Are you a gay person looking to travel? Or a group of friends? Interested in gay holidays? And what does that even mean? Are there places that are particularly LGBT+, or attract LGBT+ holdaymakers? We all like to break away from all the stress and tedium of daily life, so why should LGBT+ travellers be any different.
Either way, there’s nothing wrong with wanting to see new places (gay-friendly or not), meet new faces, and, if you’re feeling up for it, a holiday romance.
However, this begs the question — where do you go for a gay holiday? Well, that’s precisely where our travel guide comes for LGBT holidays come in.
Emerald Life was started to bring more equality and diversity to the world of financial services and our travel insurance is one of our proudest achievements with cover for all travel, whether for gay holidays or not!
We were the first travel insurer in the UK who didn’t require customers to disclose their HIV status if they were undetectable and on stable medication. That means no extra pricing and no declarations on your documentation.
We’ll go over some of the LGBT-friendly and best gay holiday destinations that are well worth considering.
You will find that there’s something for everyone, whether you want to explore the bars and clubs on your own or with like-minded people – new friends can be an essential part of a gay holiday.
Let’s get right to it!
Gay-Friendly Copenhagen, Denmark
If you’re looking for a gay-friendly destination, but don’t want to delve into anything too wild and crazy, then Copenhagen might be the best gay holiday destination for you. The city itself is has a rich and deep-rooted history as one of the staunchest advocates for gay rights around the world.
Copenhagen has always been one of the top LGBT destinations for gay men. It’s not difficult to see why when you can expect the following:
- Days filled with gastronomic delights inspired by New Nordic Cuisine
- Go sightseeing in a city that is home to Danish designs that promote a focus on simplicity and minimalist beauty.
- Gay-friendly museums and other cultural treasures that date back to 800 AD. History buffs will find no shortage of things to marvel at.
- Copenhagen is not only gay-friendly, but it’s also one of the most enjoyable cities in the world for a gay holiday. Gay tourists have access to cutting-edge public transport systems and hospitable public spaces humming with events for the LGBT community.
Simply put, if your idea of holiday destinations is to explore one of the most progressive cities in the world and take part in vibrant pride festivals instead of the usual bars and clubs, then Copenhagen is a holiday destination that’s hard to beat.
LGBT-Friendly Bangkok, Thailand
You simply can’t make a list of gay-friendly destinations and not have Bangkok on it. Thousands (if not millions) of gay men flock to Bangkok every year. While the city can be described as progressive and incredibly fast-paced, it’s located in a country that is generally LGBT-friendly. This makes it one of the gay holiday destinations in the world. The reputation of Bangkok has also come up in recent years and gay couples can holiday there very openly.
Some of the great things that you can look forward to if you choose to go to Thailand for your holiday include the following:
- Possibly the best shopping spree of your life
- Affordable gay bars and clubs
- Delectable cuisine
- Vibrant nightlife
Suppose your idea of a holiday is synonymous with adventure. In that case, with wild nights in gay bars and clubs, Bangkok is a popular gay holiday destination that is sure not to disappoint.
Mykonos, Greece — Gay Holiday for Newbies
Is it your first time entertaining the idea of gay holidays? If so, then Mykonos might be a great place to start! Most people outside of the LGBT community wouldn’t know it, but this unassuming Greek island happens to be one of the most gay-friendly destinations in the world.
The entire island is practically a paradise for gay men looking to dance the night away and partake in fabulous beach parties under the sun. It’s also home to some of the best gay bars in the world with plenty of strong drinks and great service. Of course, those wanting a calmer break can always spend their days sunbathing while enjoying the coastal scenery, and then a few sundowners at one of the many waterside bars.
Mykonos is also famous for its cuisine, from Greek taverna to Mayfiar spin-off, there’s something for most budgets.
So is Mykonos the perfect destination for your gay holidays? Well, that depends — do you want to travel to an island known for its great cuisine and nightlife alongside pristine beaches? If so, then Mykonos definitely belongs up there on your list.
LGBT holidays in Tel Aviv, Israel
Tel Aviv is located in one of the world’s most conservative countries and may not appear to be as gay-friendly as the other destinations in this list. However, that doesn’t stop it from earning the approval of the LGBT community, and for a good reason:
- Popular gay nightlife scenes that last throughout the year.
