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
Palm-fringed promenades, cobbled streets, and stunning old architecture make Sitges one of the best gay-friendly destinations in Europe. Often referred to as “the gayest city in the Mediterranean,” LGBT+ tourists can outnumber heterosexuals during the summer months, and the city’s thriving gay culture is evident throughout.
Residents and travelers in Sitges can enjoy the rights and protections afforded to LGBT+ people throughout the rest of Spain. Gay marriage has been legal in the country since 2005, and many laws protect LGBT+ people from discrimination and danger. Therefore, it is one of the safest gay destinations in Europe.
The gay scene in Sitges, Spain
Along with the city’s main nightlife, this one of the best gay-friendly destinations in Europe provides with plenty of LGBT+ establishments and spaces here, with thousands of people visiting this quirky city every year. There are about 24 gay bars worth visiting. Most gay bars and clubs in Sitges are located in the city center. The best destinations for the local gay scene are the Parrot Pub, the Organic Dance Club, and the Central Bar Cafe.
Playa de la Bassa Rodona is the most popular gay beach in Sitges, and during the summer months, it is full of gays looking for the sun. Located close to the center of the city’s gay nightlife, the beach is a must-see on your gay-friendly Sitges itinerary due to nearby cocktail bars, attractive guys, and a laid-back vibe.
In addition, Gay Pride is held in this one of the perfect gay-freindly destinations in Europe every June and lasts five days. Thousands of LGBT+ people come to the city for the annual celebrations. Sitges Pride is often considered one of the best in Europe, hosting beach parties, marches, and colorful parades.
2. Barcelona, Spain
Another best gay-friendly destination in Spain is Barcelona, located only 40 km from Sitges and is a lively center of cultural and historical significance. Gay bars and clubs along with to-die-for shopping and food make Barcelona appealing to the entire Gay-Lesbian-Bisexual-Transgender (GLBT) community. Of course, Barcelona’s warm, sunny climate, wonderful food and beautiful scenery also don’t hurt.
The popularity of Spain in general and Barcelona in particular among representatives of sexual minorities has been since, in 2005, it became one of the first European countries where same-sex marriages were legalized. Spain was also recognized as the most gay-friendly country.
The gay scene in Barcelona, Spain
The gay party scene centers around Eixample, affectionately nicknamed “gayxample” by locals. This gay-friendly area is home to gay bookstores, bars and clubs. Barcelona suits the interests and tastes of every gay traveler. Gaudí’s work can be seen throughout the city, and his Gothic style is featured in some of Barcelona’s most famous buildings.
You can go on several excursions to fully explore its impact on this top destination for LGBTQ travelers in Europe. It is here that members of the LGBT community have firmly established themselves. The main local attraction is the numerous gay bars. The Eixample is definitely worth a visit, and its small size means it can easily be explored in one day.
Furthermore, every summer, Barcelona, one of the best gay-friendly destinations to visit in Europe hosts the largest Mediterranean festival, Pride Barcelona. During this period, not only in Geishample but throughout the city, theme parties and other entertainment events are held for members of the LGBT community and those who have joined them. Usually, hundreds of thousands of people take part in the festival every year.
More: 10 Best Gay-Friendly Hotels in the World
3. Copenhagen, Denmark
Although gay marriage is not legal in gay-friendly Denmark, same-sex couples enjoy many recognitions extended to straight couples. Denmark has one of the most developed LGBT legal systems in the world, where same-sex marriage was legalized and received legal recognition in 1989. Later, in 2012, the Church of Denmark made it possible for same-sex couples to celebrate their union in the church and the city hall.
In Copenhagen, the laid-back capital city of Denmark, the attitude of locals is tolerant and accepting of the LGBT community and toward same-sex couples. It makes this city one of the safest gay-friendly destinations in Europe.
The gay scene in Copenhagen, Denmark
Museums, shopping, beaches, and hot gay clubs are attractions that make gay-friendly Copenhagen a must-see destination. The Copenhagen Gay Centre covers two floors and features video and darkroom facilities, cabins, and a sauna.
Masken Bar should be on your list. It is the oldest gay club in one of the best LGBTQ-friendly destinations to visit in Europe, Copenhagen and was voted the best gay bar in Denmark in 2013. Another option is to visit G-A-Y Copenhagen, one of the city’s most popular gay clubs. You can look forward to a fantastic evening at this club and listen to the best music from renowned DJs.
If you find yourself in Copenhagen, one of the best LGBTQ-friendly destinations, in August, participate in the country’s most significant human rights event – Copenhagen Pride Week! This is a massive event that lasts a whole week and in which voter turnout has been increasing over the years. Pride starts at Copenhagen City Hall and includes tours throughout the gay-friendly city and concerts, shows, films, and celebrations across the nation’s capital.
