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Gay Milan: First-Timer’s Travel Guide (2023)

Stefan Arestis
Gay Milan: First-Timer’s Travel Guide (2023)

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Our gay guide to Milan 2023 has all the information you need including the best gay hotels to stay, bars, clubs and practical safety tips.

London…Paris…Vanity Milan!

Followers of UK/Canada Drag Race will relate…one of our favorite drag queens always inspired a sort of spiritual gay wanderlust in the Italian fashion capital.

And for good reason. Milan is world famous for its fashion. It's a global capital when it comes to its runways and catwalks. What we didn't know is that Milan also has a pretty epic gay scene – the largest and best in all of Italy and one of our favorite gay friendly cities in Europe.

Hop off at the Puerto Venezia metro stop, dolled up with rainbows, and head up to the streets around Lecco – gayness is everywhere! On weekends these streets come alive as the LGBTQ community comes together and creates a fabulous street party. That's why we love it. Few gay scenes we've experienced have such a vibe outside of Pride.

Milan is also home to an incredible number of architectural and artistic treasures – from the impressive Gothic-style Duomo Cathedral in the center, the ancient Galleria shopping mall, and the famed da Vinci “Last Supper” painting at Santa Maria Delle Grazie.

This is one place in the world that you didn't think you'd fall in love with so much. At least that was our take on it. We felt meh about visiting Milan but left spellbound, itching to return for more.

And here's why…

Organise a gay tour of Italy to experience this wonderful country with other LGBTQ travelers

Discover Puglia on a gay tour:

Our buddy Sergio is one of the craziest human beings we've ever been fortunate to meet, and we love him! He has his own gay tour company based in Puglia and organizes many different trips for gay travelers throughout the year. We highly recommend joining one of them: foodie tours in Lecce, a gay bike tour across Puglia, gay yoga retreats, and so much more!

Find out more

Is Milan safe for gay travelers?

Yes, Milan is a very safe city to visit for LGBTQ travelers. The city has a very low crime rate, but be mindful of pickpockets like in every big city around the world, especially near tourist attractions.

From our experience, traveling there as a gay couple, we found Milan to be very welcoming and gay friendly. So gay that they have a whole metro stop (Porta Venezia) devoted to gay – dolled up with rainbows everywhere as you get off.

Porta Venezia is the gateway to the gay area of Milan (see next section) and the heart of the city's LGBTQ community. This is one very open-minded city – a complete contrast to the rest of Italy which is more conservative and not as tolerant when it comes to LGBTQ rights.

We had no issues checking into hotels as a gay couple and asking for a double bed. We felt totally comfortable walking the streets holding hands in the city. Gayness is so embedded in the day-to-day psyche that Italians from all across the country head here seeking a haven to express themselves.

Stef and Seby kissing at the gay metro stop of Milan.
Sharing a kiss at the gay-tastic Porta Venezia metro stop!

Milan gay area

The beating heart and soul of the gay area of Milan is along Lecce Street and Panfilo Castaldi street. Small bars line these streets. Every weekend the crowds spill out to the pavements outside transforming the area into one big street fiesta.

The most popular gay bar is Leccomilano, owned by the charismatic Paolo Sassi. He also owns a few of the bars in the gay neighborhood and is a local LGBTQ pioneer. Other prominent bars in the main Milan gay area include Eppol Pie, Mono, and Orange Spritz.

There is even a thriving lesbian bar called Pop Milano – a rare sight as we sadly see more and more lesbian safe spaces closing down around the world. Other gay bars in Milan we loved that are just outside the Lecco area include NoLo.So and the Company Club bear bar.

When it comes to gay clubs in Milan, these are more spread out across the city. La Boum is the best gay club in Milan. Others include One Way, Club Plastic, and Trap. Milan also has an active cruising and gay sauna scene with gems like Metro Club, Fenix, Illumined, and Hot Dog to name a few.

Group of gay guys on the streets of Milan at night.
The gay area of Milan spills out onto the streets!

Gay hotels in Milan

When we visit Milan we like to base ourselves right in the heart of the Lecco gay area. Hotel Sanpi is our top choice for this, both in terms of price and location: it's literally right on the doorstep of the gay area.

Hotel Charly and the highly rated Ostello Bello Grande are other gay hotels in Milan that we loved and also recommend checking out – both are close to the gay scene and are good value for money. If you're looking to splurge and impress your lover with five-star lushness, we recommend the Château Monfort.

PRO TIP: By law, everyone staying in a hotel in Italy needs to register their ID at the hotel reception. Hotels and guesthouses have to strictly enforce otherwise they can get into trouble with the local authority. Gay friends of ours complained of this when they brought a Grindr hookup back to their hotel room – to be clear, the hotel receptionists are not being homophobic, they're just doing what they're legally required to do!

01

Château Monfort

A beautiful and luxurious blue and white bedroom at Chateau Monfort in Milan.

