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10 of the Most LGBTQ+ Friendly Cities in Europe

By Soren Rivero


Did you know that Europe boasts some of the most LGBTQ+ friendly countries in the world? In fact, 9 out of the 10 spots on Asher & Lyric Fergusson’s LGBTQ+ travel index are in Europe! The only one not in Europe (and ironically the #1 spot) is Canada. Go figure, eh?

With that being said, the real excitement comes when you take a closer look at the queer-friendly cities in Europe. Interested in more? Here are 10 of the most LGBTQ+ friendly cities in Europe!


1. Gothenburg, Sweden

No need to keep you waiting! We’re starting this list off with the most LGBTQ+ friendly country in Europe: Sweden. This Scandinavian nation holds the #2 spot for the most gay-friendly country in the world. EuroPride has also been held in Sweden for a total of three times in the past decade.

Gothenburg is Sweden’s second largest city and the prime destination for members of the LGBTQ+ community. You’ll find everything from gay bars and clubs, leather fetish venues, and even a ‘straight-friendly’ restaurant (ironic). Some of the buildings and other architectural features in Gothenburg are also decorated with pride flags and paintings. Gothenburg isn’t rated for its venues or decorations, however, but rather how incredibly normal it is to see LGBTQ+ couples and people out in the open. PDA is allowed, locals are welcoming, queer people are protected, and much more make this a super gay-friendly city in Sweden.


2. Oslo, Norway

Norway is celebrating their 50th anniversary of decriminalizing homosexuality this year. If you’re planning a LGBTQ+ friendly summer vacation spot in 2022, you should definitely join in on the celebration!

Queer people are protected and have the same rights as their cis-gendered and heterosexual counterparts. There are a handful of cities in Norway that are queer-friendly, but tourists and locals say that Oslo is the place to go. Oslo hosts a massive pride parade each summer that allures people from all over the world. Want to know what makes that even better? The theme of their Pride is decided based on current human rights issues, with advocacy for those being the focal point of the celebration. Most of the bars and clubs in Oslo are friendly to all sexualities and genders, so finding a specifically queer-dedicated venue can be a little tricky. A good place to start is Elsker – the city’s most popular queer disco. They also host poetry slams, drag shows, burlesque, and much more!


3. Brighton, England

Okay, so the United Kingdom is a fantastic place for queer-friendly travel. There’s much more that we can list, but let’s start off with the (unofficial) gay capital of the U.K: Brighton!

Brighton and Hove (also known as Brighton) is a city and unitary authority in the East Sussex region of England. Brighton is known for its extremely LGBTQ+ friendly nightlife scene and, as mentioned earlier, referenced as the gay capital of the United Kingdom. One of the reasons Brighton has been so popular among the LGBT+ community for decades is because of its interesting connection to the military. Starting off with the Napoleonic War and trickling to WWII, many locals flooded to this fishing village to escape criticism and explore their identity. As of now, over 10% of the population identify as queer!

The city’s queer central, Kemp Town, has numerous venues for the community. What separates Brighton’s LGBTQ+ scene from other cities is how it is extremely inclusive to all parts of the community. An example are the venues of The Camelford Arms and The Marlborough that specifically cater to transgender and nonbinary people. So if you’re looking for a trans-friendly travel destination, consider visiting Brighton! Lastly, the United Kingdom’s largest and most popular Pride event is also held at Brighton in August.


4. Amsterdam, The Netherlands

The Netherlands was the first country in the world to legalize same-sex marriage in 2001. Still to this day, it maintains a very high ranking as one of the most accepting countries in the world.

Amsterdam is known as the gay capitol of The Netherlands. Arguably one of the most fun things to do in the Netherlands is to watch the Canal Parade during Pride. You’ll see winners of last year’s boat contest adorning gear decorated in the pride flag of their own choosing. Amsterdam also hosts over 100 gay venues (bars, saunas, shops, clubs, restaurants), making it one of the best gay scenes in Europe. You can also visit the Homo Monument, a memorial dedicated to those who have fought for equal rights and freedom of queer people.


5. Madrid, Spain

Time and time again, Madrid has been named one of the most LGBTQ+ friendly cities in the world. Madrid has something super unique to offer compared to other spots on this list, mostly due to the diversity of activities to do. You can visit museums, historical monuments, large sports stadiums, and the famous Plaza Mayor.

