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Best Cities For Gay And Lesbian Travel

Updated on June 25, 2012

According to the Out Traveler magazine survey, Amsterdam, Barcelona, London and New York are most popular destinations among gay and lesbian travelers. Amsterdam has been ranked number one for a quite long time, however Barcelona just recently became popular gay and lesbian travel destination. Barcelona has been a center of gay culture in Spain for years. But, the popularity of the city tremendously increased after the legalization of same sex marriages in Spain in 2005, what brought the city to the second position, even ahead of well-established gay travel destinations as London and New York. Let's have a closer look, what makes these cities are best and hottest gay and lesbian places in the world.

Amsterdam, well-known for its wide-ranging and diverse gay and lesbian scene, also has a rich homosexual past. The oldest gay rights organization in the world (the COC) was founded in Amsterdam in 1946. The Gay Games that were held here in 1998 were a great success. The first gay and lesbian marriages in the world were conducted in Amsterdam in 2001. Amsterdam offers about 100 gay bars and clubs, special gay parties and museums, performances and even the gay beach in nearby. All of these combines with the unique spirit of tolerance and freedom of the Netherlands, and that's why the former mayor of Amsterdam Schelto Patijn proudly called Amsterdam "the gay way to Europe".

Barcelona, thanks to Antoni Gaudi architecture and Mediterranean beach culture, always was a top destination in Spain and Europe in general. But, in 2005 the city put itself on the gay map as well. That year strictly Catholic Spain legalized same sex marriages, which of course attracted a lot of gay travel to the number one country destination. Barcelona has its own gay community so big that it claims its own district Eixample (Gaixample), which of course offers LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual and transsexual) travelers every possible form of comfort and entertainment from plenty of gay bars and eateries to gay hostels and variety of small clubs. Plus, 35 km south of Barcelona, just a half-hour train ride away, there is another hot gay travel destination - Sitges. Once been an artist's colony, Sitges is a small charming coastal town. Vibrant nightlife, beautiful beaches (famous gay beach Platja de la Bossa Rodona is one of them) made Sitges a very popular gay beach resort, with gay population accounting for almost 30% of summer tourism.

London, being a capital of the country with the largest gay and lesbian population in Europe, has probably the most eye-opening gay nightlife in the world. With 200 gay bars and clubs, the annual London Pride Festival, London's Gay and Lesbian Film Festival, the city attracts gay and lesbian tourists from around the world. By the way, London is a top destination for American gay and lesbian tourists. The UK has extensive gay history with a lot of famous GLB people (King James VI, Elton John, Virginia Woolf) and the first-ever gay rights demonstration in Britain on the 27th November, 1970, in Highbury Fields, north London.

New York City, with a reputation of open-minded and liberal city on one hand and being the center of cultural, business and night life in the USA on the other, attracts a lot of gay and lesbian travelers not only from the USA but from around the world. Greenwich Village, West Village, East Village, Hell's Kitchen, Chelsea are lively gay-friendly neighborhoods in town with lot of modern lounges, romantic restaurants and trendy bars. Plus, there are plenty of galleries around these neighborhoods to satisfy your artistic side. And, of course, New York has much more to offer to gay and lesbian travelers. Attractions catering to the LGBT community can be found throughout the city.

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    • lavenderstreak profile image

      lavenderstreak 9 years ago from Seattle

      You forgot Bangkok! :-)

      My partner and I go every year, we love it there. We might even move there after we retire.

    • a_dork profile image

      a_dork 9 years ago from egotistical jersey, usa

      interesting :oP

    • Lissie profile image

      Elisabeth Sowerbutts 9 years ago from New Zealand

      What about Sydney -they have the gay Olympics and a fantastic Mardi Gras!

    • petexanh profile image

      Peter 8 years ago

      Have to agree with Bangkok and Sydney.

      Old Hong Kong saying: If you're looking for a woman go to Mongkok, if you're looking for a man, go to Bangkok :)

    • petexanh profile image

      Peter 8 years ago

      Have to agree with Bangkok and Sydney.

      Old Hong Kong saying: If you're looking for a woman go to Mongkok, if you're looking for a man, go to Bangkok :)

    • Wanderlust profile image
      Author

      Wanderlust 8 years ago from New York City

      Thank you all for your comments and suggestions!! It is great to know that Bangkok and Sydney also should be on a list. I am very familiar with North America and Europe, but have to travel more to Asia and finally get to Australia!

    • profile image

      NOLArr 8 years ago

      New Orleans!

    • Chance1968 profile image

      Chance1968 8 years ago

      Though its a long way from being open as Barcelona, London or Amsterdam, Granada in Nicaragua is slowly opening to gay tourists. There are 3 or 4 gay friendly hotels (one catering solely to gays) and restaurants who are very gay friendly, including 1 or 2 who fly the rainbow flag. It is, also, one of the safest cities in all of Central America.

    • Travis Pyle profile image

      Travis Pyle 8 years ago from Vineland, New Jersey

      i dont know anything about this

    • loybond profile image

      loybond 8 years ago from Toronto, Ontario, Canada

      HOW can Toronto not be on your list? With gays at more than 15% of the population now, a gay area, legalized gay marriage and the pride parade... it should be at the top of your list.

