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5 Best Bars in Budapest

The capital and most heavily populated city of Hungary—and one of the largest cities in the European Union—Budapest is one of the prime tourist draws in the Eastern part of Europe, a country that has mostly steered clear of the negative politics this region seems to regularly endure.  One of the most beautiful cities in Europe, Budapest was recently named the “most livable city in Central and Eastern Europe” on the EIU Quality of Life Index.

In addition to being the cultural, political and economic hub of Hungary, Budapest also has a reputation as a party heavy city—a city that has a countless number of bars and nightclubs spanning many different types and genres.  This reputation makes it a favorite tourist stop for college students and younger travelers seeking a good time.

In the following article we will point out several of Budapest’s most popular and well-visited bars and nightclubs.  We will also describe for you the usual crowd that typically visits each location; the types of music played there, the drink menus and the general traits and characteristics of each drinking environment.

Lavan

If style and flair is important to you in a bar, Budapest’s Lavan certainly has you covered, as this drinking destination is one of the most impressive venues of its kind in the city.  When we say that Lavan is a striking and unique space we are not overstating it.  The white-washed bar features walls covered in white fabric, white flower vases on white tables, a sunlight-bathed bar and angular bar stools that are high…and, of course, white.

This bright, attractive décor is but a precursor to the type of service you’ll receive here.  The well-clad bartenders are attentive and very professional, and stumping them with any type of drink order is near impossible, assuming they carry the type of spirit you’re looking for—which they probably do, as the bar is impressively stocked with all the best Top Shelf spirits, liqueurs and additives.

Lavan is not the type of place to find rowdy partygoers, but if you’re looking for a quiet place to begin—or end—your night, it is definitely worth checking out.

Oscar Café

Located in Budapest’s City Center region, the Oscar Café is an American-themed bar situated just steps away from the town’s Castle District, a historic part of town that showcases the ancient castles of yesteryear.  The Oscar Café is a dimly lit space with candle-like fixtures, comfortable booths and a muted décor.  The long (very long) bar is sleek and straight, able to accommodate over 30 guests comfortably.  Around the bar, in addition to the booths, are several large tables and stools for larger groups.

The Oscar Café, which takes its name from the statue given away at Hollywood’s Academy Awards, pays homage to the American and Hungarian film industry, with old movie posters lining the walls.  Its cocktail menu is classic and features a number of American favorites and both American and Hungarian beer can be found on tap and in bottles.  There is also an extensive wine list from which to choose your favorite white or red varieties.

Jack Rabbit Slims

If the name of this Budapest bar sounds familiar, chances are you are a bit of a film buff, as Jack Rabbit Slims was also the name of the bar in the cult movie Pulp Fiction—the bar in which Uma Thurman’s character did her striking fingers-across-her-forehead dance as onlookers cheered her on, which unfortunately spurred a number of bad imitations of the dance at bars and nightclubs around the world.

Unlike the bar in the movie, Budapest’s Jack Rabbit Slims is a rather tiny space with a cool vibe and cozy feel.  A hipster bar at heart, the walls are painted bright purple and orange, and the clientele is definitely on the young side.  The bar, which is open only during the evening, regularly sees customers arrive at about 10:00 PM and stay until closing.  The bar is fully stocked with beer, wine and terrific spirits, and although the prices are a bit high in comparison to other downtown bars, the energy is always very high.

Underground

Also located in the City-Center region of Budapest, the Underground bar is yet another of the many themed bars in the city.  This particular “club/bar” takes its name from the popular Emir Kusturica film Underground, which is very appropriate for a couple of reasons:  the bar is located underground, and directly beneath a movie theater.

The very basically designed bar features an enormous (un-air conditioned) space that is cooled during the warmer months with several industrially-sized floor fans. Massive ceiling lamps light the bar area, and the dimly lit dance floor and DJ booth, where experienced party providers spin a mix of funk, punk and garage music, is always packed on the weekend nights.  The bar even hosts a few live music shows each year, performed by local artists and bands.

At the Underground, the drinks are cheap and unpretentious, with beers and shots being the most popular orders on Friday and Saturday nights.  The bar is especially comfortable Sunday through Thursday, when it is less crowded, thus giving patrons a chance to chat with each other without having to scream above the music.

Café Crazy

As its name suggests, the Café Crazy is a frenetic bar where, in addition to sipping your favorite beer or cocktail, there is always something to see and do.  A bar-restaurant by design, the Café Crazy serves up pizza to hungry customers, and the beer taps are rarely shut off, as pourers fill pitcher after pitcher of the tasty brew.  Café Crazy boasts over 100 varieties of bottled beer (from around the globe), 18 beers and ales on tap, and a signature menu of over 50 house-invented cocktails in addition to the classical mixtures and combinations.

The Café Crazy regularly hosts parties during the day, and the arcade-style games scattered throughout the space give children a diversion while the adults drink and engage in conversation.  By nightfall, the café becomes an adult-only venue, with theme nights that include Karaoke and Trivia, and a different drink special every night of the week.

Budapest water panorama by blizniak/Pixabay CC0 license

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