Best ruin bars in Budapest

What is this ruin bar madness in Budapest? Why they are so special and popular? We give you the answers and the list of some of the best ruin bars in the capital.

Ruin bars have no official definition yet, but if we try to describe it, a ruin bar is a bar, a pub if you like, situated inside or next to an old building, and using its crumbly walls, paving and atmosphere as interior. Ruin bars are decorated with many different type of objects, from handmade paper statues to foreign licence plates, from unique lanterns to grandma's old standard lamp - anything you can imagine. Your seat might have started life as a boat, bathtub, or even a trabant car, or just be comfy  squashy armchairs (mismatched, of course.)

If the walls aren't covered with pictures and objects than they are painted usually by young contemporary artists. The illumination in these bars is usually low, that makes them more intimate. The furnitures are also old and varied. But this all together, that everything is different somehow yet whole and relational. As you may think, it is very hard to write it down, so it's better if you visit them. Here come a selection of the best ones:

Szimpla Garden [pron. simp-lah]
You may have already heard about the Szimpla Kert, the most famous ruin bar in Budapest, and the one Lonely Planet chosen to the 100 best bars of the world toplist. Well, it's true Szimpla has a very unique atmosphere, and it's quite a large place. Szimpla is situated in the downtown, next to Astoria, in the Kazinczy Street.

Ruin pubs Budapest / Szimpla Kert

Instant [pron. insh-tahnt]
Being in the instant is a pretty surreal experience. Varied decoration in every corner. You can't decide it is a western pub, or a large house party. Instant has several floors and rooms, you can almost get lost. The main difference to the Szimpla is that here's usually a party in the night, sometimes with famous foreign djs an mcs. You will find Instant on the Nagymező Street.

Ruin Pubs Budapest / Instant

Élesztő [pron. a-less-to]
In Ferencváros, 9th district of Budapest you can find the paradise of handcraft beers, Élesztő (the name meaning yeast in Hungarian). It is much more than a simple ruin pub: it is the complex center of this genre. Besides having an authentic ruin pub feeling, Élesztő Craft Beer Bar is the only big craft-beer bar, which offers 21 taps of quality Hungarian craft-beer for the public. You can also find in the very same place Frissítő beer cocktail-bar, grill kitchen, Rengeteg coffee shop and Brew! Studio homebrew school.

Mika [pron. mee-kah]
Mika Tivadar Mulató (Mika Tivadar Bar) in the heart of 7th district Budapest received it's name from Tivadar Mika, builder and owner of the building housing it. Tivadar Mika lived here in the first decades of the 20th century with his wife, Klementina Jelinek, and they owned an iron and copperware factory, operating in the rear wing of the building. Aim of the owners of this ruin pub was to recreate of the atmoshpere of a 1920s cabaret, while the cellars are a great place to party carefree! From spring to autumn also a garden, Mika Kert awaits the public, and every Wednesday open-mic nights are held to give the possiblilty for performers to show their talent. 

Dürer Garden [dy-rɛr]
Set up in the Ajtósi Dürer Street next to the City Park in the former building of ELTE University. Dürer Garden has so much for you, such as table tennis, table football, shady garden with a large projector, and a wide range of concerts and parties from indie to electro, from reggae to hardcore.

Jelen Bistro  [pron. ye-len]
Restaurant and pub, located next to one of the busiest squares of Budapest, Blaha Lujza Square. Breakfast, lunch and dinner all can be enjoyed here, and on Mondays open-mic nights are held. Enjoy the relaxed atmosphere, great selection of food and drink, and the occasional concerts. 

Púder [pron. poo-der]
Interior of Púder looks like it's also spontaneous, little chaotic, but artistic and naughty. It's designed by a contemporary artist Bertalan Babos Zsili. The walls all overpainted, the decorations are oversized, but this together is the Púder (means powder), a cool ruin bar on Ráday Street, already a popular place for pavement cafés. At night there are theatrical performances and DJs.

Yellow Zebra Bikes and Bar
This new underground ruin bar serves good micro-brews down below Kazinczy Street, a few blocks down Dohany steet from the Great Synagogue. The American owners run a bicycle-rental business out of the same premises, and you can see that the old arched cellar is inventively decorated with odd bits of bicycle-inspired decor: the metal legs of the tables are bike frames, there is even a bike-chain chandelier!

Fogas Ház [pron. foh-gash]
Varied furnitures and decoration, different types of lamps, weird objects hanging from the ceiling. Imitating a residential community place. But even so you can find in Fogas Ház an art gallery, table tennis room. Fogas Ház focusing on its cultural character instead of the ruin bar trait. So they organize exhibitions and screening movies. Fogas Ház is in the Kertész Street.

Spíler [pron. shpee-lehr]
A higher quality place among ruin bars. Eclectic design, handcrafted beers, classic chat-bistro for everyone in the Gozsdu Garden, in the 7th district.

Csendes [pron. tshen-desh]
You will find this small, but lovely place close to Astoria. The classic interior is spiced up with vintage and contemporary decoration. The eclectic interior with dim light and soft chill-out music makes the place really intimate, and as the names says: silent.

More ruin bars in Budapest: