8 Bombastic Budapest Ruin Bars You Have to Visit in 2020
Budapest Ruin bars are the iconic drinking dens that divide opinions but are deeply embedded in the cultural fabric of the Budapest nightlife scene. These hangouts emerged from the smoke of the soviet downfall, quickly becoming firm favourites amongst the youth of the new Hungary. Fast forward to today, and these spots have slightly fallen out of favour for locals. However, can be found atop the bucket lists of wandering souls visiting Budapest from afar. No matter what you’ve heard or thought about them, the Budapest Ruin Bars are weird and wonderful spots that you have to experience if you’re visiting Budapest. In this guide, we’ve rounded up the very best ruin bars you should check out next time you’re in town.
The History of Ruin Bars in Budapest
To trace the origins behind Budapest’s ruin bars, you have to take a trip back to the early ’90s. A time of uncertainty and celebration as the remaining soldiers of the Soviet Union left Budapest. Leaving behind the remnants of decades of destruction, and dilapidated buildings which lie derelict and in despair. During this time, these empty buildings were taken over by free-spirited young Hungarians with a new-found appetite to party. This was the seed from which an entire underground subculture was born. Over the next twenty years, the ruin bar culture has been on a rollercoaster ride, evoking passionate opinions and emotions from both locals and travellers.
Budapest Ruin Bars Today
Ask locals, and they’ll say that the ruin bar culture is dead, with many arguing that these pubs have lost their authentic aura, now masked by a cloak of commonality. A direct result of the impending gentrification and shift as Budapest grows into an even bigger draw for travellers from four corners of the world. One would be hard-pressed to disagree, I mean in the past two months, iconic ruin bars such as Anker’t and Ellátókert have closed their doors. With the way things are going, there may be more casualties to come. So despite the local’s luke-warm opinions, if you are in town it will be worth heading down to experience them. You may never get the chance again.
Púder Bárszínház és Galéria
Known in English as Powder Bar, this spot is a super artsy, and one of the lesser-known ruin pubs in Budapest. The decor is the brainchild of an interior designer, Bertalan Babos Zsili, who along with his team transformed this space into every visual arts enthusiasts wet dream. From bright colours, hanging plants, moody lighting and walls covered with the unique works of local artists. The spot is heavily influenced by the world of visual arts. So much so that it even has an art studio at the rear of the building.
Like it’s peer ruin pubs, Púder Bárszínház has an electric atmosphere, set apart with a sprinkling of local and homely vibes. During the day it is a great place to grab some bites and sips. Once the sun goes down, it’s an epic spot where the night owls of the Danube descend to let their hair down. With DJ’s scratching the decks and blaring out some sublime sounds to serenade partygoers till the early morn.
Local Tip: One of the best things about Púder is the regular events that they host here. So check out the calendar to see what’s happening.
Location: Ráday utca
Opening Hours: Mon-Thur: 12PM-1AM, Fri-Sat: 12PM-2AM, Sun: 12PM-12AM.
Although most ruin bars have fallen out of favour amongst the people of Budapest. Csendes Létterem is a spot that has managed to maintain a loyal local following. Located in an unassuming building in the heart of Budapest’s Museum Quarter, this shabby-chic bar is your best bet if you’re seeking a slightly more offbeat Budapest ruin bar experience. The facade is fairly basic, perfectly masking the magic that lies within. As soon as you enter, your senses will be sent into overdrive. Firstly you’ll see the uber quirky and artsy decor, consisting of an ensemble of random items and artwork dotted all around. Seemingly plucked from the personal collections of a nutty art enthusiast. This combined with the homely vibe and soulful sounds, either on the deck or played live by a local band, create that special authentic charm synonymous with ruin pubs in Budapest.
If that wasn’t good enough, you’ll be pleased to know that they also have an eclectic selection of bites and sips for you to savour. We’d reccomend trying one of their burgers, which you can wash down well with a coffee from their signature polka dot cups. If you’re feeling something a bit stronger then grab an ice-cold beer or choose from their extensive selection of spirits.
Fun Fact: The English translation for Csendes is “quiet”, quite the oxymoron as this ruin bar is super lively. With a jam-packed calendar of activities, events and live music on the weekends.
