Gay Budapest, the charismatic capital of Hungary, offers plenty of hidden delights for LGBT travelers no matter where their interests lie…
A majestic city that has found a winning formula infuses a unique culture with uninhibited nightlife, plenty of glorious old-world baths, luxury hotels, and a burgeoning dining scene. It’s no wonder tourism is booming in Budapest and Gay Budapest is thriving. The 2000’s were marked by plenty of blatant homophobia and general cultural intolerance of gay people across Hungary.
Attitudes are slowly changing and today Budapest is a relatively liberal city – although it is still advised to keep overt displays of public affection to a minimum… Much like Bucharest, Hungary with Viktor Orban seem hell-bent on turning ‘illiberal’, though hopefully, this turns out to be just a small bump in the road to full societal acceptance of gay life in Hungary.
As in much of Eastern Europe, the younger generation is finding their voice and in cosmopolitan Budapest, you can find plenty of trendy cafés and bars frequented by the LGBT community. However, Many older Hungarians will still not admit to being gay – even when you spot them making out on the dance floor.
Despite Hungary’s less than progressive attitudes to gay rights, Budapest should be on everybody list not only because of its tantalizing energy and wild gay nightlife but because of its fascinating mix of communism, old-world elegance and a near-total devotion to modern capitalism. Things can get really wild here, but that’s half the fun of Budapest. Just use your common sense and stay safe!
Gay Budapest Guide: The Essential Guide To Gay Travel In Budapest Hungary 2018
In this article we will cover...
Attractions in Budapest
Obviously being gay does not define which attraction most of us will want to see in each city and most queer travelers will simply want to check out the top things to see in Budapest during the day! Budapest is a very safe city but still, all travelers should take caution in crowded areas or at night in bars with valuables.
Gay travelers in Budapest should take special care in terms of public displays of affection where many residents are uncomfortable LGBT culture and likely hold conservative attitudes, and outright homophobia is not unheard of. While Vienna may be only a few hours away, in terms of attitude it is a world-away and other ex-soviet cities like Prague and Tallinn are more LGBT tolerant. Overall gay life in Budapest requires a common-sense approach which will generally ensure you have no issues exploring this beautiful and diverse city.
There is so much to do in this gorgeous city – but we found our favorite memories were just sitting and drinking coffee watching the world go by, getting lost in the beautiful historic center or dancing away the night with new friends at one of the Budapest gay parties. If you have the time you might consider hiring a car to check out the beautiful surrounding small towns and countryside, though you hardly run the risk of getting bored no matter how long you stay in Budapest.
You can’t throw a stone in this city without hitting something grand and historic – but still, it helps to have some kind of idea what is going on, so here are our just a few of our favorite things to do in Budapest that you should not miss!
- Budapest Pride – The biggest LGBT events held annually in July in Budapest since 1997. While it might not be as big and glorious as other pride’s in the USA or Europe such as Paris, Fort Lauderdale or Lisbon, Budapest Pride is one of the biggest in Eastern Europe. As much about achieving full social equality as celebrating queerness in all its diversity, this Pride has plenty of vibrant club parties, a fun street parade and other associated events making it worth planning a gay vacation around!
- Szechenyi Thermal Bath – One of the most popular tourist attractions in Budapest, the Szechenyi Thermal Bath in Budapest’s City Park are actually the largest medicinal bath in Europe. With multiple indoor and outdoor pools served by two different thermal springs, a day at Szechenyi is the perfect way to relax, cure a hangover or check out all the cute boys. The Bath’s also play host to epic pool parties in the summer months, although it is mostly hetero-fun. Still, we are hopeful there is an LGBT+ version in the future.
- Hungarian Parliament Building – The world’s third largest Parliament building with an iconic Neo-Gothic façade. Not to be outdone, the interior of Hungary’s parliament feature stunning frescoes, statues, and stained glass mosaics, as well as the Holy Crown of Hungary!
- Chain Bridge – The first bridge to span the Danube River in Hungary, this ‘wonder of the modern world’ is oh-so-photogenic and when completed united Buda and Pest as one city for the first time.
- Andrássy Avenue – In the heart of Old Budapest, this grand street features Neo-Renaissance mansions galore and is also the city’s main shopping district. Take a stroll along its storied streets and pop into cafés, restaurants, museums, and theaters, as well as luxury boutiques.