Queer people will find Chueca, the city’s gayborhood, particularly fun. Handfuls of shops, restaurants, clubs, and bars are open and dedicated to the queer community. Finally, Madrid hosts Europe’s largest Pride. It’s a combination of all the things that makes Spain super extravagant mixed with everything we love about Pride. Madrid’s Pride is also the second largest celebration of its kind in the world. The #1 spot is taken by Pride in Sao Paulo, Brazil.


6. Nice, France

Nice is one of France’s most overlooked cities both in terms of general tourism and as a gay-friendly city. Its neighbor, Paris, often overshadows it for many reasons. We’re here to tell you that Nice has everything you need for the perfect LGBTQ+ friendly vacation!

Like other cities in this list, there are plenty of queer-friendly bars and clubs in Nice. You can also catch a burlesque show performed by local drag queens. Unique businesses around the city’s prime shopping spot, Avenue Jean Médecin, also draws the attention of queer tourists and locals, such as avant-garde hairdressers, tanning salons, and underwear shops. As a coastal city, the real fun happens at the best beaches in Nice. Some of which are popular meetup spots for queer people such as St. Laurent d’Eze and Coco Beach!


7. Lisbon, Portugal

Portugal is another country that’s in the top ten most accommodating countries in the world for queer people. It's one of the first ten countries across the world to legalize same-sex marriage, and the sixth in Europe! Lisbon is both the country’s capital and capital of the gay scene.

Lisbon’s gay venues don’t stop at just bars and clubs. You’ll also see cafes, luxury hotels, saunas, beaches, and restaurants popular to the queer community! You’ll find most of the gay bars in Lisbon in the Bairro Alto District. The street art and other famous attractions in Lisbon might not be queer-specific, but definitely add to the whole experience.


8. Brussels/Ghent, Belgium

Similar to the United Kingdom, there are a handful of cities in Belgium that are just downright amazing for the LGBTQ+ community. Interestingly, Brussels and Ghent have repeatedly been locked neck in neck in reports for the most queer-friendly city in Belgium. So we’ll be talking about both! Hope you don’t mind.

Belgium was the second country in the world to legalize same-sex marriage. Brussels is often known as the city’s gay center, with Ghent lingering just behind it. You’ll see rainbow colors all across the city, especially during Pride Month. Brussels rests deep within the heart of the country (which itself looks like a heart). Both gay bars and gay clubs in Brussels are open for all-night partying, as well as other bars not specific to the queer community being just as welcoming. The Saint-Gilles Square is especially popular among those who identify as lesbian and a great place to meet new friends.

Ghent has fewer nightlife venues than its urban counterpart, but that doesn’t make it any less friendly. It’s on equal footing with Brussels when it comes to being progressive and accommodating to the queer community. Ghent’s specialty is its port-side luxuriousness and medieval architecture. For those looking for a more relaxing and quiet vacation spot in 2022, consider visiting Ghent!


9. Reykjavik, Iceland

Does the possibility of seeing beautiful attractions like the inside of glacial caverns and the northern lights intrigue you? Then you’ll find not only excitement but also comfort in the capital of Iceland!

Iceland is another top ten most queer friendly countries in Europe. Interestingly, they’ve seen one of the most dramatic shifts in celebration and acceptance in the history of the LGBTQ+ rights movement. Queer people were ridiculed just before the mid-20th century. Not only that, but the country has a rough history with misogyny and racial prejudice. Throughout the late 1900’s, they saw a huge dramatic shift in progressivism and they are now one of the most accepting countries in the world. Gay Iceland and Pink Iceland offer tours and educational experiences that are specifically catered towards the queer community.

Fun fact: In RuPaul’s Drag Race All Stars 4, a few queens were awarded a trip to Iceland for a makeover!

Reykjavik is actually listed as the safest city in the entire world for people of the queer community. You know how sometimes cities and corporations only really host queer-related events during Pride month? This isn’t the case in Reykjavik, as it’s one of the only cities that hosts numerous LGBTQ+ events throughout the year! Some of which include local queer artist and comedian performances, drag shows, festivals, and the city’s very own queer talent show: Reykjavík Kabarett!


10. Dublin, Ireland

Ireland has also had a rough history with conservative politics and religious bias. But in recent decades, it’s consistently been named one of the fastest growing progressive countries and rapidly attracting members of the queer community from all over the world.

Ireland's small but extraordinary capital, Dublin, is home to the country’s vibrant LGBTQ+ scene. Gay bars and clubs are high in number, which you can find in the city’s gay street of Temple Bar. A popular activity among gay travelers in Dublin is to visit the Guinness Storehouse, where you can grab a pint and look across the city from seven floors in the air! The real beauty of Dublin is in its castles and historical monuments, so be sure to check those out before you leave!

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