200 of the Greatest Gay Bars in the World
By Out.com Editors
EUROPE + MEDITERRANEAN
BLUE ORANGE: One of the more popular restaurant chains in Vienna, Blue Orange offers some of the best breakfast fare in the capital. Reasonably priced and delicious, it’s a nice reprieve from flakey pastries and wurst.
LE BELGICA: A traditional Belgian cafe experience with a touch of grunge and a whole lot of love, Le Belgica became a local and tourist favorite almost immediately after its 1987 opening and has entertained the likes of Björk, Aiden Shaw and countless attractive men looking for one thing: a good time.
THE DUQUESNOY: There's no covering up the fact that The Duquesnoy s all about skin and sex: the Brussels bar hosts weekly naked parties that are wonderful for gawkers and seekers alike.
HESSENHUIS: The fact that this bar is spread over two floors in a gorgeously restored 16th-century stone building certainly helps its cause. Stick around long enough to watch the quiet daytime cafe transform into a frisky hotspot as the night progresses.
POPI CAFE: A favorite with an age-spanning LGBT crowd for its affordable drinks, relaxed vibe, summer terrace, and special whisky menu. This centrally located bar is the top spot before hitting the clubs.
RED AND BLUE: Belgium’s largest gay nightclub hosts a sexy mix of events, from men-only Saturdays to lesbian Café De Love party every second Sunday of the month.
STELLA CLUB : Maybe the last gay bar in Prague that still has a buzzer. This minor irritation is quickly forgotten once you step inside (you'll be reminded when you have to leave and the door won't open). Intimate basement, youngish crowd, few tourists. Never uncomfortably full or uncomfortably empty.
CLUB TERMIX: Half a vintage car overhangs from an orange wall in this atmospheric hot spot. Club Termix must be doing something right to keep parties kindled till dawn. Filled with a mix of young locals and tourists, club offers a weekly karaoke party on Thursday nights.
COSY BAR: A haven for late-night clubbers, Cosy Bar is just that, cosy. The cramped space is home to a young crowd and an accompanying cadre of drag queens. The place can get pretty messy, due to it’s late hours, but it’s all in good fun. Dance till dawn and then go for a herring heavy breakfast to help you recover.
CLUB CHRISTOPHER: Named for the street that runs through New York’s gay village, the club attracts a younger crowd. The big draw here is the open bar. Just pay the entry fee and it’s all you can drink—which is not a challenge by the way. If things get to hectic for you, head to the open air courtyard where you can enjoy a cocktail al fresco. Be warned, Christopher shares the space with K3, a straight club. The crowd’s friendly but maybe think twice before grabbing someone’s ass.
REVENGE: Located in what’s known as the Gay Capital of Britain, Revenge has for over two decades reigned supreme over Brighton’s gay scene. The nightlife juggernaut lights up the seaside town along with it’s sister bar, Bar Revenge. Spread out over 3 floors—including a roof top terrace where you can soak up the sea air— and host to every theme party imaginable, Revenge is glittering, glamorous bastion of fun, plain and simple.
DALSTON SUPERSTORE: Nestled in London’s hippest neighborhoods (Shoreditch is so lame now!), Dalston Superstore is where all the cool kids hang out these days. A little out of the way due to the lack of a tube station, the narrow club is host to a plethora of mixed artsy eccentrics.
FIRE: More hardcore than anything in Soho, Fire is one of the few places in London that goes all night into the wee hours of the morning. The cavernous multi-room club plays throbbing house and electro while a sea of muscle daddies and the twinks who love them undulate and play grab ass. If you’re the type who calls it a night around 3 am, this place isn’t for you.
HEAVEN: Heaven came out in 1979, a pioneer in the formerly underground gay nightlife of London, and continues to flourish despite its age. The venue caters to a young gay crowd jumping to the latest house music and boasts diva performances by Cher, Kylie Minogue, and Madonna—before she was famous.
THE JOINERS ARMS: Club kids and fashionistas, who frequent nearby bars and clubs such as the George & Dragon, drink alongside a mix of rougher, readier, and quite possibly sexier customers, whose outfit of choice often consists of tracksuit bottoms and Reeboks—and not much else. Busy enough during the week, Joiners is packed on weekends and is more club than pub like, especially on Saturdays.
ROYAL VAUXHALL TAVERN : There has been a pub on the site of the Royal Vauxhall Tavern since 1893. It was erected on the Vauxhall Pleasure Gardens, one of the most decadent cruising grounds in the Victorian era. Even then it was a focus for performance, camp, and drag—which remains central to the pub to this day. From its cabaret and comedy nights through its bingo and live-music evenings, the RVT is an institution attracting a wide range of gay locals and visitors from across London and beyond.
