Budapest is one heck of a city, with a beauty only matched by its bizarre character. Beyond the thermal baths and stunning architectural sights, the city has a bustling nightlife you won’t find anywhere else. A night out in Budapest will be one that you won’t forget. I found this out the very first night I was in Budapest traveling with my younger brother and two European friends this past June.
Where to Go For a Night Out in Budapest
Ruin bars are all the rage in Budapest and have been around for 10 years since the founding of Szimpla Kert, the mecca of all ruin bars. These bars are built in Budapest’s old District VII neighborhood (the old Jewish quarter) in the ruins of abandoned buildings, stores, or lots. This neighborhood was left to decay after World War II, so it was a perfect place to develop an underground bar scene.
I believe the ruin bars are the real heart of the nightlife in Budapest. Below you will find a list of the most popular and eclectic ones in the entire city. Enjoy!
Szimpla Kert was the original ruin bar, opening in 2001 and starting this trend now sweeping Budapest. It’s one of the biggest ruin bars and still one of the most popular. Here you’ll find a large open courtyard, a top floor filled with eclectic furniture, cocktail bars, music, and even an old, stripped-down Trabant (a communist car) to have a drink in. They also sell pizza, which, after a few drinks, makes for the perfect walking-home snack.
Located on top of a supermarket, this ruin bar features an elevator ride where you can drink on your way to the roof. Corvin Teto is popular due to its huge rooftop terrace, where you can get an expansive view of the hills of Buda and the buildings of Pest. This is another dance-heavy ruin bar, specializing in electronic music. I’d come up here for a drink during sunset and then move on elsewhere.
Instant is located in an entire apartment building. It’s one of the more club-like ruin bars. In Instant, you can sit in what were once individual apartments and relax on furniture that looks like it was found on the street. They’ve knocked down many of the walls to connect the apartments and make space for the DJs and dancing. Given its popularity and the fact that it’s more “clubby,” drinks here are a little more expensive than in other ruin bars. But the vibe is still good.
Grandio is a ruin bar and hostel in one. It’s famous for its outdoor, tree-filled courtyard but is mostly filled with travelers and people on bar crawls due to the fact that it’s also a hostel. This is a good place to start your night and meet other travelers. However, during the day you can find locals relaxing here with a drink in the garden.
Not entirely sure if this place fits into the ruin bar culture. It was much fancier and trendier than the other bars. It was like being in a “real” bar. You walk into the courtyard and are greeted by a tree with a red-eyed robot attached to it. It looks like a Transformer is about to attack you. There are two main rooms: one red, the other blue. They play a lot of dance music, and this place fills up toward the end of the night.