During our first trip to Budapest in 2012, I don’t think I even knew what a ruin bar was. I am not saying this side of Budapest nightlife didn’t exist back then, we just didn’t seek it out. For our recent trip, though, I wanted not only to do some research on the best ruin bars in Budapest, Hungary but also wondered if a ruin bar was right for us. In this post, I share a little about the history of this uniquely Budapest phenomenon and how to make the most of the experience.
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Our trip to Budapest coincided with the start of our Avalon Waterways Active and Discovery cruise. We spent the weekend in Budapest before setting sail up the Danube River on our way to Linz, Austria. We ate a ton of Hungarian food and needed something to do between big meals.
Over the weekend we visited as many ruin pubs as we could fit in. But, as part of our Avalon trip, we also explored a ruin bar as part of our first Discovery excursion from the ship as part of a Budapest Retro Tour. We share that experience here too. (Read our full review of our Avalon Waterways Danube River Cruise.)
The Budapest Bar Scene
There is certainly no shortage of Budapest bars. In fact, walking through central Budapest it almost seems like the city is filled wall-to-wall with restaurants and bars. As a food and drink traveler, this seemed like a little bit of nirvana, particularly as we tried to track down traditional Hungarian food.
We also visited Budapest during a summer weekend. There were loads of young people, hipsters, and stag party groups on insane Budapest bar crawls. It started to make me wonder if the Budapest bar scene was a little too much for a couple in their 40s who was interested in exploring the city. Particularly for a couple about to embark on a luxury cruise up the Danube.
We had loads of friends recommend Budapest ruin bars, but I wondered if the recommended bars would make me feel old! That’s why I did a lot of research on the different bars and what they are like in order to find a few that could fit our travel and drinking style. In this post, I want to share the results of our in-person research.
What Is A Budapest Ruin Bar
Many of the best Budapest ruin bars are located around the Jewish Quarter, in District VII on the Pest side of the Danube River. These are known as abandoned bars, but in reality, they started as bars built on abandoned lots, or in abandoned buildings, or in between buildings. They are normally built outdoors or half indoors and half out.
There is a focus on drinking, but many also serve food. Some act as defacto art spaces. They are decorated with Christmas lights and funky decor, including brightly painted chairs and tables, much of which seem like they came straight from a salvage yard. Certainly an adventure. And certainly unique.
The trend started almost 20 years ago with a bunch of young guys looking for cheap places to drink in Budapest. Owners scavenged for much of the furnishing for the early ruin pubs from attics or basements nearby. Some of the decor was augmented by the work of local artists.
Even today, many drinks tend to cost only around €2-3 making them still a great deal. Each of the ruin pubs in Budapest is unique in that they all have their own vibe. Many operate as late-night clubs, but some have the feel of cafes during the day. Some are family-friendly during the day and some are known for group parties. In the end, a ruin bar is one of the best places to visit in Hungary, and there are loads of them right in the center of Budapest.
What Are The Best Ruin Bars In Budapest For “Adults”
When researching the best ruin pubs in Budapest, a lot of lists came up with the same few names. When looking at the photos and descriptions, they seemed a little much for us. We just aren’t that into clubs, dancing, or drinking until dawn. We enjoy our drinks but prefer to do so at a reasonable hour so that we can get a good night’s sleep. Yes, we are more adults than party-goer.
Several of the most popular Budapest ruin bars and clubs cater to a younger audience, particularly late at night. They might be attached to or associated with a youth hostel or be ground zero for stag parties and large groups of drunken British. We wanted to avoid these at all costs. I will discuss some of these young and hip-run pubs, but I want to focus in this Budapest travel blog on the best ruin bars in Budapest for “adults” – people who want to have the experience but not be left deaf by the end of the night.
Best Ruin Bars In Budapest For Young People
Okay, I will start with some of the more youth-oriented ruin bars in Budapest. As an early note, we visited all of our ruin bars recommendations in the afternoon or early evening (before 10 pm). There are a few very famous ruin bars that specialize in all-night rave-style parties. We didn’t visit these at all. This includes Instant and Fogashaz, which are located on the same street and are part of the same complex. They are open from 4 pm to 6 am and have a reputation for attracting young folks. Between the two of them, there are supposedly 18 bars and seven dance floors making it the best ruin bar for dancing.
We visited Szimpla Kert, which is on the top of everyone’s list of the best Budapest ruin pubs. Translating to “simple garden”, it was one of the first ruin bars to open in Budapest. We visited relatively early on Friday night and paused outside. There was a large security presence and a bunch of super drunk guys, before 9:00 pm. Located on Kazinczy Utca this is a section of Budapest that is known to be a party scene, particularly on the weekend.
We visited Szimpla Kert a second time as part of our Budapest Retro Tour with Avalon Waterways. This time, we visited in the afternoon and it was totally chill. It also is one of the most kitsch of the ruin pubs, loaded wall-to-wall with artwork. If you are looking to enjoy a drink while sitting in a bathtub, this is the ruin bar for you. My recommendation is to go early, perhaps in the afternoon, before it gets too crazy. Or try it mid-week to avoid the stag party scene.
