Hungary’s long history is evident at various venues across Budapest, but remnants of the 20th century are especially omnipresent here – Trabants still putter along Andrássy Avenue, gigantic statues of dreaded dictators stand tall in seclusion, and flea markets are full of Soviet-made medals, clothing, toys, typewriters, and countless other relics. Additionally, some restaurants and bars remain essentially unchanged for generations, or serve as museums paying homage to recent history by guarding its true treasures. All of these places and attractions welcome the public for time-warping wonders.
Vintage clothes stores
Cydonia is one of the most distinctive retro boutiques in the city, selling everything from antique bric-a-bracs and pocket watches to medication bottles – much of which dates back 50 years or more. All this is shaken up by some real treats like a classic Chanel tweed outfit, vintage perfumes, and handmade jewelry. Stepping into Viola’s wonderful shop on Hajós Street 43 feels like entering a fairy tale.
Address: Budapest 1064, Hajós utca 43
A few years ago, Lovebug Vintage was one of the very first shops in Budapest to sell vintage clothing, jewelry, and accessories. Today, old-fashioned pieces fill an entire flat, where genuine leather bags, vintage clothing, jean jackets, and even septum rings await anyone craving something special and unique. Look for the pink sign of Lovebug Vintage outside Margit Boulevard 62; after entering the building, the shop is to the left on the ground floor.
Address: Budapest 1027, Margit körút 62
Ludovika is a real haven of precious collectables, where two floors house beautiful bags, leather trousers, cool coats, and plenty of retro items from the ’70s-’90s. Alongside these antiques and designer pieces that you will certainly wear for a long time, if you are lucky, you might even find an original vintage Versace on the hangers! Thanks to the obliging opening hours, you can drop by Rumbach Sebestyén Street 15 until 8pm on weekdays, and 6pm on Saturday.
Address: Budapest 1075, Rumbach Sebestyén utca 15
Retrock offers vintage, secondhand clothes, as well as new designer pieces from Hungarian and international designers. Their garments are often made of used and recycled materials, and the creative team behind the brand carefully selects the clothes, accessories, movie posters, comic books, and retro items that go on the shelves. You can find Retrock at Anker köz 2-4, just off Király Street near .
Address: Budapest 1061, Anker köz 2-4
Over two floors, Szputnyik combines new and old pieces; romantic vintage clothes and provocative modern items. Unique printed tees and crop tops, rock-band shirts, badges, and even wigs await retro-styled fashionistas with the best festival outfits for the summer. The interior is spacious and modern, with a new-wave atmosphere, and clothes hanging in a neat order, guarding true treasures. You can find Szputnyik at two locations – Dohány Street 20 near the Synagogue, and Király Street 22.
Address: Budapest 1062, Király utca 22; Budapest 1074, Dohány utca 20
Standing strong since the ’60s, Bambi Eszpresszó continually preserves the same style, ambience, and interior design from when it was founded, with red leather seats, polka-dotted mugs, and delicious food on Frankel Leó Street on the Buda side. The pleasant, homey, and retro atmosphere is guaranteed with its old-fashioned milieu, old blokes playing backgammon, and collection of ceramic, stuffed, and plastic Bambis kindly watching over customers in all states of sobriety.
Address: Budapest 1027, Frankel Leó utca 2-4
The unusual decorations of Csendes make stepping into this laid-back locale a surreal experience – mannequins, old toys, and a hobby horse hang above our heads; abstract drawings adorn the walls; and a century-old chandelier and huge ornate columns enhance the charm of this ‘ruin pub’-style café. The vibrant buzz of Csendes attracts artists, students, and couples for drinks, chatting, and chilling. In the summer, check out the adjoining serving as a lovely old-timey terrace by the inner-city oasis of .
Address: Budapest 1053, Ferenczy István utca 5
Behind a colorful façade on chaotic , you can find this interesting Mexican joint serving tortilla-wrapped treats and overflowing tequila, but step into the basement bar here to discover its true retro treasures. Here you can sip on drinks amid gas masks, city signs, old toys, retro logos, and antique souvenirs, all while reuniting with old friends such as Fred Flintstone and Mickey Mouse. There is something to see wherever the eyes wander at this bar, and an escape game awaits adventurous visitors, too.
