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Rome Gay Travel

Rome gay travel guide to hotels and where to stay, gay bars, saunas, parties, restaurants & things to do.

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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 gay travel
Rome gay travel
gay rome travel guide

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.

gay rome travel guide

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.

rome LGBT travel
rome LGBT travel
Rome gay travelers

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.

Rome gay travelers

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

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!

where to stay in Rome

Hotels near Piazza Navona will make it easy to get to many popular attractions while still getting an authentic feel. I loved staying here.

Rome gay travel stay
where to stay in Rome

I recommend Bio Hotel Raphaël, just one street away from Piazza Navona. Another fabulous option just a few minutes away is Relais Maddalena, an LGBT-friendly hotel popular for incredible service and a boutique feel.

Rome gay travel stay

Piazza Navona apartment rentals 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.

Travastere neighborhood

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.

Travastere neighborhood
Rome neighborhood sign

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.

Rome hotel for gay travelers

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.

Rome city center
Rome hotel for gay travelers
Rome city center

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.

Rome gay traveler at Trevi Fountain

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.

Rome gay neighborhood
Rome gay traveler at Trevi Fountain
Rome gay neighborhood

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 probably not a place you’ll want to walk around late at night.

Rome neighborhood sign

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!

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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!

Rome gay traveler in park
Rome gay traveler in park
Roman palace in park

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.

Roman palace in park

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.

Rome gay travel
Rome gay travel
Park in Rome

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!

Park in Rome

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!

Imperial Forum in Rome
Imperial Forum in Rome
Basilica di Santa Maria

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.

Basilica di Santa Maria

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.

Monte Mario Rome observatory view
Monte Mario Rome observatory view
Rome gay tour

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.

Rome gay tour

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.

best time visiting Vatican City

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.

inside St Peter's Basilica
best time visiting Vatican City
inside St Peter's Basilica

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.

gay travel Rome
gay travel Rome
tourist attraction Rome

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 Bus Tours

Only have a short stay in Rome? A bus tour with Big Bus Tours Romeimage 100173900 12898987 is a great way to see as much of the city as you can in a short time period. Plus, seeing the ancient city from an open-air bus is a pretty relaxed way to take in the sights.

Rome gay travel guide

Rome Gay Pride

Pride in Rome 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.

For more LGBT pride ideas, explore these pride weekends and parades in Europe, Canada, the USA, South America, and more.

Rome restaurant pasta dish

Rome Restaurants

Laura Bistrot

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.

Lauro Bistrot Rome
Lauro Bistrot Rome
Rome restaurant pasta dish

Hangout Café

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 cafe Rome

Hangout Café is a modern and delicious lunch option serving traditional Italian food. You surely won’t find any tourists here!

best pizza restaurants in rome

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 Grande Bellezza pizza
best pizza restaurants in rome
La Grande Bellezza pizza

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.

Osteria Baccanale

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.

Rome gay traveler at restaurant
Rome gay traveler at restaurant
steak at local Rome restaurant

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.

steak at local Rome restaurant

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

Company Roma

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. 

gay bar in Rome
gay bar in Rome
Comany Roma gay bar

Company Roma is open Thursday, Friday, and Saturday nights. They’re known for a friendly atmosphere and playing upbeat pop/dance music.

Comany Roma gay bar

101 Club

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.

Coming Out Roma

Coming Out Roma is probably 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.

rome gay bars
gay bar in Rome
rome gay bars

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.

gay bar in Rome

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 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. 

Rome gay sauna jacuzzi
Rome gay sauna jacuzzi
Bananon Club gay sauna Rome

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!

Bananon Club

Bananon Club is another new gay sauna in Rome. The venue is both a bar/lounge and a sauna, which in my opinion is fantastic. You can socialize by the bar and make your way to the jacuzzi pool whenever you like.

Bananon Club gay sauna Rome

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.

Rome gay cruising

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.

Rome gay sauna directions
Rome gay sauna directions
Rome gay cruising

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.

exploring Rome by scooter

Rent Scooters to Explore

Renting scooters in Rome make zipping around the city super easy. Bird, Lime, and Wind are all different scooter applications you can download.

renting scooters in Rome
renting scooters in Rome
exploring Rome by scooter

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 most casual, a trattoria is semi-formal and a ristorante is the most formal.

Grappa in Rome Osteria

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.

Grappa in Rome Osteria
ristorante Rome
ristorante Rome

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.

rome gay travel tips

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.

rome gay travel tips
Rome gay travel safety

You will feel less stressed and more fulfilled in the end when you can say you have felt an authentic vibe from Rome.

Rome gay travel safety

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.

tourist attraction Rome

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?

Rome is cheaper than Florence yet more expensive than Naples. Generally speaking though, Rome is not that expensive. I’ve had luck staying in beautiful vacation apartments for less than 40 Euros per night, including fees.

travel costs in rome
Rome gay travel experience
travel costs in rome

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!

Rome gay guide

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.

directions to Roma Termini station

The shuttle train takes roughly 30 minutes. You can buy tickets at the Termini station. They cost about 14 Euro.

bus stop for Roma Termini station
directions to Roma Termini station

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.

bus stop for Roma Termini station

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.

Whenever I’m flying between European cities, I always check Vueling first. Their tickets are some of the cheapest, they have tons of flights to Rome and I’d definitely choose them over Ryanair.

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.

being gay in italy
being gay in italy
rome attractions italy 1

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.

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Planning gay travel to Italy? Don’t miss the wonderful Tuscany region.

For additional resources, visit the official Rome Tourist Information website.

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Louis Lafata from wolfyy

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