Location: István u
Opening Hours: Mon-Wed: 10AM-12AM, Thur-Fri: 10AM-2AM, Sat: 12PM-2AM and
When it comes to Budapest ruin bars, Mazel Tov stands out from the crowd. Its walls aren’t covered with strange arts and crafts. This spot keeps things slick and slightly tamer. Whilst managing to capture that special vibe of good times that ruin pubs are known for. It’s the ideal place if you’re a fan of the ruin bar concept, but don’t fancy being surrounded by rowdy revellers knocking back shots and the wild party’s Budapest’s ruin bars are known for. More upscale than it’s counterparts, Mazel Tov is set in the heart of Budapest’s Jewish Quarter.
Like most, the exterior appears rough and rugged, which can fool you. However, the inside space is super stylish, with plentiful seats, wooden tables. This blends perfectly with the hanging greenery, a prominent feature of the courtyard. At Mazel Tov, the cheap drinks have been swapped for swanky cocktails, and a food menu packed with a tasty selection of middle eastern treats. So if you fancy a more subtle ruin bar experience which is equally as fun, then be sure to head to Mazel Tov. L’chaim.
Local Tip: Make sure you try the Israeli inspired Mazel Tov Pastrami Sandwich. Made from a fine cut of 14 Day smoked beef breast. A real palate pleaser that will have you coming back for more.
Details: Akácfa utca
Opening Hours: Mon-Thur: 11AM-1AM, Fri-Sat: 11AM-2PM & Sun: 11AM-1AM
Élesztőház is another spot that offers one of the most unique and alternative ruin bar experiences in Budapest. Located away from the hoards of tourists in the 9th District, Élesztőház offers a more of a civilised ruin pub experience. Here you can have a few beers and delicious food with friends, but also get your dance on till the early morn. It has both indoor and outdoor spaces, with an epic courtyard which is usually packed full of people having one helluva time.
What makes this space so special is the unwavering focus and dedication to the creation of craft beers, with over twenty taps to choose from. Located They also do some great food, so check their menu and see what’s in store. Aside from this, Élesztőház is also home to the Brew Studio, where they teach the art of homebrewing. So if you’re a fan of beer, look no further than the Élesztőház. Oh if you are a craft beer fan, then be sure to check out our Ultimate Guide to Drinking Craft Beer in Budapest.
Local Tip: This ruin bar has over 21 taps pouring a variety of alcoholic beverages. It’s also home to Central Europes first cask ale bar, a brewing school, and even a craft beer-themed hotel.
Location: Tűzoltó u.
Opening Hours: Sun-Mon: 3PM-1AM, Tue-Wed: 3PM-1AM, Thur-Sat: 3PM-1AM
Klauzál utca is the passageway which leads into the heart of Budapest’s 7th District. Located slap bang in the centre of it all is Doboz, a ruin bar complex which is ideal if you’re keen on unleashing your inner party animal. The largest of all Budapest ruin bars, this hangout is a haven for hedonism, with thousands of people passing through it’s doors to party.
Like it’s counterparts, the facade of this fabulous ruin bar is unkempt and unassuming. Head through the front and after a few steps you’ll find yourself stood in a huge courtyard filled with fellow good-time seekers sipping on something special. The centrepiece of this space is a 300-year-old tree, which has a massive gorilla sculpture straddling on its branches.
The settings are live, with a selection of three thematic rooms for you to choose from. The Grill Terrace, House Party Room and the Saloon. Each one adorned with neon lights and DJ’s delivering an eclectic selection of tunes. Adding an extra layer of awesomeness to the good vibes. They even have live performances, from musicians, firebreathers and much more. Dotted around you’ll see stands where you can get food. So get some food, drinks and be ready to get down on the dancefloor till the early morn.
Fun Fact: The English translation of Doboz is literally “Square”. The venue was named this after a red box-shaped centre of the venue.
Location: Klauzál utca
Opening Hours: Tue: 5PM-2AM, Wed-Thur: 5PM-5AM, Fri: 5PM-6AM.
