9 Laid-Back Outdoor Bars In Budapest, Summer 2020

These low-key outdoor bars are popular among local residents from all walks of life. With moderately priced drinks and relaxed vibes, they're ideal for spending quality time with friends — no hurry, no pretensions here. If trendier venues are more your speed, try these fashionable outdoor bars, too.

#1 PONTOON (Outdoor Only)

PONTOON is an outdoor-only bar set along a precious stretch of the Danube's bank, with front-row views of the Chain Bridge, the Castle Hill, and the Matthias Church. Besides the scenic views, PONTOON is best known for hosting high-quality live music acts, featuring local bands across a variety of genres. These daily concerts draw a mixed crowd of locals and tourists. Drinks are reasonably priced, especially for the prime location. If you need some carbs to absorb the alcohol, you can also order a Naples-style pizza prepared on-site in a wood-burning oven. Note that PONTOON is open only during the outdoor season, usually from April to September.

#2 Kőleves Kert (Outdoor Only)

Bars on the tourist-heavy Kazinczy Street must be taken with a grain of salt, but you can still find some worthy places here (rule of thumb: avoid spots emblazoned with "Hungarian goulash" signs). Kőleves Kert, which isn’t to be mistaken with the popular Kőleves restaurant next door, is one of those summertime treasures in the form of a laid-back, all-welcoming outdoor bar. Order at the wooden shed, then trek through the ankle-deep gravel to find yourself an open seat at the colorful tables canopied by overhanging trees.

#3 Csendes Társ (Outdoor Only)

Csendes Társ is an adorable outdoor-only café by Károlyi-kert, a spotless park in downtown Budapest known for its colorful flower beds and manicured lawns. The place is an unlikely island of peace and calm within the hustle and bustle of the city. I like to come here for a late breakfast (they open at 10 a.m.), or for drinks in the evening when the neighborhood has quieted down and colorful lanterns provide soft lighting.

#4 Kertem (Outdoor Only)

Kertem (“My garden”) is an enormous beer garden inside Budapest's City Park. The place flies under the radar of most tourists, even though it's not far from the Széchenyi Thermal Baths. Poplars tower over this tranquil area and block out the noises of the nearby streets, which feel a world away. Apart from cold beers, there are grilled sandwiches, of which the pljeskavica, a Serbian hamburger-like creation, is the one to go for. The crowd here is a melting pot of laid-back local residents, many of them accompanied by their dogs. Note that Kertem shuts down for the cold months.

#5 Pántlika Bistro (Outdoor Only)

Pántlika is a laid-back outdoor bar tucked away on the far end of Budapest's City Park. If you need a break from the nearby tourist attractions — Heroes Square, Vajdahunyad Castle, Széchenyi Thermal Bath — you can refuel here with a cold beer and snacks. Pántlika offers a truly local experience as most tourists don't come all the way to this side of the park. Note that they're open only during the outdoor season (usually from April to mid-October).

#6 Pagony (Outdoor Only)

Pagony is the result of a brilliant idea: what was formerly the children's section of the historic Gellért Baths has been transformed into an outdoor bar. For example, the bar counter is inside the sauna building and tables have been lowered into the emptied swimming pools. Next to the entrance, you can still see the underpass that connects to the still-functional wing of Gellért across the street. Pagony is especially enjoyable at night when the original wrought-iron lamps emit a soft glow.

#7 Jónás Craft Beer House

Due to poor urban planning, cars have better access to Danube vistas than city residents in Budapest. But a handful of bars can boast a precious river panorama and Jónás Craft Beer House is one of them. So, while sipping your citrusy pale ale here, you can marvel at Gellért Hill and the stately building of the Budapest University of Technology on the opposite bank. If you come from the city center, take tram #2 for a scenic ride along the Danube and get off at Zsil utca, almost right outside Jónás.

#8 Bambi Eszpresszó

If you're looking to immerse yourself in a deeply local, communist-era neighborhood bar that doubles as a breakfast joint, I can't think of a better place than Bambi Eszpresszó on the Buda side. What makes Bambi the real deal? It isn’t trying to show off an artificial (retro), unremembered past — it’s a genuine throwback.

#9 Pótkulcs Budapest

Trust me, the address is accurate — persist in your search and you'll be handsomely rewarded. Pótkulcs bar is hidden inside a former light engineering workshop in Budapest's District 6; once you find the nondescript entrance, proceed through the leefy patio to the adorably gritty, art-laden interior. Attached to the main section is a cavernous performance hall where they host live music concerts almost every evening (with a lineup heavy on Hungarian folk music). During the warmer months, the action shifts to the outdoor patio.

Rankings are based on a combination of food/drink, atmosphere, service, and price. To remain unbiased, I visit all places incognito and pay for my own meals and drinks. I also never accept money in exchange for coverage. But this means I must rely on readers to support my work. If you've enjoyed this article, please consider making a donation.