Florence Gay Travel
Florence gay travel guide to the best hotels, gay bars, restaurants, cruising & more.
The Gay Travel Experience: Florence, Italy
Florence is a wonderful, picturesque Italian city. But experiencing authentic Italian culture in Florence is tricky! The majority of the main city center is engulfed by tourists, so you’ll need to travel smart to get the best experience.
During my time visiting Florence, I heard more American English than Italian! Even though tourists are everywhere, you will still be able to experience Florence like a gay local with the help of this guide.
The local gay population as well as the number of gay tourists in Florence is quite large, so you’ll have no issue making friends here.
Gay Florence: Hotels & Where to Stay
There are many great areas to stay in Florence. If you are short on time, it is best to stay in the center of the city.
These accommodations though, come at quite an elevated price compared to other Italian cities. Florence is so popular with international tourists, that prices have been driven up significantly.
I stayed at Grand Hotel Minerva during my first visit to Florence. The hotel is located directly adjacent to the Basilica di Santa Maria Novella. The piazza outside is beautiful and the hotel gym has a view directly onto the plaza.
Gallery Art Hotel Florence is perfect if a chic hotel with a river view is your style. Their design is quite masculine and the rooftop views are unbeatable. Gallery Art Hotel also has a popular cocktail bar outside the lobby.
The Westin Excelsior is just to the north and has a similar view along the river. The hotel’s interior design is a little more on the classic side.
Portrait Firenze is a luxurious and romantic hotel in Florence. My good friends Mark and Gian loved staying here.
On the higher end of the hotel price spectrum, Portrait Firenze’s interior finishes are unbeatable, especially in their bathrooms. They of course also have a wonderful river view.
Vacation Apartment Rentals in Florence
I stayed in a magnificent Florence villa rental in the Santa Croce neighborhood during my second visit to the city. My place had three huge windows with shutters that opened up to the picturesque street below.
Santa Croce is ideal because it is quieter, away from all the tourist activity. It was still very easy to walk to the city center and there were plenty of restaurants around to choose from.
Luxury rentals in Florence curated by Plum Guide are the absolute best option if you’re looking superior quality. There’s quite a few listings throughout the city with affordable nightly rates.
Florence Gay Travel Experiences
Take a stroll through the Santo Spirito neighborhood in Florence. It’s an amazing and authentic Florence neighborhood that you’ll surely enjoy. There are much fewer tourists in this area since it is out of the direct city center.
Santo Spirito has a bunch of bars, perfect for a cocktail. It’s definitely part of Florence you need to experience!
Piazzale Michelangelo and Forte di Belvedere are nearby the San Spirito neighborhood. You can get a stellar view of Florence From Piazzale Michelangelo. It is by far the best viewpoint in the entire city.
Giardino delle Rose is also near the San Spirito neighborhood This park is popular with locals to take a nap in the grass or spread out a picnic blanket.
There are great views of the city lush grass all around to make for a cozy time. For gay couples traveling to Florence, this is a great date spot!
Via de Tornabuoni is fun to walk through when you first arrive in Florence. Peruse all the luxury fashion brands and take in the heart of the Florence shopping district.
Fastest Way to See Michelangelo’s David
Michelangelo is thought to have been gay, which is one more reason that as a gay traveler in Florence, you shouldn’t skip the David! David does have a wonderful booty, after all. Let me give you some tips about the easiest and most stress-free way to see Michelangelo’s David.
Normally, people search online for tickets to the museum to see the David statue. For these tickets, you need to choose a specific time slot. For those who stick to a regimented schedule, this may be best. Personally, however, I like to keep my schedule flexible. You can do this too. Here’s how.
When you arrive at the Accademia to see the statue of David, you can purchase tickets directly from guys on the street. They are trustworthy and will sell you a ticket for the time slot during which you arrive.
The price will be a bit higher than what you’d pay online, but the flexibility is worth it. I paid only 25 Euro. You can alternatively buy skip-the-line Accademia tickets in advance.
If you do not have an advance ticket for the Accademia and you want to wait in line to see the David, you may be waiting for hours. I personally wouldn’t wait this long, especially if you are short on time!
Classic Florence Attractions
As you make your way toward Florence neighborhoods south of the river, cross over Ponte Vecchio first. Then, take a different bridge back into the center.
This way you can see Ponte Vecchio from afar and catch a glimpse of all the small shops that line the rear of the bridge.
Florence Restaurants & Cocktail Bars
Dinner at a Trattoria Il Francescano was also a beautifully memorable experience. The servers were upbeat, the food was amazing.
