Budapest nightlife is a vivacious scene. It packs a mean punch in the heavyweight class of the European party cities. The scene encompasses everything from underground electronic clubs, iconic ruin pubs, wine bars and raves in the thermal baths. The best part, yes, it gets better, is a night out in Budapest costs almost half of what it would in other cities. Budapest nightlife is some of the best in the world for the reasons listed, but on the downside, it also attracts some seedy con artists and plenty of holes in the wall. This guide weeds out the bad eggs and seedy scams in Budapest to help you plan a legendary night out that you’ll never forget.
Expectations– I hope you brought your party pants because Budapest is a city that never sleeps. If you spend a day exploring the history and culture of the city you might want to grab a nap. Most of the bars, clubs, and pubs don’t open until at least 18:00 and many rage on into the next morning. Make sure you budget your time properly during your stay. If you want to party and sightseeing you’ll need a few days, because I guarantee you won’t be crawling into bed until at least 06:00.
Budget and Cost– You might want to sit down before you read this next section. The cost of alcohol in Budapest is half of what you might find in cities like Amsterdam or Ibiza. According to a study conducted last year, the average cost of a glass of wine in Hungary is only .5 Euro. Budapest is every wine lovers dream come true! If wine isn’t your thing, an average selection of 10 various drinks, ranging from cocktails to beer, equates to a total of 22 Euros! Most places have free entrance, but some clubs have cover fees or require tickets. The average cost of a bar’s cover or entrance ticket between 3-5 Euros. Get ready to look like a hero as you offer to buy your entire group a round of drinks.
Dress Code- Budapest is a laid-back city where casual attire is welcomed. Dress in your own style for the funky and hip ruin pubs or keep it dark and casual for the underground parties. There are a few places in the city that qualify as a bit dressier, so I recommend bringing at least one nice outfit, but that’s all you’ll need. I do not recommend heels for the ladies or uncomfortable shoes for the gents as the ruins often have uneven floors and several flights of stairs. Also, if you’re bar hopping you may be walking a fair distance.
Tips and Safety
Common Scams– The amount of alcohol flowing through the veins of targetable tourists has led to the rise of more than one shady company. The most common scam in Budapest is being presented with and held by force to pay an expensive bill. This scam often occurs when several attractive women approach a group of guys asking to hang out with the guys. The girls will then suggest their favorite bar or restaurant where the victims will be presented with a bill of 1,000 euros. If you don’t have money, don’t worry some massive men are happy to escort you to the nearest ATM. Avoid clubs that are suggested by an unreliable source or involve an elevator to access. You should also avoid all clubs that appear to be empty and dingy. If anyone is trying to lure you into an empty bar with a good deal, remember that there are good deals at some of the best clubs in the city and these places aren’t worth your time.
Taxi drivers also tend to be in on this scam. They will recommend their favorite bar and charge a huge fair to get you there.
If any of these incidents happen to you call the the local police number at 112.
Take time to report the incident to the Ministry so they can flag the business.
If you need an English speaking doctor call (06-1-2000-100)
Some bars and clubs that have been previously reported are:
Diamond Club, Budapest II district, Bimbó út 3.
Eden Night Club, Budapest VI district, Andrássy út. 54.
Galaxia étterem, bár, Budapest V district, Bécsi utca 3.
La Dolce Vita, Budapest V district, Október 6. utca 5.
Mercy Club and Lounge, Budapest VII district, Dohány utca 88.
Pigalle Night Club, Budapest VIII district, Kiss József utca 1-3.
Városközpont (accessible by outside elevator), Budapest V district, Váci utca 16.
Avoid most nightclubs on Váci utca.
Avoid almost all strip clubs and peep shows.
**Note: Some of these may have been shut down by the ministry already or have changed names. Ask your hostel or hotel front desk for their list of suspicious places.
Never trust or take advice from strangers in Budapest.
Never carry excessive amounts of cash on you, or hint that you have a lot of money.
If anyone offers to take you to an ATM, refuse.
Carry a phone on you with emergency numbers for the area saved. Police are a free call.
Don’t ever get intoxicated to the point you can’t take care of yourself.
Don’t ever leave your drink unattended. Drugging can be common in sketchy clubs.
**Note: None of this is meant to scare you. It is simply provided as word of caution. Don’t worry though, we’re about to explore the highlights of Budapest’s nightlife, which really is wonderful.
Wine Bars and Craft Beer in Budapest
Budapest has some amazing classy and exclusive wine bars along with some really great hipster hot spots for wine. If wine isn’t your thing, you’re in luck. A recent increase of underground breweries in Budapest will delight your taste buds with some unique craft beers. These great picks for wine bars and local beer spots are the perfect way to get the night started.
Keywords: Palinka A traditional fruit Brandy created in the Dark Ages. (I know we lost science and gained fruit brandy… cope with the tragedy by drinking it) You’ll find various Hungarian Palinka on menus, infused in cocktails or on a tasting menu.
Doblo Wine Bar– Doblo is arguably one of Budapest’s favorite wine bar. Nestled in the heart of the VII district, the exposed brick walls, warm lighting and funky art create a sense of warm hospitality and community. The bar feels different depending on the time of day you go. The afternoon sunlight is perfect for a lunch tasting. The dim chandelier evening light is perfect for a date night tasting. Lastly, the late night party goers keep the place open until the wee hours. Enjoy a simple glass of wine with a yummy Hungarian snack platter or choose from one of their many tastings. Tastings range from 15 Euro to 33 Euro and include white, red or palinka tastings.
Faust embodies Hungarian hospitality. Owned by a charming and knowledgeable Hungarian couple and with only 5 tables the focus in on you, the guest. You get personal attention as the husband walks around providing information about the wines and answering your questions. Choose from one of 4 pre-set wine tasting selections, cycling through 5 wines, or make your own. Clean the pallet between the tastings with savory homemade mini scones. Reservations are a must. This is a popular spot in Budapest and with so few tables it can be hard to get a spot. Tastings are 3x a day and the cost will set you back about 20 Euro.
Thur-Mon: 14:00-20:00 with set tastings 3x a day
Budapest, Hess András tér 1, 1014 Hungary Check It Out Here!
DiVino– A larger more industrial shop, DiVino is a re-seller of wine, a school, as well as a wine tasting spot. Great for large groups their event tastings are a fun and knowledgeable experience for everyone.
Sun-Wed: 15:00-00:00 Thur-Sat:15:00-02:00
Budapest, Szent István tér 3, 1051 Hungary Check It Out Here!
Élesztő Craft Beer Garden–
They call themselves the secret base of the Hungarian beer revolution and they are not wrong. With over 21 craft local beers on tap you have plenty of options. Enjoy the beer in its natural state or have it mixed into a beer cocktail. The atmosphere is not unlike Budapest’s run pubs, but with a more relaxed vibe and a noticeable camaraderie over good beer and pub food.
Léhűtő– A rainbow selection of beers, white to lager, served on a paddle of wood. Does it get much better than this? I don’t think so. The Léhűtő is owned by a beer fanatic and includes over 60 craft brews, most of them local on the menu. The atmosphere is lively whether you pick the cozy indoor seating or enjoy the summer sun outside.
Warmup-If you’ve heard of molecular cocktails, you know, those little bubbles filled with boozy goodness held together by Calcium Lactate, this is the place to try them. Order one of their items off the menu or ask your mixologist to create something special just for you. The edgy modern decor of yellow, black and white give you a welcome break from the ruin bar feel.
Hours vary by day opening at 6:00
Budapest, Nagy Diófa u. 26, 1072 Hungary Check It Out Here!
Bar Pharma– My favorite place on the list. This place has cocktails I have never seen or tasted before, and I’ve been in a lot of bars. With their own take on homemade bitters and a captivating drink menu, you’ll want to order several drinks. This place only seats about 10 people, so come early and stay late. Order the Pumpkin Plum for a cinnamon infused drink made with local Hungarian pumpkin liquor.
Budapest, Dob u. 21, 1074 Hungary
Boutiq’ Bar– The OG cocktail bar in town. This is the bar that revolutionized the scene in Budapest. It’s nice to see Boutiq’ standing strong even as Budapest is taken over by mixology bars. The bar is currently ranked in the world’s top 50 best bars. It has an intimate feeling with red decor, but you don’t need to bring a date if you don’t have one. You can choose your date from the endless selection of cocktails they provide.
