Rome Gay Travel
wolfyy’s Rome gay travel guide to hotels and where to stay, gay bars, saunas, parties, restaurants & things to do.
The Gay Travel Experience: Rome, Italy
Gay locals coexist with floods of international gay travelers in Rome, so the eternal city will definitely test your ability to experience local gay life. With a little tenacity and some tips from this travel guide, you’ll be set for a great experience.
Rome is fairly gay-friendly, but the gay scene is more subdued than in other European cities. While there is a large LGBT community here, you won’t find many gay bars or parties. There are a few though, and I’ll tell you where to find them.
Many LGBT travelers tend to use Grindr or other apps to meet gay locals in Rome. It’s a great idea, too! But keep in mind that many people’s profiles will state that they’re only interested in meeting other locals or Italians. If you learn a little Italian, you’ve got a much better chance.
Either way, it’s still worth a try. And if you don’t meet a gay local, there will surely be a bunch of other gay tourists in Rome looking to meet up or make friends.
Overall, Rome is an amazing gay destination, both for couples and single travelers. You’ll experience unforgettable food, culture, and of course, architecture.
Gay Rome: Hotels & Where to Stay
Piazza Navona Hotels
The Piazza Navona area is one of the best places to stay in Rome. This is the heart of the city, there are plenty of restaurants around, and overall it’s super cute!
Hotels near Piazza Navona will make it easy to get to many popular attractions while still getting an authentic feel. I loved staying here.
I recommend Bio Hotel Raphaël, just one street away from Piazza Navona. The hotel has gorgeously modern rooms and an epic rooftop with a bar/restaurant.
Another fabulous option just a few minutes away is Relais Maddalena, an LGBT-friendly hotel popular for incredible service and a rustic boutique feel.
Suite Art Navona is one of the best highly-rated options near Piazza Navona if you’re looking for value. Nightly rates in this stylish yet quaint hotel are usually about half the price of the surrounding accommodations!
Apartment rentals around Piazza Navona are just as lovely. I booked a quaint apartment with a small rear terrace during one of my stays in Rome. Being able to embrace the city from a private outdoor area was so relaxing.
Staying in Trastevere
Trastevere is one of my favorite neighborhoods in Rome. It has a fun, local vibe where you can experience authentic Roman life. And while the neighborhood doesn’t have that many hotels, there are lots of bed & breakfasts and guesthouses in Trastevere.
There are loads of restaurants and bars along calmly bustling streets in Trastevere. Abundant public transport here makes traveling anywhere in the city easy, too.
A Trastevere da M.E is one of the best gay-friendly hotels in the area that is also super affordable. The property is a 4-room townhouse-style hotel with a modern feel.
I also like Etruska Luxury Trastevere for an amazingly affordable price for how modern, cozy, and fun their rooms are. The mood lighting in the bathrooms is a cool feature!
With so many cute and affordable Trastevere apartment rentals, travelers who are more budget-conscious especially like the area. You can always count on great style in these apartments, too.
Staying in Ludovisi
The Ludovisi neighborhood in Rome also has a local feel, away from tourist crowds. Ludovisi is also where the local gay sauna is, for those seeking such proximity convenience.
Ludovisi is quieter and closer to the Rione XVII Sallustiano business district. I stayed in a wonderful large Ludovisi apartment rental the second time I visited Rome and I got such an incredible deal.
For less than 40 Euros a night, I actually scored a one-bedroom, two-bathroom apartment with a full kitchen and living room overlooking local restaurants.
Walking through the Ludovisi area, you’ll be able to peek into stunningly ornate churches on so many corners, yet be able to see the locals going about their workweek.
Luxury rentals in Rome curated by Plum Guide are the absolute best option if you’re looking superior quality. There’s a decent number of listings throughout the city and prices are quite affordable for what you get.
Does Rome Have A Gay Neighborhood?
Local gay men in Rome are relatively spread out and live in different areas of the city.
Rome doesn’t have an official gay neighborhood. But, I can tell you that most gay locals tend to live away from the city center, avoiding tourist crowds. You can find them in neighborhoods like Ludovisi, Salario and Trastevere for example.
Neighborhoods to Avoid in Rome
I caution travelers against staying in the Esquilino neighborhood, which is around the Roma Termini train station.
The area is kind of dirty and much poorer than the rest of the city. It’s also not really a place you’ll want to walk around late at night.
