Budapest’s nightlife is nothing short of legendary. From its world renowned club scene to its quaint pubs and all-night bars, not to mention the unique and inimitable ruin bars, the Budapest’s nights have something to offer everyone. With cultural events every day, an active live music scene and heart-throbbing clubs, Budapest can confidently be called the party-capital of Central-Europe. More and more quality venues are popping up citywide, so there is always much to explore in Budapest for visitors and locals alike however, even though the city is extremely safe, there are a few things to be considered before heading out into the night. In this extensive guide we have collected the most useful advice, interesting curiosities and the must visit establishment so that you can skim through and start your nightly adventures well prepared and braced to be amazed.
Where to Party in Budapest
Although there are plenty of amazing places to party in Budapest, there are a few districts that cater to foreigners the most. These areas are usually the most fun, can be expected to be available at any time of any day of the week, and are the safest. That isn’t to say you can’t party outside of the party district, but we strongly recommend checking these out before going elsewhere; there is enough here for endless nights of debauchery! The best Budapest party places aren’t hoaky tourist traps and glorified dive bars, they are unique and frequented locales with a lot to offer.
The Party District
The 6th and 7th districts together form the massive party district of Budapest. This is where the ruin bar trend started, an absolute must see for visitors wishing to get a feel for Budapest’s nightlife. Bars and pubs abound, but many dance clubs and lounges can also be found here. Although the different parts of the party district have different things to offer, they are all located within walking district from each other.
The old Jewish quarter has become the heart of the party district, and Kazinczy Street is its artery. The very first ruin bar, Szimpla is located on this street, and an entire industry has arisen around this legendary place. Some of the best street food is also on this street, along with an untold number of pubs and ruin bars. Highly recommended any night of the week!
This historic street is known for its many theatres and cabarets, and was the main place for entertainment during the roaring 20s. Keeping its upscale vibe of faded elegance, this little avenue offers a classy mix of prestigious theatres, dance halls, bars and a slightly more exclusive sort of Budapest nightlife.
Located in a corridor between buildings is a massive courtyard that is now entirely devoted to bars, clubs, and art. This club scene and design center is the home of the more fun-loving part of the Budapest elite.
Another important ruin bar centre in Budapest, this street is home to Instant-Fogasház, a complex maze of hostels, clubs, and ruin bars that have become a nightlife megaplex. Several smaller and very noteworthy establishments flank it, making this the place to go if you want to club and get wild.
The Danube Bank
The foot of the Chain Bridge and the surrounding banks of the Danube are simply mesmerizing, especially in the summer. Lots of people visit this area to cool off, and to frequent one of the many awesome clubs and pubs located on the Danube. A laid back atmosphere that is still fairly busy, this area is good for a breath of fresh air, but will keep you occupied until the early morning. There is a thriving club scene here, so you can get your dance on in style, and avoid the screaming throngs of Budapest’s raging inner city bars.
The main street of Budapest is the Körút, or “Ring Avenue”. This street goes all through the inner city in a loop. It is the easiest way to get to, and is the main transportation hub of the city. The Körút is surrounded with many budget Budapest bars that are staples in local life. Nothing too fancy, but all the more fun, they offer large crowds of locals and expats, affordable but quality drinks, and a guaranteed place to sit and have a pint. From the foot of the Margaret Bridge (Jászai Mari Square) to the Blaha Lujza Square, this long stretch of Budapest’s busiest street has plenty to see, feel and taste.
Geared more towards bars and restaurants, this legendary street in the 9th district is a great place to grab some grub and some refreshments and then party all night in Budapest. It’s like an avenue of delicious gourmet foods at an affordable cost, spiced up with bars and pubs of every variety, and some real rarities as well. If you like bar hopping, this is the street for you.
3 Things to Look Out For
Just like every other city in the world, Budapest’s nightlife has elements of the underworld as well. Although this city is for the most part completely safe, there are a couple of things to watch out for. As general rules,
- Don’t accept an opened drink from someone you don’t know, as it may contain drugs,
- Don’t pay for “new friends”, and make sure they aren’t trying to rip you off,
- Don’t leave the club or bar to go to a private residence with individuals you do not know,
Here are the three things you should look out for to stay safe in Budapest, that are specific to this city, and are good to know if you are looking for a good night out:
1. Gentlemen’s Clubs
Although we have no problem with striptease bars, and no moral dilemma with Gentlemen’s clubs, we advise foreigners to never visit striptease bars in Budapest. This is because they have a bad reputation, as they routinely overcharge, or even straight up rob visitors. Many stories of instances like this have occurred, and although we know that not all striptease bars are like this, we cannot recommend them in good faith.
2. Tourist Traps
There are quite a few establishments that are geared towards tourists, but have only subpar services to offer. These tourist traps will usually have someone outside trying to invite you in. Many of these can be found in busy streets like Váci Street, and although they do nothing vicious, they are mostly a waste of time, and are way overpriced.
Hungary has significantly harsher drug laws than the rest of the EU. Although drugs are abundantly available in Budapest, we recommend steering clear of them. Most street merchants only sell bunk drugs, or very low quality stuff. Even worse, designer drugs are often sold, as they are technically legal, but can make you extremely sick, and will not give you what you are looking for.
The best places to go for a night out in Budapest are probably ruin bars. We do not recommend leaving Budapest until you have been to one. A great majority of the nightlife in Budapest happens at these establishments, they have become emblematic of the way this city gets down. The concept is simple: Budapest already has beautiful old buildings in various states of disrepair, and this has become what the city is known for. Take these symbols of faded elegance, and instead of renovating them, keep them as they are, and put high quality bars in them. Artsy but accessible, quality but affordable, Ruin bars are at a perfect equilibrium, making them irresistible. Most of these places turn into farmers markets and flea markets during the day, but the fun starts after dinner.
Here are some of the best ruin bars to go to.
The one and only originator, the one that started it all, and definitely the busiest ruin bar in Budapest is Szimpla. This iconic landmark is located in Kazinczy Street, and must be incorporated into your night out in Budapest. Multiple dance floors, an amazing selection of drinks in a well situated and fairly priced bar, along with an artsy and obscure lounge area makes for one hell of a place indeed. Good food, friendly crowds, and always jumping, this is one of the busiest places in the city.
An enchanted forest inside of a huge residential building that has been turned into an adult playground. A bizarre ambience envelopes the many dance floors and bars in this establishment. This is really a place that you can get lost in, as each room opens into several other rooms, creating a nocturnal labyrinth; this is Budapest’s biggest ruin bar. We recommend this place if you want to dance, as they have Djs spinning every night on one of its 4 dance floors, and they now even have their own restaurant. Located in the same building as Fogas, these two are a pair that cannot be missed.
Fogas is the result of several clubs and ruin bars joining together to make an enormous entertainment complex. They have a hostel and multiple bars on their premises in a three story apartment complex that goes far below the ground as well. Fogasház is the home to the legendary rock club Robot, the awesome home of Budapest techno Larm, as well as the slightly more experimental Lumen and the down to earth bar in the sky, Liebling. All of these carry their own flavour and their own style, so spending a night here will not get dull or boring*.
Ankert is a very good example of the new wave of Ruin pubs. A fair mix of artsy café and good old fashioned pub with a good selection of bar food (the vegan pizza is to die for), they choose to present a less hectic and smaller scale version of the Budapest nightlife trend. Hosting live acts and Djs as well as an event for every night of the week, it shows that the ruin bar experience is morphing into great things. This is a place where you can sit down and talk, but can also find a dancefloor, and its versatility and more laid back atmosphere is what makes this great meeting point what it is.
Ruin bars have become such a facet of nightlife that by now, the biggest ones are mostly frequented by tourists and expats. Locals are seen less and less frequently in these establishments, what with newer and newer ones being opened all the time, it is understandable that they frequent those ones instead. If you wish to see what one of the smaller ruin bars have to offer, we can recommend our Ruin Pub Guide.
The Best Clubs in Budapest
Ruin bars aren’t the only thing worth seeing in Budapest. Techno enthusiasts will already know about the legendary Budapest club scene, and of Hungarian techno and trance. Not just huge festivals and goa events, the club scene is alive, and up till dawn every night in this town, and we can highly recommend these party places for a night of dancing in Budapest.
Our go-to club in the heart of the city. A perfect mix of classy, smart, but above all else; fun. A little bit pricier and more exclusive than other clubs in Budapest, Ötkert draws a large and always cool crowd. A great selection of DJs spin house and dance music, they are open every day, and are absolutely jam packed on the weekends. This staple Budapest club should be on every club-goer’s itinerary.
