Adventures Await

By Nestor M. Allende

For LGBTQ individuals, finding LGBTQ-friendly travel destinations is an important part of the experience where there are many options for those seeking a safe and welcoming space to prioritize their mental and physical health.

Sometimes a break away from the day-to-day grind is exactly what your mind and body need, and traveling gives you the space and time to relax, check in with yourself, and divest yourself of some of the stress that work, personal relationships, and general life come with, even if only temporarily.

So, whether you want to switch cities for a long weekend or take a cruise for a longer break, here are some of the top LGBTQ-friendly travel destinations. From gorgeous beach destinations to dynamic urban experiences, LGBTQ travelers are always looking for that next “new” place to visit.

One thing to remember, though: The world is still in a state of uncertainty. So, if you’re planning a trip, you should check travel restrictions for the destination you are hoping to visit and always consider warnings from the State Department and the CDC.

Because no matter what type of trip you’ve been dreaming of, we want to help you turn 2023 into the year you make it a reality.

Here are the top destinations that should be on the radar for queer travelers in 2023.

1.Sitges, Spain

This is one of Europe’s top LGBT travel destinations and it’s not hard to see why! Around an hour outside of Barcelona, Sitges is a beautiful destination full of pristine beaches, cobbled streets lined with quaint cafes and bars, and a large gay community. There are also regular events throughout the calendar year that draw LGBT travelers to this beachy town such as the huge annual Pride events that take place with gay parties on the beaches. Although neighboring Barcelona is often thought of first with its famous gay district of Eixample favored by many, Sitges has come up to challenge it as the number one destination in Spain for gay travelers.

2.Osaka, Japan

Queer travelers are discovering Osaka, a more laid-back Japanese destination than frenetic Tokyo. The city, which generally celebrates its cherry blossom season in late March, has a moderate climate and eclectic gay scene, with plenty of niche clubs. Some travelers describe Osaka as the country’s most LGBTQ-friendly city, due to the relaxed attitude of its citizens. Visitors will find all the modern conveniences, along with plenty of culture and history to explore.

3.Vancouver, Canada

Canada is famous for being possibly the most progressive country in the world when it comes to openness and inclusion for all minorities, including sexual minorities. Vancouver is a great cosmopolitan city set amongst a backdrop of jagged, snowy mountains and has a bustling LGBTQ scene with everything from gay shops, hotels, bars, clubs and restaurants to choose from. Davie Village is the heart of the LGBTQ community in Vancouver and its vibrant, open and welcoming nature makes it perfect for gay and lesbian travelers to visit and feel safe and comfortable.

4.Tucson, Arizona

Southern Arizona’s Tucson has been called the state’s Austin—a city that embraces a bit of weirdness, as well as it’s LGBTQ citizens. Plus, with the University of Arizona amidst its borders, the city always seems to feel young and active. Queer visitors can focus on the nightlife or get out and hike and explore. Saguaro National Park, a local treasure, is split into two parks that sit next to Tucson, and other mountainous areas around the metro area offer unparallel hiking options for active travelers.

5.Mykonos, Greece

Mykonos is known as the LGBTQ hub of Greece and is perfect for the traveler who longs for stunning landscapes, beautiful beaches, traditional little villages and a good gay scene. This Greek Island is known for its welcoming nature and is often chosen as a honeymoon destination for LGBTQ travelers due to how welcoming and inclusive it is. Mykonos Town, however, is a great place to visit for solo travelers for its lively gay party scene, full of bars and full of like-minded people to meet and make friends with. This island is home to some of the best gay beaches, so they are worth exploring if you like to soak in the sun and do some swimming.

6.Miami and Key West

These cities are some of the safest and most diverse cities in the US in terms of sexual minorities. Both Miami and Key West are famed for their large gay and lesbian communities and are great for those wishing to go long haul to more tropical destinations. The gay 12th Street beach brings out the bronzed and beautiful in Miami and is a great place for those looking for the hustle and bustle mixed with lots of sun. Key West is a great gay destination, known for historically being a gay holiday destination for those looking for relaxation and taking it easy.

7.Hong Kong

Gay Games 11 will finally be held in Hong Kong from November 3-11, 2023, a year later than originally planned, due to the COVID-19 pandemic. (Guadalajara, Mexico will serve as co-host for travelers unable to trek to Asia.) The Games are viewed as an important marker for the city’s queer community, and will include sports like swimming, sailing, dodgeball, fencing, tennis, and martial arts. This will be the first Gay Games in Asia.

8.Aspen, Colorado

This stunning town, located in Colorado’s scenic Rocky Mountains, is a great choice for hikers much of the year, but it really comes into its own in the winter months, with some of the country’s best ski resort (including nearby Snowmass). Many queer travelers aim to visit during the popular Aspen Gay Ski Week, which usually takes place during the month of January each year.

9.French Polynesia

French Polynesia is one of the most beautiful, secluded and stunning places on Earth, and it is also one of the most welcoming, friendly and inclusive too! In French Polynesia, no laws against same-sex sexual activity have ever existed in the collectivity and LGBT travelers are afforded all the same rights as heterosexual people. Beautiful Bora Bora is perhaps one of the most luxurious destinations on earth. The concepts of gender identity here are also very different to western culture, and Tahitian culture actually recognizes a third gender called ‘Rae Rae’ – meaning ‘men who are raised as women’. This makes this a perfect destination for everyone in the community, being especially perfect for same-sex couples looking for a romantic getaway, wedding or honeymoon destination where they can be open about who are.


Mexico continues to be a top destination for queer travelers. The country’s tourism department (SECTUR) reports 3.5 million LGBTQ+ visitors annually. The beachside resort town of Acapulco first gained an international queer contingent in the mid-20th century as a magnet for Hollywood celebs. It has recently experienced a resurgence and now its LGBTQ+ scene and businesses are luring more queers back to the region. It’s gaining a reputation as a gay party town with Las Vegas-style drag shows, techno nightclubs, and beachside dancing.

The capital of Jalisco, Guadalajara, is often called the “Gay Capital of Mexico” due to its embrace of the queer community. It is among the most LGBTQ-accepting in Latin America (Mexico City also ranks in the top five). Guadalajara is Mexico’s second largest city and offers diversity in food, cultural, and entertainment options. Its gayborhood is in the historic center of the city, where parties spill into the streets most nights. Come during February to experience the local Carnival.

The Riviera Maya destination of Playa del Carmen features white-sand beaches and turquoise waters. There are three gay beaches here: Mamitas Beach, Coco Beach, and Xangrila Beach.

Becoming known as the “Mexican San Francisco,” Puerto Vallarta features some of the most beautiful beaches in the LGBTQ-embracing state of Jalisco. The city’s Romantic Zone is a popular spot during the day and locals and tourists mingle at buzzy queer clubs nearly every night of the week. During Pride (celebrated here in May), the neighborhood becomes one big block party. Puerto Vallarta offers many activities for those who want to have more adventurous experiences, including day trips to Punta de Mita and nearby Marietas Islands, where the diversity of birds and sea life has earned it the nickname of “the Mexican Galapagos.”

11.San Antonio, Texas

San Antonio has so much to offer LGBTQ tourists, including a bustling gay strip and The Bonham Exchange—a former German social club that has an expansive outdoor patio area, enormous ballroom area, and multiple rooms that each feels like a separate themed club. Plus, queer-owned Hopscotch, is a must-see art gallery that focuses on immersive art as well as optical illusions. There’s also a great foodie scene here, with amazing restaurants like Landrace.


Australia is a dream destination for adventurers, albeit a distant one. The nation’s Great Barrier Reef just off the coast of Queensland is rightfully on many travelers’ bucket lists — and Sydney is undeniably a gay hot spot. But with abundant natural beauty, outdoor adventures, historical sites, and a rich Indigenous peoples’ culture, the island continent has much more to see.

