The story of the “American Budapest”

Read the story of Budapest in the US in this blog article! 😊

At the end of the 19th century, the majority of Hungarians emigrating to the United States settled down in Ohio and Pennsylvania. Cleveland in Ohio, and Pittsburgh in Pennsylvania, a two-hour train ride away, competed for the title of the “Hungarian Capital of the US”. Of course, it was not a very upscale competition: the majority of Hungarian immigrants worked in the mines, steel and tobacco factories of the region for starvation wages. In Pittsburgh, the Hungarians also had a separate quarter: the locals called Hazelwood district “Little Hungary”. In the surrounding mining area of ​​Western Pennsylvania, several smaller settlements were established, which Hungarian miners called “pléz” after the English word place. Their everyday life is described well by Merle Travis’ song “16 Tons” (16 Tonna in Hungarian) so it’s no wonder many have been looking for a way forward.

A new beginning

The opportunity was given them by a southern entrepreneur named Ralph L. Spencer. Spencer dealt with a lot of things from glass production to sports organization, he loved to take risks. In the late 1880s, he remembered that the northern region of the state of Georgia would be suitable for wine production – the only problem was that none of the locals, who were mostly from the gold mining and timber trade, understood grape growing and did not feel like trying it out… Spencer was determined to recruit Hungarians and build another settlement next to a town called Tallapoosa, which he would make the centre of the winery. The Hungarian miners in Pennsylvania he contacted did not particularly understand growing grapes, but they loved wine and wanted to get out of poverty. Perhaps it also seemed convincing that huge diamonds in Spencer’s ring and tie pins proclaimed the hope of quick enrichment. A Hungarian Catholic priest named Ferenc Janisek from Pittsburgh also helped with the recruitment. Eventually, two hundred families decided that they were moving to Georgia with the entrepreneur. They set up a wine farm on two thousand acres without any experience, relying on their home memories mostly. The plan was doomed to total failure by all common sense. However, in the end, it brought unexpected success!

A plaque of the wine making Hungarian colony in Georgia in the 1800s

The local grapes were made into good – or at least drinkable 😊 – wine that could be sold outside of the state for good money. On the site of an occasional settlement created by Hungarian winemakers, a comfortable small town was soon born, with a church, post office, inn, and shops, and it was named ‘Budapest’ by its inhabitants. After a while, a small village grew out of the ground a few miles from the city – this was named Tokaj. After hearing the news of the success of the Hungarians, new settlers also arrived: Slovak immigrants, who founded their own village called Nitra in addition to Budapest. In addition to cultivating common vineyards, they also farmed on their own land, which they received for free. Some of their family names have survived: those of the Fekete, Németh, Radó, Buzády, Polyák and Visnyakszki families. The wine they produced was also shipped to New York by Spencer. The spiritual leader of the three settlements was Father Janisek, who got an imposing parish from the entrepreneur, Spencer. He had a serious job because, according to contemporary news, conflicts soon erupted between the city founders and the ever-arriving new immigrants. In addition, the Hungarians did not really want to learn English, they were speaking Hungarian amongst themselves and Spencer and the priest took care of their everyday and official things instead of them.

A setback starts…

The good world lasted for roughly twenty years: in 1907, the state of Georgia introduced an alcohol prohibition. The wine could not be sold from the area any more. The economies of Budapest, Tokaj and Nitra were doomed to death. Most of the population moved back to Pennsylvania, the rest tried to produce cotton and tobacco instead of grapes. According to a Hungarian newspaper in 1912, 87 Hungarian farmers lived in the town and tried to trade with their crops. They had a struggling life, but they still did much better than those who left and moved back. Those returning to Pennsylvania were forced to try to make a living as a miner again. Not long after this, the victims of the greatest mining misfortune in the United States were amongst them.

On December 19, 1910, 240 people were working in a coal mine near the town of Van Meter, Pennsylvania, when the mine exploded and buried the miners under itself. 239 people died in the blast, including 131 Hungarian miners. Even in the 1980s, human bones emerged from the depths of the earth.

A plaque remembering the victims of the mine disaster in 1910 near the town of Van Meter, Pennsylvania

Without the flourishing vineyards, Budapest would not have remained an attractive settlement. The first settlers, who stayed there, struggled throughout their whole lives, but their children tried their luck elsewhere – probably in Detroit’s auto factories… The last Hungarian of the American Budapest died in 1964. From then on, Hungarian names can only be read on the graves of their small cemetery. The cemetery would also have disappeared, but a Georgian NGO renovated the headstones in 2008 and erected a plaque in memory of the Hungarians who once lived here. The road in front of the cemetery has been called ‘Budapest Cemetery Road’.

