Top 10 LGBTQ+ Friendly Travel Destinations Around the World
Is there anything that can get us more excited than planning a holiday? Booking adventures, pouring over photos of sandy beaches and planning out what to eat (and where!) are some of the best parts of travel. But for people in the LGBTQ+ community, travel can pose some unique challenges — particularly if you already live in a queer friendly environment and aren’t used to discriminatory laws based on sexuality or gender expression.
While you truly can travel anywhere in the world, it’s important to remember that some countries can be openly hostile towards queer people. Which is why it’s so important when planning queer-friendly travel, it’s all about knowing your rights, what’s safe, and where you can truly be free. Here are 10 LGBTQ+ destinations that are safe for anyone.
CanadaChances are you’re currently planning travel from the comfort of the Great White North. But travelling within Canada can take your breath away. Major cities like Toronto and Montreal are hot spots for queer folks, but even smaller cities like Winnipeg, Calgary and even Lethbridge all have bustling queer communities and queer-friendly events throughout the year.
Czech RepublicHome to Eastern Europe’s biggest pride march, the Czech Republic is considered one of the most tolerant parts of the EU when it comes to gay rights. The country decriminalized homosexuality in the 1960s, offers citizens the right to change their gender on ID, and allows queer people to actively serve in the military.
While the city’s capital, Prague, is known for its gay scene, the country’s second largest city, Brno is a quirky and growing queer friendly spot with beautiful architecture, a cool art scene and tonnes of cool cafes and bars.
Let's be honest, it's also one of the most Instagram-worthy spots in Europe.
SwedenConsistently ranked one of the happiest places on earth, Sweden is also one of the safest places for queer travellers looking for a European getaway. With LGBTQ+ folks being granted legal equality in 1944, and the right for people to legally change their gender to match their gender expression, the country is safe, friendly and fun.
With more pride festivals per-capita than anywhere else in the world (including a special Sapmi Pride event for the indigenous Sami people of Lapland), Sweden also makes a point of protecting the rights of women and non-binary travelers creating a safe space that’s truly nationwide.
MexicoWith nearly 150 since the decriminalization of same-sex sexual acts, and ancient tolerance of sexual diversity in indigenous populations, Mexico’s stance on LGBTQ+ rights are quite liberal for an otherwise conservative country. While tourist cities like Acapulco, Cancun and Oaxaca can be great for those who want that all-inclusive vibe, more and more, touristas are heading to Mexico City to check out the city’s thriving queer culture.
But for the heart of Mexico’s gay community, check out Puerto Vallarta. The city features queer friendly hotels, tours, cruises, and restaurants, and even boasts a micro brew made just for the town called Purple Hand.
PortugalPortugal is quietly known as one of the best travel destinations for LGBTQ+ travelers. The country recognizes same sex marriage, allows queer couples to marry, and gays, lesbians and bisexuals are allowed to openly serve in the military. To top it all off, the country has some of the best protections for trans and non-binary persons, passing a law in 2018 that allowed any adult to change their legal gender without requirements of surgery or psychological testing and protects children from non-consensual sex assignment or surgical intervention.
With all these rights in mind, Portugal is starting to become the top destination for queer families and for the one in four Canadian couples planning destination weddings). Planning that it-has-everything spot? The Algarve, Portugal’s southernmost region has it all with white sandy beaches, villas and quaint fishing villages.
DemarkWhile many travellers think immediately of Copenhagen when contemplating Denmark’s travel destination, the country boasts pride and diversity celebrations throughout the country, even in tiny towns off the beaten path like Aarhus and Fanø.
But if you are visiting Copenhagen, be sure to check out Centralhjørnet, the world’s oldest gay bar (it opened in 1917!). And with lots of family-friendly things to do in Denmark (including visiting the home of Hans Christian Andersen), this rainbow family-friendly country is perfect for your family getaway.
GreeceGreece has long been known as a hotspot for perfect vacation snaps and destination weddings (Mama Mia! anyone?), but it’s also a great destination for LGBTQ+ travellers and consistently ranks as one of Europe’s most popular tourist destination for queer travellers.
With homosexuality having been decriminalized nearly 70 years ago, Greece is a hotspot for gay nightlife and culture, particularly in Lesbos and Mykonos. But beyond these gay friendly islands, the country boasts four separate pride parades annually and one of Europe’s largest gay music festivals – Xlsior which is host to 30,000 party-goers each summer.
The United KingdomWhile the United Kingdom is known for the royals, its deep history, and gorgeous rural views, the country is also a welcome travel destination for LGBTQ travellers. In England, Brighton is considered the unofficial “gay capital,” but towns and cities like Leeds, Newcastle upon Tyne, Edinburgh, Bristol and Southampton all have gay villages and pride celebrations throughout the year.
Since 2004, transgender citizens have been able to legally change their gender, giving them full recognition of their gender for legal purposes, and queer families are a growing part of the UK’s diverse cultural landscape.
IcelandWith just 325,000 citizens, tiny Iceland is small but mighty, even when it comes to queer rights. The Island nation’s capital, Reykjavik is home to a pride parade that sees 100,000 participants — akin to one-third the country’s population — including the town’s mayor, who often celebrates by getting dolled up by local drag queens and marching down the streets arm in arm with members of the country’s LGBTQ+ community.
The country is perfect for the outdoorsy and adventuresome travelers, and is widely known for it’s breath taking views.
New ZealandDid you know that New Zealand was the first country in the world to have an openly transgender mayor? Georgina Beyer was so beloved by her city that in 1999, she became the world’s first transgender member of parliament, remaining in her seat until her retirement in 2007.
New Zealand is a bucket list destination for many. Beyond the capital city of Wellington, Tourism NZ offers offers once-in-a-lifetime experiences for queer travellers including sharing indigenous Maori culture, food guides, and other queer friendly immersive experiences. .
Remember that no matter where you plan on travelling, it’s important to research and study local customs and laws, and that if you are travelling with HRT medications, medical binding devices, or your gender does not align with your travel documents, you should be prepared to answer questions from local authorities, or present documentation about your medication.
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