Top 10 Summer European Destinations for LGBTQ+ Travelers

VOICE OVER: Emily Brayton WRITTEN BY: Caitlin Johnson
For this list, we're looking at the friendliest and safest summer destinations for members of the LGBTQ+ community, according to the Rainbow Europe Index, which measures acceptance of LGBTQ+ people on a scale of widespread discrimination to full equality.

Top 10 Summer European Destinations for LGBTQ+ Travelers

Discrimination shouldn’t be an issue if you head to these destinations. Welcome to MojoTravels and today we’ll be counting down our picks for the top 10 summer European destinations for LGBTQ+ travelers.

For this list, we’re looking at the friendliest and safest summer destinations for members of the LGBTQ+ community, according to the Rainbow Europe Index, which measures acceptance of LGBTQ+ people on a scale of widespread discrimination to full equality.

#10: Sweden

For decades, Sweden has been working towards equal rights for people of all genders, making history in 1972 as the first ever country to allow someone to change their legal gender, and they haven’t slowed down since. The Stockholm Pride parade draws hundreds of thousands of visitors each year, and things are pretty good in Sweden the rest of the time, too. The capital and Gothenburg both have thriving gay quarters, boasting plenty of LGBT-specific restaurants, clubs and other venues. Discrimination against LGBT people has been illegal in Sweden for over years now, making it an especially safe location.

#9: The UK

Most, if not all major cities in the UK have their gay-friendly areas, with London’s Soho and Manchester’s Canal Street being two of the most famous in the nation. And while you’ll never run out of things to do in London, itself one of the best cities for LGBT people in the world with an abundance of great night spots, a short train ride south to Brighton is a must for any LGBT travelers. Every August, Brighton & Hove hosts the country’s largest Pride festival, which draws big-name performers like Britney Spears to its stage. But If you hit up any city in the summer, you’re sure to see some rainbow flags.

#8: France

It’s not called gay Paris for nothing, and France has a lot to be proud of when it comes to gay rights; it happens to be the country which first decriminalized homosexuality between consenting adults, as long ago as 1791 in the midst of the French Revolution. While there are undoubtedly homophobic hotbeds in certain areas of the capital, Paris, too, boasts one of the largest Pride parades in Europe. Its current most popular gayborhood is the Marais, but others have also held this title at one point or another, such as Pigalle. Paris even hosted the Gay Games in 2018, an inclusive sporting event aimed at fostering diversity and acceptance.

#7: Portugal

If you need a great LGBT-friendly destination but you’re working within a tight budget, Portugal is a good call, with prices often lower than other countries in Europe. With lots of sun, sea and sand, Lisbon welcomes people from all walks of life, and boasts one of the busiest night scenes in the continent. But if the city gets too exhausting, you can head to the picturesque town of Porto or even out to the Azores Islands, which bear the nickname “the Hawaii of the Atlantic” – and for good reason.

#6: Norway

There are so many LGBT+ events in Norway every year, most prominently in the capital Oslo, that it’s easy to lose count. As well as the annual Pride parade, you can hit the resort slopes outside Oslo for Scandinavian Ski Pride or check out the city of Trondheim for its Pride Festival. Norway has equal rights for LGBT people across the board with some of the best healthcare available for trans people. LGBT people have a high level of visibility in Norwegian culture and media, with plenty of openly gay public figures.

#5: Denmark

Copenhagen is a wildly popular destination for LGBT people, thanks to it being the capital city of one of the most liberal countries in the world, and its Pride celebrations in August last for an entire week of brightly-colored festivities. In 2021 it’s even set to host the WorldPride, a global celebration of everything queer. Denmark was also the first country to legally recognize same-sex couples, so the open-minded locals are mostly going to be nothing but welcoming to LGBT travellers. There is an array of gay-specific venues all prioritizing the comfort and safety of their patrons.

#4: Finland

The best Nordic country when it comes to equal rights is currently Finland, which hosts another week-long Pride event in Helsinki every summer at the end of June. While it does have a few legal hang-ups where trans rights and gender identity are concerned, it’s certainly not a place where one has to worry about whether being safe in the streets. Helsinki also has one of the best and biggest gay clubs in all of northern Europe the award-winning and mega-popular DTM. For the truly adventurous and decidedly male, there’s even the annual Bears On Board cruise which sets off from Finland and sails through the Baltic Sea for an evening.

#3: Luxembourg

This tiny country’s only major city is a place where people won’t think twice if you’re LGBTQ, and is one of the few countries to have had an openly gay prime minister. Luxembourg City has dozens of cultural attractions anyone can safely enjoy, like the beautiful Notre-Dame Cathedral, various art museums, and the Grand Ducal Palace which only offers tours during those hot, summer months. Luxembourg is an especially progressive country, and you’ll struggle to find people there who aren’t tolerant of different gender identities and sexual orientations, with many protective laws in place.

#2: Belgium

Many of Belgium’s largest cities, including Ghent, Antwerp, and the capital Brussels, have lively gay scenes as well as plenty of legal protections in place for LGBT+ individuals. Sexual activity between members of the same sex has been legal in Belgium since 1795, and in 2003 it was the second country in the world to legalise same-sex marriage. Belgium also has any number of openly gay officials, including past Prime Minister Elio Di Rupo. It’s a dream destination for a welcoming, European jaunt with historic clubs, bars, and hotels, and visitors generally should have no worries about public displays of affection.

#1: Malta

Despite being one of Europe’s smallest countries, the islands of the Maltese archipelago are renowned for the warm welcome given to LGBT people, which beats the continent’s other countries, even the progressive ones, by quite a margin. Rainbow Europe estimates Malta is 90% of the way to full equality and acceptance, 17% higher than the runner-up. It’s fitting that one of the most accepting countries in the world is also one of the oldest, with megalithic temples on Malta, some UNESCO World Heritage Sites, predating the Pyramids of Giza. But if you’re just looking for some R&R, the capital, Valletta is a tourist destination named the European Capital of Culture in 2018. And it’s becoming especially popular for gay destination weddings.


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