The best spots in Budapest for a drink

I spent almost three months in Budapest this summer, so I think it’s safe to say I found some cool spots over the few months I was there. I tended to avoid the more touristy places because not only were the prices cheaper but also the atmosphere much better.

 

1. Telep

Telep was hands down my favourite spot to grab a beer with friends and guests of the hostel where I worked whilst I was in Budapest. It doubled as an art gallery and a cafe so sometimes I’d grab a coffee (or beer) there during the day. The atmosphere feels very homely and the staff are super friendly. Each night there is a different DJ playing a set in the corner of the tiny bar. Often people spilled out into the street, which was why I liked this place so much. The open-air feel was really nice and due to the set-up of the windows it was possible to still here the music. It was only 500HUF for a standard beer which is around € 1.60 and much less than you would pay a stones throw away on Goszdu Udvar. It’s closed on Sundays but at least they are thinking of your hangover and giving you a day off 😉

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Telep: good crowd, cheap drinks and great atmosphere. 

 

 

2. Dürer Kert

If you’re willing head away from the Jewish Quarter and Old Town then you’ll spend a great night at Durer. This venue is home to some cool decor as well as a chilled out courtyard, trolley-bus-turned-seating area (yes) and various concert halls inside. You won’t find many tourists or even non-locals here which is great if you are looking to get away from the crowds and see a more authentic side of the city. There is always a great line-up of music and festivals going on and more often than not, entry will be free. Again, this is somewhere that you can also chill at during the day. Trolley-bus number 74 leaves from various stops in the centre of town and drops you off right outside which is ideal! A beer will set you back a mere 450HUF (€1.50).

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Perfect venue for drinking, eating and listening to live music.

 

3. Kőleves Kert

Whether you’re looking for a quick drink or looking for somewhere to spend at least a few hours then Kőleves is your place. With a relaxing garden out back and a restaurant inside, this place is ideal. You can find hammocks dotted around the garden which are for chilling with a book and a beer during the day. In the evening, the place is brought to life with cool lighting and large crowds creating a great atmosphere. This place is close to the touristy spots so you might find a few like-minded travelers but for sure still has a local feel to it. Again, like most places in Budapest, you are not going to break the bank here.

4. A38

A38 is one of the most unique places I’ve been to. It’s essentially a bar, restaurant and music venue all-in-one but not only that, it’s an old Soviet barge which rests on the banks of the Danube. I was lucky enough to see some great shows here. They always have a great programme going every month both during the day and at night so there is definitely something for everyone. Many people will spend some time on the banks just beside the venue before shows drinking their own beers which is a cool way to start the evening (not sure how fun this would be in winter though). You can get a beer here for a little as 590HUF (€1.90). Many of the shows are free and even if you’re not there for the music, the bar and restaurant are good too.

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A38: A unique experience

 

 

5. ELLÁTÓház

Now I did say that I tended to avoid the touristy spots – which is true for the most part – but we all have our guilty pleasures and ELLÁTÓház was definitely mine. Situated in the courtyard of a party hostel this is a great place to grab drinks until the early hours of the morning. Whether you’re looking for a party, open-mic or just somewhere to enjoy a few beers with friends, this is your place. Different events each night means that there’s never a boring night to be had here. It’s located in the heart of the Jewish Quarter and is easily accessible from most parts of the city. You’ll pay a little bit more for your drinks here but it’s to be expected given it’s location.

Budapest to Belgrade Night Train

I had a weekend off from work and thought I would head to Belgrade as I had heard some great things and was intrigued by this city that has belonged to numerous countries in the past century.

The easiest option from Budapest was to take a train and to save some money on accommodation I decided to take the night train.

After looking at some blog posts and forums about the night train, I was slightly nervous about the whole idea. The posts ranged from “infamous night train experience” to “avoid avoid avoid” and theft seemed to be a recurring theme. However, it was 26EUR for a return ticket and I thought it’d see for myself what all the fuss was about…

My experience was not like any of those that I had read. Those stories were either highly exaggerated or untrue. The train was super comfortable, albeit a tad slow but there was everything I needed – including power points to charge my phone! For the first 30 minutes or so, I was on edge looking for the “thiefs” I had heard about, however it was clear everyone was purely on the train for the same reason as I was. I sat next to a really friendly Hungarian and across from me were some old Serbian ladies who spent some time drinking Palinka (Hungarian national drink) and giggling about the stories they must have been sharing. Crossing at the border was very simple – show your passport and travel documents and you’ll be on your way. After drifting in and out of sleep for most of the night, I woke at around 5am to the most incredible sunrise, it really was special. An hour later I found myself in the Serbian capital ready to start the weekend.

