Top 6 Places to Visit as an LGBTQ+ Traveller

featuring Brit Clayton, our new Diversity & Inclusion Manager

Business travel can be a whirlwind of an experience; an exciting – if not occasionally stressful – flow of work meetings, project deadlines, and new places to visit. It’s a lot to think about at the best of times.

However, as an LGBTQ+ professional, travel comes with an extra layer of uncertainty. Though the world is becoming an altogether friendlier and more tolerant place, there are still challenges to overcome and hoops to jump through. Discrimination has yet to be stamped out entirely, legal restrictions are still enforced in some countries, and personal safety can be a concern for those in the LGBTQ+ community who accidentally wade into choppy waters.

So, to celebrate Pride Month 2024, we spoke to our very own Diversity & Inclusion Manager Brit Clayton who gives her top 6 destinations for LGBTQ+ business travellers as told through the prism of her own experiences abroad. 

Our D&I Manager Brit Clayton outside of the Stonewall Inn in New York City

New York City holds a significant place in LGBTQ+ history. The Stonewall Inn, located in Greenwich Village, was the epicentre of the 1969 Stonewall Riots, which catalysed the modern LGBTQ+ rights movement. This area is now designated as the Stonewall National Monument.

NEW YORK

The top things to do for LGBTQ+ travellers in New York:

🏳️‍🌈 Stonewall Inn: Visit this historic bar to pay homage to the birthplace of the modern LGBTQ+ rights movement.

🏳️‍🌈 Cubbyhole: One of the last remaining Lesbian bars in NYC Greenwich Village: Explore the charming streets filled with LGBTQ+-friendly bars, cafés, and boutiques.

🏳️‍🌈 Christopher Street: Participate in the annual NYC Pride March, which takes place along this iconic street.

🏳️‍🌈 Big Gay Ice Cream: It’s big, it’s gay, it’s Ice Cream – what more do you need?!

🏳️‍🌈 New York City AIDS Memorial: Reflect at this sombre yet powerful memorial dedicated to those lost to the AIDS epidemic.

REYKJAVIK

The top things to do for LGBTQ+ travellers in Reykjavik:

🏳️‍🌈 Hinsegin Dagar (Reykjavik Pride): Celebrate during this week-long festival, one of the most inclusive and family-friendly Pride events in the world.

🏳️‍🌈 Kiki Queer Bar: Enjoy Reykjavik’s main LGBTQ+ nightclub, known for its vibrant and welcoming atmosphere.

🏳️‍🌈 Lebowski bar: A must-visit for any fans of the film ‘The Big Lebowski’ and lots of fun for anyone who isn’t. Order a White Russian.

🏳️‍🌈 Blue Lagoon: Unwind in this famous geothermal spa, a must-visit for any traveller to Iceland. Note: this may be closed due to volcanic activity in the area!

🏳️‍🌈 Harpa Concert Hall: Attend events and concerts in this stunning venue, often featuring LGBTQ+ artists, there is a great bar at the top if you just fancy a drink with a view!

🏳️‍🌈 Rainbow Steet: a huge pride flag painted on the street which runs through the city, great for Instagram photos!

Reykjavik, the capital of Iceland, is known for its progressive stance on LGBTQ+ rights. Iceland was one of the first countries to elect an openly gay head of state, Jóhanna Sigurðardóttir, in 2009. I don’t think I’ve ever felt safter holding a partner’s hand in public than I did in Reykjavik. Actually, I don’t think I’ve ever felt safer in any city ever!

Stonewall National Monument in New York City

Harpa Concert Hall in Reykjavik

The Homomonument in Amsterdam

Barcelona Pride Parade Lights

San Francisco is often dubbed the “gay capital of the world”. The emergence of the LGBTQ+ community in the city is often attributed to the returning sailors of WWII who settled in the city. For some of those who lived to fight another day and returned home from war, San Francisco was remembered as a friendly port and safe harbour for those not fitting into society’s ideals of heteronormativity. Some of the millions who served decided to stay and establish a new life in the city for fear of returning home due to persecution from family members and their communities.

SAN FRANCISCO

The top things to do for LGBTQ+ travellers in San Francisco:

🏳️‍🌈 The Castro District: The city’s Castro District has been a central hub for LGBTQ+ culture and activism since the 1960s, with Harvey Milk, one of the first openly gay elected officials in the U.S., as one of its most famous residents. Protests and riots erupted throughout the city when Harvey Milk was assassinated, along with the Mayor on November 27, 1978.

🏳️‍🌈 Lookout: A fun gay bay bar with good drinks and a large balcony area right in the middle of the Castro.

🏳️‍🌈 Harvey Milk Plaza: Visit this public space dedicated to Harvey Milk, featuring murals and a large rainbow flag.

🏳️‍🌈 Dolores Park: Relax in this popular gathering spot known for its lively and diverse crowds.

🏳️‍🌈 Pink Triangle Park: Pay respects at this memorial honouring LGBTQ+ victims of the Holocaust.

🏳️‍🌈 Folsom Street Fair: Experience one of the largest leather and fetish events in the world, celebrating sexual diversity and freedom.

