Explore Gay Budapest.

Gay Budapest.

What's it really like?

As a gay destination, Budapest is still growing. There is a small but high-quality selection of gay bars, clubs, parties, saunas, and hotels which cater to an ever-growing population of LGBT locals and visitors. Budapest Pride happens every summer, combining a large street parade with various events throughout the city.

Budapest has become one of the trendiest destinations in Eastern Europe, and it’s easy to see why. Among many other draws, Hungary’s capital has a stunning setting on the banks of the Danube, beautiful and unique architecture, and one of the coolest bar scenes in the world.

Gay Budapest may not have the dizzying variety of options that you can find in cities like London and Berlin, but it also doesn’t have the same prices. As one of the cheapest destinations in Europe, Budapest guarantees that no night out will be cut short by a lack of funds.

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Budapest's Gay-Friendly Hotels

Most gay visitors prefer to stay in Pest, since it is closer to all the main attractions and to the city’s gay nightlife. The most booked hotels are all around the city center in District V, VI and VII. From here it’s easy walking to the sites and gay Budapest nightlife.

Light sleepers should avoid staying in District VII if you don’t want to be kept up at night, but it’s perfect if you are planning to be part of the crowds at the ruin bars. Some parts of District VIII can be unsavory at night, so make sure you check the reviews for hotels in this area before booking.

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Hungary is relatively legally progressive in terms of gay rights, with discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation being illegal. However, both gay marriage and same-sex adoption are not yet legal.

Socially, the country can be less tolerant at times. Right-wing groups have long clashed with LGBT activists, which has included violent protests during Budapest Pride. Up until 2017, this had led the parade to be mostly closed to the public for several years.

Gay visitors to Budapest should avoid public displays of affection. You are unlikely to be harassed or discriminated against during your time in the city, but it is best to remain cautious just in case.

Gay Budapest Nightlife

The gay Budapest bar scene is not as big as you would expect from a European capital with a bustling nightlife. However, there are a dozen or so gay bars, cafes, and clubs, mostly spread around the central districts of Pest. Most of these are not particularly large and have generally mixed crowds, which leads to a very laid-back, friendly, and inclusive scene.

In District V, Habroló is a small cafe bar with a local clientele which is a good option for meeting people at the start of a night out or just for a few quiet drinks on a weekday. A 10-minute walk away, Why Not – along with its adjacent restaurant Gastro Bistro – is an LGBT-friendly bar that is popular with local gays despite being mixed.

Another popular gay-friendly spot is Kimberly’s Cafe in District VI, which also hosts karaoke nights and drag acts. It is also is a very short walk from Alter Ego, the city’s biggest gay club and the place to be on a weekend. HELLO and OOPS are two regular gay dance-pop parties held at clubs nearby (Toldi Mozi theatre and Anker’t, respectively) and the district is also home to VIBE, the city’s newest gay bar, very popular with young gay Budapest locals.

Further south in District VII you’ll find gay Budapest’s only cruise club, Coxx, which is also Hungary’s biggest. It is one of the largest gay bars in Budapest, with three bars within the underground space and a variety of themed rooms. You couldn’t visit District VII without also having a few drinks in one of its famous ruin bars, which people come from all over the world to see.

Budapest’s biggest and best gay nights are its Garçon parties, held regularly in venues throughout the city. The events are frequented by a young, trendy, attractive crowd, making it the best place to go spot some gay Budapest eye candy. Check their website for details of upcoming parties.

Gay Budapest Saunas

Budapest has two dedicated gay saunas, both of them very highly rated. Magnum Sauna was the first in the city (and in Hungary) and remains a popular choice, with very good sauna and cruising facilities spread across two floors and professional massage services. Its weekend parties get busy and attract a mix of locals and tourists, especially the Naked parties on Friday night

The other gay Budapest sauna is Szauna 69 in District VIII. It has a modern and sleek decor made up of a maze of neon-lit rooms, with saunas, steam room, jacuzzi, and a bar serving alcoholic drinks and food. They also offer massage services and have themed parties almost daily.

Budapest is famous for its iconic baths, and a trip to one of these is a must for any visitor. RUDAS is a great choice because it is both a historic bath and sauna and a common gay spot. The sauna is men-only on Mondays, Wednesdays, Thursdays, and Fridays, and during these days you are likely to meet some gay locals. However, this is not a cruising sauna and the staff will ask you to leave if you are caught. Come for the steam and high-quality facilities, but head to one of the gay saunas for play.

The best place to get an HIV test in Budapest is at a clinic run by Anonymous AIDS Association. They offer anonymous quick tests, with results that will be emailed to you for free after a week.

You can also pay 3,000 Ft (about $10) to get the result within 20 minutes. You do not need to make an appointment. The opening hours are 17:00-20:00 on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays; and 9:00-12:00 and 16:00 – 19:00 on Tuesdays.