- A world-famous Pride every year
- Amazing white sandy beaches and gay-friendly destinations —marketplaces, restaurants, hotels, etc.
Let’s put it this way — if you want to travel to a place with beaches packed with some of the international gay jet set and endless options for cosmopolitan bars and restaurants, then a holiday in Tel Aviv might be the perfect destination for you.
It’s no secret that Paris has always been one of the best destinations for gay-friendly holidays. This makes Paris extremely hard to beat, as far as gay holidays are concerned.
Imagine spending the start of your evening sipping cocktails in a bar engaged in intellectual conversations, then ending it with an underground gay party. That’s what a regular weekday in Paris looks like. In the morning, you can explore the city’s cultural sights and enjoy authentic, fresh cuisine that you won’t find anywhere else in the world.
Should you choose Paris for your gay-friendly holidays? I’d say yes if you want to experience Parisian sophistication. You may need to speak the language, but in the right circumstances a few words can go a long way.
It’s clear at the moment that Hong Kong is going through something of a transition. However, if remains a popular LGBT+ destination, even if just for a two night stopover. While Hong Kong isn’t as big as the other destinations on our list of best holiday destinations, you will find that the territory makes up for it in different ways.
Hong Kong, in itself, is relatively unique and worth seeing at least once in your lifetime. While there’s a lingering sense of uncertainty in the region with Hong Kong classified as a “special administrative region” under China, there are at least three things that single gay men can look forward to — gorgeous views, a party crowd, and world-class restaurants.
If you want to spend your gay holidays sipping a martini on top of a skyscraper towering over the metropolis skyline, then Hong Kong is the place to be!
You might be surprised to find that a city in Tennessee has made this list. After all, suggesting a gay holiday to the southern states in the US may raise a few eyebrows. That said, give Nashville a chance, and you might find that it’s a welcoming and worthwhile place to spend your gay holidays.
Nashville is the place to be, particularly for gay men who are musically and artistically inclined (although we’d also recommend a trip to Austin, Texas too). The city hosts one of the most thriving art scenes in the world. Of course, when the sun goes down, you can always unwind in one of the hundreds of gay bars and restaurants in the city.
To sum it up, Nashville is the place to be if you’re the type who enjoys live musical performances, chi-chi neighbourhoods, and great art collections.
Queenstown, New Zealand
Okay, just because you’re looking at travel guides for gay holidays doesn’t mean it has to include gay bars and all-night parties. You might be gay and single, but perhaps you prefer spending the day skiing and meeting people in the pub over a cold glass of beer. Well, that pretty much describes a typical day in Queenstown — a resort town in New Zealand touted as the adventure capital of the world and for a good reason.
Gay or not, Queenstown is a haven for adrenaline junkies. Gay men who fit that description often make it a point to visit the town in September to participate in the yearly gay ski week and Winter Pride Festival.
So is Queenstown the right gay-friendly holidays stop for you? Well, that depends — do you like snow and skiing? If so, then the incredible alps scenery, hospitable locals, and cosmopolitan lifestyle are a bonus to an adrenaline-packed holiday destination.
If your idea of gay holiday destinations is to immerse yourself in a place and culture that’s different, then Tokyo might be an exciting addition to your bucket list. While Japan’s traditional culture does present some problems for people who identify as LGBT+, tourists are unlikely to experience any discrimination while exploring the city.
You will find that Tokyo’s gay scene is a unique, iconic, and an almost futuristic vibe, although the bars are known for being extremely small. Of course, you also get to sample the delicious cuisine and inspect the different cultural lifestyle prevalent among Japanese citizens.
Imagine a relaxing afternoon sipping tea in a zen garden and Japanese robot cabarets! If you’ve been looking for something different and can handle the sudden change of pace, Tokyo is a holiday destination worth considering.
Sydney is another great destination option for a gay holiday, with a friendly crowd, great weather and Mardi Gras! You will find that Australians are generally friendly and laid-back people. You can spend your mornings on a quest to find the perfect spot in the Sydney harbour, visiting art galleries and avant-gardist coffee shops.
Of course, there’s a small but perfectly-formed scene away from the beaches, so you can start in the afternoon with a cool latte and end up with something 40% proof in the wee small hours, enjoying everything from intimate cabaret to mega-clubs. i
Simply put, Sydney is the perfect holiday destination for someone who wants to partake in a wide range of LGBT+ related activities in a laid-back locale with mostly sunny weather all year round. Book early for the Mardi Gras though!
Palm Springs, Florida
Did you know that more than 40 percent of people in Palm Springs identify as LGBT+? With this statistic in mind, it’s safe to say that Palm Springs is one of the most welcoming places to spend your gay holidays. You’ll find just about everything there to suit popular gay culture — think gay resorts where clothing is optional, gay nightclubs, restaurants, even gay hiking trails, and campsites!
Founded initially as a desert retreat for Hollywood and cultural icons of the 1950s and 1960s — Audrey Hepburn, Jackie Kennedy, Marilyn Monroe, James Dean, etc., Palm Springs briefly slid into obscurity only to be restored by hikers, hipsters, and gay men in the 80s. Even then, the city had all the qualities that the LGBT+ hold in high regard — proximity to nature, great architecture, retro-chic vibes, and world-class resorts.
Gay holidays and events keep coming, and from there, it was only a matter of time before Palm Springs became one of the gayest cities in the US. Gay acceptance in the town is significant enough that in 2019, Palm Springs’ city council were all LGBT+ — the first in US history!
If your idea of gay-friendly holidays is to see one of the gayest cities in the world, where you don’t have to deal with the slightest hate and discrimination, then you can’t go wrong with Palm Springs.
Seoul, South Korea
Most people wouldn’t know it, but Seoul has a flourishing gay scene that many members of the LGBT+ community tend to overlook. Unless, of course, you know exactly where to look, and it’s not really that difficult. After all, South Koreans are keen followers of the latest trends in fashion and technology.
You will find that the city itself is mostly traditional and hold their temples and palaces in high regard. This contrasts significantly with the Skyscrapers towering over traditional homes and public spaces. It’s a city that never sleeps, and you can get your hands on a drink and a snack at anytime. The same can be said about the gay scene in this sprawling metropolis.
If something fun, friendly and off the beaten track appeals to you, then give Seoul a look.
It is often said that Rome is a city that everyone should see, at least once in their lifetime. After all, Rome’s iconic city has it all — a vibrant history, precious ruins, priceless works of art, life, and culture that’s unlike any other. All these things come together to create an extraordinary and memorable experience that a single gay man won’t soon forget.
As a holiday destination, Rome surely won’t disappoint! You’ll find plenty to do that’s LGBT+ friendly amidst a fantastic backdrop of the Roman architecture. As a capital city it has what you’d expect as a mix of old-favourite gay bars, new pop-ups, LGBT+ friendly restaurants and of course La Scala.
So the question remains — Should you head to Rome for your next holiday? For the food, the weather and the company, then Rome has everything going for it.
Puerto Vallarta, Mexico
Suppose your idea for a gay holiday is to immerse yourself in what is a very popular destination for members of the LGBT+ community. In that case, the small city of Puerto Vallarta might be perfect for you! Nestled between the breathtaking Sierra Madre mountains and the pristine waters of Bahía de Banderas, Puerto Vallarta has it all from world-class white sand beaches, fine dining establishments, lavish boutiques, and boardwalks where you can dance the night away.
LGBT+ travellers will feel right at home when they step into this fair city, and many visitors have even made it their home! That’s not surprising considering the number of gay bars, clubs, and hotels throughout the city.
Of course, the city offers plenty of activities for other members of the LGBT+ community as well. It’s safe to say that Puerto Vallarta is one of the most tolerant and gay-friendly travel destinations in the world. As a matter of fact, Mexico has become increasingly gay-friendly for as long as you remain respectful of the country’s cultural norms.
So should you go to Puerto Vallarta for your next gay holiday? Well, that depends — does your idea of a holiday involve immersing yourself in the tropics, excellent evening activities, and affordable indulgences? If so, then Puerto Vallarta is the place to be!
