Travelling itself can be stressful, but once you get to your destination, there’s nothing better than being able to sit back and totally relax and unwind—or hit the road full speed ahead seeing everything there is to see! Either way, when travelling, it’s important to visit destinations where you can be safe, relax and enjoy your vacation fully. Sadly, there are some places around the world that can still be hostile towards or dangerous for travellers in the LGBTQ+ community. However, there are lots of destinations that welcome LGBTQ+ travellers with pride – see our top picks below.
1. Toronto, Canada
Canada consistently ranks as the #1 safest country for LGBTQ+ travellers. As Toronto is its largest city, one of the most politically active cities in the world in terms of gay rights, and home to an open and tolerant culture, it’s easy to see why it’s one of the best destinations for LGBTQ+ travellers. From dozens of museums to castles and parks, delicious food and waterfront views, Toronto is a must for your bucket list.
2. Stockholm, Sweden
In 2019, Sweden was named the world’s most LGBTQ-friendly travel destination, so there’s no doubt it’s an open and welcoming place for all travellers. There’s a number of LGBTQ-friendly restaurants, nightlife, events and more. However, you’ll find locals quite open and welcoming no matter where you go. Enjoy exploring cobblestone streets, the colourful Old Town, numerous cathedrals and palaces and plenty of waterfront views and romantic bridges.
3. Amsterdam, Netherlands
The Netherlands is one of the most LGBTQ-friendly countries in the world. Amsterdam in particular is sometimes cited as the birthplace of gay rights. It’s famous for its LGBTQ-friendly accommodation, nightlife, venues and more. Besides its explicit openness toward the LGBTQ+ community, locals tend to be extremely open and tolerant as well. Head to Amsterdam for some delicious food, evening strolls along the canals and plenty of parks and museums to explore.
4. Madrid, Spain
Madrid (along with Barcelona as well) has an open and tolerant culture, making it a welcoming destination for LGBTQ+ travellers. Not only does it have a history of supporting gay rights, it’s home to great LGBTQ-neighborhoods, nightlife and more. Local LGBTQ+ couples in Madrid tend to be quite open about their relationships in public, creating an inclusive feeling to the city that will put you at ease while you travel. Plus, it’s home to the biggest Pride event in Europe—a 10-day festival usually falling at the end of June.
5. London, UK
London is rated as one of the safest cities in the world for LGBTQ+ travellers, and the open and tolerant attitude of most locals backs that up. As London is a massive city, you’ll find certain neighborhoods are even more LGBTQ-friendly than others. For example, Soho, Camden and Vauxhall are known for being epicenters of London’s LGBTQ+ scene. However, you should feel safe and welcomed across the city in general. Besides, with so much to explore, you can stay for a week or for years and never run out of things to do.
6. Mykonos, Greece
Some consider Mykonos to be the original gay island in the Mediterranean, which means it has a long history as one of the best destinations for LGBTQ+ travellers. Both legally and socially, the LGBTQ+ community is very welcomed here. You’ll also likely meet dozens of other LGBTQ+ travellers while you’re there. Catch some stunning sunsets, enjoy the trendy and bustling nightlife, or just soak in the sun on Mykonos’ stunning beaches. It’s the perfect place for a romantic island getaway!
7. Sydney, Australia
Sydney is known as one of the most gay-friendly cities in Australia, and even in the world. While social customs and attitudes may vary in other, smaller cities in Australia, Sydney is home to a thriving LGBTQ+ scene and community. You probably don’t need much convincing to add Sydney to your bucket list, but it’s also home to an annual Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras festival. It’s one of the largest Pride events in the world (with over 500,000 people attending in 2019!).
Malta, a small archipelago in the Mediterranean Sea between Italy and Tunisia, is known for being a welcoming destination for LGBTQ+ travellers. Go for a hike, explore some of the ancient monuments, basilicas and ruins, or go for a swim in one of the many grottos, lagoons and ocean beaches. Whatever your travel style, Malta is the perfect place to kick back and truly relax.
9. New Zealand
New Zealanders—or Kiwis, as they’re more commonly known—are famous for their welcoming hospitality. LGBTQ+ travellers should feel safe and comfortable while travelling here. It’s also considered one of the most LGBTQ-friendly countries in the world. New Zealand offers an open LGBTQ+ scene that is widely accepted both legally and socially. Besides, New Zealand also offers a rich and welcoming culture, stunning scenery, bustling cities with nightlife options for everyone and plenty of outdoor adventures to get your adrenaline pumping. In short: it’s a bucket-list destination for every traveller.
For more resources, check out journalist Asher Fergusson’s detailed resources and study on the best (and worst) destinations for LGBTQ+ travellers. Ready to head off on your next adventure? We’ve got the cheap flights you need to make it possible.