Looking for a solo gay travel adventure or a romantic getaway with your same-sex partner? Here’s the rundown on gay-friendly destinations around the world for singles, couples, or groups.
Best for: LGBTQ history buffs
Toronto was home to the first (retroactively legalized) gay and lesbian marriages in the world, and it’s also home to the world’s oldest surviving LGBTQ bookstore. On top of these sweet pieces of queer history, LGBTQ nightlife in Toronto is reportedly epic. Toronto has a lot to be proud of! Make sure to visit Toronto in June for Pride Month, and experience the Toronto Pride Parade, which is the highlight of Pride Month.
Best for: Montreal is known for its gay-friendly nightlife scene
Montreal nightlife is known throughout North America, and their LGBTQ nightlife does not fall short of this reputation. Enjoy famous gourmet local food and dance the night away in the Gay Village. Every August is the Pride Festival in Montreal, and you’ll find all the festivities happening in and around the Village. Looking for the best drag show in town? Check out Chez Mado to meet Montreal’s favourite drag queen.
Auckland, New Zealand
Best for: outdoorsy types, singles, even destination weddings!
Since legalizing gay marriage (pretty late-in 2013), New Zealand has become a popular wedding destination for queer folks. But if you’re single, you can choose from a sweet selection of gay-friendly destinations throughout the country and find your travel buddies. New Zealand has a solid network of gay and lesbian owned boutique B&Bs, luxury accommodations, vineyard retreats, affordable homestays, beach stays, and yes-even farm stays!
San Juan, Puerto Rico
Best for: living your best life on the beach and in gay-friendly bars
Puerto Rico is one of the top gay travel destinations in the Caribbean, and it’s the ideal gay-friendly vacation spot for beach bums. Fly into the capital city of San Juan and start your explorations from there. During your trip, we recommend staying close to the coast where the most progressive populations reside. Picture queer-friendly white sandy beaches where you can lounge with your love under the palm trees and celebrate with other gay travellers all night at San Juan’s many LGBTQ-friendly clubs and bars. Start practicing your Spanish!
Best for: seeing the hub of gay travel in Asia
Just recently in 2019, Taiwan became the first Asian country to legalize gay marriage. They have been a leader for the LGBTQ cause throughout Asia, so let’s reward their hard work with our gay tourism dollars! Head to Taipei, Taiwan’s capital city filled with delicious food, style, shopping, and LGBTQ-friendly neighbourhoods and bars. We recommend the bars near the famous Red House by Ximending subway station, which are gay-friendly and fun. Make sure to visit the Gingin store in Taipei to see the queer bookstore and cultural space that features art, exhibitions, and memorabilia.
Best for: enjoying the nightlife and outdoors in the most progressive and gay-friendly city in the world
LGBTQ rights in The Netherlands are among the most progressive of any country in the world. The Netherlands was the first country in the world to legalize same-sex marriage. This European country has always been a pioneer of trans rights as well. Given that over 95% of Dutch people approve of same-sex partnerships, The Netherlands is the 1st choice in safe travel destinations for LGBTQ people.
Best for: visiting the first official gaybourhood
Chicago has the most progressive gay scene in the American midwest. Host to an epic pride parade that attracts over 100,000 people every year, Chicago is also home to Boystown-the USA’s first recognized gay village! If you’re looking for the ladies, head over to Andersonville-the unofficial “Girlstown”. Thanks to its thriving and diverse community, Chicago is a popular spot for queer women of colour. For more tips on Chicago’s LGBTQ scene, check out this guide.
Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
Best for: South America’s most colourful pride festival
Rio hosts a world-renowned pride festival in November, famous for its bright plumage, scintillating outfits, and sexy Latin rhythms. Farme gay is a popular gay beach, and Bolsa, Copacabana, is popular with the transgendered community. Be aware that the laws and culture in Brazil can be less than progressive, so stick to the big cities. “Lewd behaviour” is a punishable offense, so definitely get a room.
Best for: ancient lesbian herstory
Greece is one of the most gay-friendly travel destinations in Europe. And Lesvos offers the ultimate lesbian travel experience. Seekers of Sapphic history should visit the Isle of Lesvos (origin of the word “lesbian”). Visit the birthplace of the greatest lesbian poet of ancient Greece, then celebrate contemporary lesbian culture at the International Eressos Women’s festival.
New York City, USA
Best for: remembering our roots
Any list of gay-friendly destinations must include the Big Apple. The Stonewall Riots took place in New York City over 50 years ago and sparked the Pride movement that we now celebrate annually. New York City was home to the original activists leading the cause and fighting for our right to live and love freely. The city remains a bastion today, boasting the largest Pride festival in North America.
Best for: LGBTQ night owls
Uruguay was the first Latin American country to legalize same-sex marriage, and it has been rated the most LGBTQ-friendly travel destination in South America. They are also home to the first known monument honouring sexual minorities in Latin America. This is the ideal destination for night owls since dinnertime is around 10:00 p.m. and clubs don’t fill up until around 2:00 a.m.
LGBTQ safety on the road
To find safe destinations for LGBTQ travel, view the ILGA (International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans, and Intersex Association) map of sexual orientation laws around the world.