More: 10 Best Gay-Friendly Beaches in South Florida
4. Amsterdam, the Netherlands
In the Netherlands, gay marriage is legal. The Netherlands is the first country in the world to legalize same-sex marriage. As the first country to legalize same-sex marriage in 2001, the Netherlands has an emotional connection to LGBT+ people. The Netherlands decriminalized homosexuality in 1811. Therefore, it is also one of the most incredible and LGBT-friendly places in the world. Undoubtedly, there is no safer city for homosexuals than Amsterdam. Amsterdam, along with other European capitals, is one of the world’s top destinations for the LGBT community.
It is a safe place for people who have been persecuted for their beliefs or lifestyle. Therefore, it is unsurprising that Amsterdam has been one of the most gay-friendly destinations. This is why Amsterdam is today perceived as Europe’s gay capital, with tolerance taking center stage.
The gay scene in Amsterdam, the Netherlands
The options this one of the most LGBTQ-friendly destinations to visit in Europe offers are endless. Warmoesstraat, for many years, attracted the attention of gays and lesbians in Amsterdam. It is, above all, the heart of the Amsterdam gay scene. Visitors may be surprised by all the things to do and see on this street. This street also has many specialty shops, saunas, pubs, and clubs, which attract men and women worldwide.
Amsterdam has impressive nightlife, offering a great variety of LGBTQ-friendly entertainments. For example, Zeedijk is where the first gay bar was opened in the Netherlands in 1927. It is still a popular meeting place, and the interior is gorgeous. However, next to this first cafe in the area, some other bars and clubs are also very popular with locals and tourists. The most popular gay club in Amsterdam is the Cockring.
Gay-friendly 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 event’s highlights. Amsterdam gay pride is in evidence all year round, with Fetish Fantasy Weekend in March and Leather Pride in October.
More: 10 Gay and Lesbian Vacation Destinations in Latin America
5. Mykonos, Greece
Being one of the most popular gay-friendly destinations in Europe, Mykonos is an island with beautiful nature and a trendy bohemian resort. Considered one of the most expensive Greek islands, Mykonos is supremely stylish and offers the perfect mix of chic hotels, bustling, fun nightlife, and glamorous people.
Mykonos has been a gay-friendly holiday destination for over 30 years. In 2014, extensive anti-discrimination laws came into effect, which supplements the limited protections that have been available since 2005. In addition, in 2015, same-sex cohabitation agreements came into force. These same-sex civil unions grant all marriage rights except adoption. Although same-sex couples do not enjoy legal recognition in Greece, the island of Mykonos is very tolerant and gay-friendly.
The gay scene in Mykonos, Greece
Mykonos has a great gay beach scene. By day, Mykonos, Greece, draws multitudes of gay visitors to its sunny beaches. You are welcome to sunbathe in the sun on the best beaches, such as Elia, Jackie O beach, and others.
Mykonos is a party paradise! At night, the island is alive with activity around its many gay bars and clubs. For example, Jackie O is one of the best gay-friendly destinations. Unique drag shows are regularly held here, and the DJ plays the most famous hits for you until dawn. Lola, Porta, and Babylon are other no less excellent establishments in Mykonos.
If beaches and clubs are not your things, Mykonos also offers stunning scenery with whitewashed structures. In addition, Mykonos, one of the top destinations for LGBT travelers, hosts the hottest annual gay community summer festival in Europe. Started in 2009, the Xlsior Festival gathers 30,000 people from around the world yearly. Moreover, the coolest stars of the gay world are invited to the festival.
More: 10 Gay-Friendly Countries in the World
6. Berlin, Germany
Around the world, Germany is perhaps considered one of the most progressive and open European countries for the LGBT community. Berlin, in particular, is a place where anyone can be anyone. Berlin proudly boasts a vibrant and inclusive gay history dating back to the golden age of the 1920s.
Germany provides legal recognition to same-sex unions, although gay marriage is not legal. Its capital Berlin is young, vibrant, and tolerant. Still relatively inexpensive, Berlin draws a cross-section of artists, musicians, and entrepreneurs who enjoy the lively atmosphere.
The gay scene in Berlin, Germany
Berlin becomes a gay haven at night, with dozens of gay bars, clubs, and saunas. Many quarters of the city concentrate on the cheerful life of the German capital. The districts of Schöneberg (where gay pride is held), Kreuzberg, and Prenzlauerberg provide a variety of clubs, bars, and restaurants for tasting.
In addition, cultural vultures can indulge themselves in Berlin’s Gay Museum, Archive and Library. The Schwules Museum also has extensive holdings on gay culture and history. Finally, make sure to catch Berlin Pride, the world famous one.
More: 10 Cruise Lines for Gay and Lesbian Travelers
7. Paris, France
Naturally, the unofficial world capital of love would also be gay-friendly. Indeed, France grants legal recognition to same-sex unions, although gay marriage is illegal in the country. Full of glamour, style, class, and fun, Paris is one of the best gay-friendly destinations in the world.
