Budapest is a beautiful city full of stunning architecture, fascinating culture and history galore. It’s also a lively, young city and is fast becoming a popular destination for party weekends and stag and hen dos, unsurprisingly so, as their famous ruin pubs are one of the most exciting features of the little city.
Mostly situated in the popular Jewish quarter, the ruin pubs, also referred to as the ruin bars, are Budapest’s answer to the electric nightlife all across Europe, but with an alternative, junkyard twist. They have quickly become some of my favourite nights out for their atmosphere and post-apocalyptic-esque décor.
The ruin pubs of the Hungarian capital were birthed from a rejuvenation of building destroyed during the wars of the 20th century. They’re missing roofs, windows and inner walls, and the walls that are left standing are covered in peeling paint and artistic contributions (read: graffiti) from the bar patrons. While they are all born of the same concept, they all differ, but share the same lively atmosphere and good music. During our trip, the girls and I went to three different ruin pubs; Szimpla Kert, Fogas Ház and Púder, even sampling two of them in the same night, and they really showcased the diversity of the bars on offer!
Hungarian for ‘Simple Garden’, Szimpla Kert is the most popular and famous of all the ruin pubs in the city. It’s situated on two levels, and has five or six different bars inside it, as well as a street food area serving hotdogs and chicken and all sorts of other tasty things. The main dancefloor area is in the covered walkway right at the entrance, so as soon as you walk in you’re right in the thick of it, and often get trapped by the dancing people and awesome music on your way out! There is a large open courtyard at the back of the pub with lots of tables and chairs, including an old open-top car that has been converted into a table booth. Upstairs, there is another bar and even more seating, including armchairs at low tables and high stools at wall ledges overlooking the main courtyard.
Often known more simply (har-de-har) as Szimpla, this pub has an absolutely cracking atmosphere and it’s ridiculously easy to spend your entire night sitting and chatting with a drink, or up and dancing to the fantastic DJs playing nightly. Their cocktails are amazing and all their drinks are super cheap (think a large glass of wine for £1.10 and a pint of beer for £1.30). If you only go to one ruin pub during your time in Budapest, this is the one you have to come to!
Just a few minutes walk away from Szimpla, Fogasház is one of the more nightclub-like ruin pubs and is a lot of fun! It’s a little smaller than Szimpla and plays more dance-y, clubbing music and is a little more expensive on the beverages front, but when a little more expensive means it’s still half the price it would cost in the UK then everyone’s a winner!
Fogasház also has an outdoor courtyard which has a bar and many tables to sit at when your feet are tired from dancing or the cheap beer has gone to your head a little too quickly… In addition to this, they have a VIP ticket available to buy which gives you access to the upper balcony around the main dance floor (but don’t quote me on this because I got this information from my friend while we were both ever so slightly inebriated and she wasn’t even the one to buy the ticket).
On their website, Fogsház says that it’s “easy to arrive but hard to leave”, a statement I can totally get behind. When we went, we arrived around midnight and didn’t leave until we were ushered out at closing time and the sun was just starting to peek its head over the horizon!
If you’ve been reading my latest posts about my Budapest trip, you might recognise the name of this place as one of the restaurants I went to on Ráday utca, but if you’re new to the blog then let me introduce you to Púder! Less of a club and more of a restaurant than the previous two bar, this ruin pub is perfect for an evening sat chatting over dinner and/or drinks.
When I first saw it I had Púder (Hungarian for ‘powder’) pegged as a place that I had to visit before we left the city, and one night we went for food and a beer. While I wasn’t all that impressed with the food I ordered (read why here), I’m sure there were many other delicious menu options that I would have enjoyed a lot more. Not one for the fussy palate, Púder has a super interesting menu, including ‘WWF options’ which are made with ethically and locally sourced ingredients, and whose proceeds go partially to the WWF. The restaurant, which isn’t in the same district as the other ruin bars, has a really chilled atmosphere and although it is fairly expensive compared to Szimpla (but still only the same price you would pay in the UK!), it’s situated right next door to Budapest’s only Michelin star restaurant, so that makes you feel a little better spending more than you might in other places in the city!
If you’re coming to Budapest and want to experience the famous ruin pubs but you’re not all that into the clubbing scene, or if you just fancy a more relaxed evening in the same cool atmosphere as the other ruin bars, I recommend a visit to Púder.
Of course, I was only in Budapest for a week, and there are only three of the dozens of ruin pubs on offer all across the city! So do some research on the other places to go, or get chatting to a local to see where the best places are for you. If there’s one thing we can tell from this small sample, it’s that there is a ruin pub for everyone, so try a few until you find yours!
Which of these three ruin pubs would you like the most? Let me know in a comment, a tweet or a post on Facebook!
Read more about my trip to Budapest!
Budapest is the Buda-Best!
Budapest Great Market Hall | Nagyvásárcsarnok
Széchenyi Thermal Baths | Széchenyi-gyógyfürdő
Ráday Street | Ráday Utca
Buda Castle & Castle Hill | Budavári Palota & Várnegyed
Gozsdu Courtyard | Gozsdu Udvar