I was more than a little curious to take a weekend trip to Budapest. Despite hearing repeatedly how beautiful and luxurious the city is, I’d heard plenty about Hungary—and specifically Budapest—as a gay destination. Though the city is supposed to be ultra-modern, trendy & hip, it’s still Eastern Europe and with that comes many stigmas. In fact, every year Budapestians have to fight for their right to have a gay pride. And yet, because of Budapest’s many charms, it’s still a popular destination for gay travelers. I decided to visit the city and see what it was like for myself.

And it was beautiful. 

Whether it was visiting the Budapest baths, hanging out in some beer gardens or just walking around the city, Budapest was beautiful. Though not nearly as beautiful as some other eastern European destinations. Even if I find Prague to be a prettier city, Budapest comes close to matching the beauty and at a more affordable price as well.

Though Google searches brought up mentions of gay Budapest baths, we chose to visit the touristic Széchenyi Fürdő bath. The large bath was pretty impressive but overcrowded with people there for a fun day out—rather than the relaxing spa experience I was hoping for. We eventually found a nicer and quieter bath across the river at Lukács Bath—where the view of the other bathers was a bit nicer. It was a younger crowd and certainly less tourists.

Between visiting Budapest’s baths, we did plenty of walking and sightseeing. Normally the city would probably be very walkable but because we visited in the height of summer—early August—the temperatures were high and the pavement was hot. Highlights of walking around Budapest and sightseeing included:

Margaret Island

The island located between Buda & Pest in the Danube river is often cited as one of the best public spaces in the city. With so many green spaces and public fountains, it’s a great location to visit on a summer afternoon

Buda Castle

The castle sits atop a small mountain. You can visit inside for a lot of history, or just walk around and take in the beautiful scenery surrounding you.

Walking along the Danube

This river is incredible. It flows through so many interesting and amazing cities. The view of the Parliament is one of the best—bring your camera!

Erzsébet tér

This centrally located park and plaza seems to be the hub of Budapest’s hip and cool. Each summer night the park fills with people drinking wine from the bottle, their feet in the fountain or watching whatever’s on TV in the outdoor bar (above). The Budapest hotel we were staying in, the Le Meridien, was directly opposite the park and we had a great view each night of the city’s young bohemians! Though I was quite comfortable in my King-size hotel bed 🙂

As for other nightlife in Budapest, we visited two of the city’s gay bars but none of the clubs. From my weekend adventure in the city, it did seem like Budapest has quite a big clubbing culture and I didn’t bother to explore—too much daytime sightseeing to do instead of staying up until 8am. The gay bar, Why Not Café, was a perfect little bar & cafe right across from the Danube river. We had a cocktail there on Saturday night but it didn’t start to get crowded until about midnight. Foursquare showed us several nearby gay bars & clubs as well, but other than Why Not, we didn’t do much exploring. Most tourist maps came with gay travel recommendations but only included the clubs.

Thanks to the Le Meridien Budapest for the luxury hotel stay in Budapest