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. 

Lgbtq friendly countries

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 today, 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.

young gay couple enjoying cocktails in 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…

couple in circle floats relaxing in the sea

Boasting a year-round sunny climate, a glittering coastline and lively cities ripe for exploration, Spain is a destination high on many a traveller’s list. Barcelona is renowned for being a vibrant party city, with a wealth of LGBTQ+ bars and clubs, and the annual Barcelona Pride which rivals its European counterparts. One of its local neighbourhoods, Eixample, is lovingly referred to as ‘Gay-xample’ thanks to its ultra-inclusive feel. 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. For those looking to hit the dance floor, head to Esquerra de l'Eixample where you find a host of lively gay bars.

male couple under a cenote in Yucatan Mexico

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 soaking up the sun on Elia beach. Don’t forget to order a cocktail in time for the picture-perfect sunset.

a kangaroo in Australian outback

A holiday to Australia has it all; from cities to the outback, rainforests to beaches, 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 one of the most liberal and open-minded countries in the world. You’ll find the most welcoming and vibrant LGBTQ+ scene in Sydney. Here, and in Australia 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 host of LGBTQ+-friendly bars and cafes to explore. The people are known for their laidback, warm energy, so you’re sure to make new friends on your travels. No matter how you choose to spend your time in Australia we can guarantee it will put a smile on your face.

Mexico City

Colourful towns, golden beaches, rich indigenous culture, a thriving foodie scene and progressive laws in major cities come together to make Mexico a top LGBTQ+ holiday destination. Same-sex marriage was legalised in 2009 in Mexico City and down south in Oaxaca, the indigenous Zapotec culture has recognized a distinct ‘third gender’ known as “muxe” for centuries. Visit Mexico City to immerse yourself in art, culture and culinary adventures, and celebrate at the annual Mexico City Gay Pride Parade in June. Be sure to wander through Zona Rosa (the “Pink Zone”), the centre of the capital’s LGBTQ+ community. Puerto Vallarta on the Pacific Coast is described as Mexico’s LGBTQ+ capital and is home to vibrant restaurants, bars, hotels and experiences marketed to the LGBTQ+ community. The Riviera Maya boasts more Mexican travel hotspots, including Cancún, Tulum, Playa del Carmen, which offer luxurious and liberated holidays.

couple rowing in a lake in Canada

You might not be surprised to find Canada on our list of the best countries for the LGBTQ+ community. Canada has a long held 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, 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.

watching a rhino whilst on a South African safari
South Africa

A luxury South Africa holiday is nothing short of magical, offering unique wildlife experiences, delectable food and wine, and truly breathtaking scenery. Known 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 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 world-famous vineyards. The city is home to lively bars and restaurants, making the evenings as exciting as the daytimes. Additionally, LGBTQ+ tourists flock to Cape Town for the annual Pride celebrations in February when the city is full of energy and drenched in summer sunshine. The Garden Route is another highlight!

affectionate gay couple laughing

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.

gay couple walking on a bridge in New Zealand nature reserve
New Zealand

For a small island that takes a long time to get to, New Zealand has a lot to offer when it comes to luxury holidays. For starters, there’s the otherworldly scenery, delicious food and wine, 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 Karangahape Road (‘K Road’) where you’ll find buzzing gay bars, cabaret clubs and drag shows. Great for couples and groups of friends, throughout the year there are always queer-centred theatre and arts programmes to enjoy.

tourists ride horses at Skogafoss Waterfall Iceland in summer

There is no better luxury holiday destination for nature lovers and outdoor enthusiasts than Iceland! As one of the most picturesque parts of the world with vast, sweeping landscapes, many television shows and films are set in Iceland. 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 Reykjavik Pride takes place every August. Icelanders are known to be welcoming and friendly, 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? A visit to the incredible Gulfoss waterfall, a Northern Lights excursion (in season), and exploring the Golden Circle to see the explosive geysirs. Or, spend your time sampling coffee and Icelandic treats at one of Reykjavik’s queer-owned cafes, such as Café Babalú or Jómfrúin.

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.  

Call us on 020 3918 9367 to start planning your holiday

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