Budapest is known for showing off the districts that hug the Danube River. Giving you beautiful architecture, historic sites, and perfectly laid cobblestoned streets. Yea these spots are the top most visited places to see while in Budapest, but if you’re looking to learn more about the true history of Budapest, then you want to take a tour with Budapest Flow and discover District 8.
Gentrification is one word that best describes the current situation in District 8. Buildings that were bombed during WWII are still visible today while other areas in district 8 are newly renovated. The juxtaposition from one street to another tells the story about the past and it’s clear future.
The tour started out in the beautiful area near Corvin Mall. Where the shops and restaurants line the streets making it a beautiful area to visit. This is where the locals shop, go to the gym, meet friends, and more! This is not a tourist area per say. Out of the two years I’ve lived here, I never walked even one block away from this plaza, but on this tour we did. And I’m glad we did.
I saw crumbling buildings standing right next to newly renovated structures. Our tour guide from Budapest Flow took us through the streets, and into some of the establishments. From real ruin bars, to cool restaurants this area is literally a locals only hidden gem. The prices reflect the neighborhood as this is an area is where immigrants, low income families and college students live. This area includes liberal activists and right-wing locals who clash when in it comes to how establishments should be run today. Bars and restaurants alike are being kicked out of the neighborhood because of their events that include a more liberal mindset. Crazy huh?!?
In the 1980’s prostitution, drugs and homelessness took over this area deeming it as one of the most dangerous places in Budapest. If you google Józsefváros, you won’t see many positive search results. Just 10 short years ago, the city began to clean up this district. There are renovated playgrounds next to dilapidated buildings, and street art at bus stops to give positivity to the patrons of this neighborhood. Change is coming!
Now there are cute coffee shops and bars that hold events, as well as markets, restaurants and more. While most of the area is still on the rise, this is slowly becoming a hipsters hangout one day at a time.
It’s crazy to learn what the city has been through, and what it is going through as gentrification sweeps this area. We learned how this area has gone through its ups and downs, and is clearly on the rise again.
My favorite part is when we crossed the boulevard from low income and entered the affluent Palace District, which is also apart of the 8th district. During the 19th century the aristocrats built beautiful Palaces with lavish finishings. During the tour, we walked into the Szabó Ervin library, which was once a palace to an aristocrat. With a napping infant, we settled for a quick peek into the lobby with and continued our tour. A great way to see what the old Palaces used to look like is to buy a $1 tourist pass at The Szabó Ervin library, head to the 4th floor and enjoy the 19th century charm.
We were then taken to a beautiful garden where ivy grows along the walls and statues set the scene in the courtyard. It was beautiful.
It’s funny what I saw in our 3 hour tour. We started off in a gentrified booming area of corvin, wined through the back streets of the 8th district to get an inside look at what it’s like to live in the 8th, stumbled into some underground urban bars and restaurants. Then we crossed into the wealthy neighborhood of the Palace District. To think what I saw, within 1 or 2 blocks from one another. And to think we were just a 10 minute walk from the City Center. It was an astounding day and my husband and I are so glad we did this tour.
The last tour we took with Budapest Flow, showed us the beautiful street art in the city center, and now we explored the up and coming 8th district. We can’t wait to take another tour with Budapest Flow. They offer a range of tours and you won’t be disappointed.