In Sydney, New South Wales, the world-famous Harbor Bridge and Opera House are must-sees, with the more daring climbing the bridge itself. Also worth a visit is the Royal Botanical Gardens, the gay Oxford Street LGBTQ+ district, and the Sea Life Aquarium to observe Sphen and Magic (aka Sphengic), the world-famous gay penguin couple. You can also learn about Australia’s history as a penal colony with visits to Cockatoo Island and the Hyde Park Barracks. Walk the cliffs outside Bondi Beach and Manley, where at least 80 gay men were killed in the latter portion of the last century. In Queensland the Great Barrier Reef may be the most famous tourist destination, but the state is also home to Daintree Rainforest.

13.Cartagena, Colombia

Colombia seems to be on everyone’s lists, and with good reason. The country, almost twice the size of Texas, features biodiversity, culture, and some fantastic cities. Cartagena, on Colombia’s gorgeous Caribbean coast, is popular for its walled Old City, with a vibe that’s almost like a Latin New Orleans—cobblestone streets and endless shopping and dining. But the city, famous for its queer friendliness, also boasts the modern high-rises of Bocagrande—so travelers can find the best of both worlds in one destination.


Malta is a small archipelago of islands, just off the southern coast of Sicily in the Mediterranean Sea. The country has been continuously occupied for almost 8,000 years as an important port and trading hub connecting Europe, Africa, and the Middle East. Its culture reflects these intersectional roots and Maltese food is a nuanced blend of many worlds.

Malta is gaining a reputation as one of the most queer-inclusive spots in Europe, with festive annual Pride celebrations every September. It would be difficult to name every gay bar and LGBTQ-welcoming establishment in Malta, but there are a few that top our list. We love club Lollipop, located in the coastal capital city of Valetta. The Birdcage Lounge in Rabat has a fun mixed crowd and karaoke. Though not an exclusively LGBTQ+ space, lesbian-owned Maori is popular due to its monthly parties for queer women. The Phoenicia in Valletta offers 1920s elegance and 5-star luxury while the Marco Polo Party Hostel in St Julian’s provides a lively mixed crowd.


Thailand has a rich culture and long embrace of gender and sexual diversity, and outlaws LGBTQ+ discrimination. In the most LGBTQ-welcoming country in Southeast Asia, Bangkok is considered the region’s queer capital. On the city’s pedestrian-only streets in the gayborhood Silom, you’ll find gay bars including Circus, Balcony, and Stranger Bar (considered the epicenter of Bangkok drag culture). The neighborhood features many other LGBTQ+ establishments including hotels, massage parlors, clubs, saunas, and restaurants. After partying all night refresh by checking in for an advanced wellness experience at luxury spa Sindhorn Wellness by Resense. Phuket is another common queer destination. There the Patong neighborhood plays home to gay bar and cabaret club Zig Bar/Zag Club and the Patong beach where Phuket Pride is held each year. Visit Koh Samui in southern Thailand, where the queer-run Samui Elephant Sanctuary allows elephants to retire from giving rides or entertaining tourists. Enjoy your own refuge at gay-owned Six Senses Samui Thailand which features an infinity pool overlooking the gulf of Thailand — and your own tree house. Party at Pride Bar Samui which features drag queens and karaoke.


Nepal goes one step further, choosing the acronym LGBTQI+ to actively represent the intersex community, all of whom have been granted citizenship under its anti-discrimination protection laws, which were passed in 2015. From Nepal, it is a healthy climb into the Himalayan mountains, with several LGBTQI+ tour operators offering their services for the trip. Alternatively, hang out in Kathmandu for eight days at the end of the summer, and you can enjoy festivals that include the spectacle of the Procession of the Kumari, who is anointed as a living goddess.

So, no matter where you decide to go, be it around your town or around the world, make it an awesome, memorable and most of all a relaxing getaway…