Exploring Budapest’s Ruin Pubs

Some people come to Budapest for the architecture. Others come for the al fresco thermal baths. Some (probably most, if we’re being honest!) come for the nightlife. Budapest has all the ingredients for a great night out.

Overview 

Budapest is the capital of Hungary and as such also the most populated. landmarks include the majestic riverside Parliament Building and a collection of stunning basilicas.

budapest ruin pub with old car

Many medieval bridges connect the 2 sides of the city that make up its name: Buda and Pest. There are many spectacular city squares, but Hősök tere (Heroes’ Square) stands out for its iconic, towering pillar and Millennium Monument complex that dates back to 1896.

The complex honours Hungary’s 7 founding figures, together with a few other important national leaders. 

There are lots of scenic walks in Budapest including a memorable walks across this old and iconic cast iron suspension bridge. Széchenyi Chain Bridge spans the Danube, connecting Buda and Pest. It has magnificent lion figures guarding its entrances and a pair of giant, arched towers at its midsection.

Al Fresco Thermal Baths 

The Széchenyi Medicinal Baths are the perfect  place for a unique experience while in Budapest, it is over-a-century-old artesian spa experience. It is considered the largest of its kind in Europe, with its palatial complex housing over 20 pools.

You can soak in the curative mineral-rich waters that constantly flow from 2 hot springs.  The bath complex is grand architecturally, and is a century-old, yellow-and-stone masterpiece, with imperial colonnades and bronze horsemen and copper domes. But its also said to be the most purely enjoyable of the city’s two dozen spas.

Hungarian Beer 

Beer in Hungary has been brewed for well over a thousand years and the country has a significant history of commercial beer production. 

ruin pub old furniture

The first real commercial brewery in Hungary was established in Buda in 1845 by Peter Schmidt. During the heyday of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, the Kőbánya district of Budapest became the centre of Hungary’s brewing industry.

Today, Hungary has four large commercial brewers which produce mainly light lagers (Hungarian: világos) and German-style dark beers (bocks, Hungarian: barna).

Dreher 

This is an old Hungarian brewery that produces the sweet and crisp Dreher Classic, a pilsner-style lager, the Dreher Bak, a rich, full-bodied, dark double bock, and also a pale ale with a complex, fruity taste.

Arany Ászok 

This beer is a widely-produced one and is one of the more affordable pilsner lagers that can be found everywhere in Hungary. The beer is of a golden colour, tastes slightly bitter and quite weak at just 4.3% ABV.

Sorproni 

This is another Hungarian beer that makes a tasty IPA that also won’t break the bank, and is a cool and refreshing complement to an afternoon in the Budapest sunshine. Another option is the Soproni Fekete Demon, a dark, German-style Dunkel, this one is nutty and malty with a sweet aftertaste.

Szalon 

This beer is Hungary’s oldest brewery, that dates back to 1848, and is unsurprisingly located in Pecs in the south west of the country. The pale ale named Szalon Sor is a popular choice that has a fresh, fruity taste.

Borsodi 

A stronger beer that is a relatively recent beer company. It has become much more popular over the years. The Borsodi Bivaly is a strong amber lager, at 6.5% ABV, that has a mild caramel like taste.

The beer and wine are cheap, the city is easy to get around, and the Jewish Quarter is home to some really unique, so-called ‘ruin pubs’.

Ruin pubs 

These pubs started popping up at the turn of the 21st century, when the neighbourhood’s abandoned houses and factory buildings were filled with second-hand furniture and makeshift bars. These days, they’re at the heart of Budapest’s not-so-underground club scene.

If you only visit one ruin pub while you’re here, make it Szimpla Kert. This is the biggest and the best, and the one that shows all the others how it’s done. Before my trip, I’d heard people describe it as “the best bar in the world”, so it had a lot to live up to! But once you experience the place for yourself you’ll start to understand all the hype.

Walking into Szimpla Kert is like walking into a junk yard. Wooden chairs hang from the ceiling, bathtubs offer up seating spots, and you’ll even find an old Trabant car and a graffiti-covered phone box in the garden. The whole place is absolutely huge, and there are loads of nooks and crannies to explore. Drinks-wise, you can grab a Hungarian beer or a glass of local wine for just a couple of pounds.

The bar opens its doors at midday, and early afternoon is a great time to visit for a quiet drink. It also means you can take some great photos in the daylight. I spent a few hours here, enjoying a few glasses of red and filling my Instagram feed with picture after picture. It’s a blogger’s dream.

Szimpla Kert budapest

I didn’t last until closing time, but I hear the place gets pretty wild as the night goes on. Check it out for yourself and report back to me!

These pubs started popping up at the turn of the 21st century, when the neighbourhood’s abandoned houses and factory buildings were filled with second-hand furniture and makeshift bars. These days, they’re at the heart of Budapest’s not-so-underground club scene.

If you only visit one ruin pub while you’re here, make it Szimpla Kert. This is the biggest and the best, and the one that shows all the others how it’s done. Before my trip, I’d heard people describe it as “the best bar in the world”, so it had a lot to live up to! But once you experience the place for yourself you’ll start to understand all the hype.

Walking into Szimpla Kert is like walking into a junk yard. Wooden chairs hang from the ceiling, bathtubs offer up seating spots, and you’ll even find an old Trabant car and a graffiti-covered phone box in the garden. The whole place is absolutely huge, and there are loads of nooks and crannies to explore. Drinks-wise, you can grab a Hungarian beer or a glass of local wine for just a couple of pounds.

The bar opens its doors at midday, and early afternoon is a great time to visit for a quiet drink. It also means you can take some great photos in the daylight. I spent a few hours here, enjoying a few glasses of red and filling my Instagram feed with picture after picture. It’s a blogger’s dream.

I didn’t last until closing time, but I hear the place gets pretty wild as the night goes on. Check it out for yourself and report back to me!

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