When in Budapest, a day of exploring fabulous museums and splashing around in thermal baths should end with a night spent in one of the city’s quirkiest inventions: a ruin bar. Over the last 15 years, a number of enterprising young Hungarians have turned the city’s disused factories and abandoned warehouses into trendy bars, preserving iconic architecture and creating cool communal spaces at the same time. While the crumbling exteriors may seem odd at first, inside you’ll find hip locals kicking back, playing pool and dancing the night away, surrounded by flea-market furniture and local art. Here are some of the best ruin bars in Budapest.
Anker’t is one of the most impressive of Budapest’s ruin bars, a former factory whose sprawling courtyards and workspaces now house an open-air beer garden, food markets, poetry slams, film screenings and other cultural events. Anker’t is open in the afternoons for food and coffee but truly picks up the pace at night, with live music and DJs spinning.
Want to check out local Hungarian rock or folk music? Szimpla is the place – and the place that started the ruin bar trend. The interiors of this old factory are covered in graffiti and filled with second-hand bikes, toys and furniture (even an old East German Trabant car left over from the Communist era). Wander among the bars, relax into a seat in the courtyard and stroll through the individually themed rooms before ordering some late-night pizza, made on-site. If you’re an early bird rather than a night owl, the Sunday morning farmers’ market – complete with live music – is a hugely popular event and very kid-friendly.
Instant & Fogasház
Sharing one massive complex, these are two of Budapest’s best ruin bars, and between them they offer enough live music, DJs, cocktail bars, art exhibits and ping-pong tables to keep you busy until the wee hours of the morning. Want to dance to techno all night? There’s a room for that. Prefer to sip wine by the roof terrace? You can do that too. Light be-decked ceilings, glowing screens and video projected onto the brick walls make this a non-stop party. On Friday and Saturday nights, be prepared to queue for entry.
If intimate spaces are more your speed, head to Kuplung: this cozy bar is housed in what was once a car repair shop. A dimly lit space with an industrial feel, the vibe here is young and hip, particularly on Mondays when there are drink deals on offer and the party gets started early. There’s also an outdoor space with a big-screen TV showing football and films, ideal for relaxed summer evenings under the stars.