When it comes to nightlife, Budapest doesn’t do things by halves. And on a trip to Hungary’s capital, it’s almost a rite of passage to experience one of its hip and happening hangouts – a ruin bar. If you love sourcing all things weird and wonderful on a city break, then these unique spots should be at the top of your list. Want to know more about these popular nightlife haunts? Here’s everything you need to know about Budapest’s ruin bars…
What can I expect at a ruin bar?
From the outside, these dilapidated old buildings don’t look like much, but once you step through their doors, you’ll be dazzled by multi-coloured décor, mismatched furniture and a huge collection of eclectic items. Picture vintage computers hanging from the ceiling and old road signs lit up with neon lights – the weirder the better!
Inside, you’ll find a bar or two serving all your drinks favourites, from local liqueurs to well-known pints and cool cocktails. Simply grab a drink, mingle with the locals and hop from room to room, soaking up the unique atmosphere and enjoying the varied entertainment.
What’s the backstory?
Surprisingly, the ruin bars of Budapest have only really been around for the last 20 years or so. Back then, the VII District on the Pest side of the city was full of crumbling buildings that had been left abandoned for years. It was once the site of the Jewish ghetto too, where thousands of Jews were housed during World War II.
In the early 2000s, bar owners started to set up in this area, offering simple drinks for the city’s arty crowd. From then on, these hot spots went from strength to strength and evolved into the iconic ruin bars that we all know and love today.
Where can I find one?
These days, ruin bars and pubs are popping up all over the city but if you want to experience the classics of the ruin bar scene, you’ll need to head to District VII. This is where you’ll find the likes of Szimpla Kert – Hungary’s very first ruin pub – and Gozsdu Udvar.
Simply pop Kazinczy Street into your phone and not only will you arrive into the heart of Budapest but on the city’s main ruin bar street. Hop from one to the other to find your ultimate fave.
Our top picks…
Not sure where to start on your tour of the city’s best ruin bars? Here are just a few of our favourites…
The original Budapest ruin pub. It’s pretty hidden, so if you blink, you might just miss it. Think trippy décor, giant disco balls and cool place name signs from all over the world.
Each room has a unique theme and plays a different genre of music, so pull up a chair, stool or old car seat and soak up this crazy atmosphere. In the main room, live bands and DJs will keep you entertained as you choose from the menu of more than 400 drinks!
More of a club than a bar, this giant venue encompasses a whole apartment building, giving you more than 20 rooms to explore. You can take a seat on recycled furniture in what once would have been someone’s living room or enjoy music from live DJs in the bigger, more central spaces.
You’ll find it less than a ten-minute walk away from Szimpla Kert, so when you fancy a change of scene, this spot couldn’t be more ideal!
Bar-come-restaurant Mazel Tov is relatively new on the Budapest nightlife scene but it offers something a little different to the others in this list. Also in District VII, this open air setting doubles as a Middle Eastern restaurant, serving some of the city’s tastiest dishes. At weekends, live DJs and local bands take over the space to create a unique environment to enjoy food and drinks.
Posted: 13th Jan 2020. Updated: 16th May 2023.