Gay Melbourne: Where to eat, drink, play and sleep

By Emen8, updated 6 months ago in Travel and party / In Australia

drag queen holding rainbow umbrella at melbourne pride march

Headed to Melbourne for a vacay? You’re in for a rainbow treat, because this Aussie city is a gay utopia, with enough places to eat, drink, play and sleep to keep you happy for more than just a weekend.

Whether you want a chilled-out weekend exploring Melbourne’s iconic laneways and drinking its famous coffee, or you’re after a down-and-dirty weekend of sweaty club nights and even sweatier saunas, Melbourne has it covered. Welcome to our essential travel guide for a gay-friendly trip to Melbourne.

Where is the gay scene in Melbourne?

It might not be an understatement to say that the whole of Melbourne is gay-friendly. It’s not uncommon to find rainbow flags, queer street art, and other ‘hey, you’re so welcome here’ signs wherever you are. But, if you really want to find Melbourne’s gay community, make sure you spend some time in Collingwood and Fitzroy.

Collingwood

Located on the outskirts of the Melbourne CBD, Collingwood is by far the gayest gaybourhood of them all. It’s home to some of the best gay attractions in Melbourne (and we’re not just talking about the men!). You’ll find The Peel and popular gay sauna, Wet on Wellington there. Just a stone’s throw away in neighbouring suburb Abbotsford is The Laird — Melbourne’s oldest gay pub and long-time home to the city’s leather community.

Fitzroy

As gay as Collingwood is its neighbour: Fitzroy! Smith Street is where it’s all happening in this gaybourhood. You’ll find everything from retail and restaurants to nightlife here. The suburb is also home to the iconic Sircuit Bar as well as other gems such as Evie’s Disco Diner, The 86, Vau d’vile Drag Cabaret Restaurant and Thursgay @ Yah Yah’s. Fitzroy is a must-have on your Melbourne gaycation bucket list.

St Kilda

A short tram or bus ride away from the Melbourne CBD is St Kilda, a popular beachside suburb that’s home to the city’s annual Pride March since 1996. Visit the Victorian Pride Centre while you’re there — it’s Australia’s first purpose-built centre for LGBTQ+ communities. You’ll honour, celebrate, and learn about Australian LGBTQ+ culture, history and inclusion efforts in Victoria. Hidden away inside, be sure to pop in to queer community bookshop Hares & Hyenas for niche books and great gifts ideas!

But there’s much more to the St Kilda scene. Enjoy a walk along the beach or browse over 140 market stalls on The Esplanade if you’re visiting on a Sunday. You could also crank it up a notch and hit the rides at Luna Park! There are also iconic bars and restaurants, such as The Prince of Wales Hotel, where you can enjoy a drink with friends.

old melbourne tram heading to st kilda beach

It doesn’t stop there! We told you it was no understatement that Melbourne is a gay-friendly city. Explore bars and nightclubs on Chapel Street in South Yarra or make your way to Brunswick and enjoy the restaurants of Sydney Road. Wherever you go in Melbourne, there’s something gay on offer.

Where to drink — gay bars in Melbourne

The Laird

An institution for over 35 years, The Laird is a must-visit gay bar if you’re in Melbourne for the weekend. Formerly known as “Melbourne’s only bear and leather bar”, The Laird has progressed to become a haven, meeting place, and party space for same-sex attracted cis and trans guys.

Forever adapting to stay relevant and welcoming to everyone, you can expect a varied crowd of leather men, bears and your guy-next-door types. There are trivia nights, pool nights, sports on the TV, and an expansive beer garden.

On other nights, it transforms into the perfect place to party. Kink lovers should lock in Thursday nights for leather and fetish night Spit N Polish (possibly one of the world’s longest-running weekly leather and fetish nights), or check out Saturday’s Beat for a chilled-out evening of everything from blok-e-oke to BBQs. There are also a few hotel rooms available if you want to stay right above the action.

Sircuit Bar and Mollie’s

Wind up the weekend at Sircuit Bar, located on the corner of Gertrude and Smith Streets in Fitzroy. Enjoy shows such as Hey Henny on Thursday, Showtime with the Sisters on Friday, Apollo Anthems on Saturday and Super Pop Sundays to close the weekend. But the fun just keeps going with nude night ADAM on Mondays getting the week off to a revealing start.

For those who want to enjoy a relaxed alfresco experience (or a quieter spot to talk to someone cute!), The Sircuit Street Bar is open from 6-11pm on Friday and Saturday. On level one, head up to Mollie’s Bar and Diner for a bite to eat. The menu includes all your pub favourites as well as a mouth-watering selection of appetisers. Mollie’s has its own entertainment line-up and specials. Enjoy Drag Bingo on Wednesdays, followed by Baby Drag Battles on Thursdays.

crowd of people inside sircuit bar fitzroy
Image credit: Star Observer

The Peel

The Peel has proudly served patrons since 1988. This slice of Melbourne’s gay scene is open Friday and Saturday from 10pm until the early morning hours. Expect drag shows, a dancefloor and a courtyard to spill the tea. Did we mention there are three bars? Check the website beforehand so you can adhere to the dress code (no open-toed shoes etc., all the usual things!).

