Budapest dazzles at ground level. And when you’re 10 stories above its fin-de-siècle splendor with a creatively mixed cocktail in hand, the capital of Hungary takes on a whole new dimension.
Swaying to a soft DJ set with the sun on your back in summer or warming up with a cinnamon-scented drink inside a cozy communal igloo in winter, you’ll mingle with a cosmopolitan crowd against the backdrop of Habsburg-era rooftops, stunning urban landmarks and the distant Buda hills. As you take a front-row seat overlooking one of Europe’s most captivating capitals, toast the high life (and the nightlife) at these hotspots, Budapest’s best rooftop bars.
Enjoy truly panoramic views at 360 Bar
Boasting the best panoramic views in Budapest, 360 Bar is a true institution. Seemingly half the city heads here in summer to catch the day’s last light, and the bar even buzzes in winter as heated transparent igloos keep out the cold. An elevator takes you up straight from the street; when it pings at its highest point, be ready for your jaw to drop.
You’ll admire the stunning landmarks studding Budapest’s skyline – until the greeting from a smiley bartender snaps you back to your immediate surroundings. Every evening, the cool crowd sways here to music from the DJ booth or a live acoustic set, while fancy cocktails, fruit-infused lemonades and seasonal specialities satisfy any thirst. Located on Andrássy út (Budapest’s very own Champs-Élysées) in the heart of the city, this laid-back bar is perfect for a sundowner with friends.
Set up a romantic rendezvous at High Note Roof Bar
Need to impress? At Budapest’s most romantic rooftop bar, you might just end the day with a kiss. The upscale High Note Roof Bar, snuggled next to St Stephen’s Basilica, has comfy sofas to cuddle up on and watch the slowly sinking sun paint all kinds of colors across the evening sky. The roomy terraces provide floor-to-ceiling views of the whole city and beyond, with the cathedral’s dome almost within arm’s reach. When the weather gets chilly, you can retreat to the elegant burgundy-colored indoor area that’s open year-round. Cocktails inspired by bucket-list destinations, plenty of Hungarian and international wines, and an impressive list of spirits further elevate the mood.
To reach High Note Roof Bar, cross the lavish lobby of the music-themed Aria Hotel and take the elevator to the top. Although walk-ins are accepted, we recommend making a reservation since tables are in high demand.
Celebrate the summer in lively fashion at Leo
Buda’s first rooftop bar is a summer-only destination, but it’s well worth crossing the river for. As you wave hello to Budapest’s amazing attractions from its more serene side, Leo will transport you to the tropics with green-hued patterns and parrot-shaped glasses. You’ll also get an unfettered close-up view of the Széchenyi Bridge from an unusual angle.
Crowning Hotel Clark, this skyward space is also a great place to catch your breath after exploring the nearby Castle District. Although you may have to compete for a seat here when the sun comes out, the rooftop bar’s creative cocktails, G&Ts, burgers and other treats make the jostling worth it. According to urban legend, the iconic lion sculptures adorning the Chain Bridge don’t have tongues. From the terrace at Leo, you’ll find out.
Sip fine Hungarian wines at St Andrea Wine & Sky Bar
If you’re into reds, whites and rosés, St Andrea is a great choice. Having started out as a small winery in the eastern Hungarian town of Eger, the label has become world-renowned, enabling the owners to open a fine-dining restaurant followed by a rooftop bar in the capital. At St Andrea, you can enjoy the high life with soft jazz tunes, excellent Eger wines and gourmet bar food galore.
In addition to a year-round indoor section, this deluxe drinking destination boasts two alfresco terraces with fetching views. A night out here will cost you a pretty penny (or forint), but the experience is undoubtedly the most elegant and exclusive of all Budapest’s rooftop options.
Architecture lovers should head to Intermezzo Rooftop Terrace
Perched eight floors up at Hotel President, Intermezzo provides a panorama to die for. In the past, the hotel’s roof terrace used to attract attention with its helicopter-landing pad. Today, it’s home to an alfresco bar and restaurant that hosts yoga sessions in summer, and an elevated ice rink and stylish igloos in which to stay warm come winter.
Stylish patrons sip drinks or enjoy dinner in style underneath the colorful lights. The highlight is the view of the Parliament over the roof of the Hungarian State Treasury and its vibrant Zsolnay porcelain tiles. Walk-ins are welcome, but you need to request a (free) entry card at the hotel reception before taking the elevator to the 8th floor (note that you have to change cars on the 5th floor).
The Duchess is the best bar for sunset cocktails
The Duchess is a “secret liquor library” hidden on the rooftop of Matild Palace overlooking the Danube and the Buda Hills. It takes a little hunting to find the elevator that takes you up (look for the key symbol inside the hotel entrance near Spago Restaurant). After you ascend, you’ll step out of the elevator and see statues of giraffes and velvet couches, then an art deco bar with an encyclopedia’s worth of liquor lining its mahogany shelves.
The extensive cocktail menu features unique creations and curious ingredients like banana-infused angostura, pear-flavored kefir water, cardamom syrup and an array of unusual liquors and high-end spirits. It’s worth booking a table in advance, especially if you plan to go in the early evening to enjoy the view over the river as the sun sets behind the Buda Hills.