Hotels in Esquilino and other areas surrounding Roma Termini should only be booked if you have an early trip out of Rome and need to be close to the Termini station. There is a reason why accommodations are much cheaper here!
Generator Rome is a great choice for travelers if you do stay in this area, especially for a single night coming into or out of Rome.
Rome Hotels Recommended by Locals
For a few more recommendations, check out these hotels and other places to stay recommended by gay locals I know in Rome.
Rome Gay Travel Experiences
Villa Doria Pamphili
The park adjacent to Villa Doria Pamphili is spectacular. It’s great for a run, a picnic, or just relaxing in the shade. If you’re looking for a romantic place to spend a few hours, this is it!
The Villa Doria Pamphili park is most conveniently reached if you are staying in Trastavere. However, even if you’re staying in Central Rome, I’d say a trip here is more than worth it. The actual Villa itself is certainly a delightful sight to see.
Castel Sant'Angelo & Parco Della Mole Adriana
Parco Della Mole Adriana is a park that surrounds the Castel Sant’Angelo, where you can find some wonderful nature within the city. Since you can only enter the park from the riverside promenade, the paths are tranquil, separated from foot traffic.
The only people in Parco Della Mole Adriana are those seeking serenity under the tree-lined walkways. It’s also fun to walk along the small pathway of the outer fortifications. You can stroll right along the trenches. No one does this, and it’s super fun!
Packing stylish lightweight sneakers with a darker color is best if you plan to visit any of these parks or trail areas. You don’t want to get your good shoes full of dirt!
Chiesa di Santa Maria della Pace
The cloisters at Chiesa di Santa Maria della Pace are perfect for a serene afternoon activity. Tourists don’t typically visit here, so you will have a chance to enjoy the magnificent structure in peace. There is even a little restaurant in the building for a snack or cocktail.
The Imperial Forum
The Imperial Forum is spectacular to see at night. Upward pointed lights illuminate the beautiful ancient column and nearby walls. Fuori Imperiali is the most memorable site I saw in Rome after dark. Since it’s so well lit, you should save this one for your after-dinner walk!
Basilica di Santa Maria in Trastavere
Basilica di Santa Maria in the Trastevere neighborhood is absolutely stunning. It is my favorite church in Rome. Something about the tray ceiling details combined with the deep colors makes it very special to me. It’s not crowded either.
Monte Mario Observatory
Monte Mario Panoramic Terrace has some stunning views of the Vatican and the rest of Rome. At the observatory, you can see views of the city to the north and west. Two minutes down the winding roadway you can see to the south with a stunning view of the Vatican.
Taking a taxi here is best. Set your destination at the panoramic terrace viewpoint. Be careful not to confuse this with the Monte Mario entrance location. You want to go all the way up the steep winding roadway.
The Vatican, Tours & St. Peter’s Basilica
Vatican City is easy to get to, not far from the center of Rome. The Vatican is one of the most popular attractions in Rome and it’s obviously worth a visit.
There are a bunch of ways you can explore Vatican City, from casual small group tours to exclusive VIP early-access experiences to see the Vatican Museum and sistine Chapel.
St. Peter’s Basilica a the highlight for me. The ornate domes and overall grandeur of the structure make the wait worth it. Entry is free, by the way.
In all honesty, waiting in line to enter St. Peter’s Basilica can be brutal during the summer. If you visit during cooler seasons, the wait is much shorter and more comfortable.
Traditional Attraction Top Picks
It goes without saying that all tourists should spend a part of their trip seeing the Colosseum and other famous sites.
However, I believe your visit to Rome will be much more enjoyable if you choose only a few of the large hotspots and then focus the rest of your time on local areas.
Here are my top picks for some time in central Rome. You easily can visit the Spanish Steps, the Trevi Fountain, the Pantheon, Piazza Navona, and the Roman Forum, in that order.
You could even add the Colosseum to this route if you’d like. Accomplishing all of these in three to four hours is definitely possible.
Rome Gay Pride
Rome Pride attracts an enormous international crowd. I definitely want to go back to Rome during their summer LGBT pride festival! You have to admit that celebrating pride in Ancient Rome is pretty legendary.
Show your LGBTQ+ support during the festivities with some awesome pride-themed clothing and accessories.
If you’re planning on attending the event (which is typically around the first week of June), make sure to book your hotel well in advance.
Rome has a ton of accommodations, but the best locations will easily fill up during pride events. Don’t forget there are also tons of Rome hostels to choose from.
