The Budapest nightlife has changed a lot in the last 10 years. Luckily for visitors today it is mainly concentrated around one area. This region mainly consists of the ‘Jewish district’ and some parts of Lipótváros (5th,6th and 7th district). You can easily get everywhere by just walking around. You won’t need to use the public transportation or the taxi as the farthest you might walk is 10 minutes.
Summer – Winter
Hungarians like to start drinking in bars/restaurants or outside when it’s summer then continue clubbing even until 4-5AM. The city gets lively early during summertime, however the winter is not as busy. So if you are planning to check out Budapest’s nightlife, I would recommend to visit between April and September for a more energetic city with festivals and outside party series.
We have a lot of different bar types in Budapest. I have tried to categorize them the best I could. The list starts with the busiest types. For the full list of bars click here.
The most sought after places among tourists for their unique style. As the name suggests ruin bars were built in abandoned residential buildings. The interior and furniture often follow the style of the building. Ruin bars are the top to-go places for meeting new people from all around the world. Usually frequented by expats and on every young tourists’ to-do list, these bars are loud and packed even in weeknights. Szimpla is the oldest and most famous of them all, however there are a few other mighty good ones. See the list for my recommended ruin bars.
Local hot spots
These bars are also busy, however mostly frequented by the local community. Weekdays are only crowded during summertime, but sometimes the weekend starts on Thursday for those Hungarians who like to go out. These bars are usually the meeting points for laid back young Budapestians. See the list for underground bars.
Selling mostly or only wines… so don’t go if you rather have a beer. Hungary produces good quality white and red wine so there are plenty of options to try. The best wine regions are Villány and Szekszárd to the south, Badacsony, Eger, Tokaj (famous for its Aszú which is a sweet dessert wine). Frittman’s from the Alföld is also a great wine and we also have Etyek, a small town close to Budapest. You will need to discover the rest for yourself! See the list of bars for my recommended wine bars.
Wine related – Important!
Our most popular alcoholic drink is the ‘fröccs’ (sprizer) which is wine mixed with carbonated water. We have different names for all the different ratios of water and wine. Although, we never mix water and red wine only white or rose.
Some of the popular ones:
Small fröccs: 1dl wine + 1dl water
Big fröccs: 2dl wine + 1dl water
Long-step (hosszúlépés): 1dl wine + 2dl water
Vice caretaker (viceházmester): 2dl wine + 3dl water
Sport fröccs: 1 dl wine + 4 dl water
The budapest nightlife offers surprisingly good cocktails for relatively cheap prices compared to Western Europe. In the weekends you might need to book in advance, especially for Boutiq Bar which is the most famous and rightfully so. Check out the cocktail bar recommendations on my list.
There are several live jazz bars in Budapest where talented musicians play improvised shows. In some bars entry is free and you can enjoy alive session by buying a drink. Some jazz clubs host events for which you can purchase tickets in advance. I have collected my recommended Jazz bars of the city here.
Craft beer bars
Hungarian Craft Beer started to be a thing several years ago. Now small breweries are popping up with interesting new craft beers. There are plenty of options if you wish to taste some local beers from the tap. (or buy some for later) Be careful as some of them are really strong! Check the recommended craft beer bars here.
Little hidden spots, definitely not touristy. Most of these places are not as busy and not advertised. They mostly have a mixed or a local audience. These bars also offer good quality drinks and a unique atmosphere worth checking out.
Clubs are great if you are done having drinks at the bar and want to continue partying through the night. In Budapest parties usually start late, so you shouldn’t expect a fully packed club before 10PM. Parties peak between 11PM-2AM and can last even until 4-5AM. The Budapest party scene has given away to the bar scene in the recent years, but we still have a decent amount venues. The busy and posh clubs usually play today’s and yesterday’s hits. The busy ruin bars that also function as clubs (like Szimpla) are total random, but mostly hits (if there’s no special DJ). The Budapest nightlife also delivers underground house and techno scene for the lovers electronic music.
Fogasház – popular among tourists, lot of people, two stages
Outdoor Party Series (Summer only)
These party series happen few times a month, depending on the weather. They start before noon and usually end shortly after midnight. Recommended if you like dancing, drinking and dipping in the sun.
Hundreds, sometimes thousands gather in the sun every second week. The party has one large stage where several DJs play during the day, mostly house and techno. Events
A smaller event than CityMatiné, but it has the pool as a standard feature. It usually more than one stage with different styles of music. Events
A38 Ship Front Terrace
Voted by Lonely Planet as best club of the year A38 Ship hosts sunset parties every Thursday in 2018 at its front Terrace. This is a smaller venue with maybe a hundred people and it’s not so close to downtown. However, the vibe is perfect for a few drinks and a chill Thursday party. (we call it small-Friday) Events
Drinking in public (Summer only)
From May till September Deak Ferenc square and Erzsébet square is full with people drinking sitting in the grass or on benches. Here nobody bothers them, despite the ‘5th district rule of no drinking on the streets’.
Liberty Bridge Takeover! – 4 times in 2018, Ever since a construction of tram lines several years ago, Liberty Bridge was closed and given to the pedestrians and bikers. This resulted in people overtaking the bridge entirely, for leisure, yoga classes and huge gatherings, parties. Since the locals wanted to keep the bridge it is closed for the weekends the Liberty Bridge will be traffic free in 2018.