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The ultimate gay travel guide to Florence

Stefan Arestis
The ultimate gay travel guide to Florence

This is our gay travel guide to the Italian city of Florence, including all the best gay hotels, bars, restaurants, and more.

Did you know in Germany they used the word ‘Florenzer’ for a gay guy? It certainly piqued our interest enough to take a trip to Florence. But how did it come to be? 

Well, the year was 1476 – and the city of Florence was awash with scandal. Four men were accused of having an affair with a male rent boy – and one of those men…. was Leonardo di Vinci! Oh, y’all wanted a twist? Yup, the world-famous artist could have gone to jail for “being caught in the action“! But Florentians turned a blind eye. 

Artists like Michelangelo, Donatello, Sandro Botticelli. and Benvenuto Cellini, were well-known gay guys, and due to the renewed interest in Plato’s writings, homosexuality was viewed as just another part of life in Florence. And, thus, the slang term was born!

To this day, Florence still attracts the creative type – making it the perfect gay destination. Now is also the perfect time to visit, because, until December 31st, there is a promotion called Destination Florence Plus offering discounted hotel rates and an extra discount on experiences once the room is booked. This portal is the official tourism platform of the town, totally non-profit and we love it because they only select local providers offering authentic experiences.

During our time in Florence, we visited bars, strolled museums and parks, and soon enough, we found the charming and open-minded gay scene we’d heard so much about. Here is our detailed gay guide to Florence to inspire your trip here:

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Gay culture in Florence

Known for its leather couture, gorgeous men, elaborate buildings, and inspiring art, it is any wonder Florence is held in such high regard with LGBTQ folk? Before we traveled to the Italian city, we never would have thought it could offer a gay couple so much!

We knew about the surrounding mountain scenery, brilliant architecture, and affluent art scene, but what we didn’t realize was how vibrant the gay scene is. We found plenty of gay and gay-friendly bars, clubs, and restaurants. And we were most surprised to stumble upon a gay sauna. 

And let’s just say, Italian guys are not shy. They are hot and they know it. So don’t be taken aback when they approach you and try to sweep you off your feet. 

Florence is a surprisingly gay city in conservative Italy
Even the statues in Florence are pretty gay!

Is Florence safe for gay travelers?

Italy’s attitude towards LGBTQ people is endlessly confusing. On one hand, you have the queer meccas of Milan, Rome, and Puglia. It’s a land full of couture fashion, rebellious artworks, and a culture that encourages emotional expression and feminine men. But on the other hand, they have a ban on gay marriage and conservative attitudes are among the highest in Western Europe. Italy is home to the Vatican after all, and most people here take their Catholic faith seriously.  

With that said, in Florence, LGBTQ travelers are perfectly safe. Attitudes are becoming increasingly liberal, so you’re unlikely to experience any outright prejudice or problems with displays of affection in public. 

Italians love welcoming foreigners, gay or straight, and look for any excuse to show off their wonderful country. We spotted many gay couples out and about in Florence and ran into no trouble ourselves. Just be careful with PDAs if you head to more rural areas.

Florence is quite a safe destination for gay travelers to Italy
We didn't feel the need to hide our true selves in Florence

Gay area of Florence

It’s hard to pinpoint an exact gay neighborhood in Florence, while the gay bars and clubs aren’t distanced too far apart, they aren’t exactly beside each other either. 

In the Santa Croce area, you have bars like Queer, which is the most popular LGBTQ hangout spot. And a 4-minute walk away is the Piccolo Café, with the Crisco club another 10 minutes away. Although a pro tip: If you want to hang out with locals, your best bet is to go dancing clubs and events, rather than bars as these tend to be the tourist traps. 

The city itself is quite small, so it’s expected the gay area would be too. But if you hang around this general vicinity, you can consider yourself amid the queer mecca of Florence.

Florence doesn't have a specific gay neighborhood but there's a lot of gay places throughout the city
The more colorful a spot is, the more likely you'll find us in it!

Gay hotels in Florence

We understand, as a gay couple, that comfort, safety, and lack of judgment are key when it comes to booking a hotel. No one wants any raised eyebrows or awkward conversations at the check-in desk (although, it is funny when hotel clerks realize we are a couple and NOT the Nomadic Brothers). 

