OUT & ABOUT – The World’s Most LGBT Friendly Destinations
The world of LGBT-friendly travel is a widening one. Whether you’re looking for a romantic getaway, a fun trip with friends or even a honeymoon destination, the following are certified gay-and-trans friendly – and 100% fabulous.
San Francisco, USA
With a rich history of gay rights activism and a plethora of gay-friendly bars and clubs, the North Californian city of San Francisco is often said to be the gay capital of America. One of the USA’s more progressive cities (along with New York on the opposite coast), San Francisco is not only tolerant towards same-sex couples, it’s positively busting at the seams with cultural activities and entertainment specifically tailored for gay and trans people.
Head to the Castro District in central SF for all the sing-along musical nights and queer-led cinema nights you could possibly want – or simply relax and take in the beauty of the Bay Area. Visit in late June to enjoy one of the world’s largest – and most colourful – Pride celebrations.
Denmark might not immediately spring to mind when considering iconic LGBT destinations, but the cosy Nordic nation has long enjoyed a reputation for tolerant social attitudes and in 1989 became the first country in the world to legalise same-sex civil partnerships, followed by full marriage rights in 2012.
The city, noted for its fine dining, beautiful waterfront and colourful architecture, is also home to Copenhagen is home to Europe’s oldest gay bar: Centralhjornet, a fixture of the Copenhagen scene for over sixty years. Copenhagen’s cheerful Pride event is held each year in August.
Thanks to the generally friendly and open-minded disposition of cosmopolitan Australians and an unrivalled annual Mardi Gras parade each February, Sydney has for many years been viewed as the gay Mecca of the South Pacific.
Downtown’s Oxford Street is the centre of the Sydney scene, but you’ll find gay-friendly clubs, bars and community events all over the city. In addition to the city’s beautiful harbour, famous opera house and popular beaches, there are LGBT events year-round: check out Time Out Sydney for current details.
Canada has some of the most progressive laws on LGBT rights in the world, and a notably progressive attitude towards same-sex couples exists throughout the country.
Toronto, Canada’s largest city, is home to a lively LGBT scene centred on the Church and Wellesley district in the south of the city. There’s no need to hide in the Village if you’re visiting Toronto, however; you’ll find a warm welcome – and more gay-friendly shops, bars and businesses than you can shake a wand at – all over the city.
No European city does sexy-gay quite so loudly, proudly and decadently as the German capital of Berlin. Schöneberg, in the south-west of the city, has long been a centre of gay life and culture; today it’s notable for its leather scene.
Clubs citywide will cater for your every musical taste and, indeed, fetish – techno fans should head to Berghain for hard dance and hedonism, whereas pop kids are better catered for at Schwuz. During daylight hours, Berlin is a full of fascinating museums, quirky vintage clothing stores, hip cocktail bars and much much more. A great place to visit, day or night.
India is in general an extremely conservative nation, and both straight and LGBT travellers are advised to keep public displays of affection to a minimum to avoid attracting local censure. The sprawling metropolis of Mumbai is, however, home to India’s most defined gay scene, so if you’re travelling to the subcontinent this is a great city to start in.
Weekly parties at Liquid Lounge near Chowpatty beach attract a young and lively crowd. Outside the local scene, there’s plenty to do here, from shops and bars to art galleries and boat trips on the busy harbour. For more information on gay life in Bombay, see Gay Bombay.
If what you’re looking for in a holiday is relaxed fun in the sun, now is a great time to visit the Greek island of Mykonos. With its out-and-proud tradition of gay bars, gay beaches and gay-friendly hotels, Mykonos has been a European haven for LGBT travellers since the 1970s.
Take your pick of cheap and cheerful budget accommodation or chic boutique hotels – and be sure to spend your money (cash preferred) at local businesses offering local produce if you’d like to help the Greek economy while you sunbathe.
Looking for another European beach option? Try Sitges in Spain.
As relaxed as Copenhagen (see above) when it comes to welcoming LGBT travellers (but with added volcanoes), Reykjavik offers stunning volcanic landscapes, soothing thermal pools, hiking and trekking opportunities for active travellers, and a week-long Pride event every August which is one of Europe’s oldest. See Gay Iceland for current news and events in the land of fire and ice.
Spectacular scenery and a warm welcome await travellers to Nepal, whether you’re in the friendly South Asian nation to admire the grandeur of Mount Everest, trek through the Himalayan foothills, or explore the wonders of Nepal’s Hindu and Buddhist religious sites.
Same-sex marriage legislation is pending, and Nepal recently became the eighth country worldwide to legally recognise a third gender. While gay rights are a relatively recent development, Nepal is now keen to promote itself as an LGBT destination – see Pink Mountain for gay and lesbian trekking and touring options.
Before you travel, we recommend taking a look at the UK Home Office guide for LGBT travellers, and take local advice on potential dangers and annoyances. A growing number of countries worldwide have anti-discrimination laws that can help keep you safe, but check the legal position – and the local customs – before you travel to ensure a happy holiday. Take care and have fun!
Written by Lise Smith, a former contributor to Lonely Planet’s India guidebook – she’s seen her fair share of hotel rooms (both grotty and glamorous!).
She learned to walk in a hotel corridor in Tunisia, and at the age of three had been on more aeroplanes than buses. Lise writes for a number of local news, technology and arts publications.
Source: Holiday Extras