- 7 Jun 2023 10:31 AM
6. Krisztina Antikvárium
Beside the popular Déryné bistro, this erudite antiquarian opened in the 1990s but has the feel of somewhere much older. “Old books, maps and engravings” says the sign, barely hinting at the literary treasures contained within, reflecting the owner’s own tastes as a lifelong bookwork and collector.
In terms of English-language editions, there are probably better selections elsewhere in town, but this shouldn’t stop you coming here for any enjoyable browse in a relaxing part of town.
The building has its own history as it was once in the capable hands of the Auguszt family who still run one of Budapest’s most famous confectioneries. The name refers to the shop’s location by Krisztina körút in Krisztinaváros, a des-res quarter of Buda.
1013 Budapest, Roham utca 7.
Open Mon-Fri 10am-6pm.
Image from Krisztina FB page
If you’re just going to go to one secondhand bookstore in Budapest, this should be the one. Not only a shop but a café and cultural centre, Massolit is a hive of expat activity, whether that means sitting here all day at one of the coveted tables with your laptop, presenting your latest literary journal or just browsing the stock.
New and used editions sit side by side but it’s mainly secondhand, and there’s a lot of it. Staff can explain the logic to the order – yes, there is an order to this labyrinth of print – but suffice to say fiction is alphabetised, and non-fiction related to Eastern Europe can be found in the narrow middle space.
This is also a great place for postcards, notebooks, exhibitions of artists rarely showcased elsewhere and scrawled recommendations by staff. The name is taken from Bulgakov’s eternally hip Soviet novel, ‘Master and Margarita’.
You can take your new purchase out to the little garden terrace and enjoy it over superior coffee and a slice of the supreme carrot cake sold here.
1072 Budapest, Nagy Diófa utca 30.
Open daily 9.30am-7pm.
Image from Massolit FB page
8. Múzeum Antikvárium
In business since 1999, this is yet another antiquarian store on the literary strip of Múzeum körút. The founders were a quartet of bibliophiles attached to the longer-established Honterus next door. While no less erudite, this feels livelier, mainly thanks to the wonderful posters advertising long-forgotten films and products from this part of the world.
The place is quite small but packed with books, maps and manuscripts, its modest English-language section located towards the back. It’s also another operation that hosts auctions, carried out online.
1053 Budapest, Múzeum körút 35.
Open Mon-Sat 10am-6pm.
9. Tordai Antikvárium
Located here since 2005 before the ruin-bar boom developed around it, Tordai is a labour of love for the owner, who once trained to work in the film industry.
His other labour of love is his grandchild, the reason this lovely little shop may close early on occasional afternoons – otherwise, it’s ideal for a slow browse before you plunge yourself into Budapest’s bar scene.
There’s a reasonable selection of English-language editions, novels, guide books and general non-fiction running along a shelf or two. Most of all, though, you’re here for the atmosphere, a quiet sanctuary of calm and old typewriters a million miles from the bustle of Király utca.
1077 Budapest, Király utca 31.
Open Mon-Thur 10am-6pm.
Photo Tordai Antikvárium's Facebook page
Set alongside the laid-back wine and cycle shop Vinikli, ‘City Wall’ is crying out for you to pop in and find a book to peruse over a glass of red.
Selecting might be problematic, however, as a quarter of this cosy store comprises foreign-language editions, mainly English and much of them cheap used Penguins. There’s now no excuse not to try that last Hemingway novel you’ve never bothered with until now.
This can be yours for a few hundred forints, less than the price of that glass of wine next door, or there are histories and biographies to plunge into.
The name refers to its location – Pest’s original medieval city wall ran along here, bits of which can still be seen in the parking garage of the Mercure Hotel nearby.
1053 Budapest, Múzeum körút 27.
Open Mon-Fri 10am-6pm.
Words & photos by Peterjon Cresswell
Peterjon has been researching the byways of Budapest for 30 years, extending his expertise across Europe to produce guidebooks for Time Out and his own website liberoguide.com