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Gay Venice, Italy | The Essential LGBT Travel Guide!

Gay Venice, Italy | The Essential LGBT Travel Guide!

In one of the most iconic cities in Italy, Gay Venice is an experience no queer tourist can miss because it has great cultural and historical attractions and a thriving queer community that can visit this place like no other.

So whether you want to cruise through the water-filled streets from island-to-island, or cruise in the gay clubs, Venice can do both. In addition, despite the fact there are no formally recognized gay bars, it is possible by the fact this whole city is exceptionally gay-friendly, making such venues, not a hard bolted need. 

Venice is known by many names, including “The City of Water”, “The City of Masks”, “The City of Bridges”, and the “The Floating City”. This unique city is built on an artificial island dating back to small fishing villages in the Pre-Roman times. Still, Venice as an idea is often linked to Romans fleeing from Germanic invaders at the end of Roman rule.

These fleeing communities jumped the waters and set up a safe post away from the chaos on the mainland. 

Today she is a glistening icon on the Italian coastline, home to numerous historical attractions from churches to museums and vast public squares between narrow water canal streets. The only way to explore Venice efficiently is by boat and bridge, so expect to see a lot of those!

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Venice has a rich and storied history of homosexuality, from the vibrant courtesan culture of the Renaissance to the infamous 18th-century Venetian adventurer, Giacomo Casanova. However, like much of Italy, the city remained largely conservative and repressed in its attitudes towards homosexuality until recent years.

Despite this, Venice has a small but thriving gay community today, with several gay-friendly bars and events scattered throughout the city. The annual Venice Pride parade had become an important and symbolic event for the LGBTQ+ community and its allies in the city, drawing participants from across Italy and beyond – though sadly this has been outlawed by the current right-wing mayor.

Venice still remains somewhat conservative, and public displays of affection between same-sex couples may draw unwanted attention or even harassment. Nevertheless, the city’s natural beauty, rich culture, and welcoming locals make it a wonderful destination for gay travelers looking for a unique and unforgettable Italian experience.

A visit to Venice will be like nothing else as you jump from island to island, basking in the rich culture, experiencing the masked gay parades put on regularly, and tasting the salty fresh food. You’ll be sad when the day comes up need to leave!

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Attractions in Venice

Visiting Gay Venice is an experience you won’t forget. This city is known for its stunning architecture, world-renowned art, and gondola rides through its winding canals. However, there’s so much more to see and do in Venice than just its popular attractions.

First and foremost, let’s talk about the local cuisine. Venice has an array of delicious foods to try, including fresh seafood dishes, traditional pasta dishes like spaghetti alla vongole (spaghetti with clams), and sweet treats like tiramisu.

When you’re not indulging in local cuisine, explore the city’s beautiful parks and gardens, including the Giardini della Biennale, a park that hosts art exhibitions and cultural events. Venice is also home to stunning art galleries and museums like the Peggy Guggenheim Collection, showcasing contemporary art from the 20th century.

As for the city’s vibes, Venice is a unique blend of old and new, a city with a rich history and a vibrant present. Regardless of your sexual orientation, there’s something for everyone in Venice – and in such an accepting city, you should not let your sexual orientation hold you back from exploring. However, do take some care as conservative does run strong here. The current mayor, Luigi Brugnaro, has called gay pride marches ‘height of kitsch’ and says: ‘Let them go and do it in Milan, or in front of their own homes’…

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Dolomite Mountains and Cortina 1-Day Tour from Venice

If you want to get outside town for a day or so, this one-day tour from Venice to the Dolomite Mountains and Cortina is a popular option. You head out with a friendly and knowledgeable tour guide from Venice, learning about the history and culture of key locations as you go, with the option to stop and take in the views.

When you reach the Dolomite Mountains, you will be met by stunning views of the towering peaks, and depending on the season, you will visit certain areas that best represent that time of year. In Summer, you will breeze by Lake Misurina and the quaint villages that reside by it, and in Winter, you’ll head up to Lake Braies to experience the mountains under the wild white setting. 

