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 situated on one of the most precious stretches 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 genre. These daily concerts draw a local crowd, and also some tourists who have a nose for good things.

#2 Kőleves Kert (Outdoor Only)

Recommendations on the tourist-heavy Kazinczy Street must be taken with a grain of salt, but you can still find excellent bars here (rule of thumb: avoid places with prominently displayed "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.

#3 Csendes Társ (Outdoor Only)

Csendes Társ is a cute, outdoor-only café by Károlyi-kert, a spotless park in Budapest known for its colorful flower beds and manicured lawns. The place feels like an island of peace within the hustle and bustle of downtown. 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 atmospheric lighting.

#4 Kertem (Outdoor Only)

Kertem (“My garden”) is an enormous beer garden inside Budapest's City Park. The place somehow flies under the radar of most tourists, even though it's not far from Széchenyi Thermal Baths. Tall trees 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 "Balkan," a Serbian hamburger-like pljeskavica (€5), is my favorite. 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 in the far end of Budapest's City Park. If you need a break from all the tourist attractions nearby—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 people here are Budapest residents.

#6 Pagony (Outdoor Only)

Pagony is the product 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 former sauna building and tables have been lowered into the now-empty 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 in the evenings when the original wrought-iron lamps provide soft lighting.

#7 Jónás Craft Beer House

Due to bad urban planning, cars have better access to Danube vistas than city residents in Budapest. A handful of bars, however, 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 is a hidden bar nestled 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 lots of Hungarian folk music). The vibes are laid back and the crowd skews bohemian. During the warmer months, the action shifts to the outdoor patio.

Rankings are based on a combination of food/drink, atmosphere, service, and price. The author visits all restaurants incognito and pays for his own meals and drinks.