CANAL STREET: Already a gay paradise long before it was featured on television, it became world famous after the original, UK version of Queer as Folk used it as a central setting for much of its homo drama. So yes, we're cheating by not picking one bar—try QUEER, Via, nearby Churchill's, or any number of the nabe's others—but remember it's really the lively, friendly atmosphere at so many of these quaint and cozy locations that makes it so special. So do like the locals, who will surely share a pint no matter where you end up, and enjoy a bar crawl.
THE STEAM PACKET : The only gay bar party in the Lake District, the Steam Packet (known, affectionately we assume, as the Fag Packet) is a truly exotic place where male-to-female transgenders do cabaret dressed as Nazi frauleins, snort Ovaltine like cocaine, and spit it into the audience's hair. It's wild!
HERCULES: One of the most popular gay bars in Northern Europe, Hercules appeals to a more mature crowd; in fact the club is mostly 30+, and has a strict 24 and older policy on the weekends. While this may seem a bit fascistic, the clientele of leather daddies and bears is very friendly and the live acts are legendary across the city.
CUD: This basement bar has great music: It's open every day and is good for picking up guys. Although it can get very crowded—best for the 18-30 age range. Oh, and Katy Perry was spotted there recently.
LE TANGO (LA BOITE A FRISSONS): Literally translated as the "thrill box" (aka the accordion), this eclectic dance club is actually most fun is earlier in the evening (well, relatively early: some time after 10:30), when there are couple dancing and you might actually catch someone doing the Tango or Cha-Cha!
LE QUETZAL: Recently renovated, this Marais bar has become a must of the 4th Arrondissement. Spacious and host to a stellar cocktail list, the night might start out classy, but the vibe turns cruisy as the night goes on. It’s always busy and reliable to spot to start or end your night.
LE RAIDD: Le Raidd is an enduring favorite in the cruisy Marais. Its most famous feature is the Plexiglas shower stall above the DJ booth, where naked boys rhythmically rinse all night long. A good evening starts during happy hour in the street side patio and ends downstairs on a couch in the dark lounge with a new Parisian friend.
L'INSOLITE : Like a French speakeasy, this hush-hush place requires skill to find, but is worth it once you get there. The crowd is so decidedly unanything (not queeny, beefy, or hipster), except hot. Although not particularly fashionable, it's always crowded in a good way, with lots of nooks for snogging.
OPEN CAFE: Most of the action takes place on the sidewalk at see-and-be-seen-bar, where handsome French gents take cruising to the next level, and look oh-so-chic doing so.
OKAWA : Charming and cozy, with staff that will go out of their way to engage you, Okawa stands out on Rue Vieille-du-Temple, a street punctuated with the gay bars of the Marais, the gayest part of gay Paris. It's mixed and relaxed, with a fair standard of food and a varied clientele of local and tourists.
PANORAMA BAR/BERGHAIN : An enormous Ferris wheel inside sets the stage for Berghain, the ultimate ringmaster's den of iniquity: myriad caves, dens, dance floors, locker rooms, and bathtubs, while Panorama Bar, a world-class dance club with an unrivaled lineup of international DJs, occupies the upper level.
TOM'S BAR: The crowd is young, rugged (think T-shirts, flannel, and leather), and 'ber-naughty at Berlin's classic gay den for “successful cruising”. It's so notorious that a German tabloid reported the city's flamboyant mayor, Klaus Wowereit, knew the exact date the doors of its dark, shadowy back room opened.
SCHAMPANJA: The so-called Bermuda Triangle of Cologne has plenty of spots to duck into for an inexpensive glass of Kölsch. But for a truly local vibe, try Schampanja (Mauritiuswall 43), a divey spot near Rudolfplatz that feels like the decor hasn’t changed since the ’80s—and neither have the gents holding up the bar.
BAU: Bau means "building" in German, but in BAU's case, it stands for Butch Adventure Unlimited. 'Nuff said.
JEANS BAR: Anyone who loved New York's late, great Rawhide will feel nostalgic at Jeans Bar, a no nonsense place where you'll find plenty Levi-wearing cowpokes and burly bikers, or a close facsimile, at least.
BIG: They do bear big in Greece, and those bears can be found at Big, the first watering hole for hirsute men in Athens. In today times, at least.
LAMBDA: It's a dance club in the birthplace of democracy. There's something poetic about that, and certainly something poetic about the classically beautiful Grecian locals who cruise through this two-level go-to.
EVITA: Located off the city's biggest thoroughfare, Rothschild Boulevard, Evita is Tel Aviv's oldest gay bar, but it's always fresh inside, where a small dance floor and a stage and plenty of men are always ready for some fun.
SHPAGAT: The lanky boys in skinny jeans and tank tops sip drinks out front. But venture inside, where a bar greets visitors and stadium seating sprawls behind it, like an overgrown staircase. While roving circuit parties tend to dominate the scene, Shpagat calls to mind the best hometown hangout (with plenty of cute boys to cruise).