Address: Budapest 1075, Kazinczy utca 10
Since the 1970s, Fasor Eszpresszó continually welcomes patrons within a watering hole decorated by the coolest items of the past, such as a chandelier made of old cassettes, comfortable retro seats, pinball machines, foosball, vinyls on the ceiling, old TVs everywhere, and really random adornments. If you crave tastes of the past, you can sip on retro drinks among students and old beer-drinking chaps here in Buda’s District II.
Address: Budapest 1024, Szilágyi Erzsébet fasor 13
Recently leaving its Kazinczy Street location to resettle in a new, spacious spot on Víg Street, Kék Ló (Blue Horse) kept the same old style, taking all their cool antique furniture with them to the fresh site in gritty District VIII. Glamorous blue horses painted on the walls welcome visitors at this cozy and laid-back pub, where you can sip on local beers, tasty hot drinks, and even try on and buy some truly unique vintage-style clothes.
Address: Budapest 1084, Víg utca 28
This tiny shabby-chic café bewitches visitors with a real French feel through its romantic decoration, tranquil French music, and delectable delicacies. The city’s speedy pace somehow slows down at this bijou jewelry box, letting visitors enjoy their wines, lemonades, hot drinks, and other treats amid weathered furniture inside, and under lovely lamps on the terrace. Le Petit Bistrot provides a perfect place for enjoying tasty wines from Lake Balaton in the evening as well.
Address: Budapest 1065, Hajós utca 26/B
Trapéz’s unique and friendly atmosphere attracts students and backpackers, who always fill the two floors while playing foosball, watching sports broadcasts, and devouring drinks. The old sofas and posters add to the retro feel, and there are truly unique decorations at this cozy bar, such as Captain Baloo riding a motorbike, a random airstrip painted on the ceiling, a jalopy’s front grill merged into the wall, and random faces all around this place behind the Great Market Hall.
Address: Budapest 1093, Imre u. 2
Another homey café following the shabby-chic style is Vintage Garden on Dob Street, charming visitors with white-wood finishes, silver candlesticks, crystal chandeliers, and great French cuisine amid an interior that is reminiscent of a quaint cottage in the land of lavender. The pleasant pulse of Provence is transported to Budapest through the romantic style, freshly baked croissants, and other specialties of Vintage Garden, where you can always drop by for a tranquil treat, a date, a special dinner, or to even rent the whole venue for a wedding.
Address: Budapest 1071, Dob utca 21
Stepping into Zsivágó feels like entering grandma’s living room – the wallpaper has floral patterns, the teacups are dainty, the furniture is comfortable, surfaces are covered with lace tablecloths, and old paintings adorn the walls. Brass candleholders, porcelain teapots, babushka dolls, candy boxes, a wooden magazine holder, and the homemade piroshki add to the homey feel of the café, where anyone brave enough to play can fill the place with piano tunes, bringing back memories of Sunday lunches at granny’s amid this café at Paulay Ede Street 55.
Address: Budapest 1061, Paulay Ede utca 55
On a meadow beside the modern Budapest Airport, an anachronistic airfield is filled with propellor-powered airplanes from decades past, along with decommissioned jets of MALÉV (the now-defunct Hungarian airline). This is Aeropark, an open-air aviation museum that guards time-worn planes no longer fit for the friendly skies. The rusted fuselages remind visitors of the history of the past 60 years of Hungarian flights; it is possible to take a peek inside some jets, and also to enjoy the elevating experience of operating an aircraft in a simulator.
Address: Budapest 1185, Budapest Airport (Terminal 2)
Chugging along past some of the most stunning excursion spots of the Buda Hills, this peculiar railway is almost completely operated by schoolkids, filling different positions on and around the narrow-gauge trains dressed in old-fashioned uniforms. The Children’s Railway is a living memento of the communist era, as it was created in the ’50s and operated by Soviet-organized Pioneer scouts, but became so popular that it survived the regime change to still run today. Traveling from the peak of Széchenyi Hill to Hűvösvölgy (including a stop at the green oasis of ), passengers sit on old wooden seats of the open-air trains, while children perform duties of the old scouts… ticketless travelers should beware the adorable inspectors!
