There is a big difference between cities that have the best LGBTQ prides and parades, and destinations that are lesbian-friendly- both terms not be mistaken for one another.
As a gentle reminder, the term “LGBTQ friendly” defines the places, policies, people and institutions that are open and welcoming to all people in the LGBTQ community, to create an environment that is supportive of LGBTQ people and their relationships, respectful of all people, treat all people equally and are non-judgmental.
To me, there shouldn’t even be “destinations” that are LGBTQ-friendly; everywhere should be tolerant and respect ones choices, especially when there isn’t any harm done to others... however the world is sadly not like that.
Upon recent travels, I have noticed that some towns, cities, and even countries are more open to the lesbian/LGBTQ community than others.
I don’t think it’s necessary to point fingers and go into the “whys” some cities are more friendly than others, but let’s explore a few of these destinations that are so welcoming to lesbian travel.
Top 5 lesbian-travel destinations
These places are not exactly in order, and please remember that this article about lesbian travel does have a subjective touch.
If you decide that want to spend a copuple of weeks (or even months) in any of these destinations, you can check all the opportunities for volunteering in exchange of accomodation that Worldpackers has to offer.
Besides a free place to stay in compensation for your help (and somentimes food too), the biggest rewards of volunteering are the people that you'll meet, the new skills that you are going to learn and the chance to have a deep cultural immersion.
1. Berlin, Germany: the self-proclaimed European gay and lesbian capital
There’s a reason why there are so many bars, clubs, and overall communities in Berlin; we’re very welcomed there!
From gay walking tours, bike tours, museums and all the events held yearly in Berlin, you’ll be far more than spoiled for choice here. Every August there is a Lesbian and Gay Festival Park in Friedrichshain which is one of the many events held here.
ArtHotel is just one of many gay hotels that promote and encourage the community, plus you get free entry to Connection nightclub when you stay there!
As a whole, I feel that Berlin is one of the rare cities in the world where one can go and safely freely explore their sexuality.
There are bars, clubs and experiences for every single person out there, with literally any kink/fantasy/fetish and the openness and non-judgmentalism of the people there is what really attracted me. People seem more free there than in most big cities.
3. Amsterdam, Netherlands: the pioneers of gay marriage
Apart from being one of Europe’s most visited capitals, renowned for its beautiful canals, cobbled streets, and having more bicycles than people, Amsterdam has a lot more to offer to the LGTBQ community.
Did you know that being gay in the Netherlands is legal since 1811? Another fun fact: in 2001, the Netherlands were the first country in the world to legalize gay marriage!
So, just given those facts should give you an idea of how accepting same sex gender relationships are within the country.
Amongst the many monuments, museums, bars and coffee shops to go to, look out for the HomoMonument, memorizing all gay men and women that were persecuted during WWII.
4. Barcelona, Spain: the most visited city in the country
Gay marriage was legalized in 2005, making the culture one of the most open to lesbian travel and the LGBTQ community in Europe.
Though there are many different regions and cities that are LGBTQ friendly (like Ibiza and Madrid), Barcelona is another European capital known for its gay scene.
Their Gay Pride Parade should be on the 25th of June of this year and if you’re there, be sure to check outAireand La Rosa for some partying!
On another note, Barcelona also offers bookshops, saunas and cruising areas where you are more likely to find LGBTQ people at any time of the day.
A couple of bookshops to take note of are Librería Cómplice and Libreria Antinuous. The saunas are mostly for men (Sauna Casanova for example) and Montjuic “magic mountain” and Nova Mar Bella are known to be iconic places to visit as well.
We all know that Thailand has a reputation for their transsexual scene, but that only means that the LGBTQ community, as a whole, is widely accepted as well.
This shift has gradually happened over the years, in the bigger cities (mainly Bangkok) and islands of Thailand as opposed to the rural areas.
Thailand is considered the gay hub of Asia, with the Phuket Pride usually held every year in April, during the Songkran (water) festival.
Out of all the previous destinations, Thailand would probably be the most budget and warm-weather friendly... sounds like a perfect mix to me!
Thailand is also one of the many countries that are part of the International Gay and Lesbian Travel Association (IGLTA), with travel partners ranging from the Hilton, to Airbnb, to the Tourism Authority of Thailand.
This associated was founded in 1983 and provides “free travel resources and information while continuously working to promote equality and safety within the LGBTQ+ tourism worldwide”.
From personal experience and a lot of research within the LGBTQ community, those aforementioned destinations came up quite a bit, however, here is a list of other destinations around the world that are lesbian-friendly:
Finally, I have yet to participate in a lesbian travel tour but there are quite a few agencies and organizations that help organize lesbian travel groups. A few that were recommended are:
Walking Women: aside from catering to all types of walking holidays, they also organize lesbian travel groups.
Diva Destinations: a UK based travel agency which focuses on LGBTQ+ travel. They cover trips to popular lesbian festivals in Europe, like the Greek Women’s festival.
Women Overlanding the World: it’s a travel agency for women, not only lesbians, but the owners are a lesbian couple. Their trips sell relatively fast and require advance booking.
Ella Travel: more party oriented but offer different trips all around Europe, from a few days to weeks.
A few extra tips for lesbian travel
As unfair as this may sound, always check out the laws and regulations of a country before planning your lesbian solo travel trip. Russia and Brunei are some examples where one can be punished for either promoting the LGBTQ lifestyle or publicly displaying signs of affection.
Aside from that, general travel tips and common sense apply to anyone but I’m sure you know how to adapt to a new culture and do your research online before exploring the unknown- we are Worldpackers after all!
28 y/o Singaporean/French female traveler.
I started backpacking with Worldpackers in August 2020: I said goodbye to my Parisian life and bought a one-way ticket to Mexico. Since then, i've spent 7 months there, backpacked all through Central America, lived in Manchester (UK) for a few months, traveled all around Europe (I have 12 countries left to visit before I would've seen all European countries).. I had a little pit stop in Athens from August22-January 2023 and I resumed my trip on this side of the world with Panama in February, and now I am in South America.
My long term goal is to open up a wellness hostel in South America, which is why i'll be traveling all through the continent until I find the right location, or opportunity :)