7 of the best LGBT+ friendly destinations around the world

Looking for ideas for your next holiday in 2020? Check out these fab LGBT+ friendly destinations around the world.

Gay couple sitting on a beach looking at the sea on one of the top LGBT+ friendly destinations

Summer may be over but it’s always good to think ahead when it comes to holidays. For this reason, we put together seven of the top LGBT+ friendly destinations to get you inspired.

First up is Lisbon. Portugal’s capital boasts a warm and welcoming atmosphere. According to the Spartacus Gay Travel Index, Portugal holds the top spot as the most LGBT+ friendly country in the world along with Canada and Sweden. As a holiday destination, Lisbon is perfect as it combines sun, sea, a city atmosphere and has a thriving gay scene.

one of the top LGBT+ friendly destinations - Lisbon harbour

Top Tips: When visiting Lisbon you can choose to base yourself in either the city itself or in the cosmopolitan and vibrant resort of Estoril along the Atlantic coastline where you can enjoy the golden sandy beaches. At night be sure to check out TRUMPS – Lisbon’s largest gay club – where you can dance the night away. Direct flights from Dublin to Lisbon are available year-round with Ryanair, Aer Lingus and TAP Air Portugal.

Second on the list is the beautiful island of Malta. Although Malta may be a small island nation, it’s Europe’s leading country with regard to LGBT+ rights. For a several years now, including this year, Malta has been placed at the top of ILGA-Europe’s Rainbow Index due to having the most developed LGBT+ rights in Europe. Malta is located south of Italy and is surrounded by the Mediterranean Sea. The most popular tourist hotspot on the island is St. Julian’s where you will find a bustling atmosphere and great nightlife in an area known as Paceville.

One of the top LGBT+ friendly destinations - a view of boats and Malta's cathedral

Top Tips: Visit Valletta, Malta’s capital which is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Do a day trip to Gozo and stop off at the Blue Lagoon – which is a must! When its time to hit the town, the bars and clubs are conveniently located together in Paceville. If you’re looking to show off your moves to an Ariana Grande song then Michelangelo Club Lounge is the place for you. Direct flights from Dublin to Malta are available year-round with Ryanair.

Say Hola to Barcelona! Spain’s second largest city after Madrid and the capital of Catalonia, Barcelona is one of the most visited cities in Europe. Located on the northeastern coast of the Iberian Peninsula facing the Mediterranean Sea, it is one of the most popular LGBT+ friendly destinations. When you visit Barcelona you’ll feel a modern, cosmopolitan vibe and its classical and modernist architecture makes it a visually striking city. Barcelona has seven beaches with Sant Sebastià being the longest so if you fancy feeling the sand between your toes and taking a dip to cool off, you won’t be stuck!

One of the top LGBT+ friendly destinations - a panoramic view of Barcelona from Park Güell

Top Tips: Take a stroll down the tree-lined La Rambla. Browse the many fashionable stores located throughout the city, such as Calvin Klein and Victoria’s Secret. Take a day trip to PortAventura, Spain’s most visited theme park. For the best LGBT+ nightlife head to the L’Eixample district of the city. Direct flights from Dublin to Barcelona are available year-round with Ryanair, Aer Lingus and Vueling.


This is Tel Aviv calling! The host country of this year’s Eurovision Song Contest, Israel has the most progressive LGBT+ rights in the Middle East and in Asia along with Taiwan. The country’s second largest city after Jerusalem, Tel Aviv has been nicknamed “the gay capital of the Middle East” and is one of the most LGBT+ friendly destinations in the world. Located on Israel’s Mediterranean coastline, Tel Aviv is known as “the city that never sleeps”, similar to New York and a “party capital” due to its thriving nightlife. Tel Aviv Pride is the largest annual Pride Parade in the Middle East and Asia with over 250,000 attendees this year. The endpoint of the parade is at the beach, where an amazing dance party takes place each year.

