Sydney may be home to one of the best gay parties in the world in the form of Mardi Gras, but its trendier sibling Melbourne has a lot to bring to the table. Australia’s cultural capital is home to a thriving artistic and urban scene, filled with an ever-evolving, uber-cool lineup of bars, clubs, restaurants, galleries, and live music venues. Gay Melbourne venues make up a big part of this, especially in the youthful hipster areas of Collingswood and Fitzroy and in the polished, upscale seaside suburb of St Kilda.
Gay bars in Melbourne range from low-key dives to fetish basements filled with men in leather chaps, but everywhere is friendly and accepting. There’s an active, fun drag scene, and you’ll never struggle to find a gay club or party in town. Meanwhile, Australia’s major cities have not felt the impact of gay hookup apps as strongly as other places in the world: while it’s easy to meet someone with a good old swipe right, saunas and cruising bars are still extremely popular.
Of course, there’s more to Melbourne than gay bars and saunas. World-class museums and lovely parks pepper the city, while day trips can take you to wine tasting tours, outdoor adventures, and even face-to-face encounters with penguins. When you’re done for the day, you can be guaranteed there will be a welcoming queer space somewhere nearby for you to meet and mingle with gay locals and visitors.
Melbourne’s best gay-friendly hotels can be divided into two areas City Center or St Kilda. Its only 20 minutes on the tram to between the two but both have different vibes. Much of St Kilda charm’s lies in it’s gorgeous palm-fringed promenade while City Center is closer to much of Melbourne’s gay action.
Historically speaking, Australia as a whole has not always had the best record in regards to LGBT rights. This, however, has changed a lot in recent years, and the country is now among the world’s most gay-friendly. A landmark vote in 2017 finally legalized same-sex marriage across the country, and gay people have been formally protected from discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation since 2003.
More specifically, attitudes to homosexuality have always been far more progressive and open-minded in Australia’s major urban hubs compared to more remote regions. Melbourne, as the country’s cultural capital, has long had the sort of arty vibe that tends to welcome all approaches to gender and sexuality with open arms. With its annual Mardi Gras celebrations, Sydney may be Australia’s gay capital, but Melbourne is by no means less gay-friendly.
Gay couples are highly unlikely to experience any discrimination in Melbourne, especially in the gay areas of Collingwood, St Kilda, Fitzroy, South Yarra, and Prahran. All hotels in Melbourne are gay-friendly, but some in these neighborhoods may be more specifically geared towards gay visitors.
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