Travel is for everyone. End of sentence. And while the dream is that everyone could safely travel anywhere in the world, that’s just not the case for a variety of different identity groups. However, no person should be made to feel that they cannot travel. You can travel. No matter how you identify, LGBTQ+ or otherwise, it’s always good to research the laws and norms of countries before visiting there. And unfortunately for members of the LGBTQ+ community, we recognize that this research step goes beyond just fitting in and includes staying safe. To make your research a little simpler, we’ve compiled this list of some of our favorite destinations for LGBTQ+ travelers. Plus, scroll to the bottom for some destinations to avoid placing on your itinerary.
This is not a comprehensive list of the only countries that are safe to visit. It’s simply a snapshot of some countries around the world that are safe for LGBTQ+ travelers.
North: Canada, Mexico, the US
Canada, ranked 2* in the safest countries for LGBTQ+ travelers, Mexico and the US, both ranked 35*, are well established to be safe countries for LGBTQ+ citizens and travelers. Head to NYC, San Francisco, Toronto, or Mexico City’s Zona Rosa for cities with well-established LGBTQ+ culture and history.
South: Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Uruguay
Brazil has long been known for its welcomeness to the LGBTQ+ community. The São Paulo LGBTQ Pride Parade is one of the biggest and best in the world, taking place each year since 1997 in the month of June. Plus, these countries have had same-sex activities legalized as early as the 1830s, and, with the exception of Argentina, all of them have complete bans on all anti-gay discrimination (Argentina’s is city-by-city based, with a nation-wide ban currently pending).
Central + islands: Costa Rica, Puerto Rico
Costa Rica is one of Central America’s most developed countries with strong ties to tourism. By staying in Costa Rica’s well-traveled areas, you won’t experience any additional travel worries. As a US territory, Obergefell v. Hodges is also applicable in Puerto Rico, making same-sex marriages fully legal and recognized. Lounge on La Playuela is Cabo Rojo, the most LGBTQ+ friendly area of Puerto Rico, then explore the nightlife scene.
Nordic: Denmark, Finland, Greenland, Iceland, Norway, Sweden
All of the Nordic countries fall in the top 30* safest countries in the world for LGBTQ+ rights. These countries are known for their tolerance and Norway was one of the first countries to enact anti-discrimination laws that specifically included sexual orientation. Oslo, Norway has an active queer nightlife scene, as well as having hosted Oslo Gay Pride every year in June since 1974. Don’t stop there though – Helsinki Pride (also in June), Stockholm Pride, Copenhagen Pride and Reykjavík Pride are also totally worth attending, taking place in August.
Iberia + the Mediterranean: Greece, Malta, Portugal, Spain
Despite long histories with Catholicism, the Iberian Peninsula is considered very culturally liberal, with lots of safety and acceptance in both countries. Malta is the number 1* ranked best country in the world for LGBTQ+ rights and safety. And 2023’s EuroPride will take place in Valletta, Malta in September! If you’re off to Greece, make sure to stop in the gay neighborhood of Gazi in Thessaloniki, or else stop by the islands of Mykonos or Lesbos, both practically known for their gay culture.
Alpine: France, Germany, Italy, Switzerland
The great part of traveling Europe is that being LGBTQ+ is fully legal in all of the countries. At the top of the list though is Switzerland, which is ranked second* for LGBTQ+ safety. In Germany and Switzerland you’ll be more apt to find Christopher Street Day celebrations as opposed to Pride Parades – CSD serves to commemorate the anniversary of Stonewall. While you can pretty easily travel France without much thought to LBGTQ+ identity, keep in mind that rural Italy, especially farther south, is on the more conservative side.
Belgium and the Netherlands
The Netherlands and Belgium were the first and second countries in the world to allow same-sex marriages. Belgium’s major cities, like Brussels and Antwerp, have strong queer culture presences. In the Netherlands, add the Homomonument in Amsterdam to your itinerary. It was the world’s first public monument dedicated to the LGBTQ+ community, established in 1987. It’s not a ton to look at but it’s a pretty spot to sit along the river and pay homage to the fights that have been fought for LGBTQ+ rights worldwide.
Ireland and the UK
The 2023 London Pride Parade will be on July 1. Plus, London has so many gay bars to pick from – you’ll have plenty to explore there. Ireland’s current Taoiseach (Prime Minister), Leo Varadkar, is the country’s first gay Taoiseach. As the country ranked 17* for LBGTQ safety, Ireland offers lots to see and do for everyone, and there’s added security knowing that LGBTQ+ individuals are treated equally there.
More places around the world
South Pacific: Australia, New Zealand
Both Australia and New Zealand come in fourth* for safest LGBTQ+ countries. Melbourne’s Australia Lesbian & Gay Archives is regarded among the best of queer museums around the world. They have over 400,000 LGBTQ+ items and artifacts. Although they are currently only open to researchers and volunteers by appointment. During Melbourne’s Midsumma Festival each year, they run a Queer History Walk, touring and teaching about different areas each year. In New Zealand, Pride is usually celebrated during March, but there are events and things to do in the community year-round.
Asia: Israel, Taiwan
While Taiwan only legalized same-sex marriage in 2019, Taipei has celebrated Pride since 2003. The country has made continued efforts to further equality for LGBTQ+ travelers and residents alike. Tel Aviv Pride is the largest in Asia, with Taipei Pride coming in second. Want a spot to spend time in while in Israel surrounded by members of the LGBTQ+ community? Hilton Beach in Tel Aviv is the unofficial “gay beach.” You’ll find that the majority of those spending time there identify as LGBTQ+.
Africa: South Africa
South Africa is Africa’s best country for LGBTQ+ travelers to visit. Stay in the major cities, especially Johannesburg and Cape Town, but also Pretoria and Durban, and you’ll be sure to find a solid LGBTQ+ scene and community. Outside the cities and into more rural spots of the country, and views are not yet as progressive. Pride events in South Africa generally fall during October.
While plenty of places around the world are perfectly safe for members of the LGBTQ+ community to travel, it must be noted that there are still dangerous places that should be avoided as well. For example, it’s pretty commonly known that parts of the Middle East or Africa are particularly unfriendly. Less widely known, Jamaica and the Maldives are also not very queer friendly. For your safety when traveling, please do some quick research into the laws of the countries you intend to go to. Countries with some form of anti-LGBTQ+ laws that can lead to the death penalty include: Afghanistan, Brunei, Iran, Mauritania, Nigeria, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Somalia, (soon to go into effect) Uganda, the United Arab Emirates, and Yemen. All ranked in the bottom 30* worst countries for LGBTQ+ safety.
*All mentioned safety rankings are according to the Gay Travel Index published by Spartacus International Gay Guide which ranked countries based on various legislation, HIV restrictions, religious influence, murders, and death sentences.
**Flight prices were accurate at the time of posting, but are subject to change at any time and can’t be guaranteed until ticketed. Prices are shown for tickets between May to November 2023.