People, rather than interior designers create the energy at these lively Budapest bars. Expect plenty of locals, cheap drinks, and an increasingly raucous atmosphere as the night progresses. The relaxed environment makes it easy to pick up conversations and get to know some locals. Most of the listed places are near one another in the Jewish Quarter and in District 8, so nothing should stop you from bar-hopping until the wee hours.
Those looking to passionately debate Hungarian political history will find themselves at home in this bar, set along what used to be a quiet street along the park in the bustling Jewish Quarter. Kisüzem is a popular place to meet for international college students from the Central European University, and the Budapest intelligentsia and artist communities. In addition to a range of wallet-friendly Hungarian drinks, rum fans can indulge in excellent selections from the top shelf. The .
Fekete Kutya is a popular local bar for artsy Budapesters in the city's party district. Despite its location alarmingly near the party street (Kazinczy utca) favored by rowdy groups of bachelor party tourists, Fekete Kutya has managed to maintain authentic vibes and a predominantly local clientele. On weekend nights people fill the outdoor tables under the vaulted ceiling boasting heavy wrought-iron lamps. For the best experience, try to grab a seat there, and mingle with the 20s and early 30s alternative crowd.
Központ is a popular local bar in Budapest's party district. It's usually patronized by the city's early-30s liberal establishment, consisting of journalists, and people from the non-profit, alternative music, and fashion industries. They tend to fill the place to capacity on Friday nights - it's not unusual that the crowd overflows to the sidewalks until the wee hours. .
Dzzs Bár, down the block from Kisüzem, attracts an eccentric and bohemian crowd of 20-somethings. Stopping by here on a late night feels like being at the house party of your rowdiest friend. You can meet local film directors, painters, and musicians in this cozy space, where walls are crowded with an eclectic selection of provocative local artwork. The interior is a mishmash of worn out furniture where nothing matches but everything belongs.
Telep is a buzzing Budapest bar in the heart of it all in District 7, the city's party central. The crowd at Telep will satisfy any hipster cravings you may be harboring: beards, fixie bikes, drawstring bags, and plenty of good-looking people abound here. The interior features low-lying sofas, and a massive varnished table top, which serves as the bar counter and makes you feel like you're at the house party of your coolest friend. DJs are in charge of the tunes on Friday and Saturday nights.
Buda is known more for its green hills and peaceful streets than its bustling bar scene. Even the denser, urban sections of Buda are noticeably short of drinking spots with character and an enduring appeal. One of the exceptions is Nemdebár. This dimly lit neighborhood bar is often filled to capacity, and features a diverse crowd of hip college students, local office workers, and notorious bohemians pushing fifty.
You will be a fan of Lumen Café if you prefer to avoid the heavily touristed streets of the old Jewish Quarter but still get a cup of specialty coffee or craft beer in a hip neighborhood. With excellent egg-based breakfast offerings (served until noon on weekends) and a thoughtful interior design featuring concrete and wood combinations, Lumen Café is more than your average neighborhood café. But it's the patrons, artists and neighborhood bohemians, who give a soul to the space. Also, be sure to check out the almost daily live concerts at Lumen, taking place inside the hall adjacent to the main area.
The bars of Budapest generally fall into two categories. On the one hand, myriad of ruin bars offer an informal atmosphere with no-frills-but-dirt-cheap drinks. On the other are the fancy, higher-end cocktail joints where bartenders with chiseled jawline mix stiff cocktails of ingredients you've never heard of. The in-between territory is noticeably thin.
Hintaló means rocking horse, of which you will see plenty inside this retro-designed bar located in the outer part of District 8. Hintaló Iszoda is a tiny bar with cramped tables tucked away on a dark backstreet just off the busy Blaha Lujza Square. It tends to get packed most nights with a lively crowd, heavy on German/international students. With many little hideaway nooks, it's ideal for a date night too.
Have you ever felt that the only thing painfully absent from Budapest was a quiet spot by the Danube bank, where you could watch the sunset with your feet submerged in the refreshingly cool water and all the while sip on a cold beer? Valyo Kikötő, this 2018 newcomer to Budapest's open air bar scene, might just be the answer for you..
If you're looking to immerse yourself in an old school, lively, communist-era neighborhood bar in Buda, Bambi Eszpresszó should be high on your list (Ibolya Espresszó in Pest is comparable). What makes Bambi the real deal? While it doesn't follow contemporary trends, it isn’t showing off an artificial, unremembered past either – it’s a genuine throwback. The waiters are only nice to those patrons they find likeable, and they wear outfits that haven't been in fashion for at least 30 years. The red faux leather upholstery and Thonet look-alike chairs have been in place since the opening in 1961.
Café Zsivago is a romantic café/bar nestled on a serene side street just off the grand Andrássy Avenue. There is a sense of discovery when you step into Zsivago for the first time: the intimate interior adorned with maroon and white floral wallpapers, dense carpeting, and small roundtables is unexpected so near a tourist-saturated main boulevard. .
