If you are a geek traveller, you may only tolerate a geek Budapest guide in a tweet: and this is definitely not a tweet bite, not a tweet. Sorry about the length and loads of info. Can anyone help us with a geek Budapest tweet summery?
But let’s get back to geekdom. If you are a geek, somewhere in the cross section of interests in technology, arts, design, science and innovation, e.g. like talking to people about science fiction, robot football, comics, steam punk stuff, the übergeek projects of Make Magazine, the design / tech articles of Wired magazine, has TechCrunch in his / her feed reader, may have Burning Man Festival on his / her to do list, watches TED talks, or is just planning to launch a tech start up with a viable idea, Budapest will not let you down. At least, these are a couple of things we associate with being geek (and hacking away phones in a cool pub, to greet each other in a Victorian fashion ladies – gents, but let’s stick to the less colourful reality).
You can discover the beauties of Budapest, and its hidden gems on foot, or even on Segway (which is kind of geek, isn’t it? Until Marty McFly hoverboards reach the shops), scooter, Trabant, etc. Tours are available, you just have to ask. Geeks with kids (or who feel kids) – cut it short, head to Millenaris Park, a children’s heaven with the Palace of Wonders, an interactive tech playhouse, and check out Planetarium to observe stars from Budapest.
When we recommend events, programmes and places we are not thinking of the general Budapest things to do, which may or may not interest a geek, like the Hungarian GP Formula 1 or the spectacular air show right in front of the Parliament. We will focus on more niche opportunities. Luckily Hungary has geeks. Despite all the troubled historical background, there were some Hungarian inventors who eventually made it, like Erno Rubik, the inventor of the Rubik Cube, and probably the Greatest Geek Hungarian (sorry, Count Szechenyi), or Janos Neumann (probably you will know him by the name John von Neumann), the Prezi guys, etc.
Geek Things to Do in Budapest
Most events, meetups, unconferences and other informal gatherings are in Hungarian (with regards to the language of presentations or performances). But it should not deter you from meeting people there and talking to them – most geeks in Hungary have a good level of English. Many of the geek events are not on a regular basis, so you will need to check the relevant sites for upcoming events.
Kitchen Budapest (KIBU) – Kitchen Budapest is a geek media lab, with excellent artsy geeky truly experimental projects, interactive installations and more (mentioned in Wired on Kinetica Art Fair 2010). KIBU is short for KItchen BUdapest, the sole official / mainstream innovative übergeek hub in Budapest.
While Kibu is hardly a science park—it’s not affiliated with a university or research institute, for instance—it could mark a turning point in product development. For the last 40 years, research parks have been the model for moving ideas from university labs into the marketplace. The parks also have strived to incubate startups that could grow into corporations that would keep their headquarters and talent close to home. That campus-centric view is becoming out of date … (Business Week on KIBU)
Their self definition goes like this “It is an innovation lab where the fields of art, research work, startup development and education complete and support each other”KIBU is currently probably the only place in Hungary where there is a Makerbot from the US, the 3D printer replicator, which seem to be slowly spreading to households. Kitchen Budapest has random programmes, but you can also take a look around in the lab and talk to people. Check their calendar for upcoming events. Events might be in English, please contact them for further details. Contact info [at] kitchenbudapest [dot] hu, upcoming events can also be seen on their active KIBU Twitter account .
PlayIT – Budapest Game Show
Do wee need to say a lot about game shows? Stormtroopers and bladerunners are legal to appear in their stormy / worn down things at the Hungarian game show called PlayIT, you can wander about a Japanese village, try new games, etc. You can also take part in a cosplay at the show , the performance art inspired by comics, manga and anime, games and films. Members of the HoldfenyCon (yep, after the San Diego Comic Con) also participate in the event, and don their sci-fi, fantasy and anime costumes (HoldfenyCons are held once a year, for more details, click the link and use google translate).
International Comics Festival Budapest
The Hungarian Comics Festival (renaming itself and aiming to be an International Comics Fest in Central / Eastern Europe like the one in Lodz, Poland) is an annual festival, and comics fair where fans of comics can come together, take a look at the most recent comics published in Hungary and elsewhere, and buy comic books, series, magazines at the fair, take part in workshops and party with likeminded guys.The location of the festival has been moving in recent years. The date is sometime in May or so, so if you should come to Hungary in spring / summer, contact Kepregeny.net website for further info on their Facebook page (they have a very active forum). And if you cannot schedule your trip to Budapest for the Comics festival, you can still browse some of the best Hungarian comics.
Comics Shops in Budapest
- Komikon Comics shop in Kiraly street (38 Kiraly utca) Budapest
- Trillian CMA Comics Shop in Terez krt street (12 Terez korut by Oktogon Square) Budapest
- ComicsInvest – Comics Invest online comics shop in Hungary
Meetups in Budapest
There are loads of geeky meetups (casual meetings with short and concise presentations, then beers, wines, sandwiches, etc.) in Budapest, you can go directly pick your own topic (see Budapest meetups here), or read on and see our highlighted meetups here.
