Turkey’s’other’ city, Gay Ankara is the countries cosmopolitan capital which might at first look appear merely as a transit point for getting to places. But there is more here than meets the idea.
Nothing compared to the grand Ottoman palaces or regal facades of Istanbul, Ankara offers a youthful beat, modern architecture, a charming old town, and affordable luxury. A purpose-built capital with a strategic location at the heart of the country, you are just as likely to rub shoulders with foreign diplomats as students on a night out here – though in Ankara’s one gay club you might well find both!
The homosexual ‘culture’ more frequently seen in west European has made its mark Istanbul, Ankara, and Izmir and until recently public opinion in respect to homosexuality was slowly shifting in a positive direction. Bisexuality has been accepted in Turkey for much of its history, but today you will find men in larger cities who freely admit to being gay – generally those found in European style gay-bars. However, many more have wives/families and only indulge in the local Ankara scene in which men enjoy each other in hammams without fear that they may be considered gay.
Same-sex sexual activity was legalized in the Ottoman Empire (predecessor of Turkey) in 1858 and has always been legal in Turkey although the subject is still highly taboo and discrimination frequently occurs. It is difficult to summarise the situation of LGBT rights in Turkey especially give the steady erosion of civil liberties in Turkey following the failed summer 2016 coup attempt – but LGBT events are now banned in Ankara under the pretext of social cohesion including Ankara Pride.
Complex and contradicting, Gay Ankara – much like Kuala Lumpur and Jakarta, other liberal and secular mega-city in Muslim majority countries – has a lot to offer queer travelers, who with a little care are unlikely to experience any discrimination if they avoid outright displays of public affection. If you are looking to meet guys online, Hornet is the most popular hookup app used by Turkish gay men, as Grindr is banned for not filtering pornography.
Not only is there a small undercover gay scene in Ankara but you can also find incredible food, world-class shopping, cheap 5-star hotels and plenty of historical attractions in this newly-minted, cosmopolitan capital.
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Gay Ankara Guide: The Essential Guide To LGBT Travel In Ankara Turkey
In this article we will cover...
Things To Do in Ankara
Because gay life in Ankara mostly takes place at night – in public anyway-, during the day travelers have nothing to do but sit poolside, indulge at a Hamam or check out the cities top attractions – which should keep you busy for a few days at least!
All travelers in Ankara should take caution in less-developed areas with valuables and take taxi’s or Uber at night – and always listen to local advice when exploring. Remember – gay or straight – public displays of affection are not normal here and best totally avoided, but especially those between same-sex people.
Attractions in Ankara
- Hittite Sites – An impressive open-air rock sanctuary created by the Hittites, the second oldest known civilization in Anatolia. Gaze at the stunning landscapes on the way to Hattusas, the ancient Hittite capital which dates from 3,000 BC, where you can see the impressive Lion’s Gate, King’s Gate, Citadel and the Grand Temple.
- Anıtkabir – The mausoleum, complete with marble hall, turrets & museum, of Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, the leader of the Turkish War of Independence and the founder and first President of the Republic of Turkey.
- Museum of Anatolian Civilizations – World-class archaeology exhibits in a stunning Ottoman-era building featuring objects from the Paleolithic era through to the classical period.
- Ankara Castle – Who could resist a hilltop castle with 360-degree views over the entire city? An epic fortification from the late antique / early medieval era, there is no place to get better views of Gay Ankara.
- Kocatepe Mosque – It goes without saying that gay travelers should be extra-discreet here, but this neoclassical Ottoman-style is a must say, and is truly enormous. It holds up to accommodating 24,000 devote followers!
- Göksu Park – Recently renovated this is now our favorite park in Ankara, complete with a gorgeous lake, wooden walkway and plenty of space for picnics.
- Cermodern – A modern-art museum hosting exhibits & events in a former railway workshop.
- 2-Day Cappadocia Adventure – You have come all this way so why not venture into Turkey’s geologic paradise to uncover the ancient frescoes at the Open Air Museum and see the surreal landscapes of Goreme National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. While you are there – you have to visit Pasabagi and Pigeon Valley and stop at the pottery village of Avanos. To cap it all off, enjoy a hot-air balloon ride which soars above Cappadocia’s surreal volcanic rock formations for an experience of a lifetime.
