Szimpla Kert
By Danielle Donchetz, Epicure & Culture Contributor. This blog post contains affiliate links, which allows us to earn commissions at no additional cost to you. Thank you for supporting Epicure & Culture!

Ruin bars in Budapest are a unique facet of the city, a quintessential Hungary nightlife experience.

These watering holes are just what they sound like:

Abandoned structures transformed into unforgettable spaces for mingling, dancing and drinking.

Now, not surprisingly, this fun-loving Eastern European city — located along the Danube River — is becoming an increasingly popular travel destination.

Not only is it affordable, but they’re known for their thermal baths (don’t miss a massage at Szechenyi Spa), fairytale architecture (like Vajdahunyad Castle) and a plethora of World Heritage Sites (such as the Royal Palace).

And of course, Budapest’s ruin bars are also a main draw.

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Budapest ruin bars offer a unique look into Hungary nightlife -- and history. If you want to add quirky things to do in Budapest to your travel itinerary, these 3 unforgettable ruin pubs are a must! // #Budapest #HungaryNightlife #BudapestRuinBars #BudapestRuinPubs #BudapestTravel Less

The History Of Budapest Nightlife

Ruin pubs in Budapest began popping up across the city in the early 2000s.

At this time, plans were put in place to demolish large blocks of rundown and abandoned buildings in order to rebuild neighborhoods following years of neglect after WWII.

But then something incredible happened:

A group of young people saw a business opportunity to repurpose factories and residential buildings scheduled for demolition, leading to the opening of Budapest’s first ruin bar in 2002.

They began renting space in a crumbling apartment building and created an eclectic bar furnished with mismatched items collected from family and friends.

The bars have since become among the most unique things to do in Budapest.

Szimpla Interior
Szimpla Budapest is one of the top nightclubs in Budapest | Photo courtesy of Anna Honfi

The majority of the ruin bars can be found in the city’s District VII (Budapest’s Jewish Quarter), a lively neighborhood that is now home to an abundance of antique shops and trendy restaurants.

While these spirited establishments were born out of a desire to salvage an existing space, many are in jeopardy of soon being unfit to accommodate people as the structures are being compromised.

Additionally, some of the properties face the possibility of being bought out by developers looking to repurpose the site.

Therefore, you should be sure to visit these three ruin bars, and others in Budapest, while you still can!

1. Have A Drink Or Visit The Farmers Market At Szimpla Kert Ruin Bar

Szimpla Kert was the first ruin bar to open in Budapest and is arguably the most famous.

The establishment epitomizes ruin bar decor:

First, there are the crumbling concrete walls covered with drawings and notes written in permanent ink by visitors from around the world.

There’s also the eclectic mix of furniture and artwork — including a bathtub converted into a couch and bicycles hanging from walls.

Szimpla Courtyard
Szimpla Ruin Bar | Photo courtesy of Anna Honfi

This Budapest bar — consisting of numerous rooms and a large courtyard — has evolved into a space that hosts an array of events including movie showings, a farmers’ market, and live music performances.

During the day, visitors will find a relaxed atmosphere. Hint: Budapest coffee is a must-try.

Then at night, the music is turned up and the bar becomes a lively place to meet friends.

While this is one of the most popular ruin bars in the city, visitors will still encounter many locals at all times of the day.

On the weekend, Szimpla hosts a farmers’ market and offers an unlimited buffet brunch from $14 per person.

Bonus:

Enjoy a meal made of local ingredients, including the highest quality farmers’ cheese, domestic breed Mangalica sausage, honey, and cottage cheese.

Szimpla Farmers Market
Szimpla Farmers Market | Photo courtesy of Anna Honfi

2. Dance The Night Away At Instant and Fogas Ház Ruin Bar

In 2017, two popular ruin bars – Instant and Fogas Ház – combined to create one large complex that is one of the best spots to party Budapest.

With seven dance floors, each featuring a different genre of music, the space feels more like a club than a casual bar.

Similar to Szimpla, the bar opens up into a large open-air courtyard; however, Instant has a mystical twist to its decor with a large canopy of treetops covering the sky and illuminated by fairy lights.

Instant Budapest is often times compared to a labyrinth due to the winding hallways and discrete staircases leading from one level to the next.

The bar also features a rooftop which looks out over the city.

On select nights of the week, visitors can take a gamble and get a tattoo from a local artist.

The catch is that the individual gives the artist parameters of what they absolutely would not want tattooed on them and then the artist is given free rein to select a design.

Instant
Instant bar in Budapest | Photo courtesy of Instant https://www.facebook.com/instant.art.bar.wood/

3. For A Fancier Night Out Visit Anker’t Budapest

Occupying an old residential building, Anker’t is one of Budapest’s more upscale ruin bars.

Ankert Budapest embodies minimalistic design and offers an expansive outdoor space.

The windows and doors on the existing building were removed, leaving a structure of exposed brick and limestone.

This industrial design is contrasted with simple furniture and decor made from wood.

Anker't Budapest
Anker’t Budapest | Photo courtesy of Unger András https://www.facebook.com/urbanplayer.hu/

The open-air courtyard — illuminated by sweeping strands of Edison lights — is transformed into a dance floor during the evenings that, while no doubt a different scene from that found on a typical Budapest pub crawl, is worth a visit.

During select months, a flower market occupies the outdoor garden on the weekends.

Additionally, Anker’t also holds a small market featuring vendors selling vegan food and products accompanied by workshops and seminars associated with the lifestyle.

Also worth noting:

Anker’t welcomes children and four-legged guests!

Budapest Bar Crawl

Now, if you’d prefer a guided Budapest nightlife experience, there are a number of local tours offering just that.

Some of these include:

Best of Budapest’s Ruin Bars

Epic Budapest Pub Crawl

Bingo Bar Crawl

And for a daytime food and drink experience:

Etyek Wine Country Tour with Dinner from Budapest

Hungarian Home Cooking Class and Market Tour in Budapest

Private Budapest Food Tour with a Local Foodie

Is Budapest Safe?

A common question many potential travelers to Budapest want to know:

“Is the city safe?”

In short, violent crime is relatively rare in Budapest — though of course use common sense and always be aware of your surroundings.

One thing to note is that theft is pretty common.

For this reason, you’ll want to learn how to avoid pickpockets while traveling (click here).

Have you been to these best bars in Budapest? Have any other Hungary nightlife tips to add? Please share in the comments below! 

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Budapest ruin bars offer a unique look into Hungary nightlife -- and history. If you want to add quirky things to do in Budapest to your travel itinerary, these 3 unforgettable ruin pubs are a must! // #Budapest #HungaryNightlife #BudapestRuinBars #BudapestRuinPubs #BudapestTravel Less

Recommended:

Sweet Memories At Budapest’s Marzipan Museum [Blog Reads]

Clever Travel Companion Pickpocket-Proof Garments [Safety Gear]

Hungarian Cookbook: Old World Recipes for New World Cooks [Food Exploration]

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3 Comments

  1. Amazing pictures! The interior designs of these pubs are remarkable. It’s really unique from the usual bars around cities these days. They really make us want to pack our bags and go!

    1. Oh yeah, Budapest definitely has you covered when it comes to “unique” bars. Good drinks and food, too 🙂

  2. Great blog. Great photos. Thanks for sharing! I want to visit at least one of these bars.

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