Budapest Opera House

Great Architecture and Performances – Hungarian State Opera House

The Budapest Opera House in district VI. awaits you with rich musical programme throughout the year.

The architecture of the building in itself worth a visit.

Even if you aren’t an opera fan, a visit to the Budapest Opera House is a must.

Located on the elegant Andrássy Avenue you’ll find numerous other sights, restaurants and cafes in the neighbourhood.

Hungarian State Opera house from outside
Hungarian State Opera House

Location & Getting There

Getting There:

Guided Tours in the Budapest Opera House

Visit the Opera House on a 1-hour guided tour and learn about its history and architecture. It’s a great way to see the building’s interior if you don’t have time to attend a performance.

What’s more, you’ll also treated to a live mini-concert at the end of the tour.

  • Tours in English start every day at 13.30, 15.00 and 16.30 all the year round.

Visitors can also attend a 5-minute mini concert at the end of each tour (included in the ticket price)

Artists of the Hungarian State Opera dressed in costume will perform 2 popular opera arias live accompanied with recorded orchestra play.

The concert’s venue is the marble Main Staircase. The mini concert is optional, ticket costs 690 HUF.

Tours start at the main entrance.

Tickets For A Guided Tour:

  • 9 000 HUF/person
The entrance of the Opera House in daytime
Opera House Main Entrance
The Opera House at the blue hour
The Opera House at the blue hour

History and Architecture of Budapest Opera House

Budapest’s Opera House will enchant you not only with its ballet and opera performances but its fine neo-Renaissance architecture.

The building fits well in with the similarly elegant neighbourhood on Andrássy Avenue. Hungary’s greatest Historicist architect, Miklós Ybl designed the building for the Millennium celebrations in 19th century.

Among numerous other buildings, he designed the Castle Bazaar and Royal Gardens in Buda, at the foot of the Royal Palace, that got nicely refurbished in 2014, The complex has been turned into a cultural and entertainment centre while preserving the historic edifices.

The Opera House facade in the 19.century
The Opera House in the 19. Century

Construction started in 1875 and the building was finished in 1884. Ybl oversaw the work himself with painstaking care.

The building cost a lot of money, the auditorium was decorated with more than 7 kgs of gold. Hundreds of statues and paintings decorate the Budapest Opera House both inside and out.

Emperor Franz Joseph financed the construction, though he received little recognition for his generosity.

He in turn didn’t appreciated the architect’s work on the opening ceremony: “It’s very beautiful. I like it very much.” was all he said about Europe’s most magnificent and modern opera house.

Front of Budapest Opera House
The Opera House today

Budapest’s second opera house, the Erkel Ferenc Theatre on Köztársaság tér in district VIII. also belongs to and managed by the Hungarian State Opera House.

Budapest Opera House From The Outside

Statues of the world greatest composers, including Mozart, Beethoven, Verdi adorn the main facade.

Seated statues of Franz Liszt and Ferenc Erkel, the first director of the Opera House stand on the sides of the main entrance.

Wrought iron lamps decorate the main entrance. Two imposing stone sphinxes guard the main entrance.

On the right you’ll find the entrance for artists, while on the left there’s a carriage-way and entrance to the Royal Staircase.

In the niches at the first floor level statues of the four muses of opera reside.

Statue of Ferenc Erkel at budapest opera house
Statue of Ferenc Erkel composer
candelabra in front of the budapest opera house
Massive street candelabra in front of the main entrance
statue of Liszt Ferenc at budapest opera house
Statue of Ferenc Liszt
Powered by GetYourGuide

The Interior of the Budapest Opera House

The interior boasts a impressive foyer with a double grand staircase, and grey marble columns supporting the arches.

Works of famous Hungarian artists decorate the interior.

Beautiful frescoes and statues represent mythological motifs. Mosaic tiles cover the floor that resemble to ancient Greek mosaics.

The three-storey high, horseshoe-shaped main auditorium can seat nearly 1,300 people.

On the ceiling you can see Karoly Lotz’s breathtaking frescoes depicting Olympus and the Greek gods.

The Grand Stair Case in the Opera House
The Grand Staircase
Chandelier in the main hall
Chandelier in the Main Hall
Chandelier in the Auditorium
Chandelier in the Auditorium
Chandelier in the Red Parlour
Chandelier in the Red Parlour

A huge gilded chandelier hangs down from the ceiling. Every level has a different layout and decoration. Gold and red dominate the lavish auditorium that reflects elegance.

Do visit the buffet in the break not just for a glass of nice Hungarian wine, but it’s a splendid site in itself.

On the ceiling you can admire main events from Dionysos life. Landscape paintings by Árpád Feszty decorate the sidewalls.

During the reconstruction between 1980-84 the Opera House regained its original splendour to celebrate the 100th anniversary of its opening.

The Budapest Opera house soon became one of the leading cultural venues of Europe. Ferenc Erkel, composer of Hungary’s national anthem and founder of the Hungarian opera, was the first director.

The Auditorium in the Opera House
The Auditorium

Gustav Mahler also directed the opera house and personally directed two Puccini operas here. Other famous conductors include Otto Klemperer or Sergio Failloni.

The Royal Box
The Royal Box
The royal staircase
The Royal Staircase
The Bertalan Székely Parlour
The Bertalan Szekely Parlour

Programs and Tickets to Opera Performances

You can choose from 50 major performances, including operas and ballets during the main season between September and mid-June.

You can view performances like the Verdi’s Aida, Mozart’s Don Giovanni, Puccini’s Madame Butterfly or Wagner’s Parsifal.

Several programs of the Budapest Spring Festival and the CAFE Budapest Autumn Festival take place in Budapest Opera House.

Tickets are affordable, the price ranges from 6 000 HUF to 35 900 HUF. To get a good seat you’d better book in a couple of weeks in advance.

Cheaper tickets are usually available until the last minute but they are for seats with poor view of the stage.

Opera performances timetable.

TIPs to buy ticket to the Opera and Ballet performances with a good view:

  • If you want to sit in a box, make sure you ask your ticket to the front row.
  • The second and third rows are not elevated, so people sitting in front of you can block your view.
  • For gallery seats, buy ticket for the middle, on the sides you won’t be able to see most of the stage.

Where to Buy Tickets:

  • Ticket office of the Opera House: on the Hajós Street side, near the sphinx Tel: + 36 1 353 0170Opening hours: Mon-Sat: 11.00 to the beginning of the performance (to 17.00 pm on days when there’s no performance), Sundays and holidays: 11.00 to 13.00 and from 16.00 to the beginning of the performance.
  • Ticket office of the Erkel Theatre: Address: Köztársaság tér 30., VIII. district, Tel: + 36 1 333 0540 Opening hours: Tue-Sat: 11.00 to the beginning of the performance (to 17.00 pm on days when there1s no performance), Sundays and holidays: 11.00 to 13.00 and from 16.00 to the beginning of the performance.

What to Wear in the Opera in Budapest? – Dress Code

In Hungary people always dress up when they go to a theatre or to the Opera. Women usually wear nice evening dresses, while men wear dark suits.

Wearing jeans and a T-shirts doesn’t mean that you’ll be sent home from the entrance, but it’s not nice to feel out of place because of your clothes.

My advice is that put on something simple, but elegant. Make sure though that you feel yourself confident and comfortable in your dress.

Other Attractions Nearby

Liszt Ferenc Square

Walk along the sycamore tree-lined Andrássy Avenue, and you can admire fine villas, elegant palaces and buildings of cultural importance.

Charming squares, like

  • Jókai Square or
  • Liszt Ferenc Square lie on both sides of the boulevard with benches inviting you to have a rest and restaurnats to have a meal.

Andrássy Avenue also offers plenty of cafés and restaurants, if you feel like having a hot drink with a cake or something more substantial.