- Stop By Antalya – The Turkish Riviera with a quirky old town, ancient ruins, glorious nature, and luxurious resorts, Antalya is the perfect way to relax and unwind!
Gay Groups in Ankara
- Kaos GL – One of the few officially recognized gay organizations in Turkey that originally started as a gay-lesbian culture / gay rights with the goal to unite Turkey’s homosexuals against discrimination. The still publish the magazine four times a year and run the Ankara KAOS Cultural Center which hostels cultural activities, discussion and film screenings – as well as having an LGBT library of Turkey.
- Pembe Hayat – Turkey’s first trans rights organization which advocates in the national and international arena on issues such as discrimination against trans people, hate crimes, violence and social exclusion, as well as providing direct support services.
- Ankara Bears – A group that tries to bring together all the Ankara gay bears with parties and events. Sadly they are not extremely active, but you can always message them to find out what is on!
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Gay-friendly and Gay Hotels in Ankara
In Ankara, you would be hard-pressed to find an upscale hotel that had any issues with gay guests, but discretion is sometimes advised still in this changing and increasingly conservative society.
Some Ankara hotels are more popular with queer travelers due to their location or for their inclusive environment, which we have chosen to feature here. These gay-friendly hotels in Ankara are frequented by members of the LGBT community and have solid reputations, but as you might have guessed – there are no explicitly gay hotels in Ankara.
When looking at other hotels, we don’t recommend staying at very cheap hotels as local police typically raid these looking for prostitution. And if the police find you having sex, you will be arrested so it is just easier to avoid these budget / questionable properties altogether.
All Turkish hotels must record every visitor in a police-controlled system, so you cannot invite a date to your room in these hotels – but in 4 stars or higher you are generally allowed as you are paying a premium – just let your reception know beforehand.
Each hotel and area offer something particular, so be sure to choose the right style and location to meet your needs. Prices are cheap compared to North American and European hotels (thought quickly rising), and standards are generally high – so it’s a great place to splurge! Of course, there are also a hundred’s more hotel and hostel options in Ankara if none of these suit your desired budget, facilities or area!
- JW Marriott Hotel Ankara ☆☆☆☆☆– Uncompromising elegance is the hallmark of the JW Marriott Hotel Ankara, and gay travelers will be immediately captivated by the 5-star luxury and prime city center location. We always feel comfortable staying at Marriott properties thanks to their international LGBT marketing campaign ‘Love Travels,’ but particularly love this location for its refined rooms and suites, some having 4-poster beds and whirlpool tubs, and the incredible free daily breakfast. There is also a very fashionable rooftop bar with live jazz music most nights, both indoor and outdoor pools, a luxe spa and a comprehensive gym.
- Divan Cukurhan ☆☆☆☆ – An upscale boutique hotel, in a wonderfully restored brick-and-stone inn and marketplace dating back to the 16th century. Tranquil rooms with sophisticated, old-world decor with rainfall showers – while the included breakfast is served in a graceful restaurant in the converted former marketplace. Not enough? There is also an old-school bar, gym, and library complete with outlandish taxidermy.
- Lugal, A Luxury Collection Hotel ☆☆☆☆☆– Close to all of Gay Ankara’s main attractions, including having the one gay club in Ankara just a 10 minute walk away, Lugal Hotel is an uber-chic, high-end hotel offering modern design, wood furnishings, and floor-to-ceiling windows. Experience gracious hospitality on a grand scale with their boutique 91 rooms and suites and make use of an array of thoughtful amenities including a fitness area, indoor pool, sauna, gym, and relaxing massages.
- Check Inn Suite Hotel & Spa ☆☆☆☆ – A boutique design hotel that has an exceptionally fashionable vibe and often attracts gay / younger urban travelers. Besides the fun design – exposed brick walls painted white, framed graphic design pieces on the walls, and colorful furniture – guest can also enjoy a rooftop restaurant with panoramic views of the city and a spa center including a sauna, gym, hammam and massage rooms. Or relax in the oh-so-trendy and stylish rooms featuring more eccentric design, modern art, and velvet seating.
