Gay Canberra: Where to eat, drink, play and sleep

By Emen8, updated 6 months ago in Travel and party / In Australia

rainbow over top of parliament house in canberra

Located in the Australian Capital Territory (ACT), Canberra is the nation’s capital city, famed for its museums, cultural sites and surrounding sweeping landscapes.

Being the epicentre of Australian politics, you might be expecting a city full of straight suits, but statistically speaking, couples in the ACT are fifty per cent more likely to be same-sex than anywhere else in the country!

One thing is for sure: you can always count on a friendly welcome from the Canberra gay community.

Where is the gay scene in Canberra?

You’ll find plenty of gay-friendly venues in Canberra, but head to Canberra’s premier gay venue, Cube nightclub, or Canberra’s cruise club, The Mustang Ranch if you’re bargaining on more than a boogie! And lastly, do not miss Lonsdale Street in Braddon — home of ‘The Rainbow Roundabout’ and Canberra’s hotspot for eating and drinking until the wee hours!

Most places are welcoming, though, and you’d be remiss to visit the capital without getting your culture on with a visit to famous sites like the National Gallery of Australia or Parliament House.

Where to drink — gay bars in Canberra

Sadly, Canberra no longer has any dedicated LGBTQ bars. Our recommendation? Start your night with some classy cocktails and head to Cube for full-on feather boa, disco ball glitz and glamour. In any case, here are some other friendly spots to hang out at.

The Dickson Tradies

The Dickson Tradies sponsors various LGBTQ community groups and events in Canberra, emphasising inclusivity. It’s a safe venue for the entire community. Join Fame Trivia every Monday at 7pm at The Dickson Tradies and 6:30pm at The Woden Tradies to challenge your knowledge and win exciting prizes. Everyone’s welcome to participate and enjoy!

Hippo Co

If you love whiskey or a classy cocktail, you’ll likely love Hippo Co. Located in the heart of the city, live music and tastings are on offer. Indulge in the finest tipple in the nation’s capital — responsibly, of course.

Molly Bar

Although it’s not a gay bar, a visit to Canberra wouldn’t be complete without a visit to Molly Bar. One for the discerning, it’s a place to turn back the clock and channel your inner jazz-lover with cocktails, live music and a European-style charcuterie platter. This 1920s speakeasy might be tricky to find, but it’ll be worthwhile when you do.

Where to eat — gay cafés in Canberra

Muse

Muse, located in the East Hotel between Kingston and Manuka, is an upscale cafe and bookshop where food, wine, and literature intertwine. Open for breakfast daily and lunch from Wednesday to Saturday, Muse offers contemporary Australian café dishes, an award-winning wine list, and a variety of books. A 2016 Canberra SpringOUT Pride Award winner, this LGBTIQ+ safe space is gay-owned and welcomes all to enjoy local wines, coffee, and compelling reads.

tables and chairs inside muse cafe canberra
Image credit: Muse Canberra

Tilley’s Divine Cafe

Known as Canberra’s ‘lesbian café’, Tilley’s Divine Café is a welcoming space for all LGBTQ+ community members. This isn’t just a place for brekkie and brunch; it’s open till 8pm on the weekend with live music, cosy booths, and a great selection of beers, wines and other bevvies.

The Cupping Room

The Cupping Room is a Canberra café unlike any other. ‘Cupping’ is the process coffee roasters use to judge coffees without bias (no massage or bruises required), and with a name like that, it’s no surprise this is Canberra’s largest specialty coffee roaster. The coffee is top-notch and the food is pretty special, too, offering a modern twist on brunch classics.

Where to play — things to do in Canberra

Gay cruising clubs in Canberra

Looking to get lucky while in Canberra or the ACT? Gay saunas and cruise clubs aren’t as common in Canberra as in Sydney and Melbourne. But you’ll still find one gay cruising venue in Canberra. For a list of Australia’s best gay saunas and sex-on-premises venues, check out this article.

Want tips to up your chances of picking up at a gay venue? Here’s our handy guide to help you up your game.

Fantasy Lane

Head to The Mustang Ranch in Fantasy Lane, the perfect place for gay men to play in private or in a group. Find playrooms, internet lounges, cinema rooms, naked nights (and arvos), glory holes, massage rooms, sling rooms, and even a bondage cross inside. Oh, and there are free condoms, lube, tea and coffee. What more do you need?

sling room inside the mustang ranch at fantasy lane canberra
Image credit: Fantasy Lane

Remember that enjoying a fulfilling sex life also comes with the need to look after your sexual health – for your sake and your partners’. If you’re in Canberra and need to get tested or access treatment, sexual health services are available. Check our interactive map to find nearby services. For help finding an LGBTQ+-friendly doctor, check out this article.

If you’ve had a possible exposure to HIV, accessing PEP within 72 hours can help you stay HIV-negative. Here’s how to access PEP in Canberra and the ACT.