In a nutshell


  • 5-star fairytale-themed hotel
  • Pampering spa and wellness center
  • Excellent on-site Italian restaurant, lounge bar, and wine bar
  • Super romantic, gay friendly, and whimsical!

…as the carriage road up to the front door of the pretty Château Monfort, these two Princess debutantes delicately made their way inside…

More like the two ugly hairy sisters to be honest.

But checking into this stunning five-start historic gay friendly hotel, we felt we were living out all our Disney princess fantasies. Every room at Château Montfort is designed around an iconic fairy tale.

Château Monfort is super romantic. From the art nouveau building, the elegant staircases, the glass-domed restaurant (complete with grand piano), the decadent spa… “This feels correct!” was my Seby's immediate reaction.

“Of course my love, anything for you!” – I wanted our stay in Milan to be unique, memorable, and unforgettable. Seeing Seby's reaction alone was worth every penny.

Other top tips to make your stay here more romantic: dinner at Restaurant Rubacuori (the food is delicious!), and book one of the couples packages at the Spa Amore & Psiche.

Prices at Château Monfort start from $276 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

Hotel Sanpi

The divine garden terrace at Hotel Sanpi in Milan.

In a nutshell


  • Boutique hotel located in the heart of Milan's gay area
  • Divine garden terrace with beautiful plants and sculptures
  • Super cute bar ideal for romantic cocktails
  • Small gym good for yoga and basic workouts

Hotel Sanpi is our pick for when we want to be located right up close to the gay bars of Milan. It's located just around the corner from LeccoMilano.

It's also deliciously gorgeous!

We love the terrace garden. Many Aperol Spritzes were had by us at the bar here every evening before heading out.

The rooms are decent and functional. They're not going to blow your mind like Château Monfort, but we had no complaints – for what you pay, the location, and that beautiful terrace, we highly recommend Sanpi.

The buffet breakfast is served in the beautiful terrace garden. We don't normally eat eggs and bacon, but for a Milano hangover, trust us – it's worth the add-on to your booking.

From the restaurant, a flight of stairs takes you downstairs to an unassuming gym. We'll be honest, we didn't get around to using it much during our stay we were on holidays after all, but good to know it's there.

Prices at Hotel Sanpi start from $137 per night:


03

Hotel Charly

A cute and cozy bedroom at the gay Hotel Charly in Milan.

In a nutshell


  • Super gay but super chic gay hotel
  • Located just around the corner from the gay bars of Milan
  • Homey rooms, some with balconies
  • Lush garden and terrace where breakfast is served

“Oh look Stefan, here's the latest Spartacus magazine!”

In fact, my Seby had picked up the entire collection of gay Milan publications on display at the Hotel Charly reception area, which he diligently thrust into my arms… “now find out where we're going to party tonight while I unpack!”

Truth is, I didn't need to do much research as Hotel Charly is a hop, skip, and a jump away from Mono, LeccoMilano, and all the other gay bars. The daily evening debate before heading out… “should I take a coat with me, Stefan?”“Leave it Seby, we can always pop back and get it if you get chilly”.

Our hot recommendation for booking your room at Hotel Charly is to get a room with a balcony. It overlooks the terrace garden area. Very handy for when your quirky French husband wants to re-enact his Madonna/Evita dreams…

Prices at Hotel Charly start from $141 per night:


04

Ostello Bello Grande

One of the private rooms at Ostello Bello Grande gay hostel in Milan.

In a nutshell


  • Our favorite gay budget hotel in Milan
  • Comfy private rooms if you don't like dorms
  • Very sociable with fun events taking place here every day
  • Free coffee, tea, water, and fruit available for guests

Ostello Bello Grande is our budget pick for all the Bellos looking to save a few coin.

It's located close to the gay bars on Lecce Street. In fact, we'd argue this becomes the gay scene on nights when it hosts events like Queer Cabaret.

Of course, this is budget accommodation, but you can stay in comfortable private rooms (for a steal!) even if you prefer not to sleep in dormitory-style bunk beds.

The rooms are basic and cozy, but worth every penny for the price you pay. If you're really on a tight budget then consider their dorm beds…for us, the days of sleeping in dorm beds are long behind us as I just can't deal with the constant moaning and complaining from my dear Seby anymore…

We met quite a few solo gay backpackers staying at Ostelle Bello Grande. It's geared towards bringing people together with a large communal area with musical instruments, board games, and foosball. The bar hosts a different event every evening including karaoke and quiz nights.

Prices at Ostello Bello Grande start from $103 per night:


Gay bars in Milan

Our advice, just head to Lecco street on any night of the week and pick any one of the many small bars. There are lots of small unassuming bar fronts like Red, Dehor, Candies, ORO, Rainbow Cafe…and many more, where people go to buy their drinks and then head to the pavement outside. On weekends the crowds all merge into one so that it doesn't matter which bar you head to.

In this section we've focused on the main gay bars in the Lecco area along with a few others outside of the Lecco gay bubble:

LeccoMilano

Stefan and Italian friend at LeccoMilano gay bar in Milan.