AMSTERDAM

The top things to do for LGBTQ+ travellers in Amsterdam:

🏳️‍🌈 Reguliersdwarsstraat: Stroll through this lively street known for its LGBTQ+ bars and clubs.

🏳️‍🌈 Amsterdam Gay Pride: Participate in one of Europe’s most unique Pride events, featuring the famous canal parade.

🏳️‍🌈 Homomonument: Visit this poignant memorial commemorating all LGBTQ+ people who have faced persecution. Every year, on the National Day of Remembrance on 4 May, the Homomonument hosts an official ceremony to commemorate the gays and lesbians who were victims of Nazi repression, as well as those who are still being persecuted for their sexual orientation around the world. On King’s Day on 27 April and Liberation Day on 5 May, colourful Pink Triangle festivals are held at Westermarkt, which include dances, concerts, performances by artists, drag queens, and so on.

🏳️‍🌈 Vondelpark: Relax in this expansive park, a popular spot for both locals and visitors.

🏳️‍🌈 IHLIA LGBT Heritage: Explore the world’s largest LGBTQ+ archive and library, located in the Amsterdam Public Library.

Amsterdam has been a pioneer in LGBTQ+ rights, being the capital City of the first country in the world to legalize same-sex marriage in 2001. Its open-minded and liberal attitude has made it a favourite destination for LGBTQ+ travellers for decades.

Barcelona is a vibrant and progressive city that has long been a magnet for the LGBTQ+ community. Spain legalized same-sex marriage in 2005, and Barcelona has since become one of the most LGBTQ+-friendly cities in Europe. The city’s rich artistic and cultural heritage, combined with its welcoming atmosphere, makes it a top destination for LGBTQ+ travellers.

BARCELONA

The top things to do for LGBTQ+ travellers in Barcelona:

🏳️‍🌈 Eixample District (Gaixample): Known as Barcelona’s LGBTQ+ district, this area is filled with LGBTQ+-friendly bars, clubs, and restaurants. It’s the perfect place to experience the city’s nightlife and meet like-minded people.

🏳️‍🌈 Barcelona Pride: Celebrate diversity and inclusivity during this annual event, which features parades, parties, and cultural activities throughout the city.

🏳️‍🌈 Sitges: Just a short train ride from Barcelona, this coastal town is a renowned LGBTQ+ haven, with beautiful beaches and a lively nightlife scene. Note: much of the offering in Sitges is targeted towards gay men.

🏳️‍🌈 Parc de la Ciutadella: Relax in this beautiful park, a popular gathering spot for the LGBTQ+ community, especially on sunny days.

🏳️‍🌈 Circuit Festival: Experience one of the largest international LGBTQ+ events, held in Barcelona every August, with a week of parties, cultural activities, and beach events.

🏳️‍🌈 La Sagrada Família and Park Güell: While not specifically LGBTQ+, these iconic landmarks by Antoni Gaudí are must-visits for any traveller, showcasing Barcelona’s unique artistic and architectural heritage. • La Sagrada Família is the longest-running construction project in the world having been started in 1882. Highly recommend a tour here otherwise you won’t fully grasp the genius and detail of Gaudí

🏳️‍🌈 Tandem Bar: Simply put the best cocktail I’ve ever had in my life. Not a gay bar but a traditional Catalonian cocktail bar. No menus but the mixologists can make you any drink you like or are happy to recommend. Please don’t tell too many people of this wonderful place.

BRIGHTON

The top things to do for LGBTQ+ travellers in Brighton:

🏳️‍🌈 Kemptown: Explore this vibrant LGBTQ+ district, filled with bars, clubs, and shops. Brighton Pride: Join one of the UK’s most famous Pride events, attracting thousands of visitors each year. Brighton Pier and Beach: Enjoy the seaside, where the LGBTQ+ community gathers in a welcoming atmosphere.

🏳️‍🌈 Legends: Great gay bar on the seafront, sit outside and enjoy the view or party on the dance floor.

🏳️‍🌈 Revenge: The best gay club in Brighton, and it has a rooftop for views of the pier! Marlborough Pub & Theatre: Attend a performance at this LGBTQ+ venue known for its diverse and inclusive programming. Queer Heritage Tours: Discover Brighton’s LGBTQ+ history through guided tours exploring significant sites and stories.

Brighton is often referred to as the “gay capital of the UK.” It has a long-standing reputation as a haven for the LGBTQ+ community, dating back to the early 20th century when it became a popular destination for artists and bohemians.

In Conclusion

These destinations offer more than just acceptance; they celebrate the rich tapestry of the LGBTQ+ community. Whether through historical landmarks, vibrant festivals, or inclusive spaces, each city provides a unique and welcoming experience for LGBTQ+ travellers. So, pack your bags and get ready to explore these diverse and exciting locations!

Travelling can be an incredible journey of self-discovery and cultural immersion, and these cities ensure that LGBTQ+ travellers have a wealth of experiences that are both enriching and affirming. Whether you’re drawn to the historic streets of New York, the progressive vibes of San Francisco, the beachside charm of Brighton, the canal-lined beauty of Amsterdam, the natural wonders of Reykjavik, or the Mediterranean allure of Barcelona, these destinations are ready to welcome you with open arms.

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