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An aerial view of Doboz ruin bar in Budapest
Photograph: Matt Steirer / Doboz

The 6 best ruin bars in Budapest right now

If you prefer your beer accentuated by urban decay, the very best ruin bars in Budapest will be right up your alley

Ella Doyle
Written by
Dan Nolan
Ella Doyle

Budapest is like your cool older cousin. Incredibly successful, but doesn’t shout about it. Effortlessly chic. Never a try-hard. Just when the rest of Europe is getting expensive AF and mediocre restaurants are getting two-hour-long queues outside the door, Buda is affordable, fun, and full of culture. And somehow, it’s still pretty low key. 

And sure, you’ve come to the Hungarian capital to see the sights, bathe in strangely warm outdoor spas, and get your chops around a late-night lángos smothered in sour cream and cheese. But the thing you’ll remember forever about Budapest is its ruin bars. The ruin bars are unique, magical places. Neglected buildings transformed into insanely cool bars. Delicious beer. Huge, rustic outdoor seating. An overwhelming amount of ambience.

So if you’re ready to give them a go, follow this guide closely. Not all the bars in the city are great, but all the ones on this list are. Read on for the very best ruin bars in Budapest. 


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Great ruin bars to drink at in Budapest

Szimpla Kert is the undisputed king of the Budapest ruin bar scene. The outdoor area is huge, and hung with colourful tapestries. Each table has its own umbrella. Most of the inside looks like a circus, and there’s two floors to explore (for some sense of the scale, Szimpla Kert’s two floors boast nine bars, serving over 400 drinks).

The bar was actually set up in 2002, but has continued to evolve since then. Now, it’s a cultural and social hub in the city, with concerts and live theatre four nights a week from 8pm. Plus there’s a wholesome organic farmers’ market there every Sunday, if that’s what you’re into, plus the occasional flea market in the bar’s central courtyard. Basically, you could spend every day of the week here, and you’d have a great time. 

Craft beer enthusiast Dániel Bart opened Élesztőház in 2013 with a clear mission to offer something out-of-the-ordinary. Although the courtyard follows the classic romkocsma formula – ‘we didn’t have a lot of money to spend, so we had to be clever and use second-hand and old things’ – Bart said he aimed for his bar to be as much about what you drink as how you drink it. As his wine country learned to make beer, Bart began to ‘secure a place for innovative Hungarian craft beer’. Of the 20 (or so) top-notch brews available at the industrial-style multi-tap bar, particularly popular are the Fehér Nyúl IPA and Pils and Hekkelberg Pils. Élesztőház is not for just the bearded either: ‘Our clientele has changed: now we have every kind of customer, and very few craft beer geeks,’ Bart said.


Budapest was originally three cities – Buda, Pest and Óbuda – that merged into one. Although the authorities decided against giving this new metropolis the name Óbudabudapest, Óbuda is in fact the oldest part of the city and an area where Roman ruins rub shoulders with communist házák (tower blocks). Kobuci is located in the historic Zichy Palota garden, across the square from Imre Varga’s lovely umbrella-wielding statues. Throughout its decade of existence Kobuci has always been about the music: on any given night, you could see comedy hip-hoppers Belga, brilliant local singer Bea Palya or Hungarian Beatles tribute act the Bits. Also popular are the Táncház folk dancing nights (surprisingly popular among young Hungarians). Kobuci is a summer venue, open from mid-April till the end of September, and offers convincing evidence that there’s more to Budapest nightlife than the Pesti romkocsmák.

Photograph: Matt Steirer / Doboz

4. Doboz

Founded in 2011, Doboz (literally, ‘box’) is an upscale ruin bar that combines a young, well-dressed clientele with wacky décor – even the huge red cube in the courtyard is dwarfed by the gigantic King Kong statue hanging from a tree, said to be twice as old as Budapest itself. Doboz comprises themed rooms playing different genres, from Latin pop to hip hop, with in-house DJs Rusty, Revolution, and Soulja appearing every week. If you get hungry after a long night dancing, Doboz is ready with burgers, hot dogs, quesadillas, salads, pizza and cheesecake.


Named after a Hungarian fairy tale about an ingenious ‘stone soup’ recipe, Kőleves Kert evokes the same super-relaxed vibe as the first wave of ruin pubs. Its garish furniture and murals help create a party-ready atmosphere, and it’s Budapesters who predominate, aware this may well be the best Kazinczy Utca venue for catching the summer rays, drink in hand. Speaking of drinks, our advice is to keep it simple, as Kőleves cocktails can be pricey and a little underwhelming. And don’t take the bar staff’s surliness personally – it’s not just you.


Mega-pubs Fogas Ház and Instant merged into one 1,200-square-metre giga-pub in the middle of VII District in 2017. Despite this, neither venue has lost its individuality: Fogas retains its classic ruin bar vibe, Instant its eccentricity. The new complex also accommodates other themed bars: Larm (for techno heads), Liebling (a chilled-out rooftop with good food and drink), Robot (rock, metal, industrial), Frame (D&B, jungle, dubstep). It’d take a very weary soul to not find a good time at 49 Akácfa Utca.

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