St. Mark’s Basilica (Basilica di San Marco)

When you do a simple google search of Venice, one of the first churches to appear is almost always St. Mark’s Basilica. The Water City crown jewel is one of many churches around Venice. However, it stands out not just for size but for the architectural style that blends several styles.

The recipe of Gothic, Byzantine, Romanesque and Renaissance architecture was completed around 1094, creating towering domes and an inside full of mosaics. You can get some fantastic photos in the courtyard before the Basilica.

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Venice Accademia Gallery (Gallerie dell’Accademia)

Venice is known for its long history of patronizing local artists, so they have a fantastic art collection you shouldn’t miss if you love art. Venice’s Accademia Gallery presents Venetian art dating from the 14th through 18th centuries, including works by Leonardo Da Vinci and Giovanni Bellini.

St. Mark’s Square (Piazza San Marco) 

Pizza San Marco is the central public square in Venice that is bordered by famous sites from St Mark’s Basilica, St Mark’s Campanile, Procuratie Vecchie and Procuratie Nuove. This square is the heart of city life as you can always find people wandering, relaxing, and frequenting tourist attractions or shops. Therefore, it is the best place to begin a self-guided tour of the city when figuring out where to start.

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Forte Tron in Mestre

On the mainland Mestre, you can find many incredible sights of Venetian history, amongst them Forte Tron.  This ruin is a great place for photo opportunities, with a rickety bridge leading up to a derelict fort covered in graffiti and overgrown greenery. Being a former military fort, it now serves as a landmark where many take a break from the city for quiet time. 

Venice Islands: Lido, San Francesco del Deserto & Burano

Venice comprises over 188 islands, and although bridges or canals are tightly knitted together, some are further out and have developed their own local culture. So if you want to hire a boat and sail island-to-island, you will be surprised by what you might find. 

Lido is a long-stretching island south of the central city bustle, with a large grassy park and sandy beaches. If you love Roman ruins and rustic finishing industries of old, Lido is a must-see!

San Francesco del Deserto is a small island to the north of the city, which houses a Franciscan monastery nested in a forest. You can appreciate the religious past of Venice whilst taking in the incredible scenery. 

Burano is a circular island home to the most colorful fishing houses around and being so close to the city, you don’t have to paddle far. This is perhaps the gayest-looking place in Venice, and we love the full appreciation of the rainbow here!

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Liberty Bridge (Ponte della Libertà)

Built in 1931, this bridge connects the historical Venetian island center to the mainland city and is named in honor of the end of WW2 and fascism. You will be hard-pressed to miss this sight during your visit to Venice as it is the main road in and out of the city. 

Doge’s Palace (Palazzo Ducale)

Formerly the Doge residence and the seat of the Venetian government, today, the Pazzo Ducale sits as a relic now serving as an art gallery and museum. You can walk the halls of this former palace, admire the vast collections displayed in ornately interior decor, and imagine what important laws or histories might’ve gone down inside these walls.

In addition, you can get great views from the upper floors of the outside cityscape as you become personally acquainted with this building built in 1340 during the Republic of Venice.

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Marco Polo’s Home (Casa di Marco Polo)

Marco? Polo! Marco? POLO! Alright, now we have got that joke out of the room, we can now talk about the home of one of history’s greatest explorers. Marco Polo (1254 – 1324) was a Venetian merchant, explorer, and writer who wrote about his travels along the Silk Road to Asia, and his tales became instant classics when published.

You can visit the suspected house he lived in and see what it was like to live in Venice during the Medieval Times.

La Fenice Opera House (Teatro La Fenice)

Venice is famous for artists and explorers as much as it is a place for masquerading and floating around on the water. Hence it would be a crime not to experience the splendor of their Teatro La Feince opera house.

This famous symbol of Italian opera has played host to incredible shows and some of the most celebrated voices in opera over the last three centuries. The original facade and spirit survived despite two fires almost destroying the whole venue.

