The Hidden Nightlife of Budapest’s Ruin Pubs

The open air portion of one of Budapest's ruin pubs with colored lights and a cosmopolitan crowd.
Szimpla Kert was the ruin pub that started them all. Photo © Daniel Edwins, licensed Creative Commons Attribution Share-alike.

Rom Kocsma (Ruin Pubs)

Travel map of Budapest, Hungary
Rom Kocsma or “Ruin pubs” are drinking holes that spring up unannounced and without any form of advertising in the courtyards and gardens of unused or condemned buildings.

A ruin pub can range from three-level affairs to 10-room party fests, and while some last a mere month or two, others flourish, catching on with the locals and revitalizing what was once a quiet and mostly ignored residential street.

Seeing as they’re all unmarked, the only way to identify a ruin pub is by observing two common telltale signs: people drifting in and out of a sketchy building with plastic cups of beer, and a beefy guy incessantly hushing people so as to not disturb the neighborhood’s residents.

Crowds tend to be young and cosmopolitan, drinks are on the cheap side, the furniture a ragtag assortment of loose odds and ends, and once inside, you may very well find yourself in the middle of a dance party, an alternative art exhibit, or both.

Excerpted from the Third Edition of Moon Prague & Budapest.