Feeling thirsty in Hungary? Check out our picks for the best 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. But where are the best places to drink in Budapest?
With a month in the Hungarian capital, we had ample time to discover the best ruin bars in Budapest. We also found traditional pubs, classy wine lounges and even spa bars. Yes, you can imbibe at Budapest bars while getting your soak on.
During our noble quest, we sipped sweet Tokaji wine, guzzled pints of lager and downed shots of palinka (fruit brandy). Hey, it’s a tough job, but somebody has to do it. Read on to discover our favorite places to drink in Budapest.
Budapest Ruin Bars
If you only have one night in Budapest – go to a ruin bar.
The Budapest ruin pub experience is unique and should not be missed when visiting Budapest. Though there’s no lack of fun things to do in Budapest during the day, chilling at ruin bars is the coolest thing to do after the sun sets.
What Are Ruin Bars?
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.
Since each ruin bar is unique, you should check out several Budapest pubs to find your favorite. When you start your exploration, we recommend the following spots:
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.
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.
Bring cash to Élesztő. Unlike most of the best bars in Budapest, Élesztő did not take credit cards during our multiple visits.
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’s 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 serves one of the best lunch specials in Budapest as well as a popular weekend brunch.
Most is located at Budapest, Zichy Jenő u. 17, 1066 Hungary.
Mazel Tov’s claim to fame is that this Budapest ruin bar serves beautiful food to beautiful people in a beautiful space. Taking the concept to the next level, the uber-popular ruin bar serves Israeli food favorites like hummus, shawarma and shakshuka.
We first visited Mazel Tov in 2017 and shared dishes that would have made our Tel Aviv friends proud. This ruin bar has become destination dining in Budapest since our initial visit, making advance reservations a necessity.
Try one of Mazel Tov’s lemonades. You can choose from flavors like raspberry basil, mango, passion fruit, strawberry-mint, honey-pineapple and elderflower-mint.
Mazel Tov is located at Budapest, Akácfa u. 47, 1072 Hungary.
Additional Budapest Ruin Bars
Considering the coolness factor of Budapest ruin bars, you’ll surely want to visit several when you visit Budapest. Some ruin bars offer quality food. Others have live music. The one thing they have in common is that they’re all unique.
Here’s a handy list of additional ruin bars to explore during your Budapest bar crawl:
Other Budapest 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.
After drinking our way around town, we narrowed our favorites to the following Budapest pubs and bars:
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.
At Boutiq 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 was a relative bargain at 2,250 Ft (approximately $8.50 USD) at the time of our visit.
Don’t see a spot at the bar? Boutiq Bar has additional tables in the back.
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.
Food portions at For Sale Pub are generous. Consider sharing a bowl of goulash with your beers, especially if you plan to nibble on free peanuts at the bar.
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.
Plan ahead and make reservations for one of Tasting Table’s bi-weekly Thursday night dinners. Hosted by different winemakers and food professionals, these dinners are a bargain considering the generous amount of wine that flows during the multi-course meal.
Tasting Table is located at Budapest, Hungary, Bródy Sándor utca 9, 1088 Hungary.
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 out these spots:
Hungry For More In Central Europe?
About The Authors
Daryl & Mindi Hirsch
Saveur Magazine’s BEST TRAVEL BLOG award winners Daryl and Mindi Hirsch share their culinary travel experiences and recipes on their website 2foodtrippers. Since launching the site in 2012, they’ve traveled to over 40 countries in their quest to bring readers a unique taste of the world.
We update our articles regularly. Some updates are major while others are minor link changes and spelling corrections. Let us know if you see anything that needs to be updated in this article.
We self-funded our trip to Budapest.
Original Publication Date: December 23, 2017