The 6 Best Ruin Bars In Budapest

What’s something truly unique about contemporary Budapest? The answer, without a doubt, is ruin bars. These impossibly cool drinking joints inside dilapidated pre-war buildings have taken Budapest by storm. Know before you go that ruin bars have become so popular that mainly tourists and foreign students visit them these days. If you're looking for more Budapesters, try these local bars, too.

#1 Szimpla Kert

If you've spent at least five minutes researching Budapest, then you must have come across Szimpla Kert, Budapest's iconic ruin bar. Likely you're also familiar with the ruin bar (romkocsma) concept: makeshift bars inside dilapidated pre-war buildings furnished with furniture assembled from clearance sales and exuding an inexplicably cool atmosphere.

#2 Instant & Fogas Ház

Instant & Fogas Ház isn't so much a typical ruin bar as a massive venue featuring more than a dozen bars and several dance floors. This enormous building with a crumbling facade dates back to 1861, when this area was part of Budapest's Jewish Quarter. Instant & Fogas may not be the best place to experience the ruin bar ambiance, but head over here if you're in the mood for dancing because other ruin bars offer little space for moving your feet.

#3 Mazel Tov Budapest

Head to Mazel Tov if you like the ruin bar concept in theory, but prefer things more upscale. This Middle Eastern restaurant inside Budapest's buzzing Jewish Quarter does have a disintegrating facade like other ruin bars, but the inside is a different story: Cheap drinks have been upgraded to cocktails, ham & cheese sandwiches to mezze plates, self-service to hostesses, and weathered furnishings to a chic interior complete with lush greenery and sleek wood paneling.

#4 Csendes Vintage Bar & Café

Csendes is a popular ruin bar in downtown Budapest tucked away on a quiet backstreet. Unlike some other ruin bars with party vibes, Csendes is a mellower, sit-down venue best for conversations. This high-ceilinged space used to be a grand coffeehouse during the glory days of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, which makes the current ruin bar decor — featuring a mishmash of furniture including creepy dolls that hang upside down from the walls — all the more bizarre. Try to book ahead of time as Csendes fills up to capacity in the evenings with a mix of tourists and locals.

#5 UdvarRom

UdvarRom is a low-priced ruin bar in Budapest's old Jewish Quarter. Like other ruin bars, it's inside a weathered pre-war building, but UdvarRom is less creatively furnished and also features unusual items you'd normally not find in a ruin bar, for example flat screen TVs and punching machines. Instead of the decor, what makes the place popular is the prices.

#6 Szatyor Bar

Filled with a bizarre collection of colorful furniture, Szatyor Bar looks like your typical ruin bar, but it's actually different from those swarming Budapest's party district on the other side of the Danube. This being Buda, instead of scruffy students sipping low-priced beers, Szatyor draws a slightly older crowd where shirts and skirts outnumber hoodies and backpacks. Duck confit and sous-vide venison leg are rarely part of the ruin bar culinary repertoire, but here, you'll find them alongside pricey craft beers.

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.