If you’re planning a late summer getaway, here are 5 of the best LGBT-friendly hotspots.
As a queer person, it isn’t always as simple as picking a destination and packing your bags — we want and need places where we can relax, feel safe, accepted and comfortable to explore.
Fortunately the world is a changing place, and there are more and more destinations that are welcoming to queer holidaymakers. While the most LGBT-friendly destination is ultimately subjective and down to personal experience, we’ve rounded up some of the hotspots renowned for inclusivity – as well as breathtaking sights, exhilarating activities and kaleidoscopic nightlife.
Official advice on travelling amid the pandemic is continually changing, so be sure to check the government’s website for the most up-to-date information on rules and restrictions.
1. Malta is one of Europe’s most beautiful LGBT-inclusive spots
Diving in Malta around the P31 Shipwreck. (Supplied)
Malta has been ranked number one on the Rainbow Index of LGBT-friendly countries and is one of five countries in the world that has LGBT+ rights at a constitutional level. The Mediterranean archipelago is known for its beautiful, clean beaches; historically important architecture and world-class diving sites.
Right now, it has some of Europe’s lowest COVID-19 rates and highest vaccination rates, with fully-vaccinated tourists able to arrive and head straight for the beach without any quarantine time – plus, there are financial incentives to benefit travellers.
There are some LGBT+ spaces here including bars and clubs, but with Malta’s increasingly inclusive ethos, the need for specifically queer spaces has thinned out a little as the entire island opens up for us.
2. Staycation in Britain’s queer capital, Brighton
Brighton Pier (Tristan Fewings/Getty)
Brighton has long been considered the LGBT+ capital of the UK – a reputation it’s fiercely proud of – and is thought to have one of the queerest populations in the country.
There’s a bunch of queer bars and restaurants, but the city as a whole is incredibly inclusive and celebratory. As it has a mix of other attractions like museums, comedy shows and beaches, it’s a great destination for families.
Brighton is home to one of the biggest Trans Pride events (17 July), while its Pride festival draws crowds from across Europe (it’s usually the first weekend of August but alas, cancelled this year). The seaside favourite is also a top destination for LGBT+ weddings and civil partnership ceremonies.
3. Barcelona, Spain is perfect for city breaks
(Gaudi’s Casa Batllo is lit with the rainbow flag for Pride month in Barcelona in 2019. (JOSEP LAGO/AFP via Getty)
LGBT+ people are largely treated as equals in Spain and as such, the buzzing city of Barcelona has a multitude of destinations that are friendly for queer folk.
The LGBT+ district Eixample (known locally as Gaixample) has a range of inclusive restaurants, bars, shops as well as hotels. Some 35km southwest of Barcelona, the coastal city of Sitges is another great LGBT+ destination with a year-round calendar catering to the entire community – as well as its world-famous Bear Week in September.
4. Adventure in accepting Reykjavik, Iceland
Reykjavik, Iceland’s world famous Blue Lagoon of hot Geothermal mineral thermal springs in Grindavik. (Education Images/Universal Images Group via Getty)
In 2006, same-sex couples were granted the same rights as everyone else in Iceland, without limitations, making it a no-brainer for LGBT+ travellers. It’s a real adventure destination with incredible landscapes, ice caves, waterfalls and volcanoes.
Iceland’s capital, Reykjavik, is often described as one of the most accepting and inclusive places in the world, with an annual calendar of events including Pride and Bears on Ice.
As many as 100,000 people have been known to join Pride celebrations – impressive for a country with a population of 350,000. This destination is more for adventure, though you can find a few LGBT+ spots for a drink, like Kíkí Queen Bar, in Reykjavik.
5. Go back to party city (Berlin, Germany) where you belong
(Athletes wave LGBT flags in front of the Olympiastadion stadium in Berlin, Germany. (Sean Gallup/Getty)
For decades, Berlin has been hailed as one of the queerest cities on earth. It’s filled with spots that celebrate the queer and kink communities with events throughout the year.
More of a party destination, its open queer scene dates backs to the 1920s — the districts of Kreuzberg, Prenzlauerberg and the ‘rainbow neighbourhood’ of Schöneberg (where Pride takes place) have a range of restaurants, bars and clubs that all wave the queer flag with delight.
Check out Visit Malta to plan your next LGBT-inclusive getaway.