As a gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender individual, understandably, you want your voyages to be hassle-free, especially if you choose to bring a partner or your family along. At the same time, you have many of the same desires as straight individuals, couples and families. You want to see the sights and enjoy attractions of different locations just like everyone else. The ten destinations included below are located throughout Europe. Regardless of whether you prefer lounging on sun-splashed beaches or exploring thousand-year-old architecture, there is a gay-friendly destination within Europe that is certain to fulfill your every expectation.
1. Sitges, Spain
Despite its overwhelmingly Catholic population, Spain has legalized gay marriage. This means that you and your same-sex partner are welcome to enjoy the attractions of this sunny destination. The male-only, swimwear-optional beach is especially appealing to gay men. There are also gay discos, gay shopping centers, gay restaurants and, of course, gay hotels, in addition to charming architecture and gorgeous waterfront scenery.
2. Barcelona, Spain
One of Europe’s top overall tourist destinations, Barcelona, Spain is also gay-friendly. Gay bars and clubs along with to-die-for shopping and food make Barcelona appealing to the entire Gay-Lesbian-Bisexual-Transgender (GLBT) community. The gay party scene centers around Eixample, affectionately nicknamed “gayxample” by locals. The area is home to gay bookstores, bars and clubs. Of course, Barcelona’s warm, sunny climate, wonderful food and beautiful scenery also don’t hurt.
3. Copenhagen, Denmark
Although gay marriage is not legal in Denmark, same-sex couples enjoy many of the recognitions extended to straight couples. In Copenhagen, the laid-back capital city of Denmark, the attitude of locals is tolerant and accepting of the LGBT community as well as toward same-sex couples. Museums, shopping, beaches and hot gay clubs are some of the many attractions that make Copenhagen a must-see destination. The Copenhagen Gay Centre covers two floors and features video and darkroom facilities, cabins and a sauna.
4. Amsterdam, the Netherlands
In the Netherlands, gay marriage is legal, and Amsterdam hosts one of the splashiest, showiest Gay Pride celebrations in Europe, if not the entire world. Held over several days in August each year, the Canal Parade is one of the highlights of the event. Amsterdam gay pride is in evidence all year round, with Fetish Fantasy Weekend in March and Leather Pride in October. If you are looking for ideas, or just need help getting around, the Pink Point kiosk offers gay and lesbian-related information as well as souvenirs.
5. Mykonos, Greece
By day, Mykonos, Greece draws multitudes of gay visitors to its sunny beaches. At night, the island is alive with activity around its many gay bars and clubs. If beaches and clubs are not your thing, Mykonos also offers stunning scenery, with whitewashed structures. Although same-sex couples do not enjoy legal recognition in Greece, the island of Mykonos is very tolerant and gay-friendly.
6. Berlin, Germany
Germany provides legal recognition to same-sex unions, although gay marriage is not legal. Its capital city of Berlin is young, vibrant and tolerant. Still relatively inexpensive, Berlin draws a cross-section of artists, musicians and entrepreneurs who enjoy the vibrant atmosphere. At night, Berlin becomes a gay haven, with dozens of gay bars, clubs and saunas. Culture vultures can indulge themselves in Berlin’s Gay Museum, Archive and Library. The Schwules Museum also has extensive holdings on gay culture and history.
7. Paris, France
It is natural that the unofficial world capital of love would also be gay-friendly. Indeed, France grants legal recognition to same-sex unions, although gay marriage is not legal in the country. Paris counts as a dream destination for gay and straight travelers alike because of its rich cultural heritage, its amazing food and stunning beauty. The French flair for fashion means that Paris is also ideal for people watching. Le Marais, next to the Hotel de Ville, represents one of the hot spots for gay life in the city.
8. London, England
The British stereotype calls for stiff upper lips and stuffy attitude but those attitudes are fading. The United Kingdom recognizes same-sex unions, although gay marriage is not legal. London boasts culture, architecture, scenery and more than 2,000 years of history. Soho and Vauxhall are both hotspots of gay nightlife, featuring lively gay and lesbian bars. The London Pride LGBT Cultural Festival, held from mid-June to early July each year represents the highlight of the gay calendar in London
9. Stockholm, Sweden
Scandinavians are known for their tolerant attitudes, and Sweden grants legal recognition to same-sex couples. Stockholm, Sweden, in addition to being a world-class tourist destination, reflects that tolerance, especially the Katarina-Sofia and Maria-Garnia Stan districts. Each of these two areas is prominent for culture, music, entertainment and fashion, as well as a laid-back atmosphere and delicious Scandinavian cuisine.
10. Geneva, Switzerland
Located in the heart of Europe, Switzerland has a long-standing reputation for being especially open-minded. French-speaking Geneva serves as a magnet for gay culture in Switzerland. With its many gay-owned bar and gay-friendly hotels and clubs, LGBT travelers should feel at ease. This beautiful country has much to offer to travelers of all tastes and preferences, from winter sports to architecture to cultural attractions.
Back in the day, members of the LGBT community had to tread carefully when they traveled outside familiar territory. With increasing acceptance of gays and lesbians, this is largely no longer the case. However, following common-sense precautions is still advisable when traveling, especially at night.