books, old & new


Bookshops, Fancy Papers and Bindings,  and Music stores.

There are a chain of good Libri bookshops that generally have a wide selection of foreign language titles.  One is on Váci utca (#32).  A far grander one is on Rakoczy utca, a block off the ring road.

For sheet music and cds, the Rózsavölgyi shop at Szervita ter #5, and their book selection is good as well.  They also have a ticket agency within the store, where you can book tickets for concerts, shows, and events. 

For books on the arts, the kiosk in the Palace of the Arts is surprisingly good. 

And there are a variety of antiquarian bookshops on Müzeum körut and a block over on Magyar utca. On Magyar there's an interesting shop that also sells posters and paper ephemera: [in Hungarian]

Posters can be very difficult to find, but there’s an antique shop with an extraordinary collection of vintage movie posters (they sell off their duplicates), very near the Central Café (the Ernst Galeria)

English language titles are the specialty of Bestsellers, near Central European University (Oktober 6 utca 11).  There is a wonderful English language used book shop on Semmelweiss utca (#14; 06 1 - 337 7453), around the corner from the Gerloczy Café.  It’s the Red Bus Bookshop, and is very much worth a visit; great place, great selection, great ambience. 

On Vaci utca towards the Central Market there is a bookstore with excellent selection of English and other foreign language books given its small size, the Lira Konyvesbolt at #63.  And there are book kiosks in almost every Metro station and shopping mall.  Think about this: there are fewer Hungarians than there are citizens of New Jersey.  No non-Hungarians speak Hungarian (a language related, very tangentially, only to Finnish, larded with a sprinkling of Turkish roots and globalspeak neologisms). And yet there are literally dozens and dozens of Hungarian publishers.  Imagine dozens and dozens of publishers devoted exclusively to printing books for the citizens of the state of New Jersey.

There’s a new bookshop and café on Andrassy ut, between the Opera and Oktogon, with a good selection of English language (and other non-Hungarian) books and a very pleasant environment.

The Budapest Public Library is a remarkable renovation of an old building to accommodate new technologies.  The restoration of the old bourgeois palace meshes surprisingly cleanly with a modern atrium and central catalog area.  Very worth wandering into, though it requires a card for access you can either talk your way in or simply ignore anyone who tries to stop you from entering the building (just keep repeating that you don’t speak Hungarian; it works for me).  and

The CEU (Central European University) campus is another similar project that has respectfully restored existing buildings while linking them into a very modern function and utility. Nador utca 9.  Its bookstore has a very good selection of English language books.

There is a lovely little shop that sells papers and boxes and similar items (and will custom make boxes for you if you wish), around the corner from the Café Gerloczy on the short block that runs off to the right of the Café. (Vitkovics Mihaly utca)  And off Vaci utca there is a small shop that sells leather bound journals, albums, calendars, and address books (I don’t recall which of the two or three streets it’s on that run between Petofi Sandor utca -- the avenue that you walk along as you turn right on exiting our building -- and Vaci utca -- one avenue westward, towards the river).


Except for the fact that they're mostly in Hungarian, Budapest is a book lover's paradise.  There are bookshops everywhere, old and new, rare, used, in Hungarian, English, German, French...I once spent a daytrip in Szeged visiting an expat antiquarian bookseller's immense collection; you can walk down and around Muzeum körut sorting through the rare can browse in one of the many bookshops in Metro stations, or have a cup of coffee on Andrassy while you shop.