If a gay earthquake was to happen in Milan, LeccoMilano would be its epicenter!

This is the beating heart and soul of Lecce Street where we head to first before gravitating outside to other gay bars. LeccoMilano is also one of the larger gay bars in the area which makes it a useful meeting spot to rendezvous with your squirrel friends (or your Grindr date).

  • Address: LeccoMilano is located in Via Lecco 5. To get there, take Metro Line 1 to Porta Venezia, the bar is a 5 minutes walk from the metro station.
  • Opening hours:  LeccoMilano is opened Monday to Friday from 12pm till 3pm, then from 6pm till 2am. On weekends, it opens from 6pm till 2am.
  • Our favorite: Great place to come for an aperitivo, we love their Aperol Spritz.

MONO

The entrance to MONO gay bar in Milan, proudly flying a rainbow flag.

It's retro. It's artsy. It's unique. It's MONO!

Located just a few doors down from LeccoMilano, MONO is another gay institution amongst the labyrinth of gay bars in the area that we love. The Happy Hour initially caught our eye.

Once inside, the 1980s pop-rock music kept us coming back for more. If I ever lost Seby in the crowds outside, I knew I'd find him here at some stage in the night lip-syncing to a Tina Turner anthem…

  • Address: MONO is located in Via Lecco 6, just across LeccoMilano. To get there, take Metro Line 1 to Porta Venezia, then it is a short walk to the bar.
  • Opening hours:  MONO is opened on Tuesday from 5pm – 1am, Wednesday / Thursday, from 5pm – 1.30 am, Friday / Saturday from 5pm – 2am, Sunday from 5pm – 1.30am.
  • Our favorite: The nostalgic decor, and the attentive staff.

Eppol Pie

A table outside the Eppol gay bar in Milan is one of our favorite places to chill out.

Eppol Pie is our choice for a gay bar for a time out when you want a breather from the gay fiesta vibe happening along Via Lecce.

We love the trendy garden-like exterior of Eppol: try to grab a table here for a few Aperol Spritzes.

Eppol is also our top pick for Sunday brunch. Their kitchen is highly rated – Chef Lorenzo Maraio at your service!

  • Address: Eppol Pie is located in Via Lecco 4. To get there, take Metro Line 1 to Porta Venezia, the bar is a 5 min walk from the metro station main exit.
  • Opening hours:  Eppol Pie is open daily for breakfast (7:00 am Monday-Friday and from 8:00 am on weekends) and is open until 2 am everyday.
  • Our favorite: Their Sunday brunch is a great way to get over a heavy Saturday night out.

Orange Spritz

The iconic graffiti outside the Orange Spritz gay bar in Milan.

In Spritz we trust! Oh yes we do… We would head to Orange Spritz for a bop and a boogie after getting our fill at the gay bars of Via Lecce and to get a different take on Aperol Spritz.

The gay bar is located a few minutes walk from LeccoMilano et al. They have a live DJ which gives it a club-like feel. Although everywhere in Milan feels like a club after your fifth Aperol Spritz…

Do you love your Aperol Spritz as much as we do? Head here for a rainbow Aperol experience: they have more than 16 different varieties all nicely presented in rainbow colors! You have not experienced Italy until you've tried this iconic drink

  • Address: Orange Spritz is located at via Alessandro Tadino 4 (which is one street over from Via Lecco). The closest metro station is Porta Venezia on Line 1.
  • Opening hours:  Orange Spritz is only open Tuesday to Saturday evenings from 6pm until 2 am.
  • Our favorite: The unique take on Aperol Spritz cocktails and the warm welcome we got from the waiters each time we went there.

NoLoSo

NoLo.So gay bar in Milan illuminated by blue and pink lights.

NoLoSo is outside of the LeccoMilano gay bubble, located between the Rovereto and Pasteur metro stops.

The decor here is flawless – pastel pinks and snazzy art displays. The cocktail list is grand with some pretty out-there concoctions…but as long as Seby was able to get his Aperol Spritz or Prosecco, he could put on his sunglasses and pretend to be Lady Gaga – House of Gucci style!

  • Address: NoLoSo is located at via Luigi Varanini 5 – with the nearest Metro station being Pasteur on Line 1.
  • Opening hours:  Noloso is open Tuesday – Friday from 6pm till 2am. On saturday, the gay bar opens from 6pm until 3am. On sunday, from 6pm until 12am and on Monday from 6pm until 1 am.
  • Our favorite: Getting a pizza with a cold glass of Prosecco!

Company Club

Company Club is the best gay bar in Milan for bears and older men.

Tired of LeccoMilano twinky guys and searching for a Daddy? Company Club's got your back!

This is the best gay bear bar in Milan, the place to head for a more low-key macho vibe. But it's super friendly here with zero attitude which is why we love it.

Look out for some of the parties at Company including leather nights, karaoke, drag shows, and our personal favorite, pup parties!