Address: Budapest 1021, Széchenyi Hill to Hűvösvölgy
Kept top secret until 2002, an underground hospital from World War II hides under the ; during the Cold War, it was transformed into a nuclear bunker. Now the Hospital in the Rock welcomes visitors with original furniture and medical equipment, allowing a sneak peek into the most difficult periods of Hungary’s recent past. A recently added section introduces today’s Magyar military by showcasing the Special Operations Forces. At the gift shop you can even buy original gas masks, medication boxes, old stretchers, syringes, and helmets. The museum is open every day all year round. English guided tours depart on the hour, with the last entry at 7pm.
Address: Budapest 1012, Lovas út 4/C
MÁV Nosztalgia rides
Journey into the past aboard antique train cars powered by steam locomotives from decades ago with these nostalgic tours organized by Hungary’s national railway service (MÁV), when passengers can lounge in wood-lined wagons featuring elegant pianos and white-gloved waiters. These trips are only offered occasionally, but for anyone passionate to experience the golden age of railway travel, there is no better way to visit some of the most beautiful places in Hungary and beyond than with experience trains such as the Lavender Express and the Bakony Express. Hearing the whistle from the iron horse is a thrill for any time traveler, as the trains rush through rustic villages and green belts to make the old-fashioned journey a truly unique trip. Check out MÁV Nosztalgia’s website for the schedule, or visit Budapest’s Railway Museum to see many old carriages and other rail-related relics from the past few decades.
Through most of Hungary’s communist era, gigantic statues of Lenin, Marx, Engels, and other Red stars towered over the streets of Budapest, but when the Soviet-backed regime fell in 1989, these oversized sculptures were removed and taken to Memento Park. Taking a walk in this surreal park and standing at the foot of dead dictators is an educational experience that feels like taking a glimpse behind the Iron Curtain, providing insight into communism through the symbolic pieces that now represent the tenuous nature of tyranny. The park is a bit far from the city center, but a direct bus leaves daily from Deák Square at 11am (and also at 3pm in July and August).
Address: Budapest 1223, Balatoni út – Szabadkai utca corner
Hungarians used to patiently wait for years to own a Trabant, the tiny 26-horsepower automobile produced in East Germany to provide transportation for the masses. Now with Rent-a-Trabant, you can enjoy the unique experience of sightseeing while riding in the most iconic car of the Eastern Bloc – or even drive one, after being taught how before roaming the Budapest streets accompanied by a guide, who tells spellbinding stories of our lovely city. Groups can take on their “Bunker” Operation Geocache challenge, when the company turns the whole industrial complex of Csepel Island into a huge escape game, allowing anyone to feel like a real Cold War spy accomplishing the mission.
Address: Budapest 1036, Árpádfejedelem útja
Ecseri is the largest and probably the most iconic market in Budapest, where literally everything can be found – from antique jewelry through masterpieces of the Soviet era, along with pocket watches, film cameras, and valuable pieces of furniture. True treasure hunters go at the break of dawn, but a stroll amid the bequests of the past is always a great way of spending a Sunday morning, especially as you never know what you can find. The market is open on weekdays as well, but the true peak days are definitely during the weekend. Bargaining is a must!
Address: Budapest 1194, Nagykőrösi út 156
A short walk away from the , Falk Miksa Street is the heart of Budapest’s antique and gallery district, with shops standing side-by-side along the whole length of this tree-lined lane. Walking down this splendid street feels like walking straight into the past, where vendors are friendly and will do their utmost to help everyone find the exact piece they are looking for, while craftsmen work to renovate rather than throw out broken treasures, and antiques such as old lamps, vases, weapons, walking sticks, paintings and Zsolnay ceramics await visitors at many shops – such as Moró Antique, , and MissionArt Gallery – all along the street. The occasional Falk Art Forum events turn this thoroughfare into a retro street party, where colorful programs, a friendly atmosphere, and art historians await art enthusiasts.
