Best Ruin Bars in Budapest
What’s something truly unique about contemporary Budapest? The answer, without a doubt, is ruin bars. The famous city of Budapest in Hungary is well known for lots of reasons. Iconic museums, inter-river islands, friendly local people, cheap prices… the list goes on. There is, however, a relatively new (old?) way of experiencing this glamorous city, that by way of ruin bars… These impossibly cool drinking joints situated inside neglected pre-war buildings have taken Budapest by storm.
Ruin bars are exactly what the name suggests: abandoned, derelict buildings that have been transformed into local watering holes. Concentrated primarily in the city’s Jewish Quarter in the seventh district, ruin bars vary widely in style and offerings but are the collective heart of Budapest’s inner city. Most have an open-air courtyard, eclectic and mismatched furniture and, in general, cheap beer and food.
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Ruin bars and the thriving nightlife scene in Budapest are relatively new, but their roots date back to WWII. Hungary fought alongside Nazi Germany and the Axis powers for much of the war. During that time, Budapest’s Jewish population was deported to death camps or forced into a district that had been converted into a ghetto. Germany turned on Hungary and occupied the country in 1944, just before the end of the war. Soviet Union occupation followed and lasted up to the dissolution of the USSR. During that time, many of the abandoned apartment buildings and warehouses in the seventh district crumbled into disrepair.
If you’ve spent at least five minutes researching Budapest, then you must have come across the now famous Ruins Bars of Budapest. Szimpla Kert, Budapest’s iconic ruin bar, is perhaps the poster boy.
Instant & Fogas Ház isn’t so much a typical ruin bar as a massive venue featuring more than a dozen bars and several dance floors. This enormous building with a crumbling facade dates back to 1861.
Head to Mazel Tov if you like the ruin bar concept in theory but prefer things more upscale. This Middle Eastern restaurant inside Budapest’s buzzing Jewish Quarter does have a disintegrating facade like other ruin bars, but the inside is a different story: Cheap drinks have been upgraded to cocktails, ham & cheese sandwiches to mezze plates, self-service to hostesses, and weathered furnishings to modern fittings with lush greenery.
Csendes is a popular ruin bar in downtown Budapest tucked away on a quiet backstreet. Unlike some other ruin bars with party vibes, Csendes is a mellower, sit-down venue best for conversations. This high-ceilinged space used to be a grand coffeehouse during the glory days of the Austro-Hungarian Empire.
UdvarRom is a low-priced ruin bar in Budapest’s old Jewish Quarter. Like other ruin bars, it’s inside a weathered pre-war building, but the place is less creatively furnished and also features unusual items you’d normally not find in a ruin bar, for example flat screen TVs and punching machines.
Filled with a motley collection of colorful furniture, Szatyor looks like your typical ruin bar but it’s actually different from those swarming Budapest’s party district on the other side of the Danube. This updated ruin bar is situated on the fashionable Bartók Béla Boulevard in District 11, where middle-class Buda residents like to unwind in the evenings.
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