Our Budapest: Visitor’s Guide to the Hungarian Capital

Visitor's Guide to Budapest
Üdvözlünk Budapesten! On behalf of the LGBTQ community and the organizers of Budapest Pride organizers, we wish you a warm welcome to the capital of Hungary!

For lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans, and queer people in Hungary, Budapest is the place to be. The city has numerous cafés, clubs, bars, and other venues that are LGBTQ-friendly or explicitly queer. Many LGBTQ events and venues are not advertised as such, so it’s hard to find them unless you’re already in the know. In this guide, we hope to give you a taste of the happenings in queer Budapest.

Although this guide is meant for the whole LGBTQ community, places for gay/bi men will inevitably be overrepresented, because unfortunately there are much fewer places for lesbian/bi women and other queer people than there are for men. Explicitly trans-friendly spaces are unfortunately also very lacking.

CAFÉS

Why not start your day with coffee at one of Budapest’s gay and lesbian cafés? Located right along the Danube on Belgrád rakpart, the Why Not Café & Bar features outdoor seating with an up-close view of Gellért Hill. The café/bar is open from 10 a.m. to 5 a.m. and has a mixed but primarily male crowd. One of the oldest gay bars still operating, Mystery Bar is a cozy gay bar in District V, also primarily for men. Eklektika Restolounge (District VI) caters to a gay- and lesbian-friendly theater-going clientèle and gets quite busy in the evenings. Located right by Jászai Mari tér, Café Vis Major (District XIII) hosts the monthly lesbian film club organized by Labrisz Lesbian Association, as well as Labrisz’s Pikk Dáma game nights every Sunday. The recently opened Pepita Ofélia Bár is a lesbian-friendly space at Klauzal tér in District VII that offers coffee and drinks and hosts a variety of queer events, from concerts to same-sex speed dating to the women’s bar sports group Csajka, featuring ping-pong and table football. Food options are limited, but the delicious pogácsa is not to be missed. And if you happen to be in the main tourist area by Váci Street, you may want to stop by the gay-run mixed Amstel River Café (District V) for a drink and some people-watching.

FOOD

If you’re looking for pizza, try the gay-owned and gay-friendly Pizzeria Club 93, in District VII between Blaha Lujza tér and Astoria. Close by on Dohány Street in District VII, the gay-friendly Club Underground features a restaurant, as well as a café and bar. A number of cafés in District V also offer food, including Why Not Café, Amstel River Café, and Alterego Café. You can grab a hot dog at Habroló (District V), while Orfeum (District VII), which opens in the evenings and hosts a number of queer parties, offers sandwiches, desserts, and complete dining options. Café Vis Major’s menu includes grilled sandwiches and desserts.

BOOKS & FILMS

If you’re looking for English-language books on LGBTQ and gender issues, try Massolit Books & Café in District VII. The cozy English-language bookstore specializes in subjects hard to find in English in Hungary, including gender and LGBTQ studies and progressive politics, and its bookshelf-lined walls will appeal to any bibliophile looking for a place to stop for coffee and conversation. The official bookstore of the Central European University, the CEU Bookshop near by the Basilica in District V is an excellent source of English-language texts related to gender studies, as well as other academic subjects.

Although there are no explicitly LGBTQ theaters in Budapest, a number of movie theaters are LGBTQ-friendly and include LGBTQ-themed films in their offerings. In District XIII, you can find Művész Mozi, Kino Mozi and Cirko-Gejzír within a few blocks of each other. Besides the traditional movie theaters, you can find queer films at various film clubs and film screenings around the city if you know where to look. Hosted at Puskin Mozi, the Scandinavian House LGBT film club features movies from Denmark, Norway, and Sweden and includes both feature films and documentaries in its selection. And, as mentioned, Café Vis Major hosts Labrisz Lesbian Association’s Gobbi Hilda Film Club, a monthly lesbian film club, as well as films screened by Amnesty International’s LGBT group.

BATHS

Budapest is famous for its baths, and gay/bi/queer men looking for a cruisier experience of the Hungarian capital can indulge in Budapest's spa culture at various venues. On a warm sunny day, try the outdoor Palatinus open-air bath at Margitsziget. Although not publicly “gay,” the single-gender sunning terrace and shower facilities could not be gayer or cruisier. On rainy days, you can turn to the Turkish baths Rudas (men-only on Fridays) and Király (men only on Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays), both in Buda. Although neither advertises itself as “gay,” the baths are hotbeds of homoeroticism on their men-only days. Finally, for Western-style explicitly gay saunas, there are Szauna69 and Magnum, each catering to a slightly different clientèle. They are busy on particular nights only (Thursday, Saturday, and Sunday are relatively popular) and come with the heavy cruising rituals typical of such saunas. Yet they are also among the best gay places in town to just relax, socialize with friends, or enjoy a massage.