A Hungarian cemetery of the immigrants in Georgia, US

Remembrance of the Hungarian immigrants of Georgia in the 1800s

Residents of nearby Tallapoosa sometimes organize Hungarian gastronomic days in memory of their lost neighbours. Their favorite dish is the „silvasgomboc” (original Hungarian spelling: szilvásgombóc) which is a dumpling rolled in breadcrumbs filled with plum, a beloved dessert of Hungarians nowadays as well 😊

Szilvásgombóc is a dumpling rolled in breadcrumbs filled with plum and it is a beloved dessert of Hungarians

(The story was written by Krisztián Nyáry, writer & litterateur, in Hungarian)

Hungary tightens Covid-19 restrictions

As we are still in the rising period of the second wave of the pandemic, the Hungarian government decided to tighten Covid-19 related restrictions in our country. Let’s see the details.

Latest Covid-19 restrictions in Hungary valid from 11th November

These are the new restrictions for the next 30 days until the 11th of December after which they can be extended:

  • there is a curfew between 8 pm – 5 am
  • all gatherings are prohibited
  • restaurants can only serve takeaway orders and deliver food to people’s homes (factory canteens can remain open)
  • shops (except for gas stations and pharmacies) can be open only until 7 pm, since everyone must be home by 8 pm – shops can open at 5 am the earliest, since that is the end of the curfew in the morning
  • hotels and accommodations cannot have guests except for business travelers or guests that are here for the purpose of economy or education
  • all events are banned including cultural events and Christmas markets as well – religious ceremonies can be held, religious communities can decide on their own about these ceremonies, but they have to keep safe health rules
  • sport events must be held without audience “behind closed doors”
  • people can practice individual sports outdoors, especially those sportsmen that compete cannot be limited in practicing
  • gyms, pools, museums, public libraries, cinemas, zoos, ice skating rinks must be closed
  • daycares, kindergartens, primary schools can remain open for now, special safety measures can be determined by the school principals – secondary schools, universities have to apply digital education, dorms must close too (only foreign students or students who are quarantined can stay in the dorms)
  • private and family events (like birthdays etc.) can be held up to 10 people
  • at funerals there can be 50 people max.
  • weddings can be held, but there cannot be a wedding reception with guests
  • workers who are employed in healthcare, schools, kindergartens, daycares, and social workers must be tested for Covid-19 every week
  • people have to keep wearing masks on public transportations, indoors, and now outdoors on public areas, too (in cities that have more than 10.000 inhabitants) – in parks and nature and while doing sports masks do not have to be worn
  • borders are still closed, there are only a few exceptions

About our daily free tours in Budapest

As we shared in our previous posts as well, our daily free walking tours are not running at the moment until further notice. We cannot accommodate group private tours either since any kind of gatherings are prohibited.

Thank you for your understanding and stay safe, Everyone!


Latest news – beginning of November 2020

Read about the latest Hungarian Covid-19 related news in this post.

Coronavirus news in Hungary

As we wrote in our previous blog post, in Hungary the number of Covid-19 cases are rising at a fast pace during the second wave of the pandemic, hospitals are getting full, so the government has introduced new measures in these last days:

– they have extended the border closure at least until the 1st of December 2020

– starting from this midnight (3rd November) there will be a curfew between midnight and 5am, ‘everyone must arrive home by midnight’ plus pubs and nightclubs will be closed for good

– starting from now there is special legal order in Hungary again, just like during the first wave of the pandemic. It allows the government to implement a range of emergency measures by decree.

– parking will be free in Budapest again

– it is every third seat that can be occupied at events, sporting events, in cinemas, theatres, and wearing a mask is compulsory in all cases

– they are making public transportation vehicles run more frequently during morning and afternoon rush hours


About our free walking tours

Please remember that we are currently still not operating our daily free walking tours in Budapest, but you can send us an inquiry at about a paid private tour if you happen to be in our city as a traveler.

Stay safe everyone!

Autumn news – end of October 2020

Dear Travelers, in this post let us share the latest news about our free tours and the Covid-19 situation in Hungary shortly.

Regarding our free tours

Firstly, at the moment we are still not running our daily sightseeing free walking tours, since foreign citizens are not allowed to enter the country, unless they have a special reason. However, if you happen to be a traveler that can enter or is in Hungary, we offer paid private tours. Contact us via our website or at if you are interested in more details.

General Covid news

Second, there have been some other news as well lately. The number of Covid-19 cases have been rising in the region and in our country and capital as well, and they have introduced some stricter regulations (in connection with wearing masks and fines if somebody does not wear them and such) and they have also decided to cancel the annual Christmas market on the Vörösmarty square. This christmas market have been organized every year since the 1990s and have been amongst the best christmas markets of Europe these past years. Sadly in 2020 we cannot enjoy it, fingers crossed that in 2021 the situation will be much better.

