The 9 Best College Bars in Budapest

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 thanks to their lively atmosphere and college-age crowds. 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.

#1 Ibolya Espresso

Opened in 1968, Ibolya Espresso is an iconic café and bar in Budapest's downtown. Ibolya is deeply anchored in Budapest's collective memory as two generations of local residents have been coming here for everything from first dates to business meetings over the past half-century. Ibolya's interior furnishings evoke the design items of the communist era: the Mid-century modern-inspired light fixtures feature orange plexiglass, while chairs are topped with sticky, red faux leather upholstery.

#2 Mélypont Presszó

Mélypont is a cavernous, below-ground bar situated on a quiet backstreet in downtown Budapest. The interior, which features highly amortized pieces of communist-era furniture, usually fills to capacity with students from the neighboring law and political science colleges of Eötvös Loránd University. Every time I visit Mélypont I'm amazed that this wallet-friendly student bar can continue to exist in an otherwise elite and highly-priced neighborhood—let's hope it stays that way.

#3 Lámpás

Simple enough: Lámpás is a a dimly-lit, labyrinthine, below-ground bar where you can find live rock/jazz/blues performances almost every night of the week. Oddly, this gritty, and by no means mainstream bar is opposite Gozsdu Udvar, a tourist-heavy area teeming with pricey restaurants and wine bars. Lámpás, where you can get a beer and a fröccs for €3, feels a world away—a little gem in the midst of it all. The crowd is usually a good mix of local and foreign twentysomethings.

#4 Trapéz

Trapéz is a hidden college bar that students and recent graduates of the nearby Corvinus University frequent. It's a small miracle that the tiny pre-war building, just a stone's throw away from hotels and major tourist attractions like the Great Market Hall, hasn't yet become the victim of real estate developers. Let's hope it stays that way.

#5 Fecske Presszo

Fecske Presszó is a laid-back, wallet-friendly restaurant and bar just a stone's throw away from the Szabó Ervin Library in Budapest's Palace Quarter. This means that students of all ages tend to gather here to take study breaks of varying lengths and with varying amounts of beer.

#6 Grinzingi Borozó

Grinzingi, an unpretentious downtown wine tavern, has a simple formula: serve cheap drinks in the center of Budapest that's otherwise teeming with overpriced, tourist-oriented bars. But what gives Grinzingi its native spirit is its longevity, the variety of its patrons, and the “interior design.”

#7 Úri Muri

If you want to hang out with the next generation of Hungarian actors and actresses and sip dirt-cheap drinks while doing so, look no further than Úri Muri. Plenty of students from the nearby University of Theatre and Film Arts like to unwind at Úri Muri, which is conveniently located inside Budapest's party district. Be sure to check the lower level, too, which boasts another bar counter, and it's also where you can run into high-energy live music concerts.

#8 Fahéj Kávézó

Fahéj is a cute café and bar on a quite backstreet in Budapest's downtown. Fahéj eschews the trendy vibes and the tourist-targeting approach of many other places in the neighborhood, relying instead on a loyal group of regulars, both young and old. This they do by serving low-priced drinks inside an atmospheric space that features two high-ceilinged rooms with wooden floors, bookshelves, and small round tables.

#9 Altair Teahouse

It’s easy to miss Altair, a homey, below-ground teahouse on a sleepy side street in Budapest's Palace Quarter, but you shouldn't. Defying space limitations, they've squeezed myriad tiny nooks and crannies that are separated from one another by curtains, pillows, and wooden beams.

Rankings are based on a combination of food/drink, atmosphere, service, and price. The author visits all restaurants incognito.