      Gay cruise info @ http://allaboutgaytravel.com

    • profile image

      sulumits retsambew 8 years ago

      New York and NJ is best place to gay

    • profile image

      Sling 8 years ago

      Frogot Tel Aviv Israel. One of the most gay friendly cities in the world.

    • profile image

      Ree 8 years ago

      Toronto has one of the largest gay populations in the world. Its gay parade attracts more than a million visitors each year, and its gay village is one of the most vibrant gay villages in north america.

    • profile image

      xxx ... -_- 8 years ago

      Colombia has excellents cities very asociated to the gay populations i don't mean that colombian cities should be in the top, i'm just commenting :P:)PS: i know it because last year i was in south america and, I visited Bucaramanga and there is a lot of lounges and gay bars

    • Miss Underst0od profile image

      Miss Underst0od 7 years ago

      Hey you forgot about Philadelphia's Gayborhood. Im from Philly and I know that a lot of gays have clubs, organizations, parties, and houses and gay Pride day.

    • Affordablefun profile image

      Affordablefun 7 years ago from Welland, Ontario 10 minutes from Niagara Falls

      I really enjoyed reading this. We live in Niagara Falls so New York is just a hop skip & a jump away. Have plans for cruise to Spain now you have made it even more exciting. Thanks

      Geri C

    • kathyperry profile image

      kathyperry 7 years ago from Philippines

      how can Israel not be on your list too? it should be at the top of your list. =p me and my partner go to Israel we're from Philippines they had a great beaches too, Tel Aviv is the most wonderful place I've visited in Israel, me and my partner enjoyed it a lot! would you mind if I share this travel agency is absolutely great http://trekinisrael.com/ great hub! and thanks for sharing! =)

    • SXP profile image

      SXP 7 years ago from South Africa

      Capetown is pink..real pink.

    • brimancandy profile image

      Brian 7 years ago from Northern Michigan

      Loybond I agree with you about Toronto. It is very Gay Friendly. And, what about Montreal? I think the Gay neighborhood there is even bigger than the one in Toronto.

      But, I can't speak french, so it doesn't help much.

      This may sound weird. but, I wonder how many people have heard of Saugatuck? It's a tiny resort town in Michigan.

      But, on 4th of july weekend 5 to 6,000 show up every summer.

      If you count the entire summer, I would guess close to 30 to 40,000 gay visitors there.

      Most from Chicago. Which should also be on the list. But, not sure how friendly it is there. been there but never really noticed. But, there is certainly a gay neighborhood.

    • profile image

      David 7 years ago

      What about Dublin, its got more gay men per head of population than San Fran

    • knowledgeispower profile image

      knowledgeispower 7 years ago

      This is a very interesting hub on gay travel.

      George

      https://hubpages.com/travel/Best-10-Tips-for-Findi...

    • profile image

      Ibrahim 7 years ago

      Oh how could you forget Tehran??? On a more serious note, shouldn't San Fransisco be in the list?

    • profile image

      Petje 7 years ago

      Bangkok should definitely be on the list. (I am myself from Amsterdam, so I can compare :D)

    • Misterlak profile image

      Misterlak 7 years ago

      love all cities especially barcelona :-) x

    • SuiteLife BCN profile image

      SuiteLife BCN 7 years ago from Barcelona, Spain!

      Barcelona is indeed one of the Gay-friendliest cities in Europe! If you want to know why and where to go once you've crashed in Barna Guapa, check this blog: http://suitelife.es/gay-barcelona-areas-gaixample-...

    • Martin Higgins profile image

      Martin Higgins 7 years ago

      While the places you profile are big attractions, I suspect that there is a growing contingent of gay travelers that are looking for friendly in a more general sense without too much concern for gay friendly. The tiny rural island that I call home is like a decompression chamber from the rest of the world. Rent a 200 year old farmhouse with a modern pool for less than the price of a hotel room in a world class city. If you do get tired of relaxing, the island is home to one of the world's most beautiful discos. The sandy beaches are small but very picturesque.

    • profile image

      Mars 7 years ago

      Hey there!

      Great comments. This is good but does not show what is going on in other places. Toronto, Bangkok, Tel Aviv and so forth are excellent places to be at, especially if you are gay. Sao Paulo in Brazil is damn great. Massive city and the gay community is really welcoming. So much to do and see in the gay scene. It should be in the top list, but there you go.

    • justinskier profile image

      justinskier 7 years ago

      Provincetown Mass. All gay. Nice Article!

    • profile image

      Top Gay Hotels 7 years ago

      I would add Berlin to the top gay cities of the moment. Berlin has a great gay scene with low priced gay hotels, many gay bars and great streetlife..

    • profile image

      NowRiviera 7 years ago

      You should add Cancun as well. Believe it or not there's lots of gay Mexicans living here and some good gay clubs as well. Lots of hot Latinos.

    • Larchinski profile image

      Sherrie D. Larch 7 years ago from Northern California

      Awesome article!

