Milan is Italy’s second-largest city right behind Rome, the country’s historic capital. Although Rome may be bigger and draw more tourists, it’s Milan that stands out with Italy’s largest and most visible gay scene. While Rome’s gay life remains mostly hidden behind the shadow of the Vatican, Milan’s gay scene comes slightly more out of the closet. It’s worth pointing out that Italy is easily Western Europe’s most socially conservative country, so while being gay is not a crime by any means, it’s still often frowned by some upon and rarely embraced as seen in other parts of Europe.
Milan is perhaps best known as a fashion capital and plays host to multiple fashion weeks each year. In addition to shopping for famous Italian brands, there is still plenty of history, art and culinary experiences to be had in this city. Don’t miss a visit to The Duomo, the 15th century cathedral and Milan’s most famous landmark. Before day turns to night, you might also visit the Scala Opera House or the Museo del Novecento – a contemporary art museum worthy of an afternoon visit.
Later you’ll certainly want to experience Milan’s gay scene and there’s plenty to offer. Porta Venezia is Milan’s LGBT neighborhood and its metro station was even decorated with rainbow colors several years ago to highlight the LGBT community who has a concentrated population in the neighborhood. The main LGBT shopping street is named Corso Buenos Aires, which is located in Porta Venezia.
Transportation & Airport Transfer
Milan has two airports Malpensa Airport (MXP) and Linate Airport (LIN). Malpensa airport is located 49km outside of Milan but it’s easy to reach the city center via train. Take the Malpensa Express train and stop at the centrally located Cadorna Station. Linate is closer to the city just 7km away but it is only connected by bus. Take bus #73 from the airport and stop at Piazza San Babila. Taxi fare from the airport is expensive and will run you 110€ from Malpensa or 55€ from Linate.
Once you’re in the center of Milan, you can easily get around by public transport. The metro (train/subway) system in Milan is easy to navigate. Buying tickets is simple and you can even just tap your credit card directly at the entrance and exit and skip the ticket altogether.
Gay Hotels in Milan
Though you won’t really find gay hotels in Milan, there are plenty of gay friendly places that are welcoming.
ME Milan Il Duca – contemporary-style hotel with stylish interiors and a rooftop terrace overlooking Milan's skyline. Located right in Piazza della Repubblica square, it’s near the Milan Centrale Train Station and the Quadrilatero della Moda fashion district. Guests can taste a fine aperitivo at the rooftop Radio Bar, where DJ sets take place daily. You can also enjoy drinks at Il Giardino del Duca bar, located on the ground-level garden.
Nhow Milan – displaying a unique collection of contemporary art, the modern hotel is set in Milan's lively Tortona district. Nhow's elegant restaurant serves an eclectic menu at both lunch and dinner. Guests can also enjoy a drink at the stylish bar or out on the terrace. A buffet breakfast is available daily and the on-site fitness center features modern Technogym equipment.
Uptown Palace – a contemporary hotel with a restaurant serving a breakfast buffet is served daily. The restaurant offers a mix of Italian and international cuisine, including homemade pasta and seafood specialties. The hotel is well placed to visit the city center on foot.
Hotel Manin – With lovely views over Indro Montanelli Park, the hotel is a 10-minute walk from La Scala Opera House and Milan Cathedral. Owned and run by the Colombo family since 1904, Hotel Manin is set in one of the oldest and more famous buildings in Milan. It features a glamorous outdoor terrace with a colorful garden. Restaurant Manin offers characteristic regional, Italian and international cuisine. Guests can also enjoy free access to the fitness room.
B&B Too Cute 2b Str8 – an elegant B&B with a large living room with sofas and tables. An Italian-style breakfast is offered daily. Some rooms are en suite while others share a bathroom.
Ostello Bello – a hostel with shared or private rooms featuring 3 furnished terraces with hammocks, The hostel is a 10-minute walk from Milan Cathedral and you will receive a free drink at your arrival, A buffet-style dinner is available from 19:00 until 21:00 daily. A buffet breakfast is served all morning long and includes sweet and savory products.
There are many sites for apartment rentals in Milan, with AirBnB probably being one of the most popular. Prices are generally comparable to budget hotels, especially if you’re willing to get a room in a shared apartment.
There are even a few LGBT-oriented booking sites like misterb&b with listings from gay hosts for gay guests where you can either rent a whole apartment or a private room in a shared apartment. Understanding Milan’s gay scene is much more easily done with the help of a local and apartment sharing is one of the best ways to meet someone living in the city who knows how things work, where and when are the best nights to go out, and what places to eat at and which to avoid.
Special Offer!Sign up with AirBnB or misterb&b and you will receive a free $25 credit to use on your first booking!
Sightseeing & Activities in Milan
Duomo di Milano – Milan’s impressive cathedral and without a doubt the most iconic landmark of Milan, located in the central plaza of the old town. Marvel at this stunning Gothic building, explore the archaeological area under the cathedral and later discover the Duomo Museum. Book tour →
Leonardo di Vinci Museum – immerse yourself in the genius of Leonardo da Vinci. See digital restorations and 3D reconstructions of his inventions, recreated using manuscripts from his studies in technology, science and engineering. Book tour →
Parco Sempione – this large park is located in the historic center of Milan. It was constructed in 1888 and offers lots of attractions including an aquarium, sports stadium, Napoleonic arch and a medieval castle.
Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II – this Italy's oldest shopping mall and it’s one of the most famous landmarks of Milan. Located next to the duomo, it’s a four-story building named after the first king of the Kingdom of Italy.
The Last Supper and Santa Maria delle Grazie – follow in the footsteps of Leonardo da Vinci and marvel at his masterpiece mural of The Last Supper in the Dominican convent church of Santa Maria delle Grazie. Book tour →
Starbucks Experience – visiting a Starbucks might not be at top of mind, especially in a country with such a long-standing coffee culture. However, this Starbucks is totally different and pays tribute to coffee culture so many Italians cherish. Located in the historic turn-of-the-century Palazzo Delle Poste building on Piazza Cordusio, this Starbucks Reserve Roastery is the culmination of a dream decades in the making. Every detail of the space was designed to honor the indelible magic of Milan.
Gay Tours in Milan
Untold History Tours – learn about the untold history of LGBT people. These tours have been developed by history experts and provide a unique perspective into Milan’s cultural history. Explore the district of Navigli, visit the La Scala Theatre and discover interesting stories about Leonardo di Vinci. Book tour →
Gaily Tour or Milan – Explore Milan to learn about Leonardo da Vinci’s Secrets or perhaps you want to take a fashion tour of Milan by night. This tour will show you the ins and out of gay Milan. Book tour →
Restaurants and Cafes
Ceresio 7 – atop a former Enel building from the ‘30s, which is now the headquarters of the influential international fashion brand Dsquared2. Enjoy exclusive fine dining and wines, quality craft cocktails, and all-around sophisticated, metropolitan vibes, surrounded by unparalleled 360-degree views of Milan’s modern skyline.
Leccomilano – Un buco di bar – friendly and open-minded bar and restaurant in Milan. They offer international cuisine with high-quality cocktails and spirits, healthy food and music each night with DJ on site.
Blanco – enjoy breakfast, lunch, dinner or the famous Italian aperitif in the evening. This is a creative space with inspiration from music, photography, art and design. Enjoy music from DJ’s on weekend evenings.
Pizza AM – inexpensive and delicious pizza place. A must-visit for a quick and tasty lunch.
Piz – another great pizza place open for lunch or dinner. Perhaps for a quick bite on a budget.
La Prosciutteria Milano Brera – wine bar with great Tuscan and Italian food. They serve high quality, artisan products in a simple way served on a cutting board or between two slices of bread.
Milan Gay Bars
Many gay venues are spread across the city with the exception of a few places located near each other on the aptly named “Gay Street” on via Sammartini, just next to Milan’s central train station. An Italian aperitif is a popular activity which involves enjoying drinks and buffet-style snacks early in the evening. Many gay bars offer this tradition as well as music and DJ sets. Milan has a huge selection of gay bars and clubs. The suggestions below are just a small sample.
Mono Bar – located in the gay district of Milan. It is a large club and a popular meeting place for locals. They offer great cocktails, rich aperitifs and DJ sets.
LeccoMilano – opens at 6pm Leccomilano presents an amazing aperitif with a buffet that will satisfy every kind of palate.
Afterline – a small gay bar located on Via Sammartini with theme nights, go-go dancers and drag show.
G-Street – small venue located on Via Sammartini with a DJ featuring go-go dancers, strippers, karaoke and dancing on the weekend.
Milan Gay Clubs & Parties
Track Milano – this is Milan’s large gay dance club which hosts parties every Saturday night. Various parties like Gate, Block and Cox host international DJ’s along with elaborate dance and light productions.
Club Plastic – this is an iconic gay dance club in Milan which has been opened since the 80’s.
Milan Gay Saunas & Cruising Bars
It’s important to point out that you’ll probably need a membership card to enter most cruising bars, saunas and some parties. This is common practice throughout much of Italy so don’t be surprised if you’re asked. Luckily, it’s easy for foreigners to buy the membership as most places will sell it to you at the door for 15€.
Royal Hammam – offers an upscale and relaxed sauna experience with a swimming pool, terrace, Turkish bath, dry sauna, jacuzzi, dark room and bar.
Fenix Sauna – popular with bears and an older crowd. Located in the northeast part of the city.
Hot Dog Milano – this is a gay cruising club located in the same building as Fenix Sauna.
Gay Events in Milan
Milan Pride – typically takes place at the end of June. The fashion capital of Italy hosts events throughout the week followed by the pride parade which attracts 200,000 attendees. They set up a Pride Square with a stage for a variety of music and performances throughout the nine-day event.
Day Trips from Milan
Lake Como – an incredibly beautiful region about an hour away from Milan. Cruise on Lake Como and experience the stunning scenery of the Italian and Swiss Alps. Visit the historic center, explore the Old Town, shop in the local boutiques. Admire the lakeside villas and the majestic mountain scenery before crossing the Swiss border. Enjoy views of soaring mountain peaks, green meadows, and glistening blue water. Book tour →
Featured image courtesy of Quiiky – Model: Ivano Marino Photographer: Roberto Chiovitti Custom: Rufskin