The 86

Cocktails, cabaret and Vietnamese food. Is there a better combination? We don’t think so. The 86 Melbourne is located in the suburb of Fitzroy, well known for its good nights out.

With a license till 3am on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays, and a packed series of drag and cabaret nights, you can easily go in for a quick drink and find yourself still there in the early hours of the morning.

Shows include the monthly burlesque extravaganza Red Light Confidential, and the weekly comedy drag show Totally Frocked. Laughs are guaranteed.

Pride of our Footscray Community Bar

Pride of our Footscray is a community-owned and run venue. In fact, 200 members of the gay community own a stake in what is undoubtedly the most welcoming and diverse place to party in Melbourne.

Pride’s mission is to be a safe space for all but is particularly focused on the LGBTIQA+ community (which includes straight friends). Check out Superbia Cocktail Bar, hidden within the venue, or visit for drag nights, comedy, or late-night parties.

Poof Doof at Chasers

In the heart of South Yarra you’ll find one of Melbourne’s best queer nightclub experiences: Poof Doof. Operating out of Chasers nightclub, Poof Doof is a gay man’s wonderland. Three bar areas and a huge dancefloor await you, all thumping to DJ beats on a premiere sound system. Each area is a dynamic experience, and we recommend you explore them to see all Poof Doof has to offer.

Grouse

Quintessentially Melbourne, Grouse is a retro-modern bar/cafeteria with occasional entertainment and incidental joy! You’ll often spot a drag queen or two, and you could even win tens of dollars worth of crap and fabulous prizes at Kerbside Trivia every Wednesday.

Jono’s Piano Bar

It might not be a dedicated queer venue, but Jono’s Piano Bar can certainly camp it up! Based in Greville Street, Prahran, it’s an old-world speakeasy with live music played on the salon piano that Jono’s mother gave him when he was three years old! See live performances Thursday through Saturday and a sing-a-long night every Friday.

BUMP

Every Saturday night at Pandora nightclub in South Melbourne, you’ll find a crowd ready to BUMP! There’s a bounce room upstairs playing circuit and tribal house, and a camp room downstairs playing house, pop and R&B. It’s an all-inclusive party night for Melbourne’s LGBTIQ+ communities.

Southside Rooftop Sundays

Melbourne’s southside is home to an array of stunning rooftop bars, and as is the tradition that side of town, Sunday’s are for queer takeovers! Here are some of our favourite venues that host the most fabulous Sunday afternoon sessions:

  • The Emerson Rooftop Sundays in South Yarra. With doors open from midday until late, expect to be entertained by go go dancers and live drag shows. It’s free entry, but dress to impress!
  • The Railway Hotel in Windsor. Billed as ‘Melbourne’s Best Sunday Session’, there’s a DJ and a social atmosphere from 4pm til late.
  • The Osborne Rooftop in South Yarra. Pop in for a traditional Sunday Roast and low-key hangout.
  • Sunday Social on The Victorian Pride Centre Rooftop in St Kilda. See stunning views and enjoy fabulous music all afternoon. Check out the website for details of the next event as it’s not on every week.

Other Melbourne cocktail bars

Although not primarily catering to LGBTQ+ communities, we reckon these fancy cocktail bars would be ideal for a first date or to just treat yourself! Check them out in Six luxuriously decadent cocktail bars to perk up your time in Melbourne.

Where to eat — gay cafés and restaurants in Melbourne

Seddon Deadly Sins

Started by Simon and Chris in 2003, Seddon Deadly Sins offers more than just coffee; expect a menu of delicious cakes and desserts and some of the best coffee in Melbourne. And, as staunch supporters of Melbourne’s LGBTQ+ scene, a seriously warm welcome.

Drag Brunch at the Smith

Located a little outside of Melbourne city centre, in Prahran, is The Smith. Every Sunday from 12-2pm and 3-5pm, the venue hosts a bottomless brunch with endless spritzes, a brunch dish, and drag entertainment with the sassiest queens in town.

DTs Hotel

Don’t expect anything too fancy here, but if you’re after some decent pub grub and an excellent night out then DTs Hotel in Richmond is it. Cheap eats, pizza and beer nights, all set alongside a colourful backdrop of drag, trivia, live music, and karaoke.

UBQ

It’s a bar, it’s a restaurant, it’s a club space! What more could you want all in one Collingwood venue? UBQ has everything from weekly drag brunches to a monthly night by and for trans mascs and their loved ones!

Nourish Collingwood

Nourish yourself with healthy eats in the heart of Collingwood. This queer-owned business serves up top-shelf coffee, sumptuous sushi and some comically-named smoothies. Our favourites: the Muscle Mary and the Jungle Juice!

friendly owner of Nourish Collingwood leans on counter
Image credit: Nourish Collingwood

Stick It Grill

Looking for something delicious and healthy? Stick It Grill is a locally owned business on Smith Street, Collingwood, serving up food is inspired by the queer founders’ Greek Mediterranean heritage. It’s all designed to be clean, healthy, fast… and on a stick!

