The Best Bar in Budapest: Szimpla Kert Ruin Pub

Szimpla Kert Pub is one of the best experiences in the world when it comes to bars, let alone Budapest. It’s something that’s truly unique and must be seen in person to fully understand what I mean by this.

Spanning 7 or so rooms, multiple floors, and many, many bars, Szimpla is the best place to have a good time in Budapest. Located in the Ruin Pub, or Jewish quarter, of Budapest, Hungary, Szimpla is the one place in the entire Hungarian capital that seems to go off.

Every. Single. Night.

szimpla kert entrance

Looks pretty calm and normal during the day, doesn’t it? Well, starting at around 7pm the “dinner” crowd comes in.

There’s not really a food menu at Szimpla Kert, but many people come in for a bit of pre-dinner beer or something of the sort. It’s simply such a cool environment that everyone wants to come hang out.

What time does the real party start? It varies from night to night. Friday and Saturdays you’l probably find that it’s a little bit later – but not much. Obviously with no work or school on Saturday and Sunday mornings, these nights tend to start a bit later and go on much later.

NOTE: Szimpla closes earlier than many of the bars and clubs in the main area of town – read on to find out more about them.

Weeknights are almost always busy, but you probably won’t find it to be quite as crazy.

Locals or Tourists in Szimpla Kert?

It’s almost all tourists. Let that be clear right now. You don’t head to this bar to mingle with the locals and have a good time.

No, you go to this bar to get drunk and party. The locals have been doing that their whole lives – they think the tourists flocking to Szimpla every night are stupid.

Whether or not it is stupid is up for debate, but I will say that it’s at least worth trying once if you’re headed to Budapest.

In fact, if you’re over 18, it’s one of those MUST-DO things while you’re in the Hungarian capital.

szimpla kert mario
I took Mario to Szimpla Kert and he liked it too, haha.

Yes, it is one of those made-for tourists places and you know that before you go there – but unlike many tourist traps out there, this one is not really a trap. It’s an enjoyable experience in itself – and still a chance to mingle, even though not with locals.

In the end, for a single fun night, tourists might be better suited than locals… so definitely all options are on the table when and if you visit.

NOTE: You don’t really have to be fresh out of college to enjoy the place. While the audience is indeed younger, it doesn’t mean that older people shouldn’t visit. Szimpla is like a tourist attraction right now and everybody’s welcome!

Word of caution about Szimpla Kert

This is far from anything you’d consider a luxury destination or a place you visit for its culture. It’s pretty much the opposite.

You are in the “Ruin Pubs” district and it does look like a ruin in most cases.

You’ll see all sorts of stencils and scribbles and drawings on the walls. The place seems to be about to fall apart.

But this is how it has to be. This is part of its charm. But it’s clearly not for everybody

szimpla bathroom
Women’s bathroom in Szimpla

Best recommendation I could make? Go ahead and visit first during the day. Go there in the afternoon, when the crowds are still not that huge. Get a feel of the place.

And imagine it will be 100x times crazier in the evenings.

But most important: see if its style fits yours. As I have said it before and as it has to be said: Szimpla is definitely not a place everybody will enjoy. If you’re into higher brow, more luxuriant places, this one has to be avoided.

More local alternatives to Szimpla Kert

You’re best off heading to the club district if you prefer to get a bit away from the tourists and mingle with locals.

Have in mind that Budapest is extremely touristy and you have the chance of meeting more foreigners than locals anywhere you go – especially in the city center and the very popular clubs. It’s just the way it is, and in my opinion it’s not a bad thing at all.

My personal favorite spots in that area are Kraft and Otkert. It’s much more of a clubbing scene. You’re going to find loud music, packed dance floors, and a cover charge to get in. This is where you have better chances of starting a relationship with a Hungarian woman instead of a foreigner.

Here’s a general map of the two districts, with the club district on the westward end of the picture (near the banks of the Danube) and the ruin pub district to the east.

szimpla kert map
Image via Google Maps

That won’t be the case with the ruin pubs around the Jewish Quarter, which is where Szimpla is.

In addition, the club scene tends to be much more against English. Whereas you’ll really only hear English in places like Szimpla, some local Hungarians may want nothing to do with you if you don’t speak their language. It’s just part of the deal of being a foreigner in what is a very touristic city.

For more things to do in Budapest, check out this article.

You’ll Find Everyone In Szimpla

I spent ten days in Budapest recently and went to Szimpla most nights. Apart from the obvious damage to my liver, I did find that I met people from everywhere around the world.

Mexico. Korea. Australia. Canada. Argentina.

You name it, I bet most countries in the world have been represented at Szimpla at one point or another.

Everyone is eager to meet their fellow travelers and share stories. And really – isn’t that what the beauty of travel is all about? Of course it is. And this is one of the many things that makes Szimpla beautiful.

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