A beach in Tel Aviv on a sunny day, skyscrapers in the background

Top Tips: Take a stroll along Tel Aviv’s promenade and enjoy the free and easy seaside atmosphere. Have a meal in one of Tel Aviv’s world-class restaurants serving middle eastern, Asian and European cuisine. The city has a gay party somewhere every night of the week. The mega dance club Ha’oman 17 is one to remember and attracts a mixed gay/straight crowd. Direct flights from Dublin to Tel Aviv are due to begin on the 26th of May 2020 with Israel’s national airline El Al.


Next stop Toronto! Located on the shores of Lake Ontario, Canada’s largest city is friendly, vibrant and is one of the few cities to have two gay villages. The gay village at Church and Wellesley is world-famous for its nightlife and fab restaurants. Pop into Woody’s which was made famous by the US version of the British hit TV show Queer As Folk. A trip to Toronto is not complete without a visit to the CN Tower, which is one of the highest free-standing structures in the world. Take the glass elevator up to the SkyPod for amazing views across the city. On a clear day you can see over 160 kilometres to Niagara Falls.

Panoramic view of skyscrapers in Toronto

Top Tips: Visit Niagara Falls which is located between Ontario, Canada and New York, United States. The falls will be sure to take your breath away! Direct flights from Dublin to Toronto are available year-round with Aer Lingus and Air Canada, and during the summer season with Air Transat.


G’day Sydney! Located on Australia’s eastern coast the metropolis surrounds Port Jackson and is the largest city in the country. While Canberra is the capital of Australia, Sydney is known as “the gay capital” and one can see why. Today the city has a thriving gay scene with huge Asian and Latino immigrant populations making it one of the most diverse in the world. Oxford Street is where you’ll find the best LGBT+ bars and clubs with ARQ and Stonewall Hotel being names to keep in mind when it’s time to hit the dance floor to a Kylie number. Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras is one of many reasons to visit the city as it’s the largest Pride event in Oceania, attracting crowds from all over the globe.

A view of Sydney Opera House during sunset

Top Tips: Visit the Sydney Opera House and Harbour Bridge. Bondi Beach is also a must to cool off – you’ll also feel like you’re at a Speedo fashion show! Summer season kicks off in Sydney from December to February due to its location in the Southern Hemisphere. Indirect flights from Dublin to Sydney are available year-round with Etihad Airways with one stop in Abu Dhabi. Other airline options are also available.


Last but not least on the list is Cape Town, South Africa’s second-largest city after Johannesburg. South Africa is the leading country on the continent of Africa in terms of LGBT+ rights. Located on the shore of Table Bay, Cape Town is a magical destination that gives off a welcoming and exotic vibe. Overlooked by the famous Table Mountain, the city is known for its picturesque harbour and beaches that are similar to those found in the US state of California. De Waterkant district of the city is where you’ll find the best LGBT+ bars and clubs. South Africa was the first and, to date, the only African country to legalise same-sex marriage in 2006.

Aerial view of Cape Town

Top Tips: Take a cable car up Table Mountain where the views will be sure to amaze you. Visit Robben Island, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, where former South African President Nelson Mandela was held for 18 years. Summer season in Cape Town is from December to February and indirect flights are available year-round with KLM and Air France, with one stop in Amsterdam and Paris. Other airline options are also available. Definitely a place to be considered when it comes to LGBT+ friendly destinations.

If you’ve been tempted by one of these fab LGBT+ friendly destinations and are thinking of booking your next holiday be sure to check out prices during the January sales when you’ll be able to avail of special offers on flights, accommodation and more.

Also, before departing Ireland be sure to check out the Department of Foreign Affairs advice for LGBT+ travellers on how to stay safe when visiting other countries. The information can be accessed by clicking here.

Wherever you decide to jet off to on your next holiday, may it be a safe and colourful one!

© 2019 GCN (Gay Community News). All rights reserved.

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