Being part of the LGBTQ is hard enough in the current political climate. So when one hears about gay-friendly hotspots or travel destinations, our community as a whole gets excited. But who could blame us? Feeling safe and welcomed while having tons of fun and relaxing during travel is pretty standard!
While travel is currently curtailed due to the global pandemic, this doesn’t mean we aren’t able to begin planning our next trip! Here are some of the hottest travel destinations for the LGBTQ community.
Denmark gave official recognition to same-sex couples long before any other country on the planet, and the capital city of Copenhagen is a magnet for gay travelers from around the globe. The city is recognized as one of the world's most progressive and most welcoming destinations for LGBTQ travelers. Some of the best bars to check out, include Centralhjørnet, an over-the-top décor bar that holds amazing cabaret shows and one of the oldest bar in all of Europe. The Jailhouse is also a fun one to visit with its jail-themed basement bar and restaurant. Pair that with all uniformed bartenders and prison cell seating, you may have a fun night in the slammer! Café Intime is located in the heart of upmarket Frederiksberg, and it is a Bohemian piano bar & café, with a retro feel of the 1920s. This bar features a nice alternative to the other bars in the city with live pianists accompanied by great singers to soothe your soul all night long. For the ladies, Vela will be your pick. It is the only all-girls bar in Copenhagen, owned and operated by Mama Vela, who runs the place as both a hangout and dance club. What did Shania say? “Let’s go girls.”
Palm Springs, California
Palm Springs is a long-time favorite, and to this day, still a good one. Sun, hot springs, and clothing-optional, resorts in the heart of the beautiful Sonoran Desert. Greater Palm Springs, with its large and vibrant lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender community, is well-known as a welcoming LGBTQ travel destination. For some fun nights out, check out The Barracks for some leathery action. This is the longest-running leather bar in the area, popular with the bear community and their admirers. Here, you’ll find leather-clad daddies, bears, and muscle men gathered on the outdoor patio. For a sing-along spot with VJs showing classic, and obscure, music video clips, popular with the LGBTQ crowd, head on down to QUADZ.
Let it be known that Palm Springs holds the largest lesbian festival on earth – The Dinah Shore Weekend. If interested head on over to this link. This place is packed with many excellent gay bars and gay clubs and home to many gay and gay-popular hotels and resorts. Worth the checkout!
Buenos Aires, Argentina
In Latin America, Argentina became the first country to legalize gay marriage. This legislature included full adoption rights and anti-discrimination laws that are in full force in the capital city - Buenos Aires.
The capital has one of the best gay scenes across South America. The LGBTQ community in Buenos Aires is massive and is spread mainly across Palermo and other neighborhoods like San Telmo and Recoleta. Whatever rocks your boat, this place has hangouts for everyone.
New Inside, in Palermo, is the most unique restaurant you'll ever go to! It's a gay-owned restaurant that caters to a primarily gay crowd. Tango Queer in San Telmo is one of the best gay milongas (gay tango halls) in Buenos Aires. You cannot come to Buenos Aires and not do a gay tango class. It's not only romantic but it is an excellent way to meet friends. More dancing can be done at Amerika Club in Almagro, the largest gay club of Buenos Aires and one of the biggest in South America. Spread across 3 floors, it hosts various theme nights. Head down to Peuteo Bar, a ‘heterofriendly‘ video gay bar located in the heart of Palermo. If you’re into Rupaul and all his quirks, this is the place to come for Ru Paul's Drag Race viewing parties.
In 2019 it was the first (and to date, only) country in Asia to legalize gay marriage. The main gay area of Taipei is in and around the Ximen Red House in the Ximending district. There are also many other gay bars and clubs scattered around Taipei, beyond the Ximen Red House pink bubble, particularly on the East side of the city.
Check out Empress, a chic bar attracting guys and girls in their 20s & 30s. It is a very trendy hang-out for those looking to network and makes new friends. If you’re into bondage and S&M, Commander located on the upper level of the gay village is a leather, S&M, fetish bar. Club Funky is one of the oldest gay clubs in Taipei, (and still one of the most popular) attracting guys of all ages looking for a night of fun and offers a large dance floor in the middle of the club’s basement with a lot of seating. The music here is a mix of Asian pop and international top 10, so get ready to get your K-pop on! You can also pop by Hunt, a basement gay bar offering regular themed nights like small towel night and KY wrestling, also not forgetting underwear night. Hunt is strictly for the daring!
Berlin has been known for its thriving gay community for years. So when the German government voted to allow gay marriage in 2017, Berliners rejoiced. Who wouldn’t? Berlin houses some of the more famous and notoriously hot gay bars, clubs, and even saunas in Europe! This city makes for a diverse destination and would be attractive for many colors of the LGBTQ rainbow as it has something for just about every interest!
