The 7th district is the old Jewish quarter of Budapest, that was and still is the home of Judaism in the Hungarian capital, but at night, it turns into the Party district. Budapest already has a well earned reputation for being a city that knows how to have a good time, but at night, this area becomes an unbelievable party jungle! This is without a doubt the home of nightlife in Budapest, where the city’s inimitable Ruin Bars were invented, and is still the center of that uniquely Budapest trend. A cultural center of living, breathing, lofty contemporary art as well as down to earth entertainment which is recommended to anyone who wants to kick back, have a few beers and a good time. Most pub crawls take place in this district exclusively, with occasional forages into the 6th or 8th. Restaurants and fast food establishments line the streets in 7th district, so come hungry!
What’s so special about the 7th District?
Historically, the 7th is one of the most important and more recent districts of Budapest. This area was the Jewish quarter long before the Second World War, when it was used as a ghetto by the invading Nazi forces. The sad yet captivating history of European Jewry is reflected in this district, and it is a site of Jewish pilgrimages. The home of Neolog Jewish culture, which used to be abundant and significant in Hungary, most Holocaust relics, as well as 3 very significant synagogues, the Great Synagogue, the Kazincy Street and the Rumbach Synagogue can all be found here. Before the insane destruction of the Holocaust, 23% of Budapest’s population was Jewish, and the majority of them lived in this area. Despite its dark past, the 7th district continues to be the home of Jewish fate in Budapest and the only active mikveh is located here.
The 7th district is one of the busiest and liveliest areas of the city, and is definitely the place for nightlife in Budapest, which will become apparent just by walking down any street after 5 PM. The 7th is the most frequented district, by tourists both young and old, where everyone can find something that suits their taste. Many art galleries and currently active art houses and publishers can be found, as well as bars and clubs galore. As previously mentioned, the Ruin bar trend started in this district, and this is where the internationally renowned and appreciated house and techno scene of Budapest has its origins as well. This is also the smallest district in Budapest, but the one with the highest population density.
How to Get Around the 7th District
Transportation in the Jewish quarter is great. The main tram network of Budapest, the 4 and 6 trams have several stops in the 7th, and almost all trolley lines go through it. The area is very small, so walking and biking through it is simple, although its bike lanes aren’t well developed, so getting around on foot or using the public transport is recommended. Sadly, the inner city is notorious for its terrible traffic jams, so cars are kind of a hassle in this neighborhood.
Ruin Bars Budapest: The 7th district is the home of Ruin Bars, Budapest’s most sought after places to party. The one that started the trend, Szimpla, can be found here, the biggest ruin bar, Fogasház, is also located in the 7th, among many others. The home of the city’s nightlife truly worth the exploration, however it is recommended to prepare with a few important good to knows before embarking on the adventure. Download the Have Fun Travel App, and get a tour of the best Ruin Bars in Budapest! This way, you can enjoy a pub crawl at your own speed, and get to see the best of Budapest nightlife without any compromises.
The Great Synagogue: The Great Synagogue AKA the Dohány Street Synagogue is the biggest one of Central Europe, and is the third largest synagogue in the world. It is a Jewish cultural complex with a holocaust memorial, a garden that is also a cemetery and the home of the Emmanuel tree, a wall of remembrance, The Heroes’ Temple, and the Hungarian Jewish Museum. An active synagogue, this Moorish inspired neoclassical building is the home of European Neolog Judaism. In front of it is Herzl square, where Tivadar Hertzl, the founder of modern Zionism once lived.
Escape Rooms: Escape rooms are a phenomena popping up more and more around Budapest, and there is no shortage of these entertainment centers in the Jewish Quarter. Usually you have to find clues in order to escape a locked room solving several interconnecting puzzles and entertaining mysteries. Most of them are story driven, some are purely logical, but always tons of fun testing your limits in a safe place and most of them can be completed in under an hour. If you are up for using your brain a little and for a little bit of team building, we recommend giving this a try. Not for people with claustrophobia as many of these rooms are quite tiny.
