I really wanted to visit Budapest as I’d heard some great things about the growing beer scene as well as there being lots of touristy things to do. Budapest is a great city; large, eclectic, relaxed, beautiful and welcoming. We fit a lot into our trip; boat trips down the Danube, the Castle, St. Stephen’s Basilica, Fisherman’s Bastian and a trip to Margaret Island to name a few. We did, unsurprisingly, also find time for beer.
Here is a list of bars that we managed to visit, breweries to look out for and a few other things to do if you decide to visit the wonderful city of Budapest.
Hops Beer Bar
This was one of our favourite bars from the holiday. We headed here three times in four nights. It had a great local vibe to the place, with eight taps and a big Belgian beer selection in the fridges. They also had a lot of Brewdog and a large amount of Tempest, which was one of a very small handful of places in Budapest to stock any UK beer. We came across a beer from our (yet undiscovered) favourite Hungarian Brewery here; Brew Your Mind. The beer was ‘Peach Please’, an American IPA and was absolutely delicious. Just what we wanted to quench our thirst during the muggy Budapest evenings.
Labor only opened in September 2017 and is a fun/quirky/gimmicky craft beer bar, but in a really un-naff way. It still had a unassuming, low key feel about it and certainly didn’t disappoint when it came to quality of the beer. For 1000 FUT (about £3) deposit you can have your beer served in a conical flask. This bar on the top floor of Szimpla Kert is run by Mad Scientist Brewery. The beers are listed above the bar as items on the periodic table and the bar staff are wearing white lab coats and safety goggles. I’m not sure whether in England this would have come across as anything more than a bit of a draw to disguise over-priced, low quality beer. This certainly wasn’t the case here – the beer was excellent and the crowd seemed to be there for that very reason. We loved it and would recommend it as a must visit for anyone visiting Budapest.
This is not really a place you will find any good beer (aside from Labor), but head upstairs grab a conical and go for a wander round. This is a classic ruin pub that opened in 2002. Here you will find little rooms crammed with various bars serving cocktails, spirits etc. It’s a really popular touristy place but still worth the visit. Go a bit earlier if you don’t like it too busy. The music is good and there are a million different things to look at attached to the walls and ceiling.
Csak a jo sor (means ‘Only Good Beer’)
This place is a bottle shop with six taps of amazing beer. It’s one of those places that you will go and never want to leave. Pricing is all relative to what the locals earn, but it didn’t half seem cheap here. Like a few places you will encounter when visiting the city, there is a certain mix and match with the furnishings to the place adding to the relaxed atmosphere. You will find a mix of local and beer from afar gracing the taps. When we visited we were lucky enough to be drinking Selassie on tap. The shop closes at 9pm and we only managed to fit in a couple of hours. If you can, go earlier in the afternoon and give it a bit of time – well worth the stay.
As Csak a jo sor is only open 2pm-9pm they have a larger premises round the corner that is their bar; Hopaholic. The tap list is bigger, there are more fridges but it still has a bit of a bottle shop feel. Before our visit Leanne had seen Thai Speedway Stout was on tap and was desperate to try it. Luckily it was still on and we managed to have a couple of small glasses! One thing we did notice was that the turnover of beer wasn’t even close to that in the UK. The Speedway was on a couple of weeks before our visit and was still on when we left. I can’t imagine that would have hung around had it been on in Leeds.
Most people in Csak a jo sor headed over the road to Kandallo at closing time to carry on their evening of beer indulgence. This place has ten taps of all local brews. The staff were really friendly here and there looked to be dinning space upstairs.
Like Labor, Polyhistor, is a new opening for 2017. They opened back in April and are located a ten minute walk away from most of the other bars on our list, but it’s most definitely worth walking out to. Very unassuming from the outside, you walk through a narrow door, down the wooden staircase where the place opens up and you enter the basement bar. The owners were really passionate about the beer and insisted we have tasters before making a decision on what to drink. We got talking to a local in here, Zoltan, had a couple of beers and chatted about each of our beer travels and the beer scene in Hungary. It made for a really interesting evening, we almost didn’t want to leave. We really hope this place does well and becomes a prominent venue for great beer in Budapest.
We didn’t visit many bars on the Buda side of the river, but this one was great! I pretty much had to drag Leanne away when it was time to leave. Serving Belgian beer and food it was like we had been transported away from Hungary and straight into Belgium. A great menu and wonderful atmosphere makes this a must visit.
Jonas Craft Beer House
Back on the Pest side of the river past the Central Market, you will find Jonas.