We are still in the rising period regarding the coronavirus cases, they say that the second wave will be peaking in December/January in Hungary. We hope that most of you and your families are safe and wish you a nice autumn!

Update on the current situation – 25th September 2020

As we wrote in one of our previous posts, due to the rising number of Covid-19 cases in Hungary, foreign citizens are not allowed to enter our country from the 1st of September for an indefinite time (there are a few exceptions and special cases).

You can read more about the latest here:

We run no daily free tours now, but join us for a private tour!

Unfortunately, our daily free walking tours are not running at the moment until further notice, but if you happen to be one of the exceptions that can enter the country, we are happy to organize a private tour for you! For more information and prices please send us an email to or call us +36209605295

You can check our Facebook page as well for fresh information:

We really hope that the Covid-19 situation gets better and we can see you soon on our daily Budapest walking tours!



Stay safe!

1st September News – Hungary closes its borders

Dear Everyone!
We announce it with a heavy heart that Hungary closes its borders on the 1st of September due to the spread of Covid-19.
Foreign citizens will not be able to enter the country without a special reason. This measure will be active for at least 1 month. We’ll keep you updated about how long this regulation will last. You can read more about this topic here:
We will run our free walking tours until the 4th of September, the 4th will be the last day when we operate.
The schedule from 1st Sept. until the 4th:
General Budapest tour 10.30am
Jewish Quarter tour 3.30pm
General Budapest tour 10.30am
Communism tour 3.30pm
General Budapest tour 10.30am
Jewish Quarter tour 3.30pm
General Budapest Tour 10.30am
Jewish Quarter tour 3.30pm
Communism tour 3.30pm
See you on the Elisabeth square, look for the blue free tour flag a few meters away from the Budapest Eye Ferris wheel! Stay safe!

Current schedule of our free tours

In this post we would like to let you know the starting times of our free walking tours in Budapest and some recent news about the Covid-19 situation and upcoming restrictions.

The schedule of our daily free tours now

General Budapest walk 10:30 every day & 14:30 as well on Friday and Saturday

Jewish quarter tour 15:30 every Tuesday, Thursday, Friday and Sunday

Communism walk 15:30 every Monday, Wednesday, Friday, Saturday

Evening Pest walk 18:30 every Friday, Saturday and Sunday

Here are some photos of our running 1.5 hours long Evening Pest walk 🙂



Information about the pandemic now

The number of cases have been quite low in Hungary, we are considered to be a safer country.

However, these last days news said that the government is going to announce safety restrictions, probably in connection with travelling as well. We are going to keep you updated about these on our website and Facebook page, too.

Right now the countries of the world are divided into 3 groups by Hungary: green, yellow and red. If you come from a green country, you are free to enter. If you come from a yellow country, you have to go to 2 weeks quarantine in Hungary OR show 2 negative tests. Entering Hungary from a red country is not permitted (there are only a few exceptions).
Please always look up the regulations before you plan your travels and be safe!

Info about preparing for restarting our tours (late-July or beginning of August 2020)

In the following post we are going to introduce our new, safe walking tours that you can take during/after the Covid-19 pandemic after we restart our daily tours (probably late-July or beginning of August 2020).

Life is slowly returning, travelling can be done soon with minor restrictions, and we are also preparing for restarting our walking tours. Besides our free walking tours and private tours, we have prepared low-cost, small group walking tours for our guests. The advantages of these tours are the following:

  • We limit the number of participants on these walking tours: the maximum is 12 people in a group
  • Since the group is smaller than on an average free walking tour, everyone can keep 1.5-2 meters distance from fellow travellers and still hear the guide during the walking tour
  • We try to avoid physical contact on these tours: you book online and you can pay in a contactless way online as well (but paying on the spot is also possible); we do not hand out flyers or printed materials (unless someone asks for it)

The walking tours that will be available as a small group tour: General Budapest Tour, Jewish Quarter Tour, Communism Tour. The days, times and prices of these tours will be announced later, when we are sure about the date of starting again (probably late-July or beginning of August 2020).

Until we restart our daily free tours, you are welcome to book a private tour with us here on the website for a fair price. You can also e-mail us at or for more information!

You can also follow us on Facebook, we post information regularly about restarting our tours there, too:

Stay tuned and safe! 😊

News during the coronavirus pandemic – 01.05.2020.

Dear Everyone, we hope that you are doing okay as much as things can be going okay during these difficult times.