CULTURE AND COMMUNITY

For those who speak Hungarian, Budapest offers various meetings and discussion nights for LGBTQ people. Szimpozion Club is a discussion night held by the Szimpozion Association twice a month at Krisztina tér 1 in District II. It features a variety of topics related to gay life, as well interviews with notable Hungarian public and cultural figures. The Amnesty International LGBT group hosts discussions and film screenings at Café Vis Major. Labrisz holds a monthly “chill-out” event called Labrisz Lazuló for lesbian and bisexual women the third Friday of every month. The TransVanilla Transgender Association holds the monthly TransVanilla találkozó, a group for trans people. To ensure a safe space for trans people to talk, meetings are closed and attendees can register by email: tstalalkozo@transvanilla.hu.

CLUBS & BARS

Budapest's night life is mostly quiet on weekdays but picks up on weekends. There are several bars and clubs primarily or exclusively for gay/bi men, such as Habroló, Funny Carrot, and Capella all found in District V. Around midnight, gay nightlife picks up at the capital's busiest gay club Alterego, which is on Dessewffy Street in District VI. Alterego features karaoke and drag shows. At the end of the night, gay and bisexual men looking to cruise can always turn to CoXx Men’s Bar, on Dohány Street in District VII, or the more tourist-oriented Action Bar, near Astoria in District V. Both feature cruising areas and dark rooms, and Action Bar offers live shows as well.

Budapest also has a string of regular queer clubbing events, which usually take place at different venues easily accessible in downtown Pest, such as Mappa Club (Trafó, District IX), A Grund (District VIII), and New Orleans Music Club & Disco (District VI). There are no permanent lesbian bars or clubs, and Ösztrosokk is currently the only party exclusively for women, established in 2003 and going strong ever since. It features a selection of current club dance music and retro hits, usually on two dancefloors. DJ duo Brutkó Diszkó has three themed parties, which rotate each month: Brutkó Diszkó features electronica, Bad Taste has the best and trashiest music of the ’80s and ’90s, and Papa Don’t Vogue is a tribute to Madonna. Brutkó parties attract a mixed crowd. Over in District VII at Bazaar Klub, the DJ duo !szkaфander puts on the weekly party !Tape, which usually feature a mixed crowd and kick off the night early, around 10 p.m. !szkaфander often teams up with Brutkó Diszkó to put on joint parties. Popular men’s parties include Garçons, Confetti and Liberty. One of the biggest men’s parties in town, Garçons, for “chic queers” and “fashion junkies,” is held at different places. Confetti is hosted every third Saturday of the month at Aquarium in District VI, and Liberty is usually held at Club Prestige on the Buda side of the city. New queer parties on the scene include Hello, a party held at Rizsa Dva Club and organized by the same people who brought you Garçons, and Gender Bender Party, a pro–gender diversity party held monthly at the Yóga Music Club.

SPORTS

For those looking to dance but not party, check out the same-sex competitive dance organization Charme Hungary Dance Club. Charme hosts a monthly dance night at Labrisz in District VIII. Lessons feature professional dance instructors at an affordable price. For more sports, Atlasz LGBT Sports Club offers badminton, dance, handball, rowing, swimming, hiking, and yoga.

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Finally, some parting advice: Many queer and queer-friendly establishments are not explicit about it. If you’re not sure you’re in the right place, check the magazines and leaflets available. LGBTQ-friendly places often feature brochures from local LGBTQ organizations, such as Háttér and Labrisz. Free copies of Company and Humen, the Hungarian gay publications, are also a good sign you haven’t walked into the wrong place, and as both publications include guides with addresses and open hours, they can be a helpful resource if you’re looking to move on to another part of queer Budapest.

This guide is meant as a jumping-off point. For details and times of events, you can check out our list of recommended resources, as well as browse the websites and Facebook pages linked here. And just to be clear, we received no payment to mention any of the places in this guide! :)

We hope you have a wonderful stay in Budapest. Have fun! Jó szórakozást!

For more information about LGBTQ events in Hungary, check out the following resources:

Adapted from a guide originally written by Steve Inyo of Euroquest Side Tracks.