City guide
7 public places for secret rendezvous
Photo : Füvészkert
7 public places for secret rendezvous

You can come across two types of people in public places: those who know you, and those who have no idea who you are. In case – for whatever reason – you’re in need of a spot where you’re unlikely to bump into friends or foes, and you don’t feel like venturing out to the outskirts, check out these downtown hideouts where having a discrete conversation is more than possible. (If you’re still not convinced after scanning through the article, and would prefer the outskirts, Zila Café in Pestszentlőrinc and Külvárosi Café in Újpest are our recommondations.)

Füvészkert Botanical Garden Burger King at Oktogon Árpád Lookout Tower Fish buffet on the the ground floor of Hold utca’s marketplace The café on the first floor of Uránia National Movie Theatre In a ruin pub around the opening hours or after lunchtime At Szépművészeti Múzeum’s Dutch collection, in front of a Cuyp painting

Füvészkert Botanical Garden

For multiple decades, Füvészkert was only kept alive by the legend of Pál utcai fiúk (The boys of Pál Street, a famous, bittersweet novel written by Ferenc Molnár), in which this once-spacious garden is one of the main scenes. Although Füvészkert has shrunk to the third of its original size, it underwent a complete makeover in 2011, and was reborn. Unfortunately, the not-so-appealing concrete towers of nearby Tömő utca are visible from one side of the garden, but don’t worry, that won’t rain on your parade.
Address: 1083 Budapest, Illés utca 25.
ELTE Füvészkert

Burger King at Oktogon

Photo: Burger King
The second floor of this surprisingly pleasant junk food place burger joint has nooks as hidden as the flying ability of sloths. You should take a seat with your partner in crime facing Nagykörút (The Grand Boulevard), with a view on the copy of Florence’s Palazzo Strozzi, which now houses a wedding parlor. It’s also worth noting that the wall facing towards Nyugati Pályaudvar (Western Railway Station) has a mural hidden beneath the not-so-spectacular layers of the present. This now-invisible work of art depicts a metropolitan vision, and was painted by László Lakner.
Address: 1066 Budapest, Oktogon tér 3.

Árpád Lookout Tower

If you’re willing to go the distance, and feel like acting as the protagonist of a film noir meeting up with the ever-dangerous femme fatale, you’ve just found the perfect spot to do so. Árpád Lookout Tower, built in 1929 in a folkish style, is located atop 377-meter-high Látó-hegy (would translate to something like The All-Seeing Mountain, but rest assured that you won’t bump into Sauron). In the good old days, it was mostly surrounded by pines, but as Bob Dylan would say, the times they are-a changin’, and is now circled by buildings slightly messing up the view. B-list graffiti artists often frequent the place – though they might be the undercover crooks of the mob boss, so watch your back.
Can be approached from Csatárka út.

Fish buffet on the the ground floor of Hold utca’s marketplace

Construction workers and yuppies munching Hungarian fried fish at odd-looking stone tables – sounds like fun, and sounds like a place where no one will recognize you. In case your top-secret meeting turns out to be a long one, and you’re afraid of being spotted, head over to the eatery on the second floor, it’s as abandoned as Detroit.
Adress: 1054 Budapest, Hold utca 13., near the Vadász utca entrance
Downtown Market

The café on the first floor of Uránia National Movie Theatre

Photo: Uránia Kávéház
Uránia, one of the most spectacular cinemas in Europe, was completed in 1894 in a Neo-Moorish style. Initially, it housed a nightclub, then it became the scene of science-popularizing lectures, and finally, it began to function as a movie theatre – and turned out to be a storied one in that. The free market was a poison pill for Uránia, and was financially unstable, so the state had to intervene by shouldering both renovation and running expenses. The café itself is as empty as the streets of Philadelphia when the rain comes down, so it’s ideal for kisses and hugs.
Address: 1088 Budapest, Rákóczi út 21.
Uránia National Film Theater

In a ruin pub around the opening hours or after lunchtime

Most ruin pubs are vacant before the Moon cradles the Sun to sleep, especially those that are not so well-known on account of being opened recently – e.g. Farm, Csipesz, Cilinder, or iSKOLA!. Meals are served at the latter, so you can crown your adrenaline-boosting rendezvous with a delicious bite.

At Szépművészeti Múzeum’s Dutch collection, in front of a Cuyp painting

Photo: Simplicissimus
Rookie lurkers might think that it’s easier to hide away at smaller museums, but that couldn’t be further from the truth, and larger institutions shouldn’t be neglecte. Szépművészeti Múzeum (Gallery of Fine Arts) is a prime example, especially a pair of sections located on its second floor. Aelbert Cuyp’s Portrait of a family depicts a family of fourteen, with a town built on the banks of a river (or perhaps on a sea bay?) in the background, so this scene is absolutely not based in the Netherlands. Overall, the painting has a plethora of analyzable details, thus chatting for long minutes while staring at Cuyp’s masterpiece wont’t be suspicious even for ex-CIA museum guards.
Address: 1146 Budapest, Hősök tere
Museum of Fine Arts