A Budapest Craft Beer Experience

Budapest is both a vibrant craft beer hub and a wonderfully romantic city. I’ve visited three times since 2019 for Budapest Beer Week and it may have been luck, but on all occasions it was sunny and warm. Or maybe there is just something about this city that brings a smile to your face and a spring in your step. Whatever it is, you won’t regret visiting. Beautiful landmarks, fun beer bars, good food and plenty of activities for the art and history buffs. The famous ruin bars are a cultural icon and not to miss. At the bottom of the page I have included some of my favorite sights. Yet a trip to Budapest for the beer festival alone is already worth it, this event has become one of my favorites!

The festival spans two days – Friday and Saturday – but in the days before there are other festival events you can attend if you decide to come to Budapest earlier to do some sightseeing and beer drinking. BPBW was founded by three friends, one who works at Mad Scientist (and the face of the festival) and two who started Dealbreaker brewery, and they put on a great party! The first two editions took place at Dürer Kert that was located in 2018 and 2019 near the Városliget park (also known as the City Park). In 2022 they moved to a new location on the Buda side, an equally lovely space with plenty of tables, live music, food stands, and very important: plenty of toilets for the ladies (no queueing for us!).

They invite breweries from all over the world, including local ones. This year 45 were present; no Dutch breweries this time, but excellent international ones from for example France (Prizm, Sacrilege, Popihn), Pühaste (one of my favorites), Beerbliotek, Cloudwater, Cyclic, Funky Fluid, Fuerst Wiacek, The Garden brewery and many more big names. I counted an impressive eleven Hungarian breweries, all of them pouring good quality beers: Balkezes, Dealbreaker, Fehér Nyul, First Craft Beer, HopTop, Horizont, Monyo, Reketye, Ugar and Uradalmi. A nice suprise was the presence of Hungarian winery Major Levente, who makes delicious natural wines. In some versions they added hops, this was one of my favorite discoveries of the festival. Other memorable beers (and there were many) were the deadly black IPA of 12% from To Øl, Black Baal 2.0; my first beer of the festival Loomi, a black citrus sour by Sacrilége; a fantastic Lichtenhainer by Horizont – Sweet Dreams Are Made Of Prunes – brewed with smoked wheat malt. 

This event hits pretty much all my festival criteria for excellence: all-in fee so can you taste as many beers as you want (I like small pours); varied choice of (inter)national breweries; glass rinsing facilities; vegan food options; space to move around; plenty of seating; efficient entry into the festival – you can even pick up your wristband the day before at the Madhouse bar; nice weather (though of course that is mostly luck, it can still make or break an experience for me). Another plus is that it is a short bus ride from downtown, leaving you time to explore the city before the festivities start at 2 pm. There is an after party with live rock music after  8pm, which is free entry for festival ticketholders, but the beer is not included. You can get beer from one stand with tokens, which probably makes the after party less interesting for the beer adventurers, it’s more for the music fans. This year again the beer festival was a lot of fun! Great people and great vibe. The kind that you keep wanting to go back to.

Budapest Beer Week 2023 line-up
Budapest Beer Week 2023 line-up

Budapest Beer Bars

A lot has changed in the city since I first visited in 2019. Bars closed down and new ones opened. This is obviously a natural cycle, though I imagine that covid has had something to do with it. I am sad that the Horizont bar closed down, it seemed to be a popular place. Mad Scientist took over the former BrewDog bar. I am not surprised that they didn’t last. Local craft beer prices are lower than in Western Europe and I noted at the time that BrewDog hadn’t adjusted their high prices, which shows it’s not a formula that works everywhere. Not to say that beer prices in Budapest haven’t risen. In 2019 I paid as little as 80 EUR for a 2-day festival ticket compared to 123 EUR in 2023 (with early bird discount). This year I found most beer bars to charge similar prices as in The Netherlands, so I don’t consider Budapest to be ‘cheap’. Food and accomodation are more friendly priced and overall the weekend will not be as expensive as cities like London or Paris. Here is an overview of beer bars that I have been to that I think are worth a visit.


1. Madhouse

Located in the former BrewDog bar, Madhouse is a large bar with an industrial feel to it, cozy lighting, wooden tables and about 20 taps. There are a few guests beers, but the largest part of the tapmenu is from their own brewery. This is where everyone comes to pick up their wristbands the night before the festival and gets into the party mood. You can see much attention has been paid to detail. They also serve good bar food. Before relocating to the BrewDog space, they had a small bar in Szimpla Kert, which is also a fun place to visit.

Address: Anker köz 1-3

HOPS Beer Bar
HOPS Beer Bar

2. HOPS Beer Bar

HOPS is a small craft beer dive bar around the corner from Szimpla Kert, with 11 excellent taps and a fridge full of geek-worthy craft beers.

