12 Excellent Rooftop & Outdoor Bars In Budapest

These panoramic outdoor bars offer sweeping views of Budapest, many from up above. Lots of them are indoor-outdoor spaces, but most enjoyable during the al fresco season.

Virtu is the rooftop restaurant of the Norman Foster-designed MOL Tower, Budapest’s recently completed tallest building. The 360-degree views provide astonishing vistas and restaurant guests receive free access to the observation deck above. Depending on your definitions, Virtu falls between an elegantly fashionable and a casual fine dining restaurant.

Head-chef Levente Lendvai came from the hushed Michelin world as evidenced by the presentation of his plates, which are often layered with fish of all kinds. The trout crudo served with orange roe and seasonal vegetables and the generously portioned sturgeon variations are especially convincing. More highlights: the foie gras-rhubarb creation with a side of homemade braided bread, and the Palóc soup (€12), a dazzling riff on a Hungarian classic: sour, silky, charred. Mains range €17-35, meaning that a reasonable and a lavish meal are both an option. The wine list covers all of Hungary and more.

Of the two symmetrical dining rooms, try booking to the northern side, which faces the city center (the open kitchen on the other compensates for the quieter views). There's a cocktail bar within the premises if just a drink with a view is what you're after. Advance booking is a recommended.

Located atop the five-star Aria boutique hotel in the city center, High Note Sky Bar offers some of the most striking views of Budapest. To reach the bar, you'll need to trek through the polished hotel lobby and take the elevator to the top floor. The panorama is truly stunning: the Liberty Statue, the Buda Castle, and the St. Stephen’s Basilica all appear within arm’s reach, which in case of the church is practically true.

The cocktail menu features many classics – Sazerac, Daiquiri, Martini – each prepared with a small twist. Mocktails, Hungarian wines, and snacks are also available. Although most enjoyable from the outdoor terrace in the warm months, High Note has an indoor section that's open year-round.

Kiosk is a hip restaurant in the heart of Budapest, favored by trendy locals and tourists in the know. The restaurant has at least two things going for it: a stunning view of the Danube and the Elisabeth Bridge from its outdoor patio, and a dramatically high-ceilinged, industrial-chic interior. (The historical building houses a Roman Catholic high school upstairs, in fact, there's a chapel right above Kiosk.)

Kiosk aims to please all tastes with a diverse menu that includes everything from salads to burgers, from pastas to steaks to Hungarian classics. Despite the wide reach, the dishes are tasty and reliable, with mains ranging €12-16. The goulash soup is especially good, as is the updated mákosguba, a traditional bread pudding soaked in vanilla custard and laced with poppy seeds. In the warmer months, follow the throngs to the outdoor terrace, where the action shifts to. Advance booking is a must.

With panoramic views, 360 is one the fashionable rooftop bars in Budapest. Trendy locals peppered with tourists nibble on pricey burgers and sliders and sip cocktails here, atop one of the tallest buildings – a historic department store, now defunct – of Andrássy Avenue, the city's grandest. From Thursday to Saturday, hip-hop and R&B ooze from the DJs booth. During the colder months, heated igloo structures prevent the winter from interfering with the year-round fun. The regular, open-air season usually begins on May 1st and runs through October.

A hotel restaurant always runs the risk of feeling detached from the fabric of the city, which is why it took so long for me to visit ARZ, a Lebanese establishment on the ground floor of the five-star Intercontinental Budapest. A visiting friend drew my attention to it and I'm so glad he did. On a recent evening, I've had very good cold mezzes, tender kibbeh, juicy grilled meats – shish taouk and lamb skewers – and an unexpectedly glorious dessert called Um Ali (croissants soaked in a vanilla-laced cream and sprinkled with pistachios and dried fruits). The wines came from Lebanon's well-known producer, Chateau Musar.

Ultimately, though, you're here for the striking views as the hotel occupies a precious stretch of real estate on the Danube's bank. The restaurant's floor-to-ceiling windows provide open vistas toward the Royal Palace, the Chain Bridge, the Matthias Church, and the Fisherman's Bastion across the dusty-blue river. Few restaurants in Budapest can rival the views. €6-9 mezzes, €15 grilled meats, and a panoramic terrace during the outdoor season.

The Duchess is a panoramic cocktail bar in Budapest's downtown, atop the five-star Matild Palace hotel. The views are hard to beat – Elizabeth Bridge, Gellért Hill, and Budapest’s densely built downtown all emerge before you as a surreal stage design. The Duchess' moniker honors Archduchess Clotilde, a granddaughter of French King Louis Philippe I, who lived in Hungary and commissioned this Baroque Revival building in 1899.

