Best LGBTQIA+ holiday destinations

Are you looking for your next LGBTQIA+ friendly getaway? We're happy to report that the rainbow flag is waving proudly over more destinations than ever, giving you plenty of choice. Whether you're planning a city break with friends, a romantic holiday or a family trip, we have 15 great ideas. Some are ideal for short-haul weekends away, while others are perfect for long-haul adventures. 

1. Amsterdam

Amsterdam was the most popular LGBTQIA+ friendly destination in our 2022 poll, with 32% of European travellers listing it as the most LGBTQIA+ friendly destination. It's no surprise: the city is famously liberal, open and fun-loving. If you want nightlife, Amsterdam has it in abundance.

The Queen's Head, Bar Buka and PRIK are some great bars, while the four-storey Club NYX is great for dancing. The city also has plenty of museums and art galleries worth exploring, and, thanks to its cobbled streets and canals, a beguiling old-world charm. 

Don't miss: Homomonument – a tribute to the gay men and lesbians who were persecuted as a result of their sexuality. This was the first monument to commemorate LGBT people who were killed by the Nazis.  

2. San Francisco

With its long history of gay civil rights and the generally progressive outlook of its inhabitants, San Francisco is a must-visit if you're stateside. As well as the obvious attractions – the Golden Gate Bridge, Alcatraz, the trams and the steep streets – the Castro District is a must for LGBTQIA+ travellers. Famous for its sing-along show nights and queer cinemas, it's a great evening spot. 

Don't miss: GLBT Historical Society Museum – this is a great place to learn more about queer history and the life and work of Harvey Milk.

3. London

Soho is the heart of LGBTQIA+ London. Home to traditional gay pubs like the Admiral Duncan and Kings Arms as well as a wealth of fun bars and clubs such as G-A-Y, Ku Bar and The Yard, you can bet it's always going to be a fun night out. Vauxhall is another great spot for LGBTQIA+ nightlife – The Royal Vauxhall Tavern, Eagle London and Above The Stag Theatre & Bar are all musts. If you can, consider extending your trip to include Brighton. Just an hour by train, this seaside town is sometimes known as the UK's unofficial LGBT capital. Its bars and clubs are resolutely LGBT-friendly, while its annual Pride parade is simply spectacular. 

Don't miss: Taking a Queer Tour, exploring the city's LGBTQI heritage. 

4. Barcelona

Whether you're a Gaudí admirer, a football fan, a foodie or a dance music fanatic, beautiful Barcelona has it all. The city has a relaxed, liberal vibe and is very LGBTQIA+ friendly. The area around Carrer de Casanova in the Eixample district (often nicknamed ‘Gaixample’) is the centre of the city's LGBTQIA+ scene. It's where you'll find everything from stylish boutiques and restaurants to gay nightclubs and bars. Just down the coast is Sitges, which is known as Spain's top gay beach destination. The town is well worth a few days' visit at any time of year, but if you're there for the winter carnival, remember your fancy dress! 

Don't miss: The DJs and dance parties at the annual August Circuit Festival. 

5. New York City

A worthy runner-up to Amsterdam in our 2022 survey, 25% of respondents rated New York City as the most LGBTQIA+ friendly destination. And why? Well, in addition to the city's well-known attractions, there's Greenwich Village, home to Stonewall Inn and many of NYC's oldest gay bars.

Then there are the queer bookshops: General Bureau Queer Division, which you'll find at the LGBTQIA+ community centre, and Bluestockings on the Lower East Side. And, if drag is your thing, make time for Bushwick, in Brooklyn, home to the famous drag fest, Bushwig.  

Don't miss: Big Gay Ice Cream – this ice cream shop started as a food truck in 2009 and now has several locations around the city. Enjoy the unique flavours and toppings! 

6. Tel Aviv

Tel Aviv has a long-standing reputation as the most LGBTQIA+ friendly city in the Middle East. During the day, the beaches and tours of everywhere from the Sea of Galilee to Jerusalem will occupy your time nicely. After dark is when LGBTQIA+ Tel Aviv really comes alive when a plethora of gay bars and dance clubs vie for custom. Shpagat is one of the most popular. It attracts a mixed, though mostly gay, crowd, plays a variety of music and even serves good coffee during the day.  

Don't miss: Pride, during the second week in June, with a variety of events across the city. 

7. Gran Canaria

With great weather, fast flight times and an open, LGBTQIA+ friendly culture, Gran Canaria makes a great getaway. Of course, its beaches are one of its biggest draws – Playa del Inglés and Las Canteras Beach are two of its best. If you're bringing the kids, the family-friendly resort of Playa Amadores is a great place to stay. After dark, the nightlife is as varied and impressive as the beaches. Bar Diamonds, Coco Loco Bar and Adonis Bar are always a great shout for a drink or two. 

Don't miss: One of the island's many fiestas and carnivals. 