Address: Wesselényi u. 13


3. Élesztő

South of the old city center, near the Holocaust Memorial Center, you’ll find this wonderful warehouse-like space with a craft beer bar with 30 taps, a wine bar and another one serving spirits. The outdoor communal area is covered with a glass ceiling and it has a nice vibe to it. It’s been a few years since I visited. In recent reviews on Google I read that they have become a bit expensive, but hasn’t lost any of its charm.

Address: Tűzoltó u. 22


4. KEG sörművház

I loved this bar from the first moment I walked in! It is located on the Buda side in a cellar not far from the river and the Gellért park. They have some street seating, which is a great spot for lunch during the day. You enter the bar via narrow stairs which leads to a big well-lit cavernous space with a modern bar housing over 30 taps. You are sure to find a brewery or beer here that you have never tasted before.

Address: Orlay u. 1


5. Hopaholic

Before Madhouse opened their bar, this bar in the Jewish quarter was the place to hang out and pick up your  wristband for the festival. They have 10 tap beers, an  exquisite bottle / can list and bar food. Be prepared to pay serious craft beer prices though. 

Address: Akácfa u. 38

MONYO tap house
MONYO tap house

6. MONYO tap house

On Kálvin tér, near the beautiful market hall, you’ll find MONYO’s tap house. If you have tasted their beers before, you know they are excellent. There is a choice of 10 tap beers and 30+ from the bottle list. They opened their first taproom already 15 years ago! My favorite part was the swing at the bar. Probably not a good idea when drunk! The MONYO brewery taproom is a bit further afield (10 km). 

Address: Kálvin tér 7


7. FIRST Craft Beer

FIRST craft beer has three locations. The brewery taproom is a little north of the city. Downtown there are two bars very near each other: FIRST Local and FIRST Craft Beer & BBQ. I visited the latter during my first trip and now in 2023 it still seems to be a popular place. It’s a big bar, with about 20 taps (with a large selection of their own beers) and a food menu.

Address: Dob U. 3

Gravity Brewing
Gravity Brewing

8. Gravity Brewing

Just across the Liberty Bridge on the Pest side, this cellar bar is a popular place for the beer festivalgoers and brewers to hang out after the festival taps close at 8 pm. You can see the brewery tanks through a window at the back of the bar. They do tours on Saturday. The brewery was founded in 2018 and has 12 taps and seats 40 people. As far as I know there is no food menu.

Address: Lónyay u. 22

Jónás (old location)

9. Jónás Craft Beer & Food

Jónás was previously located on the water next to the Bálna shopping mall. They have since moved to the Buda side to Bikás park. I haven’t been to the new location, but the reviews state they have a beautiful view of the park and good food. Probably worth checking out if you are in the neighborhood.

Address: Vahot u. 8

Szimpla Kert
Szimpla Kert

10. Szimpla Kert

Not the biggest ruin bar in Budapest, but probably the most popular. It is a busy hive of tourists during daytime and even more so at night. On Saturday there may even be a queue to get in. Still, it is definitely worth a visit. Located in an abandoned building that was supposed to be torn down in 2002, it is now a thriving bar and music venue. Technically not a beer bar, but they do have  a selection of (local) craft beer. The bars and seating rooms are spread over two floors and literally every space on the wall has been drawn or painted on. On Saturday there is a little market downstairs. Many people pop in for their last drink of the holiday before heading to the airport. 

Address: Kazinczy u. 14


Budapest is a fun and easy city to explore both on foot or by public transport. I can recommend the travel app BudapestGo, which you can download on your phone. It provides both a journey planner and the ability to buy tickets. A single ticket costs about 1 EUR; the airport bus (about 40 min ride) costs 6 EUR. You validate the ticket by pressing the ‘validate’ button on your phone and scanning the barcode on the outside of the bus or tram. Paper tickets are also available.

There are quite a few museums and historic places to visit, like Buda Castle that currently houses a history museum and national gallery. The castle district is pleasant to walk round and has a variety of restaurants and shops. If you like cathedrals, St. Stephen’s is worth checking out. You can see his preserved right hand (not as awful as it sounds) and walk up to the top of the dome for a gorgeous view. The city is most famous for its thermal baths, which I have not visited since the ’90s, but information is abundant on internet.

If you are more the outdoorsy type there are equally plenty of sights that are worth viewing from the outside. My favorite things to visit while walking are the castle hill (you can walk up or take the funiculair), the Parliament building and surroundings (Shoes on the Danube), the famous Chain Bridge and the City Park. The Ferris Wheel on the Pest side is a fun ride, especially at night. 

You can cleary see that Budapest and its people have been through a lot. The city is scattered with monuments and memories of the Austro-Hungarian empire, WWII and the turbulent Communist period the country has experienced. The grand neoclassical buildings throughout the center are beautiful but all in a state of small to extensive disrepair. Nevertheless, it is a gorgeous city with a relaxed and vibrant atmosphere, friendly people and pretty amazing weather.


All images by Tina Rogers unless otherwise specified.

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