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 with fun 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.

#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 for over half a century. The interior furnishings are a genuine throwback to the communist era, featuring Mid-century modern-inspired light fixtures with orange plexiglass and curvilinear chairs topped with red faux leather upholstery.

#2 Mélypont Presszó

Mélypont is a cavernous, below-ground bar situated on a quiet backstreet in downtown Budapest. The inside features a mishmash of worn-out, communist-era furniture and usually fills to capacity with students from the neighboring law and political science colleges of Eötvös Loránd University. It's a small miracle that this wallet-friendly student bar continues to exist in an otherwise elite and expensive neighborhood—let's hope it stays that way.

#3 Lámpás

Lámpás is an atmospheric below-ground bar in Budapest best known for its daily live music performances (mostly rock, jazz, and blues). Oddly, this gritty, and by no means mainstream bar is opposite Gozsdu Udvar, the tourist-heavy passage 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 heart of it all. The crowd here is a good mix of local and foreign twentysomethings.

#4 Trapéz

Trapéz is a college bar hidden on a backstreet near Corvinus University. It's a small miracle that the tiny pre-war building, just a stone's throw away from hotels and major tourist attractions, 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 throughout the day to take study breaks of varying lengths and with varying amounts of beer.

#6 Grinzingi Borozó

Grinzingi is an unpretentious downtown wine tavern with a simple formula: serve cheap drinks in the center of Budapest that's otherwise teeming with overpriced, tourist-oriented bars. When Grinzingi opened in 1983, it was difficult to find decent wine in the city, so word spread that this wine bar served up low-priced, drinkable stuff. Fast forward 30 years, some of those early patrons still pay repeated visits, as do plenty of college students from nearby universities. The inside hasn't changed much. A dark wood-heavy interior evokes the atmosphere of the bar's namesake Austrian village (Grinzing, known for its wine taverns), and the weathered furniture bears marks of long, alcohol-fueled nights over its decades-long past.

#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, where plenty of students from the nearby University of Theatre and Film Arts go to unwind. Be sure to also check the lower level, which has its own bar and also a stage where high-energy live music concerts take place.

#8 Fahéj Kávézó

Fahéj is an adorable café and bar on a quite backstreet in Budapest's downtown. Fahéj eschews the trendy vibes and the tourist-targeting approach of other places in the neighborhood, relying instead on a loyal group of regulars, both young and old. Apart from the low-priced drinks, the highlight here is the two atmospheric, 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 and pays for his own meals and drinks.