Discover the most LGBTQ+ friendly countries in the world
Whether you’re travelling with your closest friends or with your partner, sometimes, the worry of whether the country you want to visit is LGBTQ+ friendly can cast a shadow over your trip long before you’ve dusted off your suitcase.
You might be asking yourselves, will we be able to hold hands at the local market? Does the hotel we’d like to stay in cater to gay weddings? Does the country’s government offer protection for us in a difficult situation? Or, it could just be as simple as, where are the best places to let your hair down for a night on the tiles surrounded by others in your community?
Whatever it is you’re pondering, when it comes to planning a memorable LGBTQ+-friendly holiday, it’s worth doing your research. This is because sadly, even in 2022, there are countries around the world where being a member of the community is still illegal. If you’re looking to book a luxury holiday and are concerned about cultural or legal differences, it’s worth knowing some of the key resources available to you.
The Human Dignity Trust provides an up-to-date map of the countries around the world where it is illegal or unsafe to be openly LGBTQ+, with the organisation’s main aim being to support the community and challenge governments around the world to change these laws. At Scott Dunn, our friendly travel consultants are also on hand to advise you should you have any questions about a particular destination.
So, no matter who you are or who you love, if you're ready to start planning the trip of a lifetime, you’re in safe hands. Discover our list of the most LGBTQ+ friendly countries in the world, with their inclusive environments, gay-friendly legislation and all-round positive, love-affirming vibes. So, whether you’re planning a luxury long weekend away, or a no-expense-spared two-week holiday, get ready to live your best life in these incredible destinations.
Where are the top LGBTQ+ countries?
Ready to plan your next luxury LGBTQ+ holiday but struggling to decide where to go? Here are some of our top recommended destinations around the world where you can just kick back, relax, and be yourself.
Boasting a sunny climate all year round, a glittering coastline and lively cities ripe for exploration, Spain is a destination high on many a traveller’s list. Barcelona, in particular, is renowned for being a vibrant party city, with a wealth of LGBTQ+ bars and clubs, and Barcelona PRIDE, a yearly celebration to rival that of its European counterparts. One of its local neighbourhoods, Eixample, is lovingly referred to as ‘Gay-xample’ thanks to its ultra-inclusive feel.
As well as that, Spain ranks high among Europe’s LGBTQ+ friendly countries, with a score of 84/100 in the Equality Index Score via Equaldex, thanks to its laws around marriage equality, gay adoption and gender confirmation processes. While away the days sightseeing and sunbathing before exploring the local food markets in search of tapas and wine, or for those looking to hit the dance floor, head to Esquerra de l'Eixample where you find a whole host of lively gay bars.
Browse our favourite Spain holidays here.
Next up is Greece, and specifically, party destination Mykonos. Famed for its sparkling blue waters, soft white sands and breathtaking sunsets, the region also offers a lively LGBTQ+ scene. What’s more, civil unions have been in place since 2015, with bans on censorship, discrimination and conversion therapy in place here.
Here you can enjoy fun-fuelled nightlife and laidback cafes, gay and nude-friendly beaches and even a vibrant yearly festival - XLSOIR Mykonos International Summer Gay Festival - making it a great spot for groups of friends looking to let loose. There are even gay-specific hotels, such as Elysium, which put on entertainment and events for its guests.
For a more relaxed break, spend your morning perusing glitzy boutiques before stopping for an afternoon soaking up the sun on Elia beach. Don’t forget to order a cocktail in time for the picture-perfect sunset, too.
Browse our favourite Greece holidays here.
A holiday to Australia has it all; from rainforests to beaches, cities to the outback, there’s no end to the adventures a luxury holiday here can provide.
Australia makes for a fantastic holiday for couples, families, and friends alike, and is indisputably one of the most liberal and open-minded countries in the world, but it’s in Sydney that you’ll find the most welcoming and vibrant LGBTQ+ scene. Here, and in the country in general, sexual discrimination of any kind is outlawed, while the city is home to an energetic annual Mardi Gras celebration, a colourful drag scene and a whole host of LGBTQ+-friendly bars and cafes to explore. The people too are known for their laidback, warm energy, so you’re sure to make new friends on your travels. How you choose to spend your time in Australia is very much up to you, but no matter what you do, we can guarantee it’ll put a smile on your face.
Browse our favourite Australia holidays here.
You might not be surprised to find Canada on our list of the best countries for the LGBTQ+ community - it’s long held a reputation for being one of the friendliest places in the world, and is also one of the most liberal and progressive nations in North America. In fact, Toronto was home to some of the first gay and lesbian marriages in the world and still throws a brilliant yearly PRIDE celebration.
If we had to choose though, we’d highly recommend Vancouver as the perfect LGBTQ+-friendly luxury holiday destination, ripe for exploration with its glassy lakes, magnificent mountains and sparkling ocean. There are so many fantastic outdoor activities to do here, that you’ll be hard-pressed choosing what to do (but that’s where we can help).
After a busy day of adventuring, discover the neighbourhoods of the West End, and Commercial Drive - both have an abundance of inclusive cafes, restaurants, bars and boutiques that entice an eclectic and open-minded crowd.
Browse our favourite Canada holidays here.
A luxury South Africa holiday is nothing short of magical, offering a whole host of unique wildlife experiences, delectable food and wine, and truly breathtaking scenery. Sometimes referred to as the Rainbow Nation, it’s also by far the most LGBTQ+ friendly country on the African continent. Travel Consultant Jon Dunne agrees:
“South Africa is an incredible country, so diverse in its landscapes and cities. The people are so welcoming, open and kind, just really friendly, and there's so much to do there.”