- Hungarian State Opera House – The most extraordinary landmark on Andrássy Avenue is Budapest’s lavish opera house. Take a peek inside to step back into the glory of the Austro-Hungarian Empire or for a real treat try to get tickets to one of the world-class performances held here.
- Fisherman’s Bastion – Named after the group of fishermen that previously defended Buda’s Medieval riverbank, the Fisherman’s Bastion’s melodramatic views make it one of Budapest’s most visited spots. Head up before sunset for a magical moment you will never forget.
- House of Terror – The infamous museum which doubles as a memorial to the victims of the fascist and communist regimes. History buffs will not what to miss a trip here, but be warned: some of the stories are pretty intense.
- St. Stephen’s Basilica – The most beautiful religious monument in Budapest dedicated to Hungary’s first king. The St. Stephen’s Basilica’s exceptional beauty is visible from outside, but don’t forget to pop inside and pay a few coins to see the actual right hand of St. Stephen light up…
- Budapest Sightseeing Cruise – See the wonders of Budapest from the River Danube with a cocktail in hand. With the best vantage point of monuments as Buda Castle, the Parliament, and the Vigado Concert Hall. For extra fun, why not make the trip at night whenever landmark is spectacularly lit up!
- Budapest Gala Concert – Experience the history of Hungary through music and learn about this plucky country outsized influence on European music life. With a repertoire covering musical styles such as operetta, gypsy music, and Hungarian-related classical music, the Danube Symphony Orchestra leads the grandiose concert, in cooperation with professional ballet dancers serving as confirmation to the fact that music and dance are inseparable.
- Budapest City Card – Explore Budapest at your own pace with a Budapest Card with free delivery. Enjoy unlimited free public transportation, free or discounted entry to over 100 museums and special sights, discounts in restaurants and much more.
- Etyek Wine Tour – Enjoy a small group wine tasting tour near Budapest and savor a home-cooked meal as well. Meet with local winemakers and taste a variety of quality Hungarian wines from their wine cellars. Learn about wine production at small family-owned wineries.
- Royal Sissi Tour – Travel from Budapest to Gödöllő and visit the former summer residence of Queen Elisabeth, affectionately known as Sissi. You’ll marvel at the beautifully renovated royal palace, which is the second-largest Baroque chateau in the world.
A city the size of Budapest has plenty more to explore!
We recommend getting a full guidebook if you are staying for more than a night or two. It probably won’t have any information on Gay Budapest – that’s what we are here for – but it will have useful tips and an exhaustive list of the best attractions across Hungary to assist you on your fabulous adventure!
Gay-friendly and Gay Hotels in Budapest
In Budapest, you would be hard-pressed to find an upscale hotel which had any issues with gay guests but discretion is advised in small, owner-operated hotels in this conservative society. Some Budapest hotels are more popular with queer travelers due to their location and inclusive environment or vibe, which are features here. These gay-friendly hotels in Budapest are frequented by members of the LGBT community and have great reputations. There are currently no exclusively gay hotels in Budapest.
Each hotel and area offer something very specific, so be sure to choose the right style and location to meet your needs. Prices are cheap compared to North American and Western European hotels (thought quickly rising) and standards are high – so it’s a great place to splurge! Of course, there are also hundred’s more hotel and hostel options in Budapest if none of these suit your desired budget, facilities or area
- New York Palace Budapest ☆☆☆☆☆ – A landmark building renown for its fusion of art nouveau, baroque and renaissance styles, this New York Palace Hotel is like stepping back in time to the days of Austro-Hungarian Empire. Painted ceilings adorned with prancing cherubs, marble staircases, Venetian chandeliers, and gleaming mirrors are just some of the divine features of this ultra-luxe hotel which is very popular with gay travelers to Hungary. The elegant rooms feature a mix of contemporary and antique furnishings, many with city-view balconies but if that’s not enough just head downstairs to the famed New York Café (where literary minds would gather during the Bella Époque). There is also an opulent spa offering a rainbow-hued grotto of indoor pools, baths, and heated rooms. Truly a hotel like no other, this is our favorite place to stay in Budapest for old-world throwbacks and ritzy affairs.
- The Ritz-Carlton, Budapest ☆☆☆☆☆ – Overlooking the park at Erzsébet Square, this extravagant hotel is very gay-popular and only a short walk to the Danube River and much of the cities top attractions. The graceful rooms feature flat-screens, Nespresso machines, and marble bathrooms; with either city or park views. There is also an uber-posh restaurant, luxe spa, indoor pool, sauna and opulent dining room where breakfast is served under an iconic domed stained-glass ceiling.