Laura Bistrot is quite the hidden gem of a lunch restaurant. They have some peaceful outdoor seating area nestled behind lots of greenery within a small piazza. The wine selection is fantastic as well.
Inside Hangout Café, you might just find some of the cutest Rome locals. This spot is a business lunch restaurant. During the lunchtime hour, handsome men in suits pour in!
Hangout Café is a modern and delicious lunch option serving traditional Italian food. You surely won’t find any tourists here!
La Grande Bellezza
La Grande Bellezza is a fantastic restaurant for pizza, especially later at night. Their outdoor seating space is well-decorated with lights hanging from a trellis along the street. La Grande Bellezza has great service, a perfect ambiance, and is never overcrowded.
La Scala Via Veneto
Dinner at La Scala Via Veneto was such a memorable experience during my visit to Rome. I loved La Scala because the service was friendly, even to foreign tourists.
La Scala Via Veneto has reasonable prices for both a complete several-course dinner and a bottle of wine. The restaurant is quieter since it’s just up a set of stairs off the main drag from Piazza Barberini.
Bio Hotel Raphaël Rooftop
Sunset cocktails at the Bio Hotel Raphaël rooftop terrace were incredible. Their views of the city felt like something out of a movie. Dinner is also an option here, although I only went for drinks. Make a reservation, since the terrace is a popular spot.
The food at Osteria Baccanale in Campo di Fiore was perfect and certainly authentic. I loved the restaurant’s unpretentious yet classy ambiance, friendly service and ideal location in the plaza. The chicken cacciatore and pistachio ice cream were highlights.
Renato e Luisa
Renato e Luisa was an incredible recommendation from my friend Will, a Rome gay local. The flavors of their dishes were definitely the best I’ve had of any restaurant in Rome. I highly recommend it.
Just after sitting, the restaurant gave us some cooked slices of lemon that incorporated all the recognizable flavor types. The host said, “whichever flavor, whether sweet, salty, sour or bitter, remains in your mouth, that is the flavor of your personality.” It was such a unique moment.
Rome Gay Bars & Parties
It’s probably safe to say that Company Roma is the best gay bar in Rome for LGBT travelers. They’re a highly-rated bear bar located near the Roma Termini station, so expect to find a decent bear and fetish crowd.
Company Roma is open Thursday, Friday, and Saturday nights. They’re known for a friendly atmosphere and playing upbeat pop/dance music.
101 Club is a new gay bar in Rome that opened in 2021. They’ve quickly become one of the most popular gay bars in the city, with friendly bartenders and a convenient central location between the Colosseum and Termini Station.
Skyline Club is a local-feeling gay bar in Rome’s Tuscolano Nord neighborhood toward the southeast of the city. They’re also a popular cruising club and are always hosting sexy events with great DJs and go-go dancers.
Coming Out Roma
Coming Out Roma is likely the first Rome gay bar you’ll see mentioned in most gay travel guides. They’re located right next to the Colosseum. In my opinion, though, this place isn’t really worth a visit.
Having walked past Coming Out Rome during each of my visits to the Italian capital, I was never impressed. There is no real cohesive “bar space” and people tend to just sit along the street.
Plus, you probably won’t find any local gay guys here. This is a gay bar mainly for tourists.
COX Gay Party
COX is an enormous circuit party that rotates between Rome, Florence, and Milan. When the party is in town, COX takes place in a large gay club space.
Their website has event lists for Rome as well as location details. In the video below you can get a glimpse of what it’s like!
Many Italians I’ve met in my travels have heard of and/or attended one of the COX gay parties in Rome. They all approve and suggest travelers attend. I didn’t get a chance to go, but I would have loved to!
Rome Gay Saunas
With such a huge gay population, Rome’s gay saunas aren’t just for tourists. Local Italians go too! Here’s where to go.
Adam Sauna Roma
Adam Sauna, also known as Illumined Sauna, is a completely new gay sauna that opened in September 2021. The facilities include Turkish baths, a massage room, dark rooms, hydromassage pools, and a bar.
Changing rooms have showers and secure lockers to keep your things while enjoying the sauna. If you get a chance to visit Adam Sauna, let me know!
Apollion Sauna is a gay sauna in Rome close to Rome’s Gay Street near the Colosseum. This venue has everything, including a steam room, jacuzzi, video room, dark rooms, cabins, Turkish baths, a bar, and lots of other play areas. It’s definitely worth a visit!
