The Best Gay and LGBTQ Bars And Parties In Budapest

Compared with major U.S. and Western European cities, Budapest's LGBTQ scene has a long way to go (2019 was the first pride parade here when attendees could march without a security cordon). Accordingly, gay, and especially lesbian bars are still few and far between. But in addition to the listed places below, keep an eye out for Budapest's LGBTQ pop-up parties that often turn out to be most fun.

A slightly older crowd frequents Budapest's longest-running monthly gay festivities, hosted by Garçons. During the summer, Ludus is home to open-air parties within Budapest Park. Hip locals flock to Hello's queer pop nights at Toldi club and WOW (Women-on-Women) also throws top lesbian dance parties. Finally, keep also an eye out for Triton's events.

Budapest's signature gay club, Alterego is a below-ground venue open only on Fridays and Saturdays and hiding in a quiet side street near the city center in District 6. Alterego's claim to fame is the midnight drag shows, available on both days, skillfully moderated by Lady Dömper, a fixture of the Budapest gay scene. The one-hour event features a stand-up, dance performances, and lip syncs by a number of drag queens.

After the show, a DJ takes over the packed dance floor and plays classic beats until the wee hours. There are two spacious bars and booths for people who didn't bring their dancing shoes and prefer a lower-key setting with conversations. Alterego attracts a motley crew of gay men, both young and old, chic and unfashionable, moneyed and less so. Admission is €7 (or €5 before midnight).

Why Not is a gay-friendly bar in downtown Budapest with panoramic vistas, overlooking the Danube, the Liberty Bridge, and the historic Gellért Hotel. During the day, it's a generic bar with sweeping views from the outdoor tables; it's in the evenings when Why Not comes into its own.

Tuesday and Friday evenings tend to be the liveliest, when a colorful cast of volunteers, some with an obvious musical background, lift the mood with memorable karaoke performances (from 10 p.m. onward). Although open late every day of the week, try to arrive at a reasonable hour on Fridays as many people move on to see the midnight show at Alterego, Budapest's iconic gay club. Drink specials every night.

Tuk Tuk is a tiny cocktail bar nestled on the ground floor of the Casati boutique hotel. Being on a quiet street just outside Budapest's party district, Tuk Tuk is a perfect hideaway from the commotion a few blocks away. Old photos and heavy crimson drapes evoke the hedonistic culture of 1920s-Shanghai inside this dark drinking den.

The skillful bartenders don't shy away from using Hungary's potent national fruit brandy, the pálinka: The almond-flavored amaretto liqueur balances out the heft of the spirit in the “Pálinka sour” and comes topped with foamy egg whites. They will also prepare classic cocktails upon request. Though not formally gay, Tuk Tuk, similar to the hotel upstairs, is gay-friendly.