Europe's 7 Best Places For Gay Holidays: Where To Stay And What To Do
We’ve already spoken of the world’s best gay-friendly destinations, now let’s focus more precisely on the European continent, where homosexuality is now almost part of everyone’s everyday life, personnally or though friends & family. Buckle your belt and let’s go for a European gay trip.
Although Scotland doesn’t have a specifically established gay scene, the whole state is much well-known for it open-mindedness. It has legalized gay marriage in 2015 and almost got its independence from the United Kingdom the same year! Also, some major tourism companies are gay-owned, like Black Kilt Tour which offers amazing private tours and itinerary suggestions.
If you go the capital Edinburgh, you’ll notice that the city is all about culture. Its impressive arts and cultural scene will definitely state your interest as there are probably more bookstores than there are people living there. If you’re looking for the best time to go, we highly recommend to travel in August during the Fringe Festival which fills the city with amazing live performances all month long, by day as well as by night.
Madrid’s legendary gay nightlife is now famous all around the world. No doubt you’ll find there the perfect gay holidays you’re looking for, especially if you go during the IGLTA gay travel convention. If not, be reassured as the nightlife centers around the Chueca district, which is Madrid’s main gayborhood. You’ll find there the best gay bar of the city called Cazador, a hip, trendy cocktail bar that might remind you of something out of Brooklyn or Kreuzberg, but try also La Kama, another popular bar in Chueca with your typical gay pop music and cute bar staff.
It seems obvious to mention Stockholm in Europe’s best places for gay holidays as Sweden has long been a favorite for gay travelers. Open-mindedness, unity and equality are common words in the country and its capital has much to offer to its homosexual visitors, including art and culture, but also amazing downtown gay nightlife. Give a try to the Friday night “Candy” at Le Bon Palais, which is a staple of Stockholm’s local gay scene, or the nearby nightclub called Wonk.
As a place to stay, you might want to try the Berns Hotel, which is the unofficial gay hotel of Stockholm and also one of its most beautiful properties. You will see that is it so much more than just a nice hotel! Trendy restaurants, basement club and performance venue… It really has it all.
About food, we recommend Mälarpaviljongen, which is an amazing restaurant and bar located on three floating docks and where the international staff is incredibly friendly. Note that the owners also support charity work worldwide, especially for LGBT communities, so don’t hesitate to spend much money there.
For more information about gay life in Stockholm, you might want to have a look at the Visit Stockholm’s official Gay & Lesbian guide which offers further recommendations on restaurants, nightlife and activities.
The city of Amsterdam comes up as a top destination on many travel lists in Europe, not only for gay holidays. Many think of it as a place where you can smoke week freely, but it’s much more than sex, drugs and parties (although the three latter are a good part of it). May you be traveling for romance, parties or culture, you’ll find what you’re looking for.
Regarding the best season to visit Amsterdam, there is absolutely no doubt: go during the Gay Pride. The whole city goes live for a whole week culminating in the gay canal parade. You definitely don’t want to miss is as it is a wonderful occasion to discover the town.
Otherwise, note that Amsterdam’s gay nightlife is mainly focused on a single street in the city center called Reguliersdwarsstraat (bless you!) and of course in the Red-Light district mostly on Warmoesstraat. To find gay-friendly bar, the task is easy as you just have to look for the rainbow flags. Don’t miss Cafe t’Mandje which is Amsterdam’s oldest gay bar and has been serving the city’s LGBT community for almost a century now. Also, give a try to Homomonment, a “living monument” to all homosexuals oppressed or persecuted and probably the city’s best-known gay attraction.
About accommodation, we quite disapprove staying in the red-light district unlike what many homosexual travelers would think as you will most likely be surrounded by flesh-hungry backpackers looking for cheap drugs, beer and sex. Still, you do want to visit it at least once (or more!) during your stay.
East London (Shoreditch)
Over the past few years, London’s historical gay nightlife has been quite forced out of Soho toward Storeditch. Have a wander in the Dalston Superstore and, if you have the opportunity, try attending one of the Naked Boys Reading events or the Whitechapel Gallery which often puts on shows with just enough quirk (and sometimes, nudity) to continue attracting tourists.
Czech Republic’s capital Prague is definitely one of Europe’s prettiest city and also a great place for gay holidays, and not just because of its famous porn connection. The city’s gayborhood is called Žižkov and that’s where you’ll find Prague’s trendiest/coolest/most-up-and-coming areas. Nightlife is amazing, with 24h bar and clubs. Amongst them, you sure want to try the Club Termix, probably the city’s best gay underground bar and club.
Not only one of Europe’s best place for gay holidays, Berlin is actually one of the gay-friendliest destination worldwide. Gay-friendly cafes and bars can be found anywhere throughout the city, even where you’ll expect it the least. Historically, the main gay hotspot is located in Nollendorfplatz in Schöneberg but it has now pretty much moved over to Neukölln where all the gay and queer clubs, bars and shows take place.
The best gay attraction is undoubtedly the monument to the LGBT victims of the Holocaust. Also, if you happen to travel during Berlin’s Gay Pride, also called Christopher Street Day (CSD), make sure to book your hotel early as the city swells up with tourists the whole week before. The best place to stay in Berlin is probably the Michelberger Hotel in the east, one of the gay community favorites.