I couldn’t leave Budapest without writing about an essential aspect of the local drinking culture, the city’s ruin pubs.
Over the last 15 years or so a number of pubs have opened in buildings that were due to be destroyed, such as tenement houses and abandoned factories. They were equipped with furnishings from old community centres, cinemas and flats to create a unique retro feeling.
It didn’t take long for these ruin pubs to become extremely popular amongst the city’s drinkers. However, they take a bit of work to keep track of as they will often move around or close for a few years then reopen in a new place.
Not only do they offer a great place to drink and meet like-minded people, but they also function as film clubs, theatres, host concerts and exhibitions and sometimes creative workshops as well.
A nice thing about them is that no two ruin pubs are the same. For instance, in ‘Szimpla Kert’ (Simple Garden) you can have a beer in a cannibalised old Trabant car. In ‘Instant’ you can get lost in the maze of the tenement house while in ‘Kertem’ (My Garden) you get a sense of what it would have been like in a socialist beer-garden in the 1980s.