  • Address: Company Club is located at via Privata Benadir 14 – with the nearest Metro station being: Cimiano.
  • Opening hours:  Company Club is only open on Thursday from 9.30pm until 3.30am, on Friday / Saturday from 9.30pm until 5.30am, on Sunday from 7pm to 2am.
  • Our favorite: If like Seby, you have your Celine Dion moments, you will love the karaoke night!

Gay clubs in Milan

Unlike the Lecco gay bars, the gay clubs of Milan are more spread out around the city requiring a short Uber ride. There's a club to suit whatever you're into – pop princesses like us loved La Boum! One Way hosts exciting weekly parties and fashionistas will thrive at Club Plastic. We feature some of the best gay clubs in Milan right here:

Note: You will need an ARCO card in order to get in to some of the gay clubs in Italy, you can sign up online or purchase it at the door of some establishments.

La Boum

Drag show performance at the La Boum gay club in Milan.

“We BOUM to La Boum!”…spoken by a drunk Seby in our Uber ride, which made us giggle hysterically.

La Boum is the most popular gay club in Milan. It's located south of the Via Lecco gay scene and the city's historical center.

The crowd is a mix of gay guys and gals in their 20s and 30s. The music: pop anthems – our paradise! The drag shows start around 1 am.

  • Address: La Boum is located at Via Pietrasanta 16. To get there, take the metro line 3 to Porta Romana, then it is a 15 minutes walk. Or you can also take the tramway line 24 and stop at Via Ripamonti Via Lorenzini.
  • Opening hours:  La Boum is only open on Friday nights until 4.30 am.
  • Our favorite: The sassy drag shows and the large outdoor area.
  • Entry fee (updated 2023): It's not cheap, usually around 25 euros ($26.77) which includes two drinks. If you keep an eye on their website you may be able to snag early bird prices!

ONEWAY

Partying the night away at the ONEWAY gay club in Milan.

Head to La Boum on Fridays to party with the youth, then over to ONEWAY on a Saturday for the Daddys.

ONEWAY is THE best gay club in Milan for bears and older gay guys. It's also one of the oldest gay clubs in the city, first opening its doors back in the 1980s.

A gay night out at ONEWAY is not for the faint-hearted! Seby was clutching his pearls as one of the exotic dancers gyrated his way around my dear sweet Frenchman…

  • Address: Oneway is located at Via Felice Cavallotti 204, near the Sesto Rondò Metro.
  • Opening hours:  ONEWAY gay parties take place every Saturday evening until 5 am.
  • Entry fee (updated 2023): Usually 10 euros (around $10.71) inclusive of one free drink.

Club Plastic

A performer in a cage at Club Plastic in Milan with rainbow strobe lights.

“Super exclusive, eccentric, transgressive, and avant-garde!” – is what our Milan local friends said to us when we asked them what to expect here.

Club Plastic is one of the most famous clubs in Milan going strong since the 1980s. It has been dubbed, “the best European club” by Andy Warhol and has attracted celebs like Madonna, Elton John, Freddy Mercury, and Prince!

It has a strict entry policy so our advice is to make friends with local gay guys who can help you get in.

  • Address: Club Plastic is located at Via Gargano 15, not far from La Boum. Nearest Metro is Milano Republica
  • Opening hours: Club Plastic is only open on Friday and Saturday nights until 5 am.
  • Entry fee (updated 2023): 25 euros on Saturdays and free entry on Sundays.

Q Club

Large crowd of gay men dancing at the Q Club in Milan under blue and green lights and smoke.

I got my Lady Gaga pop music fill at Q Club and Seby got to explore his House music love in the other room. With two dancefloors this is the spot to come if you really just want to let loose and dance the night away as we did.

Expect some pretty spectacular outfits here too, especially on Saturdays when the Rebel Night party is held. Friday nights are more likely to have resident DJs playing house music but check out their socials to see details of upcoming events.

  • Address: Q Club is located at Via Padova 21. The Nearest Metro station is Loreto on Line 1 and 2.
  • Opening hours:  Q Club is open on Friday and Saturday nights until 5 am.
  • Entry fee (updated 2023): Entry is usually 10 euros (about $10.71) which includes one free drink.

Il Borgo Delle Perse

Close up of a fancy orange cocktail at the Il Borgo Delle Perse gay club in Milan.

Not only did Seby get to sing along to “It's All Coming Back to Me Now” at the Il Borgo karaoke night, but he also got to boogie along to his favorite Diva here.

Il Borgo Delle Perse is a gay party that takes place every Sunday at the Grace Club in Milan. We love it here during the summer months when the garden is open to punters.

  • Address: The Il Borgo Delle Perse party takes places at The Grace Club, which is located at Via Messina 38. The Nearest Metro is Cenisio on Line 5.
  • Opening hours: The Il Borgo Delle Perse party takes place on Sunday evenings from 6 pm until 1 am.
  • Entry fee (updated 2023): Admission is ‘free' but the first compulsory drink is 15 euros (about $16) so that's basically the entry fee.