NewTech Meetup Budapest
If you are into new technologies and digital media (and probably less from the sales and marketing approach and more from the technological side), NewTech meetup in Budapest is a really cool and nice casual meetup to attend, and an established one – over 5 years now. At the meetup you can chat with likeminded people from the low to the high tech-community of Budapest. New technologies are showcased and taken apart (OK, lightly). Presentations are kept short and sweet (5 min), with a fair chance to socialize after the event – in English too.
You can sign up at the official Budapest Newtech meetup site, but if you don’t have the chance to register, just drop in, you will still be welcome. Some of the topics include: scalability, search engine algorithms, synthetic biology, video games, social shopping, and so on, and so forth. Previous presentations of the New Tech Meetup in Budapest are available here (most of them in Hungarian).
Sci Fi Meetup Budapest
There is a stronghold of science fiction fans who regularly come together at the
Tannhauser gate SF Portal Meetup in Budapest at Tundergyar in Tuzolto street. The language is of a tremendously complicated human tongue called Hungarian from the smallish landlocked and spacelocked planet called Hungary. There are a couple of presentations per meetup (again in Hungarian), but after the talks, you can switch to any other scifi lingo with the meetup members. And don’t forget, Klaatu barada nikto.
Tech Show (MMCluster) The Budapest Tech Show (MMKlaszter) is turning into a more open tech show as from 2012 not only Hungarian tech inventions but foreign ones with a working prototype can also apply to showcase their potential product to the world. You can contact them directly at techshow [at] mmklaszter [dot] com. The jury of the Tech Show selects 21 products (of Hungarians and other inventors applying from abroad), which can be seen and their developers met at the HITS ( Hungarian Innovation TechShow) in Club Aquarium in Budapest (under the fountains and artificial lake of Elisabeth Square, just by Deak square, downtown Budapest).
The name of the club (you will anyway be recommended to visit) in Hungarian is Akvarium Klub. The Hungarian Tech Show is relatively young, as their self-intro goes “The Hungarian Innovation TechShow (HITS) is Hungary’s top-tier exhibition of ICT innovation since 2009, each year showcasing the country’s latest and most promising digital products and services to an audience of professionals, investors, the representatives of the media, and the general public. ”
Mobile Picnic Budapest (MobilPiknik) an informal meeting with presentations, conversations, foods and drinks. The theme, as the name suggests is mobile phone apps. Basically, Mobile Picnic is a developer meeting, which comes together bi-monthly in U26 Club on Eiffel Square, right next to the Nyugati Railway Station (designed by the Eiffel Office in Paris). You can contact them at hello [at] mobilpiknik [dot] hu.
Social Picnic Budapest (SocialPiknik) is an informal meeting with presentations, conversations, foods and drinks. The theme, not surprisingly, is social media, in its various aspects (not only apps, frontend, backend, etc.). Basically, Social Picnic is for developers, service guys, social media marketeers, etc. The meeting (i.e. a big potpourri of anyone who is more interested in social media) comes together bi-monthly in U26 Club on Eiffel Square, just by Nyugati Train Station. You can contact them at hello [at] socialpiknik [dot] hu.
CoLabs Budapest is a startup center and tech hub, for a flat monthly price you can set up your own office with dozens of others, sharing space, time, experience and costs of running a freelance office. Cool place in a nice part of the city close to Szabadsag Square and Kossuth Square (you know, where that Batman gothic Hungarian Parliament building is). CoLabs enticing words about themselves:
Find your perfect matching co-founders, share your passion with top talented professionals, learn the tricks and hacks from seasoned mentors and introduce your plans to potential investors. Work in an entrepreneurial environment to get your business questions answered immediately and bounce your ideas off of fellow entrepreneurs. (CoLabs.hu)
StartUP Underground Conference (Hungarian startup meeting, with an entrepreneurial spirit), StartUp UC gets together about once a year, but it is not a rule of thumb, see their site for more details at SUU.hu
Researchers’ Night is an annual event held every September (on the 4th Friday) where you can watch robot soccer / robot football matches at Pazmany Peter University,Budapest, and there are all sorts of tech / science events at the Budapest Technical University.
Speedcubing contests in Budapest are not on a regular basis. Here are the Budapest events on the World Cube Association site. (and click here for speed cubing competitions all over the world, from HongKong to Brazil).