    • profile image

      fazza 7 years ago

      Hey Lisbon(Portugal) is a cool place with a fantastic beach

    • profile image

      Morsi 69 7 years ago

      i am going to barca on july ... is there is any place u Adive me to go their .

      xxx

    • Wanderlust profile image
      Author

      Wanderlust 7 years ago from New York City

      Morsi 69, if by Barca you mean Barcelona, then district Eixample (Gaixample) has plenty of gay bars, eateries and small clubs. Plus, 35 km south of Barcelona, just a half-hour train ride away, there is another hot gay travel destination - Sitges. Also see above links to the guide to gay bars in Barcelona, and the guide to Sitges.

    • profile image

      Lovetocowgirl 7 years ago

      gotta add Vancouver

    • cmuckley profile image

      cmuckley 7 years ago

      Buenos Aires is Fantastic.

    • profile image

      vincent 7 years ago

      Come to Montreal and you will know what the best of gay life is ...It's full of energy and exciting things

    • profile image

      Pink Tulum 7 years ago

      If you like Latin Guys then Cancun has an abundance of them and a few good clubs as well...

    • profile image

      Juju 6 years ago

      I think these cities were chosen more on the basis of general popularity as tourist destinations than as centres of gay nightlife. I've been to London and the gay presence there was disappointingly absent compared to other cities like Toronto, San Francisco, and Montreal.

      If you want to see a REAL gay-friendly city with a WICKED gay village, go to Montreal, Canada. In the summer "Le Village", as it's called, is closed off to traffic and becomes a gay/lesbian pedestrian party zone. Montreal has two separate week-long gay-themed celebrations in the summer: Divers/Cite and Pride Week. I'm surprised that Montreal and San Francisco are not on the list.

    • profile image

      littlejennywren 6 years ago

      MADRID!!!! is amazing...

    • jeff7xs profile image

      jeff7xs 6 years ago from Spain

      I agree with the list in general.. but nowadays there are so many great gay cities, I created my own list of gay hotels around the world. Check it out if you are interested http://www.topgayhotels.com

    • brimancandy profile image

      Brian 6 years ago from Northern Michigan

      To add another comment about gay travel. you can also find all kinds of gay destinations in North America, my checking out the Damron guidebook. Other major cities can be found at: http://www.funmaps.com

    • brimancandy profile image

      Brian 6 years ago from Northern Michigan

      To add another comment about gay travel. you can also find all kinds of gay destinations in North America, my checking out the Damron guidebook. Other major cities can be found at: http://www.funmaps.com

    • profile image

      kelvin 6 years ago

      Hi

      Just looking at your website we have a gay resort in australia http://www.turtlecove.com and are enquiring re listing on your website.we also have an affiliate program you may be interested in where you can earn 5% commission on each night booked. http://turtlecove.com/gay-lesbian-beachfront-resor...

      Could you send us the details please.

      Regards

      Kelvin

    • profile image

      DavidLivingston 6 years ago

      I find this very interesting indeed. Is helpful to those who needs it. Thanks.

    • FabLiz86 profile image

      FabLiz86 6 years ago from Los Angeles, Ca

      I love New York! I lived in West Hollywood for a bit but New York is much better for lesbian/bi women travel.

    • profile image

      Wendy 6 years ago

      I just had a great time at a gay beach in Zipolite Mexico. I have been all over the world and this is a very chill, fun, cheap place if you don't mind living hippy style.

    • profile image

      Jake Tiffen 6 years ago

      DavidLivingston im liking your comment, fancy meeting in one of these hotels

    • jackscott profile image

      jackscott 6 years ago from Bodrum, Turkey

      London is definitely the top for me but I am biased!

    • profile image

      USCIS gov forms 6 years ago

      i've been to puerto galera in the philippines and i saw people of all walks and 'genres' of life blending in and having the time of their lives there 24/7..it's a great place indeed to bond especially during summer!

    • profile image

      Jiju 6 years ago

      Toronto!! Come on!!!???

    • gay4greek profile image

      gay4greek 5 years ago from New York

      Super cool places! You should definitely add Bangkok Thailand and Boracay Philippines! I have been to both and they are awesome! My partner and I love these places!

    • profile image

      gnar 5 years ago

      P Town!

    • profile image

      james 5 years ago

      Tel Aviv is the number one gay city I've been to!

    • profile image

      John 5 years ago

      Hi guys,

      Its good to see so many cities in the world are welcoming for gays.

      Lisbon (Portugal) is definitely a place to check out as well. It mixes this ancient european charm with sun and this decadent feeling. The guys are hot and super friendly. THer's a good amount of bars, clubs and things to do and then also a very nice nude gay beach!

      This site lists more details www.lisbonbeach.com

    • profile image

      eva 5 years ago

      you forgot to add Los Angeles

    • Dawnrichard profile image

      Dawnrichard 5 years ago

      Seattle, United States is one more.

      Dawnrichard

    • Anjo Bacarisas II profile image

      Anjo Bacarisas II 4 years ago from Cagayan de Oro, Philippines

      another very informative hub.. thanks for this, this is awesome! voted up :)

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