I would urge you not to believe every bad story you read on the internet and actually live the experience for yourself before making your mind up. As I said, the night train was a great experience and one I would do again.

The price for a single ticket is 15EUR or you can buy and open return for 26EUR.

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View over the Sava River, Belgrade.

Budapest for backpackers.

So, last week whilst I should have been studying for my exams my inner-backpacker surfaced and I went to Budapest for 6 days instead. Smart idea, I know.

Budapest is an amazing city with tonnes to offer.

Where to stay

Deciding where to stay is always a difficult choice, especially with Budapest since there are so many places (hostels in particular) with 9/10+ ratings. However, I would look no further than Carpe Noctem Original (OG for short) – in other words the best fucking hostel on the planet. I’ve stayed at many hostels but I’d say there’s only one other than I’ve been to that comes remotely close to this place. It feels like you’re staying at a mate’s place for a few days not at a hostel. The staff are so cool and become more like friends. It’s also extremely easy to meet, well actually impossible to not meet people. There’s a different activity every day and night and even “family dinner” in the evening. Do no more research and book this fucking hostel!!! (It’s cheap too)

Things to do

Budapest is full of stuff to get up to so you’ll never be bored. If you’re not too hungover during the day, head over to the Buda side of town and see the Castle, Palace and Fisherman’s Bastion. These are all sick sites and will get you all da insta likes you could wish for.

If you’re staying at a hostel and especially a party hostel like OG, expect to start drinking alcohol at around 7pm or earlier. Each night activities can range from ruin bar crawls to boat parties and Spa parties (SPARTY!!!). I’d recommend doing all of these activities if time permits as they are awesome as fuck. The boat party was 7500 HUF which included a bottle of champagne and SPARTY was 12000HUF which was just a cover fee. During the day though, the thermal baths are only 4700HUF.

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At a PARTY on a BOAT with a whole bottle of CHAMPAGNE and the coolest people. What’s not to love??

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Chill out at Szechenyi Thermal Baths during the day then go all out at the SPARTY in the evening (right through til 3am).

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Take a stroll up to Fisherman’s Bastion to cure your hangover.

Drink and Food

I never ate out at night mostly because my hostel offered “family dinner” (a meal cooked by staff) for 700HUF (cheap as fuckkkk).

One day for lunch me and a few friends I made at the hostel went to the no.1 restaurant in Budapest on tripadvisor. It was AMAZING. The place was called Comme Chez Soi and sold everything from steak to pizza. The service was absolutley amazing and we even got some free wine, sorbet and Italian liquor. For 4 people we paid around 22000HUF which for the no.1 restaurant in the city is a steal!

For drunk food, hit up one of the many many kebab stands around town and grab a kebab for as little as 500HUF!!

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Comme Chez Soi. No.1 rated on tripadvisor. Must check this place out.

Alcohol in Budapest is not expensive at all. We pre-drank most nights at the hostel, mainly drinking $1 bottles of wine from the supermarket. But even at the bars and clubs you can get a vodka for as little as 500HUF and a good beer for 600HUF which is decent. Be sure to check out Fény Shots – carbonated vodka shots which are scientifically the quickest way to get drunk. They taste pretty good too which is a bonus. There are many ruin bars across the city with Szimpla Kert being the most famous. However, I preferred other smaller places like Anker’t and Kuplung.

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Anker’t Ruin Bar. Be sure to try a “Zubrowka and Apple” from this place – 10/10.

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“What’s your real job Jonny?” Me after one too many beers.

Other things to do in the city could include GETTING A TATTOO…. Yes that’s right I got my first fucking tattoo in Budapest. I actually got 2. Zero regrets. I went to Knuckle Up Budapest and they were great. The owner is a former backpacker himself and is totally clued up on what he is doing.

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Map of Europe and Africa. The smallest of my tattoos. 

 

There you have it. Backpacker’s guide to Budafknpest. Overall I spent around 100,000HUF which for 6 days I didn’t think was too bad. It could of course be done much cheaper but I treated myself many a time and that also includes the cost of both tattoos.

Follow me on Instagram – @jonathanjohnston