Plus, we loved the outdoor seating next to Basilica di Santa Croce. Trattoria Il Francescano is a highly rated restaurant, so you should definitely try it.
La Ménagère is a cute brunch restaurant with an airy ambiance. Although the food seemed to be somewhat overpriced and not too exciting, the interior was very inviting.
The restaurant feels more like a garden without being outdoors. Lots of light, relaxed seating and also good for groups. Call ahead for a reservation as they can get very busy!
Stop by Inferno for some delicious classic cocktails. Inferno is a cozy spot to hang out inside to escape any rain or heat.
Fusion Bar & Restaurant has fun cocktails in a beautiful outdoor space. It is located next to Gallery Hotel Art. You can count on this cocktail bar rain or shine, as they have a permanently covered outdoor space that’s cozily lit.
Oibó Restaurant is another fantastic option for a relatively formal dinner in Florence. I personally did not eat here, but when I passed by during dinner time, the food looked stellar. Even better is the cute outdoor seating.
Florence Gay Bars
Piccolo Café is my favorite gay bar in Florence. The crowd is a ton of fun. Piccolo Café is frequented by both locals and tourists, so you can truly get an authentic gay nightlife experience here.
I had such a great time here people watching and taking in the vibe of Florence. The crowd is bubbly and friendly. I highly recommend a visit!
Queer Pub is another gay bar to try, tucked away in a quaint little alley. It’s a smaller venue than the others and not as rowdy, but it’s right in the center of Florence.
Florence Gay Cruising
Crisco Club is Florence’s most popular gay cruising bar. Located in central Florence, Crisco Club only gets busy later in the evening. The bar will remain quite empty until at least midnight. The best time to show up is about 1 AM.
Fabrik is another extremely popular gay cruising bar. Many Italians from outside of Florence come to Fabrik for a good time. It’s especially popular with locals.
Fabrik is outside the Florence city center, so it takes some commitment to make it there. I personally did not get to go to this Florence gay cruising spot, but many locals let me know that it’s the best around!
Many tourists wonder specifically about the gay saunas and bathhouses in Florence. Although a gay sauna in Florence does exist, called Florence Baths, it has many negative reviews. Overall it seems you may want to skip this one.
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Florence Gay Travel Tips
The first thing to keep in mind before visiting Florence is that the city is one of the most tourist-filled locations in Europe. I have never seen groups of tourists like those I’ve encountered in Florence. You must tread the city carefully and be aware of which attractions are not authentic.
Any restaurant situated across from a major tourist attraction is probably not going to be good. Try to avoid those restaurants that have a huge number of seats located in main squares.
Smaller, local restaurants that don’t serve massive amounts of food to tourists will likely be of higher quality.
Pizza in Florence is notoriously bad, even in comparison to nearby areas of Italy. I didn’t have a single good pizza in Florence. If you want authentic and delicious pizza, head to Naples.
Whenever I’m flying between European cities, I always check Vueling first. Their tickets are some of the cheapest and I’d definitely choose them over Ryanair.
Traveling between cities in Italy is quite convenient by bus. I traveled all around the Mediterranean coast using FlixBus buses, which are almost always exactly on time, comfortable, civilized, and safe. They’re also pretty cheap.
Things to Skip in Florence
The Market Centrale di San Lorenzo is touted as a popular tourist spot in Florence, but there is nothing special about it. All the goods are counterfeit and the place overall isn’t attractive. You can definitely skip Market di San Lorenzo.
Florence is a very walkable city and so there’s definitely no reason to join a guided tour. If you join a Florence guided tour, you won’t get to experience anything authentic and you’ll collide with dozens of other tour groups in crowded areas.
Gay Life in Italy
Same-sex activity has been legal in Italy since 1890 and transgender people have been able to legally change their gender since 1982. Also, gays and lesbians are allowed to openly serve in the military and there are workplace protections for LGBT people as well.
However, despite these liberal milestones, Italy only allows registration of same-sex unions, does not allow gay marriage within the country, and will not recognize same-sex marriages performed in other countries.
Gay rights in Italy are opposed by a strong far-right faction of the nation. However, there are increasing instances of victories for those supporting gay rights. Here’s a short article on Italy’s first transgender mayor speaking about how to defeat the far-right.
There is still much work to be done, as Italy lacks many of the LGBT protections in comparison to other European and Western nations. Stepchild adoption remains a pressing issue, currently dealt with on a case by case basis only.