such as cheese-based savoury ice creams with camembert, gorgonzola or cheddar. Their pistachio sorbet is particularly amazing, with no dairy products but 90% Sicilian pistachio. I love Gelato is worth a visit after the warm months are gone, too, as they have delicious desserts and, since 2018, their own pizzas.
Városmajor is an attractive location when it comes to ice cream, renowned Kő fagyi? from Mindszentkálla near Balaton having moved here in 2019. Working with in-house recipes, too, Kell fagylalt? brings everyone’s favourites from the Balaton Uplands, classic flavours such as poppyseed, walnut or peach, and extras such as pumpkin seed and amarena-cherry-and-cream. If you’re in a hurry, you don’t even have to go into the store – a little ice-cream cart outside the store has a leaner selection and therefore swifter service.
Kő fagyi? on Bartók Béla
One of the most popular ice-cream shops at Lake Balaton has finally arrived in Budapest, on vibrant Bartók Béla út, to boot. The flavour options and the quality of the product are the same as at the Mindszentkálla outlet, with some ingredients sourced all the way from Italy, and fruit coming from local producers. There’s a general Italian feeling when it comes to the ice creams, as they are characterised by a sense of sophisticated simplicity. There are no three-to-four component options with fancy names, though you might find some playful choices, such as IPA- or wine-flavoured, but their typical offers are simple yet flawless.
Málna The Pastry Shop
The closure of Zazzi disappointed many, but fortunately the empty shop soon found new owners: former chief confectioner of Gerbeaud Zoltán Kolonics and his partner, who opened the pink-walled Málna. Although the emphasis is primarily on excellent cakes, you can also sample their own-made ice cream in retro metal-lined cans. They don’t go for new-wave or blended flavours, they represent the classic line – which, in turn, is very strong. Instead of the chocolate sauce available in many places, you can ask for a helping of nostalgic whipped cream atop your ice cream.
MAMO Gelato - Ráday utca
The pioneer of local Italian ice-cream parlours was originally found on Ráday utca, and is now also serving delicious desserts by the Allee mall, on Kőrössy Csoma utca. At least one quarter of their 24 available options are fruit sorbets, so those preferring to avoid traditional, milky options will still find amazing ice creams. In addition to cones, you can also ask for your treat in a brioche or between two sheets of biscuit, and there’s no extra charge for sweet cones or rolettis.
Ágnes Németh opened her ice cream parlour on Máriaremetei út two years ago in the summer, choosing to set up amid Buda greenery instead of the city centre, as she believes that people will go far for a really good product. Experience proves that she was right, as her perfectionism and professionalism made minus11 one of the best places for ice cream in Budapest. There are ten options available at any one time, special but refined flavours. The treats can be ordered in decomposable cups, cones or large family jars, too.
Although this confectionery set up in a family house in Őrmező, south Buda, mainly deals in cakes (süti), it is also worth trekking out to one of the less frequented parts of the city because of their ice cream. In addition to French-style desserts and slightly modernised Hungarian varieties, their cooked ice cream is a favourite. Three of their own cakes are also available in ice cream form and, in addition to standard items, they also offer several special flavours. This strong experimental spirit is best illustrated when you find delicacies such as blueberry-and-gorgonzola or lime-and-poppyseed. Their cones are sourced from a manufactory in Pécs, south Hungary, and are also available gluten-free.