A weekend in Budapest: Ruin pubs are the best option for a night out

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Publication date28.01.2020

Budapest is popular among young people because it is affordable, it has really fascinating architecture, and its inexpensive for partying.

Ruin pubs or ruin bars have become a hit in Budapest in recent years. They call them ruin pubs because there are not sophisticated and nicely furnished establishments, but rough places in which the bar owners created a nice atmosphere. And what’s most important: drinks there are affordable.

It all started back in 2002 with the opening of Szimpla Bar in a run-down building in the old Jewish ghetto. This Jewish neighbourhood had not been renovated during Communist times, nor had it been given much attention later. Szimpla Bar was opened in a half-ruined building – this was a simply furnished bar with random furniture pieces which the owners found, but its main competitive edge were good and inexpensive drinks.

Today, this neighbourhood is full of new and unique places, the streets have been renovated, and the walls are adorned by murals made by various artists. There are not only bars here, but also clubs, excellent street food joints (we recommend Mexican food at the El Rapido and Italian food at Pizzica, and also make sure to taste the local speciality called lángos).

There are tonnes of ruin pubs, but we’ll just tell you about some of the best ones.

1. Szimpla Kert

Szimpla Kert was the first and original ruin bar in Budapest, which is now also the most popular one. It has a large selection of drinks, great staff, various cultural events and live music, Sunday market with excellent food – all of this makes Szimpla a place that you just have to visit.

The colourful furniture collected in various places gives charm to this place with a huge terrace and a garden, where there’s also an old Trabant car that is used as a table and chairs. This bar is not only frequented by young people, but during the day you’ll also see a lot of people over the age of 60 because the bar gives a discount to retired people.

2. Kuplung

Kuplung, a bar named after a car part, is a fantastic place if you love live music, especially underground bands. Not only is there a great selection of drinks, but you can also have a sandwich, play table tennis, or simply not do anything except enjoy a good conversation with friends.

3. Dürer kert

Concerts are best enjoyed at Dürer Kert, a ruin bar located right next to the City Park in the building of a former school. Concerts, art events, flea markets, goa parties, tattoo festivals, bicycle fairs, or music competitions are held regularly.

Dürer Kert has a huge garden where meat is regularly grilled and guests can rent their own barbecue spot if they’d like to have a cookout with their friends.

4. Racskert

A man from Bosnia opened Racskert in a former car park – and this has already become one of the most popular spots. The mobile burger van offers a lot of different food, drinks, and the atmosphere is always excellent. You can watch sports games and matches here. It gets crowded around 8 or 9, so make sure to come early and get a good spot.

 5. Élesztő

Just a stone’s throw away from the Jewish Quarter is a ‘craft beer paradise’, i.e. Élesztő, a bar with the largest selection of beer, especially focusing on local Hungarian beer. The industrial design of a former glass factory is an excellent place where you can grab a bite to eat. In addition to beer, their cocktails and coffee are also amazing.

6. Ellato Kert & Taqueria  

This Mexican-style ruin bar called Ellato Kert & Taqueria has a large garden with tables where you can enjoy excellent tacos and tortillas. In the evening, you can enjoy live music; no specific genre is preferred, so you can stumble upon jazz, rock, or metal bands.

7. Instant

Instant occupies an entire building and it’s more of a ruin club than a ruin bar. You’ll probably enjoy your drink sitting on a couch in one of the former apartments that used to be in the building. Don’t worry, enough walls have been demolished to make moving around the place easier, so there’s actually so much space that people can comfortably dance here in the evening to music played by a DJ. Considering the club atmosphere, the prices here are a bit steeper, too. The food on offer includes burgers and fries.

8. Kisüzem

Kisüzem is a somewhat smaller bar, but with the best selection of whiskey and rum in the city and a few rare drinks from Hungary and around the world. The excellent atmosphere is a combination of truly pleasant staff, exhibited items on the walls of the place, movie nights, and for what the bar is actually known for – a Silent-Movie-Music programme during which musicians improvise while silent movies are playing on a screen behind them.

9. Corvinteto

Corvinteto has the best view of the city among all of the ruin pubs. It’s not easy to reach the sixth floor on foot, but you get just tired and thirsty enough for this place to reward you with a good drink and an excellent view. Around 10 p.m., the pub slowly turns into a club, and on Mondays in the summer, when the club isn’t working, you can watch movies on the big screen on the roof.

10. The Tip Top Roof Bar

We left the most modern place for last. Tip Top Bar is located near the centre and Kálvin Square, at Kiraly 4, but visitors often have a hard time finding it because it is ‘hidden’ behind an ordinary front door facing the street and it’s also on the seventh floor of a building without an elevator.

From the terrace, you can enjoy a view of Budapest, music is normally not played so you can have a normal conversation, but we suggest that you arrive before the sunset to enjoy this place to the fullest.

Publication date30.07.2019
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