You have nothing to fear in Florence. Everywhere we went, we were met with staff who were open-minded and welcoming. As a small city, it is unsurprising that there aren’t any big gay hotels in Florence like you’d find in Fort Lauderdale or Amsterdam. Each of the accommodations on our list was a wonderful experience that made our stay in Florence that much more special.

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01

Four Seasons Hotel Firenze

The Four Seasons Hotel Firenze will make you feel like a gay princess while visiting Florence

In a nutshell


  • Absolutely stunning 5 star luxury hotel
  • Michelin-starred restaurant on site
  • Two-floor spa with many treatments
  • Lovely swimming pool and hot tub on a terrace

You can never go wrong with the Four Seasons. It’s elegant, romantic, gay friendly and it provides top-tier service. Suffice to say, we’re in love. In fact, we’ve slept in one so many times, we’d almost deem our relationship a throuple! 

By staying in their Florence branch, we got access to the biggest private garden in the city – the botanical gardens of Giardino della Gherardesca, which is right next door. The garden, truly divine – filled with splendid statues and dramatic fountains. 

Suites in the hotel are designed with fabulous fresco murals, striking the perfect balance between extravagance and class. We honestly felt like princesses living in our own private fairytale while staying here!

While we love eating out on the town, we couldn’t resist popping into the resident Michelin-star restaurant for its incredible cuisine. It’s right next to the pool and sundeck, where we spend many hours soaking up some Vitamin D and sipping on fruity cocktails. 

And if that weren’t relaxing enough – the spa was the ultimate gay couple’s activity. We popped in there any chance we got, taking advantage of luscious massage treatments and rejuvenating facials.

Prices at the Four Seasons Hotel Firenze start from $726 per night:


STAY WITH A GAY LOCAL

Misterb&b is the Airbnb equivalent for the LGBTQ community. Unlike on Airbnb, you know your host is gay, voiding any nasty surprises when you check-in. It is also a great way to meet gay locals and discover the underground gay scene. Click below to get 10 € (or $10) off our first booking.

02

Grand Hotel Minerva

The Grand Hotel Minerva has incredible views from the rooftop pool over Florence

In a nutshell


  • Fabulous views of Florence
  • Especially from the rooftop pool and sundeck
  • Traditional Italian restaurant on site
  • Great location for exploring the city

It has the historic town of Florence on its doorstep, luxurious rooms fit for a queen (or two!), and a rooftop pool that overlooks the Duomo, a stay in the Hotel Minerva is a gay delight from start to finish.

Hotel Minerva sits on the iconic Piazza Santa Maria Novella that's always bursting with life. Imagine opening up your curtains every morning to see a square full of tourists, locals, and street performers, soaking up the sounds of the thriving city. 

And for a better view of it all, head to the rooftop pool and terrace. We were wowed by panoramic views of the skyline. Up there, we dined in the open-air bar, where we raised a toast with total strangers to the joys of being… well, fabulous! 

On the ground, the Al Fresco restaurant moves outside to the patio during summer, so guests can dine in the summer air whilst admiring the activity of the Piazza.

Rooms are modestly decorated, with soft colors and modern furnishings. Whereas the suites provide ample space and luxurious furniture, with a balcony for more jaw-dropping views. Overall, a gay man's dream staying here!

Prices at Grand Hotel Minerva start from $402 per night:


03

Bears & Breakfast

Stay with gay locals in Florence at Bears and Breakfast

In a nutshell


  • Stay in a gay-owned guesthouse
  • Cosy rooms with rustic furnishings
  • Get the inside scoop on the local gay scene
  • Amazing home-cooked food!

Could the name BE any more genius?

As you may have guessed, this place is the ultimate getaway for the burly bears of our community. Owned by super cute gay couple, Stefano and Massimo, a stay here is like becoming part of a family.

From the moment we stepped foot over the threshold, we were bowled over by warm welcomes. They gave us a fascinating insight into just how gay Florence is – apparently muscle bears have lived in Tuscany since the Renaissance, with the statues of Neptune and Hercules honoring the burly beauties. 