Botox Matinèe Milan (GAY AFTER PARTY)

Packed crowd of gay guys at Botox Matinee gay after party club in Milan.

This one is for all you Kool-Kats and KRAZY kittens who want to keep the party going until the next day!

Botox Matinèe is the best after-party gay club in Milan. The dancefloor is packed with sweaty hot bodies – mostly off their face… For some of us, this is Heaven!

If there are any famous OF kids in town, this is where they're likely to hang out…

Keep an eye on their FB page for the latest theme and special guests.

  • Address: The Boxtox Matinee Club is located at Via Plezzo 16 near the Milano Lambrate train station.
  • Opening hours: Botox Matinèe parties are held on Saturday nights and go on until 11 am on Sunday.
  • Entry fee (updated 2023): Admission is 15 euros if you have your ARCO card, otherwise you'll need to purchase the card for 20 euros.

Gay cruising clubs and gay saunas in Milan

Arco is the name of the parent company that owns all of the gay cruising clubs and saunas in Italy. To enter any of them you first have to purchase a one-time Arco membership card. Also, note you will need to bring your ID with you each time you want to enter one of the clubs/saunas.

We recommend checking the Arco.lgbt website for the full list of all cruising clubs/saunas in Milan. We highlight the best saunas below:

1. Royal Hammam

Royal Hammam is a gay sauna located right next door to Botox Matinèe, so it's perfect for winding down after the party! It doesn't close at all between Saturday morning and Sunday night and this is definitely the busiest time. It's also open every other day of the week from 11 am until 11 pm. It is located at Via Plezzo 16.

2. Fenix Sauna

Fenix is a gay sauna and cruising bar for men in Milan. It's quite popular with bears and older men, with two different cruising areas (one dry and one wet) along with the usual sauna offerings. It's open every day from 1 pm until 9 pm and is located at Via Oropa 3.

3. Hot Dog Club

What an apt name! Hot Dog Club is a gay cruising club that hosts regular events and parties, the nude and dress code-themed ones are the most popular. It's also located in the same building as Fenix Sauna. Hot Dog is open on Thursdays, Fridays, and Saturdays from 9 pm until 4 am.

4. Illumined Club

Illumined is a 24-hour gay cruising club in Milan with all sorts of delicious naughtiness like private cabins, a dark room, and holes in the wall in the basement labyrinth. Illumined Club is located at Via Napo Torriani 12 and while it's open 24 hours, we recommend heading here after 10 pm for a younger crowd. Saturday nights are usually au naturel.

5. Depot Club

Depot Milano is a leather-based cruising club. They organize many themed parties like masked and underwear. It is open Tuesday to Sunday from 10 pm until around 4/5 am. On Sundays it is open earlier from 3-9 pm. it is located at Via Dei Valtorta 19.

Stef and Seby at the Fenix gay sauna in Milan.
Just a casual Sunday afternoon at Milan's Fenix Sauna

Gay shops in Milan

Whether you're looking to buy a new harness, jockstrap, or just a humble new mask for your pup, Milan's got several excellent gay shops to check out:

1. ES Collection and Addicted Milan

We love ES Collection and their Addicted line. This shop is great for swimwear, underwear, and sportswear. If ordering online, use our discount code of NOMADICBOYS to claim a 10% discount. Their store in Milan is located on Via Lecco 6 and it's open Tuesday to Friday from 10.30 am until 7 pm and on Saturdays from 11.30 am until 9 pm.

2. Europa92

The place to come for leather clothes, naughty DVDs, a whole array of different toys(!), lingerie, and more! It is located at Via Giovanni Battista Sammartini 25, right by Milano Centrale station. Europa92 is open Monday to Saturday from 9.30 am until 7 pm.

3. S3x Delirious:

If you are looking for everything leather play related in Milan then head here! It's the largest gay shop in Milan with more than 400 square meters packed full of risque items and clothing. They also hold courses and shows in-store if you ever wanted to take up Shibari! Located at Via Camillo Prampolini 2, S3x Delirious is open Monday to Saturday from 9 am until 8 pm and on Sunday from 10 am until 8 pm.

Stefan and Sebastien posing in a hallway in rainbow colored speedos and nothing else!
We are obsessed with our rainbow Addicted speedos we got in Milan!

Pride and gay events in Milan

Milan Pride is the biggest gay event in Italy. Every June, thousands gather in the fashion capital to celebrate and honor diversity. MiX and MIFF are two excellent film festivals to look out for. Outside of Pride Month, Halloween and also Christmas are the best times of the year to head to Milan for gay parties.

Milano Pride (June)

Stefan and a group of LGBTQ Italian friends posing at Milan Pride.

Pride in Milan is a month-long affair filled with activities to celebrate LGBTQ+ people and their allies. The main event is, of course, the Pride Parade, which winds its way through the streets of Milan to the Arco della Pace (Arch of Peace) where there are speeches and an after-party.