South of Johnston

Open for brunch and lunch seven days a week, South of Johnston is a popular hotspot for many of Melbourne’s queer locals. Simply known as ‘Sojo’, the food is excellent and easily washed down with a Mimosa — best enjoyed with friends.

Where to play — things to do in gay Melbourne

Gay theatre in Melbourne

Little Ones Theatre

Although they tour the country, the Little Ones Theatre calls Melbourne home. With a love of all things camp, Little Ones puts queer theatre in the spotlight, making works that are kitsch, camp, sensual, and erotically charged.

Out Cast Theatre

Out Cast Theatre is Australia’s longest-running theatre collective, based out of Craigieburn in Melbourne’s North. Established in 1997, Out Cast Theatre has an emphasis on productions focusing on LGBTQ+ communities. They have toured across Australia as well as the United Kingdom.

Gay cruise clubs in Melbourne

Check out our guide on how to up your chances of picking up at a gay venue! Find our complete guide to sex venues across the country in Australia’s best gay saunas and sex-on-premises venues.

ADAM at Sircuit

ADAM is Melbourne’s famous nudist night for guys. While it’s a social affair, it’s also a sex-positive space with a separate area to get it on should the mood take you. Apart from its home at Sircuit in Fitzroy every Monday, keep an eye out for other special nude events around the city.

Spartacus Lounge

Spartacus Lounge has everything you need for a night of cruising in Melbourne, including large video rooms, glory holes and private cabins. With a mixed crowd of gay and bisexual men, if you’re after man-on-man action in Melbourne, Spartacus is worth a visit.

Club X

If you’re looking for gay cruising sites in Melbourne, you can’t look past Club X. In Swanston Street on the bottom floor, you’ll find toys galore, and on the top floor, there’s a male-only RAM lounge/sauna area. There are three high-definition movie lounges in the Dandenong store, making it an enticing place to spend an afternoon.

Gay Saunas in Melbourne

Wet on Wellington

Located in the Collingwood gaybourhood is Wet on Wellington, featuring a large spa, dry sauna and steam room, a 25m lap pool, licenced bar and café, outdoor courtyard and plenty of bondage, kink, sling and voyeur rooms to keep the kinkiest of gay men happy. Different nights cater for different tastes. Watch out for themed weekly or monthly nights for bears, gym guys, under 30’s, nude nights, and even all-gender inclusive queer nights.

pool party at wet on wellington gay sauna melbourne
Image credit: Wet on Wellington

Subway Sauna

Tucked away in the Melbourne CBD, Subway Sauna is home to over 30 lockable rooms, a sauna and steam room, a café, glory holes, a dark room, and a cruising maze. Bears night is on every Thursday, but with 24/7 action, this is a great palace to meet gays in Melbourne no matter when you visit.

Remember that enjoying a fulfilling sex life also comes with the need to look after your sexual health — for your sake and your partners’. If you’re in Melbourne and need to get a test or access treatment, sexual health services are available. Check out our interactive map to find services near you. For other LGBTQ+ friendly health services, check out this article.

If you’ve had a possible exposure to HIV, accessing PEP within 72 hours can help you stay HIV negative. Here’s how to access PEP in Melbourne.

Where to stay — LGBTQ+ friendly and gay hotels in Melbourne

With so much happening in Melbourne, we wouldn’t be surprised if you were at a loss as to the best accommodation spots. Stay in the CBD, Inner North, Inner East or Inner South to be close to all the action. Melbourne has no shortage of accommodation options, from the humble hostel to a cosy Airbnb.

As with most of Australia’s metropolitan destinations, accommodation gets cheaper the further you are from the CBD. Staying 15-20 minutes away from the Melbourne CBD is no barrier to all the action. A short tram or bus ride will do the trick.

Keen to stay in the CBD and surrounding suburbs? You can save a tonne (and enjoy the comforts of home in a townhouse or apartment) by booking an Airbnb. Collingwood, Fitzroy, Carlton, Southbank, South Yarra, Prahran and St Kilda are popular areas you may want to consider. You can also check out the popular misterb&b for a range of LGBTQ-friendly accommodation options across Melbourne.

If you’re on a tighter budget, there are a range of other options available to you around Melbourne’s CBD. Hostels are concentrated in St Kilda and across the CBD itself. There are, however, some options in Abbotsford and South Yarra.

Well, that’s a wrap on the total guide of where to eat, drink, play and stay in Melbourne for gay men. Whether you’re visiting Melbourne for the first time or just having a staycation, this is just the start; with such a vibrant LGBTQ+ community it’s impossible to fit it all into one trip.

Want to visit other locations in Australia on your trip? Take a look at our gay-friendly travel guides to these Australian cities: