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Photograph: Tom Szelpa

The 10 best bars in Budapest

Whether or not you’re going out out, the best bars in Budapest are ready to excite with beer, wine, cocktails and more

Jennifer Walker
Written by
Jennifer Walker

Budapest is slowly gaining a reputation as one of the coolest cities in Europe (if not the world), and for good reason. The city is full of plenty of things to do, from its iconic thermal spas to beautiful castles, but we’ll let you in on a little secret: it knows how to have a really good time too. 

Budapest’s party culture is one of the best on the continent (you can even party at its outdoor spas), and it offers a little bit of absolutely everything, including its very well-known ruin bars. If you’re wanting to rave into the night, you’d be better off checking out our list of the best nightlife in Budapest, but if you’re after a cracking cocktail, beer or wine bar, read on: here are the best bars in Budapest. 

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Jennifer Walker is a writer based in Budapest. At Time Out, all of our travel guides are written by local writers who know their cities inside out. For more about how we curate, see our editorial guidelines

Top bars in Budapest

1. Szimpla Kert

Budapest’s most famous bar started life closer to a squat. In the early 2000s, a few young Hungarians set up a bar in this abandoned building in the Jewish Quarter – and kick-started the ‘ruin bar’ trend as a result. Today Szimpla Kert occupies an apartment block stripped back to the brick. It’s decorated with local art, graffiti, fairy lights and a mish-mash of vintage furniture. You can even down your drinks in an old Trabant. There’s a range of bars downstairs and upstairs, but if you come at the weekend, expect crowds.

2. Élesztő

If you are into all things craft beer, make a beeline for Élesztő (‘yeast’ in Hungarian). The bar has more than 20 local craft brews on tap here, and all are excellent. Yes, we have tried them. Set in a former glassworks factory in the IX District, the venue is a curiosity, every bit the ruin bar with its gritty, quirky, steampunk-inspired décor.


3. Bar 360

For drinks with a view, take the lift next to the art deco shopping centre on Andrássy Avenue up to the roof. You can spot all the most famous sites from Bar 360 – including the Hungarian Parliament, Buda Castle, Gellért Hill and St Stephen’s Basilica. In winter, heated ‘igloos’ make for a cosy hangout for dates or groups. Grab a cocktail, some Hungarian wine, or one of their tip-top bar snacks.

4. Kisüzem

Kisüzem may not look like anything special, but it is. Decorated with plants and – sometimes questionable – local art, it’s quirky through and through, and that trickles right down to the vibe and clientele (think local creative types). Despite being in the heart of the Jewish Quarter, it retains a down-to-earth feel and hasn’t been corrupted by Budapest’s flocks of stag and hen parties. In summer, punters perch on the window sills to smoke, and well-priced drinks mean it’s usually packed inside.


5. Gdansk

This tiny four-table bar on Bartók Béla Út in the XI District is a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it kind of place. Gdansk is a Polish bookshop and bar that serves excellent beers, vodka shots, and, if you’re lucky, moreish pierogi dumplings. The shabby-chic appeal, bohemian clientele and cosy atmosphere make for an exquisite, laid-back night out. Try the Veszett Kutya shot (vodka with raspberry syrup and tabasco). 

6. 1/A38

This bar must be one of the city’s most unusual. Set on a permanently moored former Ukrainian stone-carrying ship, A38 is a popular bar and concert venue on the Buda side of the Danube next to Petőfi Bridge. The bar and restaurant area is above deck, but if you come for one of the concerts or club nights, head into the cavernous space below.


7. Boutiq’Bar

Cocktail lovers should head to this low-lit bar in the VI District, just off Andrássy Avenue. Whether you try one of Boutiq'Bar's signature concoctions, like the Hello Tourist with aged apple pálinka, red wine, pastis and a hint of apple, or ask one of their award-winning bartenders to mix your go-to drink, you won’t leave disappointed.

8. Ötkert

Ötkert is essentially a high-end ruin bar. There’s a smart casual dress code, and they may turn you away at the door if you dress down. In the early evening and during the day, you can grab some decent eats, and summer nights are filled with live music. Later on, DJ sets make for a clubbier vibe. You may well spot some slebs here. 


9. Hintaló

Tucked away in the VIII District, this two-floor bar pulls in a bohemian crowd of locals and expats. Done out in an intimate crimson hue, Hintaló blends Dalí prints with vintage curios and works by local artists. It’s off the tourist track, though worth coming to for the atmosphere.

10. Instant/Fogas

Instant and Fogas were once two independent ruin bars. However, when Instant’s building was slated for demolition, it moved in with Fogaz Ház and Kert, a former dental laboratory in the Jewish District. Today it’s Instant/Fogas, a bar and club mega-complex spread over several floors (with a courtyard dominated by a circus tent). On weekends the place heaves with party-goers and is all the more fun for it. But if you’re after a more mellow evening, head to Liebling, a quiet bar on the complex roof, just below the giant red lips.

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