The 6 Best Ruin Bars In Budapest

What’s something unique about contemporary Budapest? The answer, without a doubt, is ruin bars. These unusual drinking joints situated inside neglected pre-war buildings of the old Jewish Quarter 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.

#1 Szimpla Kert

If you've spent at least five minutes researching Budapest, 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 of the Jewish Quarter, furnished with clearance sales furniture and exuding an inexplicably cool atmosphere.

#2 Instant & Fogas Ház

Instant & Fogas Ház isn't so much a typical ruin bar as a massive entertainment complex inside a skeletal 1861 building in Budapest's old Jewish Quarter. Featuring more than a dozen bar counters and several dance floors, come here if you're in the mood for dancing (other ruin bars offer little space for moving your feet). Note that drinks are pricey and that customers consists almost entirely of tourists – lots of fun-loving bachelor party crews.

#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 modern fittings with lush greenery.

#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 (1867-1918), which makes the current ruin bar decor — featuring a mishmash of furniture including creepy dolls hanging upside down from the walls — all the more bizarre.

#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 the place is less creatively furnished and features items you'd normally not find in a ruin bar, for example flat screen TVs and punching machines.

#6 Szatyor Bar

Filled with a motley collection of colorful furniture, Szatyor looks like your typical ruin bar but it's different from those swarming Budapest's party district on the other side of the Danube. This updated ruin bar is situated on the fashionable Bartók Béla Boulevard in District 11, where middle-class Buda residents like to unwind in the evenings. 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. To remain unbiased, I visit all places incognito and pay for my own meals and drinks. I also never accept money in exchange for coverage. But this means I must rely on readers to support my work. If you've enjoyed this article, please consider making a one-time payment (PayPal) or becoming an Offbeat Patron.