Amazing as it is that travel has the ability to broaden our horizons and show us new ways of seeing the world, it’s just as important to find like-minded people on the road and explore with the company that empowers us. The good news is that this wide and wonderful world is peppered with pockets of fun and celebration where you may not have expected them. From classic favorites to the newest number one spot on your travel list, here are some great hotspots for LGBTQ travelers looking to travel well.
Tel Aviv, Israel
It may be hard to classify Tel Aviv’s scene as lesser-known, considering that its Pride celebration is consistently the largest in the Middle East with over 250,000 participants. However, it might not be the first international destination that comes to mind for LGBTQ travelers. The community has been able to thrive here, and that underpins the city’s overall image as a diverse place for young creatives and businesspeople amongst the older generations who established its unique, nonstop character. With some of the best nightlife, beaches, and cafe culture in the world, Tel Aviv should be at the top of your list. Book an LGBTQ-friendly tour, dance the night away at the all-inclusive Shpagat, play volleyball on Hilton beach, and keep up to date with everything online through Gay Tel Aviv.
P-town is one of the most dynamic and free-spirited places in America, as if its location at “the end of the world” on Cape Cod’s northernmost tip made it destined to boldly go its own way. Besides being the LGBTQ-friendly town in the country, it’s also the quintessential Cape retreat, where artists, writers, and performers come to ride bikes, go sailing, and knock back beers by the sea. However you prefer to escape to the Cape, the seemingly-endless entertainment and good eating options won’t let you down. Take a stroll or rent a bike to peruse Commercial Street, the community’s main thoroughfare, stumble through art galleries and quirky surplus shops, or get out of town on the Provincelands Bike Trail to the pristine beaches at Herring Cove and Race Point. Whatever you do, don’t miss a meal at The Canteen, the good times at Nor’east Beer Garden, or the view from the Pilgrim Monument.
Fort Lauderdale, Florida
Tucked away in the greater Miami area, the “island city” of Wilton Manors combines the best of a small-town feel with the energy of a proud and active LGBTQ community, having the highest density of same-sex couples in the country after Provincetown. The town is separated from surrounding Ft. Lauderdale by the Middle River, which forms a seven-mile loop of canals and mangroves that’s perfect for kayaking, paddleboarding, and wildlife watching. This quirky and creative town is aware of its destination status, but retains a genuine quality that truly makes visitors part of its community. Life here is cool and calm during the day, electric at night, and mostly set along Wilton Drive, where you can stay at one of the best small hotels in America, Ed Lugo Resort. It’s within perfect walking distance of drag shows at Georgie’s Alibi and dancing at Hunters.
After Taiwan became the first Asian country to legalize same-sex marriage this year, it’s likely that Westerners will start to take notice of the buzzing LGBTQ culture here–Taipei has long hosted the largest pride parade in Asia. These are just some of the reasons why Taipei might make a perfect destination for first-timers to Asia. Forget what you may have heard about navigating confusing transit systems in search of that needle in a haystack. The city’s gay village is centrally located around the landmark of the Red House Theater, near Ximen metro stop. This eye-catching, Japanese-style historical monument has been converted to house exhibits, market stalls, and performances, while the outside promenade has several laid-back cocktail spots. Along with outdoor terrace seating, it’s the perfect place to people-watch and get your bearings in a new place. When you’re feeling adventurous, head out of town to Yangmingshan National Park to take in some stunning natural beauty, from verdant grasslands and flower fields to a dormant volcano.
The trailblazing tolerance that saw Uruguay legalize same-sex relations in 1934 and protect LGBTQ individuals’ right to marry is just one appeal of this small south American country. Another is that it borders the also LGBTQ-friendly destinations of Brazil and Argentina. The capital city of Montevideo serves as the perfect centerpiece to your next South American sojourn, especially if it’s your first time there. If you’re a seasoned European traveler at all, the seaside city will probably feel familiar to you—there is an immense amount of Iberian cultural heritage here, reinforced by centuries of collaboration between Uruguayan artists and those from Catalonia. Walk along La Rambla to take in seaside views and the colonial architecture, or wander through the city’s quaint and lively plazas while stopping to admire cubist paintings at Museo Torres Garcia. After a relaxing afternoon, dance the famous Uruguayan tango in a buzzing bar. When the sun goes down, crowds come out to party at Baar Fun Fun, Bluzz Bar, and Il Tempo.
Phnom Penh, Cambodia
There is reason to believe that Cambodia will become the second Asian country to legalize same-sex marriage. There is widespread tolerance in cities like Phnom Penh and Siem Reap, and Cambodia’s king has joined the public in supporting more legislation to protect the LGBTQ population. The ministry of tourism has supported LGBTQ businesses in welcoming visitors since 2011, which has allowed for the growth of a small, but lively scene that adds another dimension to an already fascinating and iconic destination. Take full advantage of what Phnom Penh has to offer by staying at Manor House Boutique Hotel (located right behind the Independence Monument) or Rambutan Resort, two gay-friendly establishments with saltwater pools and outdoor bars.. During the day, take time to sightsee before heading a show with a cocktail in hand at Blue Chilli, POC, or Tool Box.
Do you have any other places you would recommend to LGBTQ travelers?
Header photo by Nicole Baster.