Gozsdu Udvar: Connecting the 6th and 7th districts is a long corridor full of shops, pubs, restaurants, galleries and high end establishments. The Gozsdu udvar is the inner courtyard of a large building that is open for entertainment. It gives off a uniquely Budapest vibe, and is a must see, not merely because of the architecture and ambience, but because it is a luxurious but affordable place to kick back with a drink, and there are many different venues to explore. A feast for all the senses!
Kazincy Street Synagogue: One of the most beautiful synagogues of the world, this is one of the very few remaining Orthodox synagogues in Europe. This amazing building was constructed in a stunning example of the Art Nouveau style, and is breathtaking in its proportions: it’s absolutely enormous! The center of Orthodox Jewish life in Hungary, with the only mikveh being located here, as well as a prayer room, a school and of course, an active Orthodox synagogue. A delectable glatt kosher restaurant is associated with this synagogue, one of the most famous ones in the world.
The Jewish quarter is known for hostels, with new ones always popping up, and older ones shutting down, so it is difficult to keep track of which ones are the best at any given time. Go and see some reviews, and go to one that is reliable. AirBnbs are also abundant, but a bit expensive for what they are. There are several hotels in this area, but they are usually more along the lines of motels, and are affordable and cozy. Be aware that the party district has something going on at all hours, and this is definitely not the place you will want to book accommodations in if you are looking for rest and relaxation, or if you are a light sleeper. This is by far the loudest district in the inner city, and unless your AirBnb is in a secluded location, you will be affected by noise to some extent.
Off the beaten track
Old School Hungarian Bistros: This district is known for its food, and there is a strong focus on the cuisine of the world, gourmet establishments and Michelin starred fine dining experiences. But affordable fast food joints also abound too, so everyone can find a bite to eat in the Party district! Several of the old Budapest eateries of the Soviet era, the classic Hungarian bistros can still be found here, and we definitely recommend eating at one of them, as these can only be visited in Hungary.
Klauzál Square: Not really hidden, but overshadowed by the amazing ruin bars in the area, Klauzál Square and its market are somewhat obscure. The square is great for sports, and has a rather large playground, so is definitely recommended if you are travelling with kids. The market has cheap vegetables, fruits, and meats for sale, that are, for the most part, produced locally. There are several traditional places to eat inside, and the Klauzál Square Market captures the traditional face of commerce in Budapest, as our parents remember it.
Rumbach Street Synagogue: As of this moment, this synagogue is closed and under renovation. The synagogue is currently under renovation, and once it is fully restored to its original beauty, it will be most certainly be among the top tourist destinations of Budapest . This was one of the places where Jews, minorities and political dissenters were interned before being deported by the Nazis, and so it holds a sad but very important piece of Budapest’s history. This synagogue was also built in the Moorish revival style, and blends in perfectly with the surrounding area.
A bite to eat, and something to drink
Ruin bars are the best place to grab a drink. They are also surprisingly good at bar food, and some of them are good eateries, even without the derelict ambience and awesome drinks. If you are at a ruin bar in Budapest, try something off of the menu, you will be surprised. There are restaurants of every kind in the party district, including Hungarian classics, and some of the few Michelin-starred establishments can be found here. Street food is usually the norm when thinking about grabbing a bite in the 7th district, but even that has several categories, from greasy kebab to gourmet on the go. We also recommend trying some of the staple kosher restaurants of the district, if you like delicious home cooking, especially if you want to see a previously uncharted spin on traditional Jewish cuisine.
If you are in the mood to party, want to go out for a drink, or eat at a restaurant, we highly recommend this district. But when being here, please be respectful, as this is a residential area, and although it is buck wild, people still live here, and crowds of foreigners have a bad reputation because they cannot handle their liquor or act with decorum. Please, do not add to this negative stereotype, but instead, party sensibly, and enjoy yourself in style!