Budapest has lots to offer, not only for daytime sightseeing but also when it comes to night life. A variety of bars, clubs and entertainment venues open their doors for revellers to party the night away. But what makes Budapest’s bars different from other bars around the world? Orsolya Kiss-Toth’s answer would be ruin bars and she recommends some of her favourites below. You can get more insider tips on Budapest Secrets and the Budapest Secrets Facebook page.
Ruin bars are a trend that started to emerge in Budapest about 15 years ago and have become increasingly popular amongst locals and tourists alike. As is so typical in big cities, instead of preservation, old buildings are being abandoned and torn down to make way for modern high rise apartment blocks, office buildings and shopping centres, destroying its personality.
The emergence of ruin bars has saved many of these old buildings in Budapest, saving its beautiful architecture and turning them into trendy places where night owls can enjoy a few drinks and chill out in a retro ambiance.
Each of these ruin bars is unique in terms of their interior design, but are all the same in the sense the building is left in its original condition. No renovation or restoration. Most of them are decorated by the work of local artists and have local bands entertaining during the evenings. From time to time they also organize other events like film nights and various kinds of workshops.
The concept has caught on in other European cities too, with ruin bars finding new antique homes in Berlin and Zurich. But Budapest will always be its home and the number of ruin bars scattered around Budapest are always growing. They are places with tons of spirit where you can meet people with quirk, character and creativity about them, hailing from all around the world – an experience not to be missed!
Szimpla Kert 14. Kazinczy utca, District 7 of Budapest.
If I had to choose a favourite, it’d probably be Szimpla Kert. Since it first opened its doors in 2001, Szimpla Kert has moved location a couple of times and has changed a lot over the years, but it’s still the best. Today it’s found on Kazinczy utca and it has more to offer its visitors than ever before. The interior design is unique to say the least – check out the table, made from an old Trabant car, easily the most eye catching pieces here.
No matter what time of day you visit, Szimpla Kert has got something on offer. Flea and food markets, film clubs, exhibitions and theatre performances are only a few of Szimpla’s offerings, and the live bands at night ensure a brilliant atmosphere. A ruin bar definitely worth visiting.
Fogashaz 51. Akacfa utca, District 7 of Budapest.
Fogashaz is located at Akacfa utca, district 7 of Budapest. This ruin bar is a little tucked away, but still easily accessible from Budapest’s city centre. First opened in 2009, Fogashaz strives to be a cultural hot spot for visitors to the city. Its interior shows the best cutting edge art the city has to offer, being filled with the works of local artists. Keeping with this creative theme, it also runs film clubs, exhibitions, workshops and alternative theatre performances. Fogashaz has expanded in recent years with the development of the outdoor garden space, which only adds to its character.
Instant 38. Nagymezo utca, District 6 of Budapest.
Close to Liszt Ferenc tér’s row of bars, restaurants and Nagymezo utca’s entertainment venues you’ll find Instant. Inside it’s like a labyrinth full of private nooks and crannies, with rooms filled with all sorts of weird and wonderful things, like a dentist chair and retro arcade offerings. Located close to tourist attractions, bars, restaurants, hostels and hotels, Instant is very perfectly places – a great introduction to the ruin bar.
Puder 8. Raday utca, District 9 of Budapest.
Puder is in another tourist hot spot at Raday utca and neighbours one of Budapest’s Michelin star restaurants, Costes. It also acts as an art gallery and is home to many cultural events. Exhibitions from emerging artists decorate the walls while creative theatre performances entertain visitors. Enjoy a few drinks and food while listening to DJs spinning quality music in the cosy indoors area or sit out on a warm summer’s night and watch the passers-by on the busy Raday utca.
Nyereg 2. Varosligeti korut, District 14 of Budapest.
Nyereg is a little bit special, what with it being located in Budapest’s City Park with all its beautiful surroundings. Most spectacularly, it has a beautiful view of the park and the lake from its beer garden. The seating area right next to the bar is pretty memorable too, visitors can sit on saddles mounted on bar stools right next to the bar area and enjoy homemade lemonade, a pint of beer or snacks.
The crowd is a bit more diverse here as well, given its location. Families with children are not a rare sight during the afternoon thanks to the kids corner, while sports lovers can watch their favourite events on the big screen.
All this would make you wonder what makes this place a ruin bar. The ivy covered building at Nyereg is one of the City Park’s oldest buildings that used to be an artesian bath. These thermal wells paved the way for the emergence of the neighbouring Szechenyi Bath, one of Europe’s largest spa thermal complex.
All ruin bars are unique in their own way, but one thing is for sure, whichever one of them you visit you’ll experience something different. Including a great mix of people from every corner of the world enjoying local bands in a unique atmosphere.
So, what are you waiting for? Head over to Hostelworld, book your accommodation in Budapest and start exploring those bars!