Chances are, you’ve heard stories about the nightlife in Budapest. It is, after all, well-known as one of the most exciting nightlife hubs in Europe. One of the main features that makes Budapest after dark so noteworthy is the abundance of cool, quirky, and impossibly fun ruin bars.
In the past two decades, ruin bars have been cropping up in run-down buildings across the city (er, two cities!) These bars manage to combine eclectic decoration, low prices, and an open, welcoming atmosphere. There are tons of them, so it can be tough to decide which to check out when you only have a few nights. Luckily, we’ve narrowed down all of Budapest’s ruin bars into a few especially fun, offbeat, and special spots that are sure to leave you in awe.
A visit to Instant-Fogas will likely have you asking yourself: what is this place? Is it a bar? Ten bars in one? An apartment building? A different dimension entirely?
That reaction is kinda the point. When the two popular pubs Fogas Haz and Instant became one giant bar-complex, they managed to merge what made each of them unique into an offbeat, eccentric ruin bar paradise. You could spend the whole night wandering from room to room and experiencing the different vibes in each. With 20 rooms, 6 bars, 3 dance floors, and 2 gardens, there is truly something for everyone here: a techno bar, a room for rock & metal lovers, even a relaxed rooftop with good food for when you need a break from dancing and exploring.
You may have already heard of this iconic ruin bar, and with good reason. Step inside the former factory and you’ll be transported to a wonderland complete with a massive courtyard and loads of strange, eclectic antiques including an old Communist-era car (yes, you can sit and have a drink in it!). Szimpla opened in 2001, effectively starting the ruin bar trend and becoming the prototype for the many that followed. Here you can experience good, cheap drinks and pizza, live music and theater, and even on some days, a flea market where you can buy some fascinating finds, from antique trinkets to vintage Hungarian fashion to handmade musical instruments.
Csendes Vintage Bar & Café
If you’re looking for a slightly more laidback ruin bar, Csendes is perfect for the first drink of the evening, when you’re looking to sit with friends and have good conversation – and maybe meet some friendly locals or expats, too. Prepare to feel right at home here, as the atmosphere is comfortable and welcoming (despite the creepy dolls hanging from the ceiling). As a bonus, you can visit Csendes during the day when it acts as a cafe, and when you’re more likely to snag a seat by those gorgeous floor-to-ceiling windows.
Kertem, meaning “my garden”, is a ruin bar-slash-beer garden that fully embraces the outdoors, with most of the scene taking place in a giant, fairy-lit courtyard. The simple but delicious burgers and sandwiches, drinks served in plastic cups and tendency to keep the party going until late all contribute to the candid, festival-esque atmosphere at Kertem. Kertem’s location in City Park, right by other hotspots like the Museum of Fine Arts, Heroes’ Square, and the Budapest Zoo makes it a super convenient spot to add into your itinerary. You might even befriend a few of the locals’ dogs.
What do you get when you combine young, trendy crowd with offbeat decor (including a giant King Kong statue hanging from an ancient tree)? You get, well, a box – or Doboz in Hungarian. Stepping into Doboz is like stepping into another dimension. Each room features a different theme & a different music genre, meaning there is sure to be something for everyone: on any given night you can hear Latin music, hip hop, pop, and more. You never really know what you’re going to get at Doboz, so head there if you’re ready for a truly unique experience.
Located inside the gorgeous, historic Zichy Palota gardens, Kobuci prides itself on showcasing standouts in the vibrant local music scene. Genres include hip-hop, jazz, folk – you can even catch a Beatles tribute band from time to time. Kobuci is super versatile in that you can spend an afternoon or evening there relaxing and soaking in the atmosphere, or head there after dark to have one of the most authentic, exciting music experiences you can find at a ruin bar in Budapest. As Kobuci is an open spot blending in with the surrounded nature, the venue is only open in the warmer months, from April to September.