The iconically chaotic interiors of Budapest’s unique ruin pubs provide surreal settings for conversation sessions and colourfully blurry nights all year long, but many of these battered bars – sketchily established within crumbling buildings and decorated with characteristic creativity – also feature cool semi-secret courtyards for summertime carousing. We’ve selected our ten favourite offbeat urban oases found off the beaten path around central Budapest, with open-air seating options ranging from cosy hammocks to picnic tables to a vintage Trabant.
One block from elegant Andrássy út, hidden behind a façade propped up with heavy wooden scaffolding, Anker’t is a comfortably cosmopolitan ruin pub with minimalistic design and a colourful mix of regulars. The huge courtyard is the beating heart of this bar year-round, but during warmer months it throbs with diversely themed parties, fashion shows and outdoor screenings of major sports matches. About once a month, the popular Vegan Sunday Market sets up shop here to provide farm-fresh organic produce directly to shoppers.
Free-spirited Ellátó Kert has something of a Mexican theme with its murals of Aztec motifs and a taco bar, but this laid-back ruin pub is primarily popular with locals for its generously poured potions and pleasantly unpretentious aura. Clandestinely located alongside bustling Kazinczy utca yet seemingly removed from it all, this ramshackle watering hole has a large courtyard that is half-sheltered, making it one of Budapest’s most smoker-friendly settings on rainy days. Live music and a billiards table beckon within the cavernous interior.
Élesztő does not have a central location – it’s way out in District IX beyond the Grand Boulevard – but this ruin pub still has a cult following thanks to its exquisite selection of Hungarian craft beers, as well as fine Magyar-made wines. A rustically romantic air permeates the shaded courtyard here, providing an ideal site for suds-loving couples to share beautiful brews over candlelight. Meals of savoury street food are also available, and Budapest’s edgy Trafó theatre presents contemporary performances just a short stroll away, making this a primo pre-show dining destination.
Ever since joining forces with Instant to form Budapest’s biggest ruin-pub complex, District VII’s Fogas Ház is almost always crowded with party people from all corners of the globe – but the spacious courtyard here remains a welcoming place to get some fresh air after getting down on the indoor dance floor. During daytime in the shade of what seems to be an inverted circus tent, or at night amid psychedelic light shows, revellers mix and mingle while waiting for drinks at the long wooden bar or digging into freshly grilled eats.
Gritty urban vibes fill Füge Udvar, a low-key hangout primarily populated by local students for its low-priced booze and central site just a short stumble from Blaha Lujza tér. The walls of this ruin pub’s cobblestoned quadrangle are adorned with graffiti, while tightly packed rows of picnic tables are shaded by a stained central awning and a scraggly tree; this may not be the best choice for a first date, but it’s a perfect spot to catch up with old friends over a beer or seven. Upstairs a tattoo parlour awaits anyone thinking about inking.
Budapest’s premier party hostel boasts one of the city’s leafiest courtyard bars – finding a free table here can feel like embarking on a jungle excursion. Grandio’s overnight guests often while away days on end lounging in the shade here; although the surrounding metropolis offers many monumental attractions, the motivation for sightseeing just seems to evaporate amid the ever-present temptation of potent potables and freshly cooked munchies just a few steps away from bed. Of course, public visitors are welcome to join the resident party animals.
Tropical sensations surround sipping sunbathers at this open-air ruin pub that feels like a mini-festival stretching all summer long. Hang out in a hammock while resting your craft beer or cocktail on a nearby barrel, take a seat in one of the breezy bar’s swinging chairs, or if arriving with a group, try to score a colourful table under the shade of Kőleves Kert’s lush trees. This is also one of the best places for super-informal alfresco dining along Kazinczy utca, as the kitchen of the adjoining Kőleves eatery serves top-quality ruin-pub grub.
It’s debatable whether Mazel Tov should be included in a list of ruin pubs; while this chic District VII hangout does occupy a formerly decrepit building, this is more of a casually elegant Middle Eastern restaurant than a chaotically decorated club. Nonetheless, the spirit here is definitely creative – modern artwork lines the exposed-brick walls and live music frequently enlivens dinners and brunches served in the roofed courtyard. During warmer months, guests also gather by the outdoor bar under the shade of a giant tree.
Tucked alongside Kazinczy utca behind a nondescript brick wall scrawled with chipped graffiti, Mika Garden is the warm-weather retreat for regulars from Mika Tivadar, the reliably roisterous multistorey club located right next door. Although we definitely miss the old boats that were scattered around here to provide outlandish seating until a couple of summers ago, this ruin pub has been a favourite among locals for years now – it’s too subdued for stag groups and too run-down for snobs, creating a perfect niche for the cool clientele convening here.
As the most famous of Budapest’s ruin pubs, Szimpla Kert has officially transformed from being a bohemian hangout to becoming a tourist attraction. Even so, it’s still worth stopping by in summer for multicultural people-watching within a courtyard filled with colourful bric-à-brac and a convertible Communist-era Trabant car that now serves as a prime seating spot. Here a fun farmer’s market provides delicious delights from Hungary’s countryside every Sunday from 9am to 2pm while brunch is served upstairs with views to the patio below.