Peaches and Cream
Peaches and Cream is an American style club. It’s as if someone took a club from Atlanta, Georgia, picked it up and implanted it into the Budapest party scene. Paying RnB, Hip Hop, and the club music of the USA, with a Budapest twist, Peaches and Cream is unique in its selection of style, music and drinks. If you are a fan of funk and soul, we can earnestly recommend this club.
Mika Tivadar Mulató
Located on Kazinczy Street,but not quite a ruin bar, Mika Tivadar is a great place to dance. Focusing more on ethno, funk and balkan beats, but not excluding electronic music, this place is one of the favourite hangouts of students and intellectuals. A night here will give you a glimpse of how the intelligentsia likes to blow off steam, with great conversations, quality dance music, and an awesome selection of drinks from 2 bars.
This club is on a boat floating on the Danube, making it a unique place for a concert. A38 is an audiophile’s wet dream, with a sound system that will bring a tear to the eye of any fan of high end audio. Hosting only the cutting edge in music, with live shows, concerts, Djs and even experimental acts from time to time, we strongly recommend a night of dancing on the A38.
Live music in Budapest is alive and well. Depending on the genre you are interested in, there are many great places to catch a show, and European tours of stellar acts almost always include a Budapest date. Aside from that, the local music scene is world class, and will have something new and interesting to offer visitors.
With its punked out aesthetic, 3 different stages and a reputation just bad enough to keep it interesting, Dürer Kert is the unchallenged home of heavy music in Hungary. The smallest room houses about 200, while their music hall can fit several thousand, and their garden slash indoor smoking area is a place where some of the worst decisions ever made are born. If a band you like is playing here, definitely go check them out, an all night rager is guaranteed.
One of the least mentioned places in tourist guides, Barba Negra is a motorcycle and rock club. It is located a bit out of the way in southern Buda, but is a great place to catch a rock or metal gig. The sound system is superb, the drinks are cheap, and the crowd is about as diehard as it gets. A superb place if you’re into bikes, beer and rock and roll.
Kobuci Kert is an outdoor music venue that caters to pop, folk and blues mostly. They are home to a special kind of Hungarian pop culture, one that fuses folk and radio hits, one that loves to dance and is very welcoming and attainable. They frequently hold kids events as well, and have a special kind of communal Hungarian folk dancing event called “Táncház”. Recommended for lovers of folk music and bluegrass, or anyone who wants to kick back with some good wine on a warm evening.
The Budapest Music Center is a great place if you want to know what current Hungarian music sounds like. A live music venue with a mission, the BMC has made it its goal to support and uphold the best that contemporary Hungarian has to offer. Eclectic and diverse, hosting anything from classical music to radio friendly pop and everything in between.
The home of Jazz in Budapest. The best and certainly the largest jazz club in the city. Located not far from the Danube in a great location with a sophisticated ambience, the most significant jazz events of Budapest happen at this club. Also known for its great food, and live music 5 days of the week from 8 PM!
Budapest is known for its amazing spas. The city is located on several thermal springs, and the spas of this region have been legendary for thousands of years, even the Romans had spas in this area. Later on, the Ottoman and then the Habsburg bath culture really solidified an already millennium old tradition. This amazing array of Budapest baths has earned it the title of Europe’s Hedonism Capital!
To amp up this aspect of tourism, and fuse it with the world famous nightlife and club scene, baths started to take raves and nights of clubbing to the thermal waters. Now, after decades of this tradition, a unique and inimitable kind of party has emerged: the Sparty!
Sparties are held in Széchenyi Baths, one of the biggest and oldest bathhouses in Budapest. Every Saturday night, this wonderful Neoclassical spa complex turns into a huge club, with multiple dance floors, projections and visuals shown unto the shifting waters, and a chance to party and drink in the warm, relaxing thermal baths. It is an experience unlike any other, combining elements of spa culture and relaxation with clubbing and high intensity dancing, with a big emphasis on visual stimulation as well.
We hope this guide has been helpful in portraying the many different kinds of nightlife in Budapest, and to give you a glimpse into the many things to do in Budapest after dark. As you can see, this diverse and many layered nightlife will have something for everyone, regardless of musical taste or the kind of experience you are looking for. Remember that you can stay out as long as you feel comfortable, as the night buses go all around the city all night, and there are cabs near every single venue in the city, so there is no reason to rush. Be safe and know your limits, and enjoy the spectacular and truly unique nightlife Budapest has to offer.