Europa Multi Club (Closed)
One of the most famous and popular Rome gay saunas was Europa Multi Club, which unfortunately closed down amid the pandemic. They were in business for over 25 years!
When to Go to Rome Gay Saunas
What’s the best time to visit the gay sauna while you’re in Rome? Well, it depends on which crowd you’re seeking. If you prefer to meet local guys, then avoid going during traditional 9 AM-5 PM working hours.
Overall, weekends are the best time for a good time at the gay saunas, specifically in the late afternoon or evening. If you are not in Rome on the weekend, I recommend going after 4 PM on a weekday.
It may feel strange to go to a gay sauna in the middle of a weekday afternoon, but here it’s very typical.
Before heading out to Rome’s gay saunas, make sure you have a pair of sexy underwear or a jockstrap!
Rome Travel Tips
Bring Cash for the Hotel City Tax
The city of Rome collects a tax from each traveler (about 4 euros for each night) in cash without exception. Don’t forget to take out some Euros beforehand!
The hotel receptionist or host will collect the deposit immediately. Usually, it will not be possible to add to the total hotel bill.
Rent Scooters to Explore
The scooters are literally everywhere, so finding one is never an issue. Just be ready to weave through some of Rome’s hectic traffic. Be safe!
What’s the Difference Between an Osteria, Trattoria & Ristorante?
As you browse Rome’s many delicious restaurants, you’ll come across lots of different types, most notably the Osteria, Trattoria, and Ristorante.
Each of these actually indicates how casual a restaurant is. An Osteria is the most casual, a trattoria is semi-formal and a ristorante is the most formal.
In my experience, food at these different types of restaurants isn’t necessarily better or worse than the other. It’s more about the dining experience.
Outside of Italy, Osteria, Trattoria, and Ristorante are often used interchangeably and most people won’t pay much attention. But here in Rome, the difference is much more important.
Using Your Time Wisely in Rome
A trip to Rome can easily come with a bit of stress. You’ll want to find and hang out with gay locals while still getting to the big historical sites. Remember that Rome is a huge city and you surely won’t be able to cover everything in one trip. It’s best to prioritize.
I suggest splitting your time wisely by choosing only a few main attractions like the ones mentioned earlier. Spend the rest of your time finding hidden gems. Always pay attention to reviews too.
You will feel less stressed and more fulfilled in the end when you can say you have felt an authentic vibe from Rome.
How to Avoid Tourist Traps in Rome
Rome has a staggering number of international tourists. No matter what time of year you visit Rome, there will be no shortage of tour group herds, suitcases dragging down cobblestone paths and students hitting a staple city along traditional travel routes.
If possible, avoid eating at restaurants directly next to tourist attractions. Nine times out of ten, they are very poor quality and extremely over-priced.
Take the recommendations in this guide, or at least do some due diligence. If the restaurant is frantically busy with only German and American tourists, you may be in a tourist trap!
Is Rome Expensive?
Pizza is always cheap no matter where you are in Italy, but other food prices in Rome tend to be reasonable. If you’re on a budget, Rome is a great place to stay!
Directions from Roma Termini to FCO Airport
There are various ways to get transport between Roma Fiumicino International Airport (FCO) and Roma Termini station. The fastest way is to take the shuttle train, which runs every day quite frequently.
The shuttle train takes roughly 30 minutes. You can buy tickets at the Termini station. They cost about 14 Euro.
A more economical option is to take a bus from Roma Termini to FCO airport. For a staggeringly low 5.50 Euro, you can buy a Terravision bus ticket. The buses are frequent and they take about 45 minutes to get to the FCO airport.
Make sure to anticipate some delay in your schedule, because traffic can vary. This means the bus may be a little late getting to the stop and may be a little late getting to the airport.
Reviews on Google for Terravision in Rome are not so good, but I had no issues at all. I think most confusion comes from people showing up at the wrong bus stop. I’d say to give it a try. The bus drops you off right at arrivals too.
Traveling between cities in Italy is quite convenient by bus. I traveled all around the Mediterranean coast on FlixBus buses. They’re actually pretty comfortable, have decent wi-fi, and are super affordable.
Make sure you get to the FCO airport well in advance of your flight. Passport control plus security lines can sometimes take an hour or more. Check out my tips for reducing stress at the airport.
Gay Rights 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.
See wolfyy’s complete collection of gay travel guides for more gay destination ideas around the world.