To understand the spirit of a city, you have to discover its nightlife. Budapest deserves to be discovered at night, only then you can get into its soul and understand its secrets.
And there is no better way than with a pub c rawl where you will explore these popular and neglected-looking bars that attract tourists and locals alike. The list below gathers the best spots in the Hungarian capital.
1. Meet the pioneer of ruin bars, Szimpla Kert
What is now an unmissable attraction was born almost by chance. In 2002, the owners wanted to launch a new bar concept where they could do a little bit of everything, from listening to live music to smoking a bong in the company of friends. To realize their dream, they rented a building in the old town that was in a state of neglect. After some renovation work, they decided to give the place a scruffy look and the formula was spot on.
Szimpla Kert is the most frequented ruin bar in the Hungarian capital and a must if you book a party tour of Budapest's ruin pubs. Any long weekend should include a stop at this mythical place. It is a real labyrinth and I recommend you to spend a little time to explore its atmospheres. You could end up having a pint in the old Trabant car in the courtyard or in the comfortable armchairs on the second floor.
Information of interest
- Address: Kazinczy utca 14.
- Opening hours: Monday to Thursday, open from 3pm to 4am. Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays, it welcomes the first customers at 12 noon and closes its doors at 4 am.
2. Dazzle yourself with the biggest ruin bar in Europe, Instant-Fogas
In 2008, the legendary Instant and Fogas venues joined forces to create Europe's largest ruin bar. This huge space, which you should include in your party tour of Budapest's ruin pubs, has seven different atmospheres dedicated to different music genres: techno, live concerts, remixes of famous songs, rock, metal, edm and Latin music.
Admission is free and the doors close only at six in the morning. In short, Instant-Fogas is the ideal place to let off steam after a day of sightseeing.
- Address: Akácfa utca 51.
- Opening hours: Instant and Fogas is open daily from 6pm to 6am.
3. Go to the ruin bar Csendes Létterem both at night and in the morning
In an alley near the National Museum is Csendes Létterem, a ruin pub housed in an elegant 19th century building. If you don't see anything peculiar from the outside, go to the windows and take a look inside. From its walls hang objects of all kinds: a bicycle, mannequins, messages left by customers, mirrors, traffic signs and other curious objects.
Unlike many dilapidated pubs, Csendes Létterem opens early and is a recommended choice for breakfast. In addition to traditional recipes, their menu includes a few vegan options including pancakes with maple syrup and fruit, chia pudding with coconut milk or mango puree.
You can also add it to the party tour of Budapest's ruin pubs, as in the evenings this peaceful place transforms into a dj set with soul, funk and jazz. To get an idea of the entertainment offer, I recommend you to read the post about the 10 things to do in Budapest at night.
- Address: Akácfa utca 51.
- Opening hours: Csendes Létterem is open every day of the week from 10 am to 2 am.
4. Relax in the "stone soup garden", Kőleves Kert
In the warmer months you can enjoy a pint of beer or a glass of wine at the colorful tables in the garden. The trees and plants form a green oasis and with a bit of luck you can relax in the hammocks.
The drinks menu is varied as is the menu which includes: salads, vegetarian recipes and more hearty dishes such as roast duck (a Hungarian specialty) and baked beans with hard-boiled eggs.
- Address: Kazinczy u. 37-41.
- Opening hours: Kőleves Kert is open daily from 11:30 am to 11 pm.
5. Taste the best dishes and cocktails at Mazel Tov
Located in the heart of the Jewish quarter, Mazel Tov is a cultural space with an eye on gastronomy. Indeed, this ruin bar is more like a restaurant offering tasty Middle Eastern recipes. The establishment is very busy and it is preferable to book a table in advance on its official website.
Classic dishes include hummus (served with tahini, parsley, olive oil and pita bread), falafel and sabich, an Israeli sandwich with fried eggplant, hard-boiled egg, tomato, cucumber and other ingredients. There is also no lack of fusion recipes and delicious desserts to top off the meal.
