For years, LGBTQI travellers have flocked en masse to the usual suspects of queer-friendly travel destinations. Sydney, Barcelona, San Francisco, Mykonos and Sitges all top the list year after year, and deservedly so – their beautiful scenery, friendly locals, welcoming businesses and great nightlife generally create a fun, memorable and safe place for your holiday. However, our world exploration shouldn’t have to stop there.
Here is a list of five alternatives that will help you get out of your comfort zone – while still feeling those friendly, welcoming vibes.
In ground-breaking style, Taiwan’s top judges have recently ruled in favour of marriage equality, making it the first place in Asia to legalise same-sex unions. This exciting news is creating a huge buzz for queer travellers, many of whom are looking to Taiwan as their next Asia holiday destination.
When it comes to travel in the region, Taiwan has often been overshadowed by its neighbours, but is starting to get the spotlight it deserves due to its breathtaking coastlines, lush landscapes, sizzling food and the cosmopolitan-meets-heritage charm of its capital – Taipei. While some parts of the city are more conservative than others, the historic Red House complex in the city’s Wanhua District is packed with queer-friendly shops and restaurants, and in the blocks surrounding the ShiDa Night Market you’ll find lots of lesbian hot spots.
For many LGBTQ travellers, their first South American trip is inspired by the romance of Buenos Aires or the glorious Ipanema Beach lifestyle of Rio de Janeiro. And then there’s Montevideo. The Uruguayan capital boasts beautiful Art Deco architecture, lovely beaches, and despite its small size, a thriving queer scene. You can even check out a queer tango performance!
In fact, Uruguay is the most progressive nation in South and Central America when it comes to protecting LGBTQ rights. Homosexuality was decriminalised here in 1934, anti-discrimination laws protecting transgender people have been in place since 2003, and marriage equality was implemented in early 2013.
Tel Aviv, Israel
It may be surprising to some, but Tel Aviv is one of the world’s more welcoming cities for LGBTQ people. Perhaps what stands out most about the capital being so queer-friendly is its location – Israel’s LGBTQ rights are the most advanced in the Middle East (although queer women and transgender people in particular still face discrimination in parts of the country).
What else is it about Tel Aviv that sees more and more LGBTQI travellers coming each year? It might have something to do with the spectacular annual Gay Pride Parade, Hilton Beach (a popular hang-out spot for gay men), the hip neighbourhoods, the happening lesbian scene, vibrant nightlife or the renowned food scene…the list goes on! In 2016, Tel Aviv held its first transgender beauty contest.
Cape Town, South Africa
Named in the Guardian newspaper as one of the top ten most gay-friendly cities in the world, Cape Town in South Africa is a must-see destination. Districts like De Waterkant are thriving with queer-friendly shops, events and bars, all set into the beautiful foothills of the surrounding mountains.
Africa’s ‘Rainbow Capital’ offers everything from adventure to nightlife, art to history, and of course, a world-renowned wine district (how romantic!).
I once went to a trivia night at a pub in London, and was embarrassed when I didn’t the know the answer to the question, “What country has love in its name?”. Well, safe to say I won’t ever forget it, especially now that Slovenia is the most recent country to implement marriage equality. Yay, love!
Relaxed, entertaining and packed with unique culture, capital Ljubljana should be on everyone’s Euro trip list. There’s a host of fun, vibrant and diverse LGBTQ events set to take place this year – including a Pride Parade (June) and the Ljubljana Gay and Lesbian Film Festival (December), one of Europe’s oldest queer film festivals. Ljubjiana, Shantay, you stay!
Everyone should feel comfortable when they travel with Intrepid, and we know that many of our travellers are part of the LGBTQ community. It’s important for travellers to be aware of the local laws and customs in the destinations they visit, as many countries still discriminate against LGBTQ people. We recommend visiting Equaldex and/or Smartraveller for up-to-date advice and information.
All images c/o Shutterstock.