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Inside the leafy Mazel Tov bar in Budapest
Photograph: Flickr / Nan Palmero

The 10 best things to do in the Jewish Quarter, Budapest

For history, culture, cuisine and out-there nightlife, enjoy the best things to do in Budapest's Jewish Quarter

Written by
Dan Nolan

History, culture, excitement and shopping; the best things to do in Budapest’s Jewish Quarter are a microcosm of the best things to do in this beautiful city. This part of the city has a long history, but there is plenty of life in it yet. The most densely populated part of the Hungarian capital is a whirlwind of ruin bars and delicious restaurants hidden around cosy corners and more.

Budapest is a thriller of a city, home to one of Europe’s best nights out and a conveyor belt of museums and galleries that are as good as anything found across the continent. Many of the city’s finest spots can be found in its Jewish Quarter, so get there and see what it is all about.

Best things to do in the Jewish Quarter

  • Things to do

Constructed in the 1850s and restored to its original glory in the 1990s, this is the world’s second-largest synagogue and one whose design influenced many others worldwide. The beautiful Moorish building – on the edge of what became the Jewish Ghetto – looks mosque-like from the outside and is strangely reminiscent of a Christian church inside. Unusually, it houses an organ, once played by gentiles, including Franz Liszt. This reflected the mildly reformist nature of ‘Neolog’ Jews who built the synagogue and populated the district before the Holocaust, the victims of which are honoured in a memorial garden. Decent guided tours and the informative Hungarian Jewish Museum offer historical background on the synagogue and the district itself, which thrives today, happy to leave behind the tragedies that occurred here in the 20th century.

Located in a decommissioned modernist power station, the Museum of Electrical Engineering has nine permanent exhibitions that guide guests through the history of electrification and electrical engineering. A specialist library on the premises is available for researchers. This and five other Budapest institutions, including the chemistry and metallurgy museums, make up the Hungarian Museum of Science, Technology and Transport (tickets are cheap at 800 HUF). Across the courtyard, you’ll find techno club Tesla, fittingly named after the visionary Slavic genius Nikola, who helped set up the Budapest phone exchange when he lived in the city as a young man.


This dinky Kazinczy Utca basement gallery is for artists, aesthetes and aspiring collectors. The space was once the private studio of painter Zoltán Jancsó but now exhibits the work of some 30 artists (with paintings available to buy). Sometimes the works are exhibited at nearby Szimpla. You don’t have to be a professional painter to have your work displayed here, and amateurs are encouraged to try their luck.

Local bohemians, film industry travellers – director Lars von Trier was a recent visitor – and clued-up tourists mix at this Jewish Quarter staple. Kisüzem takes its whiskies and rums seriously and has separate drinks lists for each. Its playlist and kitchen are excellent, too – try the marhapörkölt (Hungarian beef stew) or the tasty ciabatta sandwiches. Kisüzem is that rare find: a place equally suitable for a quiet weekday lunch or a weekend session. Run by a socially conscious bunch, Kisüzem distributes free food to those in need on Klauzál Tér outside.


Ideal for groups, Dobrumba is a hip Middle Eastern and Mediterranean restaurant promising cuisine that spans ‘Atlas to Ararat’. Since opening on Dob-Rumbach corner in 2017, Dobrumba has blended a laid-back atmosphere with consistently high-quality food with Jewish, Lebanese, Moroccan and Spanish influences. Starters include muhammara and baba ganoush. As for mains, the shakshuka and lemon chicken tagine come highly recommended. Shareable mezze is the house speciality, and vegetarian and vegan dishes abound. Advance booking is advised, although a table can sometimes be nabbed on the spot.

Also on Rumbach Sebestyén Utca is design shop, café, concept store and gallery Printa. For classy souvenirs, check out its remarkable Budapest collection: shirts, posters, tote bags and maps depicting city streets, bridges and landmarks. A regular venue for workshops on screen printing and other techniques, Printa values environmental consciousness and sells plastic-free clothes, tote bags and other zero-waste items. It also showcases designer clothes and accessories, homeware, posters and notebooks. Due to its high standards, Printa is one of the district’s pricier design outlets.


Mazel Tov – literally, ‘congratulations’ or ‘good luck’ – is where to head for top-notch Middle Eastern cuisine. To start, you can choose za’atar sticks (deep-fried pitta slices with herbs), Yemeni chicken soup or Moroccan lamb soup. It also offers first-rate salads as well as grilled and non-grilled plates, including homemade houmous and falafel – all against a brilliantly leafy backdrop. The events programme includes jazz concerts, Jewish celebrations and rotating exhibitions.

Vintage fashion aficionados visiting Budapest should drop by Dóra Gyöngyösi’s lovely store. Ludovika sells ’70s and ’80s designer clothes, dresses with Hungarian matyó folk motifs, blouses, trousers, shoes and accessories. The selection expresses a devotion to Asian couture, as reflected by the imports on the shelves alongside Dóra’s own pieces (look for the Ludovika label). Better prices than the high street, psychedelic tunes and late opening hours make this a great place for a treasure hunt.



Just down the road from Kisüzem and completing the expat Bermuda triangle alongside Beat on the Brat is Fekete Kutya. Ever so slightly more expensive than the pubs on the main Kazinczy drag, the ‘Black Dog’ earns its status thanks to regular and guest craft beers such as Francin, plus very well-executed tapas. A huge mural on the back wall bravely attempts to depict the entire history of art: Fekete Kutya is that kind of place – strictly for the free-spirited and open-minded.

Café Noé
Photograph: Dan Nolan

10. Café Noé

This cosy kosher café with a picturesque garden is a few minutes from the Great Synagogue. Budapest’s best flódni (a traditional Jewish cake with apple, walnuts and poppyseeds) is made here, according to the recipe of confectioner Ráchel Raj, who made the world’s largest such cake in 2012. Flódni aside, other Jewish specialities (including matzo cake) are also available, plus vegan, sugar-free, lactose-free and other allergy-friendly desserts. 

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