Discover the best bars in Budapest with our guide to bar-hopping in the Hungarian capital. Whether you’re looking for a stylish spot to enjoy a glass of wine or want to hang out with the city’s trendiest crowd, Budapest’s bars have something for everyone. Step back in time and experience the city’s rich history while enjoying a drink or two on a boozy tour of beautiful Budapest.
High Note SkyBar, Aria Hotel
In the last few years, Budapest has been getting extremely chic – so chic, in fact, it’s like Communism never happened, which is exactly how the Hungarians like it. Oh, those Russians. This gorgeous boutique hotel, “inspired by music” is the last word in 21st- century super-luxe, attracting the bold and the beautiful, with a spectacular roof-terrace High Note SkyBar created for drinking the kind of cocktails drunk by men in sharp suits and women in red lipstick. Slap bang next to the magnificent St Stephen’s Basilica, the hotel, located on the Pest side of the Danube River, has magnificent views across the city’s rooftops to Old Buda illuminated on the hill. On a warm night full of possibilities, with the city lit up before you, this is the perfect spot for a glass of Champagne.
Head to: Hercegprímás utca 5, Budapest
Budapest is famous for its ‘ruin’ bars – cool, edgy, off-the-cuff places created from old, run-down, warren-like buildings, often with courtyards and gardens. Drinking in one of them is a bit like being a student again, roughing it for a bit of grungey glamour with the cool kids Szimpla Kert was one of the early ones, tapping into the city’s growing confidence and desire to create an alternative cultural life for its young people. It’s a bit out-there, a bit bonkers, but great fun as you wander about, wondering what’s around the next corner, in the next room, or even above your head. A garden twinkling with fairylights, cars made into tables and acid-trip graffiti all help to discombobulate and add to the fun. Above all, it’s cheap, buzzy, friendly and great for people-watching.
Head to: Kazinczy utca 14, Budapest
A gorgeous little red-brick wine bar with vaulted ceilings in the famous Jewish district, Doblo is one of the great finds in Budapest. It changes in atmosphere throughout the day, but is best experienced at night, when it is warm, with a low-key buzz and cosy, intimate corners by candlelight. Ambience aside, this place knows its wines, so take the time to discover some Hungarian beauties that will shock and impress with their smooth sophistication. The handsome bearded owner is as big as a bear, speaks excellent English and is extremely knowledgeable about everything that will touch your lips. Don’t miss a night of wine tasting in Doblo; the tourists don’t know about this place, as they’re too busy hanging out in cool ruin bars, but if you’re looking for terrific wine, top tunes and a little bit of Budapest romance, this is it. There are also cocktails and tasty little plates for two.
Head to: Dob utca 20, Budapest
New York Cafe
This place is so magnificently grand, it’s like having a cocktail in St Peter’s Basilica. Never will you sip a cocktail somewhere so ornate, amongst so much marble and gilt. Opened in 1894, in Hungary’s golden age, the New York Cafe once served society’s chicest – the artists, writers, thinkers, nobility and great beauties of the day. It outlived the two world wars, the revolution of 1956, fell into disrepair in the dark days of Communism, then became a sports shop, until finally in 2006 it was restored to its former glory. All soaring ceilings, frescoes and plush velvet, this Italian Renaissance-style building is a very special place, and to drink here is to get a glimpse of an older, more elegant age. In days gone by it was called the Most Beautiful Coffee House in The World, and deservedly so. Off-the-scale fabulous.
Head to: Erzsébet körút 9-11, Budapest
Another ruin bar, Koleves Kert (Stone Soup Garden) is the reinvention, the next chapter, ruin bar 2.0 if you like, taking things to the next level. It still has the mismatched, slightly chaotic feel, but it’s actually very together and thoughtful, incorporating an excellent restaurant, a lovely open-air pub and even an apartment where you can stay. This is a gorgeous alfresco place for drinks in summer with its laid-back ambience and shabby-chic charm, and even its cute website is a lot of fun.
Head to: Kazinczy utca 41, Budapest
Our guide to Budapest for couples highlights the city’s stunning architecture, romantic restaurants with live gypsy music, and intimate atmosphere. Known as the “Paris of the East,” Budapest is a must-visit destination for any couple looking for a romantic escape. Read our guide now to plan your own romantic adventure in this beautiful city.