When I travelled to Budapest for the first time,
I knew I wanted to experience a ‘ruin bar’– a unique part of the city’s nightlife. Even if you’re not someone who generally
likes to go out when you’re travelling, I promise a ruin bar is well worth a visit. So what is a ruin bar? Well the accepted origin story seems to go
that around the early 2000s a bunch of young people were on the look out
for cheap places to go out and have a drink. The solution was abandoned buildings and empty lots
being furnished with random odds and ends and turned into bars where you could go
and enjoy yourself without spending a fortune. Now ruin bars are super popular and, while these establishments
might look dilapidated on the exterior, inside they are a tangle of antiques, graffiti, art, and treasures you might discover
in a junkyard or your great aunt’s attic. Each ruin bar has its own vibe
and some feel more authentic than others. Marc and I visited 7 of them
and in this video I’m going to show you around. These are in no particular order EXCEPT that
I’m saving the best (and first-ever ruin bar) for last. Let’s work our way up to that, shall we? The first ruin bar we visited is called Kuplung and the name – which means ‘clutch’ in Hungarian – reveals the building’s history:
it’s a repurposed automotive repair shop. The entrance off the street is down a long tunnel. The jellyfish-like lanterns and huge whale hanging from the ceiling are your first clues that
the theme here is under the sea. There’s a large room in the back for dancing plus a foosball table
where I played an imaginary opponent. We headed to the main bar area
to order drinks and food and, as you’ll know if you’ve seen my past videos,
I don’t usually like beer but the bartender offered to give me
a sample of a fruit flavoured brew. Where’s this one from? It’s a Belgian. Belgian, okay. Something that tastes less like beer
and more like cherry is pretty much the perfect beer for me. Oh that’s good. Yeah, it’s good. It doesn’t taste like beer. One of the most popular Hungarian beers
is called Soproni and a small costs about $1.30USD and a large is just $2USD. And, of course, you always have to have a cheers. How do you say cheers in your country? Let me know and let’s raise a glass
down in the comment section. After looking over the menu
and each deciding what we wanted, we went to the courtyard because
the food is prepared at a kitchen there. Do you need this…or? Thank you. So we picked up our order
and I managed to carry it back without incident. Marc got the Kuplung burger with onion rings and I ordered goulash that came with bread which was great for slurping up extra soup. Kuplung was uncrowded with friendly people – a great introduction to Budapest ruin bars. Next up is Udvar Rom. This ruin bar is connected to a hostel
which means it’s full of travellers so if you want to meet other people visiting the city,
this is a good place to look. The main space is the courtyard of the building
that has long wooden tables and a gigantic pair of lips sucking on a straw. I loved the newspapers all over the ceiling
of one of the smaller rooms where you’ll also find games. This bar is simple and basic in exactly the way ruin bars are intended to be. If Udvar Rom is paired back then the next place
is at the complete other end of the spectrum. It’s called Instant and it has more than 20 rooms
spread between two former tenement buildings. It’s so big that it doesn’t feel right
to just call it a ruin bar: it has multiple bars, lounges, dance floors with different DJs, game rooms, indoor and outdoor spaces, and even its own pizza bar. It’s suuuuper popular and it’s easy to see why people are lined up around the block to get in here. Instant is the kind of club where you can
come with a group of friends, split up, and then all have a totally different night
to talk about when you meet up again later. If you and your friends can’t decide where to go,
go to Instant and I think you’ll all be happy. There are tons of fun details everywhere you look and different themes all over. I especially love the circus area and the woman flying endlessly on the trapeze. I also like the Budapest Room, the huge wall of international postage stamps, and, of course, the globe lamps. Another favourite are the screens that feel like
you’re looking out airplane windows passing by random things. Instant is a great spot all around
but especially if you want to dance. For dancing this is my top pick. One of the ruin bars I was most
excited for initially is called Corvin. It sits at the top of the former Corvin department store and I thought it looked so cool from the outside because I was imagining that the club
would take up the entire building and be full of old mannequins
and cash registers or something. Once we got inside, however,