The Milan Pride Square is another event during the month of June, featuring live concerts, performances, and food stalls in Porta Venezia. Since Milano Pride is the largest gay event in Italy, this is a fantastic time to visit the city.

  • Milano Gay Pride 2023: The parade will take place on 24 June 2023.
  • Location: The parade will start at Piazza San Babila. To get there take Line 1 to San Babila metro station.
  • Price: Free to attend

MIFF Awards – Milan International Film Festival (June)

The shiny horse trophy that winners at MIFF Awards Milan receive.

Also during Pride Month is the Milan International Film Festival. From its humble beginnings, it has now become one of the best film festivals in Italy that now appoints winners for what has been called the “Milanese Sundance”.

The winning films are showcased in Milan and attendees are able to meet the filmmakers afterward. Check out their website to see this year's calendar and book tickets.


International Festival of LGBTQ+ Cinema and Queer Culture (September)

The back of people's heads looking at a queer film screening with two men in bed.

The Milan International Festival of LGBTQ+ Cinema and Queer Culture, or MiX, takes on the last weekend of September.

Throughout September there are screenings of lesbian, gay, and transgender-themed films, which have traditionally attracted high attendance.

  • Next MiX event: The next festival will take place in September 2023.
  • Location: It takes place in various artistic buildings throughout the city such as Teatro Strehler, Casa degli artisti and Cam Garibaldi.
  • Price: Membership prices vary from 10 euros to 65 euros.

Halloween (October)

Partygoers watching performers in costume at the Botox Matinee gay Halloween party in Milan.

What we refer to as “Gay Christmas” is very popular in the LGBTQ community of Milan! If you head to Milan end of October, there will be many different gay Halloween-themed parties happening.

Clubs like Botox Matinèe host some of the best gay Halloween parties. Clubs like Inferus take this to a whole other level and will host the more risque gay Halloween parties!

  • Next gay Halloween: 31 October 2023.
  • Location: All gay venues will be organising parties in the Lecco area.

Christmas (December)

The ceiling of Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II in Milan lit up with purple Christmas lights at night.

Christmas is a great time to be a gay in Milan! Not only is the city lit up in Christmas lights, but the gay bars go ALL OUT with the most elaborate decorations you'll ever see.

Christmas time is also when the clubs will host some pretty epic themed events, some of which continue into the New Year celebrations.


Gay restaurants in Milan

Remember you are in Italy, a country that is just as famous for its food as it is for its fashion so expect to eat well here! Whilst there are many excellent restaurants in Milan, we've focused on our favorite ones that we tried in and around the Lecco gay area.

Mint Garden Cafe

A romantic meal at the beautiful Mint Garden Cafe in Milan.

Mint Garden Cafe is a beautiful and really romantic little spot located just a couple of streets from Milan's main gay neighborhood. It is packed with pretty indoor plants, lanterns, and fairy lights, which makes it feel like a little oasis inside the busy city – super romantic!

Most importantly the food is delicious! Fresh garden salad for Seby and a divine black truffle hollandaise sauce on Angus steak for me! The cherry on top is the service. The owner is such a sweetie and made us feel right at home!

  • Address: Mint Garden Cafe is located at Via Felice Casati, 12. It's near the gay area so the closest metro station is Porta Venezia on Line 1.
  • Opening hours: Mint Garden Cafe is open on weekdays Tuesday – Friday from 5pm to 12am and Saturday / Sunday from 11.30am to 12am.

Il Mannarino Tenca

Stefan checking out a selection of meat at a butcher's display cabinet at Il Mannarino Tenca.

We loved experiencing the very unique concept of Il Mannarino Tenca – it's a butcher shop and a restaurant! You select the meat you want at the butcher's display (with their expertise to advise you on the different cuts) then they cook it and bring it over to you.

We loved it! Not only is the meat simply mouthwatering but Il Mannarino Tenco is dedicated to sustainable, anti-waste, and animal welfare practices, so you can feel good about your meal.

  • Address: Il Mannarino Tenca is located at Via Carlo, 12. Milano Repubblica is the closest Metro station but if you happen to be staying in the gay neighborhood of Lecco, it is a 10 minutes walk from there.
  • Opening hours: Il Mannarino Tenca is open everyday from 9.30 am to 11.30 am.

One Way della Speranza

Pizza dinner with our gay friends at the One Way della Speranza in Milan.

One Way della Speranza (also sometimes written as Ristorante Pizzeria One Way della Speranza) is located close to the gay bars on Via Lecco.

We love coming here with friends for dinner before heading out to the gay bars down the road. We always get the pizza here. It's really good! One time Seby broke the mold and ordered spaghetti with saffron, prawns, and zucchini – highly recommended!

  • Address: One way della Speranza is located at Via Lecco, 7. This is right next to the gay scene of Milan. To get there, take the Metro Line 1 to Porta Venezia.
  • Opening hours: One way della Speranza is open Tuesday to Sunday from 12pm to 2.30pm and 7pm to 12am.