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Gay-Friendly Tours Around The World

Gay-Friendly & Gay Hotels in Venice

Darlings, being gay-friendly is an absolute must when it comes to selecting your holiday accommodation. It means that the hotel is welcoming and inclusive to our fabulous LGBTQ+ community. From having non-discrimination policies to providing helpful resources for LGBTQ+ travelers, gay-friendly accommodation is here to create a safe and inclusive environment for all of us!

While Venice may not have specifically gay hotels or resorts, it does have some of the most fabulous and proactively gay-friendly hotels that will make your stay all the more memorable. These hotels will not only provide you with a comfy stay, but will also cater to your specific needs, with some even providing rainbow flags and literature about local LGBTQ+ events.

Because Venice is so vast and spread out, you’ll need to find a place to stay suited to keep you well-rested for the strength to see it all. The most vibrant area of Venice’s gay scene is located in the Dorsoduro neighborhood, specifically around Campo Santa Margherita. Here you’ll find some of the best bars, clubs and restaurants that are always buzzing with a vibrant atmosphere. And darling, don’t forget to book early to avoid disappointment as these gay-friendly accommodations fill up fast!

Needless to say, there are also hundreds more hotel and hostel options in Venice if none of these suit your desired budget, facilities or area – but these are the best hotels according to other gay travelers and us.

Whatever your needs are, Venice has you covered.

Cà Bonfadini Historic Experience - Gay Hotel in Venice

Cà Bonfadini Historic Experience ☆☆☆☆☆

Resting along the shores of the historical island center of Venice, you have an experience on offer that could only be rivaled if you were born royalty. But seeing as likely none of you reading this have such fortunes, you can still experience what it might be like to be noble in high-class Vatican society at Cà Bonfadini.

Housed in a 16th-century building,  you will be treated to a prime location for easy city exploration and astounding cityscape views from your private dwellings. 

This five-star accommodation is exceptionally gay-friendly and will be perfect for the kings and queens of our queer community. To begin with, private rooms are all unique and adorned with decor characteristic of something straight out of a French palace, except with an Italian flair, with a large cozy bed framed around gold-trimmed ceilings and walls.

You will also be delighted to know these come with desks, chairs, a lounge with TV, a smart system for calling room service or putting on some light piano tunes, and an ensuite. But if these luxuries don’t win you over, they have breakfast services at an extra fee!

The shared spaces not only have free wifi in and out of your room, but Cà Bonfadini also has several on-site restaurants and bars to keep you full and entertained. These areas are spacious and large enough so that you’ll always find somewhere to sit, regardless of the occasion.

Moreover, the sauna is a popular service for guests only that allows you to fully embrace the fact you’re on holiday in an amazing place like Venice. 

Cà Bonfadini Historic Experience - Gay Hotel in Venice

Maison Venezia ☆☆☆☆

One thing that Venice does well is its ability to have a variety of hotel options that stand out from the usual holiday experience. Maison Venezia is no exception, as they are centrally located in the historical part of the city, offering a bird’s eye view of narrow canals from its upper floors.

Being so close to the action of the water, you can get a real sense of what it might be like to live in this city as a local, taking a boat to get from place to place and the water lapping right up against the porch. 

This hotel offers quaint rooms with double beds, cozy seating, an ensuite and a private terrace to stand and look out on the cityscape.  Decorated with creamy colors reflective on the rustic building’s exterior, these are complemented by draping curtains and sparse golden frames of mirrors of pictures. Although not trying to pass as accommodation for royalty, you’ll still enjoy the atmosphere of this place. 

Hotel Rialto ☆☆☆☆

Look no further if you’re after a four-star experience with some romantic views of Venice from a candle-lit terrace running alongside the water. Hotel Rialto comes to the planning table with a range of benefits that can make a gay trip to Venice extra special. If not for the fact it resides in the very heart of the old city, it is because some of their rooms even offer free breakfast (and much more). 

Even if your heart isn’t let by the stomach with the promise of an on-site bar, you can still appreciate the other bonuses on offer, particularly the terrace! Then depending on your choice of room, you will be further catered to great services, from an ensuite and bed to a tv and even a whole apartment if you so desire.

You can pick the room that best suits your budget and style, making it great for those wanting more flexible options. 