Steam Punk Hungary
The Hungarian steam punk community is lively and growing. They also have gatherings, like a picnic on old vehicles, and other time travels. If you love sci fi romance, and the revisiting the past with the present and future techniques, you may wish to meet these guys. You can contact them on the Sztimpank Facebook page or via email at sztpunk [at] gmail.com. They have a list of recommended shops in Budapest to buy some cool steampunk stuff, from corsets through jewelleries to cool gear stuff like steam punk goggles, wrist watches, etc. They may also give you a couple of ideas, things to do for a steam punk in Budapest, Hungary, like visiting the Museum of Transport in the City Park of Budapest, eating at Verne Restaurant in Vaci street (the interior of Verne Restaurant looks like the Nautilus submarine), Vagon Restaurant by Deli Train Station (Vermezo street, District I), or elegantly dining on a nostalgic train of the Hungarian Train Company (MAV)
TED x Youth Budapest is an independently organized TED event in Budapest (in Hungarian) – News here
Who paints the town red, green, blue, purple, brown, orange? 3D building mapping is often made by the Hungarian organization called Colourful City (official website and contacts here)
Geeky bars, pubs and geek friendly cafes and restaurants in Budapest
- Ruin pubs in Budapest – Ruin pubs are not ruinous, but they are more like squatting a deserted residential building in downtown Budapest (typically District VI or VII) by turning it into a really cool multilayered colourful community pub, bar and event venue. Basically almost all of the ruin pubs (cool avantgarde and alternative pubs with recycled furniture, wall art, nice concerts, great atmosphere, like Instant, Szimplakert, Mumus, etc. There is a frequent bike flea market at Szimpla Kert ruin pub.
- Frisco Cafe Budapest at 11 Matyas street in District IX is inviting for sitting comfortably with your laptop, having a nice coffee, getting student discount, coffee to go, free wifi, work corner, coffee specialties, lemonades, cordials, sandwiches, hotdogs, etc.
- U26 clubshop – on Terez korut section of the Grand Boulevard (just by the Nyugati Train Station on Eiffel Square Budapest), slightly confusingly the website is Bisztronomia.hu
- Cucu Bar and Bazaar in Naphegy street on Naphegy hill, District I, Budapest E-mail: email@example.com
- Verne Restaurant – steam punk place to eat in Vaci street Budapest, with Verne themes. See their official site here.
- Fuchsli Bar on Belgrade Embankment (Belgrád rakpart) Geek friendly place of the more elegant sort, and wines are abundant. Prices are affordable. Email fuchsli [at] freemail.hu.
- There are more, including lots of wifi cafes in Budapest (cafes with free wifi, good coffees / teas), like Cafe Farger in District V, Apacuka Bistro in Raday street (District IX) and Apacuka in Nagymezo Street (District VI), Treehugger Dan’s bookstore and expat lounges (by the Opera House in Lazar street, the one in Csengery Street closed down in Jan 2012), RC Cafe by Blaha Square (in Rakoczi Center), Macska Cafe in Berkocsis street (District VIII)
Artsy Geeks – Things to do in Budapest
If you are more on the artsy geek side, take a look around the Ludwig Museum in the Palace of Arts (cool contemporary art places), or in the Arts Hall (Kunsthalle) on Heroes’ Square. Contemporary Architectural tours are offered by Artur.org at artur.org.hu where Artur is not simply a guy, but the Hungarian Contemporary Architecture Center’s (KÉK) Budapest tour-webpage, which offers 7 contemporary architectural walks, and bike rides with 64 buildings built in the last 20 years or so in Budapest, Hungary. Of course, geek nightlife is on in Budapest: party at the ruin pubs in Budapest (bars, party places with concerts, fairs, film screenings, etc. – really cool and geek community places in District VI and VII downtown Budapest), or splash at the Szechenyi Spa Bath sparties (spa parties) with occasional beautiful 3D building mappings on the walls of the neo-baroque palace like Szechenyi Spa (don’t forget to bring your flip flops, and a compact towel – but as a potential hitchhiker you may already have one with you).
Geek Shopping – Things to Buy in Budapest
There are loads of places where you can do some geek shopping, take a walk in Kiraly street and Raday street too. You can also visit the WAMP Design Fair, a monthly contemporary design market in downtown Budapest, go to Gozsdu Courtyard in the Old Jewish quarters to browse on the Sunday GOUBA Fair flea market / bazaar with live shows. Once at Gozsdu Court, take a look around the [SZOBA|R|T] art gallery. shop around in Sugar design candy / pastry shop, or in the upscale Eventuell Gallery (just by Vaci utca shopping street), etc. Tisza shoes are the Hungarian answer to the American Converse shoes – sporty, comfy, flat, colourful – part of a geeky look (they also sell clothes and accessories).
Boardgame shops in Budapest
There are two outstanding boardgame shops for boardgame geeks in Budapet where you can surely find some local treasure too, and / or talk to / play with boardgamers.
- Szellemlovas (Ghost rider) is at 18/a Szondi street Budapest, halfway between Oktogon Square and Nyugati Train Station, open from Mon to Sat. Official website is szellemlovas.hu
- Gemklub (Game Club) is at 30/b Raday street – where dozens of Budapest restaurants are in a cluster – in District IX, open from Mon to Sat.
Geek Travellers – Worldwide
For other geek places, things to do and ideas in the world, see this geek map.