There are still several countries that have laws against same-sex relations or even criminalize forms of gender expression. But ignoring all the negatives and focusing solely on the positive, check out this list and start planning your getaway to these welcoming destinations.
Spain was one of the first European countries to celebrate in favor of the rights of homosexual people, dating back to 1977. Though it wasn’t countrywide and mostly in Barcelona, it attracted over 4,000 people who came together in support before they were forced to dissolve. The following year, they got authorization to host the demonstration in Madrid, and they have done so every year since then except one. Now Orgullo Gay de Madrid, or Madrid Pride as it’s better known, is considered to be one of the largest pride events in all of Europe. It is nothing short of a party that lasts all weekend and has over one and a half million local and international attendees. It’s always held on the weekend immediately after International Day of LGBT Pride (June 28th) so it’s perfect to integrate into your summer vacation travel plans. Even if you don’t make it there in time for Madrid Pride, the city of Madrid is generally one of the friendliest LGBTQ+ travel destinations you’ll ever go to.
Mykonos is a legendary travel destination when it comes to gay travel. The Greek Island is very LGBTQ+ friendly and is perfect for those who want to vacation in style. People have been flocking there for their luxurious getaways since the 1970s – when Jackie O and Grace Kelly vacationed there. And though there is something for every type of traveler, Mykonos really is very elegant and high-end in comparison to other LGBTQ+ friendly travel destinations. You’ll find that the locals are very welcoming and open-minded and that there are several businesses that cater specifically to the gay community. Much of the accommodation in Mykonos specifically is considered gay-friendly.
Puerto Vallarta has been a gay-friendly community since the 1980s and they’ve had an onslaught of businesses that cater to the LGBTQ+ community pop up over the years. Today, you’ll find several budget and boutique stores, hotels, cafes, bars, restaurants, nightclubs, and attractions. Playa de Los Muertos is one of the most popular beaches with gay travelers and is often called ‘Blue Chairs’ because of all of the blue chairs scattered across the beach laid there by the surrounding resorts. There’s a rush during the busy season, which is from November to March, but it’s got a decent crowd the rest of the year. The beachfront hotels always gather a high concentration of LGBTQ+ visitors since they market their products as such. There’s a general party atmosphere that’s perfect for socializing and free of any hostility or judgment.
Australia is one of the top five most supportive LGBTQ+ friendly travel destinations in the world, only coming behind other travel hotspots such as Canada, Spain, Germany, and the Czech Republic. You’ll find same-sex couples and LGBTQ+ friendly communities throughout the country. Even before same-sex marriages were legalized in 2017, several Australian states recognized same-sex relationships and granted domestic partner benefits. One of the most popular festivals is the Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras. The festival started in 1978 and has been active for over 40 years. Hundreds and thousands of Australians, as well as international visitors, come together every year for it, making it one of the largest pride festivals in the entire world. There are so many events that comprise the Mardi Gras party in addition to the actual floats and parade; there is the famed Harbour Party, a drag race competition on Bondi Beach, and a fair in Victoria Park.
Montreal, especially the province of Quebec, is an extremely LGBTQ+ friendly travel destination and you’ll find that many of the local establishments market their products and services toward gay travelers. There are actually very few destinations that embrace people so openly and without criticism as Montreal does and Canada’s LGBT laws are more advanced than almost any other country in the world. Montreal is home to one of the most notable gay neighborhoods in North America, simply known as Gay Village or Le Village Gai in French. Montreal Pride is one of the most massive pride festivals you’ll come across and is usually held during the peak of summer right in the middle of August. The festival lasts around a week and has a varied itinerary ranging from a parade and drag show to several live entertainment performances and discussion panels on important social topics.
Same-sex relationships have been recognized and accepted in Honolulu since the 1970s with Hawaii being one of the first six states to legalize it. If you’re part of the LGBTQ+ community, then you’ll receive the same legal rights as non-LGBTQ+ people, and even better, the people of Hawaii are extremely kind and very acceptable of all lifestyles, so you won’t have to minimize your PDA. The annual Honolulu Pride Festival hosted by the Hawai’i LGBT Legacy Foundation is one of the most anticipated events of the year. It takes months of hard work for the amount of planning and thought that goes into it, and you’ll see why when you see the parade, vendors, exhibits, performances, and other events that comprise the busy itinerary. Waikiki Beach is world-renowned as the epicenter of Honolulu’s gay neighborhoods.
Sixteen years before Germany legalized same-sex marriages in 2017, they were already allowing couples to register their partnerships so that people would have valid, recognized proof of their relationships if need be. It’s fair to say that LGBTQ+ rights have evolved drastically over the years overcoming hurdles such as decriminalizing discrimination, enabling adoption, and so much more. Today, Berlin is recognized as one of the most LGBTQ+ friendly cities in the world. Many districts within the city customize and cater to the gay and trans community, with one of the most popular of them being Schoneberg. Schoneberg is the first gay village to be established in the world, paving the way for Philadelphia’s Gayborhood, Hell’s Kitchen in New York, Zona Rosa in Mexico City, and many more around the world.
Florida is quite an LGBTQ+ friendly state and you can find venues that cater specifically to the gay and lesbian community in several touristy cities like Miami or Orlando. Key West is an entirely different type of gay capital, attracting new residents and visitors all year long since the weather is always so nice. It is recognized as a top LGBTQ vacation spot, with tons of catered facilities that are accepting, welcoming, and open-minded. Your Key West vacation starts with an amazing accommodation at one of the many hotels that are either TAG approved or a member of the International Gay & Lesbian Travel Association. Key West Gay Pride is held every summer and has an entire itinerary of things to do for five whole days. In addition to the many gay-friendly hotels, bars, clubs, and restaurants, you’ll also find activities that are customized to ensure you have the best experience such as shopping expeditions, snorkeling, sailing, fishing, and diving. Key West is awesome not only because of everything they offer and all of the LGBTQ+ needs that are catered to, but because when you’re there, you truly feel like you can be yourself.
South Africa has pushed the boundaries for years and the LGBTQ+ community in SA enjoys all of the same legal rights as non-LGBTQ+ citizens; this includes legalizing same-sex marriages, outlawing discrimination in schools and the workplace based on sexual orientation, and even enabling same-sex adoption, IVF, and surrogacy treatments. They are actually lightyears ahead of other countries, making them an awesome LGBTQ+ friendly travel destination choice for your next vacation. Johannesburg Pride is one of the largest LGBTQ+ events in that part of the country. Having had their first event in 1990, it is the first pride parade to not only be held in South Africa but in the entire African continent. The pride parade isn’t only a celebration but also a political, social, and activist movement. Though this continues to be the largest pride event in Africa, there are several others such as Cape Town Pride, Durban Pride, and Nelson Mandela Bay Pride.
Taiwan is considered one of the most LGBTQ+ friendly nations in Asia. The legal rights given to the LGBTQ+ community are some of the most progressive you’ll see anywhere, and though same-sex marriage was legalized in 2019, there is still progress to be made. One of the key attractions in visiting Taipei is the annual LGBTQ+ parade, Taiwan Pride. The parade is held on the last Saturday in October and is the largest gay pride event in East Asia, attracting over 200,000 participants every year. The main attraction is in Taipei, though there are smaller celebrations held throughout the country on that day. Taiwan Pride is primarily a social movement to spread awareness, making it quite different from the commercialized celebrations you’ll usually come across in Western and European parades. Taiwan is also a great vacation destination choice for those who want to combine LGBTQ+ comforts with their love for the arts.