Cape Town of course is a highlight, known for its glorious beaches, the spectacular Table Mountain, and its nearby world-famous vineyards along the Garden Route. The city itself is home to numerous lively bars and restaurants, making the evenings as exciting as the daytimes. Additionally, LGBTQ+ tourists flock to Cape Town for its Pride celebrations in February, as well as other events such as the Mother City Queer Project in December and the Out in Africa Film Festival in September.
Browse our favourite luxury South Africa holidays here.
California, and particularly San Francisco, is a top destination according to Travel Consultant Jon Dunne:
“San Francisco as a city is very open and inclusive. Anything goes! Everybody is very non-judgmental and laidback. Be prepared for the unexpected - but in a good way - it certainly isn’t boring!”
We’d also recommend Chicago and New Orleans (the latter particularly for its annual world-renowned Mardi Gras), but if you’d rather head to the east coast, Key West in Florida Keys is another LGBTQ+-friendly spot. Known for its fun and warm community who pride themselves on inclusion, Key West has a buzzing nightlife scene with lots of lively gay bars to choose from, pool parties galore and even its own gay beach. There are plenty of outdoorsy activities to enjoy here too, and it’s also home to some seriously stunning coral reefs perfect for snorkelling or diving. Key West throws an array of LGBTQ+ events throughout the year too, so whenever you choose to go, you’re guaranteed a good time.
Browse our favourite USA holidays here.
Israel is another destination travel consultant Jon highly recommends - a country that’s considered extremely progressive where LGBTQ+ rights are concerned, with its largest city, Tel Aviv, often lauded as a hotspot for gay tourism.
A melting pot of history, culture and tradition set against a backdrop of breathtaking landscapes and glistening Mediterranean sea, there’s certainly a long list of things to do in Israel, as well as it being a safe Middle Eastern country to travel around. While gay marriage isn’t yet legal in Israel, the culturally diverse city of Tel Aviv is still considered one of the most LGBTQ+ friendly places in the world. Here you’ll find popular queer nightlife spots such as Shpagat, ultra-inclusive beaches such as Hilton Beach, and a yearly Pride event known for being one of the biggest and best in the world, not least in the Middle East.
Why not consider a luxury tour of Israel that combines its most fascinating historical sites in Jerusalem, with the beauty of the Negev desert and the excitement of Tel Aviv?
Browse our favourite Israel holidays here.
For such a tiny island that takes a long time to get to, New Zealand has a lot to offer when it comes to luxury holidays. There’s the otherworldly scenery for starters, delicious food and wine to sample and incredible outdoor activities. What’s more, it's extremely inclusive and progressive in its mindset, with capital city Auckland leading the way.
When it comes to legislation, the country recognises non-binary as a legal gender, and marriage equality has been in place since 2013. As a destination, Auckland boasts a vibrant local culture, and a wonderfully inclusive LGBTQ+ friendly bar and restaurant scene. After a busy day exploring the great outdoors, whether that be hiking, kayaking or even wine tasting, head to Karangahope Road (‘K Road’) where you’ll find a wealth of buzzy gay bars, cabaret clubs and drag shows. Great for both couples and groups of friends, throughout the year there are always lots of queer-centred theatre and arts programmes to enjoy too.
Browse our favourite New Zealand holidays here.
Iceland as a luxury holiday destination needs no introduction. If you’re a keen nature lover and enjoy outdoor activities, there really is no better destination. Not to mention it’s likely one of the most picturesque parts of the world, with many a television show and film set here thanks to its vast, sweeping landscapes.
It’s also a country committed to inclusivity and diversity, with laws around the LGBTQ+ community being able to adopt, have access to IVF and necessary medical care. Same-sex marriage has been legal here since 2010, and not one but two PRIDE events are held during the summer and winter seasons. Icelanders have always been known to be extremely welcoming and friendly too, so no matter when you go, or who you go with, you’ll be embraced with open arms. Our top recommendations for things to do here? A visit to the incredible Gulfoss waterfall, a Northern Lights excursion (in season), and a walk around the Golden Circle to see the explosive Geysirs. Or, you could simply spend your time sampling coffee and Icelandic treats at one of Reykjavic’s many queer-owned cafes, such as Café Babalú or Jómfrúin.
Browse our favourite Iceland holidays here.
Last but not least, we have Thailand. A colourful land of contrasts, Thailand draws in tourists for its tropical beaches, fascinating culture and delicious Thai food, as well as much more. In Thailand, anything goes. Its people are warm and welcoming, and inclusivity and open-mindedness are par for the course here, so it’s easily one of the world’s most LGBTQ+ friendly destinations.
Bangkok is the epicentre of queer culture in Thailand, known for its buzzy clubs, bars and cabaret shows, with the neighbourhood of Silom being a particularly LGBTQ+ friendly part of town.
Meanwhile, if you’re destined for the country’s white sand beaches, the resort towns of Pattaya and Phuket are renowned for their gay beaches and lively nightlife. Expect to enjoy sun-filled days and raucous nights you’ll never forget…
Browse our favourite Thailand holidays here.
LGBTQ+ Travel Guides & Inspiration
In need of more travel inspiration and expert insights before booking your dream holiday? Our Travel Experts have put together a host of ideas to help you create your perfect holiday itinerary. From advice on where’s best to go in Europe to LGBTQ+ friendly beach holiday destinations, our travel guides will inspire you.