We just wanted to let you know that we are alive and cannot wait to be with you on our free tours and other kind of walking tours in Budapest again!

We are preparing new options as well for life after the Covid-19 pandemic. Besides our free walking tours low-cost, small-group walking tours will be available as well for those who would like to avoid crowded walking tours. We will guarantee small groups of maximum 10 people, this way everyone can keep distance from fellow travellers and still hear the guide during the whole tour.

During the time when we cannot do walking tours yet, we are also making a photo sequence, we take pictures of statues in Budapest wearing a mask. Here is the first two of these photos:

The Little Princess sitting on the Danube Promenade. The original 50 cm statuette of the Little Princess (Kiskirálylány) in Budapest, Hungary was created by László Marton (1925–2008) Munkácsy- and Kossuth Prize-winning sculptor in 1972.The artist was inspired by his eldest daughter who often played wearing a princess costume and a crown made out of newspaper by her father, pretending her bathrobes were a mantle. This image prompted her father, the artist in the creation of this little statue. A larger copy was placed on the Danube promenade in 1990. The special thing about this version is that Hungary just went through the regime change, Communism ended, and Democracy started in 1989. They removed most of the statues of the Communist period from the inner city of Budapest and this Little Princess on the Danube Promenade was the first statue that did not depict a Communist leader, politician, a Soviet soldier or a muscular worker, but it depicted a little girl without any ideological meaning. You can see a copy of the same statue in Japan – that was donated by the artist – in front of the Tokyo Metropolitan Art Space cultural centre’s concert hall. The original statuette (1972 version) is owned by the Hungarian National Gallery.

The next one is Ferenc Puskás or Pancho as they call him in Spain. He was the greatest Hungarian football player ever; with his “Golden team” they were unbeaten for 4 years, between 1950 and 1954 and they won the Olypics as well. In 1953 they played a legendary game against England in the Wembley Stadium and the Golden team won for 6:3.

Later Puskás played in the Real Madrid then he was a coach in many countries like Greece, Australia, Egypt, Paraguay, Chile… In 2004 he was listed as one of the best football players of all times by FIFA and in 2019 he got the posthumous honor of the “World Sports Legends Award”. You can find this group of statues a little bit out of the city centre of Budapest, in Óbuda (Old Buda).

Coronavirus news – 15.03.2020.

Here you can read about our tours and the latest news and measures in Hungary in connection with the coronavirus situation.


All our free walking tours and private tours are operating now, until further notice. We update our Facebook page regularly, when there is any news, you can follow us here:

Outdoor walking tours are one of the safer activities that can take place during these times and for this reason, we’re not cancelling any of our tours right now, but still taking precautionary measures to try and limit the spread of the virus. 

We also emphasize the following: please limit person-to-person contact, do not shake hands with your fellow travellers for now and try to keep some distance as well.  Buying hand sanitizer has become a serious “sport” and competition in Hungary, too, but if you can please have it with you all times and/or wash your hands with soap and water as often as you can. During our general Budapest free walking tour, there is a bathroom break when you can do this. At the end of our other free tours there are also nearby public toilets.

  • We are flexible with changing the route and other conditions of booked tours. 
  • We ask our guides to stay at home and do not work if they are unwell.
  • We are also limiting person-to-person contact, for example we do not make our guests sign the Disclaimer form in the beginning of our free tours, but we still consider the content of it valid:  Walking Tours Kft. will always strive to conduct a safe and incident free tour, we won’t be held liable for any participant’s safety or personal belongings. I hereby release and discharge not to sue Walking Tours Kft, their employees from all liability, claims demands, losses or damages on my account. Walking Tours Kft. reserves the right to deny participation in any tour or any person for any reason. The Guide also reserves the right to terminate tour service for any client at any time for good cause. We strongly believe in the value of intellectual property therefore any audio & video making during the tour requires our previous approval. Walking Tours Kft. neither shares user information with third parties nor releases personal information about you as an individual to third parties.


  • Hungary declared a state of emergency in the entire country due to the coronavirus epidemic. The special legal order allows the government to halt air traffic or public transportation, order quarantines in certain areas (or even evacuations), restrict usage of public spaces, or even prescribe civil defence obligations or draw companies under temporary state control.
  • Outdoors public events of over 500 people and indoors public events of over 100 people banned – this does not apply to workplaces and malls, but does apply to clubs, bigger pubs, cinemas, theatres.
  • No entry into Hungary is allowed from Italy, China, South Korea, Israel and Iran (except for Hungarian citizens who will automatically be ordered to self-isolate).
  • Schools have to close from the 16th of March, primary and secondary schools will switch over to digital remote education. 

Stay safe and tuned, we are going to keep you updated about our tours continuously!