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Cruising The World’s 15 Best Gay Cruise Bars: An Insider’s Guide!

Cruising The World’s 15 Best Gay Cruise Bars: An Insider’s Guide!

The LGBTQ+ community has always had to create its own spaces, away from the judgment and discrimination of mainstream society. One of the most historically significant and enduring of these spaces is gay cruising bars.

These establishments have served as safe havens for gay men to gather, socialize, and let loose. While cruising bars have been around for decades, their role and importance in the LGBTQ+ community is often overlooked or misunderstood.

Cruising bars have a rich history that can be traced back to the late 19th century. In the early days, they were often located in basements or other hidden spaces, as homosexuality was still illegal in many places. These bars were established for gay men to safely gather, drink and pretty much engage in the same debauchery that straight people used to.

However, the advent of the HIV/AIDS epidemic in the 1980s led to the closure of many cruising bars, as they were often stigmatized as breeding grounds for the disease. This was because HIV/AIDS was still thought to be a disease exclusive to gay people at this point.

Best Gay Cruising Bars

Despite this setback, cruising bars have continued to play an important role in the LGBTQ+ community. They have become places where gay men can meet and form connections, both sexual and platonic. In many places, cruising bars are the only venues where gay men can freely express their sexuality without fear of discrimination or violence that can come with cruising in public.

In addition, cruising bars often serve as important community centers, hosting events and fundraisers for LGBTQ+ organizations and causes.

However, cruising bars are not without their controversies. There is often a perception that these establishments promote promiscuity and risky sexual behavior. While it is true that cruising bars provide a space for largely uninhibited sexual activity, it’s important to note that this is done in a safe and consensual environment.

Many cruising bars have strict rules and guidelines in place to ensure the health and safety of patrons. In addition, many cruising bars also offer safer sex education and resources, such as free condoms, and information about PreP / HIV testing.

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Cruising bars around the world have different cultural approaches and stories. In some places, like the United States, cruising bars have struggled to survive, facing closures and financial difficulties. This is because the United States has advanced to such a level that people can be publicly gay and proud; hence the need for cruising bars has been largely eliminated.

Gay people can now approach each other anywhere without fear of being arrested. In other places, like Europe, cruising bars have thrived and become integral parts of the gay community. In Asia, cruising bars have always been a place for LGBTQ+ people to gather and express themselves freely, and there’s a growing acceptance of diversity and people’s rights in many countries.

As with every other establishment, there are different types of cruising bars across the world. Some of them are tiny, no bigger than a booth, and are usually non-descript from the outside. You usually find these types of cruising bars in countries where being gay is illegal and tolerated or even outrightly castigated.

Hence, the need for a cruising bar that does not look like one. On the other hand, countries like America, the UK, etc, have large, conspicuous clubs where cruising occurs. This article is going to describe some of the best cruising bars that can be found around the world.

They all come in different sizes and likely have different client bases, but all of them are focused on delivering the best quality to anyone who walks through their doors.

Best Gay Cruising Bars

Censured Club (Roma, Italy)

Censured Club Roma is a gay cruising bar located in Via dei Quattro Cantoni (Rome) in the center of the city. It offers a lively and inviting environment with good drinks and great company. The staff is friendly and makes sure that everyone is having a good time.

The crowd is diverse and includes both young and older people. The themed nights are a particularly popular feature and always draw the largest crowd, so get there on time if you want to find a room. Although the atmosphere is fun and welcoming, some reviewers have noted that the language barrier can make it challenging to communicate with others.

Nevertheless, all you need to do is break out your Italian phrasebook and learn a few phrases. Knowing how to say ‘hi’ and ‘hello’ in the native language will go a long way. The music is great, so if you cannot communicate with words, try a sexy shimmy or two.

Best Gay Cruise Bars - Censured Club

The Box (Yumbo, Gran Canaria)

The slogan of this bar is ‘anything goes in the Box’, and they’re not joking. This gay club in Yumbo, Gran Canaria, is strictly for men, so you know they mean business. If you’re one of those gays who hates seeing straight people in queer spaces, then this club is for you.

It’s a cruise bar with two dark rooms and a range of facilities that accommodate all sorts of kinks and fetishes. They have free lockers to store anything you don’t want to keep on you, including clothes. The staff is sociable and always ready to answer any questions you may have about how things are done there.

