Destination: Open-Air Bars in Budapest

Budapest Bars

Destination: Open-Air Bars in Budapest

Enjoy drinks on the Danube

By Carolyn Bánfalvi
Photographs by Cathrine Stukhard

Budapest gets a lot of play for its coffeehouses, but Hungary is a drinking country, and its capital offers bars ranging from swanky see-and-be-seen clubs to dives for the workingman. The best way to drink on a warm late-summer night in the city is at one of the many open-air bars, which attract the young and fashion-conscious, intellectuals, and professionals for late-night hanging out or live music. These are casual places, many featuring mismatched secondhand furniture and strings of paper lanterns. You can even rent a bike at a few.

They are on roofs, in kerts (gardens), in crumbling courtyards, and, in one case, on a ship moored on the Danube (the river that splits the city in two: Buda on one side, Pest on the other). They serve pálinka (pure fruit brandy) and plenty of shots of the herbal national liqueur, Unicum. There will always be several kinds of good Hungarian wine (though at the most casual venues, it’s often mixed with soda water to make a fröccs). Dreher beer is ubiquitous. But steer clear of cocktails, which Budapest bartenders haven’t gotten the hang of yet.

On the following pages we’ve pinpointed some of the best outdoor drinking spots to hit if you visit Budapest in the waning days of summer.

Carolyn Bánfalvi is a journalist living in Budapest and the author of Food Wine Budapest, a culinary guide to the city.