Being a member of the LGBT community can be very tricky when it comes to deciding the destination of a trip. Choosing gay friendly cities is always the best option for rewarding and safe experiences.
On what criteria can you define a place as LGBTQ friendly? In this post, I’m going to give you some ideas on the most gay friendly cities to visit around the world. Yes! The ones where you don’t have to worry about walking hand in hand with your partner. The places where you can find the most welcoming people and where you can enjoy the best clubs and festivals for LGBT people.
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The most gay friendly cities in the world
How can a city be considered LGBT friendly? Well, you must take a lot of things into consideration. The number of gay events, the well-being of the LGBTQ community, the open-mindedness of the locals, and also the low crime level. Here’s a list of the most gay friendly cities in the world based on these factors.
Gay friendly cities in Europe
If you are wondering which city is the gayest city in Europe, this is probably the answer. Madrid has the largest LGBT community in Spain and also one of the largest in Europe! Currently, there are more than 500.000 LGBTQ people living there.
For this reason, the gay community is more than just tolerated, it’s a big part of daily life. You can see same-sex couples walking around, holding hands, and kissing each other without the partiality of anybody else around. The Spanish capital is the symbol of a progressive and open-minded country.
Chueca is the gay zone of the city. You can quickly tell by the positive vibes and the rainbow flags placed everywhere (bars, streets, shops, and so on). If you are looking for a fun gay trip, this neighborhood is a must! You will find a large number of diverse bars and clubs which will satisfy all interests.
You could say that Madrid is one of the best gay friendly cities also because of their Gay Pride parade which is probably the largest in Europe. The “Orgullo” is held every year in July and brings almost 2 million people together. The city becomes a vast rainbow, and every club throws a different party. This is definitely an experience to try!
Amsterdam, The Netherlands
First of all, The Netherlands holds the record for being the first country to legalize same-sex marriage back in 2001. Thanks to the powerful sense of LGBT activism and the incredible tolerance of the locals, it’s impossible not to put Amsterdam among the top gay friendly places in the world.
Just think that the first gay bar to be built in the city dates back to 1927. It’s been almost 100 years! The main street for gay bars, clubs, and entertainment in general, is Reguliersdwarsstraat and you can’t miss it.
Amsterdam is considered one of the best LGBT friendly cities in Europe because of its unique Pride parade. Its peculiarity is in the parade: it takes place among the historic Amsterdam Unesco canals with decorated boats.
Berlin is currently one of the most up-to-date European capitals and one of the cities with the most transgressive gay scene. How could it not be one of the most gay friendly cities in the world? In the LGBTQ neighborhood called Shöneberg, there are plenty of clubs, saunas and hotels dedicated to the queer public.
Germany also recently introduced the legalization of gay marriage. This event writes another significant page of this country’s LGBT history!
Oh, and if you ever googled “highest rate of homosexuality country,” Germany holds the record in Europe.
You could visit LGBT Barcelona a hundred times and never get tired of it! I’m mentioning this city because it is the place where the Spanish LGBT movement began. Every year, this city celebrates gay rights with one of the most important Pride parades in Europe.
In addition to Gay Pride, there is another significant event called Circuit. It takes place every August and there is actually even a festival for men and another festival for women. Gay Circuit and Girlie Circuit are respectively the biggest gay and lesbian festivals in Europe. During these two events, you can take part in different initiatives, shows, and activities in the daytime, and have fun at the clubs by night with parties and drag shows. All this makes Barcelona a special gay city.
This gay friendly city is an emergent destination for LGBT tourism. It is one of the most affordable LGBT cities in Europe, it is full of culture, and it has a lot of beautiful places to see.
Bairro Alto is the gay neighborhood, and if you want to reach it on foot, you better prepare yourself for the steep heels along the way! In Bairro Alto, you will find the best gay bars, discos, and saunas.
Queer life in Lisbon is at its best in the summer months from June to mid-September. In addition to visiting the center, you should go to “Costa da Caparica” in the beautiful Southern Coast. Caparica is only a 15 minutes drive from downtown Lisbon where you will find some other great LGBT hot spot (especially for gay men).
Gay friendly cities in Asia
Taiwan recently became the first country in Asia to legalize same-sex marriage, and Taipei, the capital, is one of the most gay friendly cities on the continent.
The annual Pride parade is held in October and it’s the biggest Pride parade in Asia. Red House, the district in Ximending, is considered the hub of gay nightlife. Here you will find the best bars, clubs and men’s saunas.
Taipei is definitely an open-minded city, inclined to progress and ready to fight for LGBT rights.
Tel Aviv, Israel
Despite the tense situation that characterizes the Middle East, Tel Aviv is a major hub of queer life. Surprisingly, about 25% of the entire population defines as queer, and that’s 1 in 4 people! Amazing, right?
In addition to the warm, cozy weather all year round and having the most beautiful beaches of the Middle East, this city enjoys a remarkable gay scene, especially for clubs and nightlife. There are no LGBT neighborhoods, but throughout the city there are several meeting points loved by the queer citizens and, most of all, by gay tourists.
What else? The Pride week, of course! The Pride Parade is one of the most suggestive in the world, with its unique final stop on the beach and its beach party into the sunset. Speaking of beaches, you can’t forget Atzmouth Beach, known as the gay beach of the city.
