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Jan 07, 2019

CNN takes readers on a tour of the best bars in Budapest

CNN Travel correspondent Nathan Kay takes readers on a tour of the best bars in Budapest

Budapest is renowned the world over for its ruin bars, but is fast becoming known for its high-end bars and rooftop venues.

CNN Travel correspondent Nathan Kay takes readers on a tour of the best bars in Budapest, from the exclusive High Note Skybar at the Aria Hotel, to the bar and lobby lounge at the Four Seasons.

What’s more, there are plenty of stand out watering holes dotted around the city, with the 6th district boasting some of the best bars, pubs and clubs in Europe.

Ruin bars

It's funny that they call them "ruin bars" -- because for their founders, the venues generally lead to good fortune.

It started around 2001, so the story goes, with a bunch of young men looking for cheap places to drink. From their thirst and shallow pockets, some of the most lively and stylish places to drink in Budapest were born -- the so-called ruin bars.

Derelict buildings and unused outdoor spaces have been transformed into friendly, pleasingly chaotic bars where you can still get a large beer for less than $2.

Szimpla Kert

Szimpla Kert was the first ruin bar and remains iconic, it moved around before settling into its home in the Jewish Quarter of Budapest's 7th district in 2004.

It hosts a regular farmers' market and flea market, while live music and film screenings are also a regular feature.

Delicious pizzas served from a wood-fired oven are available at very reasonable prices.

Szimpla Kert has classic ruin pub traits: willfully mismatched furniture that's seen better days, artwork that some annoying customers have a habit of taking home without and a garden where you can catch the sun during the summer months.

Unlike other ruin pubs, Szimpla Kert has an old Trabant car in the garden that doubles as a table and chairs

Cigarette smoke takes up the place of the exhaust fumes and the ambience harks back to an era when the bloc was under communist times.

Szimpla Kert, Budapest, Kazinczy u. 14, 1075; +36 20 261 8669

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Racskert

Just a few minutes' walk away is one of the area's more recent ruin pubs, Racskert.

A big, ramshackle garden bar in a disused parking lot -- it's a plain spot, with none of the artful disorder of Szimpla.

Water cisterns recycled as lamps provide the illumination, while a mobile burger van serves snacks from the Bosnian Serb owner's homeland.

Racskert, Budapest, Dob u. 40-42, 1072; +36 70 428 1517

Ellato Kert & Taqueria  

There's a Mexican feel to Ellato Kert & Taqueria, a large garden filled with brightly painted tables -- helped, no doubt, by the tacos and tortillas on the menu.

Ellato Kert & Taqueria, Budapest, Kazinczy u. 48, 1075; +36 20 527 3018

Instant and Fogas

Once one of the more popular ruin bars in Budapest, the old Instant bar situated on Nagymező street was bulldozed in 2017 to make way for a new apartment block.

The venue then teamed up with Fogas club to form the largest ruin bar complex in Budapest.

Now situated in Akácfa utca, it opens until 6 a.m. each morning and is always full of partygoers and clubbers, who can alternate between the many bar and dance areas within its large building.

Instant and Fogas, Budapest, Akácfa u. 49-51; +36 30 123 4567

Anker't

One of the most popular party venues in the city, Anker't is essentially a large courtyard surrounded by bars, dance rooms and a snack area.

Often packed with partygoers, the bar has themed nights on Thursday, Friday and Saturday, with a great DJ to party the night away.

Anker't, Budapest, Paulay Ede u. 33, 1061; +36 30 360 3389

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Rooftop bars

360 Bar

Budapest's 360 Bar is one of the best places to experience, you guessed it, a 360-degree view of the city.

Accessed via Andrassy Avenue, it's a popular spot throughout the year, especially in the summer months.

Top cocktails and bar snacks fill the menu, while a whole host of friendly staff are on hand to ensure you have the best time possible.

360 Bar, Budapest, Andrássy út 39, 1061; +36 30 356 3047

High Note SkyBar at the Aria Hotel

The Aria Hotel plays host to one of the more spectacular rooftop bars in the city.

Nestled in the heart of the 5th district, the High Note SkyBar provides direct views over the nearby Basilica building and is a great spot for taking pictures.

High Note SkyBar at the Aria Hotel, Budapest, Hercegprímás u. 5, 1051; +36 1 445 4055

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Accessed via Vörösmarty Square, this rooftop bar is a fabulous drinking spot in both the summer and winter months.

With an array of cocktails on the menu as well as delicious Irish coffees, you'll likely find yourself staying far longer than intended.

  1. Budapest, Deák Ferenc utca 5, 1052; +36 30 300 3930

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High-end bars

The Bar and Lobby Lounge at the Four Seasons

The bar at the Four Seasons is one of the places to be seen at this exclusive Budapest hotspot.

Most celebrities stay at this hotel while filming is taking place in the city, so you could spot Jennifer Lawrence or Jude Law sipping a cocktail at the bar.

The Bar & Lobby Lounge, Four Seasons Budapest, Budapest, Széchenyi István tér 5, 1051; +36 1 268 6000

Kupola Bar at The Ritz-Carlton

Relatively new on the Budapest bar scene, the interior of this cocktail bar has been given a five-star makeover.

The cocktails available range anywhere from a Tom Collins to a Moscow Mule, and if you can't find what you're looking for, the barman can rustle it up for you.

The Ritz-Carlton, Budapest, Erzsébet tér 9-10, 1051; +36 1 429 5500

Blue Fox The Bar at the Kempinski

Blue Fox The Bar at the Kempinski is one of the more quirky high-end bar experiences in Budapest.

Popular with tourists,it offers up a selection of delicious cocktails and bar snacks, accompanied by moody lighting, and is a cool place to chill with friends.

Kempinski Hotel Corvinus Budapest, Budapest, Erzsébet tér 7, 1051; +36 1 429 3777

Mid-range bars

Boutiq' Bar

Boutiq' Bar has been voted among the top 50 cocktail bars in the world and is certainly one to try while visiting Budapest.

This stunning bar offers an interesting selection of drinks and cocktails, accompanied by a devilishly red interior that will leave you feeling mischievous enough to delve into the menu.

Boutiq' Bar, Budapest, Paulay Ede u. 5, 1061; +36 30 554 2323

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Farm Gastrobar

This cute city hideaway serves impressive cocktails and bar snacks.

With a cozy courtyard area teamed with two bar and seating areas serving bespoke cocktails and reasonably priced jugs, it's a fantastic hangout spot in both the summer and winter months.

Farm, Budapest, Ó u. 14, 1066; +36 30 622 7500

On a budget

Maláta Bisztró

One of the more quirky budget bars in the city, Maláta Bisztró always has a great atmosphere along with ridiculously cheap drinks -- many are less than $2.

Heaving throughout the year, this place gets especially busy in the summer months when the crowds spill out onto the street, creating a cool party vibe.

Maláta Bisztró, Budapest, Mátyás Utca 11., 1097; +36 70 630 8107

Hauzol Café

While it's a pretty basic bar,Hauzol Café is extremely popular with locals, expats and especially students.

The drink prices here are very reasonable and the vibe is pretty good, although the interior is a bit dated.

Hauzol Café, Budapest, 1073, Erzsébet krt. 26, 1073; +36 30 653 2965

Cheers Pub

One of the cheapest bars in Budapest, Cheers Pub is situated near the end of the popular Nagymező street, one of city's main party spots.

At around $1.50 a pint, you can't go wrong here.

Cheers Pub, Budapest, Nagymező u. 35, 1065, +36 70 660 0812

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