I realized that it’s only the top floor which used to be a storage area
before being turned into a club. We climbed a bunch of stairs and discovered
that Corvin was almost completely dead. As in we were literally some of
the only people there other than staff. We weren’t there that early
so I have no idea why it was so quiet but it’s not what we were hoping for. We climbed more stairs up to the roof
and found it equally as empty. Apparently they do rooftop cinema nights here,
though, which would be wonderful. It’s a bit spooky in a way being in a deserted club so we didn’t stay very long. But when it’s full, I bet it’s
a really fun place to go dancing. If you’re more into arcade games than dancing
then Füge Udvar is the ruin bar for you. It’s super laid back and unpretentious
with long tables full of people chatting. There are lots of different games here like Power Pong and – one of my personal favourites – pinball. Lots of pinball machines to choose from actually. We didn’t have any money for the games but that didn’t stop Marc from hopping
into the driver’s seat of a racing game. Füge Udvar also has the cheapest drinks we saw:
a small beer here was just over $1USD. The most modern-feeling ruin bar
I went is called Doboz and, for whatever reason, there weren’t many people there this night either. This used to be a residential building and the modern-feeling interior is a surprising contrast to the more beat up looking exterior. The best part is the courtyard where lights
change colour and the crowning glory is a giant sculpture that looks like a robot
or a gorilla hugging a tree that is apparently 320 years old. There are lots of food and drink options here but it wasn’t as unique feeling
as some of the other ruin bars we visited. In a way, the interior rooms feel more like
they could be at any club anywhere in the world if you know what I mean. I loved the big sculpture, though,
and I’m sure that in warm weather when there are loads of people in the courtyard
it’d be a great space to hang out. I promised to show you my favourite ruin bar
so here it is – I’ve saved the best for last. It’s an old stove factory called Szimpla Kert and it’s Budapest’s first ruin bar – the original, the genuine article, and the one credited with starting
the whole ruin bar scene. You’ll find all sorts of people here – lots of travellers, some locals, younger people,
older people (there’s even a senior’s discount!) – but mostly you’ll just find A LOT of people. Szimpla Kert is contained chaos and it’s
shoulder to shoulder throughout most of the space. There are lots of different areas and rooms
and each one has its own character. Everywhere you look are random,
unexpected things to rest your eyes on: old school computer monitors
suspended from the ceiling, welding masks that light up, gigantic bunny rabbits, graffiti, live fish swimming in a tank, random art everywhere AND a mannequin! I finally found my mannequin after being disappointed that Corvin, that former department store,
didn’t have any. Clearly I watched too much Today’s Special as a kid – by the way, if you don’t know that show it’s about a mannequin that comes to life
in a store after hours and it’s amazing. Google it! Anyway there are different bars around Szimpla Kert like a wine bar, a hookah bar, and a bar that feels like a chemistry lab or a pharmacy. In one of the outdoor spaces
an amazing animated movie about mice was being projected onto the wall
from up on the second floor. If you know where this film is from please tell me! I thought it was adorable and I have no idea what it is. There are different DJs around as well as live music. It doesn’t feel overly curated or art directed
which is exactly why people love it and it’s easy to understand
how this was the ruin bar that started it all. You can just go inside
and wander around if you feel like it and if you only visit one ruin bar –
just to see what it’s like – then this should be it. It feels unique but, as a point of reference,
it did remind me a bit of going out in Berlin to places that are crumbling
and weird in the best way. Ruin bars are definitely part of Budapest culture now and it’s really fun to see how the city changes
and comes to life after dark. I hope you enjoyed this video and seeing how
the need for cheap places to have a drink has evolved into different styles of ruin bars
that are now the cornerstone of Budapest nightlife. I’d love to hear what you guys think so let me know your thoughts
on the concept of ruin bars, which one in this video you liked the best, and whether you like to go out
at night in general when you’re travelling. I made a whole series of videos in Budapest
so I’ll link those as well. Don’t forget to subscribe to my channel
and like this video, if you enjoyed it. Thanks for watching!