Address: Budapest District V, between Jászai Mari tér and Kossuth tér
The ever-bustling scene of is a special spot of the city center, an interlinking series of courtyards with shops, restaurants, bars, clubs, and even arcade games found all along this inner-city compound. A nice stroll along the craft and vintage market of Gozsdu Courtyard, organized on Saturdays between 10am and 5pm, is a nice way to start a day, as you can browse through heartwarming toys, creative handmade accessories, posters, clothes, bags, lamps, and model airplanes, while nearby restaurants entice shoppers for a lovely lunch afterwards. Even regulars can be surprised, as you never know which vendors will appear to sell, and what they have on their stands.
Address: Budapest 1075, Király utca 13
The popular Sunday market hosted by now operates at the freshly renovated Klauzál Market Hall, pleasing the eyes with antiques, design items, picture frames, old bottles, suitcases, and handmade jewelry. You will likely bump into keen furniture restorers amongst the bargain hunters, eager to find new pieces for their work – and who might even be willing to share a few tips for DIY projects.
Address: Budapest 1072, Klauzál tér 11
PeCsa Flea Market
One of the oldest bazaars in Budapest, the Pecsa Flea Market feels more like a museum where anyone can buy whatever they like from the exhibits: porcelain dinner sets, paintings, coins, books, vinyls, suitcases, and all kinds of trash and treasure. The market is only open on weekends, and as usual, it is worthwhile to arrive early, but the latecomers might also score a few late bargains.
Address: Budapest 1146, Zichy Mihály út 14
One of the most popular ruin pubs in Budapest – Szimpla on Kazinczy Street, with its walls famously decorated by ample retro antiques – fills up every Sunday with friendly and helpful craftsmen in this artisanal farmers’ market, where you can buy locally made goods and fresh produce such as fruits, cheeses, vegetables, honeys, jams, mushrooms, cold cuts, and homemade lemonades and syrups. The generous tradesmen like to please passers-by with samples, so you can even try before you buy.
Address: Budapest 1075, Kazinczy utca 14
As one of the most iconic eateries of Budapest, Kádár Étkezde is where both locals and foreigners can feel at home, as stepping into this retro restaurant feels like visiting old friends you haven’t seen for a long time, but who are still there for you – the staff is always the same, and alongside some faded photos of celebrities, pictures of real regulars adorn the walls. The tablecloths and the floor are checkered, the hearty dishes are from the ’70s and ’80s, and instead of a glass of water, you can have some soda from a siphon bottle found on every table.
Address: Budapest 1072, Klauzál tér 9
Communism has not yet ended at Marxim Söröző, at least not for its design; a red star still shines bright above the door; flags, gas masks, and retro posters hang on the walls; and the booths are separated by barbed-wire fencing. The friendly servers offers delicious dishes, and you can even “redden” your pizza as much as you wish with their homemade tomato sauce, while you stare down Stalin.
Address: Budapest 1024, Kis Rókus utca 23
If you long for the rural lifestyle away from the buzz of Budapest, it is well worth visiting Náncsi Néni Vendéglője (Aunt Náncsi’s Inn), which will make you feel at home with traditional furniture and paintings lodged in a lovely farmhouse surrounded by a huge garden, where picnic tables welcome large families during warmer months. The shelves store real preserves, and delicious Hungarian and international dishes are cooked in the kitchen. The menu is set, but spiced up with some seasonal specials.
Address: Budapest 1029, Ördögárok út 80
Stopping by this newly opened basement eatery on Akácfa Street feels like boarding an old train carriage, as the wooden seats and brass handrails are from old Budapest trams, while the tables are decorated with outdated public transport passes and tickets, and the eyes can wander to black-and-white photos of discontinued trams on the walls. The restaurant also functions as a bar, open nonstop.
Address: Budapest 1072, Akácfa utca 15
Acting as a museum of Eastern Bloc artifacts from the ’60s and ’70s, Táskarádió has a cool and colorful atmosphere full of working portable radios, ancient TVs, retro teddy bears, plastic toys, and true treasures in every corner to catch the eye. Vintage coffeemakers, model cars, and rotary-dial phones adorn the shelves, and today’s hospitality standards mix with old trends through reinterpretations of retro dishes served amid tunes played by live DJs.
Address: Budapest 1053, Papnövelde utca 8