The Best LGBTQ+ Friendly Destinations Around The World

While safety is usually a consideration when traveling, it's typically at the forefront of the minds of those who identify as LGBTQ+. Unfortunately, about 70 countries across the world have laws in place that criminalize queer activity, with punishment ranging from fines to prison time or even the death penalty (via BBC News). However, the good news is that LGBTQ+ communities are being embraced in many areas of the world and the acceptance of queer culture continues to grow. In fact, 2020 surveys reveal that 72% of Americans agree that queer people should be accepted, up from 51% in 2002, according to U.S. News. Many other countries also show an increase of acceptance, including South Korea, Japan, Canada, Poland, Argentina, United Kingdom, South Africa, Australia, and Germany. 

Even amidst COVID-19 restrictions in 2021, Gay Pride festivals were celebrated worldwide in more than 107 countries (per Outright International). As a traveling queer person, it is important to know which countries are best to be avoided and which ones will embrace you with open arms, for both safety reasons and because you deserve an enjoyable vacation! Let's explore some of the most popular LGBTQ+ friendly places across the world. 

San Francisco, California, USA

San Francisco is well-known for being a liberal city, and as a matter of fact, it's often referred to as the "Gay Mecca" of the world (per We are Global Travellers). The city is packed full of gay clubs and bars — it's hard to walk several blocks without spotting a rainbow flag. Not only is San Francisco home to one of the largest Gay Pride festivals in the world, but there are many more queer events worth checking out, like the Fresh Meat Festival, the Folsom Street Fair, Up Your Alley Street Fair, and the Castro Street Fair (via San Francisco Travel). 

The Castro Street Fair was actually started by Harvey Milk, the first openly queer politician in the city who has been featured in several books and a popular American film, and takes place in the Castro District, a must-see in San Francisco — it's known as being America's first "gayborhood." The Castro is a colorful and welcoming part of town, with vibrant LGBTQ+ murals and rainbow painted crosswalks scattering the streets. The Rainbow Honor Walk features gold plaques dedicated to the LGBTQ+ individuals that made a huge positive impact on queer rights (per San Francisco Travel). 

Mexico City, Mexico

An overwhelming majority of people in Mexico are Catholic, a religion that has notoriously been unaccepting of queer culture. Even though same-sex marriages are not permitted in Mexico, Mexico City took big steps in 2009 by legalizing gay marriage. Then in 2010, the Mexican Supreme Court ruled that all same-sex marriages that occurred in Mexico City were valid and should be honored throughout the country (per Pew Research Center). Every June, Mexico City hosts the Pride parade and more than 1 million people gather here to celebrate. It's considered one of the largest Gay Pride events in Latin America, according to Gay Travel 4 U.

In Mexico City, be sure to visit the Zona Rosa neighborhood, a rich and thriving area of town with a big LGBTQ+ community and many gay bars and night clubs to explore. It's also known as the city's "official gayborhood," according to Out Traveler. The name "Zona Rosa" translates to Pink Zone, which is a nod to the many buildings in the neighborhood that have been vibrantly painted pink. Zona Rosa boasts many delicious cafes and restaurants, vintage stores, a feminist bazaar, and a three-story night club named Kinky with topless bartenders (via Appear Here).

Portland, Oregon, USA

Like San Francisco, Portland is also well-known for being a liberal city that embraces the LGBTQ+ community. "Keep Portland Weird" is the unofficial slogan of the city — the catchphrase has even been trademarked and pasted all over bumper stickers, T-shirts, and signs across town (via Stumped in Stumptown). Not to say that being queer is weird, but this phrase showcases how accepting and inclusive Portland is of all types of people, regardless of who they are.

The city has long been involved in gay rights activism and hosts a huge, two-day Pride parade celebration, as well as many other queer events throughout the year. You can find different types of drag shows across town — with Drag Brunch being a huge weekend hit — and there are lots of queer bars and dance clubs to choose from. You can also pay a visit to nearby Rooster Rock, which is known by the locals to be a gay riverside hangout spot. According to Travel Portland, the queer community in Portland is one of the five largest in America, with at least 100,000 people who identify at LGBTQ+. Portland also prides itself on having many locally owned queer businesses and it was the first big city in America to have an openly gay mayor: Sam Adams in 2008.

Auckland, New Zealand

New Zealand has a lot of things going for it: The landscape of this island country is jaw-dropping gorgeous and they are also a leader in gay rights activism. In 2012, new legislation declared non-binary as a legal gender and in the following year, same-sex marriage was legalized (as per Thrillist). After you immerse yourself in the beautiful natural wonders of New Zealand, you'll want to head to Auckland, the largest urban area in the country, located on the north island. Auckland is home to New Zealand's Pride festival, which occurs in January because that is prime summertime in the Southern Hemisphere (via the Lonely Planet).

For a queer-centered experience in Auckland, you'll want to visit Karangahape Road, also known as "K Road," which is considered the hub of the LGBTQ+ community. Here you'll find many queer bars and night clubs, like The Eagle Bar, The Family Bar, G.A.Y Auckland, and Caluzzi Cabaret, just to name a few. And besides Pride, this area of town also hosts a lot of different queer events year round, including drag shows, art nights, live entertainment, and more.

Berlin, Germany

Berlin is recognized as one of the biggest party cities in the world — many clubs literally never close (per Explore). This city is home to one of the oldest gay neighborhood's worldwide – Schöneberg — where the first gay and lesbian bars opened in the 1920s (via the Lonely Planet). In Schöneberg, you can find a queer-only hostel — aptly named Gay Hostel — that only allows gay men under the age of 38 to check in for the night. Other notable queer neighborhoods in Berlin include Kreuzberg, Bergmannstraße, and Mitte (per Visit Berlin). 

Berlin's Pride celebration, named Christopher Street Day, pulls in about 750,000 festival goers every year, according to We Are Global Travellers. Not only does Berlin offer many LGBTQ+ bars, clubs, and events, but the city also features a queer museum called the Schwules Museum, which honors and highlights the history of the LGBTQ+ community across the world. Many businesses are open about being LGBTQ+ friendly and a lot of them are owned by queer people themselves.

San Juan, Puerto Rico

According to Discover Puerto Rico, San Juan is the ultimate destination for any vacation for LGBTQ travelers. If you're traveling from the United States, this city can feel like an effortless vacation — because Puerto Rico is a U.S. territory, you won't need a passport, you can use U.S. dollars, and it's quite easy to get by with minimal Spanish speaking skills. In recent years, San Juan has taken progressive steps to protect the rights of the LGBTQ+ community. In 2018, trans people were granted the right to edit the gender on their birth certificates, and in 2019, conversion therapy was banned (via Thrillist). 

The Condado neighborhood is well-known for hosting annual Gay Pride marches and there's even a beautiful "gay beach" in the area. Condado and Santurce have the best gay nightlife in San Juan, with many bars and clubs notorious for being popular queer hangout spots. Be sure to check out Toxic, SX The Club, Oasis Tapas and Lounge, Tía María's Liquor Store, and La Sombrilla Rosa. And if you're in the mood for drag, Kweens Klub is the place to be. Parties in San Juan typically don't pick up until after midnight, so if you're going out, be prepared for a late night. 

Denver, Colorado, USA

There are many queer-friendly cities across the United States, but Denver often gets overlooked. However, this city is quickly becoming one of the most welcoming and exciting destinations for LGBTQ+ people. As a matter of fact, the River North (RiNo) Art District neighborhood in Denver was just declared one of the top five newest gay neighborhoods across the U.S. by Passport Magazine. RiNo is home to several popular gay bars and nightclubs, including The Wrangler and Tracks, which hosts many queer events and meet-ups, like "Babes Around Denver." There's also drag queen bingo at Hamburger Mary's or country western line dancing at Charlie's. 

According to Denver The Mile High City, LGBTQ+ individuals are welcome at any and all of the bars in the city. The city also hosts its own Pride Festival, and other annual queer events, like a Queer Film Festival and the Gay Rodeo. This all-inclusive, three-day event is like your classic rodeo with entertaining additions like the "wild drag race" and "goat dressing," as per The Denver Post. What a great excuse to put on some cowboy boots and wear a rainbow flag.

Tel Aviv, Israel

The Middle East has a bad reputation for restricting the rights of LGBTQ+ people. However, the one exception is Tel Aviv. The Boston Globe calls Tel Aviv the "gayest city on Earth," noting that at least one-fourth of its population identifies as LGBTQ+. Tel Aviv is also often referred to as a "city that never sleeps" due to its thriving nightlife (via Explore). Nestled along the breathtaking coast of the Mediterranean Sea, the city doesn't really have specific gay neighborhoods to visit, but rather, the beautiful beaches are the LGBTQ+ party destination that dreams are made out of. Hilton Beach is known as the area's "unofficial" gay beach, according to Lonely Planet

Tel Aviv Pride takes place in June and is known as one of the biggest Pride celebrations in not only the Middle East, but the entire world. The city markets itself as a hub for gay tourism year-round and it delivers — the entire city is truly LGBTQ-friendly. Be sure to check out the all-inclusive Shpagat nightclub, which is popular with both locals and foreigners.

Amsterdam, Netherlands

Not only is Amsterdam a famous vacation destination for being alternative and liberal, it's such a picturesque place to visit. While many people know Amsterdam for its colorful city, romantic canals, and the infamous Red Light District, it is also one of the most LGBTQ+ friendly travel destinations. The Netherlands was actually the first country in the world to legalize gay marriage, and they have continued to pass policies in support of LGBTQ+ rights ever since (per the Lonely Planet).

In the summer, Amsterdam Pride is an epic entire week long affair that takes advantage of the city's many charming canals by floating Pride boats in them throughout the city. While the whole city has queer friendly establishments, the hotspot of LGBTQ+ life is in the Reguliersdwarsstraat neighborhood in the center of town. Be sure to visit the Cafe 't Mandje, a queer-owned business known for its unique vibes that's been open since 1927, and the notorious EXIT Café, a LGBTIQ+ bar. The Pink Point information booth is a great first stop upon arrival, which offers queer-focused tips and tricks to help plan your perfect trip.

Manchester, United Kingdom

In 2013, the U.K. passed the same-sex marriage act, legalizing gay marriage throughout the country (per Thrillist). The government has also passed many anti-discrimination laws, including The Equality Act 2010, to help protect people from being discriminated against at work (via Gov.UK). Many cities in the U.K. host Pride festivals, with London Pride pulling in more than 1 million participants — although Brighton Pride along the English coast brags that it is "the UK's biggest LGBTQ Pride festival," according to the Lonely Planet

The city of Manchester gets the queer gold-star though, since it not only hosts a noteworthy Pride event, but throws many other LGBTQ+ celebrations during the year, including the Sparkle Festival, Queer Contact Arts Festival, and Drag Fest U.K. The Gay Village near Canal Street is the queer hotspot you'll want to visit in Manchester. It's home of many queer-owned bars, night clubs, restaurants, and other small businesses, including Richmond Tea Rooms, G-A-Y club, Vanilla lesbian bar, The Rembrandt, The Goose, and Churchills. The city even offers a gay heritage guided tour.

Montevideo, Uruguay

If you've ever dreamed of visiting South America, Uruguay is the place to go. This open-minded country has embraced the LGBTQ+ community for a long time: Same-sex acts have been legal since 1934, LGBTQ+ anti-discrimination laws were passed in 2004, and same-sex marriage was legalized in 2013 (per The Luxury Travel Expert). Montevideo is the capital city of Uruguay, situated right along the coast, with beautiful beaches and awe-inspiring views, and it's well-known for being a queer-friendly destination. 

Ciudad Vieja houses many of the city's oldest historic buildings, as well as the town's thriving night life for the queer community (via Travel Gay). While Montevideo isn't considered a huge party city, there are plenty of queer-centered venues to choose from. Chains Pub is a popular spot for drinks and dancing, and Il Tempo is a bumping bar with amazing drag shows. There's also the Toronto Sauna, which is only open to gay men and offers alcoholic beverages, a sauna, steam bath, and jacuzzi hot tub.

Ibiza, Spain

According to Ibiza Spotlight, this beautiful Mediterranean island off the coast of Spain is known as one of Europe's top LGBTQ+ hotspots. Ibiza is a world renowned party destination, featuring all-day pool parties and festival-like events in clubs going all night long, every day of the week (per Explore). Ibiza's gay neighborhood is centered in the colorful street of Calle de la Virgen and you'll find most of the queer bars and clubs in Ibiza Town, Dalt Vila and Figueretas. 

Ibiza Gay Pride started in 2015 and continues to be a big celebration every summer. For the ultimate gaycation, consider visiting in mid-June when Pride takes over the town for more than one week of queer-focused events like drag shows, DJ sets, live musical entertainment, film screenings, theatre, street celebrations, and more (per Ibiza Spotlight). But really, it's hard not to have fun in Ibiza any day or night of the year.


This small European island in the heart of the Mediterranean Sea is both gorgeous and LGBTQ+ friendly. In fact, recently Malta has been deemed the most progressive place in Europe regarding rights for queer people. According to Rainbow Europe, Malta places first out of all the European Union member states when looking at discrimination, human rights, and equality. After Marie Louise Coleiro Preca was elected president in 2014, seemingly overnight many progressive bills supporting LGBTQ+ rights were passed, including laws recognizing civil unions, adoption rights for same-sex couples, outlawing conversion therapy, and the ability for trans people to change their gender identity on legal documents (via TIME).

When traveling through Malta, make sure to visit the iconic Pembroke Beach, the "unofficial" gay meet-up spot. Just be prepared, it is also a notorious gay nude beach. As for LGBTQ+ friendly bars and clubs, Matador Network recommends checking out Michelangelo, queer-owned Maori, and The Birdcage Lounge, which features fun drag shows and unique cabarets.

Winnipeg, Canada

Canada has a reputation for being one of the kindest countries out there, and they sure live up to the name. According to the Gay Travel Index of 2021, Canada ranks number one as the most gay-friendly travel destination. The countries are ranked based on a wide-variety of legislation, as well as discrimination factors, including death sentences and murders. Canada, Montreal, Toronto, and Vancouver are all great LGBTQ+ friendly choices — however, Winnipeg takes the (queer) cake with its rich history in gay culture.

Pride Winnipeg started in 1987 and still remains a huge annual production as a 10-day celebration. Glen Murray became the first openly gay mayor elected to office in 1998 and the Canadian Museum for Human Rights opened in 2008 (via Matador Network). The notable gay neighborhood to visit lies in eclectic Osborne Village, which houses a city staple gay disco called Club 200, and Fame Nightclub, frequented for its next-level drag shows and gay themed events.