Photo: © Mazel Tov
Rising from the gentrification of Budapest’s 7th District over the last decade, the city’s ruin bars are a true phenomenon of rehashed urban decay. These eccentric and mismatched spaces quite literally take over abandoned buildings, parking lots, dilapidated historic buildings or unused warehouses and quite simply call them home. Enjoying vast interiors and gorgeous courtyards, these bars enjoy a burst of colourful fairy lights, mismatched unwanted furniture, peeling paint, street art, live music and international DJs for anyone who’s up for a party. From the most famous Szimpla Kert, to the lower key Ellato Kert and Anker’t, here’s what we’ve discovered so far.
Quite possibly Budapest’s oldest and most iconic ruin bar, Szimpla Kert was one of the first to open its doors in the trendy 7th District back in the early 2000s. Today, its reputation precedes it and you’re more likely to come across tourists rather than locals [propping up the bar. However its sprawling garden, art installations, and bath tub-cum-beer bench furniture definitely make it worth a visit.
A balmy garden in the summer, and a heated cavern in the winter categorise Anker’t as a more upmarket venue in terms of ruin bars, which is extremely well kept, yet still oozes industrial charm. Head to the buzzing main stage for dancing, or settle down in one of the quieter areas for some well deserved snacking and chatting.
Here’s right where retro urbanism and clubbing meet and team up for a fantastic night. Occupying a whole floor, as well as the roof garden, on what was once a large department store, this kitsch rooftop terrace is incredibly popular during the summer months, and an indoor dance floor for the chillier months.
Unlikely as it may sound, Ellato Kert is mostly known for its vibrant garden parties, and its Mexican food. Comes as no surprise that live music, art shows, tacos and table soccer make up a splendid combination – all that’s left is to add some beer.
Loosely translated to ‘House of Teeth’, Fogasház represents one of the most artsy cultural spots of Budapest. Once a residential area, this renovated bar is considered one of the city’s top ruin bars which also includes a movie room, a painted atrium, an arcade room as well as rentals that range from shisha pipes to bicycles.
Wander into this marine-themed wonderland complete with twinkling jellyfish lamps, a huge underwater mural, as well as a ginormous whale skeleton suspended from the ceiling, and discover all that Kuplung has to offer. Originally operating as a greasy auto repair shop, this hip bar offers live entertainment and table tennis during the afternoon, and some heavy beats once the DJs take over after sunset.
The aptly named Mazel Tov interacts with the District 7’s Jewish history and is a more recent addition to the area. One part club, one part restaurant, and one part community centre, this stylish bar is an interesting combination of history and culture and makes for an interesting visit.
Run by the owners of the glitzy Michelin-starred restaurant next door, this theatre bar, cultural space and art gallery is a definite must-try for anyone into art or architecture. Expect high ceilings, revolving installations and beautiful murals – this is really as flashy as a ruin bar can get. And speaking of shows, pick a window seat if you’re looking for an audience.
Industrial cement floors are adorned with lush Persian carpets and sparkling chandeliers suspended from the ceiling’s exposed ducts are what make Tébolykert unique. The tables are made out of recycled chipboard, and all its walls sport ample graffiti murals. In short, this is pretty much what to expect from a ruin pub, along with a delightful menu that tends to lean more towards the gourmet side of the spectrum.
One of the largest ruin bars in Budapest, this labyrinthine venue is made up of two joined apartment blocks that offer a number of rooms and hallways waiting to be explores. Take a trip down the rabbit hole and explore the weird and wonderful world of Instant that includes upside down rooms, suspended animal sculptures and medically themed rooms amongst others.