Szimpla Kert - Budapest’s Best Ruin Bar
Updated: Apr 15
When you think of Budapest’s night scene, it is impossible to leave out its vibrant ruin pubs and bars in the city. In the last decade, these ruin bars have transformed itself into a must-visit attraction that may be even more popular than the Hungarian Parliament Building, the Danube River, and Buda Castle.
Ruin bars are great examples of reutilising once abandoned city spaces and revitalising crumbling, almost debilitated buildings. Located within the inner part of Budapest’s VII District or also known as the Jewish Ghetto in the early 2000s, the ruin bars came to life after the deportation of 10,000 Jews post World War II when the founders of Szimpla decided to make Kazinczy Street the home of their bar, within a condemned building complex. In 2004, Szimpla Kert was a venture to offer the young locals in Budapest affordable drinks in a light-hearted, bohemian atmosphere. The owners then slowly brought in vintage and locally-designed furniture to decorate the venue. The style of the ruin bars is no style, as the mismatched furniture gives it an eclectic feel, providing visitors interesting views when they enter.
The success of Szimpla then sparked a wave of other bars opening up in the Jewish Historic Quarters, and later on lots of food and beverage options and even affordable international accommodation chains like Ibis Budapest City (which we stayed in!)! This iconic party place is definitely Budapest's most famous nightspot!
The Experience at Szimpla Kert
While it is still situated in a crumbly old building, the bar does not look in any way ancient. In fact, the plants and bright pounding lights within the complex adds a touch of modernity. The interior is a mash up of indoors and outdoors seating since a big part of the ruin bar involves having a broken roof in the building!
Szimpla Kert is now more than just a watering hole and both locals and foreigners head to district VII to snag some part of the action!
On most nights, especially weekends, you’ll find the bar packed with young people. Party-go-ers on a bar hop or just people chilling within the pub. Since it is so crowded, you can hardly find any seats within the bar and would fare better looking for a nice corner, perhaps close to the courtyard area to people-watch and spend time with your travelling partners.
Getting a drink involves serious tug-and-war battle as you‘ll have to somehow find your way to the bar to grab a drink. Since we were quite familiar with battling the crowds when in Singapore, this wasn’t that hard for us. For those who do not drink, not to worry, you could possibly just go in for a “tour”, walking in for a view and out without purchasing anything.
But if you do intend to stay, do get yourself a drink please. It is just awkward to be standing in a bar without anything and it may just ring some alarm bells.
The entire pub, even with the flickering lights, is rather dark so these pictures don’t do the atmosphere justice! Budapest’s ruin pubs are truly something unique and special and is a must-visit when in the Hungarian capital.
Some other great pubs other than Szimpla Kert include Doboz, for a more up-scale and modern experience! Have you been to a ruin pub in Budapest, Hungary? Or explored more interesting things to do in Budapest? Share with us your experience in the comments below!
Budapest, Kazinczy u. 14, 1075 Hungary
Nearest metro: Blaha Lujza tér
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