Adventure By Farida Zeynalova

Step Inside the Ruin Bars of Budapest

Like a phoenix rising from the ashes, the coolest bars in Budapest are rising from the ruins. These romkocsma, Hungarian for "pub in a ruin," now pepper the city's ancient District VII, the Jewish quarter, which was left to crumble after World War II. But then, at the start of the 21st century, this urban decay gave way to a new scene, one that stayed underground for years, but is now opening its artsy doors to patrons far and wide.

Derelict factories, forgotten department stores and abandoned car parks were slowly turned into offbeat bars. Attracting locals and tourists alike, these colorful and kitschy watering holes offer regional drinks, a relaxed atmosphere and decorations that could have been ransacked from your mother's attic. With new contenders constantly cropping up across Budapest, we ducked into five of our favorite ruin bars.


Make a beeline for Mazel Tov, the newest kids in the 7th District block who offer a modern, less ramshackle ruin bar paying homage to all things Jewish. By day, the light, airy bar serves up delicious Middle Eastern cuisine in the spacious garden while contemporary Israeli music plays in the background. By night, it becomes the buzzy stomping ground of locals with an eye-watering 17 different types of palinka-Hungary's beloved fruit brandy. Careful though, they're potent.



A night in Budapest isn't complete without a craft beer at Szimpla Kert-the pioneers who opened the city's first ruin bar back in 2002. Head to the Jewish Quarter where this multi-story, labyrinthine bar, formerly a stove factory, transforms into a bustling haunt of tourists and locals come evening. Furnished with haphazardly placed bric-a-brac from bicycle wheels and street signs to fairy lights and old racing cars-cum-seating-this place is a must-see on your tour.


Hedonistic Ellato Kert is an open-air ruin bar just a few steps away from the popular Kazinczy Street and a favorite with the city's cool kids. Tuck into mouth-watering tacos at the taqueria before a game of pool or table football, or just kick back with a cocktail among the colorful paper lanterns, painted walls and kaleidoscopic furniture. If you're thinking of heading here in the winter, fear not, the temporary roof will have you covered.


"The House of Teeth," which owes its bizarre name to a centenarian dentist's sign found onsite during renovation, was a squatting house until 2010. Fusing cultural hub and bar, this is where the creative folk mingle, from theatregoers to musicians, and where the walls are adorned with works of art by local artists. Spend an evening meandering its nooks, from the theater to the arcade room, and end up at the mammoth tree-lined courtyard for a midnight shimmy and shake to an array of musical genres.



Stroll to Anker't, one of the city's newest ruin bars with a cleaner, more minimalist design approach to the rest. Housed in a deteriorating shell of a former factory, it's open from May to September, with a mammoth courtyard ideal for dancing, whilst the smaller interior is transformed into an urban beach, kitted out with sand, sea-life projections and paper seagulls. Music lovers should head here for an impressive DJ set that jams away almost every day of the week.

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