Buzzing, bohemian Budapest brims with splendid street art. Take a walk through the Hungarian capital, and you’ll find colorful creations that use all sorts of surfaces as a canvas, from sticker art on lampposts to mural-clad firewalls.
The city’s many romantically dilapidated buildings form a core part of the Budapest’s charm. Even as many of these structures have been demolished, the blank walls revealed by the absence of one building offer artists the opportunity to inject some color back into the city on the side of a building that still stands.
Although some of Budapest’s street art is not legal and might even disappear – like the famous Banksy-style stencil art depicting Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán atop Thomas the Tank Engine – most mural work is legal and a long-term fixture.
You can find street art both legal and less so across the city, the most concentrated and most spectacular examples are found around the Jewish Quarter in Budapest’s District VII.
Here’s where to find fabulous street art in Budapest.
A short history of street art in Budapest
The Jewish Quarter (District VII) is the center of Budapest’s street art scene, with many of the city’s best murals within walking distance of one another. That didn’t just happen by chance.
Now one of Budapest’s coolest neighborhoods, District VII has come a long way from a painful past. Once a walled-in ghetto, the district is home to buildings that were damaged during WWII and left in ruins for decades after. As part of a conscious movement to revitalize this central area, Budapest commissioned artists from the world over to adorn run-down buildings with contemporary wall art, filling the district with new life and creative flair.
Urban groups like Neopaint and Színes Város (Colorful City Group) bring talented artists from around the country and around the world to add color to empty walls. Today, a stroll through the streets of District VII feels like a visit to an energized urban art show. The locations of Budapest’s best street art are collected in the comprehensive Budapest street art map, and these are the must-visit street-art pieces in the area.
Rubik’s Cube, Rumbach Sebestyén utca 5
Did you know the Rubik’s Cube was invented in Budapest? Keep walking past the parking lot and look at the next firewall to your left to find a huge painting by urban art collective Neopaint that pays tribute to an iconic Hungarian invention that keeps the whole world puzzling to this day.
The mural was painted in 2014 to celebrate not only the 40th anniversary of the invention of the Rubik’s Cube but also the 70th birthday of its inventor, Ernő Rubik. Small, colorful circles in a posterized style create the image – a sort of visual puzzle itself, one that echoes Ernő Rubik’s motto “There is always a solution – and not just one.” These words are written on the mural in Hungarian in the bottom left corner.
Sissy, Rumbach Sebestyén utca 11–13
The best place to start is at Deák Ferenc tér, where Metro lines 1, 2 and 3 converge. Walk through the big arch at Madács Imre tér and continue straight on until you reach Rumbach Sebestyén utca. Turn right and keep walking until you see the ornate Moroccan-style synagogue on your left. In front of you is your first mural stop.
District VII is called the Jewish Quarter, but the official name for this area is Erzsébetváros (Elizabeth Town). The name comes from Hungary’s favorite queen, the Habsburg royal Empress Elisabeth (Sisi or Sissy), who inspired this mural by Neopaint. On the first impression, it seems like a simple homage to the Austro-Hungarian empress – but upon closer inspection, you’ll see it’s really a love letter to the district. Sissy is the face of Erzsébetváros, the neighborhood named after her, but if you look closely, the mural has a roll call of the most important street names in the district, with Rumbach Sebestyén utca, the street this mural is on, highlighted in yellow.
Angel of Budapest, Dob utca 4
From Rumbach Sebestyén utca, turn right onto Dob utca , and walk as if you were going back to your starting point on Deák Ferenc tér. Here, Spanish artist Okuda San Miguel used a cavalcade of colors to commemorate the “Angel of Budapest,” the Spanish diplomat Ángel Sanz Briz, who rescued some 5000 Hungarian Jews from deportation to Auschwitz. The Jewish Quarter became a walled ghetto in 1944, caging in Jewish people before they were deported to camps. This mural, around the corner from the Great Synagogue and within the perimeter of the onetime ghetto, is a moving and colorful tribute to a man who saved many members of the Jewish community, perhaps even those who lived in the houses here on this street.
6:3 Match of the Century, Rumbach Sebestyén utca 6–10
Continue straight past the Sissy mural, and you’ll reach a parking lot to your right. Once you get here, turn back and look at the firewall for the next mural. This 1000-sq-m artwork, also by Neopaint as part of its firewall-rehab project in the district, commemorates one of the most important games in Hungary’s soccer history, when the nation’s Golden Team with Ferenc Puskás defeated England 6–3 at Wembley Stadium in London.
Neopaint painted this gigantic mural in 2013 to celebrate the match’s 60th anniversary, under the patronage of Gyula Grocicsm, the goalkeeper for the 1953 Golden Team. The mural depicts the iconic moment of Hungary’s epic win, alongside an entry ticket to the game and the front page of the next day’s newspaper reporting the legendary match.
Love Thy Neighbour, Dob utca 40
From Angel of Budapest, turn around and walk back until you reach number 40, where British artist Luke Embden painted a big red heart on the wall as a commission for the Colorful City Festival in 2016. Since the 2022 war in Ukraine broke out next door, the heart has been repainted in the colors of the Ukrainian flag, giving the mural’s title Love Thy Neighbour an even more relevant and poignant meaning.
Greengrocer, Dob utca 48
Continue along Dob utca, passing the square to your right, and you’ll see a vibrant street scene: an apartment block with a shop, several windows and balconies with people sitting outside and watering the plants. When you look closer, however, you’ll see it’s merely a mural.
Neopaint created this trompe l’oeil work in 2013 as one of its first murals for the Firewall Rehab project. Of all the group’s output, this mural has the strongest connection to the neighborhood because it depicts residents in the area – including “Aunt Zsuzsa,” who operated Lumen Grocery, which stood opposite this building when the work was painted but sadly no longer remains. When leak damaged the building in 2016, the collective soon repainted the much-loved mural.
Alice, Kertész utca 27
Walk past Greengrocer on Dob utca and turn right onto Kertész utca. Keep walking until you reach a parking lot to your left at no 27, where you’ll find a mural by Spaniard Dan Ferrer, whose work graces the streets of New York, Rome, Milan and London. He painted this piece in 2017 as part of the Colorful City Festival.
Ferrer said the message of this piece is that children are the future, full of potential and hope, and need to be nurtured with motivation. Borrowing from Alice in Wonderland, Dan depicted a distressed child with scarred skin and a tired gaze trapped in a house she has grown too big for. Elements from the original Alice in Wonderland story appear in this surreal mural, like the “eat me” cookies in the bottom left and the tiny door on the right.
Man of the Year, Wesselényi utca 40
Continue on Kertész utca past Alice to Wesselényi and then turn right and keep walking. Just before you cross Akácfa utca, turn around and you’ll see this painted firewall at no 40 on your left. It depicts a 1957 Time magazine cover featuring the Hungarian Freedom Fighter as the “Man of the Year.”
The local council commissioned this piece from Neopaint to mark the 60th anniversary of the magazine issue. During Hungary’s 1956 uprising against Soviet oppression, the “Boys of Pest” were young people – often adolescents – who fought for their freedom and beliefs, standing strong against Soviet tanks. There’s a specific reason why this location was picked for this mural, and if you look carefully at the image, the background resembles the surrounding street. For it’s at this very intersection that freedom fighters József Jambrik and Sándor Merő were killed.