Dubai, United Arab Emirates
You might not believe it, but Dubai, as one of the more liberal spots in the Middle East, is somewhat of a regional haven as far as the local gay community is concerned. Dubai prides itself in its futuristic vision in the form of massive shopping centres, luxurious hotels, lavish infrastructure, and an almost shameless display of wealth.
Within the LGBT+ community, opinion remains divided between those travellers who want to go and be a visible example, and those who refuse to support a country that has very limited LGBT+ freedoms. It cannot be denied that the UAE is a highly conservative country. Openly discussing the gay scene in the region is not an option. That said, as long as you’re discrete, then within people’s homes you may find a party that suits. Again, it’s a very different experience from that which you might find in Europe or North America.
For some, the hotel living, winter sun and great service are worth there trip, but just be aware of what you are getting when you go.
Ottawa is home to one of the most highly visible gay communities in the world. That may not be surprising considering that Canada is one of the most LGBT-friendly countries on the planet. That said, many tend to make the mistake of overlooking the city when planning their holiday destination. Well, we suggest that you may want to review and look more into this great city.
The city is home to some of the most public advocates of gay pride in Canada. The gay scene there is very mature so there are plenty of opportunities to find something that suits you, from book clubs and parties to outdoors activities.
If you want a gay travel destination that can give you a year’s worth of things to do, then Ottawa might just be it!
Rovaniemi is a city known for its high-class saunas, quirky restaurants, extravagant hotels, and fascinating galleries. In stark contrast is the severe but beautiful wilderness that lies just outside the city limits. So what’s so special about this place?
While there’s no gay village as such in the city, that’s precisely part of the appeal. In Rovaniemi (and Finland in general), “gay” is more synonymous with being a happy and vibrant person. This makes the city ideal for slightly more adventurous gay travellers looking for something different but generally very accepting.
So should you go to Rovaniemi for your next gay holiday? Well, let’s put it this way — If you want to visit one of the most hospitable places on Earth that’s different from a LGBT+ city break and immerse yourself in an untouched landscape, then Rovaniemi is the place to be! It’s one of the few travel destinations where everyone is welcome, regardless of their race, gender, and sexual orientation.
For many, Chicago may sound very similar to a generic big city break so why does this particular US city stand out? Well, there’s some spectacular architecture, on the edge of a beautiful lake so you are sure to change your mind after immersing yourself in the local eats (deep-dish pizzas but much more), great lakefront entertainment, and live music festivals.
As a big city in the UK, of course there’s a gay village in Chicago, and it’s not just any gay village — it’s the first officially recognized gay village in North America. For some, perhaps controversially, Chicago has all the attractions of New York, but the people are friendlier. As we said, controversial….
Vienna is famous for its opera houses, castles, and other imperial sights. With plenty of references to the Sound of Music and the Von Trapps, there is a subtle gay theme that runs through Vienna even before you think about bars and entertainment.
As in many Central European countries, the gay scene in Vienna can be quite vibrant — if you know where to look. You’ll find everything from gay markets and galleries to bookshops, gay pools, and of course, places to drink and dance! There are also the local eats which are nothing to scoff at — Sachertorte (traditional chocolate cake) and cocktails.
Should you go to Vienna for your next gay holiday? Well, the architecture is spellbinding, the venues are spectacular, and the people are friendly. And – there’s always that Sound of Music singalong tour that you can go on!
So there you have it — some traditional, and some quirkier, destination ideas for a gay holiday. Whichever destination you choose, you can expect to immerse yourself in one of the few places on Earth where you are genuinely welcome and free to mingle with other like-minded individuals.
Of course, before your departure date, make sure that you follow the UK government’s travel advice to get travel insurance regardless of your destination. Obtain information about financial protection and the risks you’re taking if you enter a country without travel insurance. If you get injured or sick overseas and require medical treatment/evacuation, you can end up paying for everything out of pocket. That can be expensive, especially in the US, where healthcare costs can be eye-watering.
At Emerald, we pride ourselves on our LGBT+-friendly service, and product range. We work within the community, with several special focus groups such as travellers living with HIV and trans travellers, so make sure that we have things right – or as right as we can make them!