We went during the day and were fortunate that the weather was glorious so we were able to sit out. People watching by the river with a beer is a perfect way to spend an afternoon in Budapest. The inside of the bar does feel a little soulless and cold. It’s a bit industrial like some of the Brewdog venues but you won’t get a better view sat outside. The beer selection is rather good, with most of the taps dedicated to Rekeyte. We had some great beers from these guys when we were there, their lager was perfect for the day.
Eleszto is another ruin bar towards the south of the city. It’s a 15 minute walk from Jonas and is a nice walk through the built up back streets. Here you will find over 20 taps of local beer. Having read up on this place I was really looking forward to checking out the cask bar as Roger Protz even wrote about it, but unfortunately it was not open. We were here in the afternoon shortly after opening but I’m sure it came to life as the day went on.
A steampunk saloon. What is not to love! Great decor inside and like most places, the food looked brilliant. The beer list may not be the best in town, but it is definitely worth visiting.
Start Craft Beer Bar
An interesting bar located next door to Karavan street food market. From the outside it may not look like much, but inside there is a great bottle selection and a small tap selection of great local beer. Call in for one and make your own mind up.
This is not an extensive list of places to go, there are a lot more places to look out for. Part of the fun of going somewhere new is walking into random bars and potentially finding a hidden gem, but these were our favourites.
Neked Csak Deszo
This place may pop up on a few articles as a place to visit, but when we visited in in Oct 2017 this is now closed down unfortunately.
There are over 130 active breweries in Hungary, here are the ones that we got round to trying: Monyo, Mad Scientist, Brew Your Mind, Reketye, Horizont, Csupor, Roth Beer.
Stand-outs for us were Mad Scientist and Brew Your Mind. Brew Your Mind have started canning, so who knows, we may seem them hit our shores soon.
There are plenty of places to eat in Budapest with a massive focus being on BURGERS. Burgers are everywhere. We stuck with our usual eating style of grabbing some street food or a bite to eat at a bar. Sure there are more formal dinning alternatives but here is where we enjoyed eating.
This is a street food market next door to Szimpla Kert. There are nine food traders here and this style of eating is our favourite. As a result we ate here a grand total of five times, three times from the pizza/pasta place because they had so much to offer. The pasta was the most wonderful post-drinking midnight snack we’ve ever had.
Tuning Beer and Burger
As previously mentioned, burger joints are everywhere in the city and Tuning Burger Bar pops up in the top 10 of places to eat when in Budapest. Leanne’s mum and dad went here in 2016 and loved it, so we had to go. Probably one of the biggest burgers I’ve ever seen! To add to the dining experience they have a TV and a projector showing #livescenes of them cooking your burger.
Tips & Tricks
You wont find many places on Twitter, if you do they aren’t very active. After speaking to a local we found that no-one in Budapest really uses it. Their main social media outlets are Facebook and Foursquare. Most places will have a Facebook account. For all the Untappd geeks out there, there are quite a few places that are a verified venue so you can keep up to date with what’s on the taps.
When to go
Don’t go in the summer, it will be far too hot (unless you like that kinda thing but Leanne’s a ginger so it’s an absolute no go for us). October – May would be our recommendation. It was 20c at the back end of October when we went, shorts and t-shirt weather day and night.
Transfer from the Airport
There is a shuttle bus that won’t cost you a lot, but it is a fair trek from the Airport to the City. A taxi will set you back around £20, depending where you stay and are very easy to use. As soon as you walk out of Departures at the Airport you will see a Taxi Booth, they ask where you are going, give you a ticket with an estimated price and your taxi then shows up. We tend to use public transport for our airport transfers when we travel but would really recommend taxi’s in Budapest as the city is so vast.
We’re not going to tell you what touristy things to go see as everyone likes different things and most places of interest can be found in the usual travel guides. An exception to this rule is Margaret Island. A lovely lush green space located in the middle of the Danube between Buda and Pest, no cars are allowed here so the air feels completely different to being in the City (it was quite smoggy). Hire a bike and get exploring, look out for the musical fountain too!
This is most definitely going to sound like an anal thing to mention, but before you go make a note of what you want to do and see. Budapest is a massive city so you may well find yourself missing something if you just go wondering aimlessly about. On the first full day we were there we walked over 9 miles, so get some comfy shoes!
Before you go, make sure you Google opening and closing times for each bar. They are all quite irregular. Also, some places may be closed on a Sunday and/or Monday.
Would we go again to Budapest? Probably not, we managed to do most of the things we had planned. Would we recommend it? Most definitely. We enjoyed our trip so much and it was great to visit somewhere new.