It is interesting how different seasons can bring about different experiences. As a winter traveller who finally went to Europe in the summer for the very first time, I learned that daylight there is actually quite long and lasts until around 9 pm. It is quite an unusual experience to have the sun shining up for so long, especially coming from a tropical country where daytime and night happens every 12 hours.

High Note Sky Bar view which exposed by the long night summer sun. Photo by Erza ST/NOW!JAKARTA

The beauty of this experience is that people can enjoy the great sunset after working hours have ended, and in Budapest, people really know how to enjoy the long summer nights.  As one of the famous city destinations in Central Europe, Budapest, the capital of Hungary, is popular for many things, including history, architecture, natural beauty, and even design. However, do you know that the city also has a very exciting nightlife? In my two weeks time in this city, I tried to spend these long summer nights like the locals, which involved many great outdoor scenes—and drinks!

Following the worldwide rooftop trend, Budapest also has some gorgeous rooftops that are great to start your evening.

My first rooftop selection is nestled on the top of famously award-winning and well-designed Aria Hotel called High Note Skybar. Open all year long, this rooftop is adorned with 360-degree views of the entire city and in particular the famous St. Stephen’s Basilica. Its main terrace is decorated like a large roof-garden that is filled by who’s who of Budapest during sunset time. There are also two special and separate terraces for smaller parties of 5 to 20 people. This swanky rooftop is perfect to start the fun during the long summer nights. It is popular, so you’d better book a table in advance.

High Note Sky Bar at Aria Hotel Budapest

Another equally rooftop in Budapest worth visiting just opened last June. Crowning the recently unveiled Hotel Clark on the Buda side, this is Leo Budapest. I was quite fortunate to experience it on the second day after it opened. This half circle rooftop undeniably has the most picturesque view of the Danube, Chain Bridge, Parliament House and Buda Castle. Reservations are challenging to get as this is the new it place to go for drinks. They also serve food— the oyster au gratin was simply to die for.

If you are looking for a more local experience with great live concerts, then Pontoon is definitely the place. Located at the right side of the Pest-side bridgehead of the Chain Bridge, Pontoon is a fun cultural nightclub where one can enjoy Palinka while sitting on the sandy ground with the Hungarian Academy of Sciences in the background, our legs over the Danube. Locals and tourists  hang out here for its great drinks and music. Good news! Drinks in Budapest are not expensive! It won’t be long before you start singing with all your new friends here!

From swanky rooftops to the happy-go-lucky cultural nightclub, I went to check out the most talked about speakeasy bar called Her Majesty The Rabbit that is hidden in the heart of District VII. Known for its great mixologist cocktails, this speakeasy is actually a local piano bar with a strict membership system.

I was so lucky to visit this place with Daniel G. Nemet, the Night Mayor of Budapest. I can’t even remember where this speakeasy bar is located, luckily Dani is a member as well as my ‘open sesame’ charm to this place. I love this charming rabbit hole as it has quirky decor and outstanding cocktails. You will definitely feel like modern Alice in this place—with fabulous drinks of course.

Inside Szimpla.

Budapest at night offers many fun places to go especially on long summer nights like now. It is no surprise that the city is packed with tourists from around the world who want to experience the great Hungarian nightlife. Of all the places, Szimpla is the most famous one in the city and it attracts thousands of people every night to this fabulously quirky and unique place. Allow me to share why.

The story of Szimpla— aka Budapest’s “ruin bar”— begins in 2004 where a run-down apartment building on Kazincy Street District VII was saved from demolition by a group of entrepreneurs looking to open up a bar/community space.

Instead of redeveloping this building, they choose to work with its state by adding free spirit design with quirky furniture and decorations, inventing an extreme eclectic aesthetic, and changing the fate of the space that was destined for ruin. This venture was a great success and the ruin pub concept was born, making them a pioneer and the original.

The view of Leo Budapest.

The movement continues where decaying buildings are saved and instead of being renovated, they work with the natural surroundings and create more ruin pubs in Budapest. Accessories such as bathtubs, 1980’s computers, taxidermy and cars were added to give originality to each bar. As the original one, Szimpla remains most popular among visitors from around the world.

Going into the Szimpla is like going into a labyrinth of cacophony with bars and great drinks. They have even created their own beer that is so refreshing and not to be missed. Your long summer nights in Budapest won’t be complete without a visit to Szimpla!

Erza S.T.

Erza S.T.

Erza S.T. is the founder of Indonesia Opera Society and has helped contribute to the citys classical music scene. An avid traveller, he writes about his forays around the world for NOW! Jakartas travel section.