When it comes to LGBT travel, few experiences are as rewarding as travel to Europe. There’s such an amazing variety of cultures, environments, climates, and experiences – all on the most liberal continent on the planet, thanks to the encouraging social (r)evolutions of the 21st century, making most of Europe an ever more gay-friendly destination. There are hundreds of welcoming cities large and small, as well as towns and rural areas, which I could steer you to, depending on your interests, but let me start off by highlighting a handful of the top most prominent, and you could say gay-friendliest:
Say ‘Amsterdam’ and your mind conjures contradictory images, both sublime and profane: Rembrandt and peep shows, coffee shops and cannabis, cobbled streets and red light districts, historic canals and sleazy bars. After all these years, the city remains the godfather of gay pride and the birthplace of LGBT rights, rebellious and uninhibited, and as effortlessly beautiful as ever. The world’s first legal gay and lesbian nuptials were officiated here, and the Homomonument first gay monument was constructed here more than a quarter century ago. The queer scene in Amsterdam is one of the largest in Europe and boasts more than a hundred gay and lesbian bars, clubs, saunas, shops, and hotels. Though summer is the most crowded and fun, Amsterdam attracts visitors all year with gay-oriented events like Pink Christmas in December and King’s Day in April (we of course preferred when it was called Queen’s Day (ahem), but it’s still way popular with gay girls and boys). Flights from Spain, from the USA.
As an urban destination, the capital of the Catalonia region is as close to the total package as it gets – a stylish culinary, cultural, nightlife, and design capital with its own spectacular architectural flavour (hello, Gaudí!) and great beaches even right in town, not to mention nearby: The fetching Mediterranean seaside town of Sitges (above), a half hour south, is one of Europe’s top gay resorts. Barcelona has arrived on the gay circuit with a party called, well, Circuit, which attracts thousands of men every August, and following that there’s Girlie Circuit Lesbians for las chicas. Then of course there’s Barcelona’s “Gaixample” – ground zero for a large, diverse (twinks to bears and beyond), and active LGBT scene and community. There are scores of fabulous places to stay, eat, and play gay – but virtually the whole city is welcoming, so spread your rainbow-hued wings. Flights from the UK, from the USA.
Click here to discover the other fabulous destinations Ed wrote about.
Ed Salvato is editor in chief of ManAboutWorld, the world’s first gay travel magazine created for iPad (and soon Android tablets) only. Click here for a special three-month free subscription offer.