- Aria Hotel Budapest ☆☆☆☆☆ – A boutique hotel offering rooms designed around musical styles. Fun, frivolous and straddling the border of modern and classical, the rooftop bar here is one of the best in the city and the rooms are simply gorgeous. Guests can enjoy a rich complimentary buffet breakfast, free cheese and wine reception every afternoon and access to the glamorous pool and spa set-up.
- Buddha Bar Hotel Budapest Klotild Palace ☆☆☆☆ – A grand European mansion reimagined as a Buddhist wonderland, with elegant Asian-colonial design. One of the most unique hotels in the Budapest, which is why we were drawn here. Deep, sensuous reds theming, fabulous dining and exceptional service always the Buddha Bar Hotel a popular option.
- Baltazár Budapest Boutique Hotel ☆☆☆☆– A upscale design hotel in the historic center of Budapest with 11 artsy, upscale rooms and colorful themes. Luxe amenities include limestone bathrooms, fine art, vintage furnishing and rain show – plus there is a vibrant cobble-stoned terrace restaurant. The best little hotel in Budapest.
- Bohem Art Hotel ☆☆☆☆ – A funky hotel/art gallery with eclectic rooms, 2 level suites and breakfast included in room rates. Each room is utterly unique and Bohem offer a variety of bed configurations making them useful for groups or unconventional travel partnerships.
- Kapital Inn ☆☆☆ – A gay poplar B&B located on the penthouse floor of an elegant 19th-century building in the heart of the old town, with a stellar reputation. Relaxing contemporary design, high ceilings, large French style windows and a comfy king-size bed for a truly restful stay.
- Ibis Styles Budapest City ☆☆☆ – A international hotel chain known for clean, basic rooms and low costs. Their Budapest location is no different, except each room as fabulous balconies and plenty of vibrant colours. Polite staff, great breakfast, the Ibis is perfect for a no-surprises stay in Gay Budapest.
- K9 Residence ☆☆☆ – Modern apartment rentals with plenty of space, a kitchen, dining area and TV. Perfect for having a bit more privacy and options for pre-drinks or hosting.
- Connection Guest House ☆☆ – Not officially a gay hotel in Budapest, but well-known as such since it is gay-owned and operated. Most of the customers are gay men, but lesbians are welcomed – as are both coulples and single travellers. Offering basic rooms with a ovely atmosphere, friendly and helpful staff, great location, 24/7 reception and a full bar. The breakfast, while not included, is also excellent value.
- The Hive Party Hostel ☆☆ – If your looking for the cheapest bed in Budapest, then this modern hostel is one of the best places to stay. Only two years old, the Hive Hostel is making waves with its legendary parties and rooftop parties – ideal if you want to explore the Budapest nightlife. Just make sure to bring your earplugs.
Gay Nightlife in Budapest
The gay club scene in Budapest is always changing and many places open just as quickly if they close. There is a trend towards queer takeovers/ gay parties in Budapest which take place a month in various venues, all of which are guaranteed to draw a crowd.
Be sure to check websites and Facebook pages before heading out, and take care – While Budapest might be the most liberal city in Hungary, open displays of affection outside of gay bars can lead to trouble. Also, watch out for hustlers and don’t take any valuables with you if you can help it.
However, things are getting better and a few new gay bars have just opened up! And of course Budapest does get crazy wild, and what better way could there be to discover the Budapest gay scene than dancing the night away… Just don’t forget your common sense.
Gay Bars in Budapest
- Why Not Bar – A gay-popular hangout on the edge of the Danube open all day and well into the night. Very cozy with friendly staff and amazing views during the day and late afternoon. Why Not is the perfect place to discover the more casual side of gay life in Budapest, either by organizing a meeting here or just chatting to the staff and other tables (especially when sitting on the outdoor terrace). Fun cocktails, craft beers and special events weekly including karaoke and bingo.
- Habrolo – A small gay bar in the middle of Budapest, popular among the local LGBT community. Different events throughout the week, normally karaoke and retro disco, with low prices and a welcoming owner.
- Kimberly Café & Bistro – Gay popular restaurant bar with live music, karaoke and infrequent drag shows. A fun place to stop by on the way to the AltherEGO gay club in Budapest.
- Blue Fox – An upscale cocktail bar with mixed/gay clientele offering an intimate yet social environment. Live music, classy surroundings and some of the best cocktails in all of Budapest. Perfect for those who prefer cosmopolitan vibes over flaming queens, disco balls and rainbow flags.