Hands down this was one of our favorite places to drink in Budapest. Kőleves Budapest is also located in the Jewish Quarter. They have a group of establishments at Kazinczy Utca 41, including a bistro for more formal dining. Kőleves Kert is the garden out back. It’s bright and cheery, with painted wooden tables and even a few hammocks. It’s just one of the more nice bars in Budapest, totally pleasant. This ruin bar is the perfect way to spend an afternoon drinking cold beer in Budapest.
Kőleves is open all day, seven days a week. They close earlier than most, around midnight, and that is just perfect for us. They serve food as well.
Anker’t Romkocsma Budapest
Anker’t, to me, had the most “ruin bar” feel to it. Whereas others we visited seemed like abandoned lots turned bars, Anker’t definitely still has its ruin vibe, being set inside the courtyard of an abandoned factory building. The building dates to the early 1800s and I don’t doubt its age one bit. We hung out in the open courtyard area, but there are small rooms with couches to chill and an indoor dance floor for later night revelry. They also serve food, with a pizza food truck just inside the entrance to the bar.
Anker’t Budapest is open Wednesday through Saturday from 4 pm to late, closing at 5 am on Saturday. They are closed Sunday, Monday, and Tuesday.
Ellátó Kert Budapest
Ellátó Kert is located in the Jewish Quarter. Fittingly it was once a meat-processing plant and is now a taqueria, serving up tacos and burritos alongside beer and cocktails. It’s definitely filled to the brim with kitsch and offers loads of seating inside and out. The music is eclectic and the patrons spanned every age group. My one complaint is that it felt a little more closed in than other ruins bars we visited. That meant between more walls and more umbrellas and a ceiling cover, it felt smokier than the others.
Ellátó Kert is open on the weekends until 4:00 am and until 2:00 am on weekdays. They don’t open until 5:00 pm most days so it is more of an evening or late-night hangout.
Mazel Tov Budapest
One of the more hip and trendy places to be in Budapest. A friend dined at Mazel Tov just before our visit and sat next to Dakota Fanning. Definitely, a more refined decor than other more traditional ruin pubs, Mazel Tov specializes in Israeli food and is well known for its homemade lemonades. More of a restaurant than a traditional bar, it still has a slightly edgy feel with its location between two stone buildings. Well, an upscale edgy feel. They also offer an extensive list of fancy cocktails and an extensive wine list.
Mazel Tov Budapest is open from 9:00 am to 2:00 am, with an early closing during the week. They are well known for their weekend brunch menu when we visited. Make reservations or be prepared to wait for a table. It’s the “it” place in Budapest. Later at night, they have a DJ giving it a more party vibe.
Most Bistro is definitely more bistro than ruin bar but is worth a visit. It started with their indoor dining rooms along with a parking lot in the back. The parking lot became a Budapest beer garden during the summer but now belongs to Most year-round. If you are looking for great food and a chill environment for outdoor drinks, Most Bistro is the place.
It’s also several blocks away from the more busy bar district in Budapest around Kazinczy street making it a great destination. Also check out the pedestrian road Hajós Street, which is nearby with other food and drink options. This is the street where we stayed during our first visit to Budapest and I really like the neighborhood.
Bisztró Most is open from 10:00 am to 2:00 am on weekends, with an earlier closing time during the week.
Racskert – The Best Ruin Bar For Vegetarians
From doing my research ahead of time, it seemed that Racskert would be a fun ruin bar to check out during our trip to Budapest. It seems that more recently they’ve developed a niche as a vegan ruin bar. It’s more of a food court during the day with loads of vegan and vegetarian options. At night, they are known for reasonably priced drinks and a chill atmosphere. They often have traditional Hungarian music and even quiz nights.
Racskert is open seven days a week starting at noon. They close at 4 am on the weekends, with earlier closing times during the week. Look for the large green eyes and rainbow painting on the walls outside to know you’ve arrived.
FAQs – RUIN BARS IN BUDAPEST HUNGRY
It depends. Some open at 9 am and act as cafes in the morning. Some open around noon or 2 pm and others don’t open until 4 or 5 pm. The latter of which tend to be more club-feeling. I still find it amazing that many of the most popular ruin pubs don’t close until 5 or 6 AM.
It depends on what you are looking for. In this post, I offered our opinions on the best bars in Budapest for u0022adultsu0022 because that is what we are. Our best experiences came from hanging in a beer garden environment around 2 or 3 pm, chilling in the sun with a cold Hungarian beer.
Most do offer at least some food, even if just pizza. Others, like Mazel Tov and Most, are known more for food than anything else. One thing to note, other than Mazel Tov and Most, many of the ruin bars are self-serve. That means no table service. There are normally signs for food service, asking you to order at the bar.
Yes. Budapest has a reputation, good or bad depending on who you ask for its nightlife. The city plays host to many UK u0022stagu0022 and u0022henu0022 parties. Many bars and clubs don’t open until 11 pm and offer drinking and dancing into the early morning hours.
*Our trip to Budapest preceded our Danube cruise. This trip is a project managed by iambassador in partnership with Avalon Waterways. As always, With Husband In Tow maintains full editorial control of the content published on this site. Learn more about Avalon Waterways Active and Discovery Cruises where they help you explore more while cruising.