Osteria Mamma Rosa

The elegant interior of Osteria Mamma Rosa in Milan with a blue glass ceiling and beautiful murals on the walls.

Just a couple of streets away from Via Lecco is Osteria Mamma Rosa, a beautiful spot for delicious high-end home-cooked Italian food.

The first thing you notice when you walk in is the gorgeous murals painted on the walls, showing traditional Italian scenes. The food is superb – a bit pricey, but worth it.

This one is more high end so worth dressing up for – perhaps leave the short shorts and sleeveless top back at the hotel!

  • Address: Osteria Mamma Rosa is located at Piazza Cincinnato, 4. To get there, take Tramway line 5 to Pza Cincinnato.
  • Opening hours: Osteria Mamma is open every from 12.00pm to 11.30pm.

Mosobna

A generous plate with lots of small tastes of Eritrean dishes to try at the Mosobna restaurant in Milan.

After a week of pizza and pasta, we craved a change. We stumbled on this Eritrean gem (Eritrea is a country in East Africa bordering Ethiopia, Djibouti, and Sudan). Have you tried Eritrean food before? Nope – neither had we.

It's fantastic! Like nothing we've ever tried before. Meals are meant to be shared and are presented on a large tray with a mix of stewed meats, vegetables, lentils, and rice with unleavened bread served alongside it. Absolutely LOVED it!

  • Address: Mosobna is located at Via Alessandro Tadino, 9. It is located in the heart of the gay scene, to get there, take Metro Line 1 to Porta Venezia.
  • Opening hours: Mosobna is open everyday from 9am to 12am.

Best Things for Gay Travelers to do in Milan

The Cathedral of Milan is the city's #1 highlight and for good reason. It's stunning. Right next to it is the gorgeous Galleria, which is another highlight. We recommend starting as early as possible to get the most out of them as it gets BUSY here! Other highlights we loved about Milan are all summarized here:

Marvel at the Duomo di Milano

Stefan and Sebastien romantic sunrise moment in front of the Milan Il Duomo Cathedral.

A visit to the Milan Cathedral (Duomo di Milano in Italian) is the number one thing all travelers must do when in the city. Construction of this incredibly stunning Gothic cathedral began in the late 14th century and took hundreds of years to complete.

While some romantic photos outside are definitely a must (come at sunrise to avoid the heaving crowds), make sure you also explore the Duomo interior as there's a fascinating museum and gorgeous stained-glass windows to see.

  • Estimated time to spend: Allow 1-2 hours
  • Entry fee: Between 7 – 28 euros ($7.50 – $30) depending which kind of pass you choose
  • Opening hours: 9 am – 7 pm
  • Best guided tour: We loved this cathedral ticket since it also includes access to the rooftop terraces for panoramic views over the whole city of Milan!

Admire The Last Supper

The brick exterior of Santa Maria delle Grazie in Milan which houses The Last Supper famous painting.

What's the most famous painting in the world? While we can't answer that with 100% assurance, we definitely know that The Last Supper by Leonardo da Vinci is one of them.

We loved getting up close and personal with this magnificent painting at the refectory of the Church of Santa Maria delle Grazie on a fascinating guided tour. We heard all the tea about Da Vinci while marveling at this huge masterpiece. Even if you're not religious, it's an incredible piece of art to see in person.

  • Estimated time to spend: Allow 1 hour
  • Entry fee: 15 euros (around $16)
  • Opening hours: Tuesday to Sunday from 8.15 am – 7 pm
  • Best guided tour: This skip-the-line guided tour is not too long but covers everything you will want to know

Visit Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II

The stunning curved ceiling and arcade of Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II in Milan.

You've got to do some shopping while in Milan, you're in the country's fashion capital after all! And where better to get some retail therapy than in Italy’s oldest shopping mall?

Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II was constructed between 1865 and 1877, making it the oldest active shopping gallery in the country – and a major landmark of Milan. The building itself is gorgeous. It is filled with more haute couture shops than you can poke a stick at!

  • Estimated time to spend: Allow 1 to 2 hours (shopping depending)
  • Entry fee: FREE
  • Opening hours: Open 24 hours

See Michelangelo's Last Work at Sforza Castle

The last piece of art that Michelangelo ever created on display at Sforza Castle in Milan.

Castello Sforzesco (Sforza's Castle in Italian) is a beautiful medieval fortification in the middle of Milan, just a few steps away from the Duomo.

There are a number of excellent museums and art galleries within the castle, including the Museum of the Rondanini Pietà which is home to the last piece Michelangelo ever created. We recommend joining a guided tour if you want to see the sculpture he finished just days before he passed away at the ripe old age of 89.

  • Estimated time to spend: 1.5 to 3 hours
  • Entry fee: 5 euros (about $5.35)
  • Opening hours: 7 am – 7.30 pm (castle museums from 10 am – 5.30 pm Tuesday to Sunday)
  • Best guided tour: We really enjoyed hearing stories about Michelangelo and Da Vinci on this guided tour

Explore the Canal Naviglio Grande

Graffiti on the side of a bridge going over Canal Naviglio Grande in Milan.

