Where Ruins Come To Life: Exploring Budapest’s Unique Ruin Bars

Walking into the ruin bars of Budapest felt like entering a psychedelic dreamland.

Loud music blaring, neon lights blinding you from every direction and people in every corner. Once you recover from the initial shock of entering this maze of bars and dance floors, you start to notice the unfinished brick walls, crumbling doorways and open ceilings, a reminder that you are indeed standing in a real-life ruin.

Photo by Bell KS ©

The Ruin Bars of Budapest are only one facet of Hungary’s rich history and a must-visit if you ever find yourself in the city. The trend originated in Szimpla Kert, located in the Jewish Quarter which was left abandoned and in ruins after World War II. What started as a small experiment when the first bar opened in the early 2000s, quickly turned into THE hub for young people to meet. Nowadays, the ruin bars of Budapest are one of the biggest tourist attractions.

Photo by Bell KS ©

The ruin bar had a very unique vibe, eclectic but relaxed. There were mismatched tables and stools where you could see friend groups hanging out over some beer. It was easy to get lost in the meandering old stairways and something new around every corner.

The bars also boasted a variety of drink options, from wine to beer to cocktails you have never heard of. Some bars even had food options to enjoy.

Later at night, the bar vibes turn to clubbing as the crowd gets more animated. Budapest’s youth congregates in the bars, intermingling history with the present. The contrast between young and old is apparent and what gives the bars their charm.

Certainly a must-see while in Budapest and the most alive ruins I have ever visited.

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