In terms of LGBT tolerance around the world, Tel Aviv is one of the best gay friendly places with no doubt.
Gay friendly cities in America
Toronto, with its open-mindedness, is the reference point of the Canadian LGBT community. Canada legalized gay marriage in 2005 and it makes this country the fourth in the world to have decriminalized it.
The Pride event takes place in June and is one of the biggest in the world as it attracts millions of people from all over the world.
But what makes Toronto one of the most interesting gay cities is the Gay Village located in the area surrounding Church and Wellesley streets in the core of downtown. This neighborhood is full of queer clubs, boutiques, cafes, and it is also great for daytime entertainment, with its art galleries and gay businesses. That’s why Toronto is also one of the best cities for LGBT millennials.
San Francisco, California USA
San Francisco, together with Los Angeles, is one of the most LGBT friendly cities in California. Actually, it is one of the most gay friendly cities in the world. For this reason, people affectionately call it the LGBT Capital of the world or also Gay Mecca.
This is one of the most important U.S. cities for the history of gay rights and sexual freedom which existed since the early 1800s. I’ll tell you a little part of the story. It all started with the population boom of 1850 due to the discovery of a gold mine under the San Fran territory. About 95% of the immigrants were young boys. With the anarchic condition of the time, together with the imbalance of gender relationships, men frequently assumed stereotypical women roles in domestic and social situations. This led to a lot of same-sex behaviors, and well, you know the rest of the story yourself!
Today, more than 15% of the SF population defines as queer, including transgender people and drag queens. Besides, according to the Municipal Equality Index, the city has a youth-inclusive approach.
Castro is the main LGBT neighborhood. People consider it one of the first gay neighborhoods in America and a queer paradise for both tourists and locals.
If you want to breathe some LGBT+ history, you gotta see this place!
New York City, New York USA
You can definitely say that New York is one of the most LGBT friendly cities in the US, and I’ll tell you why. Gay life is everywhere! You can choose from every imaginable kind of LGBT bar, club, or restaurant depending on your needs.
If you are visiting this city and you want to dive into the history of gay rights, you should visit the Stonewall Inn. The pub, which is a landmark for the gay community, is located in the Greenwich Village neighborhood. This is an extraordinary place, not only for the LGBT community but also for American history. In fact, in June 1969, there were riots arisen by the pub’s LGBT visitors against the aggressive police raids. The Stonewall riots have been fundamental for the LGBTQ emancipation and also for the birth of the so-called “Gay Pride.”
In 2016, then-President of the United States Barack Obama, who have always fought against discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity, declared the pub as a National Monument.
Buenos Aires, Argentina
We haven’t talked about gay friendly cities in Latin America yet, but the time has come! Argentina is the first South American country and also the second country in the Americas to legalize same-sex marriage back in 2010. It is considered a progressive country even for the LGBT adoption rights and the legalization of gender reassignment for transgender people.
Buenos Aires, or “La Capital,” as locals call it, is the largest city and also the heart of LGBT life in Argentina. In the neighborhood of Palermo, you’ll find the best LGBTQ hangouts in the city with bars and clubs for both the gay and lesbian community.
What about Pride celebration? Buenos Aires is in the Southern Hemisphere, where the seasons are reversed, so the main Pride parade is celebrated in November when it’s summer there.
There’s another LGBT event in November: the “Festival Internacional de Tango Queer.” This includes five days of dance workshops in the main halls of the city with the most influential teachers, dancers, and tango orchestras. So traditional and fascinating!
Gay friendly cities in Africa
Cape Town, South Africa
In Africa, there are not very many gay friendly cities to list as more than 35 countries criminalize same-sex relationships, but South Africa is an exception. This country legalized same-sex marriages in 2006, becoming the fifth country in the world and the first in Africa to do so.
Cape Town, the capital, is the most welcoming city of the African continent for LGBT people. This dynamic city hosts several LGBT events every year, like the Cape Town Pride parade and the Out in Africa, an LGBT film festival.
Cape Town also has a gay neighborhood, De Waterkant, very popular at night for its beautiful gay clubs. Definitely an unforgettable stay for LGBTQ travelers who love Africa!
Gay friendly cities in Oceania
Sydney is one of the most amazing gay friendly cities: here you will find the largest gay community in Australia. The city is incredibly rich in nightspots and LGBT friendly restaurants.
The majority of gay clubs are found in Oxford Streets, particularly in the Darlinghurst area (also known as Darlo). You can also find other clubs in King Street, Newton. For the lesbian community, in Leichhardt (also called Dykehartd), there is a concentration of lesbian nightlife.
During February and March, a famous event called Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras takes place in Sidney. The three-week-long festival attracts more than 200.000 gay people around the world with its 100+ events. The festival ends with the Mardi Gras Parade (Sidney’s Pride Festival) on the first Saturday of March.
Auckland, New Zealand
New Zealand is an incredible LGBT friendly nation too! It has solid anti-discrimination legislation, and this makes Auckland, its capital, one of the most gay friendly cities in Oceania. The governing Labor Party, which gives its support to some centers of the city, has its own association called Rainbow Labor and their periodical meetings are open to anybody that would like to attend.
The gayest street (with the best gay bars and restaurants) is Ponsonby Road, which is, by the way, one of the trendiest areas of the city.
Hope you find the LGBT friendly city you are looking for! 🙂
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