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9 Best Ruin Bars in Budapest

Take an abandoned building, Christmas lights, a bit of edgy décor, and a proper amount of liquor, and you’ve got one of our favorite places to visit in Budapest—a ruin pub. Concentrated in the VII district (aka the Jewish Quarter), Budapest ruin bars are a mix of bars, restaurants, and sometimes even artistic and cultural centers. They defy easy explanation. And that’s part of why they’re so popular.

Courtyard of Szimpla kert ruin pub in Budapest.
Szimpla’s courtyard

Each ruin pub in Budapest has a vibe all its own. From crazy funky to simply crazy to outdoor garden party, you can find pretty much any kind of ruin bar you’re looking for. We’ve been to Budapest three times, and each time we go on a quest to see how many of these fun places we can check out from the popular spots in the Jewish Quarter to some that are off the main tourist track. Here’s a look at some of the best ruin bars we’ve visited.

Szimpla Kert

Christmas lights, computer monitors, and eclectic decorations in a dingy room
Some of Szimpla kert’s eclectic decorations

Szimpla Kert is the granddaddy of the ruins pub. At 20 years old, Szimpla is easily one of the most famous bars in Budapest and is exceedingly popular with tourists thanks to its inclusion in just about every guide book and website around. Just because it’s touristy doesn’t mean it’s not worth a visit.

People sitting at a table inside a car covered with spray paint.
An old Trabant transformed into a table at Szimpla Kert

The décor at Szimpla Kert is the definition of eclectic. Everywhere you look, there’s something unexpected and seemingly random. From disco balls and bright Christmas lights to a nest of old computer monitors that I’m pretty sure are a fire hazard, there’s something to catch your attention everywhere.

Szimpla Kert has a bicycle hanging from the ceiling, a old Trabant turned into a sought-after spot for drinks, and if you get tired of standing, you can take a seat on an old pommel horse. Why not?

People sitting on pommel horse in a courtyard
An old pommel horse becomes a place to sit

Around the various rooms and spaces, you can find plenty of choices of cocktails, beer, and wine, all at prices that seem downright cheap if you’re coming from the US or many places in Western Europe. There’s also a reasonable range of food options, including sausage, chicken fingers, and an array of sandwiches.

Lest you think Szimpla is just about drinking and bar snacks, at its heart, it was designed as a community space, so it hosts open-air movie screenings and festivals. Its Sunday farmers market is also supposed to be fabulous, but we haven’t had a chance to visit personally…yet.

Csendes Vintage Bar

Tables in a room with graffiti and photos on the walls.
You can draw on the walls at Csendes Vintage Bar

Csendes Vintage Bar is much smaller than Szimpla but has the same type of fun essence. Things get going at Csendes when the lunchtime crowd takes up residence beginning in the early afternoon, followed by many others as day becomes night.

What makes this place stand out is the relaxed atmosphere (and great wifi) that allows people to linger pretty much all day, finding the particular time that suits them best at Csendes.

Hamburger and French fries on a table.
Classic burger and fries at Csendes

The “come as you are” vibe extends to the surroundings of this ruin pub. Csendes Vintage Bar has drawings, notes, and stickers, all punctuated by found items interestingly affixed to the walls. The mismatched tables and colorful chairs are the perfect places to enjoy some of the soups, salads, sandwiches and main dishes from the bar (I can vouch for the burger). Don’t forget to add your own art to the wall before you leave.


Located at Grandio Party Hostel, Grandio Jungle Bar is a ruin bar and hostel in one. Its lush vegetation truly makes you feel like you’re anywhere other than the downtown of a major European capital. Combined with contemporary artwork, the trees give the space a unique décor.

Since this is a hostel, it’s often full of travelers and hostel guests, so it’s a great meeting point for young people. Grandio is open day and night, so visit on a warm afternoon to enjoy the space with a bit calmer atmosphere. It’s open seasonally from April through October.

Mazel Tov

People eating in an airy courtyard with ivy and white lights.
The airy interior at Mazel Tov

Our first visit to Mazel Tov came during our first trip to Hungary. We quickly learned how different it was from many of the other Budapest ruin bars. In fact, if you don’t look too closely, very little about Mazel Tov seems “ruined.”

Shakshuka, bread, and wine on table.
Shakshuka and Hungarian rose at Mazel Tov

Where many of the ruin pubs have dark spaces and super eclectic decorations, Mazel Tov opts for giant skylights and clean lines. Although the space is covered, the outdoors comes indoors through trees and vines that hang from the upper story. More than anything, it feels like a chic patio, decked in white lights with trendy fixtures.

People eating at tables under trees beside a well-stocked bar

While still quite affordable (this is Budapest, after all), the food at Mazel Tov tends less toward pub grub and more towards Israeli/Middle Eastern specialties–falafel, hummus, pita, shakshuka. And, of course, it has a great selection of cocktails and Hungarian wines and many flavors of the Hungarian palinka (fruit brandy). Like other ruin pubs, Mazel Tov offers an all-season space for music, the arts, and cultural events.

The upper floor is home to a new concept called Balagan, which serves elevated cocktails and “reimagined” Middle Eastern dishes meant to be shared. The space has a relaxed coastal vibe with palm fronds and rattan furniture. The menu and wine list change regularly, adding a new spin on Mazel Tov’s decade of popularity.