Liszt Ferenc square - Statue of the composer
Liszt Ferenc Square
Terrace of Cafe Vian
Terrace of Cafe Vian

W Budapest Luxury Hotel

The beautiful Drechsler Palace opposite the Opera House used to be home of the Hungarian Ballet Institute.

Today it’s a posh 5-star hotel with a cozy terrace overlooking Andrássy Avenue.

The luxurious palace hotel houses 151 chic guest rooms and suites, including the exclusive Extreme WOW suite.

Guests can indulge in the Nightingale by Beefbar restaurant and Society25 destination bar, beloved by locals for socializing.

The terrace of W Lounge is excellent for an afternoon cocktail and people watching.

Nagymező utca crosses Andrássy Road near the Budapest Opera House.

Because of the numerous places of night life entertainment, like the Moulin Rouge and various theatres and the Operetta Theatre, the street has been long called Pesti Broadway.

The arcaded terrace of the W luxury hotel with its big logo, on Andrássy Avenue
W Budapest Hotel

Liszt Academy Of Music

The recently renovated Ferenc Liszt Academy of Music offers an alternative to a night at the opera.

It has a large concert hall with excellent acoustics. Besides its classical music performances, the Art Nouveau building represents another good example of Budapest’s great architecture.

side view of the music academy's facade
close up view of the music academy's facade
front view of the music academy's facade

Where Andrássy út crosses the Grand Boulevard, the buildings form an octagonal shape square, hence it’s name: Oktogon.

From here continue strolling on Andrássy Avenue, and on its end you’ll reach the imposing Heroes’ Square with the Millennium Monument and the City Park behind it.

TIP: See a guide to other main attractions in Budapest.

Events at the Opera

Nutcracker Festival in the Advent Period, end of November

To Opera House’s most awaited performance is the Nutcracker/Diótörő by Tchaikovsky each year. There will be 26 performances of the ballet between 01 – 30. December.

The Opera House celebrates the series of the prominent performance with a special Nutcracker Festival in front of the building.

  • A 10 m tall Christmas tree had already been erected and decorated on 17. November. Characteristic elements of Tchaikovsky’s ballet, musical programs and a craft fair will bring alive an enchanted atmosphere in the neighbourhood.
  • The Opera Cafe welcomes guests with hot drinks and traditional Christmas cakes and pastries.
  • The OperaFleur’s cottage prepares with unique gingerbreads, Advent ornaments, and craft products. The aroma of roast chestnuts and Sekler cake will waft around the Opera building.
  • The festival starts on 27. November, Sunday with the concert of the Hungarian State Opera’s Children Choir.
  • Then László Lehel, the president-director of the Hungarian Interchurch Aid (HIA) and Szilveszter Ókovács the general director of the Opera house will start to serve mulled wine for the visitor.
  • Till 23. December 30 minute before the Nutcracker performances school, university and other amateur choirs will perform on the terrace of the Sphinx statue overlooking Dalszínház utca.
Christmas festival in front of the Opera
Nutcracker Festival

See more on Christmas and New Year opening hours of Budapest attractions.

Where to Eat Near Budapest Opera House?

Andrássy Avenue and the many side streets (Hajós utca, Nagymező utca, Liszt Ferenc tér), offers a wide selection of fine restaurants and cafés, most of them with outdoor terraces. Here are some of our favourites:

Callas Cafe

  • Address: Andrássy út 20.
  • Opening Hours: Mon-Sun 12.00-24.00
    Website: Callas cafe

The Callas cafe is the most obvious choice, housed in a 19th century neo-Renaissance palace right next to the Opera House.

A stylish cafe with Art-Deco design by David Collins (his most famous works include Madonna’s apartment, the Gordon Ramsay and The Wolseley restaurants in London) offering excellent food, and delicious cakes.

There is also breakfast. An ideal place for a cocktail before an opera performance.