Rooms are decorated with a 19th-century twist, especially the 3rd-floor Bearhouse. Dark mahogany woods and curtains draped over the bed give the place a very rustic feeling, whilst still being cosy.

In the mornings, food is whipped up quick and tasty, giving guests a taste of classic Italian breakfast. Psssst, make sure you try their signature apple pie!

Prices at Bears & Breakfast start from $83 per night:


04

Plus Florence

Plus Florence is our favorite gay friendly hostel in Florence

In a nutshell


  • Fabulous option for solo gay travelers
  • Lovely rooftop sundeck and pool with views over the city
  • Indoor swimming pool and excellent gym
  • Choose from private rooms or beds in dorms

If you’re on a budget or a solo gay traveler, Plus Florence is a must-stay. It’s in a bustling area of Florence, with plenty of shops, bars, and restaurants nearby, so you never have far to travel. 

You can opt between sleeping in a private room or in a dormitory. The latter is a great way to meet new friends, especially since it’s mostly occupied by fellow backpackers. The number of tips we’ve picked up from strangers in a dorm could fill up a blog by itself!

Though this hostel is more than just a place to rest. It has many cool amenities, including a rooftop swimming pool (in summer) an indoor swimming pool (in winter), a cute little gym, and table football. The plethora of hammocks, cushions, and loungers on the sundeck made it our favorite spot for relaxing while working on our tans.

The restaurant-bar is handy for grabbing a quick snack or when you have a hankering for pizza or burgers, it hits just the spot. A full English buffet breakfast is available each day and for dinner, you can have Italian favorites like pizza or pasta. If you were out on the town all day and are craving a nightcap, you’ll be elated to know they do some pretty fantastic cocktails too!

Prices at Plus Florence start from $17 per night:


Gay bars in Florence

Like a gay moth to a pink flame, we can’t resist dancing the night away in the bars of every city we go to. And whilst Florence may not seem to have the most overt gay scene in Italy, it certainly can hold its ground. The drag queens’ tongues are just as sharp, the drinks are just as delicious, and the music is just as popping. Here are some of the best gay bars in Florence to check out:

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Queer

Queer is one of the best gay bars in Florence, with excellent cocktails

With special drink deals, irresistible pop music, and mixer events, this is the hangout spot where all the gays come to play. Queer is a chic, American-style gay bar, with the sophistication and charm of Italy. Queer lives up to its name by encouraging all patrons to be as free and open as they please – making the experience of drinking here all the more special. The bar staff are some of the friendliest we’ve ever met (who had a lot of patience for our indecisiveness). And it didn’t hurt how gorgeous they were. We couldn’t resist flirting with them – and blushed red when they flirted back. Queer certainly lives up to the name! 

Open: Queer is open Monday to Saturday from 6pm until around 2.30am.

Location: It's located at Borgo Allegri, 9/R


Piccolo Cafe

Piccolo Cafe is small but still packs a punch as a gay bar in Florence

Despite what some might say, size isn’t everything. And Piccolo’s small interior proves just why. From the moment you walk in the door, you are blasted with neon pink lights, the sight of plush furniture, and the sounds of iconic Italian music – it will feel as if you entered into the lair of the Pink Panther. Yes, it may be teeney, but the atmosphere makes up for it in leaps and bounds. It's the best place to go for a quick drink. Especially when starting a night out. Piccolo has a fabulous selection of beers, wines, and cocktails, so everyone is satisfied. Of course, we gorged on fruity cocktails whilst bopping away in our seats to feelgood pop tracks. 

Open: Piccolo Cafe is open Wednesday to Sunday from 7.30pm until 2am

Location: You can find it at Borgo Santa Croce, 23


Rasputin

Rasputin is a very cool speakeasy style cocktail bar in Florence

Whilst we first assumed this gay friendly bar was named after the villain in Anastasia the locals gently let us know that this probably wasn’t the case…Nevertheless, we loved drinking here. Decorated in an old-fashioned, speakeasy-style, a visit to Rasputin is not to be missed. Entry to the bar can only be accessed via an unmarked doorway, making the experience super alluring from the get-go. Luckily, trying to find it isn’t as stressful as it may sound (thanks to Google Maps). Once inside, you’ll be transported back to the 1920s, with the dim lighting, elegant music, and lavish décor. Cocktails hit around the €20 mark, but it’s well worth the price tag, with the craftsmanship that goes into making each drink being superb.

