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Views of the Chain Bridge at LEO rooftop bar in Budapest
Photograph: Attila Boldog

The 8 best rooftop bars in Budapest

Want to get high? There’s nowhere better to survey that iconic skyline than at the very best rooftop bars in Budapest

By Dan Nolan
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The Hungarian capital has finally woken up to the truth: its skyline is as gorgeous as any in Europe. Most of the best rooftop bars in Budapest face west, which means watching the sun set over the river behind the spires and domes of Buda Castle, before the lights magically flick on at dusk. These bars tend to be pricey – a cocktail can easily come in at €10. Aesthetically speaking, however, they showcase some of the most compelling interior design the city has to offer, pulling off the trick of mixing the old (19th-century Pesti courtyard buildings) with the new (21st-century glass ceilings, wooden decking and stairways). Food and cocktail menus offer similarly fresh takes on traditional dishes and drinks. And service – not Budapest’s strongpoint – can be brilliant. When the narrow streets of Pest don’t allow the city’s eclectic architecture to shine, there’s only one solution – to get high! And whichever rooftop you choose, beautiful Budapest is always the star.

RECOMMENDED: Full guide to the best bars in Budapest

Best rooftop bars in Budapest

Tables with views at TOPRUM rooftop bar in Budapest
Photograph: TOPRUM

1. Toprum

A rooftop bar-turned-classy restaurant, Toprum puts a fresh twist on traditional Hungarian recipes with fresh, local produce and flavours ranging from quinoa to coriander. Located in Pest’s Old Town, this trendy spot offers excellent views over the city’s most beautiful Baroque church and draws a mixed clientele of locals, tourists and expats. Service is friendly, and there’s live acoustic and jazz music from 8pm-10pm on Wednesdays.

Views over the Danube at LEO rooftop bar in Budapest
Photograph: Attila Boldog

2. LEO

Nestled between the Chain Bridge and Buda Castle, the swanky but low-key LEO has proven a hit among arty Budapesters (and visiting film stars such as Scarlett Johansson and Jason Momoa). From Thursday to Sunday, in-house DJs provide a laid-back soundtrack. And in addition to the excellent selection of champagnes, an impressive list of cocktails spans well-executed classics and originals like an excellent Twisted Manhattan. Don’t miss the brilliant buffet brunch with unlimited prosecco from 12pm-4pm on Saturdays and Sundays. Reservations strongly recommended.

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The rooftop bar at Aria Hotel with St Stephen’s Basilica behind
Photograph: Darabos Gyorgy / Aria Hotel

3. High Note SkyBar

Like many rooftop bars, High Note is in downtown Pest, next to St. Stephen’s Basilica. What sets this place apart, however, is the attention to detail – whether in the outstanding service or Zoltán Varró’s ingenious 21st-century revamp of a classic Pesti courtyard building. Every cocktail at High Note is inventive and easy on the eye, while even the bread and butter are made on site.  The music theme has helped make the bar a draw for musicians: Sting, Muse and Will Smith have all enjoyed the vibe here. On Sundays, morning yoga classes are held on the roof, and live concerts take place from 7pm.

Pontoon bar overlooking the Danube
Photograph: Czabán Máté / Pontoon

4. Pontoon

This buzzing bar across the river from LEO puts on live bands and/or DJs most nights of the week. Bands at Pontoon range from art rockers to raucous Gypsy folksters, who set up and play among the riverside sun loungers. Pontoon squeezes into the rooftop bar category as it has a gallery on its top deck where you can eat soups, salads and sandwiches and drink local wine at reasonable prices. Amid also the obscure techno, occasionally a bigger name will turn up – British DJ Mr Scruff recently rocked the Pontoon dance floor with a mammoth set.

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Intermezzo rooftop bar in Budapest
Photograph: Kiraly Istvan Fotohaus / Intermezzo

5. Intermezzo

It is the close-up view of the gorgeous, quintessentially Hungarian National Treasury building that makes Intermezzo so special. The menu offers unremarkable classics – steak, burgers, paninis, some veggie options – for double the average local price, but seeing the sun set behind Buda Castle with the Treasury’s Zsolnay-tiled roof in the foreground is unforgettable. The architect Ödön Lechner was once asked why he had designed an ornate roof on such a narrow street. He answered that he had designed it for the birds. Now we too can enjoy that view.

6. Corvin Club and Corvin Rooftop

Set up on the roof of Hungary’s only Communist-era department store, Corvin’s atmospheric rooftop cinema screens quality new releases as well as classic movies and sporting events, with standard drink prices for Budapest. The lower floor has been a go-to hangout for electronic music fans for more than a decade.

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7. Sky Garden Rooftop Terrace

Open since spring 2019, the Sky Garden is a welcome addition to the Budapest bar scene. Tucked in behind Nyugati train station, this rooftop hangout sits on top of the Mystery Hotel on busy Podmaniczky Utca. From the gorgeous lobby to the elevators, Zoltán Varró’s décor is eye-catching to say the least. Prices are reasonable – you could grab a beer and spring rolls and still have change from €10. Deeper into Pest than the other bars listed here, from the rooftop, the familiar Buda backdrop is complemented by Pesti buildings to the fore. The rooftop bar closes in autumn, but while plans for a year-round venue are finalised, Mystery’s exquisite main hall, which serves afternoon tea from 4pm, provides a fine alternative until spring.

The views at St Andrea Wine and Sky Bar in Budapest
Photograph: Kiraly Istvan Fotografus

8. St Andrea Wine and Sky Bar

At one end of Budapest’s main shopping street Váci Utca, St Andrea was founded by the winery of the same name, and has the drinks list you’d expect from a leading vintner. A huge champagne selection is accompanied by lovely Hungarian wines made from local grapes such as Kadarka and Kékfrankos. Signature cocktails are off the wall and start at around 3,000 HUF. The Luxuria (HUF 4,350) combines 10-year old French aperitif Pineau des Charentes with Hungarian dessert wine Tokaji Aszú. The decent food menu rangs from mangalica sausage and Hungarian ratatouille lecsó to the distinctly penthouse-and-pavement combination of caviar and deep-fried dough lángos. Close to the Basilica, Parliament and the Danube, St Andrea’s views are sumptuous.

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A meat dish at Rosenstein
Photograph: Courtesy Rosenstein

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