What makes a great college bar? Cheap drinks, of course. But while plenty of inexpensive drinking joints scatter around Budapest, the places below stand out from the pack with lively vibes and a college-age crowd. Located near the city's main universities, they’re at their best during the school year (September to June). If you're looking for local bars with older patrons, check out this list, too.
Opened in 1968, Ibolya Espresso is an iconic café in Budapest's downtown. Ibolya is deeply anchored in Budapest's collective memory as two generations of locals have been coming to this unpretentious drinking joint for everything from first dates to business meetings to class reunions. The interior is a throwback to the Communist era (1947-1989), featuring Mid-century modern-inspired light fixtures with orange plexiglass and curvilinear chairs topped with red faux leather upholstery.
Despite being in the heart of tourist-heavy downtown, most patrons here are locals, many of them here to watch soccer projected on the big screen, or to wolf down a toasted ham and cheese sandwich blanketed in ketchup before calling it a night. Teenage lovebirds from the neighboring high schools often occupy the secluded tables upstairs. Before you leave, take a glance at Ibolya's timeless typography above the entry door.