Picking a travel destination that is LGBTQ+ friendly can be quite tough. Unfortunately, there are still not that many countries out there that can be considered 100% safe for gay travelers. But the ones that are might definitely be worth a visit as they’re simply stunning.
Europe is typically one of the best destinations for the LGBTQ+ community. If you manage to take a month-long vacation, you might be able to visit the Netherlands, Portugal, Spain, Greece, and Malta in one go. If you’re traveling during the colder time of the year, you’ll find plenty of cool things to do in Iceland.
Though Europe is a truly magical place, it’s not the only continent with gay-friendly destinations. Keep on reading to find out if taking a trip to New Zealand would be worth it and what country in South America is considered to be the safest for LGBTQ+ travelers.
What Makes a Country Gay-Friendly?
There are a few things that we took into consideration when coming up with this list:
- Spartacus Gay Travel Index
Spartacus is an international gay guide that has been publishing the Gay Travel Index for over a decade already. They take a close look at all the countries each year, in order to support the safety of LGBTQ+ tourists worldwide.
By the way, the index tries to take into account the fun part of travel as well. So, the countries that have been ranked high are not only safe but also have quite a lot of amazing activities to offer to the gay community.
- LGBTQ+ Laws
Whether the country has legalized gay marriages or not is an important factor to consider when choosing your holiday destination as it immediately tells you more about what it’s like for locals in these countries.
By the way, our list includes a few countries that have members of the LGBTQ+ community in their governments, which, of course, already says a ton about how gay-friendly the destination is.
- Pride Events
First of all, attending a Pride event is a spectacular experience, and if it’s happening in another country, it’s double the fun.
Secondly, the fact that the country’s government supports such events is a huge advantage as it demonstrates that the local gay community is supported and respected.
Which Country Is the Most Gay-Friendly for Travel?
The list of gay-friendly destinations is not limited to our list. There are plenty of other wonderful places where the LGBTQ+ community thrives.
But these are the countries that offer the widest selection of various gay-friendly activities. And the chances that you’ll have the time of your life when visiting one of the destinations mentioned below is a lot higher.
Greece is one of the oldest and most well-known gay-friendly holiday destinations.
The place has a very long history with homosexuality. Starting from their mythology and ending with Alexander The Great.
The major cities and the gorgeous islands are especially LGBTQ+ welcoming. However, do bear in mind that rural Greece remains extremely religious, so you might want to stay closer to civilization during your trip.
Mykonos is undoubtedly the epicenter of gay nightlife in Greece. In fact, it was the queer community that gave rise to the array of hotels and guesthouses on the island back in the 80s and 90s.
One of the best annual gay dance festivals, Xlsior, takes place in Mykonos every August. Over 30,000 gay travelers come to Greece during this time, so you might choose to either join the fun or come during another month if you’d prefer a quieter vacation.
Portugal became the 8th country in the world to legalize gay marriage (that happened in 2020) and it is one of the few countries that has a ban in its constitution against discrimination toward the LGBTQ+ community.
There are plenty of gay bars and clubs in Lisbon (especially, around the Principe Real and Bairro Alto areas) and a beautiful gay beach only a short drive away from the city (Beach 19).
The capital is also home to the two main annual LGBTQ+ events – the Lisbon Bear Pride (May) and the Lisbon Pride (June).
A few other popular gay tourist hotspots include Porto, Albufeira, and Tavira.
It would be challenging to find a country that has more gay-friendly destinations to offer than Spain. It became the third country in the world to legalize gay marriage and, at the moment, practically all cities (even the smaller ones) have an annual Pride event.
The most famous Pride is the one that takes place in Madrid (it’s actually one of the largest in the world), but the events held in Sitges, Barcelona, Ibiza, Benidorm, Valencia, and Bilbao can be just as exciting.
The gay scene in the cities is typically concentrated in a gay street or village, but it’s safe to say that you’ll feel welcomed wherever you choose to go.
Malta might be small, but when it comes to LGBTQ+ rights, the country has recently chosen to stand tall, and it’s quickly becoming one of the most gay-friendly spots in the world.
The island is Roman Catholic and divorce there only became legal in 2011(!). But after Marie Louise Coleiro Preca was elected president in 2014, things started to change quite rapidly. While a 2006 poll found that only 18% of the population were not against same-sex marriage, in 2019 that percentage escalated to 67%, and by 2020, Malta scored 89% on the Rainbow Europe IGLA index.
Of course, the queer scene in Malta is quite small, so don’t expect anything over-the-top. But with that being said, the island does have lovely gay bars in the capital and other touristy locations, and the Malta Pride in September is, perhaps, the best late-summer Pride in this part of the world.
Next on our list is the first country on our planet to legalize gay marriage. The Netherlands is simply the ultimate LGBTQ+ trailblazer. And while you’ll feel wonderful anywhere you decide to go, you might want to make Amsterdam your ultimate destination if you’re ready to party hard.
Reguliersdwarsstraat is one of the most famous gay villages in the world, but even outside of it, there is a plethora of gay shops, bars, cafes, and clubs.
By the way, if you’re planning on visiting Europe during Pride month, the capital of the Netherlands has to make it to your must-see list as its Pride is one of the most unique spectacles (the parade proceeds through Amsterdam on boats!).
Iceland is the perfect destination for couples who have been dreaming about seeing extraordinary landscapes and the Northern lights. It is one of the few countries where you’ll be able to enjoy all the regular touristy things without feeling uncomfortable.
That is because gay marriage laws were voted unanimously in 2010, and since then the parliament has also managed to recognize the third gender option and introduce laws that allow anyone to change their name and gender without a medical diagnosis.
The main gay event in the country is the Reykjavik Pride which takes place in August (in 2022, it was attended by 30% of Iceland’s population!).
New Zealand has been one of the most gay-friendly countries in the world for quite a while already. It is renowned for having openly gay ministers in the Parliament and Pride events have been taking place in the country since the 1970s.
The main gay hangouts are concentrated in Wellington and Auckland, but the whole country is super gay-friendly, so you can’t really go wrong when choosing a touristic highlight.
Canada is very protective of its LGBTQ+ community and goes above and beyond to welcome gay travelers from around the globe.
Though the country has plenty of beautiful places to visit, it is an absolute gem for couples who love skiing. If that’s you, then you might want to attend the Whistler Pride and Ski Festival in January.
Argentina became the first Latin American country to legalize same-sex marriages in 2010, and since 2012, the locals have been allowed to change their gender without surgery or hormone therapy.
Buenos Aires is definitely the LGBTQ+ capital of South America (you’ll find plenty of gay bars and clubs in the Palermo neighborhood). While you’re in the city, you might also want to learn how to dance queer tango – the capital has plenty of gay-friendly tango dance halls.
Some of the other cities that deserve your attention include Medoza, Cordoba, and Rosario. The latter is, perhaps, the most liberal-minded place in the country that often leads the way for proactive change.
To Sum Up
It is extremely important to choose your holiday destination wisely as the success of your trip would mainly depend on how gay-friendly the country is.
Thanks to our list, now you have quite a few wonderful options to pick from. Whether you’d prefer to go all out in one of the gay capitals or have a romantic holiday with a stunning backdrop – at least a few of the destinations mentioned above would definitely manage to tick all of your boxes.