- Ankara HiltonSA ☆☆☆☆ – The height of comfort and style in the capital city, the gay-friendly Ankara HiltonSA is a contemporary hotel in the center of historical Ankara…and so close to the Ankara gay bar! Relax in sleek, modern rooms, enjoy the complimentary continental breakfast or indulge in the heated pool, sauna, fitness center, sun terrace, and a Turkish bath. The cozy lobby piano lounge is a great spot for socializing.
- Maltepe 2000 Hotel ☆☆☆ – A modern hotel in the bustling city center we loved the affordable prices, free daily breakfast buffet and stylish, Hollywood-themed rooms on offer at Maltepe 2000 Hotel. Some suite rooms also have jacuzzi’s and room service is available 24/7 from the on-site restaurant offering Turkish and international fare.
- Angora House Hotel ☆☆☆ – This small and charming guest house is situated on the edge of Ankara Evi Park, near Ankara Castle and beautifully decorated with Ottoman-style furnishings. Perfect for those who just want to revel in Ankara’s historic area or relax with a delicious Turkish breakfast in the charming courtyard.
- Inn 14 Hostel ☆☆ – If the extrovert in you want to avoid ‘boring’ hotels, then why not save some coin and stay at the Inn 14 Boutique in one of Ankara’s most popular, hippest and trendiest areas. Clean, modern and social, the Inn 14 Hostel attracts students, young people, backpackers, and tourists – so it’s perfect if you want to make friends to explore the nightlife of Gay Ankara with!
Ankara has a considerably less gay life than Istanbul, in large part due to mounting political pressure so do not expect the gay nightlife to be as colorful as you might expect for a city of this size.
A few Ankara gay bars and clubs have opened – and promptly shut – in recent years, but thankfully there is still one fun gay club and various gay-popular options catering to the LGBT community in Ankara. We strongly recommend checking them out to show support, and to see one of the few examples of gay nightlife in the Middle East – but we have also included our favorite cocktail spots and bar you should try to visit.
Outside of the gay bars, discretion is advised, and it is best to avoid all signs of affection between same-sex couples. Despite this, things can get crazy on a night out in Gay Ankara, and what better way could there be to get to know the locals. Just don’t forget your common sense!
- Sixties Pub – A wild LGBT club with blockbuster lighting, a sizeable night-sky balcony area, and very friendly service. The only gay club in Ankara where gay Turks can party and just be themselves! Friday and Sunday nights, Sixties Pub is absolutely packed full of beautiful and flamboyant people, all living there best lives – complete with wigs, glitter and feather boas. Sixties Pub usually gets busy way after midnight. Mostly busy after midnight with a well-stocked bar, plenty of dancing, karaoke, and occasional drag shows, or other performances. If you can visit only one bar in Gay Ankara, please make it Sixties Pub.
- Savoy Bistro & Cafe – A gay/ gay-friendly place publicly welcoming all LGBT people and offering karaoke, live music and events like masked and pajama parties. More crazy later in the night, with reasonable prices and a great place to meet Turkish university students. Open 12-12 every day except Monday, The Savoy Bistro & Café is easy to spot with its rainbow-colored window in downtown Kizilay.
- eSkiyEni – An unofficially gay-friendly spot and one of the best nightlife venues in Ankara. The eSkiyEni is a two-level club playing mostly pop music (upstairs) and electronic/trance (downstairs). A very cosmopolitan and liberal space, local LGBT people tend to hang out in the downstairs basement and dance the night away.
- Manhattan – Probably the most famous live music spot in Ankara, you don’t go here for the queer vibes (since there are none) but to experience international bands playing jazz, rock and blues gigs. A visit to the Manhatten will give you a real appreciation of local Ankara nightlife, and is always a great night!
