Source: Sara Kurfess on

You may have heard about Budapest being a rapidly emerging destination of Hollywood movie productions due to its innate beauty and the romantic, vintage ambience radiating from its architecture… But did you also know that many iconic music videos were shot in the city as well? Some of these motion pictures can almost be taken as stunning ads for Budapest while from others you probably wouldn’t even be able to tell where they were shot. 

In this brief article, we have collected the most special, the most surprising and the most obvious music videos that were filmed in Budapest.

Katy Perry – Firework 

The number one hit single that galvanized Katy Perry’s already successful music career is perhaps the most obviously Budapest. The lights of the chain bridge and the illuminated castle hill serve as the backdrop to Katy’s explosive bosom, and the interiors are also all Budapest apartments as well. This music video can best be described as an advertisement for our fair city, and really captures the essence of Budapest’s posher areas.   


Ellie Goulding – Close To Me

This is another super obvious one, especially as the location is emblazoned across the screen in the beginning of this 2018 summer hit. The video takes place mostly in the Castle Hill and on the premises of Buda castle. Some amazing aerial shots of the city and of Matthias Church also make an appearance, but really, this video captures the elegance and poise of the old town. The spa she is in is the Gellért Spa, and is open for visitors, too.


Michael Jackson – History 

The video that saw Michael Jackson come back as the king of pop after his first bout of scandals was none other than History, which was shot in Budapest. Taking the totalitarian aesthetic and running with it, Michael chose well, as the places where he makes an appearance were used for just those purposes not that long ago. The Heroes’ Square and the National Gallery are used, but in reality, the square is much smaller, and has only one statue on a pole, the Millenium Monument.


Nicky Jam feat. Will Smith & Era Istrefi – Live It Up

The official 2018 World Cup track was not recorded in Russia, despite popular belief. This is also a Budapest music video. That bridge they are arching on is the entrance to the Hajógyári sziget- the island that hosts the world famous Sziget Fesztivál- and that rooftop where the girls are dancing  is in the 3rd district. This video is unique in that they tried to represent the more Soviet side of the city, and stayed out of the inner districts, where most of the more iconic buildings and settings can be found.


Péterfy Bori & Love Band feat. Saiid – A kéket vagy a pirosat

This video shows the real nitty, gritty side of Budapest, with scenes that we, the people living here are all too familiar with. It does not give a bird’s eye view of the city, but rather, a very pedestrian perspective, and is thus a really good rendition of what it feels like to walk around in Budapest. It features very common places that are sort of unsung; like Blaha Lujza square, or one of the many random little parks that this city is known for, or the interior of the New York Café. 


The Chemical Brothers – The Boxer (2005)

This video is very special for a lot of people of a certain age. It was shot 14 years ago in a Budapest that was much grimier, had a lot more Socialist era relics, and had a certain feel to it that is now gone, due to renovation. You can’t help but feel nostalgic at the sight of the interior of the office building, or of the old cars you can now only very rarely see, or the street scenes that the magic basketball bounces past. 


Tranzkaphka – Kodein

A much dirtier side of Budapest is shown in this little gem, showing the dark underbelly of drugs, porn and one night stands which is, sadly, a necessary part of a city that loves to party. Very moving and artistic video, taking place mainly in the 11th District and in the Inner City, it is also lyrically very topical and strong. 


RÁJ: Ghost 

A gloomy video that catches the faded elegance and noire atmosphere that draws a lot of people to Budapest. The run-down aesthetic that made ruin bars the big hit they are can be seen here, with statues and buildings that belie the fact that although their gorgeous Art Deco facades have seen better days, their beauty is eternal.


Gwen Stefani – Early Winter

Although the video was shot more than 10 years ago, it catches certain timeless aspects of Budapest. The abundant street art, the beautiful and weathered imagery, the Baroque architecture, and some unmistakable flair that can only be seen in Budapest is what gives this music video its charm. The video catches a face of the city that is a perfect fit for a sentimental song about love’s passing. 


+1 George Ezra – Budapest 

Although this song takes place in a dark room that could be anywhere, this song deserves an honourable mention as being named after our fair city. Perhaps one of the most creative and entertaining, if somewhat minimalist music videos, this song has aged well, and so has the city, which he lovingly refers to as his “treasure chest”. We couldn’t agree more!


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