Just Do It: Ruin Pub Tour (Budapest, Hungary)
On my second night in Budapest, I decided to go to the Ruin Pub Tour in the 7th District. If I’m being totally honest, i was kind of hoping to see an Aussie there named Andrew that I’d met earlier that day at the Free Walking Tour of Budapest. He said he he might take part that evening. Alas, he was not there, but I met some other awesome travelers instead and learned some history of the area that I was staying in.
It was totally unlike me to a) go on a bar crawl and b) be out past 8pm whilst backpacking. Usually I’m exhausted and passed out by 9pm. But carpe diem or whatever it is they say.
We met at the usual meeting point for all the walking tours, at the lion fountain in Vörösmarty Square, and proceeded to head back in the direction of my hostel where I learned I was staying in the party district in Budapest (oops). We walked to a place called Gozsdu Udvar which was almost directly across the street from my hostel. It’s a pass-through between the streets filled with tons of bars and restaurants.
We ended up at bars called Ellátó Kert, ELLÁTÓház, Rácskert, and Fogasház. There was live music, dancing, and dogs. We also had our first shots of Pálinka, a traditional Hungarian shot. It’s a fruit brandy that was invented in the Middle Ages and it’s very strong. It can have an alcohol content anywhere from 30% to 70%. So after two shots, you might be done.
The other travelers on the pub tour were from the Netherlands, Slovenia, and I think Greece, but he’d just moved to Budapest for work. They asked me more questions about New York City than I asked our guide, Mark, about the Ruin Bars. (Are we all millionaires? Do we all have tons of shoes? Do we all have huge apartments?) They were all super cool and we’re in touch on Facebook now so maybe we’ll travel together in the future, or at least bump into each other along our separate travels.
Anyways, a little about the Ruin Pubs: They are what we would call ‘dive bars’ in America. In the early 2000’s, there were several buildings in the 7th District (the Jewish District, where the ghetto was during World War II) that were decrepit and run-down and no one had any idea what to do with them. So, a bunch of guys with no money decided to open a bar and asked their friends to bring what furniture they could to an abandoned building and they opened a bar called Szimpla, the first ruin bar, which is still there today and is maybe one of the hottest party spots in Budapest. After Szimpla, more bars of the same nature began to open, and the old Jewish ghetto became the new party district in Budapest.
I don’t have a lot of great pictures from the night because I only had my phone and I was trying to soak in local culture rather than photograph it, but here are a few:
This tour cost 4500 Forint and was totally worth it to experience authentic Budapest nightlife with a local and meet other solo travelers, in addition to the Pálinka, dogs, and live music!
(For another take on the Ruin Bars, check out this other blog post I found about it!)