New clubs and discos are springing up all over Budapest, so nightlife is not concentrated in a single district. There are pubs for every taste ?? from disreputable red light bars to quiet cafes, ?? and you have plenty of time to experiment. Some pubs are open until dawn, but most close at around 4 a.m. Borozos are cheap wine bars in the basement where you rarely meet women, especially not without a companion. Sorozos are beer bars that also serve good, reasonably priced food.
Clubs don’t always let people in shorts and sportswear in. Most clubs are open until at least 3 a.m. (some until 6 a.m.). Credit cards are usually not accepted, and some clubs do not speak German or English. Budapest bouncers often belong to organized crime, so it is advisable to smile nicely and pay for entry.
The legal minimum age for the consumption of alcoholic beverages is 18 years. Alcohol is cheap. Under no circumstances should you toast with glasses, because the Austrians did after the revolution of 1848/49 when Hungarian generals were executed.
The best event information in Budapest can probably be found in the free weekly magazine Open (published on Thursdays). The free weekly magazine Pesti Est and the magazine Pesti Müsor are also very extensive. However, these two magazines are in Hungarian, and English-speaking night owls should rather get a copy of Budapest Week (Internet: www.budapestweek.com) or Budapest Sun (Internet: www.budapestsun.com). The German-speaking Pester Lloyd (Internet: www.pesterlloyd.net) also publishes a detailed calendar of events.
Budapest has a rich musical past, from the virtuoso pianist Franz Liszt, on whose appearances the women fainted regularly, to the operas by Ferenc Erkel. In the early 20th century, Béla Bartók (1881-1945) and Zoltán Kodály (1882-1967) traveled all over Hungaryto collect the dwindling folk songs of their country and to pass them on for posterity. Her works enrich the flourishing Hungarian music scene today. Since the orchestras are no longer funded by the state but by private companies, finances are scarce. Some of the best singers and instrumentalists have already migrated to the West, a trend that is still ongoing. The remaining instrumentalists often lack practice, because they often have to practice one or two other occupations in order to survive. Without a doubt, however, her enthusiasm and passion compensate for any lack of technical skills.
Tickets for most concerts are available from the ticket office of the Nemzeti Filharmónia , V. Vörösmarty tér 1 (Tel: (1) 318 02 81). However, they can also be purchased at the venue an hour before the performance. Tickets for the Hungarian State Opera (Internet: www.opera.hu) are available directly from the State Opera, VI. Andrássy út 20 (Tel: (1) 332 79 14).
Folk music is very often held in Petõfi Csarnok in Városliget (Internet: www.petoficsarnok.hu) and in Almássy téri Szabadidõközpont (Almássy Square Leisure Center).
Well-known films have been shown at the Budapest Film Festival (on a long weekend in February) since its launch in 1969. The Budapest Spring Festival is the largest event on the art scene, and tickets sell out early. The focus of this festival (around mid-March to mid-April) is on classical music, although dance and folk music are also performed. The Budapest Autumn Festival (late September to mid-October) is a little more casual than the Spring Festival and presents theater, film and dance performances and art exhibitions.
Details of the National Folk Festival (Országos Táncháztalálkozó) taking place at the end of March are available from the professional association of folk dancers (tel: (1) 201 37 66).
Crazy Café, VI, which is particularly popular with younger people. Jókai utca 30, has a selection of over 20 different types of draft beer and over 100 different bottled beers.
Address: VI. Jókai utca 30, Budapest
The Café Mediterranean, VI. Liszt Ferenc tér is open until 2 a.m., has a friendly atmosphere and a beautiful terrace, which is always fully occupied in summer.
Address: VI. Liszt Ferenc tér, Budapest
Night and day
The Night and Day attracts a slightly older audience, VI. Andrássy út 46, around the clock, as the name suggests.
Address: VI. Andrássy út 46, Budapest
For those who like to chat in English, the Irish Cat pub, V. Múzeum körút, is the place to be. It is open until 2 a.m. every day and is often very busy. Latin American music is played here on Mondays and blues on Tuesdays.
Address: V. Múzeum körút, Budapest
One of the few bars that accept major credit cards is Beckett’s, V. Bajcsy-Zsilinszky út. This huge pub has excellent food and an audience consisting mostly of British and Irish business people as prices are not affordable for most Hungarians.
Address: V. Bajcsy-Zsilinszky út, Budapest
The young and beautiful are drawn to e-play, VI. Teréz körút 55, above the impressive Nyugati train station, to listen to the latest house sounds.
Address: VI. Teréz körút 55, Budapest
Franklin Trocadero Café
Good Latin music is played at Franklin Trocadero Café, V. Szent István körút 15.
Address: V. Szent István körút 15, Budapest
Retro can be heard in the cellar club Nincs Pardon, VIII. Almássy tér 2.
Address: VIII. Almássy tér 2, Budapest
Fat Mo’s, V. Nyáry Pál út. 11, is always well attended.
Address: V. Nyáry Pál út. 11, Budapest
The Piaf, VI. Nagymezo utca 25 has a piano bar on the upper floor and a lively bar with dance floor in the basement.
Address: VI. Nagymezo utca 25, Budapest
Despite its remote location in Obuda, the Supersonic Technicum, III. Pacsirtamezô utca 41, a former factory cellar, pretty much the center of the Budapest underground scene. There are three dance floors with tubes, flasks and fountains as well as two bars. The music ranges from goa trance, drum ‘n’ bass, reggae to techno.
Address: III. Pacsirtamezô utca 41, Budapest
Old Man’s Music Pub
The Old Man’s Music Pub, VII. Akácfa utca 13, is always very busy and one of the best night spots in the city. There is live music between 9 p.m. and 11 p.m.