Open: Rasputin is open seven days a week from 7pm until 2am

Location: It's located at Borgo Tegolaio 30


Gay clubs in Florence

You wouldn’t think it from the quiet, brooding locals who roam the cobbled streets by day. But Florence club life is a gregarious, vivacious, and loud experience that everyone should dive into at least once. Here are some of the best gay clubs of Florence to check out:

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Crisco Club

Crisco Club is one of the best and most well-known gay clubs in Florence

Scandal! Lewd behavior! Salacious acts! All things conservative Italy says ‘no’ to. And yet, it’s everything Crisco Club believes in. It’s been at the forefront of Florence’s gay cruising scene for over two decades, and it shows no sign of stopping anytime soon. It is mostly a men’s only space where guys can chill out and let it all hang out (and oh boy, do they). Expect anything from underwear parties to nude soirees (yep, the full-throttle!). Women are admitted on certain nights but are only allowed in certain areas.

Open: Crisco Club is open Monday to Saturday from 10pm, until 3.30am on weeknights and until 6am on weekends.

Location: It's located at Via Sant'Egidio, 43 Rosso


Fabrik

Fabrik is a super exclusive and fabulous gay club in Florence

Super exclusive. Super manly. Super fun. Super gay. Fabrik is fantastique! And although it may be a bit of a trek outside the city, the night is worth every minute of travel. The best way to get there is by train, just hop on the Firenze-Prato line to Calenzano station. It's housed in a domineering industrial-style building, with over 600 square meters of bars, video rooms, private booths, and a cruising area. Like a twisted version of Wonderland, who knows what you’ll find as you waltz around dark rooms full of swings and glory holes. You’ll like it even more in the back (that sounded way dirtier than we meant it too!) We came across a wide-open space with a heated gazebo where dozens of guys were hanging about drinking and chatting.

Open: Fabrik is open Wednesday to Saturday from 10pm until around 3/4am.

Location: It's located at Via del Lavoro, 19


Tenax

Tenax is a queer and lgbt friendly club in Florence

Inspired by the music scene of New York’s Greenwich Village, Tenax is an alternative club for queer people who love rock, electropop, and techno. Strobe lighting and expert sound systems make dancing in this place feel otherworldly. If you like moving in a sea of flashing colors, whilst feeling the harsh vibrational beats soar through your body, then this is the spot for you. DJs and performers from around the world have been known to make an appearance at Tenax, including DJ Pawsa, The Wizard, and Raresh. It’s not exclusively a gay club, but it welcomes an open-minded crowd, so LGBTQ folk shouldn’t feel uncomfortable coming here.

Open: Tenax is only open on Fridays from 11pm until 4am

Location: You can find it at Via Pratese, 46


Bossy @ Soul Kitchen

Bossy parties at Soul Kitchen are a must-experience for gay travelers when in Florence

“Hey this sounds like the perfect night out for you”, Seby quipped as we checked out the ad for “Bossy”. Ha Ha, very funny Mr Cranky. This event is a gay-friendly dance party that takes place every Thursday in Soul Kitchen. Located on the historical Via de Benci, surrounded by iconic buildings and stony structures, it’s the last place you’d think you’d find a trendy gay bar. It has a very hipster/ “too cool for school” type of crowd, with music that is more on the deep house and electro-funk side. So, if you come expecting Gaga or Ariana, prepare to be disappointed. Though if you come with a cool and laidback approach, then you’ll feel right at home.

Open: Bossy parties are held on Thursdays from 10pm until 2am

Location: They're held at Soul Kitchen, which is located at Via de Benci, 34/R


Pride Park NCS

If you can time your trip to Florence with a Pride Park NCS party, you'll be in for a wow of a time!

Pride Park NCS is technically a group that organizes gay parties, but these parties are so epic you should definitely see if any are on during your trip to Florence. Usually, there's a party once a month during the summer (roughly, in the past year they've been held during June, July, August, and September) at their outdoor location. But indoor parties are also organized during the colder months too. Expect to see world-class DJs, Italian superstars, and drag stars performing before thousands of people.

Open: See the Facebook page for details of the next event

Location: The parties are usually held at Auditorium Flog (via Michele Mercati, 24b) or at Ceretti's Road Bar in the Campo di Marti Gardens


Gay saunas in Florence

Unsurprisingly, Florence’s gay sauna scene has taken a hit due to COVID-19. And it doesn’t help that gay guys these days tend to meet over dating apps, rather than meet in person. However, there remains one popular gay sauna in Florence…

Florence Baths

The Florence Baths are the only gay sauna in the city, but well worth a visit

As the only gay sauna in Florence, Florence Baths has become a thriving feature of LGBTQ life since it opened its doors in 1991. We would say that the best time to visit the baths is during the summer months. This way, you can take advantage of the expansive outdoor whirlpool and cruising garden. Hot guys hanging around in their speedos, engaging in flirtatious chat, and disappearing off into a corner is what you can expect to see. Inside, you’ll find Finnish saunas, Turkish baths, open showers, and massage therapies, so no matter what, you can expect a rub down at some point. The Baths also include a dining and drinking area for you to grab a bite or a cocktail.

Open: The Florence Baths are open daily from midday, until 8pm during the week and until 11pm Friday, Saturday and Sunday

Location: You can find them at Via Guelfa, 93/Rosso


Florence Gay Pride and Events

Who doesn’t love a Pride parade? They’re fun, they’re loud, they’re colorful. And they inspire everyone to be themselves. Florence Pride events are no exceptions – those Italians certainly know how to party.

As with any Pride event, Toscana Pride and Florence Queer Festival are all about commemorating the country’s fight for equal rights, as much as it is about joyously celebrating diversity. Here is some info on the Pride events: 

Toscana Pride – June

Toscana Pride is all about extending the gay agenda (ahem – we mean the message of equal rights) outside of Florence, and across the region of Tuscany. LGBTQ people in Italy still aren’t equal with their heterosexual peers, which is what makes Pride events like this one so darn important. 

Taking place in mid-June, events happen across Tuscany’s six cities: Arezzo, Florence, Livorno, Pisa, Pistoia, and Sienna. You can expect to see flash mobs, marches, and artistic showcases. Each event is as joyous as it is political. When we went, we saw everyone living their best life – dancing and singing to music, hugging and meeting with friends. But the political motivations were never lost and everyone in attendance understand just how important Pride is. 

Florence Queer Festival – September

One of the most important dates for queer people in Florence, this festival usually takes place in mid to late September. Having started in 2003, as a tiny event in a theater, the festival has grown throughout the years to become the spectacle it is today. 

Organized by the IREOS association of Florence, attendees can expect a range of activities that honor LGBTQ life. From movie screenings to theatrical performances, discussion panels to photography exhibitions, the line-up is always jam-packed with a treasure trove of artists. Festival runners have recently begun running open submission calls for short movies, so up-and-coming performers/directors can get their work shown on the big screen as well.

The two main gay events in Florence make the city very colorful
Ponte Vecchio goes rainbow!

Gay friendly restaurants in Florence

When we’re not twirling around on a dancefloor, or taking stunning pictures around a new city, you can find us stuffing our faces with some Italian delicacies. Famous for pizza, pasta, and wine, Florence is crawling with incredible restaurants to swing by to try. 

Mercato Centrale

The Marcato Centrale in Florence is a fabulous spot for sampling local delicacies

One of the most popular food spots in all of Florence, Mercato Centrale is an open-air market, built inside an old warehouse. It may look a bit decrepit from the outside, but inside, it’s like a Foodie Wonderland. We discovered a wide selection of stalls and food shops, which wafted out a concoction of gorgeous scents that left us dizzy with hunger. Seby and I could have stayed there for hours with the number of available options. We sampled as much as our stomachs would allow – everything from cheesy pizzas to crunchy cannoli, spicy pasta to mouth-watering truffles. You name it, we ate it. Vendors were very chatty and welcoming towards us, eager to introduce a fresh pair of tourists to their cuisine. The market stays open until midnight, though most stalls tend to close around 10pm.


La Giostra

La Gisotra is an incredible restaurant in Florence that even celebrities like Elton John love

If it’s good enough for Elton John, then it’s good enough for us! La Giostra is the ultimate date night vibe, with twinkling lights hung across the ceiling, red-brick arches, fine wooden décor, and a menu brimming with Tuscan specialties. When we visited, the place was jampacked with family gatherings and doting couples (fair warning: if you want to dine here, book ahead). The atmosphere was bouncing off the walls, chattering over plates of food and glasses of chardonnay. Family is the key ingredient in the success of La Giostra – with the restaurant having been established by a father and his sons. Their menu was curated with ancient recipes that had been passed down through generations, and it is clear just how authentic their food is from the first bite. We enjoyed freshly made pasta and world-class wine. Food can take a little bit of time to arrive, but the wait is worth every minute.


Locale

Locale is a beautiful and gay friendly restaurant in Florence

We don’t know whether it was the smoldering cocktails, the glass-roof atrium, or the dark wood décor, but this place gave us the ultimate Gothic fantasy. Every inch of the space is touched with opulence and lavishness. After all, the building the Locale is based in once belonged to the Bastari Rittaffè family back in the 1200s. While we mainly went to Locale for the food, we were also a bit nosy to see what dining in a genuine palace is like. We dined in the basement, which is where the servant’s quarters used to be. It’s one of the most interesting eating out experiences we’ve ever had. The restaurant serves traditional Italian food and is super popular with the international crowd.


Gucci Osteria Florence

You can dine at the Gucci Osteria in Florence, for the best of fashion and food!

“Cooking the unrepeatable, living in the moment, together and always looking to the future”. With a mantra like that, who would pass up the opportunity to dine in the Gucci Osteria? The unique dishes are inspired by the fashion God, Gucci (who as we see in the movie trailer for House Of Gucci, has a penchant for all things dramatic, colorful, and fabulous). Head chef, Karime Lopez, is renowned in the culinary world for her passion for Italian cooking – so you are guaranteed a top-tier meal. We enjoyed a marinated bonito with purple corn tostada, infused with citrus flavors and giving a whole new spin on seafood. The restaurant itself is attached to the Gucci Garden Museum (which we recommend popping in to either before or after your meal). They also offer a wine tasting experience at the cellars and vineyards of Castello di Monsanto winery – be sure to book it well in advance.


Borgo San Jacopo

Borgo San Jacopo is one of the best and most romantic restaurants in Florence

What has a Michelin star and the most romantic view in Florence? Borgo San Jacopo! There's truly nothing more magical than dining on exquisite food while looking out over the river as the lights start coming on in the evening. Head chef, Claudio Mengoni, is a mastermind when it comes to his craft. Our ultimate highlight from the menu is the porcini mushroom ice cream and fig molasses. Sound bizarre? We thought so too! But it truly blew us away. Despite such high-quality cooking, the atmosphere in the restaurant wasn’t pretentious in the slightest. Staff were laidback and friendly, made small talk whilst serving us, and treated us like close friends. And with over 900 selections of wines to choose from, it’s safe to say this place is like Wonderland for us.


Best things to do in Florence

We’ve blabbed on now for too long about where to sleep, where to party, where to eat, and where to party, but how will you fill those long, sun-soaked days around the Italian city, we hear you ask? We’ve pulled together some incredible highlights from our trip to give you an idea:

Ponte Vecchio

The Ponte Vecchio covered bridge is one of the most famous sights in Florence

Ponte Vecchio is considered to be one of the most cherished features of Florence. It was one of the first bridges built in the city and is believed to have stood since (at least) 966 AD. While it was created as a method of defense, it quickly became a busy shopping spot for residents on neighboring sides. Over the years, it has taken the force of several floods and damage, the most disastrous being in 1345, which caused a need for an extensive rebuild. Despite its misfortunes, the bridge was spared from the German during WW2 – the only bridge across the Arno to do so. A walk across will give you exceptional views of Florence, and a chance to do some shopping at the stalls/shops that line the bridge. We also recommend taking a boat ride under the bridge for some gorgeous shots of its unique structure.


