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Can’t talk right now, having a beer in the coolest bar(s) in Budapest.

Let’s face it, you have not experienced the culture and authenticity of Budapest unless you’ve had a beer (or a glass of wine) in an old, shabby-chic underground bar, better known as a ‘ruin bar’. Famous not for the quality of their drinks, but for their over the top, colourful and unexpected decor, providing an ecstatic experience like no other.

What even is a ruin bar? The phenomenon began in the 2000s, by a group of young men who were just looking for a cheap place to drink. Deep inside the history-filled Jewish quarter of Budapest, inside the crumbling post-war buildings, battered bricks, and graffiti, the shabby-chic bars were born. Old, abandoned buildings were transformed into wildly decked-out bars, decorated with unexpected (and, at times, questionable) objects found on the streets and flea markets, with layers of spontaneous detailing.

Each ruin bar has its own personality and vibe, but all follow the same basic principles: an old abandoned place, filled with hip, artsy and funky bar setups, bustling with crowds talking and dancing in a laid-back atmosphere. But the ruin bars are more than just a ‘cheap place to drink’ - the environment is an unforgettable one. People from all walks of life come together to this pleasantly chaotic atmosphere to connect with each other and disconnect from the crazies of the city and everyday lives. Other than extraordinary underground bars, tourists can also find regular farmers’ markets, flea markets, live music events, film screenings and much more.

Here are some of the famous, and most recommended ruin bars!

Szimpla Kert Szimpla Kert is one of the oldest ruin bars in Budapest, and a bar like no other. It is considered one of the most famous and most extraordinary ruin bars in the city. Overloaded with picture-worthy decor, vibrant, colourful detailing, and quirky rooms, each having its own unique theme and personality. The bar is filled with vibrant colours and an absolute overload of odds and ends.

Instant & Fogas Haz Instant & Fogas Ház isn't just your ordinary ruin bar, it is a massive venue featuring over a dozen bars and dance floors. An enormous building was converted to six bars, three dance floors, two gardens, with a spectacular decor covering each space. For those who love to boogie, it is the dancing go-to since it is so spacious, compared to other ruin bars.

Grandio For those looking for a chilled out ‘traditional’ concept, the Ruin Bar Grandio is the go-to. The inner courtyard was covered so thickly with plantain-like plants that the usual, old furniture and decor placed amongst them had to be separated into small, intimate spaces. The outcome is a ‘jungle in the city’ bar with an alternative twist. The venue also has a hostel above the bar, for those who wish to have the full and immersive ‘ruin bar experience’.

Mazel Tov Located in the Old Jewish Quarter, Mazel Tov is one of the newest ruin bars of Budapest, offering an upscale ruin bar experience. It has been widely popular, the tables are booked

out every day. The restaurant serves traditional Israeli and Mediterranean dishes, and although it still upholds the concept of a ruin bar, an upscale twist was added to the venue. Cheap drinks have been upgraded to cocktails, sandwiches to mezze plates, the old shabby furniture has also been changed to a thoughtful, industrial-chic design with cosy lights and wooden panelling.

( Due to its popularity, it is recommended to book a reservation before arriving)

So what are you waiting for? Grab your dancing shoes and check out Budapest’s awesome ruin bars - you won’t regret it!

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