Kioska– This massive space with exposed brick is a modern day meeting place for hip individuals. Come for the food and company and stay for one of their 25 amazing cocktails that compose their world winning cocktail menu. Try the Sub Rosa for a light floral drink.
BUDAPEST KIOSK 1052, March 15. Space 4th, Hungary
Ruin Pubs in Budapest
The most notorious aspects of Budapest nightlife are Ruin Pubs. They are well worth it for the “once in a lifetime experience,” but I find them a little sloppy, crowded and overwhelming. At one point Szimpla Kert was so packed there was no standing room, and I’m a pushy girl. The drinks are cheap, but the beer is basic and the cocktails are nothing to write home about. I prefer to go check out the Ruin Pubs in the early evening, before they get too crazy. Here’s just a few to highlight.
Kuplung– The entrance to Kuplung is hard to find as it connects from an alley. The narrow alley opens to a more relaxed courtyard with some street food, seating and a bar. If you explore a little deeper you’ll see people lining up to head in the back room. A cover charge is required, but once you’re in there will be live music in the form of electronic music, rock or jazz, depending on the night.
Budapest, Király u. 46, 1061 Hungary
Fogashaz– More of a party complex than a Ruin Pub, Fogashaz is a massive place with an outdoor garden, a cocktail bar and plenty of dance floor. The cocktail bar is a cute little join that is a nice escape from the packed dance floor.
Szimpla Kert– The most popular of the Ruin Pubs. Even I have to admit this place is pretty cool. It’s hard to know what to make of Szimpla when you walk in. Nooks and crannies are filled with furniture, bars, strange decorations. With a large courtyard that hosts dancing drunks at night and an upstairs accessible by a one-way spiral staircase and more places to get cheap booze this place is an adventure to say the least.
Corvin Club– Corvin Club is an amazing 2 room venue with a rooftop bar that bumps some amazing techno and deep house. Some big-name DJs play here, like Guy Gerber and Boris Brejcha. Be prepared to walk a lot of stairs before you start dancing. The venue is located away from the happening city center and you have to climb about 7 flights of stairs in an old brick warehouse, but it’s totally worth it. The drinks are basic, but the music is amazing. The dance floor is a bit awkward with it’s long and narrow build, but the second room has more space for dancing. Be prepared to dance your face off until morning with the wild Budapest locals.
Budapest, Blaha Lujza tér 1-2, 1085 Hungary
Photo Cred and more info from Corvin Club
Lärm-Lärm, which literally translates to noise, is deserving of it’s name. Bring your earplugs because this place has no noise limit, which is rare for downtown venues. It’s a little dark and a little goth, with its all black warehouse interior. Expect to find some dark techno and lively locals.
Budapest, Akácfa u 51, 1073 Hungary.
Track Terrace– This Boiler Room-esque outdoor venue hosts some groovy local underground DJs. This place is best to attend in summer as the long warm summer nights just melt away under the disco ball laden pavilion. Feel right at home with both locals and tourist party goers.
Budapest, 2, Neumann János St, Hungary
Festivals & Special Events
Sparty Bath Party–During any normal Saturday afternoon the thermal baths are a great place to relax and collect yourself, but as soon as the sun sets the baths turn into an insane party. The DJ booth, playing upbeat electronic music, seems to float above the water encased in an inflatable bauble. Neon lights and bright inflatables make the bath appear to be glowing. Be warned that this party is crowded and mostly dudes, so I was a little out of place, but the music was good and the crowd was friendly. I recommend getting the VIP package, so you have your own private changing room, great for couples, and a few free drinks. This will set you back only 25 Euros of so, which is a great deal for a legendary party. You will need to take public transportation for about 20 minutes, so pack some extra dry clothing to wear home.
Beer and Wine Festivals– The park near the Szechenyi thermal baths is often host to weekend wine and beer festivals. We stumbled into the wine festival by accident and were delighted with amazing street food, local wine and live music. Check out Rosalia, Főzdefeszt, along with a local calendar for events.
Music Festivals– Hungary is home to some pretty legit electronic music festivals as well. If you’re looking for a trip of the mind, body and soul check out Ozora psychedelic tribal gather and Bónusz for a small one day gathering.