Being the capital of a fairly conservative country, Paris has always been known for its tolerance and freedom of expression. Paris is a dream destination for gay and straight travelers because of its rich cultural heritage, fantastic food, and stunning beauty.
The gay scene in Paris, France
Paris, being an open and LGBT-friendly city towards foreign visitors, has a huge number of places of recreation and entertainment, hundreds of bars and restaurants, and also provides organized tours of the historic city center.
The French flair for fashion means that Paris is also ideal for people-watching. The gay district of Paris is located in the historical part of the city. Le Marais, next to the Hotel de Ville, represents one of the hot spots for gay life in the city and is one of the most fashionable and expensive quarters.
Finally, throughout the year, from January to July, unique events are dedicated to the LGBT community: festivals, art, film, and of course, pride.
More: 10 Best Gay-Friendly Restaurants in the World
8. London, England
The British stereotype calls for stiff upper lips and stuffy attitudes, but those attitudes are fading. However, London attracts tourists not only with its rich history and unique architecture but also with a special holiday atmosphere and a variety of entertainment. The UK capital is also a popular LGBT tourism destination.
London is an icon not only because of the royal family but because it’s one of the best gay-friendly destinations in Europe. The United Kingdom recognizes same-sex unions, although gay marriage is not legal.
The gay scene in London, England
London has many exciting places to enjoy the best of LGBT life and culture, with exclusive bookstores, amazing rooftop bars, theater, and music.
Soho and Vauxhall are both hotspots of gay nightlife, featuring lively gay and lesbian bars. Numerous pubs and nightclubs, rainbow parades, themed events, and the entire gay district of Soho welcome LGBT tourists from all over the world.
Additionally, the London Pride LGBT Cultural Festival, held from mid-June to early July each year, represents the highlight of the gay calendar in London. The gay parade has been held in London for half a century and is considered the largest in the world. Every year it gathers tens and hundreds of thousands of participants and spectators. It also includes various entertainment and cultural events for the queer community, including themed exhibitions, concerts, parties, theater performances, and more. The LGBT-friendly city at this time is transformed, and the streets and buildings are decorated with rainbow flags and colorful balloons.
More: 10 Gay-Friendly Cities around the World
9. Stockholm, Sweden
Scandinavians are known for their tolerant attitudes, and Sweden grants legal recognition to same-sex couples. Registration of a civil partnership for same-sex couples in Sweden was legalized in 1995. Since 2009, same-sex marriages and church weddings have also been allowed. In 2003, same-sex couples were legally allowed to adopt children.
In addition to being a world-class gey-friendly tourist destination, Stockholm, Sweden, reflects that tolerance, especially in the Katarina-Sofia and Maria-Garcia 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.
The gay scene in Stockholm, Sweden
Start with a stroll through Stockholm’s Old Town, the best way to appreciate the beauty and character of the city. Meander through its cobbled streets, where you will find many small cafes and independent shops. If you’re looking to enjoy a drink or two, the LGBT-friendly Mälarpaviljongen swim bar has a great view and might just be the place for you.
In addition, Stockholm hosts the biggest Pride celebration in Scandinavia and is not to be missed. The Gay Pride in Stockholm is a colorful festive procession during which thousands of people carry huge posters and banners, banners and flags with appropriate symbols, shout slogans and sing songs, dance, and have fun. The action is accompanied by groovy music, performances, and shows.
More: 10 Fantastic Destinations to Visit in 2014
10. Geneva, Switzerland
Located in the heart of Europe, the top destination for LGBTQ travelres, Switzerland has a long-standing reputation for being open-minded. French-speaking Geneva serves as a magnet for gay culture in Switzerland. This beautiful country has much to offer travelers of all tastes and preferences, from winter sports to architecture to cultural attractions.
Surrounded by the stunning Alps, the fairly liberal city has incredible views of the famous Mont Blanc. You are welcome to spend time walking on the lake, exploring the cafe culture of the Old Town, and then visiting the city’s gay bars and saunas in the evening.
The gay scene in Geneva, Switzerland
With its many gay-owned bars and gay-friendly hotels and clubs, LGBT travelers should feel at ease. It has a good selection of saunas, cruise clubs, gay bars, and dance clubs serving gay clients. For example, Le Declic Bar has been the main meeting place for the LGBT community in Geneva since 1988. Initially, the bar featured drag shows, magicians, acrobats, and artists. Also, Cruising Canyon is a popular cruise club where themed parties are held regularly.
It would be great to visit Rue du Marchais, one of the main streets of Geneva and one of the best places to buy gifts or treat yourself. Here you can find almost everything you can imagine.
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.
Below, we have compiled a list of the most interesting questions about the best gay-friendly destinations in Europe: