9 Of the world's best LGBTQ+ destinations

BY Richard Mellor

27th Aug 2020 Travel

9 Of the world's best LGBTQ+ destinations

From index toppers to same-sex marriage pioneers, here are nine places where lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender travellers will feel safe and welcome


Sweden topped an LGBTQ+ index in November as the safest for gay-friendly travel. 

Not only that, but the progressive Nordic country boasts more Pride festivals per-capita than anywhere else, and its third city of Malmo will co-host 2021’s WorldPride with Copenhagen. Most impressively, homosexuality was legalised here way back in 1944.

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Cape Town, South Africa

The ‘Pink City’ is so-nicknamed not only because it’s one of Africa’s leading gay-friendly sanctums, but one of the world’s. 

In particular, Clifton 3rd beach and the trendy Green Point suburb are hubs. But you’ll find a similarly warm welcome in the world-class restaurants and galleries, atop Table Mountain or on the V&A Waterfront.


New Zealand

NZ is a real trailblazer: it was the first country to boldly adopt a ‘Gay/Lesbian Friendly’ label in 1998, and has vigorously lobbied more traditional Pacific lands to modernise their equality laws.

All the more reason for LGBTQ to sample its Lord of the Rings locations, fabulous natural wonders—glaciers, lakes, mountains and much more—or fabled outdoor-activity scene. 

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Tel Aviv, Israel

Unfortunately gay-tolerant locales do not abound across the Middle East, but Israel—and particularly its Mediterranean-side second city—certainly is one. 

In cosmopolitan Tel Aviv, same-sex couples openly hold hands or frequent in the many acclaimed restaurants. There are also devoted gay beaches, bars and parties, plus a government-funded Pride celebration.


San Francisco, USA

Several US cities impress, including Boston and Miami, but none can compete with San Fran’s LGBTQ+ legacy. This was the home of activist-politician-martyr Harvey Milk, of the proud Castro ‘gaybourhood’, of 1960s riots when police harassed one trans person too many.

Visit the GLBT Historical Society’s museum to learn more, in between crossing the Golden Gate Bridge, visiting island prison Alcatraz and riding those famous cable-car trolleys.

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Toronto, Canada

Further north, Toronto is ultra-progressive, with its scene anchored on cultural hub The Village. A staunch gay sub-culture there includes queer-friendly galleries, community centre The 519 and a huge Pride featuring its celebrated Dyke March.

As for Canada in general, travel blog Nomadic Boys calls it “the most gay-friendly country in the world.” The evidence includes (straight) premier Justin Trudeau “leading a gay pride parade, waving a transgender flag and crying out ‘Happy Pride’”



Few European countries can rival Spain’s high number of queer-friendly options, as well as some of the continent’s best gay beaches. The possible destinations include Madrid, host to many people’s favourite Pride, and the seaside, similarly-liberal Barcelona.

It is also, worth mentioning Bilbao, an architectural gem and gay-friendly. You can easily reserve an apartment in Bilbao online and get the true experience of this city.

Nearby town Sitges is perhaps the continent’s ultimate pink destination, with special events year-round, while Ibiza and Gran Canaria both have well-established scenes and clubs.




South America’s second-smallest nation makes for an unlikely gay-friendly bastion. Yet homosexuality has been decriminalised in chilled-out Uruguay since 1934, and same-sex marriage was legalised in 2013.

Buzzy capital Montevideo is the most progressive place of all, but consider also heading up-coast to blissful beach resort José Ignacio. Or south into Argentina, where Buenos Aires is just as tolerant, and just as tango-mad.

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Asia’s pink pioneer? That’ll be the autonomous island of Taiwan, which is the continent’s only country—if recognised as such—to have passed equal marriage laws.

Capital city Taipei hosts Asia’s largest gay festival in Asia in the shape of October’s Taipei Pride, plus monthly Blush parties. Taiwan even has a god devoted to homosexual love, Tu'er Shan, and a temple honouring him in Taipei.

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