- Zula Bar – A friendly neighborhood haunt with a gorgeous garden, mismatched whimsical wooden chairs, and low prices. Perfect for a lazy afternoon in the sun, or to enjoy a hearty dinner with beer before exploring the gay nightlife in Ankara.
- Altı Üstü Bar – A new hipster bar in Ankara with colorful interior design, hand-painted wall paintings, large outdoor terrace and a unique warmth. There are many concert events on the upper floor, and in the living rooms on the lower level which hosts writing, acting, breathing, and music workshops. Very bohemian, we recommend visiting in the evening for the array of live music – anything from traditional folk songs to funk and jazz – and the classic cocktails.
- Pub 21 – If you just want to relax with a good beer, you need to come here – to one of the best pubs in Ankara. Pub 21’s staff are very welcoming and also know how to create a fun vibe, complete with modern music. No more gay-popular than any other trendy location, but we would go for the social vibes, craft beer or the specialty Hakan cocktail alone!
Gay-Friendly Cinemas in Ankara
To be clear, there are no gay cinemas in Ankara, but if you are curious you can find plenty of straight porno-cinemas frequented by …open men! Thanks to Turkey’s historic bisexual culture, limited action is possible with guys are such venues, and a few specific porn cinemas in Ankara are very popular with gay guys. Remember discretion is critical here, as these cinemas are open to the public.
Just be careful you approach the right guy, or just let them approach you. If you want to try this out, the best places to go are Efes Sinemasi, Kerem Sinamasi, and Eti Sinemasi.
Gay Hamams in Ankara
Sadly Gay Ankara does not offer your traditional gay sauna experience as you will find in most Western countries. Thanks to local laws against any sexual action in public – or public venues – most venues in Ankara do not want to be labeled as gay or even gay-friendly from fear for raid, reprisals or shutdowns by local authorities and instead play the ‘three monkeys’: “see nothing, hear nothing, speak nothing”.
The Turkish bath (Hammam) is simply the Middle Eastern version of a steam bath and is set up to offer a spa-like experience – though of varying quality. Sex separates traditional hammams, and most are still done this way today, a frisky proposition in somewhat bisexual Turkey. Europeans discovered the Hammam through their interaction with the East hence the name Turkish bath, which has become a popular feature of the best gay sauna worldwide.
While there are many busy saunas, gyms, and hammams (Turkish bathhouses), you should realize this is a very traditional and cultural past time in Ankara and popular with both gay and straight men. Below we have listed the most popular Ankara gay Hamam which are often frequented by gay men – however, please practice discretion and care. To avoid any issues or disappointment, it is best to explore the Ankara Hamam’s merely to experience the history and tradition of the Turkish bath, and if more happens – so be it!
Gay-Popular Hamams in Ankara
- Yeniay Hamami – A very basic hamam that is small and with questionable hygiene – but is very liberal and everyone knows you only go here for one thing. If you are young and a foreigner you will be the object of everyone’s desire, including some of the attendants, but it is mostly guys in the 40+ bear category. The facilities are limited to showers, a steam room, and a hamam table.
- Marmara Hamami – Another gay-popular hamam in Ankara that is not very busy. The staff seems not to watch too closely what goes on, but the clients are shy, so you are more likely to have luck meeting a friendly guy and heading to a safe, private space later. Small, with the necessary scrub area, pool, dry and steam sauna.
Non-Gay Historic Hamams in Ankara
- Tarihi Karacabey Hamami – A beautiful historic Turkish bath tucked into a memorable, restored community of Ankara. Strongly recommended to everyone who wants to try the ottoman bath experience – complete with beautiful heated marble interior and a wood-paneled outer lounge and dressing area. No foreign language is spoken here however they can direct you with body language – try to treat yourself with one of the luxury spa packages.
- Sengul Hamam – Another top place to the traditional hamam experience in Ankara including sauna, scrubbing, washing, steam bath and wash downs in between. Excellent value, so we can only suggest going for the works…peel, soap massage, coffee scrub, and oil massage. Your skin will thank you later! While Sengul Hamam can be quite loud, the wood structure entrance and changing rooms, marble tiled walls, and heated floors mean a trip here is just like stepping back in time.