Occupying abandoned buildings, derelict sites and parking lots, Budapest's ruin bars are unique to the city. Many of the buildings in the city's Jewish Quarter (VII district) were left unoccupied after World War II and the empty spaces have now been reinvented as cool bars and open-air clubs. The trend dates back to 2004 when Szimpla Kert opened in a converted factory on Kazinczy utca. The city's ruin pubs have bags of personality and bring together quirky interiors, contemporary artwork and open-air gardens. Many of them host live music, exhibitions and creative events and are open during the day and late into the night. Check out our guide to Budapest's best ruin bars and explore the city's coolest drinking dens.
When Szimpla Kert opened in 2004, it changed the face of Budapest's bar scene and kickstarted a citywide ruin bar trend. It's now one of the city's most popular bars and although it's a fixture on the tourist trail, it attracts a steady stream of locals too. The sprawling site is furnished with mismatched chairs and tables, retro street signs, colorful artwork, and fairy lights. The best seat in the house is fashioned out of an old Trabant car in the garden. The pub hosts a regular farmers' market and art exhibitions as well as open-air film nights and live music events.
With eight bars, four dance floors and a restaurant, Instant is Budapest's biggest ruin bar. It occupies two converted buildings on Akácfa utca and the interiors and open-air courtyard are beautifully bizarre with giant disco balls, animal sculptures suspended from the ceiling and retro pinball machines. The huge space is divided into different rooms for different styles of music and it's open until 6 am every day of the week.
This hip hangout is more of a club than a pub. It's located within a converted Communist-era department store and is accessed by an elevator or a graffiti-strewn staircase. On the lower level, DJs spin electronic tunes and up on the roof you can sip a local beer overlooking the city's skyline or watch an open-air film on the giant screen.
On the edge of Budapest's City Park, Dürer Kert is one of the best places to see live music in the city. Its atmospheric open-air garden is lit by lanterns and features colorful tables, chairs and hammocks and drinks are served from a bar decorated with vinyl records. The building was first built as a boarding school and was run by French nuns in the 19th century before serving as a college in the Soviet era. It's now a hot ticket for music events that span different styles including rock, hip-hop, and electronica. It also hosts regular flea markets, vinyl record fairs, and picnics.
Just off Andrassy Utca, Budapest's grand boulevard, Anker't is a cool club in a large open-air courtyard. The minimalist design combines contemporary artwork and bare brick walls, and light boxes and stencils decorate the rooms. Grab a seat at one of the long wooden tables or take to the dance floor under strings of lanterns. There's a huge projector for films and there are regular events like poetry slams and audio-video discos.
This hidden gem on lively Kazinczy utca is a great place to grab cold beers and hot and spicy Mexican food. The open-air garden is decorated with brightly colored chairs and tables, wall art, and patterned bunting and the space is covered by a roof when the weather turns sour. The Mexican taquiera serves tacos and burritos and there's regular live music from bands and DJs as well as theater performances and an annual chili eating competition.