There are a lot of countries around the world where being gay is widely accepted. But there are only some cities that feel like a year-round pride parade. These cities are progressive, fun, and great for couples or singles looking to immerse themselves in the local gay culture. Here are the best destinations for LGBT-friendly travel.
Though it has more of a reputation for being a debaucherous destination for frat boys searching for legalized weed and prostitution, Amsterdam is extremely gay friendly. If you venture outside of the Red Light District, you might stumble upon Reguliersdwarsstraat, the city’s largest gay area. Brimming with bars, clubs, brunch spots, and coffee shops, you might also be able to identify it by its high concentration of vegan restaurants. The party starts during the day and doesn’t stop until the wee hours.
This one came as a bit of a surprise, but Tokyo’s gayborhood is one of the largest and most active I’ve ever seen. The Shinjuki Ni-chome area is absolutely brimming with both gay and lesbian bars. It’s rare when the nightlife for queer ladies exists with just as much fervor as it does for queer men. On an average weekend, the queer locals come out in absolute droves to the wild and welcoming little area in crazy Shinjuku.
The French capital is one of the most LGBT-friendly cities in the world because let’s face it… French culture is inherently a little gay. Sitting in a café in the middle of the day with an espresso and a cigarette just to serve looks and eyefuck pedestrians? C’mon. However, Paris’s gay nightlife really stretches its legs in Le Marais, an impossibly cool neighborhood full of hip boutiques, art galleries, and LGBT bars and clubs, including drag bars and sex clubs. Paris does not skimp on its gayness.
New Orleans is one of the only places in the US south where being gay is not kind of dangerous. Diversity is generally accepted in NOLA, and you don’t have to find exclusively gay bars to be warmly welcomed for a raucous party anywhere in town. That being said, the pubs and bars on the Lavender Line in the French Quarter will be happy to shower you with rainbows and pride round the clock – some of these bars are open 24 hours a day.
For being in the heart of the Middle East, Tel Aviv is one of the best cities in the world to be gay. People in Tel Aviv just want to party and not get blown up by all their neighbors, so they don’t have the time to be hateful about what other people do in the bedroom. Tel Aviv Pride is one of the largest parades in the world and the largest in Asia. Though it has quite a few dedicated gay bars, Tel Aviv’s gay nightlife is based on LGBT parties that change venues and themes from week to week.
For the past seven years, Malta has ranked at the top of ILGA’s Rainbow Europe Index, which assesses LGBT equality across all of Europe with regards to legislation, anti-discrimination legislation, and social services. While Malta doesn’t necessarily have an abundance of gay bars – though you’ll find a few in Paceville – it’s perhaps the best place in Europe to simply exist as a queer person. Plus, it’s a Mediterranean island, so it’s a pretty fabulous place to wave your flag.
Quebec was one of the first Canadian provinces to legalize gay marriage and it’s a haven for LGBT lifestyles. It’s probably in part because of its Frenchness. The heart of the gay community in Montreal is the Village, which is the largest LGBT neighborhood in North America. Adorned year-round with rainbow colors, the area is lively with chill bars and sweaty dance clubs.
Despite how terrifyingly conservative Florida has become, Key West remains and always has been one of the gayest cities in America. It’s all boutique hotels and pool parties and drag queens. In addition to intense pride celebrations, Key West hosts plenty of hedonistic week-long parties like Fantasy Fest where the LGBT community is ever-present.
Obviously all of Greece is gay-friendly, making the country a great island paradise to strut around in too-tight bathing suits hand-in-hand with your same sex partner. But there is no place in Greece that’s gayer than Mykonos. Mykonos’s LGBT-friendliness is legendary as are its parties. There are several gay beaches and an abundance of gay nightlife venues, so it earns its spot as the most popular gay travel destination in Europe.
As one of the most multicultural cities in the world, London is fully accepting and welcomes gay travelers with open arms. London is progressive, it’s fun, and you never have to look over your shoulder when you show same-sex affection there. So much so, that its largest gay district, Soho, is in the heart of the city among some of its most important cultural sites. London has plenty of LGBT-friendly wining and dining, not to mention the West End. Because theatre is a vital part of gay culture.
Berlin is so freaky that being just gay is actually kind of vanilla. The LGBT community is right at home in the wild and sex-positive culture of Berlin. Several neighborhoods in Berlin are home to its large and diverse LGBT community like Nollendortplatz and Kreuzberg. Whether you’re into queer bookstores or you like to be whipped by strangers while wearing leather from head to toe, Berlin has something for every queer.
So although pride month only comes once a year, in these destinations, being LGBT is celebrated all 365 days.