The following Budapest datasheet is an excerpt from my new book Trouble In Hungary, which comes with three killer bonuses.
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I can confidently say that as of summer of 2015, this is the best and most comprehensive Budapest datasheet that you’ll find just about anywhere. Of course, times change, and with that, the bar and club scene changes, too. Therefore, I can only vouch for the accuracy of this information as of the above date.
So print this out and throw it in your traveler’s backpack, copy it to your phone’s notes application, or just memorize it. From an efficiency standpoint, this is the best way to know where you should go on a night out in Budapest (and the other things to do/not do!). For reference, here is the map for your convenience.
Szimpla Kert is hands-down the most crowded place on any random night in Budapest. Some of the high-end clubs get to be just as busy on Friday or Saturday nights, but from a night-to-night standpoint, it’s tough to beat Szimpla Kert. Located in the ruin pub district, Szimpla has almost ten different rooms spread across two separate floors. All of these rooms, or areas, have their different unique feel. There’s couches that are ideal for a date with a Budapest beauty, and dance floors where you’ll find the drunk people stumbling around.
From a conversation standpoint, the best place is probably the outside patio – half of it is walled off for smokers, so if you don’t smoke you can stay on the inside part. But remember, this is Europe. Everyone smokes. In a nutshell, Szimpla is a must do for anyone visiting Budapest.
Kraft is one of the highest end places in all of Budapest, and the talent shows. There are literally hundreds of gorgeous Hungarian girls, all dressed up. This is where the locals go. If you want talent, Kraft is one of the places to be at. However, you must be prepared for the harsh rejections that the girls of Budapest are known for. Kraft is very much a club – loud dance floor, hot as a sauna, and difficult to move around. Despite this, it’s an enjoyable environment. Drinks by American standards are quite cheap, too – you can easily get a mixed drink such as a vodka tonic for $2-$3. Do not miss Kraft.
Otkert is similar to Kraft as far as talent standpoint – especially since it’s right next door. I highly advise having a wingman stand in line for whichever one is the least crowded while the other person scouts the other club. From my experience, it was usually one or the other that was really going off and crowded – it was rare for both of them to be. In this case, it’s worth sending one member of the party over to the other venue to scout it out.
As far as layout, Otkert has an open roof that sometimes is open, so it stays relatively cool. The dance floor gets crowded, and there isn’t much as far as quiet areas in Otkert.
BoB is right down the street from Kraft and Otkert, and is an open layout with a great dance floor. I think it’s a great place to bring a girl on a date, too – before midnight, it’s relatively quiet, with some good lounges, friendly staff, and good ambiance and lighting.
Instant is either everyone’s favorite place or they hate it. From everyone I have talked to, there is no in between whatsoever. I enjoyed it, but I was also there on a weeknight when it wasn’t absurdly crowded or hot; this seems to be most people’s beef with the place.
Let’s start with the good: it’s a cool venue. Lots of neat art and decoration, all the rooms are unique, and it’s not too bad, price-wise. But the bad: you’ll get lost. I’m not even joking, the different rooms and levels of Instant make it nearly impossible to get on. Especially as the night goes on and you get a couple (or dozen) drinks in you – forget it. You’re going to get lost. This may completely ruin your chances with a girl if you get separated because you’ll have almost no chance of finding her.
Conclusion on Instant: go once to check it out. Try not to get lost.
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Hello, Baby was a place I only went to because my date wanted to, but I actually really enjoyed it. It’s got a unique, almost castle-like feel to it. There’s three different levels, with the bottom level being a dance floor “pit”. However, the rest of the club is quiet enough to get some conversation. Talent level on a Friday night as not as high as the Kraft/Otkert/BoB area, but it’s still well above your average American venue. The main downside is the location, as it’s kind of out in the boonies compared to everything else.
Romkert is an outdoor club on the river, unfortunately, we never made it over there during our trip. However, several other friends have raved about the place (experienced players), so there is definitely something to it.
Erzebet Square/Akvarium is the coolest place in Budapest, hands-down. During the warmer times, you’ll see swarms of people out there drinking in the evening all the way through the night. The club there, Akvarium, sells drinks pretty affordably. The only issue with it is that it’s hard to tell what it is – bar, club, park hangout – there’s no clear direction of it. Despite this, the outdoor vibe is incredible, and with everyone coming and going throughout the night, you will literally never run out of girls to talk to. Always try to work this area into your nighttime routine, whether it be pre-gaming or walking through on your way to a different venue.
The famous Budapest Bath Parties. I’m filing these under nighttime venues because they’re a different animal during the day. The bath parties run throughout the year, as the baths are heated. But really – they are not worth it. At all. If you flip back to my trip report, you’ll remember that it was an absolute sausagefest, and at one point my friends and I found both semen and condoms floating in the pool. While if you’re doing a quick trip to Budapest, I understand the appeal – save it for the daytime. You can use them to nurse a hangover away, or just to take in the touristic aspect. Do not go to a bath party because somebody tells you that you can’t miss it in Budapest. I’m here to tell you that you should miss it.
The best part about Budapest is how walkable the city is at a whole. This means that anytime you walk out your front door, you have the potential to meet a cute girl – they are everywhere.
The best advice I can give is to get to the point in your game where you don’t have to warm-up and prepare to talk to girls. With so many girls out and about, it’s very easy to meet girls in your day-to-day routine, but you have to act fast before they walk out of your life…forever.
While that’s a bit dramatic, it’s the truth. Most likely, you won’t see her again.
However, if you want to do some dedicated daytime sessions to meet women, I recommend the following areas:
As you can probably tell from reading my trip log, I drank and slept a lot. There wasn’t a lot of time for tourist adventures, but here’s what I did do.
Fisherman’s Bastion has the best views in the city, hands-down. It’s a bit of a hike up a steep hill, but well worth it. Make sure you bring your camera! Also note that it’s roughly a dollar to get up on the walls where the really good views are, so make sure you have some spare coins or something of the sort.
The Chain Bridge is fun to walk across and look at from a distance. One of the coolest experiences I had in Budapest was when the girl I eventually hooked up with took me to a bridge to drink beer. All I remember was that it was green! You can’t drink on the bigger bridges like the Chain and Elisabeth bridges, but if you see people drinking on the smaller ones – it’s fair game.
Hungarian Parliament is one of the most beautiful pieces of architecture I’ve ever seen. Make sure you walk to the Buda side to get a picture of it!
Thermal baths – I wish I’d gone during the day just to relax.
Heroe’s Square is on the northern end of town but is very cool to see – though you probably won’t want to spend more than an hour or so here.
As far as eats go, I cannot recommend Bors Gastropub (near Szimpla Kert/Ruin Pub District) enough. Get the Bors Dog. Other than that, I honestly can’t remember the names of other places I ate it. Overall, it’s hard to go wrong with goulash or chicken paprika. The local Hungarian food is fantastic – ask the cute girls you meet for their favorite places, they always know the best.
As for drinks, the wine is delicious. And the Palinka is disgusting. You’ve been warned.
Now that you have this Budapest datasheet – go cause some trouble.