8. Berlin

Well-known for its gay scene, you'll have no trouble finding fantastic LGBTQIA+ bars and clubs in Berlin. A good place to start is in the Schöneberg neighbourhood. If hardcore partying and techno is what you're after, make tracks for Berghain. SchwuZ is another popular spot and, thanks to its love of all things pop, a slightly more mainstream nightclub.

During daylight hours, Checkpoint Charlie and the East Side Gallery are just two of the well-known tourist hotspots you'll want to visit. The Schwules Museum is also a must for LGBTQIA+ culture, history and art. It’s also near the Tiergarten where you can stop for a wander if the weather is nice. While you’re in the park, look out for the Memorial to Homosexuals Persecuted Under Nazism. 

Don't miss: Berlin Pride, better known locally as Christopher Street Day Berlin, in the last two weeks of July. 

9. Mykonos

In a still overwhelmingly Orthodox Christian country, the queer-centric nature of Mykonos is really rather special. You'll find gay-friendly beaches, like Elia and Super Paradise Beach Club, and plenty of great nightclubs such as Porta Bar and Lola Bar. In terms of sightseeing and daytime activities, there are plenty of options such as wine tasting, Greek cooking classes, sailing and scuba diving. For dinner, head to Little Venice to enjoy a meal at one of the many seafood restaurants. 

Don't miss: A day trip to the neighbouring island of Delos, which is particularly beautiful at sunset. 

10. Paris

As the city of romance, Paris makes the perfect getaway for couples. The view from the Eiffel Tower at night or from the steps of Montmartre are truly incomparable. When it comes to LGBTQIA+ Paris, you'll want to investigate Le Marais. Here is where you'll find some of the city's best-known gay venues, including Duplex Bar and Les Marronniers. The annual Pride festival, Marche des Fiertés, takes place in the summer, which is also a good time to spend time on Paris Plage, the River Seine's own man-made beach. 

Don't miss: Les 3W Kafé in Le Marais, a popular lesbian bar. 

11. Lisbon

The museums, wineries and excellent restaurants make Lisbon a fantastic city break. Principe Real and Bairro Alto are the places to go if you want to pull an all-nighter at a gay nightclub, hang out at a go-go bar or see a drag show. If you're more in the mood for sunbathing, plan a trip to Praia de Carcavelos, just outside Lisbon, where you'll enjoy the joys of the Atlantic in a laid-back atmosphere. 

Don't miss: Queer Lisboa (International Queer Film Festival) – this annual event takes place every September and is dedicated to LGBT cinema. A must for film buffs! 

12. Madrid

Somewhat surprisingly for the capital of the country that was the third in the world to legalise gay marriage, Madrid has rather flown under the radar as an LGBTQIA+ holiday destination. With its cafes, clubs and shops galore, the Chueca neighbourhood is a vibrant hub for LGBT life and a great introduction to the city. Elsewhere, the Malasaña neighbourhood is a popular clubbing destination for the younger cohort and La Latina, one of the city's oldest areas, is the place to head for tapas. If you’re travelling in November, be sure to check out the international LGBTQIA+ film festival LesGaiCineMad. 

Don't miss: MADO (Madrid Orgullo) is the largest Pride event in Europe, taking place each July.

13. Sydney

It might mean a long flight but a trip Down Under is always worth the effort. For the LGBTQIA+ visitor, it also offers a friendly welcome to the Southern Hemisphere. While there are gay-friendly venues across the city, first-time visitors often head to Oxford Street, long known as the hub of the gay scene. Naturally, though, you won't want to miss visiting the famous harbour and its opera house or spending time on some of the beaches. Bondi and Clovelly are both popular with gay visitors. 

Don't miss: The annual Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras, which began in 1978 and now attracts hundreds of thousands of people from across the world. 

14. Milan

If you dress to impress or simply want access to the shops that will help you do so, it's hard to beat Milan. And if the elegant boutiques, grand Renaissance architecture and superb coffee easily occupy your daytimes, evenings are undoubtedly for exploring the LGBTQIA+ bars and clubs this city does so well. There's no one particular gay district in the city but there are some great gay bars and clubs including Mono Bar, Red Cafè and NoLoSo.  

Don't miss: A night out at Leccomilano, one of the city's most popular gay bars. Expect karaoke, colour and very cool DJ sets. 

15. Copenhagen

As you'd hope for the capital of the first European country to legalise same-sex partnerships, Copenhagen is a great holiday destination for LGBTQIA+ travellers. With the colourful buildings along its attractive waterfront and fabulous restaurants and bars, you won't have to move far to find entertainment. However, Copenhagen is also home to Centralhjornet, reputed to be the oldest gay bar in Europe. It's a cosy place to while away an afternoon and also hosts some excellent Sunday jazz performances.

Don't miss: Bøssehuset – an LGBT cultural centre and party venue in Christiania. 

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