It’s a hardcore bar, so ensure that you’re open-minded before you go there. Starting with your mouth open like a rube will spoil the mood for sure. It’s got a good range of people, as well as a mix of different ages and races. Finding someone you like to hook up with won’t be difficult. It’s for adults only, so carry an ID.

The Box Cruising Bar Yumbo

DRAKO Club (Lisbon, Portugal)

DRAKO is a Private gay cruise & fetish bar in Lisbon. It’s an adults-only space with relaxing cabins, a dark room, and even a men-only adult shop that opens on Fridays.

The space is quite large, covering about hundred and fifty square meters. Within the club, you can find anything from a chillout zone to showers, lockers, and even a sling for people into suspension. The lockers come in handy for weekly events, most of which require you to shed several items of clothing. We particularly love the ‘big bed’  area, as well as the dark room where everything goes.

The staff goes naked, and we don’t think it gets kinkier than that. If you’re feeling grimy after whatever hot, steamy activities you’ve gotten up to at the club, you can always use the showers. If you’re not interested in baring it all in public, you can always hit the dance floor and bump to their fantastic selection of music or even sit at the bar and order a drink or two.

Best Gay Cruise Bars - DRAKO Club

Le Detour (Brussels, Belgium)

Brussels is quickly gaining a reputation as a party city and a queer haven. Le Detour is one of the establishments leading this revolution. This incredible find is just a few steps away from Le Grand Place.

Although it’s not located in Rainbow Village, Brussels’ center of LGBTQ activities, visitors always claim that it’s much more friendly and laid back. The clients are unpretentious, and the owner, Nick, is a rare gem who is always ready with a friendly word and a welcoming smile.

Drinks are cheap and very good, especially the beers, and most patrons find themselves coming back over and over. It even opens in the afternoon, so feel free to stop by for a midday drink. It’s well worth a visit. 

Best Gay Cruise Bars - Le Detour

Spijkerbar (Amsterdam, Netherlands)

Spijker Bar is a gay bar in Amsterdam that has been open since 1978 and is known for being the oldest, friendliest, and most accepting establishment of its kind in the city. They open every day at 4 p.m. and are open until 3 a.m. on Fridays and Saturdays and 1 a.m. on other days.

They welcome visitors to experience Dutch culture and hospitality and have a strict policy against discrimination. The bar is a space where freedom, sex, and nudity are allowed as long as no one is harmed. Visitors who do not identify as part of the LGBTIQA+ community are welcome but should be respectful.

They offer free lockers and do not allow drugs. Entering the bar is at your own risk. Every Saturday at 5 p.m., they host Bingo with Dora Royale and have great cash prizes.

Best Gay Cruise Bars - Spijkerbar

BoyBerry (Madrid, Spain)

Chueca is a Madrid neighborhood known as the city’s main gay area. It is named after Federico Chueca, who is considered to be Madrid’s first gay icon. The area is located about 1km north of Gran Via and spans between Calle Hortaleza and Paseo de Recoletos.

Many gay bars can be found within a 10-minute walk of Plaza De Chueca, which also has a metro station. The neighborhood is easily accessible from the city center or by a short metro ride. Visitors will know they’ve arrived in the gay district as the walls of the metro station in Chueca are decorated with rainbows.

One popular gay cruising bar in the area is BoyBerry, which has a small, relaxed bar with cheap drinks and a lovely staff. The bar also has multiple levels with plenty of entertainment options. The crowd at BoyBerry is typically on the younger side, so if you’re older, you might feel out of place there. Don’t worry, though; the patrons are friendly.

Best Gay Cruise Bars - BoyBerry
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Maggie Choo’s (Bangkok, Thailand)

 We’re really proud of how much progress Thailand has made regarding gay rights. Bangkok, in particular, is a haven for gay Asians who may not be accepted elsewhere. 

Maggie Choo’s is a speakeasy-style bar located in the Silom area of Bangkok. It is an underground den located in the basement of Novotel Bangkok Silom Road, an upscale hotel in the heart of Bangkok that boasts 19th-century colonial art and architecture, giving the bar a unique and dramatic atmosphere.

