About a decade ago, one of the many abandoned buildings in Hungary’s capital was converted into a low-key club with little more than discarded furniture and artistic creativity, bringing about the first of Budapest’s so-called “ruin pubs”. Now these are major attractions of the Magyar metropolis – and since most of the best of them are close to each other in downtown Pest, a well-planned route (and a strong liver) is all you need to visit each of the important ones during one epic night. Follow our intoxicating itinerary to get lost deep in the rabbit hole of Budapestian nightlife!
We Love Budapest’s ultimate ruin-pub crawl
Hidden away from the action while located right in the middle of it all, laid-back Ellátó Kert is found a few steps away from Kazinczy Street behind a nondescript plastic curtain – however, once visitors find this clandestine club, they often end up hanging out here for years. The regular crowd is made up of twentysomethings, thirtysomethings, bikers, skaters, tattooed musicians, pierced chicks, and dogs in all shapes and sizes. A satisfying selection of Mexican dishes are sold here to provide a nice dinner of greasy goodness to line your belly in preparation for the long night ahead, and while the open-air courtyard is especially inviting at sunset during the warmer seasons, it is also tented and roofed during the winter months, making this a perfect place to kick-start the evening anytime.
From Ellátó, take a short walk up Kazinczy to visit the mother of all ruin pubs before too many tourists fill it to capacity, which happens pretty much every night of the week. Szimpla Kert is fast becoming one of the most famous party places of Europe, thanks to its inclusion in countless guidebooks; thus the crowd here is mostly made up of foreigners, and it gets quite overcrowded, so plan to have only one round of drinks… unless you become transfixed by the diverse selection of concerts frequently held here, which are usually free. But if you really want to explore all of Budapest’s best ruin pubs, avoid the temptation to stop here – there are many more places ahead!
A party hostel with a jungle courtyard bar – can you ask for more? Just walk one block over from Kazinczy to Nagy Diófa utca to find Grandio, an important destination for a number of reasons: its bar only closes around 3am, which leaves plenty of time for you to win the who-gets-drunk-first game, and because of the international community that the venue hosts, there’s a high chance that you’ll find some new drinking buddies here to continue your pub-crawl quest with. Also, if you overdid it at the first couple of destinations in this article and can’t handle any more alcohol, this is a solid option in terms of where to spend the night… but if you want to fully embrace the capital’s vivid nightlife, head onwards to the next stop!
From Grandio, head two more blocks over to Klauzál utca, at which point it is easy to stumble to the next three destinations. First up, before you get too sloppy, visit EXTRA – this is one of Budapest’s newest ruin pubs, and while it is a little more upscale than most of the other establishments on this list, this chic community space is worth stopping into to sip on Czech and Belgian beer specialties at the long copper bar beneath luminous scarlet umbrellas, or to order a classic bistro dish that will help absorb all of the consumed alcoholic dishes. And if EXTRA is the point where you’ve decided to call it a day, the hostel here can provide a cozy place for you to sleep… but come on, keep going – you’re almost more than halfway to the end point now!
Just a few staggering steps away from EXTRA, Klauzál’s Füge Udvar (“Fig Garden”) is the cheapest ruin pub of the city with its fixed monthly discounts, so this place will give your wallet a little relief after the last stop. This super-chill drinking zone is full of locals in both roofed and outdoor parts, who enjoy a smoking yard plus a welcoming vibe, making it a perfect place for sipping a cheap beer or wine; frankly, at this point in your pub crawl, spending money on quality alcohol is pretty much a waste, so this is pretty much a compulsory drinking spot. Now, on to the next one!
UdvarROM is a no-frills ruin pub that is quite similar to Füge Udvar, and just a few meters away from it: the drinks are offered for really low prices, there are both covered and open-air parts, monthly discounts, and everything else you can imagine to find at a place that gets featured in a roundup like this. If you like playing pub sports like ping pong, pool, or foosball, you can play them here, but by the time you get here, we highly doubt that you’ll be able to do so. However, if you want to save money on drinks, this is a fine venue to do so – but don’t slip into an alcoholic stupor just yet; some of the best stops on this pub crawl are yet to come!
It may seem like a challenge to reach the next stop, so let’s be crystal clear – after walking out of UdvaROM, turn right onto Wesselényi utca, walk only one block to Akácfa, turn left, and keep stumbling until you see the crowd on the street that has surely gathered by this point. Here you’ll find , and yes, the name does mean “house of teeth”, but don’t worry – the only dentists found here these days are only making themselves comfortably numb. This pioneering ruin pub created a movement for the nightlife genre during its initial years when Fogas Ház functioned as a hub for arts and a gathering place for contemporary visionaries. The interior is stylishly dilapidated, the prices are not too high, and the dance floor cures your boogie fever, while an adjacent outdoor courtyard is now equally popular as the original premises… all of which makes this a perfect place to get your groove back before heading on to the final two stops.
After leaving Fogas Ház, turn right and continue staggering on Akácfa toward the big yellow church (fear not, we’re not suggesting that you seek redemption on this night..), and turn left to soon reach Nagymező Street , where you’ll take a right before crossing and passing the theaters of “Budapest’s Broadway”; please try not to vomit on the city’s theater fans that are leaving the late shows. Just a few steps further and you’ll be at Instant, a beloved spot of party animals, being a gigantic ruin-pub complex occupying an entire building. The themed dance floors guarantee that you will find the songs you’d like to shake it to, while multiple counters and an awesome crowd ensure that you won’t leave sober or before sunrise (Instant is proudly open until 6am every day). The psychedelic interior features highlights such as a boar-shaped disco ball, glowing butterflies, and humping foxes. But you’re so close to the end now, resist temptation to end the night here – don’t give up the drunken dream, continue on to the last stop!
Walk, stumble, or drag yourself just a few meters away from Instant, up Ó utca, and you’ll reach the last stop of We Love Budapest’s ruin-pub crawl route! If you’ve made it this far, you have our utmost respect… but be warned: is Neverland with a bar. (The name is pretty self-explanatory.) That not only means that booze is never more than a few meters away, but that you can expect an abundance of questionable morals and very sloppy behavior – from staff and guests alike.The hostel is located in an old courtyard building littered with graffiti from local and international street artists, and it is usually populated with backpackers, party animals, night owls, and other strange creatures. If you feel like passing out, we’re sure that they can grant you a bed (or at least some floor space), not to mention that the hostel’s own bar is equipped with all kinds of hairs of the dog, and it opens at 11am. So, you know what to do: sleep, drink, rave, repeat!