Michelangelo’s David

You can't visit Florence and not see Michelangelo's statue of David

“Is it weird to have a crush on a statue?” I ask Seby.
“Even I’m getting body envy right now…” he replies.  

You’ve heard about it. You’ve read about it. But have you seen it in the ‘flesh'? It’s one of the world’s most famous statues for a reason, and since you’re in Florence, you have no excuse to not see it. Perched in the center of the Accademia Gallery, David stands at 17 feet tall and is made out of Carrara marble. It represents the famous Biblical figure from the story of David and Goliath. The statue itself is very impressive – so expect to see many people snapping pics. We were just excited to admire it for the sheer craftsmanship in creating the human body from stone… and not just because of David’s rock hard abs.


Florence Duomo

The unmistakable Duomo of Florence is one of the most beautiful sites in the city

The Duomo, part of the wider Florence Cathedral, is easily one of the most defining features of the Florence skyline. However, it nearly never existed. Construction on the dome was so messy, experienced so many setbacks, and encountered so many issues that the dome wasn’t finished until years after the rest of the building. From inside, visitors can get wondrous panoramic views of the city. It’s a great place to grab pictures, breathe in the sight of the chequered red and white topped buildings, and feel like the King of the World (ala Jack Dawson from Titanic). And be prepared for a big climb – as you’ll need to ascend 463 steps to reach the top. We recommend going along on a tour of the entire cathedral, as you get walked through the museum and into the dome, all the while learning about the building’s extraordinary past. 


Leonardo Da Vinci Museum

Head to the Leonardo da Vinci Museum in Florence to learn more about his incredible inventions

Not only is this a museum devoted to one of the greatest artists and thinkers of all time, but it’s super immersive and interactive. Inside you’ll find 50 machines that were inspired by the drawings of Leonardo da Vinci. This museum offers a nice change of pace from the otherwise stylish and sophisticated city. It’s all about having fun and touching base with your inner child. Release your inner architect by building domes and bridges – all the while discovering how such structures were made. We may not be the best at figuring out puzzles (watch us trying to follow Google Maps), but this place makes each task thoroughly enjoyable. All the more satisfying when you crack each code. It’s the perfect place to bring families, as kids will enjoy getting to play with the various items. While parents can appreciate the fascinating history behind it all. Expect to spend hours upon hours here.


Palazzo Vecchio

Florence's town hall, the Palazzo Vecchio, is beautiful from the outside and filled with more exquisite art

In the very center of Florence, lies the Palazzo Vecchio – an exquisite town hall that overlooks the bustling Piazza della Signoria. Built in 1299, it has played host to the city’s leaders for centuries. During their reign, the Medici family transformed it into their family palace. The place still holds onto its opulence and charm. Swing by, either by yourself or on a tour, to discover the incredible architecture, sculptures, and paintings, as well as absorb the fascinating history that has occurred throughout the years. You’ll easily lose yourself for hours wandering around the building. It contains a gallery of statues, including a copy of Michelangelo’s David, three stunning courtyards, and a massive hall full of artworks.


Tuscan vineyards

While you're in Florence make sure you take the opportunity to visit some Tuscan vineyards as well

You can’t think of Tuscany, without summoning the thought of wine. They practically go hand in hand. So, when in Rome (or in this case, Florence), get yourself to a vineyard stat! We practically got drunk off the smell of the vineyards, which hits you the second you approach the farm. There are plenty of guided tours for you to join in on which is the best way to learn all about the history and expertise that goes into making a bottle. From the time it is a grape, to the moment it touches your lips, making wine is an intense and exhaustive experience. And there was us taking it for granted. We’d recommend joining a tour over showing up to a vineyard unannounced, plus you’re more likely to get a free tasting. It’s a great way to make new friends and allows you to see a regional area of Tuscany you may have never seen otherwise.


Pasta-making class

Learn how to make the best Italian pasta at a cooking class in Florence

Sure, it sounds cheesy… but enjoying a pasta making class with a loved one can be a dough-lightful experience! There are plenty of classes in Florence for you to sign up to. Under the guidance of a professional chef, you’ll expand on your cooking skills learn all about the pasta-making process. Plus, some insight into what types of pasta work best with certain wines and sauces. And once it’s all done, you don’t need to argue about where to eat for dinner – you’ll have already made it. Don’t think of yourself as a cook? We didn’t either. But our teacher was so patient and so incredible at walking us through everything step-by-step, that by the end, we felt we could give Gordon Ramsay a run for his money.