The bar opens daily from 7:30 p.m. to 2 a.m., and the closest train station is Sala Daeng BTS station, where you can take a taxi to reach the location. If you arrive early enough, you can reserve a private room, which has a hidden entrance that gives the room a secret feel.

The bar hosts its famous drag show every Sunday evening with games, free shots, and drink deals. The entry fee is ฿500 and covers the cost of a free drink. Additionally, the bar has special events and shows depending on the season, such as exotic dancing and models.

It prides itself on being the only burlesque theater in Bangkok and also hosts burlesque shows. You can enjoy a glass of moderately-priced wine or whiskey while marveling at the luxurious interior.

Best Gay Cruise Bars - Maggie Choo’s

Vault 139 (London, United Kingdom)

If you’re in the heart of London and you only have time to visit one gay cruise bar, it should be Vault 139. It is the Ultimate cruise bar and one of the busiest in London. Once you get through the front door and into the basement, you’re met with a packed bar where every sort of sexual activity you can think of goes on.

Whether you want to stay fully clothed, strip down to your underwear or be completely nude, there is a place and an event for you. There are lockers where you can leave your things, and the staff is super-welcoming. It’s open seven days a week, from 1 p.m. to 1 a.m.

They thoughtfully provided you with condoms and lube on entry, along with a free drink and a place to hang your coat. Consider taking PrEP if you’re going to be a regular there. The location is always clean, so you don’t feel any ick, and the prices are reasonable. They also offer daily discounts on drinks.

Vault 139 (London, United Kingdom)

Bunker (Riga, Latvia)

We don’t know too much about the queer scene in Latvia, but we’re always glad to see gay clubs everywhere. This one is new and located in the heart of Riga, the capital of Latvia. It is just a short distance from the famous TOP club, Riga. Bunker cruising club is a super-sleek and modern club that IS stylish.

It attracts creatives from all over the city and is generally seen as a cool place to go for both queers and straights. It is only for adults, naturally.

Best Gay Cruise Bars - Bunker

Slammed Club (Los Angeles, US)

Slammer Club is the ideal destination for those in Los Angeles seeking the most attractive gay men over 18 years of age. The bar features a combination of private and public spaces, dimly lit nooks, and ample opportunities for outdoor play on the patio and in the sling areas.

For those who enjoy smoking, the club also provides a designated area for that purpose. The property also boasts a variety of mazes for exploration and a video room for entertainment. This venue may not be suitable for those looking for elegance, but it’s worth checking out for those seeking a night of indulgence.

The staff is welcoming, and the variety of areas available is impressive, including spaces for oral sex and handjobs, private rooms, slings, and even a space for watersports. The only downside is that the music selection is limited, and the same tracks are played repeatedly. However, with so many other activities to enjoy, you may find that it becomes less of an issue.

Slammer Club LA

Panti Bar (Dublin, Ireland)

It’s always amazing when a queer icon creates something lasting that can serve as their legacy, even when they are gone. Pantibar was established in 2007 by Pandora Panti Bliss, an Irish drag queen and gay rights activist.

It is located on Chapel Street in Dublin and has been a mainstay in Dublin’s queer scene since it was founded. It is located just a stone’s throw from the Liffey River and caters to a diverse clientele.

Pantibar is a chic gay bar with a relaxed atmosphere. The decor is classic, and the ambiance is warm and welcoming. As the bar is owned by a drag queen, you can expect exciting drag shows, and every patron has nothing but praise for the establishment. Weekends at Pantibar are all about the beats, with a diverse selection of music genres, including pop, indie, and disco.

It is always bustling, although the weekends are more packed than the weekdays. Any day, any time, you can be sure of a good time and drinks that are affordable. This cozy establishment is one that people keep coming back to.

Best Gay Cruise Bars - Panti Bar
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Q & K Cruising Bar(Tenerife, Spain)

Q & K Cruising bar is a chill, low-key bar located in the South of Tenerife, Las Americas. It is in an area with quite a few gay bars, and hay representation is not very high there, so people who come across it are always pleasantly surprised to learn of it.

The bar staff are amazing and always have interesting storylines to tell. The drinks are also great, and the clientele is made up of friendly, sociable people. It’s one of the best bars in Tenerife, gay and straight. Travelers always find it memorable.

