Best beer bars, pubs and beer-centric restaurants in Budapest
Beer is considered to be one of the oldest manufactured drinks and the history of brewing beer goes back to circa 3,000 BC in Europe. While Hungary isn't particularly well known for its beer, 'sör' has been brewed here for over a thousand years. Today, Hungarian breweries produce mainly light lagers and the best known domestic brands are Dreher, Borsodi and Soproni. In addition, the Hungarian craft beer scene keeps getting better with local microbreweries offering a variety of homegrown crafts along with some unusual pints. But, with many of the great beer producing nations close by, pubs and beer bars in Budapest offer far more to discover. Czech pilsners, Belgian beers, German ales, Scottish stouts are all available. If you're a beer lover visiting Budapest, here is a selection of pubs, bars and beer-centric restaurants to check out.
The tiny Pivo serves Czech beers from 11 breweries. With five beers on draught and over 25 in bottles, it's a popular place among Czech beer lovers. Pivo imports its respectable range of Czech beers from medium and small producers, like Černá Hora, Vyškov, Bernard and Ježek. In addition, there's always a guest beer on tap. Since beer consumption in the Czech Republic isn't complete without a meal, Pivo recently opened another location where the beer is paired with typical Czech and Hungarian dishes. The new Pivo has six Czech beers on tap and 40 in bottles and the list keeps growing.
Pivo Söröző (Beer Bar)
Address: Hegedűs Gyula utca 22, Pest, District 13
Open: Monday - Friday 3 pm to 11 pm, Saturday 4 pm to 11 pm
Pivo Sörvendéglő (Beer Restaurant)
Address: Wesselényi utca 47, Pest, District 7
Open: Monday - Friday 2 pm to 11 pm, Saturday 4 pm to 11 pm
Henry Belgian Brasserie
The first Belgian-style pub in Budapest has been a favorite among beer lovers for decades. Over 70 Belgian beers are served here, each in its personalized beer glass, closely following Belgian beer-drinking traditions. There are eight beers on tap, including popular lagers like Pauwel Kwak, Tripel Karmeliet and Kriek (cherry). They also offer a wide selection of bottled beers, including several Trappist beers brewed in Belgium. The beer is complemented by Flemish and Walloon cuisine. The friendly staff will help you navigate your way around the tap, so Henry is a good place for an introduction to Belgian beer. The well-paired food served here is an added bonus.
Address: Bem rakpart 12, Buda, District 1
Open: Monday - Sunday noon to midnight
The Bavarian-beer-hall-like Paulaner Beer House has a unique atmosphere with its glass-enclosed brewery in the center. Unfortunately, the large copper tanks are no longer in use and the beer served here comes directly from the brewery in Munich, established by monks of the order of Saint Francis of Paola in 1634. There are eight different Paulaners on tap, including the Paulaner Hefe-Weissbier, a natural wheat beer that's the brewery's best-selling product. The kitchen serves tasty Bavarian specialties that go well with the tasty beers.
Address: Alkotás utca 53, Buda, District 12 (within Mom Park)
Open: Monday - Wednesday 11:30 am to midnight, Thursday - Saturday 11:30 am to 1 am, Sunday 11:30 am to 11 pm
'Only the Best Brews' beer bar offers a wide selection of beers from all around the world. Besides the world's best lagers, rare finds and unusual tastes are also available here, including some of the best artisan beers made by Hungarian microbreweries. Beer lovers will appreciate the always-changing selection on tap (presently offering Chimay Tripel from Belgium, Černá Hora Kvasar from the Czech Republic, Left Hand Wake Up Dead from the US and BrewDog 5am Saint from Scotland). The owner, an enthusiastic beer connoisseur, is always on hand to offer good advice to beer lovers.
Address: Kertész utca 42-44, Pest, District 7
Open: Monday - Saturday 2 pm to 9 pm
This cozy Scottish pub offers draught and bottled beers all the way from the Belhaven Brewery in Dunbar, the oldest operating brewery in Scotland. Voted the Best British Bar in Hungary by The Telegraph, Caledonia is also known for its wide selection of malt whisky. The food is decisively Scottish (Haggis, Stovies, Salmon, Fish & Chips, Scotch Beef etc.), but it also has a Hungarian accent (Goulash). A favorite by the Budapest expat community, The Caledonia is a place where you can always meet someone for a friendly chat. If you are a soccer fan looking for somewhere to watch the game while enjoying a pint, this is your place.
Address: Mozsár utca 9, Pest, District 6
Open: Monday - Sunday 11 am to 1 am
Ferdinand Monarchia Cseh Sörház
The Ferdinand Monarchia Beer Hall is another top spot for lovers of Czech beer and it brings a little bit of Prague to Budapest. While they specialize in brews from the Ferdinand Benešov Brewery, they also offer several other Czech guest beers. Ferdinand Svetly (draught light), Sedm Kulí (semi dark) and Tmavy (dark ale) are available on tap. The beer here is paired with authentic Czech pub food, prepared by a Czech chef. The entire atmosphere is very Bohemian, including the small pieces of paper on the tables used by waiters in Czech pubs to keep track of how much you have consumed.
Address: Szív utca 30, Pest, District 6
Open: Monday - Sunday noon to 11 pm
Located in a quaint little street in Buda, close to Batthyány tér, this small English-style pub is a hidden gem. Dark wood, antique beer signs, live music and Guinness on tap give this place a British feel. Several types of Czech and Hungarian beer, draught and bottled, are also available. The menu is kept simple with Hungarian home-style dishes, like fried sausage, black pudding, stuffed cabbage and pork knuckle. Polo is a great local hangout.
Address: Batthyány utca 4, Buda, District 1
Open: Monday - Saturday noon to 11 pm
In addition to these pubs and beer bars, Budapest is home to several beer festivals year round. The Buda Castle Beer Festival, held in August, the Czech Beer Festival and the Belgian Beer Festival, both in June, and the Főzdefeszt Craft-Beer Festival, held every spring and fall, keep many beer lovers happy.
A pint of beer costs between HUF 550 and HUF 790. Finally, before beginning your pub crawl in Budapest, here are some useful 'beer' words in Hungarian:
Beer - Sör
Bottled beer - Üveges sör
Craft beer - Kézműves sör
Dark ale - Barna sör
Draft beer - Csapolt sör
Glass - Pohár
Pint - Korsó
Wheat beer - Búza sör
Update: An exciting new place opened since this post was written. If you are a fan of craft beer, be sure to check out Élesztő, Budapest's first ever beer pub dedicated to craft beer only.