Doboz Budapest
Photograph: Matt Steirer / Doboz

The 9 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


Like escape rooms, ruin bars are a successful Budapest invention. So successful, in fact, that weekend nights see the streets completely mobbed in the party zone between Dob and Dohány utca near Klauzál tér. Ruin bar mugs are even sold in souvenir shops. The concept was originally a simple one. District VII, the Jewish Quarter, was dotted with neglected courtyards, surrounded by empty flats.

Enterprising locals decked out the spaces with fairy lights and mismatching, skip-found furniture, chucked in a few incongruous artefacts, limbless mannequins, abandoned cars from the Socialist era, put up a bar counter and – ta-da! – the ruin bar was invented. Add some light projections, maybe a bare firewall for films, and a DJ booth, keep opening hours dauntingly extensive, and there you have it: the ruin bar as we know it today. Here are our picks of the best. 

📍 The best things to do in Budapest
🪩 The best Budapest nightlife spots
🛏 The best hotels in Budapest
🍴 The best restaurants in Budapest

This article was updated by Peterjon Cresswell, 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.

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. 

Mega-pubs Fogas Ház and Instant merged into one 1,200-square-metre giga-party in the middle of District VII 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: Unterwelt (for party hits); Liebling (a chilled-out rooftop with good food and drinks); Robot (rock, metal, industrial), and Frame (D&B, jungle, dubstep). It’d take a very weary soul to not find a good time at Akácfa utca 49-51.


Though of the same vintage as its counterparts in District VII, Csendes (‘Quiet’) differs in several ways. First, there is its location, near downtown Astoria, by the pretty public park of Károlyi kert. Secondly, its opening hours aren’t nearly as hedonistic, the bar closing at the reasonable hour of midnight, and doing a decent daytime trade from 1pm, 2pm at weekends.

For all that, it’s a fine place, which ticks the usual boxes (idiosyncratic décor, mismatching furniture, wise music policy) and currently hosts alternative acoustic nights on Thursdays. Cocktails and wines are a notch above – note that Csendes consists of two venues, this ruin-bar style pub (called ‘Csendes Létterem’) that fills a former literary coffeehouse dating back to 1883, the Fiume; and wine bar Csendes Társ (‘Companion’) at the end of the street, whose tables spill out around the entrance to the park in summer. Everyone calls both Csendes (‘Chendesh’), you just need to work out which one you’re meeting at between you.

4. Kobuci Kert

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 panelházak (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 or so of existence, Kobuci has always been about the music: on any given night, you could see comedy hip-hoppers Bëlga, 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.


5. Élesztőház

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.

6. 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. Open Friday and Saturday nights only.


7. Kőleves

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.

8. UdvarROM

Once it was established that a ruin bar such as Szimpla Kert could make a killing from serving drinks till late in alternative surroundings, everyone wanted a piece of the action. Diagonally opposite Doboz, UdvarROM (literally ‘CourtyardRUIN’) brings in extra punters by showing sport on many TV screens, but it otherwise sticks to the same tried and trusted formula of keeping the party mood going amid bare brick and frills-free furniture until 4am. 

While attached to the Füge Udvar next door, it serves different drinks (the domestic draught option is the more preferable Borsodi, with Hoegaarden also available) and appeals to a slightly more grown-up crowd. Look out for the neon sign proclaiming UdvarROM in the Hungarian colours of red and green, just off Wesselényi utca.


9. Füge Udvar

The ‘Fig Courtyard’ (note the tree in the middle of the main bar) dedicates Itself to fun. In many ways, Füge Udvar feels more like an amusement park than a bar, with its rooms for arcade machines, air hockey, table football and things that flash and bleep, a prelude to throwing shapes on one of four dancefloors. 

It’s also, like any amusement park, a money-making machine, pricier than its neighbour, UdvarROM, to which it’s attached, and geared to groups of lads on the lash. If this feels like your idea of fun, then Füge Udvar is for you. Like UdvarROM, it also screens sport in the barn-like main bar, and offers Peroni, Asahi and Pilsner Urquell alongside inferior Hungarian brands.

    You may also like
    You may also like