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

The 6 best rooftop bars in Budapest

Where better to survey an iconic skyline than at the very best rooftop bars in Budapest? Romance and cocktails await

Written by
Dan Nolan

Who doesn’t love a rooftop bar? With gorgeous views, stylish surroundings and romance in the air, a good rooftop bar is the stuff of dreams. Okay, acrophobes might not agree, but you get the point. The best rooftop bars in Budapest are magnificent settings for an evening drink. What better way to watch the sun go down? Budapest has one of Europe’s most beautiful skylines, and it shines brightest as the sun clocks off for the day.

These rooftop stunners are plenty pricey, but you get what you pay for here. If you want an altogether more affordable drink, visit the many brilliant ruin bars dotted around the city. For something with an undeniable sense of class, head to higher ground. While you’re there, see how many of Budapest’s best attractions you can spy…

Best rooftop bars in Budapest

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). Prepare yourself for an excellent selection of champagnes, as well a an impressive list of cocktails that spans well-executed classics and originals like the Twisted Manhattan. Reservations are strongly recommended.

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. An extensive champagne selection is accompanied by lovely Hungarian wines 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 ranges from mangalica sausage and Hungarian ratatouille lecsó to the distinctly penthouse-and-pavement combination of caviar and deep-fried dough lángos. With a location close to the Basilica, Parliament and the Danube, St Andrea’s views are sumptuous.


Like many rooftop bars, High Note is in downtown Pest, next to St. Stephen’s Basilica. What sets this place apart 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. On Sundays, morning yoga classes are held on the roof, and live concerts take place from 7pm.

Tucked in behind Nyugati train station, the Sky Garden 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. 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, the restaurant is open for delicious eats from 6pm.


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.

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, and some veggie options – for double the average local price, but seeing the sunset 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.

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