At Mazel Tov, the most striking feature is the plants hanging from the second floor, creating a friendly and cozy atmosphere. After dinner, you can come here to enjoy a cocktail. Its menu offers original drinks such as, for example, a peach spritz, a variant of the Italian drink with peach and prosecco, or a cosmojito, made with Absolut Blue, Mandarine Napoleon, Cointreau, cranberry syrup and cranberry juice).
Information of interest
- Address: Akácfa utca 47.
- Opening hours: 5 p.m. to midnight (Monday and Tuesday) and 12 p.m. to midnight (all other days).
6. Enter the urban oasis of the Jewish quarter, Grandio Jungle Bar
A few meters away from the Great Synagogue is the Grandio Jungle Bar, a newcomer that quickly climbed the hierarchies. As the name suggests, the bar is located in an inner courtyard and its tables are sheltered by a large vegetation. Many of its customers stay in the party hostel on the second floor but you can access the bar even if you are not staying there.
In addition to a few drinks, in this establishment you can watch soccer matches or participate in a karaoke night. So don't hesitate and add it to your party tour of Budapest's dingy pubs!
- Address: Nagy Diófa utca 8.
- Opening hours: Grandio Jungle Bar is open every day from 12:00 to 24:00.
7. Tasting the best beer in Élesztőhá
Hungary and beer are intimately linked. The first document mentioning it dates back to 1152 and speaks of a burial that had to be concluded with a "beer party". Today, you can find brands such as Dreher, a pilsner-style lager, and Soproni, a refreshing IPA that you will find in any bar in the capital. Clearly, the Eastern European country also brews craft beers and Élesztőház is the perfect place to taste them.
If you get the itch, take a look at the menu. The establishment is known for its mushroom salad and incomparable burgers.
- Address: Tűzoltó utca 22.
- Hours: Élesztőház is open all week at different times: from 3 to 1 p.m. (Sunday and Monday), from 3 to 2 p.m. (Tuesdays and Wednesdays) and from 3 to 3 p.m. on other days.
8. Immerse yourself in the history of Dürer Kert
Unlike the other ruin pubs on the list, Dürer Kert is not located in the Jewish quarter but in Kelenföld, a district that saw the light of day in the 1970s. Although it is a bit far from the center, you can get here by trolleybus or bus. The journey takes about 30 minutes, but I assure you that it is worth it.
Visiting Budapest at night is a must and even more so on the banks of the Danube. Right here stands a building with a unique history. Before the arrival of the Soviets it was a boarding school managed by the French nuns of the Sacré Coeur. With the establishment of the Hungarian People's Republic, the nuns left the building, which was destined for the communist nomenklatura. Today it houses a dingy bar that has become a Mecca for punk, metal and trash fans. Its concerts animate the nights of Budapest since 2008.
It also has pinballs, ping pong tables, lounges with sofas and an old bus transformed into a rest area. Dürer Kert has a subsidiary: Dürer Part, a beach bar on Lupa beach. This beachfront is located on Lake Lupa, a destination just a few kilometers from the Hungarian capital. It is the perfect place for both drinks and outdoor sports. If you are interested in activities outside the city, I recommend you to read the post about the best excursions from Budapest.
- Address: Öböl utca 1.
- Opening hours: the concert space is open only if there are events scheduled. Before planning your visit, I recommend you consult the official website of Dürer Kert.
9. Experience a different destination, Szatyor Bár
Like the Dürer Kert, the Szatyor is not located in the Jewish quarter but on an elegant avenue of the capital: Bartók Béla. This residential street is home to bookstores, art galleries (Faur Zsófi, Gross Arnold, etc.), cafés (Addicted2Caffeine, Hadik, etc.) and some of the capital's best restaurants. Szatyor is one of the few ruin bars this side of the Danube.
Unlike the other bars on the list, it is not much frequented by tourists who favor downtown establishments. Its decoration has an unkempt touch, although it does not reach the extremes of Szimpla Kert. To get here from the old town, you can take the streetcar from Deák Ferenc square (lines 47 and 49) and get off at the Gárdonyi tér stop.
- Address: Bartók Béla 36.
- Opening hours: Szatyor Bár is open daily from noon to midnight.