Theatron (Bogotá, Colombia)

It’s incredible that one of the biggest clubs in the world is a gay bar, but that’s what Theatron is. It is an incredible arena of a club located in Bogotá, Colombia. The massive, castle-like structure that can house up to 5000 people, and although it is a gay club, it is open to everyone as long as you’re tolerant and respectful.

Once you pay the cover charge of about $15, you have access to the open bar until 2 a.m. and different types of music blasts from the thirteen rooms. The air is charged with energy, and the staff is always on hand to help you with whatever you want.

The drinks are great, as you can expect, and there are plenty of spaces you can chill out and take in the music. It’s a great way to work on your people skills, as you’ll meet many people there.

We’d advise caution in navigating Bogotá, as it can be hard to find your way around, even in the gay zones. Make sure you go with someone who knows their way around and be ready to hail a taxi if you need to.

Best Gay Cruise Bars - Theatron

Sodade2 (Athens, Greece)

Sodade2 is a smaller gay bar in Athens, specifically in the Gazi area. It is a good alternative to Shamone as a destination for gay nightlife. The music is quite loud, and in the past, they had a dance floor that was packed every weekend.

During the pandemic, they switched to tables to comply with social distancing rules. The lighting is dim and colorful, which is a nice touch. The only downside is that it can be hard to tell how crowded the club is from the street, as the entrance is a small vestibule with double doors, making it difficult to see inside.

We recommend that you ask the patrons outside or even a gay dating app to gauge the crowd before going in.

Best Gay Cruise Bars - Sodade2

Pieces (NYC, United States)

Trust New York to have iconic gay locations. The West Village, in particular, has witnessed tremendous growth from a small, sleepy village to w bustling hub. And one of the defining features of The West Village is the Pieces.

It is one of the oldest gay bars in New York City and is renowned for its elegant, rib-cracking drag shows and its funny drag shows. It is also one of the few gay bars in New York that has a cruising bar in the back room. It is kept secret, but on busy weekends, the place is open for the curious and adventurous to go in. People love Pieces for its mixed crowd.

Unlike other clubs catering to a specific group of people, you can find all ages, races, and sizes in the club. They also have a really happy hour and offer five-dollar beers and seven-dollar drinks. If you’re free on weekends, drop by with your friends for their epic ‘liquid Brunch’. Order a cab or have a designated driver because you’ll be in no shape to drive when it’s done.

Best Gay Cruise Bars - Pieces

Shaft Cruise Zone (Cape Town, South Africa)

Shaft Cruise Zone in Cape Town is S.A’s No.1 gay cruising destination and has everything you can want in a cruising bar. Glory holes, sex slings, backrooms and mazes, luxury cabins, private rooms, porn lounges, the list is endless. Once you can think of it, you can find it somewhere in there. It’s clean, and the staff is friendly.

The crowd is varied and infectious, and the crowd is usually an interesting mixture, so you’re pretty much guaranteed to find your spec there. You’re checked in when you arrive, and then they hand you a tag for the bar.

Next, you are shown to a locker, where you can keep any article of clothing you remove. After that, all you need to do is let your imagination run wild. Any fantasies you have will definitely be fulfilled. 

At this point, we’ve probably solved some of your vacation dilemmas in terms of where to go next time you’re on holiday. No need to thank us, just make sure you have fun.

Shaft Cruise Zone (Cape Town, South Africa)

Club Divino (Santiago, Chile)

Club Divino is popularly known as the gateway to Chile’s gay community. It’s one of the best places you hear about or visit when discovering the queer scene of Gay Santiago. It’s a massive space with three floors, and it puts on about three shows per night, so there is no end to the excitement that one can get from there.

The shoes include ones like the “Grand Cabaret,”; sexy dance shows that get everyone heated, and an acrobatic, magic-style show that is nothing short of breathtaking. Comedy, music, dance, and drama: you can get it all at Club Divino.

The place starts slowly, so try to get there after midnight: things start to heat up. The entrance fee comes to 11,500 Chilean pesos and includes a free drink. Once it’s your birthday, you can get in for free and stay until 1 a.m. Just make sure you come with your ID to prove it. 

Best Gay Cruise Bars - Club Divino
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