The Island Kerts

Margit sziget, [map]
Between Buda and Pest, II, Margit hid (T4/6), 2-5 min

Rating: 9.4/10 (Overall)

You might not find the word ‘kert’ in the Oxford English Dictionary yet but you’d be hard pushed to get through a spring in Budapest, without hearing someone ask: “When are the kerts opening?”

The kerts are open-air bars with a transient existence that begins in late May and ends in September. When they open, you know that the summer’s started and when they close, you know it’s over. Margit sziget hosts its fair share.

Holdudvar
(Rating: 8.4/10)

The most sizeable and versatile of the island kerts combines restaurant, bar, and late-night dancefloor. Tables stretch out under orange West Balkan-style lanterns, past table-tennis, table-football, drinks bar, sausage bar (which smells pretty good), palinka bar and around the corner to a calmer grassy area at the back.

There’s a sense that Holdudvar is trying just a bit too hard to be all things to all people.
It succeeds to a large extent, due to the fact that it’s so vast, but it does all feel a bit contrived. The dancefloor is now indoors and invariably packed. Music though is largely unimaginative but popular amongst tourists in holiday mood: “...murmer, murmer, LAST FOREVER... murmer, murmer... BEST DAYS OF MY LIFE!”

It claims to have an art gallery as well, whose true function is a place to wait for people
who are in the toilets.

Sark kert (Rating: 9.3/10)

The most basic and Hungarian of the kerts on the island sits between Holdudvar and the river. Two days before it opened this year, it really didn’t look like it was going to. It’s not the most sophisticated place: a few huts house the bars, including one that sells sausages, hekk and pörkölt; seating is a bit rickety, and the floor is a kind of dry soil. There are always a couple of dogs running around too.

Sark kert though, has a hippy soul and is infused with a carefree, relaxed atmosphere.
Sitting in the blazing sun, with some relief from the parasols, this might be Budapest or it could be somewhere on the other side of the world. There’s the occasional band too, and concerts tend to evolve into late night jams.

Cha Cha Cha - Terasz (Rating: 8.2/10)

Cha cha cha is not really a place for sitting around. It feels like a bar at some holiday resort – a wooden shack dancefloor at least assures you that you’re somewhere more exotic than Northamptonshire, while the accompanying leisure centre does nothing of the sort. Music is holiday-friendly, perhaps not as cheesy as Holdudvar. The bassline from Billy Jean escapes from its dance rehash and collides with Rihanna’s Umbrella. Cha cha cha does have its own personality though and always seems to be full of girls and indeed anyone who wants to dance.

By some well-thought out plan, they’ve decided to charge for the toilets, evidently with the aim of encouraging you to find the nearest tree instead, which is exactly what everybody does.

The other one (Rating: 7.0/10)

Now, it’s easy to forget that Margit Sziget has another bar: the imaginatively titled Sziget Klub Terasz. Given that it’s the first one you get to and the only one that has a river view without having to stand on tiptoes, it should be a much bigger draw than it is.

However, it looks like it might be a restaurant and no one’s ever going to remember that name. Besides, the music, coming courtesy of the radio, holds neither surprises nor atmosphere. An identity of some kind would work wonders – ideas anyone? Still, it’s quite a pleasant place to sip a beer and watch the river flow.
Hold, udvar, shark, club, terrace, outdoor, drinking, siget, hub choice



Walking down the island from Margit hid (Margaret Bridge), Sziget Klub Terasz is almost immediately on your left, and Cha Cha Cha follows soon after. For Holdudvar, continue in a straight line, past the fountain, and you should see the orange lanterns through the trees. Sark kert is to the right of this, bordering the river, with entrances on either side.

Andy Sz.

6 comments:

  1. Mókus said...

    there are some in the other end of the sziget, close to Arpad hid. Cant remember their name, but they are a bit more snobby with an amazing view to the river and also have some chairs down by the river so it does feel like you are in a beach bar!  

  2. Magda said...

    I am just new to the life of Budapest, but the first day I was here I went to Szimpla - this was amazing!  

  3. hub events said...

    Magda,

    Yes, Szimpla's a bit of a classic. Actually, I'm in England at the moment, having a bit of a break from Hungary till mid-August, and there's nothing like that back here. And! The pubs close at eleven. Amazing.

    Mokus, I 've never been to a bar down that end of the island, but sitting by the river is always good. Fecske kert has a pretty silly beach area too.

    Andy T.  

  4. Mókus said...

    heard that Mumus opened, reopened this past week (corner of Dob and Sip utca). it was a classic before they closed it.  

  5. Bars and Cafes said...

    Hey mokus,

    Thanks for the heads up. I've also heard that that place has a good reputation, although I don't think I was around when it was open last time. I'll be back to Budapest in a week or so... I'll check it and post a review.  

  6. Mókus said...

    remember the one in the front? before chachacha, the closest to the entrance?

    we tried it recently and its totally charming. its got the music you can dance to (a bit cheesy, but thats okay for happy times), there is no crowd, its not a meat market (like Holdudvar), the river is so close, you can almost dip your feet in it, the bathrooms are operated by "Agi mama" (i.e. they are superclean, super-equipped and there is toilet paper).  


 

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