The Naviglio Grande is a canal that runs 31 miles (50km) from the Ticino river near Tornavento all the way to the Porta Ticinese dock in the southwest of Milan.

The area around the canal has always been associated with artists and creative types making it a cool area to explore. We went on this interesting walking tour of the neighborhood which gave us the chance to see a more local side of Milan.

  • Estimated time to spend: You can spend an entire afternoon or day enjoying the beautiful scenery.
  • Entry fee: FREE
  • How to get there: The canal is easy to reach from Milan by public transport (Metro) or it is a 25 minutes walk from the Duomo of Milan.

Relax at Sempione Park

People working out on the exercise equipment, surrounded by greenery at Sempione Park in Milan.

If you're feeling a bit of art fatigue while exploring Milan then Sempione Park is the perfect antidote. Located in the middle of the city's historic area, Parco Sempione covers 95 acres (38.6 hectares) of greenery, sculptures, a lake, an arena, and multiple museums, including Sforza Castle.

During our visit in Milan, we went for a wander in Sempione Park, tactfully stopping by the outdoor gym area to watch the local guys working out…


Take a Day Trip to Lake Como

A grand Italian villa sitting next to Lake Como on a gorgeous sunny day.

Lake Como is one of the most famous and beautiful destinations in northern Italy, particularly known for being a playground of the rich and famous.

From Milan, it only takes an hour to reach the village of Como, which is the gateway to this stunning area. We recommend joining a guided day trip to Lake Como and sail along the sparkling lake, taking in the impressive views of the stately villas on the surrounding hills.


Plan Your Trip to Milan

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

Travel insurance: We definitely recommend getting travel insurance for any trip because you just never know when something might go wrong, even in relatively safe destinations like Milan. We personally love to use Heymondo Travel Insurance (and have been for years) as their coverage is so comprehensive and it's easy to make a claim online.


How to get there: If you're already in Italy you can drive, catch a train or a bus to Milan, or fly there from many European airports. Milan has two main international airports as well as two in nearby Bergamo and Parma, which are often served by budget airlines.

The main airport for international and intercontinental flights is Malpensa which is served by the Malpensa express into the city, and runs frequently. If we have a loads of luggages (Ahem, Stefan…), we prefer to book a private airport transfer so we have an English-speaking driver waiting to whisk us straight to our accommodation.


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, which makes things easy for visiting Milan. 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 beforehand.


Getting around: Milan is well served by the ATM (Azienda Trasporti Milanesi S.p.A.) with a metro system, orange trams, buses, and trains. If you get a Milan Pass City Card you will be able to access all the transport options for 48 hours at a flat fee, plus you'll get discounts on major attractions and can use the Hop-on Hop-off bus for sightseeing/getting around.


Power Plugs: Milan (and the rest of Italy) uses the regular European power plug/socket. If you're traveling to Italy from North America, the UK, Australia or some Asian countries then you will need to bring a travel adaptor with you.


Vaccinations: The CDC recommends that all travelers to Italy should be up to date with routine vaccinations like measles, mumps, rubella, chickenpox etc. You may also need vaccinations for Hepatitis A, B and rabies, so check online based on where you are coming from and if you are planning to travel further from Milan.


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. You'll get the best exchange rates at these SuperRich branches in Milan.


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


Internet access: It's possible to access free Wi-Fi throughout Milan but we recommend buying an Italian SIM card when you arrive. Otherwise, we also recommend renting a pocket Wi-Fi device for your trip if you want to connect multiple devices.


Accommodation: For more great places to stay in Milan, make sure you check out Booking.com. We love using booking.com because they have excellent online support, it's really easy to book online and a lot of places even offer free cancellations.


Sightseeing and adventure: We also love using GetYourGuide when planning fun trips and activities in Milan. Their online booking system is easy to use and their customer support is excellent plus it's available 24/7.


When to visit: July and September are the busiest (and hottest months) in Milan, so we recommend visiting during the cooler shoulder seasons between April – June and September/October. Check out this page for more info on when to visit Milan.


Gay Map of Milan

Here's a map showing all the places we've talked about in this guide, to help you plan your own fabulous gay trip to Milan!

A map of Milan with places for gay visitors marked on it.

For more inspiration:

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Stefan Arestis

Hey everyone, I'm Stefan, the curly-haired Greek flavor behind the gay travel blog Nomadic Boys. Together with my other half, I have explored more than 90 countries across 5 continents. What I love most about traveling is discovering the local gay scene, making new friends, learning new cultures. I've written about LGBTQ travel in numerous online publications such as Gaycation Magazine, Gaycities, Gay Times and Pink News as well as for other non-gay-specific publications including Lonely Planet, The New York Times, The Guardian, and The Huffington Post. Check my full bio here.

Osamah alhuwaykan

Monday 1st of May 2023

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