District VIII – The Real Off-Beat Budapest

As amazing as Budapest’s VII District - the Jewish Quarter - has become, a complaint from many is that it’s become too touristy, too busy, and too filled with the sorts of places you can find in any other city in Europe.

Expat Press Budapest District VIII

Estimated reading time: 5 minute(s)

As amazing as Budapest’s VII District – the Jewish Quarter – has become, a complaint from many is that it’s become too touristy, too busy, and too filled with the sorts of places you can find in any other city in Europe.

By Attila Höfle, our guest writer. 

Locals, particularly, have sought out something different – a more relaxed neighborhood, and places with more charm and character and more affordable prices. As a visitor to Budapest, or a long-term resident who’s never really explored, if you’re keen to find the same thing then VIII District is the place to go. Previously run-down and long-avoided by just about everyone, this neighborhood’s chequered past reputation is quickly being forgotten in place of a new identity – the city’s most up-and-coming area, full of creative energy and entrepreneurial buzz. At Budapestflow, we’ve created a tour that will show you the most interesting parts of the neighborhood.

We’re going to explore some of these must-visit spots.

Wanna read about district VI and VII? Check out our guide! 

Cultural centers and galleries in District VIII

With cheap rent and an abundance of space, for years, Budapest’s young artists have made District VIII their home, opening a number of popular community spaces and art galleries in the area and creating a thriving social scene in turn.

Auróra is probably the most well-known and popular of the bunch, housing a bar/cafe, a basement performance space, a sunny courtyard and even office space for local charities and social enterprises.

Gólya, meanwhile, is somewhat of a local institution. On the face of it, a bar, but to its fans, so much more. With its shabby run-down chic, It’s packed any given night and regularly hosts events. Sadly, as the area has seen massive gentrification, Gólya has been told they have to vacate their home by September. It’s safe to say they’ll be sadly missed if they don’t find a new venue to set up in.

Anyone planning to spend more time exploring the area should also know that there are a handful of great, smaller galleries in the area, including Puccs, a small basement room that’s home to a different resident artists every few months, Feri Feminist Gallery, celebrating the work of feminist artists, and BRFK Gallery, a small photographic exhibition space.

#vernissage On Flux @mireltorun

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And, on the subject of galleries, it’s important to mention the work of both the Mindspace NGO and the Rákóczi Kartell Project, the latter of which aims to fill the empty shops of Rákóczi Market Hall with art spaces and project workshops, and the former, an organization that runs regeneration projects in the area.

Off the beaten track bars and restaurants in District VIII

Creativity aside, District VIII also scores big with its culinary and bar scene. In fact, it’s hard to walk more than a few blocks without finding somewhere cozy and enticing.

Csiga Cafe is one of the veterans of the scene, an immensely popular cafe and late night hangout nestled on the corner of Rákóczi Square. This place is packed from morning onwards as locals and expats alike descend on the place to enjoy their famous breakfasts, or linger through the afternoon working, relaxing and enjoying their sumptuous food menu or people watching with a beer or cocktail.

csakacsiga. #vscocam

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Kék Ló, having recently evacuated itself from its old location in the Jewish Quarter is settling into it’s bigger digs and hosting regular concerts in its sprawling basement, and entertaining regulars upstairs with its great selection of local craft beers and ciders.

A surprise cafe ! #hipstamatic

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And, finally, no guide to District VIII would be complete without mentioning Cintányéros a wine tavern meet cafe, hiding out in a crumbling corner of Bokay János Street and attracting visitors with its chic whitewashed interior, smart furnishings, and century-old piano.

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Stay awhile – District VIII has so much to discover.