Budapest ruin bars have become an attraction in their own right, with original décor, tempting prices and off-the-main-drag locations. Director bends your elbow and leads you to five of the best
Every city has its hidden gems and when it comes to Budapest you should head towards the seventh district, also known as the Jewish Quarter, where you will find what are commonly known as the ruin bars.
These watering holes have sprung up in disused warehouses, empty parking lots, derelict buildings and even a camper van. Each is distinctively different, each has its own identity and together they make up the ultimate Budapest bar crawl.
Director recently enjoyed some time out from a business trip to Hungary, embarked on the road to ruin and came back with five bars worthy of your custom…
Szimpla Kert – One of the first, and probably the most famous, of the Budapest ruin bars. You could be forgiven for thinking this resembles the set from Steptoe and Son given the bizarre array of bric-à-brac that adorns the walls, floors and ceilings. It does get very busy in the evenings. Even so, it should be top of your to-do list when it comes to touring the ruin bars.
Telep – With skateboard and surf gear lining the walls you may feel this bar should operate an under-25s policy, rather than over 25s. But never mind the décor, check out those prices. You can buy a pint of Hungarian Dreher Beer for 400 forints, which works out to a pound a pint.
Mazel Tov – The ruin bar with the clearest link to the history of the Jewish Quarter. From the outside it looks like a nightmare of health and safety violations but when you walk in you’ll see the owners have actually spent a small fortune on the décor. Not only is it a bar but also a venue for gigs and, since opening in 2014, has become one of the key venues in Budapest’s Jewish Summer Festival.
Ellátó kert – This bar serves a mind-boggling range of spirits including the 72 per cent proof Tatratea Outlaw. Part open air, part indoor, Ellátó kert also hosts live music and exhibitions and an appetising line in Mexican food. A major plus is that it boasts the best-kept washrooms of any ruin bar in the district. You’ll thank us for this spot of advice.
Fogasház – Another venue that tends to gets very busy later in the evening. We later discovered tourists who go on an organised crawl of the ruin bars would usually have Fogasház on their itinerary. Rated by some of the locals as the best ruin bar what we found wasn’t so much a pub as a cultural hub with games rooms, movie screenings and an art gallery.