The best LGBT-friendly holiday destinations around the world, from honeymoons to partying

These are some of the top places to go for a safe, welcoming and memorable break

James Litston
Saturday 01 June 2024 06:00 BST
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Madrid is popular as an LGBT+ spot
Madrid is popular as an LGBT+ spot (Getty Images/iStockphoto)

I very clearly remember my first holiday with a boyfriend. It was to Cannes, in France, nearly 25 years ago, and the hotel receptionist looked aghast. “Mais monsieur!” she cried when we tried to check in. “Il y a un grand lit!”

Though we laughed it off (and still use “monsieur!” as a comical catchphrase), not everyone would have found it funny to be told, rather loudly, that the room had just one bed.

Although such incidents are rare today in most of Europe, LGBT+ travellers are still not always as warmly welcomed as our binary counterparts.

As Pride month kicks off a party-packed season, it’s worth remembering that “out and proud” elements aren’t holiday prerequisites. LGBT+ people like sunshine, skiing, culture and the great outdoors just as much as straight people. What matters is the ability to holiday in safe and inclusive environments where anyone can be themselves without having an uncomfortable “monsieur!” moment. After all, isn’t LGBT+ travel just “travel“?

These are the destinations where you’ll feel most comfortable.

UK and Europe

Best for: party people

Denmark is one of the top LGBT-friendly destinations in Europe
Denmark is one of the top LGBT-friendly destinations in Europe ( Nick Karvounis)

There’s no need to travel far when there’s so much LGBT+ appeal close to home. Brighton and Manchester host the UK’s most credible Pride celebrations (both in August). Along with Hebden Bridge in West Yorkshire, Brighton also has one of the UK’s densest LGBT+ populations.

Read more on Europe travel:

On the continent, Denmark has a long history of acceptance (its first gay bar opened in 1955). Estonia came in from the cold more recently by legalising same-sex marriage (its second city, Tartu, is also one of this year’s European Capitals of Culture). But perhaps the most fun destination for LGBT+ travellers is Spain. Madrid Pride is Europe’s biggest (over two million people attend); Barcelona and Sitges are summertime favourites; and Gran Canaria loves Pride so much that it hosts two per year, in May and November.

Travel Supermarket has a six-night stay over Winter Pride in Gran Canaria at a well-located, three-star all-inclusive from £980pp, including flights and transfers.

USA

Best for: colourful LGBT+ communities

Provincetown celebrates different LGBT+ communities all summer
Provincetown celebrates different LGBT+ communities all summer (Getty Images)

If you’re celebrating Pride this summer, spare a thought for Marsha P Johnson, the New York drag queen who helped kickstart 1969’s Stonewall uprising from which every Pride event descends (discover more this month, when the Stonewall National Monument Visitor Centre opens).

NYC’s LGBT+ community remains as vibrant as ever, but the rainbow flag flies proudly in pockets all over America. Palm Springs, Key West, Fort Lauderdale and Miami have thriving communities, but perhaps the most joyful to visit is Provincetown, at the tip of Cape Cod. All summer long, each week celebrates a different LGBT+ subculture, from bears and party boys to women of colour.

Bon Voyage can package flights, two nights in Boston (room only), five nights in Provincetown (B&B) and ferry transfers from £2,399pp in September.

Australia

Best for: southern hemisphere sparkle

There’s a party atmosphere during Sydney Mardi Gras
There’s a party atmosphere during Sydney Mardi Gras (Getty Images)

South Australia may have been the first state Down Under to decriminalise homosexuality, but New South Wales has stolen the show ever since. Though the first LGBT+ march was met with heavy-handed policing in 1978, it paved the way for progress. Nowadays its offspring, Mardi Gras, is one of Australia’s biggest festivals, drawing tens of thousands of revellers to Sydney each February (the loudest cheers in the parade are saved for the “78ers”, those original disruptors). Elsewhere, with 2024 being the 30th anniversary of The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert, the spotlight is falling on the cult movie’s Outback locations.

Follow in the pink bus’s wake from Sydney to Alice Springs and beyond on Travel Nation‘s 14-night, self-guided tour. Flights, transfers, accommodation, some meals and a small-group ‘Red Centre’ experience cost from £3,305pp.

Thailand

Best for: chilled-out holidays and honeymoons

The sand of Patong Beach in Phuket awaits
The sand of Patong Beach in Phuket awaits (Getty Images/iStockphoto)

As well as taking steps this year towards legalising same-sex marriage, the self-styled “land of smiles” has lots to offer LGBT+ travellers – recent anti-discrimination laws for transgender people further demonstrate an openness.

Bangkok has a large and lively gay scene, especially along Silom Road, where you’ll find everything from karaoke to dance parties and drag shows," says Global Travel Collection’s Duncan Greenfield-Turk. “Chiang Mai also has a small but more laid-back LGBT+ community, while Phuket has bars, clubs and famous Patong Beach.”

Combine Bangkok and the beach with Inspiring Travel; flights, transfers, a three-night city break and seven nights in Phuket costs from £1,729pp, including breakfast (book by 31 July).

Morocco

Best for: LGBT+ trailblazers

Explore this part of North Africa with a specialist tour operator
Explore this part of North Africa with a specialist tour operator (Getty Images/iStockphoto)

Though Morocco is one of the 60-odd countries still criminalising homosexuality, it nevertheless stands out as the Arab world’s most liberal nation. Discriminatory laws are rarely enforced on foreign travellers; but is it right to holiday somewhere that locals can’t similarly be themselves?

Bilal El-Hammoumy of diversity-championing Inclusive Morocco thinks so. “Visibility fosters change,” he says. “By openly advocating for LGBT+ inclusivity and supporting employment opportunities for LGBT+ locals, we challenge societal norms to promote acceptance and understanding.”

While acknowledging the legal context, Inclusive Morocco works with LGBT-friendly accommodation and guides, allowing holidaymakers to explore more liberal parts of the country without fear of harassment.

A 13-day Echoes of the Atlas itinerary, teaming Marrakech with oases and deserts, costs from £3,170pp, including accommodation, transfers and all meals; flights extra.

Read more: Where to go on holiday in Morocco, from Marrakech to Fes

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