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The hidden ruin bars of Budapest

The buildings seem abandoned with their boarded up windows and grimy façades. Yet the opposite is true as these are the renowned ruin bars of Budapest. Creative minds have transformed dilapidated factories, warehouses and flats into unique cafés, bars and night clubs that you won’t want to miss.

Most ruin bars are located in the Jewish neighbourhood. This district had become increasingly dilapidated over previous decades, with many empty buildings and lots. In early 2000, a few initiators took their chance and built a bar in an area where no one wanted to live. They installed a dance floor and artists decorated the crumbling walls with pieces of art. The first ruin bar, called Szimpla Kert, opened its doors a year later. It was the start of a new trend; now Budapest has around 30 of these venues.

Artistic decor in Szimpla Kert
Artistic decor in Szimpla Kert


Szimpla Kert

A drink in an old Trabant

If you don’t know the exact location of Budapest’s first ruin bar, you’ll easily miss it. Except for a small yellow sign, nothing betrays the location of Szimpla Kert, one of the city’s most unique venues. The walls are decorated with psychedelic images, and the covered courtyards boast a hotchpotch of tables and chairs. But don’t just sit back and relax, there’s so much more to see: a bathtub sawn in half, for instance, or an emptied out Trabant. Be sure to try the legendary Szimpla burger too which can be ordered at the upstairs bar.

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Szimpla Kert, Kazinczy Ut. 14, Budapest

Dancing in the jungle

One of the liveliest ruin bars in Budapest is actually located in a trendy neighbourhood, close to several upmarket theatres. The fascinating Instant comprises an entire apartment complex, and yet it only just fits the crowds it attracts. In what used to be a place for cooking and sleeping, visitors now dance amidst a jungle of plants, second-hand furniture and interesting art. Tip: if you’re hungry, order a delicious hotdog with onions at the cart in the hall, which resembles those found on the streets of New York City.

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Instant, Nagymező utca 38, Budapest, Hungary
Phenomenal views from the rooftop

Socialist store rooftop

Want to enjoy a drink while the service lift takes you to the roof? No problem at Corvintető, a night club located on top of a socialist store. The top floor can also be reached via the stairs, and although it is quite a climb, the colourful graffiti in the stairwell makes for an interesting experience. The large dance hall features DJs from around the world, but the highlight is the rooftop from where you can enjoy spectacular views of the city whilst sitting in a comfortable rocking chair.

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Corvintető, Blaha Lujza tér 1-2, Budapest Hungary

Photo credits

  • Instant: Andy Nugent, Flickr
  • Phenomenal views from the rooftop: Corvintető, Flickr