Plan Your Trip To Florence

We've put together some handy hints and tips to help you plan your own trip to Florence. Read on to find out everything the gay traveler should know before they go.

How to get there: If you're already in Europe then Florence can easily be reached from many destinations by car, train, bus or plane. If you're flying directly into Florence then the main airport is the Florence Airport, also called “Peretola” by locals. There's a shuttle bus service from/to the airport and city center but you could also fly into Pisa, see the famous leaning tower, then catch a train to Florence. But if you do fly directly to Florence, you can also get a private transfer from the airport, which is what we usually prefer. That way there's no juggling luggage on the bus or worrying about how late you arrive, as the driver will be waiting to take you straight to your accommodation in comfort.


Visa requirements: Travelers from the United States, Australia and New Zealand don't need a visa for stays in Italy for up to 90 days. Members of the Schengen Zone can also travel freely in Italy but if you're coming from somewhere else (or just want to be sure) make sure you check your personal visa requirements here before making any bookings for Florence.


Getting around: Florence is a very walkable city, you can cross one side to the other in about 30 minutes so it's easy to see all the main attractions without spending anything on transport. Otherwise, the ATAF buses are efficient and affordable. We don't recommend taxis as they're super expensive and really not required. Find out more here.


Power Plugs: Italy uses power plug type F and L which also work with C and E. If you're traveling to Florence from North America, the UK, Australia or some Asian countries then you will need to bring a travel adaptor with you.


Travel insurance: Even in a safe destination like Florence, things can go wrong on your trip, from missed flights, to lost luggage, illness or injury. We always ensure we travel with the security of travel insurance and urge all our followers to do the same. We've been using World Nomads Travel Insurance for years and always had excellent experiences with them. Their cover is affordable and comprehensive, plus it's easy to make a claim online if something does go awry.


Vaccinations: The CDC recommends that all travelers to Italy should be up to date with routine vaccinations like measles, mumps, rubella, chickenpox and covid-19. You may also need vaccinations for Hepatitis A, B and rabies, so check online based on where you are coming from before you head to Florence.


Currency: Italy uses the Euro like most countries in Europe. Generally, €1 converts to around $1.10 US or about 89 pence in British Pounds.


Tipping culture: Tipping isn't usually required when traveling in Italy, although it's starting to become more expected due to the large influx of American tourists, especially in popular destinations like Florence. You won't need to tip very much, maybe just €1 or so. For a full guide to tipping in Italy, check out this article.


Internet access: Most hotels, restaurants, and cafes in Florence will offer free WiFi. If you know you'll need to get some work done or just require reliable internet access then we suggest bringing a portable WiFi device with you.


When to visit: We love Florence during the periods of Pride (in June) and the Queer Festival (in September). Summer is usually the most popular time for visitors to the city to enjoy the balmy weather, but the shoulder season of fall is also slightly cheaper and less crowded, without getting too cold.


Gay map of Florence

We've put together this map with all the places we've mentioned marked on it. We hope it helps you plan your own fabulous trip to Florence!

A map of Florence in Italy with the best gay places to visit

For more inspiration:

This is our complete gay guide to Florence with all the best places to stay, eat, drink and more
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Stefan Arestis

Stefan is the co-founder, editor, and author of the gay travel blog nomadicboys.com. As a travel nerd, he has explored more than 80 countries across 5 continents. What he loves the most about traveling is discovering the local gay scene, making new friends, and learning new cultures. His advice about LGBTQ travel has been featured in Gaycation Magazine, Gaycities, Gay Times, Pink News, and Attitude Magazine. He has also written about gay travel for other non-gay-specific publications including Lonely Planet, The New York Times, The Guardian, and The Huffington Post. Stefan is also a qualified lawyer, having practiced as a commercial property litigator in London for over 10 years. He left his lawyer days behind to work full time on Nomadic Boys with his husband Sebastien. Find out more about Nomadic Boys.

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