Gay club nights in Canberra

Cube nightclub

Expect glamorous drag shows, foot-stomping tunes, and a night that won’t end till the early hours. Welcome to Cube nightclub, Canberra’s only queer venue and a self-proclaimed home away from home for the rainbow family.

What club would be complete without renowned DJs, plenty of dancing, and even a carousel? Yes, you read that right! This is unmissable Canberra nightlife.

Peak party hours start at 11pm, tapering off by 3am on Thursdays (with free entry) as well as on Fridays and Saturdays.

people inside cube nightclub canberra
Image credit: Cube nightclub

Transit Bar

Transit Bar is home to a new monthly gay club night, Queer Crash. Brought to you by drag specialists Phish & Phreak Productions, the night promises classic nightclub vibes in an LGBTQ+ safe space.

Gay theatre in Canberra

Canberra Qwire

Canberra community choir, Qwire welcomes members from all sexual orientations and gender identities, as well as allies. With over 90 members, watching Qwire perform is a joy for anyone who loves to sing (even if it’s just in the shower). They perform in Canberra throughout the year, including at their own events and others, such as the AIDS Candlelight Memorial and FreshOut (the new name for Fair Day).

members of canberra qwire choir sing on stage
Image credit: Canberra Qwire

Canberra Theatre Centre

Canberra Theatre Centre is the top performing arts venue in Canberra, offering a vast range of entertainment from theatre and dance to comedy and music. Not only does it feature national performances, but its Courtyard Studio also serves as a stage for local artists. For a mix of world-class and regional talents, it’s a must-visit.

Smith’s Alternative

Smith’s Alternative is located in Canberra’s Civic centre within the historic Melbourne Building. Dedicated to celebrating local culture, Smith’s offers diverse events, from music to art openings, ensuring a safe environment for appreciation and development. Open almost daily, their events prioritise positivity, legality, and uplifting the human spirit while emphasising community values of love, respect, and environmental care.

Gay festivals in Canberra

SpringOUT Festival

Canberra’s flagship gay and LGBTQ+ festival, SpringOUT happens in November yearly with a month-long series of events. This has been going on for years and aims to help LGBTQ+ individuals and groups express and celebrate their pride and highlight their contribution to Canberra’s cultural fabric.

people under rainbow umbrella at springout pride community picnic canberra
Image credit: SpringOUT

Bushdance

The Bushdance is a prominent annual gay event in Canberra since 1984, hosted at the Yarralumla Woolshed. This original shearing shed, located centrally but offering a countryside ambience, retains a hint of lanolin aroma from the wool. Attendees enjoy live bush music, guided dances, an onsite bar, and an outdoor space for relaxation. The dance floor remains packed, marking it as a highlight of Canberra’s SpringOUT Pride Festival.

Gay meeting places in Canberra

Some of the best gay meeting places in Canberra are community-run events and sports clubs.

She Shapes History – LQBTQIA + History Tour

Discover Canberra’s rich LGBTQ+ history with She Shapes History walking tour of the Inner-North’s significant sites. Explore locations where historical events and romances unfolded, from secretive car park meetings to a tennis court social hub. Celebrate the queer activists and movements that transformed Canberra’s social landscape.

people on the she shapes history lgbtq walking tour canberra
Image credit: She Shapes History

Pink Tennis

Pink Tennis is a tennis club specifically for LGBTQ+ folks in Canberra. If you enjoy a game or two, they meet weekly, alongside a host of other social events.

MAGNET social group

MAGNET is a social group for mature gay and bisexual men, organising coffee meet-ups and film viewings. They also offer a “Coming Out” workshop tailored for older men, acknowledging their gay identity later in life. For further details, drop them an email.

Rainbow Racquets

Looking for a gay-friendly squash group? Rainbow Racquets welcome players to join the fun. Catch them 6-8pm every Thursday at Woden Squash Centre.

Where to stay — gay-friendly accommodation in Canberra

Stay in Canberra’s CBD or surrounding suburbs to be close to the action. You can find a variety of hotel accommodations in these suburbs, including the CBD, Barton, Kingston and Braddon. There are also some hotels in Canberra’s outer suburbs. Many motels are in the same suburbs if you’re on a tighter budget.

There’s no shortage of Airbnb’s in or around the Canberra CBD. Find them in Canberra Central, Kingston, Forrest, Reid and Braddon. Comparing hotel and Airbnb prices may land you a more competitive price in your desired location. You can also check out the popular misterb&b for gay-friendly accommodation options across Canberra.

If you are looking for more specific recommendations where it be on local cafes, bars, or festivals you can always head over to the Queerberra Facebook page and either post a question or have a trawl through. There is a wealth of up-to-date and accurate local knowledge on there as well!

And that’s a wrap. The total guide of where to eat, drink, play and stay in Canberra for guys into other guys. Offering a classy weekend away, Canberra is the ideal choice for your next gay-cation.

Want to visit other locations in Australia on your trip? Take a look at our gay-friendly travel guides to these Australian cities: