The interior of Pinball Museum Budapest
The interior of Pinball Museum Budapest

Pinball Museum Budapest – The man cave your inner kid wishes for

Travel back in time and experience the 80’s arcade feeling .


There are a thousand reasons to visit Budapest, this marvelous in the center of Europe. You might come for the beautiful architecture of its historical buildings and bridges, or to dip your body in the healing thermal waters of the capital’s baths.  Maybe you’re coming to try the 50 shades of paprika, the staple spice of Hungarian cuisine, or to taste the nation’s famous wines. Also, we wouldn’t be surprised if you’re visiting to experience the peculiar atmosphere of the Budapest nightlife with the clear vision of partying your heart out in a ruin pub, a gay bar or a rave. However, there might be a destination which isn’t on the list of an everyday tourist, although it’s certainly one of a kind in its own league. We’re talking about the Pinball Museum in Budapest, one of the largest permanent pinball collections in Europe.

Full house in the Pinball Museum
Full house in the Pinball Museum
The predecessor of today’s pinball machines

From cues to flippers – a quick pinball history lesson

Pinball machines are much older than you probably think. Ok, the first versions didn’t have many similarities with the machines we know today, but game historians date the pinball’s ancestors back to the 17th century. During the long reign of Louis XIV, a game called ‘bagatelle’ became quite popular. It had more resemblance to a pool table and the operating method was similar to that as well but it had small wooden pins standing on the table. The players had to shoot the ball with a stick or a cue to ricochet it off the pins and reach holes with the highest scores. This game inspired the ‘Billard japonais’, the real predecessor of today’s pinball first used a metal spring to shoot the ball. In the next 100 years the spring system became the standard while the size shrunk allowing the machine to fit on any bar’s counter. By the 1930s, electrification played a major role in the evolution of these machines as vibrant colors and flashing lights grew to be essential elements of the so-called ‘coin machines’. 

Have you noticed that we haven’t mentioned something really important about these earlier devices? Until 1947, pinball machines did not have flippers on them! The debut of flippers on the Humpty Dumpty introduced a skill factor to the game. As a result, the success of players did not only depend on sheer luck anymore, but their technique as well, which reformed the whole industry. From this point pinball machines evolved with time and applied all the new technical features. With circuit boards and digital displays, they entered the era of electronic gaming, but got pushed out when arcade games popped up on the scene in the 1980s. However, they didn’t have to wait long for the comeback, as in the early ‘90s digitally enhanced pinball machines conquered the game market again with iconic names like The Addams Family, Indiana Jones: The Pinball Adventure and Star Trek: The Next Generation. Digital technology and the videogame industry improved so much in the past 20 years that pinball machines have been put on the bench, but they’re far from gone. The pinball subculture is alive, thriving, and has one of its bases in the Budapest Pinball Museum where the past can be visited anytime.

Splinter Cell figure in the Pinball Museum
Splinter Cell figure in the Pinball Museum

A museum where you HAVE TO touch the items 

The Pinball Museum in Budapest is an interactive permanent exhibition showcasing pinball machines from the 19th century to the most recent pinball tables of the 21st century. The owner, Balázs Pálfi felt some inexplicable fascination for vibrant, flashing lights and colors as a kid – it seems his love manifested in the form of pinball machines.  The 400-square-meter venue opened in 2013 and has more than 130 different pieces currently on “exhibition”. We put exhibition in quotation marks because this museum is different from any other you’ve been to before. You won’t see any “Do not touch” signs here, instead, visitors are encouraged to touch and try the pinball machines – this is why they’re there. Mr. Pálfi is convinced that these machines are made to be played on, not just to look at. He calls his museum a time machine (which is also the name of a very early pinball) as when you enter this man cave, the flashing bright lights and loud clicking noises, take you right back to your childhood and let you relive the unmatched arcade atmosphere. 

Arcade games in the Pinball Museum
Arcade games in the Pinball Museum

Besides pinball machines you can try classic, arcade gaming consoles and table hockey as well. It’s worth mentioning that a very few pieces are so old or unique that they’re not available for playing. No need to be tense about it, though, you’ll have plenty other options to release the stress and those balls. Especially because they have a separated area for private events, so if you or any of your friends are pinheads, the Budapest Pinball Museum is the perfect spot. The thematic (the tables and the showcases are made from pinball parts) event gallery is suitable for 15-20 people, and you can bring your own food and drinks (alcohol is not allowed!) or even order a pizza there. Step away from all the boring, regular event venues and help others relive their childhood by holding your birthday or company party here!

Old school table hockey in the Pinball Museum
Old school table hockey in the Pinball Museum

Coinmasters – prices of the Pinball Museum 

If you’d like to have limitless fun for a low price, the Pinball Museum is a superb choice. For 3 500 HUF (10 EUR) you can spend your whole day in the museum if you’d like. The ticket is for limitless entries, so during the day you can go out to have lunch or do something else, and you can still come back. If it wasn’t clear before, with a single ticket you’re allowed to use all the 130 machines, without having to pay for any extra coins or tokens. The daily ticket is even cheaper if you’re under 26 or above 62, in which cases it’s just 2500 HUF (7 EUR). Booking the event gallery costs the total amount of the entrance fees for all participants (but at least HUF 30,000 ~ 82 EUR) for the duration of 3 hours.

Want to have more fun in Budapest?

If you’ve enjoyed Budapest’s interactive Pinball Museum, we have something for you that you might enjoy even more: Budapest’s very own escape rooms. Have you heard about them? If yes, then we don’t think we need to spend any more characters convincing you. But if you haven’t, what you need to know is that they’re extremely popular interactive games which were invented in Hungary but have since conquered the whole world. Escape rooms come in all themes and sizes (murder mystery, zombie apocalype, Sherlock Holmes, etc.) but work more or less the same way: players are “locked” in a room (or a collection of adjoining rooms) which they can only escape from if they solve the puzzles hidden in the room. If this isn’t fun, then we don’t know what is. Wait, actually we do: a shooting range budapest!

Q & A

Are there any arcades in Budapest?
Although it’s not a typical arcade, but Budapest has an interactive Pinball Museum where you can play on 130 pinball machines and other arcade games.
What is a pinball museum?
Budapest in an interactive permanent exhibition showcasing pinball machines from the 19th century to most recent pinball tables of the 21st century. You can find one of the largest ongoing pinball collections of Europe in Budapest.

If you are interested in the best shooting range Budapest supplies, check this article too!

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