Spies & Masters: Cold War Tour of Budapest - in Budapest - LikeALocal Guide

Spies & Masters: Cold War Tour of Budapest


30 EUR

Zigzag with me across the city and learn how the Hungarian secret police (ÁVO) tried to honeytrap, blackmail, and compromise Western diplomats and their Hungarian contacts during the dark days of communism. Feel the history that’s still with us behind the renovated façades and trendy shop windows.

Duration: 3 hours
    Available in
  • English
Tour by Ivan

Hi, I'm Ivan, a 37-year old freelance journalist and author with a passion for history & Budapest and a dislike towards trivial or banal things – even during a city tour. After years of research I have recently finished my book about the activities of the U.S. Legation (Embassy) in Hungary in the darkest days of Communism, from 1945 till the aftermath of the 1956 Revolution – so if you are interested in never heard of spy stories and a gripping tale of a Cold War struggle set in post-war Budapest, while actually seeing where all those things took place, I'll be happy to show you around. I promise you will see the beautiful landmarks of the city as well in the meantime. And of course, we don't have to talk about the Cold War exclusively – ask me about Mr Orbán, the alternative scene, the Roman times or Hungarian football, and then try to shut me up. Hope to see you soon!

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  • Visit secret locations of the ÁVO and foreign intelligence officers
  • Hear real Cold War spy stories in the very place they happened
  • See a private collection of never-seen-before photos from the 50s, taken by the ÁVO and foreign intelligence officers
  • Visit major locations of the 1956 Revolution: where it started, and where it was fought
  • Spot bullet holes from the Revolution

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We’ll meet at Szabadság tér, a symbolic place where the Soviet War Memorial still stands right in front of the U.S. Embassy. From there, we’ll crisscross various parts of the city on both sides of the Danube, passing some of the beautiful landmarks you wouldn’t want to miss.

The sinister days of everyday life behind the Iron Curtain will come to life as I tell you about the surveillance methods and terror tactics of the secret police, and how the Americans were gathering intelligence despite this.

You'll get to see where it all happened: secret and not-so-secret locations where spies, agents, and diplomats lived, met, and conspired, fighting the Cold War in their own way. We'll also visit some important locations of the 1956 Revolution, and see bullet holes still visible in the walls.

The tour is based on my own research for an upcoming book about the activities of the American Legation (Embassy) between 1945 and the 1956 Revolution. Much of what you’ll hear has not been published anywhere yet. I also have a huge collection of exclusive photographs taken by the diplomats themselves, as well as ÁVO surveillance photos to show you.

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What’s included & not included

  • Friendly and flexible guide
  • Lots of information about Cold War Budapest
  • Answers to any questions you may have
  • Public transport tickets

Meeting point

In front if the Soviet WW2 memorial (Szabadság tér, Soviet War Memorial)

Reviews from travellers (8)


Don’t miss this experience
This tour is a one of a kind experience using first source material. Photos and stories of Cold War Budapest as seen through the eyes of US embassy and military personnel. The material Ivan has found along with the interviews he has done will leave you with a much deeper understanding of the 1956 uprising as well as how the Russians and Americans conducted intelligence operations during the 1950s and 60s. This is truly an insider view and should not be missed.
Fascinating and insightful
Ivan is a great guide - hugely knowledgable on the subject and has some fascinating stories to bring to life the cold war era as you walk around beautiful Budapest.

From the beginning, Ivan had us hooked with tales of the people involved on both sides and how the various move and counter-move activities between the East and West played out - honey-traps, bribery and general coercion tactics.

If you are interested in a unique way to explore the city, absorb the history of the cold war and how it affected Budapest whilst having genuinely interesting conversations about people and politics (including the current state of European affairs (Brexit, Orban, popularism etc.) - you'll be in good hands with Ivan.
Even if I am not an expert or very enthusiastic about the topic, I really enjoyed this tour. Why? Because, opposite to what happens in most of the tours, I didn't just hear a general story but a bunch of incredible spy stories in the locations they took place. The guide is also very friendly and you can see how passionate he is about the topic.
I found the tour historically accurate and extremely engaging. Ivan knows how to tell stories. You'll laugh, you'll think, you'll be amazed by normal people who stood up for their beliefs during difficult times and you'll feel pity for the ones forced to sell out in order to survive
Ivan was a fantastic guide! He was well versed in the subject and tailored the tour to our needs!

This operator has 1 reviews for other tours


Insight into political movements and impressions, then and now
for Ivan
Listening to Ivan reveals what one should have known in advance: expectatins may not be that different across Europe. We are in it together.

A very interesting tour arround as well as an open debate on matters that matter.

I can only recommend to go on a tour.
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30 EUR
  • Full refund if you cancel up to 72 hours before the tour
  • No booking fees
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