When talking of ruin bars in Budapest, the most renowned by far is the iconic Kazinczy street kaleidoscope of fun, Szimpla Kert. Since opening its doors in 2004, this magical spot has become the go-to for good time seekers from Budapest and more distant lands. It’s clear that the mavericks behind Szimpla wanted to create a space that reflected the “no rules” and rebellious attitude of the time, and it’s safe to say they’ve succeeded in that.
Once you enter, it’s like you’ve stepped into a magical maze, with a labyrinth of stairs leading to a range of rooms, each with quirky decor resembling the shelves of a thrift store. During the day, there is live entertainment and vendors selling all kinds of arts, crafts, fresh produce and foods in the main courtyard. Once the sun goes down, the party animals come out here to have one helluva time. Although not the preferred ruin bars amongst the locals, Szimpla is an experience you have to try when visiting Budapest.
Local Tip: Szimpla is super popular amongst tourists and on any given night the queue to get in stretches way down Kazinczy utca. We’d advise to check out Szimpla on Sunday for the farmers market or on any given day before 10PM. After that, the place gets flooded with tourists so it would be best to avoid.
Details: Kazinczy utca
Opening Hours: Mon-Sat: 12PM-4AM, Sun: 9AM-4AM.
What’s better than a single ruin bar? A ruin bar complex made up of many different spots under one roof. Right? Well if you agree, then Instant Fogas Ház is the perfect spot to party like a proper animal. Prior to merging, Instant and Fogas Ház were two popular ruin pubs operating out of different locations.
Now Instant – Fogas Ház is an Akácfa street party palace, set over 1200 Square Feet, with 7 different floors, each with a unique decor. Also, each floor has it’s own music style, so there’s something here for everybody. From R’n’B at Underwelt, Latin rhythms at Frame, to headbanging rock at Robot and electric sounds at Fogas. If that wasn’t enough, this spot also has a good selection of bar games to keep you entertained, if dancing isn’t your thing. A truly special Budapest ruin bar that always delivers an awesome night out.
Local Tip: This spot is always a good choice for a night of fun, however, the experience is increased 10-Fold in the summer when you can chill out the epic garden area at Fogas.
Location: Akácfa utca
Opening Hours: Mon-Sun: 4PM-6AM.
If you’re visiting Budapest, then there is no doubt that you’ll probably take a trip to Városliget, or City Park as it’s known in English. The park is a stone’s throw away from the iconic heroes square and home to the stunning Vajdahunyad Castle, an iconic outdoor ice-skating rink in the winter and the most iconic of all thermal baths in Budapest, Szechenyi. However, located just outside the park is Dürer Kert. Another Budapest nightlife institution and spiritual home of the Budapest underground music scene.
This spot is a magnificent mashup between a Budapest ruin bar and nightclub, offering an experience that you’ll remember. After opening its doors in 2008, Dürer Kert has positioned itself as a local institution of live music and entertainment, specifically of the thrash and metal genre. Set over 1000 square feet, it has seen artists from near and far grace it’s stage and people getting down on the dance floor. It has a stunning outdoor garden, with plentiful seating and a criss-cross network of trees that intertwine above. In addition to this, they also have hammocks and a selection of pub games that you can enjoy.
Unlike some of the other ruin bars, it seems to have more of a relaxed vibe, due in part because of the more local crowd. It’s one of the real special ruin bars in Budapest, that has a real cult-like following. All in all, a great option if you’re deciding to go for a night out in a ruin bar in Budapest with a more local option.
Fun Fact: The building in which it’s housed has a pretty interesting history. During the 19th century, the French nuns of Sacre Coeur opened it as a school. It was then transformed again, with a swimming pool and gardens. In the 1980’s it was taken over and the art department of ELTE. It underwent its most recent transformation in 2008, from educational to unreal entertainment institution.
Location: Ajtósi Dürer sor
Opening Hours: Vary – Check the schedule out here
It’s true that the Budapest ruin bar culture has been on a downwards slope and depending on who you ask, has lost its aura of authenticity. However, there is still something weirdly special about these places which you can’t get anywhere else. So if you happen to be in town, be sure use this guide to find the perfect ruin bar experience in Budapest. Oh and if you can’t wait, be sure to download the Like Locals app and uncover the amazing unique spots in the city, available on both iOS and Android devices.