A Polish native from Gdansk, a port city on the Baltic coast, and her Hungarian husband opened this shoebox-sized bar in 2014. An Eastern European bohemian-intellectual spirit permeates throughout the space: dimly lit, cozy nooks with rickety tables, shelves packed with Polish books, and a range of cheap vodka selections. The bar also serves Polish and Hungarian craft beers, which range from less hoppy lagers to bitter ales. But without a doubt, the highlight of Gdansk is the pickled herring plate.
Kék Ló (Blue Horse) is a hidden gem of a bar located outside of Budapest's main tourist zones within the outer part of District 8. Despite looking similar to many of its eclectically (over)designed peers, Kék Ló beats out other run-of-the-mill ruin bars. Highlights include a friendly service, a selection of local and international craft beers, cheap food including vegan and vegetarian options, regular live music (experimental, jazz, and folk varieties featuring local artists), which cohesively provide a welcome addition to the standard ruin bar repertoire. Kék Ló combines their bar with a pop-up boutique on the upper deck, selling upcycled clothing by owner & fashion designer Virág Tóth.
Although Kertem is the largest outdoor bar in Budapest's City Park, it somehow flies under the radar of most tourists. Many visitors have been to the City Park, but they usually just go in and out of the city's most popular thermal bath, Széchenyi, barely noticing the expansive green space teeming with treasures around them, such as Kertem bar. The crowd at Kertem (“my garden”) consists of a melting pot of locals residents, often accompanied by their dogs, from both the inner and outer city. .
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 bar, which is conveniently located inside Budapest's boisterous party quarter. Be sure to check out also the basement of Úri Muri, where another bar, and often live music concerts await plugged-in guests..
Wichmann is a must-see. This dimly-lit, grungy bar has been around since way before Kazinczy Street, the epicenter of the party district in the former Jewish Quarter, became popular. Wichmann feels like a time travel back to communist times, partly because the original interior from the opening in 1987 is still in place. Many of the regulars have been coming here for decades.
Pagony bar is the product of an ingenious idea: what was formerly the children's section of the historic Gellért Baths has been transformed into this delightful outdoor venue. This means, for example, that the bar counter is inside the sauna building, several of the tables are in the (now empty) swimming pool, and the bath’s original wrought-iron lamps illuminate the space each night at Pagony. Next to the entrance you can still see the underpass that used to connect to the main, and still functional wing of Gellért Baths on the other side of the street. .
Auróra is a multifunctional building located in the outer part of District 8, an area filled with low-income residents and minorities. Several non-profit organizations are based in the co-working offices of the building, which also serves as a community center. They hold discussions on a range of topics, many of them about Hungarian politics and social inclusion of minorities (while the discussions generally take place in Hungarian, most people attending their workshops and parties will speak English). Come nighttime, the space transforms into a big party venue until the wee hours, with a bar on the ground floor and a concert venue in the basement.
Trust me, the address is accurate - persist in your search and you will be handsomely rewarded. Pótkulcs is a hidden local bar nestled inside a former light engineering workshop in Budapest's District 6. It’s worth walking around this mostly working class neighborhood to realize the extent to which Budapest's otherwise grand housing stock was left to decay during communism and, in areas like this, even after that (in downtown, many buildings have been refurbished recently). .
Pántlika is a self-service outdoor bar tucked away in the far and quieter end of the City Park, near Széchenyi Thermal Bath. If you've strolled through Andrássy Avenue and checked off all the tourist landmarks nearby (Heroes Square, Vajdahunyad Castle), you can find a peaceful refuge at Pántlika for a well-deserved glass of cold beer and snacks. .
This is the type of neighborhood bar we all want to have outside our doors, alas, they're few and far between. Let's see what differentiates Macska from the rest of the bunch: a friendly bar service, an extensive selection of draft and bottled beers, and a limited but surprisingly healthy food offering that includes vegan and gluten-free options. The bonus is the upstairs section with cute hideaway corners, generally occupied by lovebirds. Macska is located just beyond the Nagykörút (Grand Boulevard), somewhat outside the city center in the gritty and cool District 8.
Located within a 6,700 sqm building, Jurányi is a gigantic center for the performing arts. It houses several dozen independent theater and dance troupes who use the space for practice and performances. Located on the ground floor, Jurányi Suterene is an under-the-radar bohemian bar/community space. During the day, people from the building come here for meetings, or to gobble up the well-priced (HUF 1,290 / €4) lunch prix fixe.
It's not easy to find this underground, slightly grungy music bar but well worth the effort. The owner has managed to recruit A (and B)-level Hungarian musicians who play live here most Friday and Saturday nights. Expect a packed space, a cozy atmosphere, and increasingly more dancing and singing along to songs as the night progresses. Hunnia has a good sampling of draft beers to wash down the slightly less savory pizza.
Since this is officially a social club, you will need to sign up and become a member, a 30 second exercise, to gain admission to this tiny, dimly lit bar. The reason for the legal maneuvering is to allow for smoking inside, which is fully exploited. Located on a deserted street in District 8, the smoke-filled ambiance resembles a prohibition-era bar, where the common cause enhances the atmosphere. But tobacco isn't the only allure - you can indulge in cold beers, toasted sandwiches, and board games with friendly regulars.