Hotel Rialto - Gay Hotel in Venice

Hotel Rigel ☆☆☆

Located on the long-stretching island on the outskirts of Venice’s old city, Hotel Rigel resides on Lido Island. You don’t have to travel far to see the coastline and the long stretches of beach and green parks for which this island is best known.

This hotel has an on-site bar and restaurant to cater to your tastebuds and an equally appetizing view for the eyes, being built in a 1960s building that pays close attention to the local architectural styles of the area. 

You can expect your rooms to have all you could ever desire, but the outside spaces make them unique. You can choose to dine indoors or on outside terraces in secluded gardens. And the views… they are some of the best in the town. 

Best Western Hotel Tritone ☆☆☆☆

We picked the Best Western Hotel as a bonus option for those traveling to Venice that might like to stay in the mainland part of the city. So if the idea of staying on tiny islands doesn’t appeal, this is a stable-land alternative.

What makes this place stand out is the practical, rustic-modern design of the venue, bringing all you could ever need when traveling around Venice. A highlight of this place is the in-room mini kitchenette with microwave and mini-fridge and the option of a cooked breakfast for an extra fee.

Best Western Hotel Tritone - Gay Hotel in Venice (1)

Gay Nightlife In Venice

Ciao bella! If you’re looking to add some fabulous flair to your Venice (Italy) trip, the city’s nightlife scene has got you covered. From trendy bars to relaxed spots to sip Aperol spritz, Venice offers a wide variety of options to suit every taste.

Note, however that Venice proper doesn’t have an extensive formal gay nightlife, with the search for officially recognized gay bars turning up nada. And for a night out in Venice, the main gay nightlife area is located in Mestre, just across the lagoon from the main city. Here, you’ll find a small selection of gay bars and clubs that cater to locals and visitors alike. Many of the bars don’t get busy until around midnight, and the clubs keep the party going until the early hours of the morning. Keep in mind that most clubs close around 4 or 5 am, so pace yourself if you’re in it for the long haul.

If you’re looking for a fun night out without venturing too far, Venice itself offers a number of gay-friendly bars and restaurants in the Dorsoduro and Cannaregio neighborhoods. These venues attract a mix of locals and tourists and offer a relaxed atmosphere to grab a drink and socialize. So, whether you’re a seasoned party-goer or just looking to dip your toe into the local LGBTQ+ scene, Venice has something to offer.

Don’t be afraid to step out of your comfort zone and explore the vibrant gay and gay-friendly nightlife scene in Venice. Cheers to a fabulous night out!

Gay Venice, Italy | The Essential LGBT Travel Guide!
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Gay Parties & Gay Clubs In Venice

Venice Pride

Because Venice doesn’t have any open-to-all gay bars, the best time to visit the city to experience the best of this gay part of Italy is during annual pride events. Whether through social events organized by Venice Pride, or the larger street Pride Parade, it will be a stellar experience to help celebrate the queer community. 

Venice Carnival

Starting in 1162, Venice has celebrated a carnival every year to commemorate the Venice Republic’s victory over the Patriarch or Aquileia. It began as a celebration in San Marco Square where everyone danced and sang their victories, but over time it became a much richer annual event that seeped into tradition. 

Nowadays, the Venice Carnival is a celebration of the festival itself, and most don’t even know the founding story. If you want to visit Venice and experience an exceptionally queer time of year, the carnival is a great way to experience romance on the streets. Dress in a period costume, wear a mask, get a little flirty, and you might just have the time of your life!

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Other Gay-Popular Nightlife Spots In Venice

Bacaro Jazz

Located in the Rialto core of Venice, this cocktail bar and restaurant is an absolute favorite with patrons and the gay community.  Here you can experience a street-side venue that hosts some of the best jazz music and even holds the record for the most bras hanging above the drinks bar.

So maybe you’d be willing to donate to the cause and purchase a drink and some chesticles to ensure they hold this impressive record? This unapologetic alternative bar is undoubtedly one you can’t miss. 

Devils Forest Pub

You’ll find no better place than here if you’re after a traditional, hearty pub experience with good food, music, drinks, and television. Popular not just with locals, you’ll likely find many fellow gays wandering its halls as they top up their drinks or take a cheeky smoke on the front steps.