Customized and classic cocktails are both available and expertly prepared, as are small plates to share (smoked salmon with blini!). The Duchess isn’t exactly wallet-friendly, but, budget permitting, a memorable way to see the city from up above. In the winter, the activity shifts to the inside, but access to the outdoors is available for a peek.

St. Andrea is a Hungarian success story: starting as a small winery in northeastern Hungary's Eger wine region, they've become a nationally recognized label now also involved with a Budapest fine dining restaurant and, since 2017, this pricey rooftop bar towering over downtown's Vörösmarty tér. Often the best strategy for a rooftop bar is to let the view do the talking while ensuring that drinks are on point, and this is what they've done here.

Naturally, most wines come from St. Andrea's own winery, which makes both whites and reds, but other wines, beers, and cocktails are also available. In the summer months, be sure to sit at the outdoor tables in the front or the back of the space, both with panoramic views of Budapest (though the latter is partially obstructed by the grim facade of the nearby Marriott).

It's tough to beat the location of Esetleg Bistro, a partially outdoor bar and restaurant situated on the Danube's bank, inside a whale-shaped contemporary building in District 9. Esetleg offers open vistas views onto several Budapest landmarks, including the Liberty Bridge, the Gellért Hill, and the imposing building of the Budapest University of Technology across the river. This lively, fashionable space is ideal to wind down with an afternoon drink during the warmer months. If you're hungry, try the goulash soup and their túrógombóc sweet cottage cheese dumplings blanketed in sour cream and strawberry jam. A range of Hungarian wines are also available.

If Mexican food isn't your first choice in Budapest, no one will blame you for it. But if the craving for tacos and margaritas strikes, Tereza is unlikely to disappoint as long as you remain mindful of the fact that Mexico (and California and Texas) is half a world away. Tereza whose moniker is a playful latinization of Terézváros, the name of its neighborhood is run by the owners of Mazel Tov, a comparably hip establishment a few blocks away. Although there's a below-ground indoor section, Tereza comes into its own in the al fresco season when its open-air courtyard transforms into a lively night-time hangout lit by lanterns and the occasional tongues of flame leaping from the grill station.

The food is hit-or-miss. The tacos carnitas, al pastor, and pollo come on disappointingly flavorless wheat tortillas, and no more exciting is the cheese quesadilla, but I enjoyed the fajitas, which, unlike the original Tex-Mex version made with skirt steak, comes with pork. Tereza isn’t cheap and many people stick to just drinks here: plenty of classic and flavored frozen margaritas, tequila, mezcal options.

Csendes Társ is an adorable outdoor-only café by Károlyi-kert, a precious park in downtown Budapest known for its colorful flower beds and manicured lawns. The place is an unlikely island of peace and calm within the hustle and bustle of the city center. I like to come here for a late breakfast (they open at noon), or for drinks in the evening when the neighborhood has quieted down and colorful lanterns provide soft lighting.

The menu consists of wallet-friendly breakfast foods and snacks and an extensive wine list featuring Hungarian options; most locals order fröccs, a wine spritzer made with white or rosé. Note that Csendes Társ is open from April to mid-October.

Bars on the tourist-heavy Kazinczy Street must be taken with a grain of salt, but you can still find worthy places here (rule of thumb: avoid spots emblazoned with "Hungarian goulash" signs). Kőleves Kert, which isn’t to be mistaken with the popular Kőleves restaurant next door, is one of those summertime treasures in the form of a laid-back, all-welcoming outdoor bar. Order at the wooden shed, then trek through the ankle-deep gravel to find yourself an open seat at the colorful tables canopied by overhanging trees.

By day, many freelancers camp out here; in the evening, an endless stream of locals and tourists trickle in. Although most people come for beers and fröccs (wine spritzer), there's also some food, including "tócsni," a fried potato pancake similar to a latke, slathered with cream cheese and sweet chili.

Pántlika is an easy-going outdoor bar tucked away on the far end of Budapest's City Park. If you need a break from the nearby tourist attractions Heroes Square, Vajdahunyad Castle, Szépművészeti, House of Music, Museum of Ethnography, Széchenyi Thermal Bath you can refuel here with cold beers and snacks. Pántlika offers a true-to-Budapest experience as most tourists don't come all the way to this side of the park. Note that Pántlika is open only during the outdoor season (usually from April to mid-October).

Pántlika's quirky modern building used to be an information desk during the annual international expo that took place in the City Park until 1973 during communist Hungary; the curvilinear five-pointed aluminum roof resembles a red star, a hat-tip to the ruling regime.