Feeling thirsty in Hungary? Check out our favorite places to drink including hip Budapest ruin bars plus cool spots for beer, cocktails and wine.
Finding a bar in Budapest is like finding hay in a haystack. The Hungarian capital has a lot of drinking establishments, many filled with young professionals and visiting tourists. Though infamous for its funky ruin bars, the river split city also has traditional pubs, classy wine lounges and even spa bars. Yes, you can imbibe at Budapest bars while getting your soak on.
We visited our first (but not last) Budapest bar while killing time before we headed to our apartment at 6:30 AM. We’re not going to write about THAT bar with its dank smell and “interesting” clientele. However, we found plenty of great drinking holes during our month in the city. We can share THOSE bars without reservation.
Drinking in Budapest
It’s not difficult to find somewhere to drink in Budapest – bars are everywhere. Plus, compared to other word class cities like London and New York, this is a city where wine is cheap and beer is even cheaper. Sure, you can buy Hungarian wine in grocery stores like Spar and Tesco as well as at specialty wine shops like Bortársaság, but the real fun happens at the Budapest pubs when the Budapest nightlife comes alive and things get interesting.
With 30 nights in Budapest, we had ample time to explore the city’s ruin bars and beyond. In the process, we sipped sweet Tokaji wine, guzzled pints of lager and downed shots of palinka (fruit brandy). As we traversed the city and discovered Budapest clubs in the city’s nooks and crannies, a few stood out as our favorites.
Budapest Ruin Bars
If you only have one night in Budapest – go to a ruin bar. Set in previously abandoned buildings primarily in the city’s Jewish quarter, Budapest ruin bars offer huge spaces, eclectic design, awesome people watching and affordably priced drinks. Some even serve food with full-service restaurants and surprisingly good cuisine. The ruin bar experience is unique and should not be missed when visiting Budapest.
The patriarch of the Budapest ruin bar scene, Szimpla Kert leads the pack in both seniority and popularity. Lines of tourists often form at the door of this cavernous ruin bar, but the short wait is justifiable since Szimpla Kert’s interior is not to be missed. Kitschy design elements fill the walls of the ruin bar’s maze of rooms filled with bars serving beer and wine. Szimpla Kert Budapest has an open courtyard on the first floor which adds additional seating for thirsty tourists who pop by during a day of sightseeing. (See photo of Szimpla Kert’s courtyard at the top of this article.)
The hours of Szimpla Kert are astoundingly long with the ruin bar staying open until 4 am six days a week and until 5 am on Saturday nights. We preferred Szimpla Kert during the day when the bar was less crowded since we could more easily check out the kitsch. The owners clearly do not like white walls, and we’re okay with their design choices.
On Sunday mornings, the Szimpla ruin bar holds a weekly farmers market with local artisan producers and their products. Locals and tourists frequent this busy market where they buy cured meat, farm cheese, pastries, honey and prepared food. Many stay for brunch and beer.
Szimpla Kert is located at Budapest, Kazinczy u. 14, 1075 Hungary.
Crowds flock to drink value priced pints of Élesztő’s own beers as well as other craft brews from Hungary and nearby countries. Living up to a name that translates to Yeast, Élesztő serves 17 craft beers to big crowds in an even bigger space. Beer options range from hoppy IPAs to fruity beers flavored with cherry and elderberry. You can order wine and tapas at this multi-level ruin pub, but the real draw is the quality beers. At least it was for us.
Élesztő is located at Budapest, Tűzoltó u. 22, 1094 Hungary.
Cafe by day and bar by night, Most is a ruin bar in District VI that is appropriate for grown-ups. Guests choose among the bar’s different rooms depending on their mood and if they want to have an intimate conversation or be part of a party atmosphere. Most is a great spot to enjoy a quick beer or several beers due to the bar’s welcoming atmosphere, favorable pricing and central location.
Most is located at Budapest, Zichy Jenő u. 17, 1066 Hungary.
More Budapest Ruin Bars
Considering the coolness factor of Budapest ruin bars, you will surely want to visit several when you visit Budapest. Some ruin bars like Mazel Tov offer quality food (in their case Israeli cuisine). Others like Kuplung have live music. Instant Budapest claims its ruin bar notoriety by being the biggest in town with its 26 rooms.
Here’s a handy list of ruin bars for you to explore during your Budapest bar crawl:
Corvin Club – Budapest, Blaha Lujza tér 1-2, 1085 Hungary
Csendes – Budapest, Ferenczy István u. 5, 1053 Hungary
Ellátó Kert – Budapest, Kazinczy u. 48, 1075 Hungary
Instant – Budapest, Akácfa u. 49-51, 1072 Hungary
Kuplung – Budapest, Király u. 46, 1061 Hungary
Mazel Tov – Budapest, Akácfa u. 47, 1072 Hungary
Rácskert – Budapest, Dob u. 40-42, 1072 Hungary
Beyond Ruin Bars
As much fun as it is to hang out in Budapest ruin bars, they’re not the only places to enjoy adult beverages in Budapest. The city has a wide selection of traditional bars ranging from cozy pubs to chic cocktail bars. We bellied up to several cool bars in Budapest and narrowed our favorites to these:
Google “best cocktail bar in Budapest” and Boutiq Bar will pop up right away. Serving sophisticated cocktails in a city better known for its festive ruin bars, Boutiq Bar’s unassuming exterior hides the speakeasy’s classic decor and full bar. Mixologists whip up drinks like the sweet and spicy Oriental Mule with Bombay Sapphire gin, bitters, lime and ginger beer. Topped with a mango and cardamom foam, this crafted cocktail is a relative bargain at 2,250 Ft (approximately $8.50 USD).
Boutiq Bar is located at Budapest, Paulay Ede u. 5, 1061 Hungary.
For Sale Pub
Just across the street from the city’s largest food market, For Sale Pub is one of the best pubs in Budapest thanks to its unique decor and confusing name. This bar clearly has the philosophy that paper is more fun than art. And by paper, we mean layers upon layers of business cards, flyers, pictures and notes on the pub’s walls and ceiling. Straw and peanut shells cover the floor, making the need for a carpet obsolete. But what’s up with the name? As far as we know, For Sale Pub is not actually for sale.
For Sale Pub is located at Budapest, Vámház krt. 2, 1053 Hungary.
Unlike the wine of Italy, France and Spain, Hungarian wine remains a bit of a mystery beyond the country’s borders. Luckily for traveling wine lovers like us, Taste Hungary‘s Tasting Table offers a crash course in Hungary’s 22 wine regions and the country’s nearly 100 native varietals. Visitors to the stylistic subterranean cellar can learn about Hungarian wine while drinking a wine flight or during a wine tasting led by an experienced sommelier. As a bonus, Tasting Table sells a wide selection of Hungarian wines at reasonable prices.
Tasting Table is located at Budapest, Hungary, Bródy Sándor utca 9, 1088 Hungary.
More Wine Bars
After you learn about Hungarian wine at Tasting Table, you will be ready to hone your new knowledge at the best Budapest wine bars. During the holiday season, you can drink mulled wine at the Budapest Christmas Markets. Otherwise, we suggest you check these spots;
DiVino Wine Bar – Budapest, Szent István tér 3,
Doblo Wine Bar – Budapest, Dob u. 20, 1072 Hungary
Drop Shop Wine Bar – Budapest, Balassi Bálint 27., 1055 Hungary
KNRDY American Steakhouse and Bar – Budapest, Október 6. u. 15, 1052 Hungary
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