There are great queer bars such as SilverFuture in Neukölln that is cozy, fun, and welcoming. The Zum Schmutzigen Hobby in Friedrichshain is the spot where you’ll find the cream of the Berlin queer scene here, as well as the occasional international celeb slumming it in style (Rupert Everett and Tara Reid have both been spotted here). Looking for something a little different? The Neues Ufer (‘The New Side’) is one of the city’s oldest gay cafés and is located off the beaten Schöneberg track. This place was a go-to hangout for David Bowie during his late-1970s Berlin exile; he lived a few doors down on Hauptstrasse.
Berlin is still the self-proclaimed gay capital of Europe and holds Stadtfest Berlin, the biggest gay-lesbian city festival, every July.
New York, New York
The Big Apple! This city is by far the ultimate LGBTQ travel destination with something for everyone on the spectrum. Here, in the birthplace of Pride, we can hop from dive to nightclub to karaoke bar without ever stepping foot in a straight establishment. Each LGBTQ bar offers a wildly different experience. There’s Hell’s Kitchen, which is the LGBTQ neighborhood and is populated with LGBTQ bars or if you are looking for a specific bar, Henrietta Hudson in the Village is one of three remaining lesbian bars in the five boroughs. Drop into The Rosemont, a trendier alternative for Brooklynites to get their freak on and late-night dancing. If the queer and transgender scene is more your speed, check out Wednesday nights at The Woods in Brooklyn, where fun is sure to be had. And of course, no trip to New York City would be complete with paying your respect at The Stonewall Inn. New York is a living museum of LGBTQ history, cultural icons, and legendary landmarks – don’t miss it!
The country formerly known as Siam is fast becoming the destination of choice for gays and lesbians traveling through Southeast Asia. It is famous for being one of the more gay-friendly countries in Asia, and with a capital city like Bangkok, you can understand why! The gay scene here is thriving, with so many gay bars, clubs, hotels, massage parlors, restaurants, and more – largely centered in Silom. Silom Soi 4 is a side street off Silom Road full of gay bars. It is the perfect place for pre-drinks or simply relaxing with a drink while people-watching. Silom Soi 4 is at its best from 9 pm – 12 am after which people move across the road to the gay party street of Silom Soi 2 where the majority of the gay clubs of Bangkok can be found.
Think weed, think gay, think Amsterdam! In 2001, the Netherlands became the first country in the world to legalize gay marriage and the country is well known for its tolerance. During Pride Week, people and the LGBTQ community come together to celebrate inclusion and equality and less about protesting. You’re never going to get bored here because the city offers a multitude of things to do! Hit the many gay bars in the Reguliersdwarsstraat, Amsterdam’s most famous, trendy, and colorful gay street, where everyone is welcomed. In the 1970s and ’80s, Reguliersdwarsstraat – situated close to Rembrandtplein became a focal point for Amsterdam’s gay nightlife and remains so to this day. The area is still known for its tight community in which everyone seems to know each other. The Queen’s Head in the Zeedijk is an area on the livelier end of the spectrum and is perfectly perched on the edge of the Red Light District. This bar entertains with muscled men in various stages of undress ready to greet you at the window, make sure to stop by on a Tuesday night for Drag Queen Bingo – you will love it! Groove well into the night at NYX, one of the most popular gay clubs in Amsterdam. Spread over three floors, each one with its music genre and a lively crowd, you’ll feel like Alice in Wonderland – falling down a rabbit hole full of graffiti, neon, and smoke. If none of these is your vibe, cozy up with a drink at the oldest gay bar in Amsterdam, the Cafe 't Mandje which opened in 1927.
Auckland, New Zealand
The gay scene in New Zealand is reasonably small by international standards. Nonetheless, Auckland still has multiple LGBTQ venues and festivals, as well as being voted the 15th gayest city in the world. From bars, cafes, gay-friendly hotels to gay saunas, this city has some pretty interesting things to offer.
Centurian Sauna is a large, famous gay sauna in New Zealand. Their facilities include 14 private cabins, 3-level gay cinema, maze, Sky TV, solarium, spa pool, steam room, dry sauna, and internet access. Lubricants, condoms, mouthwash, tea & coffee are also provided for free. They host regular theme parties which include Towel-Off Night and Live DJ Sundays. If you want to get out and about, make time to check out the city’s famous Karangahape Road or more popularly known as the K’ Road for some of its trendy gay bars like Family Bar and Club, the G.A.Y Auckland night club. Every shop, café, and restaurant is different, but there’s a strong sense of community in K’ Road. There are plenty of places to just sit back with a perfect coffee or dance the night away. K’ Road’s nightlife is perhaps Auckland’s most colorful as the strip is home to cabaret-style restaurants, karaoke bars, gay clubs, and local pubs offering live music.
Wherever you choose to go, you’re sure to enjoy your time after a year of global lockdowns. As the pandemic comes under control and travel opens up we know that we are excited to visit any or all of these places that are inclusive of types of beautiful people.