Finding Budapest’s Sweet Side – A Self Guided Tour

**Warning! This post is very long and features pictures of delicious desserts.**

See, I'm not lying (strudel and kreme cake from Ruzswum Bakery)

See, I’m not lying (strudel and kreme cake from Ruszwum Bakery)

While preparing for our visit to Budapest, I discovered the delectable sounding Sweet Budapest Culinary & Cultural Waking Tour; a three hour walking tour designed to take participants deep into the world of delicious Hungarian confectioneries and provide details on Hungary’s baking tradition. As a lover of all things baked – the act of baking; cakes, cookies, pies, and pastries; Michael Phelps – I immediately wanted to join the tour while in Budapest. Unfortunately some things really are too good to be true, and with a price tag of 19,000 HUF (nearly $91 CAD) per person, participating while staying on budget wasn’t feasible.

Not one to be easily deterred, I decided that if I couldn’t join a guided tour I would create my own. Now, after stuffing our faces with delicious strudels and cakes, Travis and I have decided to share our “self guided tour” online for anyone else that finds themselves a little short of cash in the Hungarian capital.

First, A little bit of history…

Being interested in Hungary’s baking culture and history, I wanted to incorporate as much as I could into our tour.  In addition to inhaling sweet treats, it was a great way to convince Travis that my tour was going to be worthwhile.

Hungary has been conquered and controlled by it’s neighbours for hundreds of years, and these outsiders have all left their mark on the country’s culinary scene. In the 15th century, under the reign of King Matthias and his Italian wife Queen Beatrice, Hungary not only experienced a cultural high, but also the introduction of Italian food. Later, in the 16th century when the country was ruled by the Ottomans, filo pastry and coffee were introduced, as well as Turkish adaptations of cakes and desserts. Finally, as the Hapsburg monarchy took control in the 17th century, Hungary became famous for its cakes and pastries.

One such famous pastry, Kreme cake from Augusts

One such famous pastry, Kreme cake from Auguszt Cucraszda

The sweet treats to try…

Hungary’s bakeries are full of delectable looking cakes and pastries. Below are a few of the more traditional confections historically linked to the country.


Two generous slices of Flodni (left) and Dobos Cake (right) from Frohlich Cucraszda

Dobos Cake

A five layer sponge cake with chocolate butter cream and caramel glaze

Named after its inventor and well known confectioner Jozef C. Dobos, the cake was unveiled to the world at the National General Exhibition of Budapest in 1885. In attendance were Franz Joseph I and his wife Empress Elizabeth, making the royals among the first to taste the cake. In the years that followed, Dobos traveled Europe, introducing the cake to the masses, but kept the recipe a secret until his retirement in 1906.

Fun Fact: Dobos means drummer in Hungarian. As a long running joke, people say the cake’s name comes from the caramelized icing which is so hard it can be beaten like a drum.


A layered semi-sweet cake that features walnut paste, apple slivers, and poppy seeds.

Popular on the Jewish holiday of Purim, Flodni is an emblematic Jewish-Hungarian cake. From my research it appears most Flodni are cooked up in the kitchens of Jewish grandmothers and it can be very difficult to find in bakeries and pastry shops outside of Budapest’s Jewish district.

The Famous Hungarian "Chimney Cake"

The Famous Hungarian “Chimney Cake” from Molnar’s



A thin yeast pastry ribbon wound around a wooden cylinder, sprinkled with sugar that caramelizes while the pastry bakes

Originating from Transylvania, Kurtoskalaces, also known as Chimney Cake or Stove Cake, is famous as Hungary’s oldest pastry. It is sold in bakeries and by street vendors, as well as at carnivals and fairs. Once the pastry has cooked and while it is still warm, the caramelized sugar is topped with cinnamon, or sprinkled with crushed walnuts or almonds.


Delicious Sour Cherry Strudel from Szalai Cukraszda


Hungarian strudel made with filo pastry and stuffed with sweet fruit fillings such as sour cherry or apple, or savory soft cheeses, spinach, or cabbage.

Although commonly associated with Austria, the strudel we know and love today actually originated in Hungary and became popular in the 18th century under the Habsburg Empire. The oldest strudel recipe, dating to 1696, was handwritten and is currently held at the Viennese City Library.

Fun Fact: Legend has it that the Austrian Emperor’s perfectionist cook decreed that it should be possible to read a love letter through the strudel’s thinly rolled dough. (Although if it’s my heart you’re after, skip the love letter and just bring the strudel!)

Rigo Jancsi Cake

A traditional Hungarian and Viennese cake made with chocolate sponge cake and pastry cream

This cake’s history is as intriguing as that of the entire country of Hungary. It is named after a Hungarian gypsy who became famous for seducing Clara Ward, wife of Belgian Prince de Chimay and only daughter of American millionaire E.B. Ward. Creating quite the scandal in the late 1800s, Rigo and Clara fell in love and married. Sources are unsure if Rigo Jancsi created the cake for his beloved Clara with an unknown confectioner, or he simply bought the pastry as a gift for her and the confectioner named it after him.

About a bakery, or five…

Budapest is home to plenty of bakeries, called Cukraszdas,  however to ensure you’re sampling the best baking Budapest has to offer, you should probably hit up it’s best bakeries. Based on my extensive research, both online and via my taste buds, here are a few Cukraszdas worth checking out.



Part of the Hungarian confectionery scene for more than 150 years, it was established in 1827 in the Castle Hill district and is still in operation today. Full of history, the bakery’s cherry wood counter is original and was hand crafted before the First World War. Although likely to be crowded and full of hungry tourists, the delicious pastries are worth the wait. Try a Ruszwurm Kreme, the bakery is famous for them!

Located at Szentharomsag Utca 7 near the Fisherman’s Bastion. We sampled one kreme and one strudel for a total of 1000 HUF.

Molnar’s Kurtoskalacs Bakery

According to locals this is the best place to pick up an authentic and delicious Chimney Cake. Easily one of our favorite treats during our tour through Budapest’s bakeries, the Chimney Cake is a must try – and one is easily big enough (and sweet enough) to share! Luckily, Molnar’s is conveniently located on Vaci Utca, one of the most tourist trodden streets in the city.

Located at Vaci Utca 31. Open from 9am-10pm daily. Cost: 900 HUF for one cake

A glimpse of the bakery from the street

A glimpse of the bakery from the street

Auguszt Cucraszda

Originally established in 1870, the shop was destroyed by a bomb during the Second World War, after which the state assumed ownership during Hungary’s communist era. Fortunately this story has a happy ending, as the Auguszt family reopened their own shop on Feny Utca in 1957 and have been baking up delicious treats using their original recipes ever since. With three locations in Budapest, check out the most well-known, and insanely beautiful store on Kossuth Lajos Utca, complete with chandelier and wall murals.

Located at Kossuth Lajos Utca 14-16. Known for their Kremes (490 HUF each), they also had Rigo Jancsi cake I believe, which was a bit hard to find.

Frohlich Cukraszka

Founded in 1953, Frohlich Cukraszka is presently the only kosher bakery in Budapest. It’s also where you can try the Jewish specialty of Flodni as well as any of the other beautiful desserts on display in their large glass cases. Located in the Jewish District, Frohlich is surrounded by Budapest’s best restaurants and crazy/famous/popular ruin pubs.

Located at Dob Utca 22. A slice of Flodni and Dobos cake will set you back a mere 930 HUF.

Szalai Cukraszda

A small bakery tucked behind the Parliament Building, Szalai is family run with a legendary reputation. Although we had to battle the dusty construction site currently surrounding the Parliament Building to find this shop, it was well worth it as we were treated to the BEST strudel I have ever eaten. Ever. In my entire life. Period.

Located at Balassi Balint Utca 4. We couldn’t resist trying both sour cherry and apple strudel for a total of 760 HUF.

Some tips on putting everything together…

We managed to visit five of Budapest’s most famous and beloved bakeries during our time in the city, and as much as I would have loved to join a guided tour (where someone else could order in perfect Hungarian, as opposed to my butchered attempts) our self-guided version had some incredible perks. Namely, we were able to split up our visits between days. Not only did this allow us to maintain somewhat normal blood-sugar levels, but it also meant that we could pop into a bakery when we were in the neighbourhood – almost like a local. To make this work logistically, I mapped out each bakery’s location on our free walking tour map, and as we planned out our day, or stopped to check directions during the day, we could simply detour into one of the five bakeries listed above.

The other great thing about our self-guided tour is that it saved us an incredible amount of money. Considering the original guided tour costs 19,000 HUF per person, Travis and I managed to spend only 4,080 HUF, or roughly ten percent of the cost of the guided tour. As a result, we could enjoy our cake guilt free and still afford dinner afterwards.

Finally, before wrapping everything up and sending you on your own delicious route through Budapest, I should touch on our favorite treats from the tour. While we both agreed that the Chimney Cake and Strudels are delicious, Travis liked the Jewish Flodni much more than I did, likely because it isn’t very sweet. On the other hand, I devoured the Kremes without offering him much of a bite. I don’t think you can go wrong trying any of the desserts listed here, or something completely different that catches you eye from the display case. When it comes to trying new or unknown foods around the world Travis and I both prefer to jump in head first!

An unintended side effect of getting a slice of cake to go - opening the pretty paper like  a giddy child on Christmas morning

An unintended side effect of getting a slice of cake to go, excitedly opening the pretty paper like it’s Christmas morning

Good luck on your own tour and let us know how it turns out!

Today we are sharing this post on the Sunday Traveler link up – come swing by for more travel inspiration!

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