Fogas Haz

Caricature head outside the entrance to a building.
The entrance of Fogas Haz

The whimsical Fogas Haz ruin bar (named after a 100-year-old dental ad found in the building) bills itself as a fusion of an arts center and pub, featuring programs like film screenings, exhibitions, and theater performances. When it’s not focused on cultural programs, the heart of Fogas Haz is its huge dance floor, a hub of nightlife in Budapest.

Bar courtyard with tree growing in the middle.

We visited Fogas early one evening before the music really got going and watched a couple of games at their foosball table before enjoying a few of the offerings from the extensive cocktail list.

As we’re not much for the club scene, we stuck to the courtyard, with its giant trees dripping with lights. For the right guest (we’re not their target audience), this would be the place for late-night dancing.

Koleves Kert

Bar and swings at Koleves kert.
Hammocks at the bar at Koleves

The atmosphere at Koleves Kert feels more like a playground than a ruin pub. From the colorful chairs to the swings at the bar to the cartoon artwork, this place is made for hanging out, no matter what your age.

Colorful tables at an outdoor bar with a trailer

In the afternoons, students from nearby schools come with their parents to play and relax in the sun. As the day goes on, the clientele gets a little older, but Koleves kert never takes on the club vibe of some of the other ruin bars. Instead, patrons take up space on the benches, enjoy a traditional Hungarian wine spritzer (fröccs), and snuggle up under a blanket if the temperature drops too low.


Sandwich, French fries, and two drinks on a table in an outdoor courtyard.
Lunch in the courtyard of Eleszto

Set in a former glass factory, Élesztőház was founded with a focus on offering great craft beer. Their 30 taps feature local Hungarian brews and a selection of curated imports. Many of the offerings were new to us, so the bartender was happy to offer some advice and taste tests before we committed.

In addition to the beer bar, there is a whole indoor bar dedicated to spirits. It gave us a chance to sample Hungarian gin and palinkas.

Élesztő’s space lacks the flea market-like décor of some of the other ruin bars, but its exposed brick and industrial setting give it the same cool vibe. The covered courtyard is busy year-round and often has fewer tourists than some of the other spots on this list we’ve visited.

If you’re hungry, check out Butchers Kitchen on the left side of the courtyard. They offer a menu featuring sausage, loaded fries, a popular mushroom salad, crispy leg of lamb, and a few other items. We really liked the pulled pork sandwich.  

A Grund

Inside of a bar area with tables and chairs and a tree growing through the middle of the room.
Inside The Grund

The large complex that is The Grund has a little bit of everything. Outside, you’ll find a playground for kids and adults, grill food, and tons of space to enjoy. Inside, there is a bar, living room-like areas, and even a tree growing through the middle of the building (it’s practically a requirement for a ruin bar).

From DJs and a dance floor to lots of soccer on TV, a sandbox, and foosball tables, there’s plenty to keep you entertained. Did I mention the laser tag?

The Grund is particularly known for its daily happy hour deals that run from 5-7pm and draw lots of locals. All cocktails are half-off, plus some spirits and beer. You can indulge while enjoying the grill menu that features lots of good burgers, tacos, and vegetarian options. If wine is more your speed, there is an extensive list featuring options from all the wine regions of Hungary.


Boat permanently docked in the Danube River.
A38 docked in the river

A completely different environment from the other spots on our list, A38 is an honorary ruin bar thanks to its setting. This unique combination of a bar, club, concert venue, and restaurant is located in a reconstructed Ukrainian ship that was originally built in 1968. It’s now permanently docked in the Danube on the Buda side of the Petofi Bridge.

The centerpiece of the ship is the multi-level bar and concert venue. Every weekend, DJs and rock, indie, and electronic musical acts pack the space. Many of the performances get recorded for broadcast or repurposing on A38’s multiple YouTube channels.

We particularly loved the terrace, which is a great spot for lounging around with snacks and drinks on a sunny afternoon. The views can’t be beat.

There is also a restaurant that’s open from breakfast through dinner, so we took the opportunity to have scrambled eggs and lattes in the place that was once named Best Bar in the World by Lonely Planet. There’s no reason not to hang out here from morning till night.

A previous version of this article included Ellato Kert & Taqueria, which has since closed.

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Frank Peter

Sunday 23rd of April 2023

Nicely done! I’ve had the privilege and pleasure of enjoying the many ruin bars there, too. Szimpla is my favorite… worth visiting both by day and by night. I have played the poor beat up piano there a hundred times. Anyway, thanks so much for sharing this and inspiring others to visit, too.

Evan Kristine

Thursday 26th of October 2017

Great post! I love the pictures from Budapest! Everything is soooo vibrant! I Foods are soo mouth watering plus the ambiance of every restaurants: Really loved it.

Anne Harrison

Thursday 30th of March 2017

Looks amazing. And thank you - will be there next month

Laura Longwell

Friday 31st of March 2017

Have a fabulous time!


Tuesday 21st of March 2017

Brilliant write up of Budapest here Laura. Definitely one of my favourite destinations. We often stop here overnight as we drive across Europe. You've highlighted a few things I can put down for our next trip. Cheers James

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