The pub’s interior is decorated with old beer memorabilia, history and stuffed deer heads on exposed wooden panels, which adds to the homely feel. 

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Bra’s Cocktail Bar

If the name wasn’t enough to raise your brows, then what we’ll say next will surely get you on board with this next gay-friendly option. Bra’s Cocktail Bar is a modern trendy venue that serves cocktails and a good time. You will first be struck as you enter by the neon lights and bright tones, as well as the drawn decor in the eating area.

Even if it’s not a gay bar, it feels exceptionally queer, and we love it regardless. This is a great place to have a chill evening whilst avoiding the usual pub experience with a minimalist setting.  

Trash & Chic

If you’re after some dancing and festival outside of the Venice street ones, the Trash & Chic is where you can find a pumping, gay-friendly disco venue. Located in Marghera on the mainland side of Venice, you won’t have to travel far from the old part of town to get there.

You can expect large dance shows, including the common drag performance, with incredible disco music we all love. This is where the height of your gay nightlife may lie. 

Ristorante Osteria N.1

When searching for the perfect restaurant, you don’t need to walk more than five minutes from Saint Mark’s Basilica to find Ristorante Osteria N.1.  Here is a showcase of classic coastal Italian cuisine, with a delectable choice of seafood dishes amongst the usual classics. Of course, Venice’s local fishing industry is one of the best things about it! 

Ristorante Osteria N.1 - best gay sauna in Venice

Cruising & Gay Saunas In Venice

When traveling to a new city, it can be exciting to head out for more than just a stiff drink. One aspect of gay travel that many queer men enjoy is visiting gay saunas and cruising clubs, and while Venice is not as hedonistic as Amsterdam, Londo or Berlin, there are thankfully a few venues that offer a chance to meet new people, socialize, and engage in sexual activity. Without resorting to gay hook up apps or public cruising

However, it’s important to keep in mind that these sex-on-site venues around the world can vary greatly in terms of atmosphere, clientele, and rules, so it’s a good idea to prepare yourself before visiting. If you are apprehensive, we advise studying our guide to visiting a gay bathhouse for the first time, which should help set your mind at ease, and always practicing safe sex.

Additionally, it’s important to be aware of and respect local laws and customs regarding gay venues and sexual activity. With a little bit of planning and an open mind, visiting the gay cruise club and sauna can be a fun and exciting part of your gay Venice travel itinerary.

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Gay Cruising Bars In Venice

Juice Berry – Cruising bar a Mestre

Open to gay men only, this gay cruising bar is an iconic name in the queer Ventican scene. This club is a must-stop-by for those gay men that want to hit all the gay attractions in the city before they leave. Here you can enjoy a drink and meet fellow gays in a relaxing unjudgemental environment, and if you’re feeling frisky, they have dark rooms and other fun services to enhance your night. 

Gay Sex Shops In Venice

Sexy Shop Sexo

If you’re looking for a sexy experience, this sex shop has all you need with pleasure toys and leather for days. Located just on the mainland, you won’t need to travel far to find what you seek, even if you’re staying on the island or closer to the new city quarter of Venice. It is a large, very stocked-up shop, with excellent service and friendly attendants to help you or let you browse with ease.

Gay Saunas In Venice

Metrò Venezia Club

Located in Mestre, the other gay men only attraction all gay men need to stop by if they are exploring the mainland side of Venice is this gay sauna. Here you can let it all loose and relax in the numerous services available, whether in the lounging bar area or the steam room.

Clothing is all optional here, although best keep them on when at the bar to leave an air of mystery. In addition, they regularly host naked mask nights, so if you’re a little shy, this could be the way to break the ice and experience your first gay sauna. 

Metrò Venezia Club - best gay sauna in Venice

Gay Map Of Venice

Finding it hard to envisage where everything is in Venice? Hopefully, this queer-centric map helps where we have marked all the bars, clubs, parties, hotels, saunas, massages, and more will help you stay in the spot best suited to you!