There are about 2,000 HIV-positive people in Hungary, 1,800 of which are estimated to be receiving treatment. Most of these are men who have sex with men, with only 15% representing women and straight men and very few being intravenous drug users. Though these numbers are generally good for European standards, you should still take care to practice safe sex in all your encounters in Budapest.

Budapest is divided into 23 numbered districts, usually referred to in Roman numerals. What is now Budapest used to be two cities on either side on the Danube, Buda and Pest (Obuda, a third city, forms a smaller part of the city’s south). Buda and Pest maintain a separate vibe and style, with Buda on the left bank being leafy and old-fashioned and Pest being the more vibrant and gritty of the two.

There isn’t a specific gay area in Budapest, with most venues spread across districts V, VI, and VII. But all are within an easy walking distance or a quick taxi.

District V (Belváros-Lipótváros) – The fifth district covers most of Pest’s central riverside and is considered the main part of Budapest’s downtown. This area includes several tourist attractions like the Hungarian Parliament and St. Stephen’s Basilica, but is also a hub of nightlife. Some gay bars can be found here, including Habroló Bisztró and Why Not.

District VI (Terézváros) – A small area next to V that is equally frequented by locals and tourists. The district is dominated by Andrássy Avenue, a large leafy boulevard lined with grand old buildings. However, in the smaller streets, VII has a youthful hipster vibe, with plenty of hole-in-the-wall bars, clubs, and restaurants. There are also quite a few gay venues here, such as VIBE Club, Kimberly Cafe, and the city’s largest gay club, AlterEGO.

District VII (Erzsébetváros) – The seventh district is the main nightlife area of Budapest. This includes the city’s famous “ruin bars”, trendy underground venues built in the post-WWII ruins of the city. Though a night out in VII should definitely be part of your trip, and most bars here are frequented by a fun, open-minded crowd, the only exclusively gay venue here is the cruise bar, Coxx. VII is also the Jewish district, and the best place to go for delicious Kosher treats.

District I (Várkerület) – The name of the first district translates to “Castle District”, encompassing the area around Buda Castle. It is the main tourist area of the city, including the Castle, Fisherman’s Bastion, and Gellért Hill, which offers some of the best views of the city. There are also a few of Budapest’s world-famous baths here, including RUDAS which has men-only days often frequented by gay guys. It is the only area of Buda on most tourists’ regular itineraries, as the left side of the river is more residential.

District VIII (Józsefváros) – The eighth district is quite large, which explains the very different atmospheres at either end of it. On the western side, closest to V, you’ll find beautiful classical architecture and major landmarks such as the Hungarian National Museum and Botanic Gardens. As you head east, the area becomes rougher but definitely up-and-coming, with the telltale signs of trendy gentrification popping up everywhere. This part of town is popular with locals for rowdy, bohemian nightlife, but gay Budapestians know this as the home of the city’s first gay sauna, Magnum.

District IX (Ferencváros) – A fun and laid-back student area with good restaurants and bars. One of the city’s gay saunas, Sauna 69, is located here.

Budapest is well connected by public transport, but it is also a very pleasant city to walk around in. All public transport uses the same tickets, with all trips costing 350 Ft. You may be better off buying a travel pass to save money and hassle.

From Ferenc Liszt International Airport – The cheapest way to get to downtown Budapest (around 700 Ft, under $3) is to take a bus to Kőbánya-Kispest metro station and then take the metro into the city center. However, this can be time-consuming, so you may prefer to pay a bit more for the extremely convenient airport shuttle service, which takes you directly to your hotel and costs 7 Euros. A taxi to the city will cost 6000-7000 Ft (about $20-25).

Metro – The Budapest metro has four lines, which together cover most of the areas visited by tourists. It is easy to use, convenient, and generally reliable. There is a fifth overground line that serves the suburbs, but it is unlikely you’ll be needing it.

Tram – Budapest has 34 tram lines, making this as convenient as the metro. Trams have the benefit of being great for sightseeing: don’t miss the scenic tram (Route 2), which follows the curve of the river through the city’s downtown.

Bus – The city has an extensive bus network, including several night buses. The metro is easier to use for tourists and the tram is more enjoyable, but the bus can still be a good option to reach more isolated spots.

Bicycle – The city has a bike rental scheme called Bubi Bikes, with docking stations throughout the city. Budapest is generally bike-friendly, with an increasing number of cycle paths and an extensive network of safe, small side streets. However, it is probably best to do this if you have experience of cycling in a busy city.

Boat – There is a regular ferry service going from south Buda to north Pest which is a great way to get views from the Danube and only costs 110Ft (less than 50 cents).

Car Rental – Budapest is not an easy city to drive in, and there would be little benefit to hiring a car during your stay.

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