Terrace of Callas Cafe
Terrace of Callas Cafe

Opera Cafe (Temporarily Closed)

  • Address: Andrássy út 22.
  • Opening Hours: every day 10.00-24.00

This small 19th-20th century style coffee house and bar opened in 2015 on the ground floor of the Opera House at the side of the facing Hajós Street.

You can enter both from the street and inside the Opera.

It has a spacious terrace from spring to end of autumn (depending on the weather9 facing Andrássy Avenue .

The cafe is quite small but still manages to evoke an old-world coffee house ambience. with red, black and gold colours dominating the decor.

the Opera cafe's terrace with red tents above the tables
Opera Cafe

Excellent coffee from specialty beans, fine champagne and local wines (from the Kreinbacher Estate in the Somló wine region), a bistro-style menu and scrumptious cakes.

Try the classic Opera Cake, but there’s Eszteházy cake, cheesecake and other delights.

A slice costs 1 680 HUF, a bit expensive but it is to be expected in this chic neighbourhood. Sit on the terrace to enjoy the view of the boulevard.

For something more filling you can have pizza, salad, or Hungarian classics like

  • Goulash (cc. 5 000 HUF) or
  • Chicken paprikash (5560 HUF)

UFO Lángos

  • Address: Hajós utca 7, Bp 1065
  • Opening Hours: Mon – Thurs: 10.00 – 21.00, Fri: 10.00 – 22.00, Sat: 11.00 – 22.00, Sun: Closed

This lángos place opened in spring 2023 in a side street to the right of the Opera. UFO Lángos is a dream came true for a mother and son duo.

Lángos is a local street food: pastry deep fried in oil.

You can have it plain just with some salt or sprinkled with garlic oil, or topped with cheese and sour cream.

Lángos filled with meat and cheese
UFO Lángos

The UFO version is a filling option: two plain pastries filled with lecsó (similar to the French ratatouille), pulled pork, cheese and bacon.


The menu includes plain lángos for

  • 1 200 HUF,
  • with sour-cream cheese: 2 000 HUF and the
  • Gigantic UFO option: 3 200 HUF.
  • Kids portion: 850 HUF.

Pizzica – Kid Friendly

  • Address: Nagymező u. 21, Bp 1065
  • Opening Hours: Mon- Thurs: 11.00 – 23.00, Fri – Sat: 11.00 – 24.00, Sun: Closed

Pizzica is the place if you want something quick but tasty.

It specializes in scrumptious square shape pizza slices. Vegan options are available.

There is also a nice selection of craft beers.

Prices are very friendly and depend on toppings:

  • Pizza base margherita: 350 HUF,
  • Ricca (vegan): double marinara sauce, ruccola, black olives, oregano: 350 HUF
tour two boys sitting at a table in Pizzica: a square pizza slices on a wooden board on the table
Our Boys In Pizzica
pizzica budapest02

The Bigfish – Seafood Bistro

  • Address: Andrássy út 44., district VI.
  • Open: Mon-Sun: 12.00 – 22.00
  • Tel: +36 30 694 2855

A bistro offering seafood dishes in city without sea.

You pick a fish, crab, oyster from the counter and the staff will prepare it for you.

You can also have pasta dishes and soups, they even have goulash soup.

There is also also fish and chips: 5 990 HUF.

a 10-year old boy eating fish and chips on the terrace of Big Fish Bistro on Andrássy av.
Fish & Chips In BigFish Bistro

TIP: Nagymező utca – similarly to Liszt Ferenc Square – is also home to some very good places to eat: Tereza is known for authentic Mexican dishes, Két Szerecsen Café is a long-standing member of Budapest’s gastronomy scene, N28 Wine & Kitchen, Pizzica

See other coffee houses in Budapest.

See also our page about Best Restaurants in Budapest or our recommendation of Hungarian Restaurants in Budapest.

New York PalaceBudapest’s BasilicaNew Main Street AttractionsConcerts in Danube Palace/Vigadó HallOrgan Concerts