Gay Clubs & Gay Parties in Budapest
- AlterEgo – The biggest gay club in Budapest with two epic dance floor, four bars, and nightly drink specials. Only open Friday and Saturday night, try to arrive before midnight to see the fabulous drag show hosted by Lady Dömper. Different themes, parties, and music most weekends check their Facebook page in advance to see what is going on. The only gay club in Budapest so far, but luckily it is always amazing!
- Garçons – The hottest monthly gay party in Budapest attracting only the most beautiful men. We are talking celebrities, models, the Insta-famous and plenty of guys who just want to show off. Still, this ultra-glamorous night has taken Budapest by storm and brought a new era of chic clubbing to the city…This is one event worth planning an entire trip to Gay Budapest around…
- OOPS @ Anker’t – A fun Friday night gay party with an LGBT mixed crowd. While there is no lesbian bar in Budapest, Oops is probably the next closest thing. A no-attitude, frivolous atmosphere where the DJ pumps out music from the last three decades until the early morning.
- Vibe – A new gay dance party in Budapest attracting the young and ever-so-hipster in the local LGBT scene. Held once a month across different venues in Budapest.
- OMOH – A underground gay event for lovers of techno music held every two weeks in various venues around Budapest.
- HELLO @ Toldi Mozi – The ultimate gay pop party in Budapest, this Funny and trashy pop night for is for Queers, Barbie Dolls, Aliens, lesbians and all their friends!!! Normally held in the expansive Toldi Mozi theatre, this queer takeover makes for one epic night!
Cruising & Gay Saunas Budapest
Had enough of gay cruising in Budapest– either in the bars or elsewhere? For those who want a bit more guaranteed action, the gay saunas in Budapest will not disappoint you (unlikely all those faceless Grinder accounts…). Foreigners are typically welcoming through-out the Budapest gay scene, but many guys don’t speak English in the saunas here so you’ll need to be good at reading non-verbal cues.
There are three gay saunas to choose from, and each is relatively easily accessible from most of the central city. Just take a look at our Gay Budapest Map if you need help deciding which is closest. The gay sauna’s in Budapest mostly get crowded on weeknights after 5 pm and on Sunday afternoons. We also found Google Maps helpful for displaying the busiest times for most locations.
Gay sauna or not, in any sexual encounter, please take adequate precautions. No matter what your intentions are in Gay Budapest, you should bring your own condoms and lube to play it safe.
Besides, you never know what other fun surprises your trip might have in store for you…
- Szauna 69 – A relaxing sauna with plenty of younger guys on Thursday (“youngsters’ day”) and Sunday evenings, otherwise mostly older guys. Inside you will find a ‘Finnish’ sauna (we still prefer those Helsinki…), steam room, hot tub, private rooms, solarium, WiFi and a café / bar. We also enjoyed some of the best male massages in Budapest here.
- Magnum Sauna – The original gay sauna in Budapest and generally busy all the time with a mix of locals and foreigners. Spread across two levels with four saunas, plunge pool, rain shower and huge jacuzzi this is the best sauna in Budapest – by far. Want more? There is a steam bath, maze, XXX porn rooms, private and semi-private cabins, bar, and glory holes. If you’re after a gay massage in Budapest this is also a simple option. Magnum Sauna is absolutely packed on the weekends with the Dark & Naked themed nights and doesn’t close from Saturday until midnight Sunday.
- RUDAS Thermal Bath – A beautiful, historic spa that is over 400 years old – Rudas is not your typical gay sauna but they only welcome men on Mondays, Wednesdays, Thursdays, and Fridays. As you can imagine it is a mostly gay crowd. This is not a place to play around through with increased security, but nothing stops you from meeting some eye candy and heading back to your hotel. Since the baths were founded during the time of Ottoman rule, many of the key elements of a Turkish bath remain including a Turkish dome and octagonal pool. Just like visiting Gay Istanbul or Gay Antalya. The bath has six therapy pools and one swimming pool where the temperature is in between 10-42C.
- Coxx Club – A huge hardcore cruise lounge and fetish bar that is likely to fulfill all your naughty Hungarian fantasies. Three separate bars with plenty of fun areas including a dark room, sling, glory hole, porn room, prison cell and more. Free entry but minimum consumption applies. Very modern but the Coxx Club owner and staff can be quite rude.