Shopping, culture, history, and, of course, coffee—the city’s prettiest boulevard has it all.
Slicing through the heart of the Hungarian capital, Andrássy Avenue is to Budapest what the Champs-Élysées is to Paris. The handsome, tree-lined boulevard is home to some of the city’s blockbuster sites, counting Heroes’ Square, St. Stephen’s Basilica and the Hungarian State Opera House as just a few of its residents. Furthermore, its palatial, neo-Renaissance architecture has earned it UNESCO World Heritage status. At 2.5km long, there’s plenty to fill a day’s itinerary on this particular stretch. Here are some of the Andrássy Avenue highlights to admire along the way.
Take In Some Nature
Andrássy Avenue begins in the bucolic surroundings of City Park (Városliget). Kick-start the day with a stroll around 300 acres of gardens, lakes, museums and castles, setting aside some time to stop by the romantic lakeside Vajdahunyad Castle. On your way out, stroll through Heroes’ Square, where the giant towering Millennium Monument commemorates the 1,000-year history of the Magyars.
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A Shopper’s Paradise
Just as its Parisian grande soeur is a haven of high-end boutiques, so too is Andrássy Avenue. Housed within its stunning turn-of-the-century buildings are some of the chicest boutiques in Budapest. The prestigious flagships of Louis Vuitton, Michael Kors and Burberry rub shoulders with edgier contemporary brands such as Scotch & Soda. For a refuel, sidestep the ubiquitous Starbucks for the more local flavours of Ecocafe, where the flat whites are served with typical Hungarian hospitality – and they’re exceedingly good. Liszt Ferenc Square also bristles with independent cafés, while Művész Kávéház (Artist Café) is a great stop for something a little stronger. Secure a table outside for a cold Borsodi, and watch Budapest’s well-heeled residents drift by.
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For The Culture Buffs
Once suitably revived, seek out the theatre district a little further up. Flanking the intersection at Nagymező Avenue, Budapest’s Broadway is a busy hub of opera houses, theatres and comedy clubs. The Budapest Operetta Theatre is housed in a gorgeous 19th-century building, with a programme that includes everything from Hungarian operas to contemporary musicals.
Those more interested in visual arts will find plenty to inspire in the area, too. Many of the side streets leading off Andrássy Avenue bristle with art galleries. An essential stop for creative minds is the House of Hungarian Photographers (Mai Manó House). Here, works by the greatest established and up-and-coming Hungarian photographers are presented in the beautifully restored residence of late Imperial and Royal Court photographer, Mai Manó.
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Continue down Andrássy Avenue and you’ll come across the grand Hungarian State Opera House. The façade of the striking neo-Renaissance building is a sight in itself, while inside it’s even more elaborate. With a busy programme of operas, musicals, dances and dramas, there’s always plenty going on. Time your visit to take in a matinée or book evening tickets and return for a night of top-quality entertainment.
End your tour of Andrássy Avenue on a high note at St Stephen’s Basilica, the largest church in Budapest. The magnificent Neoclassical Roman Catholic church is dedicated to Hungary’s first king, St Stephen, and houses some of the country’s most sacred treasures and artefacts.