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The Gay Milan Guide (Italy 🇮🇹)

The Gay Milan Guide (Italy 🇮🇹)

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Please help us improve this guide 💖: Our gay guides undergo regular updates to ensure that all listed establishments are current, popular, and, most importantly, safe. The recommendations and descriptions provided within this guide stem from personal experiences and/or reports. We welcome any input regarding new venues or updates to existing ones included in the guide. Please feel free to reach out to us by email with your suggestions or updates.

Gay Milan Guide Intro

Benvenuti a Milano! Milan has evolved into Italy's unofficial second capital, boasting a vibrant nightlife scene that rivals even the most iconic cities. Historically, many have migrated here from the south in search of career opportunities, thanks to its strategic location as a gateway to Central Europe at the bottom of the Blue banana (and we do like our bananas 🍌!). Milan's industrial history is palpable, yet it's renowned worldwide as a fashion mecca, hosting prestigious events like Milan Fashion Week and housing iconic design houses (which exposed at the Salone del Mobile).

In recent years, Milan has also become the epicenter of Italy's media industry, making it increasingly appealing to young professionals. It is time for a gay tour to uncover the vibrant gay scene, highlighting the best gay clubs and must-visit LGBTQ+ hotspots in Milan.

Modern residential building in Milan called Bosco Verticale, adorned with vertical gardens on each balcony, showcasing urban green architecture.

The modern and chic and better-for-our-Earth, Bosco Verticale

LGBTQ+ Life in Milan🏳️‍🌈

Milan, often regarded as the gayest city in Italy, is known for its progressive attitudes and bustling LGBTQ community, offering a welcoming environment for individuals of all orientations and identities. The city's thriving nightlife, inclusive events, and supportive communities contribute to a sense of belonging and freedom to express oneself authentically.

However, it's essential to remain mindful of personal safety, especially in less cosmopolitan areas, and to be aware of local attitudes and customs. Italy has made significant strides in LGBTQ+ rights, including the legalization of same-sex civil unions in 2016, providing legal protections against discrimination in various spheres of life. While challenges persist, particularly in more conservative pockets, Milan stands as a beacon of tolerance and diversity.

Gay Map of Milan

History of Milan in an eggshell

Milan's vibrant history traces back to ancient times when it was inhabited by Celtic and Ligurian peoples before being conquered by the Romans in the 3rd century BC. Flourishing as a commercial and strategic hub during the Roman Empire, Milan rose to prominence, eventually becoming the capital of the Western Roman Empire in the 4th century AD.

Throughout the Middle Ages, Milan saw rule by local lords and noble families like the Visconti and the Sforza, fostering artistic and cultural brilliance. The Renaissance period further elevated Milan's status, with luminaries such as Leonardo da Vinci contributing to its artistic legacy.

Across centuries, Milan witnessed dominion by various empires and kingdoms, playing a pivotal role in the Italian Risorgimento during the 19th century, striving for independence and Italian unification.

After World War II, Milan experienced a period of rapid economic and industrial growth, becoming one of Europe's leading financial and cultural centers.

Today, Milan is famous for its fashion, design, art, and culture, attracting millions of visitors from around the world every year. Despite facing challenges such as pollution and urban congestion, Milan remains a vibrant and dynamic city, reflecting its rich past and looking towards a promising future!

Did you know that the snake is the symbol of Milan? Legend traces its association with the Visconti family back to Ottone Visconti, the family's founder, who supposedly encountered a snake during a hunting trip. Instead of attacking him, the snake coiled around his arm, bestowing upon him a ring with the image of a snake devouring a child. This symbol, the Biscione, became synonymous with the Visconti dynasty and subsequently with Milan.

Nighttime view of the historic Castello Sforzesco in Milan, beautifully illuminated, highlighting its robust architecture.

Castello Sforzesco by night

Where to Stay in Milan

For gay travelers visiting Milan, finding the perfect place to stay is crucial for maximizing your trip. Look no further than the vibrant Porta Venezia area, home to Milan's gay district and the renowned gay street, Via Lecco. Here, you'll discover popular gay bars, trendy clubs, and a lively atmosphere perfect for immersing yourself in Milan's gay scene. For those seeking central accommodation, the city center offers a variety of gay-friendly hotels, including the stylish Hotel Sanpi.

If you prefer a cozy atmosphere, consider staying near Stazione Centrale, providing easy access to Milan's gay clubs and other gay venues. Another fantastic option, which we personally chose, is the charming neighborhood of Brera. Boasting numerous options for aperitivo and picturesque parks for morning runs, Brera offers a delightful stay experience. Whatever your preference, Milan's gay-friendly accommodations and vibrant LGBTQ+ community ensure an unforgettable visit to this dynamic city.

Selfie of two men in casual wear, with the Arco della Pace illuminated in the background during twilight in Milan.

Taking a photo during a late run in the park

The Best Gay Hotels in Milan

  • Hotel Sanpi: Stylish gay-friendly accommodation centrally located near Milan's iconic cathedral and the Scala Theater.
  • Château Monfort: Fairy tale inspired hotel conveniently situated close to the city's cathedral and the Scala Theatre.
  • Antica Locanda Leonardo: Charming gay-friendly inn offering a cozy atmosphere and warm hospitality in Milan.
  • Agape Hotel: Conveniently located 150 meters from District 272 Club, venue of the Gate gay party.
  • Meininger: Modern and welcoming hotel providing comfortable lodging options for LGBTQ+ travelers exploring Milan.

Other Accommodations in Milan

Hotels might not the best option if you are like us and visiting for a longer time or would like a more local experience. In that case, try out:

  • Misterbnb: This online marketplace and hospitality service allows you to rent short-term lodging in residential properties, with the aim of providing safe and welcoming spaces for gay male travelers.
  • House-sitting: Another unique way of experiencing Milan (and get FREE accommodations), is by doing house-sitting. You get accommodations in exchange for watching a home and generally their dogs and cats. It is more responsibility, and it takes a bit of time to get your first sit (plus a membership fee), but we have used this service and have stayed around the world for free. We love to use TrustedHousesitters and have even stayed in the heart of Milan for an entire week with it. If you want to sign up on the site as a sitter, use the code 12TRUST to get 12% off a year membership. If you also put your email in on our site, you will get a guide on How to Get Your First House sit.

Gay Nightlife in Milan

Milan offers a vibrant array of venues and inclusive spaces, from the electric energy of Milano Pride to the pulsating beats of renowned clubs like Club Plastic and La Boum. This cosmopolitan city boasts a thriving scene, with large clubs and aperitivo bars setting the stage for unforgettable nights out. If you're a gay travelers seeking the best, you're in the right place!

The beautiful Porta Venezia, built in 1827 as one of the city's gates, serves as Milan's gay district. Here, Via Lecco emerges as the gay street, with Mono leading the way as the first gay bar on this street, now joined by many others.

Via Sammartini, near Central Station, once served as the old gay street, with spots like the bar After Line, but Porta Venezia has since taken over as the gay hotspot. Not far from here lies Piazza Morbegno in the NoLo district at Loreto, an artsy area famous for its graffiti and LGBTQ+ friendliness.

Even if it's not the designated gay area, a visit to the Navigli for aperitivo is a must. These canals, dating back to the 12th century, lend the Navigli district a Venetian ambiance, with its lively atmosphere, lined with cafés, shops, and galleries. It's a popular spot for both locals and tourists alike, offering a taste of Milan's vibrant social scene.

Gay Milan Nightlife & Sauna Tip 🚨

Gain exclusive access to Italy's vibrant gay club scene with the ARCO Travel Card🪪

While certain saunas and clubs in Italy may require specialized membership cards for entry, tourists now have a hassle-free solution. Tailored for international visitors, the ARCO Travel Card grants you all the perks of the standard AllClubs card but at a discounted rate. With validity spanning three months from the date of purchase or renewal, this card unlocks doors to the pulsating nightlife of Italy's gay clubs and gay saunas, ensuring you make the most of your travels!

Gay Bars in Milan & Gay Clubs in Milan

  • Mono Bar Milano, Red Café, Candies, and Leccomilano are all gay bars situated on Via Lecco, the designated gay street. While it may not be our top choice among gay streets we've visited, we had to remind ourselves that we were in Milan, the fashion capital.👀
  • Botox Matinèe and Silicone: Experience extravagance and glamour at this dazzling gay event. BTW white wife-beater style tank tops are the epitome of style here 🤣!
A vibrant scene at a gay club in Milan, featuring a drag performer in a futuristic white outfit and visor, flanked by two shirtless male dancers. The audience, consisting of diverse attendees, watches intently under the dim, colorful lights of the club.

A typical night at Club Botox 💉

  • Club Plastic: Renowned for its pulsating beats and inclusive vibe, a must-visit for party enthusiasts. Beware, it has a strict door policy and you need to dress the part.
  • Toilet Club Milano: A boldly inclusive gay club, pushing boundaries and embracing diversity.
  • La Boum: A lively venue offering eclectic music and a welcoming environment.
  • Company Club Milano: A bear bar hosting various events, including aperitivo nights and karaoke, and home to Bear Festival Milano.
  • Gate: Party at Club District 272: A new wave of gay party circuit, promising unforgettable nights.
  • Il Borgo delle Perse: LGBTQ+ party hotspot, offering vibrant events every Sunday at The Beach Club Milano.
  • ONEWAY: A stylish discoclub with a Roman-themed decor, requiring membership for entry.
  • Vogue Ambition Milano: Embrace the glamour and excitement of LGBTQ+ parties featuring fabulous drag queens.
  • Q Club Milano: A sleek and stylish nightclub, drawing in crowds with its vibrant atmosphere.
  • Afterline: Historical Gay Bar and Club near the Central Station.
  • Love Bar: Located on Via Melzo, 5, Love Bar offers a cozy and intimate setting for memorable evenings.
  • Hot Dog Club Milano: Explore your desires at this exclusive gay cruising spot for men.
  • Depot: Dive into the leather scene at this iconic establishment, known for its authenticity.
  • Inferus Club: Immerse yourself in the underground scene at this edgy club, promising unforgettable experiences.
  • Illumined: A fetish club featuring a plethora of glory holes and of course, a dark room 😈.
  • Terrazza Martini Sundays: On Sunday evenings, the famous Terazza Martini opens up to the gays. This is the time to dress fancy and the ultimate time to mingle with the locals. We went here and it was a little bit intimidating 🤣, but you have fantastic panoramic views of Milan from the rooftop.

Other Bars in Milan

  • Lacerba: Experience the essence of Milan's nightlife at Lacerba, a historic bar known for its lively ambiance and creative cocktails.
  • Birrificio Italiano Milano: Explore a diverse selection of Italian craft beers at Birrificio Italiano Milano, where beer enthusiasts gather to enjoy quality brews.

Gay Saunas in Milan

Tip 🚨: Gay saunas in Italy generally require a membership, but as mentioned earlier in this section, you can get an ARCO Travel Card to give you access to these venues. Regardless, you can still purchase a membership on the spot.

  • Fenix Sauna: Unwind and relax at this popular gay sauna, offering a rejuvenating experience.
  • Sauna Metro Milano: Indulge in a steamy adventure at this discreet and welcoming sauna club Metro Club.
Man capturing the vibrant night cityscape of Milan from a high-rise building with a smartphone.

Enjoying a gay affair with a stunning view at Terrazza Martini.

Milan Gay Pride

Milan Pride is one of the biggest in Italy! Taking place typically at the end of June, Milan Pride spans a long weekend and includes events mainly happening at Casa dei Diritti (House of Rights) and “Pride Square” in Porta Venezia.

When is Milan Pride?

In 2024, events run from Thursday, June 27 to Sunday, June 30 and the parade runs on Saturday, June 29th. For updated PRIDE dates for Milan, check out our European Gay Pride Calendar.

Best Food in Milan: Where to Eat and Drink in Milan

You're in Italy, baby! It's hard to go wrong with food unless you stumble into a tourist trap made in NOT-italy🪤. Whenever possible, we recommend dining outside the main hotspots for better prices and a less crowded experience. Always remember to considering prices according to locations.

Aperitivo is a must here; it may cost a bit more, but you'll always get some delicious food with it, so you won't need to dine out as often. We've already written a post about the best aperitivo spots in Milan. And if you're looking to try something typical, don't miss out on classics like risotto alla milanese and delectable panzerotti.

Can't decide where to go to eat? Do a comprehensive food tour instead.

Our Favorite Restaurants in Milan

  • Sidhe Milano: Sidhe welcomes with coffee aroma, earthy colors, and local ingredients (that lead to explosive flavors). Enjoy vegan/vegetarian dishes with a cool library inside. It is notably a bit out of the center, but the warm/inclusive vibes and delectable cuisine makes it worth it.
Chalkboard menu outside a restaurant in Milan featuring homemade Italian dishes with vegan and vegetarian options highlighted.
  • Lubar: Milano presents modern Italian cuisine in a sophisticated ambiance. Enjoy high-quality dishes and impeccable service in this stylish restaurant.
  • The Gintoneria of David: Indulge in a variety of sought-after alcoholic beverages and savor different flavors at this Gintoneria
  • I Romano: Immerse yourself in the flavors of Naples at this pizzeria and trattoria, offering typical Partenopean cuisine.
  • Agua Sancta: Experience the fusion of Mexican and Mediterranean flavors at this cocktail bar and bistro, known for its vibrant cocktails and delicious tacos.
  • La Balera dell'Ortica: This is unique! Think trattoria combined with a dance hall. Dance the night away at La Balera dell'ortica, a vibrant dance hall offering lively music and a festive atmosphere.
Cheerful man enjoying a freshly baked pizza at an outdoor restaurant in Milan, evoking a lively Italian dining experience.

Our Favorite Cafés in Milan

  • Orsonero: Sip on expertly crafted specialty coffee at Milan's original coffee shop since 2016, Orsonero.
  • Loste Café: Operated by a former Noma pastry chef, it provides a casual atmosphere perfect for breakfast and lunch, complemented by a selection of fine wines.
  • Pavé: Resembling a cozy living room, this café stands out for its scrumptious homemade pastries and freshly brewed coffee, perfect for a leisurely breakfast or a mid-afternoon delight.
Chalkboard menu outside a restaurant in Milan featuring homemade Italian dishes with vegan and vegetarian options highlighted.

5-star meal in the bakery Le delizie del Fornaio, right after an intense morning workout

What to Do in Milan

What to See in Milan

Exploring Milan unveils a tapestry of historical marvels, artistic treasures, and architectural wonders. Here's our list of must-see attractions:

  • Milan Cathedral (Duomo di Milano): A breathtaking symbol of Gothic architecture, boasting towering spires and intricate details that mesmerize visitors from around the world.

If you want to enter the cathedral, make sure to get a fast-track ticket!

  • Bosco Verticale: The Vertical Forest showcases Milan's innovative spirit, featuring residential towers adorned with lush greenery, blending nature seamlessly into the urban landscape.
  • Cimitero Monumentale: Pay homage to Milan's rich cultural heritage at this vast cemetery, adorned with grand tombs and elaborate monuments honoring the city's prominent figures.
  • Pinacoteca di Brera: Immerse yourself in Italy's artistic heritage at this renowned gallery, housing masterpieces by Titian, Raphael, and Caravaggio within a serene historic setting.
  • Castello Sforzesco e Parco Sempione: Explore the majestic halls of this medieval fortress-turned-palace, then unwind in the scenic Parco Sempione, offering a tranquil oasis in the heart of the city.
  • Santa Maria delle Grazie: Home to Leonardo da Vinci's masterpiece, "The Last Supper," this historic church enchants art enthusiasts with its iconic mural.
Panoramic view of a spacious public square in Milan with a grand museum building under a vivid blue sky, symbolizing Milan's cultural richness.

Get lost in time in the huge historical cemetery of Milan, Cimitero Monumentale

Best Things to Do in Milan

Take a FREE tour of Milan

The Sandemans crew know what they are doing! Whatever city where these tours are offered, we like to give them a go, as these guides know their history, culture, best spots, etc. Book it today!

Day trips from Milan: What to see in Lombardy

  • Bergamo: We've already dedicated a post to our visit to this beautiful city with a long history nestled on the foothills of the Alps. Here, you can step into a fairy tale as you explore the enchanting medieval streets of Bergamo Alta. It's a picture-perfect escape just waiting to be discovered with its romantic ambiance, from the charming Piazza Vecchia to the panoramic views atop the Venetian walls.
  • Lecco: Discover the beauty of Lecco, nestled on the shores of Lake Como. Explore its charming historic center, take in the stunning lake views, and embark on scenic hikes in the surrounding mountains. It's a tranquil retreat offering a perfect blend of nature and culture.
  • Lake Como: Dive into the lap of luxury with a day trip to Lake Como, where elegance meets tranquility. Explore the chic lakeside towns of Bellagio and Varenna, soak up the stunning scenery, and feel like a star as you cruise across the crystal-clear waters. It's the ultimate playground for the fabulous!

Check out GetYourGuide's one-day trip to Lake Como!

  • Franciacorta Wine Region: Toast to the good life in the Franciacorta wine region, just a stone's throw from Milan. Sip on exquisite sparkling wines, savor gourmet delights, and let the bubbly flow as you soak in the vineyard views. It's a sparkling adventure you won't soon forget!
  • Mantua: Step into a Renaissance masterpiece in Mantua, where history and culture collide in spectacular fashion. Lose yourself in the opulent palaces, awe-inspiring churches, and hidden gems waiting to be discovered around every corner. It's a regal escape fit for a king (or queen)!
  • Verona and Lake Garda: Experience the romance of Verona, where every corner exudes passion, from Juliet's balcony to the ancient Verona Arena. Then, explore Italy's crown jewel, Lake Garda, with charming lakeside towns and scenic promenades against the backdrop of azure waters and majestic mountains. For more information on Verona's vibrant gay life.
A man acting silly in front of a home in Bergamo with an dark overcast sky

Acting silly in Bergamo

Shopping in Milan

From haute couture to trendy streetwear, Milan, as this fashion capital, offers a shopping paradise where every fashion aficionado can fulfill their must-visit destinations for indulging in retail therapy.

  • Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II: Dive into luxury shopping at one of the world's oldest shopping malls, adorned with stunning architecture and housing high-end boutiques and designer brands.
  • Corso Buenos Aires: Explore the bustling Corso Buenos Aires, Milan's largest shopping street, teeming with a diverse array of shops, from international chains to local boutiques, offering something for every style and budget.
  • Quadrilatero della Moda: Immerse yourself in the heart of Milan's fashion scene at the Quadrilatero della Moda, home to prestigious fashion houses, renowned designers, and chic concept stores, defining the epitome of Italian style and sophistication.
  • Brera District: Wander through the charming streets of the Brera District, where quaint boutiques, artisan workshops, and eclectic galleries beckon with unique finds and one-of-a-kind treasures, creating a delightful shopping experience amidst a picturesque setting.
  • Via Montenapoleone: Indulge in opulent shopping along Via Montenapoleone, synonymous with luxury and elegance, boasting flagship stores of iconic fashion brands and haute couture houses, offering discerning shoppers the ultimate in sartorial indulgence.
  • Pride Store Gay Shop: Your premier destination for Gay merchandise! Step into our beautifully furnished shop, where you'll find an array of vibrant and empowering products curated specifically for the LGBTQ community.
Two men with playful expressions standing in front of the iconic Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II in Milan, surrounded by bustling shoppers.

In front of the Galleria Vittorio Emmanuele, We love shopping (this is meant to be ironic)

TL;DR: Plan Your Milan Trip (Logistics)

When is the Best Time to Visit Milan?

While Milan holds its charm throughout the year, it's advisable to avoid the peak summer months when crowds surge and temperatures soar. From mid-June to mid-July, it might feel like hell on earth 👹! The beginning and end of winter can be rainy, but less crowded. Events like the Salone del Mobile and Milan Fashion Week can inflate accommodation prices, making it less ideal for budget travelers.

Do I Need a Visa for Italy?

  • EU, EEA, or Swiss citizens can move around no problemo
  • UK citizens can stay in the EU now up to 90 days in any 180 day period.
  • Non-EU travelers should consult relevant authorities or iVisa for detailed information.

How to Get To Milan

  • By plane: Milan is well-connected by air, primarily through Malpensa Airport, but Bergamo Orio al Serio Airport also offers convenient access. Nearby airports such as Brescia Airport and Linate Airport are alternatives with train connections to Milan.
  • By train: High-speed trains like Freccia Rossa and Italo from famous cities like Venice, Rome, and Florence provide efficient transportation options to Milan.
  • By bus: Buses from various European cities also offer scenic routes to the city.

Book train tickets to Milan with Omio 🚝, bus tickets with Omio 🚌, or plane tickets with Skyscanner 🛫.

Internet in Italy/Mobile Internet in Italy

The latest alternative that we have been using when travelling is eSIMs. We use Airalo for every place we go. Through them, you can get an e-SIM that has coverage for most countries in Europe for much cheaper than roaming. Just make sure to research whether your phone is e-SIM compatible before buying an e-SIM. If you go this way, buy it before your trip and make sure you set it up beforehand as well (and turn off your normal SIM before connecting to data).

For detailed Wi-Fi cafés, check out this post.

Health and Safety in Italy

Milan is generally safe, but exercise caution in crowded areas to avoid pickpockets. When navigating the city, it's advisable to avoid sketchy suburban or industrial areas to ensure a safer experience. Make sure to always have travel insurance. We are big SafetyWing fans!

How to Get Around Milan

While our favorite is by foot 🦶, you have all the other options!

  • 🚍 Public Transportation: The ATM is the extensive metro in Milan. They now accept contactless payments. For more information, refer to their site!

  • 🚲 Biking: ATM also provides a bike-share service called Bike-Mi. There are docks all over the city with electric bike options. Want to go dock-less? There are plenty of other options like Lime and Dott!

  • 🚖 Taxis and Ride-Sharing: Taxis and ride-sharing services like Uber and Bolt are readily available for convenient transportation within the city.

What is the Currency in Italy?

Milan operates on the Euro (€). Credit cards are widely accepted, but it's wise to carry cash for smaller transactions.

How Much Do I Tip in Italy?

Tipping isn't obligatory but is highly appreciated for good service. Watch for "coperto" charges (usually 1 or 2 dollars) in many restaurants, covering table costs.

What Else Do I Need to Know about Milan?

  • Pack a universal power adapter for Type C or F outlets.
  • Embrace Milan's dynamic atmosphere and prepare for longer travel times between attractions.
  • Enjoy outdoor dining but refrain from alcohol consumption on public transport.
  • Dress respectfully when visiting religious sites. But why not wear that jockstrap underneath if it makes you feel glamorous! 😂
Man in casual attire walking in front of the crowded Milan Cathedral, showcasing the intricate Gothic architecture.

Ryan impatiently waiting for an invitation to the next Milano Fashion Week

Other Italy Resources