As the great European capital that it is, Budapest has a very intense and varied nightlife which would tire out even the greatest of nighthawks. And in Budapest you cannot go out at night without setting foot in a Ruin Bar. These are abandoned buildings that are rented by people who want to convert them into hangouts with free entry and decorated in an endless list of intriguing ways, always conserving the old structures that shape the spaces.
It must be remembered that Budapest is a university city, which is why, regardless of the day of the week, this type of establishment is always full of people who want to have a drink without it costing an arm and a leg. This retro and/or alternative bar format has been so successful that increasingly more are appearing in the city. Do not let yourself be fooled by the retro and/or alternative label, all kinds of people from all walks of life frequent these bars, and there is nothing to fear. Whether it is to have a coffee at seven in the evening or to dance until your body can take no more, you cannot leave the Hungarian capital without dropping into one of them. Nor can you leave without trying a Palinka, the country’s most famous shot, a 50 degree liquor which burns like fire!
If you go at a sensible time (before 22:30) you may even find a concert playing. Here are some of the most interesting ones. Do not miss them, we are sure that you will enjoy them:
The enormous green area that is Margaret Island becomes a perfect corner for partying when night falls. Here, among other things, you will find the Wndrlnd, a large garden transformed into a bar with a carousel-bar, a stage for live music and a spacious dance floor. There are old toys, old signs, a computer mouse stuck to the fence and lots of bikes. It is ideal for having a quiet drink.
The Instant is a building with a techno or drum & bass basement, a rock & roll or hip hoplower room and a first floor with varied current music (depending on the day). It is the only ruin bar decorated with animal motifs. Watch out for the exhibition restroom, the flying pigs and the wild boar crystal ball! In this bar, the night never ends; it is for those who keep going well into the small hours.
The most famous ruin bar in Budapest is the Szimpla Kert. It is one of the first, the biggest and has an excellent location. Without any shadow of a doubt it is a spectacular hangout in which artists queue up to exhibit their work and the motifs of the decor change on a daily basis. Its semi-covered terrace for smokers, the jukebox with CDs of the Earth, the shishas which you can share in the seated areas and the parking zone for bikes made from bicycle wheels all grab your attention.
If, after a day of long walks through the city, you fancy sitting on a rustic patio among trees and little lights, the Fogasház is the place for you. You will find a table ice-hockey game and a Sopranos pinball machine, among other intriguing objects.
But it is best to come and discover your own ruin bars, as the city is full of them and each has its own style and has been conceived for different people – find yours!
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