Address: VII. Akácfa utca 13, Budapest
Mexican music is played in Latin Kocsma, V. Havas utca 2 on Monday, Wednesday and Friday evenings.
Address: V. Havas utca 2, Budapest
Gentle jazz sounds can be heard in Club Seven, VII. Afácfa ulica 7, a classy café bar with a music club.
Address: VII. Afácfa ulica 7, Budapest
Folk music from the Magyars is played in dance halls (Táncház), which comes from isolated areas such as Transylvania in Romania. The Gyökér Restaurant, VI is particularly popular on Fridays. Corner of Eötvös utca and Szobl utca, which also serves very good food.
Telephone: (1) 153 43 29
Kalamajka DH (Belvárosi Ifjusági Muvelodesi Haz)
The Kalamajka DH (Belvárosi Ifjusági Muvelodesi Haz), V. Molnár utca 9, was opened by Béla Habmos – the founder of the Tanzhaus movement in the 1970s – and is open on Saturdays from 8:00 p.m. to 1:00 a.m.
Address: V. Molnár utca 9, Budapest
Telephone: (1) 117 59 28
Small pop and folk music concerts are very often held in Petõfi Csarnok, in Városliget.
Address: Városliget, Budapest
Almássy téri Szabadidõközpont
Small pop and folk music concerts are very often held in Almássy téri Szabadidõközpont (Almássy Square Leisure Center), VII. Almássy tér 6. Information about Sinti and Roma music is also available here. The center is open from October to May.
Address: VII. Almássy tér 6, Budapest
International stars appear in the Népstadion, XIV. Istvánmezei út 1-3, the largest sports stadium.
Address: XIV. Istvánmezei út 1-3, Budapest
Telephone: (1) 251 12 22
Budapest Festival Orchestra
The relatively well-funded Budapest Festival Orchestra, Polgár Str. 8-10, is one of the few that meet international standards and regularly invite guest soloists and conductors.
Address: Polgár utca 8-10, Budapest
MATÁV symphony orchestra
The MATÁV Symphony Orchestra (formerly Hungarian Post Orchestra), financed by the telephone company MATÁV, is a promising orchestra and plays in MATÁV Zeneház, IX. Páva utca 10-12, which has 200 seats and good acoustics.
Address: IX. Páva utca 10-12, Budapest
Telephone: (1) 215 79 01
The main music venue in Budapest is the Zeneakadémia, VI. Liszt Ferenc tér, where the Franz Liszt Music Academy is located. Getting tickets is not easy, as most events are sold out days in advance.
Address: VI. Liszt Ferenc tér, Budapest
Telephone: (1) 341 47 88
On Friday evenings chamber concerts with the best Hungarian musicians are held in honor of the great composer in Bartók House, II. Csalán utca 29, the former home and today’s museum.
Address: II. Csalán utca 29, Budapest
Telephone: (1) 394 4472
Magyar Állami Operaház
In the Opera House Magyar Állami Operaház, VI. Andrássy út 22 is home to the Budapest Philharmonic Orchestra, founded in 1853 by the Hungarian composer Ferenc Erkel and one of the oldest and most renowned orchestras in Hungary.
Address: VI. Andrássy út 22, Budapest
Hungarian National Ballet
One tip is the Hungarian National Ballet of the Budapest State Opera, which is held in Magyar Állami Operaház, VI. Andrássy út 22, is located.
Address: VI. Andrássy út 22, Budapest
Hungarian State Folklore Ensemble (Magyar Állami Népi Együttes)
The Hungarian Hungarian Folklore Ensemble (Magyar Állami Népi Együttes), I. Corvin tér 8, performs professional folk dance and music.
Address: I. Corvin tér 8, Budapest
Phone: (1) 201 50 17
Kalamajka Dance House (Belvárosi Ifjusági Mûvelõdési Ház)
Folk music and dance can be experienced in the dance halls (Táncház). Traditional instruments include the first violin, the contra (a viola with three strings) and the double bass. Sometimes a barrel organ is also played. In the Kalamajka dance house (Belvárosi Ifjusági Mûvelõdési Ház), V. Molnár utca 9, dance and classes are offered to the sounds of the Kalamajka groups, and village music groups also perform regularly (closed from mid-June to mid-September).
Address: V. Molnár utca 9, Budapest
Telephone: (1) 317 59 28
Katona József Szinház
Despite the lack of funding, there are over 30 theaters in Budapest, most of which keep afloat with a repertoire from Shakespeare and the Hungarian classics. The Hungarian way of acting is still very formal and quite rigid. Screenings start at around 7:00 p.m. The box office is open all day or at least one hour before the start of the performance, credit cards are not accepted. Katona József Szinház, V. Petõfi Sandor utca 5, has a reputation for being the best Hungarian theater. The fact that Hungary still does not have a state theater is a scandal for which there seems to be no solution.
Address: V. Petõfi Sandor utca 5, Budapest
Telephone: (1) 318 65 99
Művészetek Palotája (Palace of the Arts)
he Palace of the Arts, IX Komor Marcell utca 1, is a unique institution in Central Europe, because the cultural center focuses on maintaining tradition, encourages experimentation, promotes classical music, opera, dance, jazz, world music, sophisticated pop music and the visual arts. The National Philharmonic Orchestra, the choir and the music collection, the Ludwig Museum of Contemporary Arts and the National Dance Theater have all found a new home here. One of the most famous concert halls in Budapest is the Béla Bartók National Concert Hall in the Palace of the Arts.
Address: IX Komor Marcell utca 1, Budapest