As the first and most famous ruin pub in Budapest, Szimpla Kert is a cult place that started the ruin pub culture in Hungary.
Located in the heart of Europe, Budapest is a city with many faces, some of which are taken from Western and others from Eastern Europe. Part of this eclectic charm is the ruin pub culture that started in the early 2000s with the first ruin pub, Szimpla Kert opening in the Jewish district. Fast forward 20 years, ruin pubs are staples of the Budapest party scene. Located in ramshackle buildings with crumbling plaster and the mishmash of furniture stashed around, these run-down bars offer a very unique experience. And while many Hungarians would love to get rid of the “Eastern Bloc” vibes in their city, the retro look and feel seem to be very appealing for tourists visiting the Hungarian capital.
As the oldest and most famous of these pubs, Szimpla became the go-to place for anyone and everyone wanting to try the ruin pub experience. Even so, since the maze-like building hides so much more than your usual bar. Besides concerts and live music gigs, Szimpla operates an art gallery, a bike rental, a farmers’ market and flea market, a “living library”, and dog-friendly events during weekends. To further color its palette, it also offers brunch and lunch menus. We’ve collected the most interesting bits and pieces that are to know about Szimpla. Read on!
As the first ruin pub in Hungary, Szimpla Kertmozi, or in short Szimpla, is quite the trendsetter in the Budapest nightlife. Opened in 2002 a few blocks away from its current location in Kazinczy utca, Szimpla set the scene for many other ruin pubs to come, turning the venue into one of the most appealing tourist attractions for Gen Z in the Hungarian capital.
But before going into more details on Szimpla Kert itself, let’s see what ruin pubs are.
In the early 2000s, ownership regulations change left numerous inner-city buildings, mainly in the 7th district, vacant and in bad shape in Budapest. Not having enough capital to completely refurbish the run-down buildings and stores, many owners saw an opportunity in opening bars with whatever furniture and appliances they could get cheap at flea markets or so, bringing the eclectic, or even surreal vibes of ruin pubs to life. The chilled atmosphere, the mishmash of retro tables, chairs, lamps, and decoration, combined with live music and beer on tap attracted enough guests to kickstart a whole new type of bar, the ruin pubs.
Now that you know the brief history of ruin pubs, let’s get back to the alpha and omega of the new trend, Szimpla Kert. After two years of operating at its original location, the owners relocated the bar to another, similarly run-down building at Kazinczy utca 14. By now, the crumbling plaster of the façade that has never been renovated became the staple part of the most iconic ruin pub of Budapest. Also operating an open-air cinema (hence the name ‘kertmozi’, Hungarian for ‘garden cinema’) in the inner courtyard, Szimpla for long has been the go-to place to watch underground and indie films in Budapest. Sadly, movie screenings are not part of the programs these days.
If you’re on a quick city break with your backpack with you, but you don’t want to miss out on Szimpla Kert, check out the luggage storage in Budapest. Since Szimpla is so centrally located, you will find storage options nearby. And trust us, you will feel so much lighter without your bags.
Originally opened as a small, rugged bar with a hidden ping-pong corner and an open-air cinema in the courtyard, Szimpla Kert was off to a modest start. Besides it slowly but surely becoming the most popular ruin pub in Budapest, today Szimpla is a cult place for eclectic and colorful cultural events, gigs, and workshops in the inner city. Its event calendar and attractions populated the run-down building over the years with the most colorful programs from concerts and live music gigs to all types of weekend activities when the venue leaves behind its party face and becomes a networking sphere for people in the neighborhood.
In the music and art scene, Szimpla organizes annual music contests for lesser-known bands, as well as small pop-up exhibitions for up-and-coming artists. During afternoons, it functions as a café, which gradually turns into a bar as the evening comes. To advocate for the eco-friendly lifestyle, Szimpla also has a tiny bike shop for those interested in bicycles. And during the weekends, you can enjoy markets in the inner courtyard. On Saturdays, it’s all about living green: you can buy plants and learn all about how to keep them alive. On Sundays, it’s Farmers’ Market time. And if you’re looking for a unique souvenir, we also recommend checking out the Szimpla Design Shop.
Szimpla Kert operates with a glass deposit system, which means that when you buy a drink, the price will include the charge for the glass. Before you leave, don’t forget to return your glass to get your change back.
On Sundays, Szimpla Kert hosts a farmers’ market. And the good news is that the stands are out from 9 AM until 2 PM, so you don’t have to wake up super early to get the sweetest bites. You can expect freshly-baked bread and buns, homemade cheese and jam, as well as fresh fruits and vegetables. If you’d like to experience what a market is like in Hungary, make sure to head to Szimpla on a Sunday morning. And while the courtyard is full of fresh food, upstairs you can try the Sunday brunch buffet made with ingredients from the market downstairs.
If you cannot make it to Szimpla on a Sunday, but you still feel like grabbing a bite, check out the street food garden next door in Kazinczy utca. The lovely little alley is full of street food kiosks serving all the delicacies from traditional Hungarian meals, like lángos and chimney cakes, to burgers and pizza. For vegans, there are plant-based options, too.
- Monday – Friday: 3 PM – 4 AM
- Saturday: 12 AM – 4 AM
- Sunday: 9 AM – 4 AM
You can learn more about Szimpla Kert and its events here.
Address: 1075 Budapest, Kazinczy utca 14
How to get to Szimpla Kert?
Located in the buzzing centre of the Jewish district in the charming, cobble-stoned Kazinczy utca, Szimpla Kert is within easy reach from all parts of the inner city. It’s a few minutes’ walk both from Astoria (metro line 2 or tram 47, 49) and Blaha Lujza tér (tram 4-6 or metro line 2). Alternatively, you can also take bus 5 or 7 to Urania.
If discovering only one ruin pub in Budapest is not enough for you, make sure to check out Instant & Fogasház and Ellátókert, too. For the lovers of craft beer and industrial looks, we recommend Élesztőház, and if you’re looking for a café with ruin-pub vibes, try Csendes Létterem Vintage Bar & Café. And once you’re done with the rugged buildings and the crumbling plaster and would like to see another side of Budapest, head to one of the rooftop bars of the city and enjoy the view.
- What is a ruin pub?
- A ruin pub (romkocsma) is a typical Hungarian bar type, usually located in older buildings with crumbling plaster and eclectic furniture. Ruin pubs have multiple functions: during the day, many of them operate as cafés, while in the evenings, they turn into bars and nightclubs with live music and concerts. The first and most popular ruin pub in Budapest is Szimpla Kert in Kazinczy utca.
- What is the most famous ruin pub in Budapest?
- The first and most well-known ruin pub in Budapest is Szimpla Kert, or in short Szimpla, in Kazinczy utca. Szimpla opened in 2002 and set the scene for ruin pubs in Budapest.
- What is Szimpla Kert famous for?
- Szimpla Kert is the most famous ruin pub in Budapest, a must-see venue of the Budapest party scene. Located in a rugged building with eclectic furniture, it has a very unique, chilled vibe all day and night. During the day, it functions as a café and for the evenings, it turns into a bar and a nightclub. On weekends, it is a vibrant networking and community space with dog-friendly events, green programs, and the Sunday Farmers’ Market.