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Gay and Lesbian Travel and Hotels in Europe

Europe is the most open continent for LGBT rights and acceptance of same-sex relationships with not one country making it a criminal offence.

Spain, Portugal, Belgium, Sweden, Norway, Iceland and the Netherlands all recognise same-sex marriage and many countries recognise same-sex relationships and have specific protection laws in place to prevent anti-gay discrimination. While some parts of Europe are still a little hostile towards gay people, the European Union has gone a long way in recent years to ensure the whole continent subscribe to the same doctrine.

Pride festivals in Europe are usually during the summer months of May – September, though to avoid clashes, some cities are introducing Pride festivals during the winter months. You can follow EuroPride that takes place in a different city in the first week of July every year – most recently in Stockholm, Zurich and Warsaw. In Spain, Germany and United Kingdom most large cities host an annual gay pride.

In most instances the gay nightlife is very easy to find and there is a gaborhood in most cities including Soho of London, Chueca of Madrid, Sconeberg of Berlin. While the further south and East you head research is a must and many gay bars will be hidden in dark alleyways, behind closed doors where you may need to ring a bell for entry.

There is a wealth of cultures, languages and landscapes to experience in Europe, starting in the major international cities of Barcelona, Berlin, Rome, or emerging Eastern destinations of Prague, Warsaw and Budapest. Whether you’re interested in architecture (Eiffel Tower), Ancient History (Coliseum), Sport (skiing in the Alps), Culture (Germany’s Oktober Fest), or Beaches (Agean Sea) there’s something in Europe for everyone.



Many cities in Spain hold a gay pride festival including Barcelona (March), Gran Canaria (March), Ibiza (June), Loveball Festival (August) and Canary Islands (May). Madrid has one of the largest gay pride festivals in Europe, which takes place in July. If you’re looking for ‘the gay’ destination then head for Sitges, a gay town in its own right with numerous gay beaches and a gay scene that covers much of the town.

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Today the UK has a calendar filled with gay events with most major towns hosting a gay pride festival between May and September. The most famous gay prides are those of Brighton and Manchester in August, and London in July. London played host to EuroPride in 2006 and World Pride in 2012. The London Lesbian and Gay Film Festival in March is a very popular event showcasing the best new releases in queer cinema, however tickets do sell fast.

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In Austria there’s a great story about a gay prince who freed Vienna from a Turkish occupancy and saw the return of the Ottomans back to the Balkans. And from here there are many tales of gay men in Austria’s wealthy history but Civil partnerships were only introduced in 2010, the same year the country issued the world’s first gay pride postal stamp.

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Belgium was the second country in the world to legalize same-sex marriage and has done much over the years to ensure gays and lesbians equal rights to heterosexuals. Belgium's main towns ooze charm, from the capital city Brussels, to it's second city Antwerp and Bruges, with a town center that’s a UNESCO world heritage site.

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Czech Republic

The Czech Republic has somewhat moved on and become a strong member of the European Union following the collapse of communism in 1989 and the dissolution of Czechoslovakia. It registered Civil Partnerships in 2006 and has bans on anti-gay discrimination. An annual perception poll has in recent years shown that 3 in 4 people show full support for same-sex partnerships.

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One of the largest countries in Europe, France adopted same-sex relationship rights relatively early on in the continent, however while single gay people may adopt, couples do not have this right.

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Germany is one of the most socially liberal places in the world with the opportunity to engage in a wide range of scenes, interests, fetishes and entertainment - very openly. The gay districts are often incredibly easy to find in Germany with rainbow flags displayed on nearly all occasions. The locals are likely to be warm and welcoming and enjoy a conversation in English over a beer.

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In the middle of the Mediterranean Greece has over 1,000 islands each with its own story, Lesbos is the most famous for its homosexual history – regarded as the land of Lesbians. However Mykonos has become the gay holiday destination in Greece and one of the hottest in Europe, offering an incredibly vibrant gay night and day life.

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Italy is rich in history, architecture, cuisine, fashion, wine and landscapes. Italy is incredibly popular and can offer so much to a visitor whether you visit one of the culturally rich primary cities of Venice, Milan, Florence, Verona, Turin or the small towns and islands in the South.

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Malta is a popular summer destination for Europeans, it has developed a vibrant party scene and beach culture accompanied by a thriving gay nightlife, especially between April – October.

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The Netherlands is one of the most liberal nations in Europe and was the first country in the world to legalise same-sex marriage in 2001. The international city of Amsterdam is famed for its red light district, cannabis coffee shops, peep shows and sleazy bars as well as a very diverse and specialist gay nightlife. Rotterdam, The Hague, Dordrecht and Utrecht all have vibrant and thriving gay nightlife, so you don’t have to be in the capital to have a good time.

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A popular destination for sunseekers, Portugal’s vast coastline offers long sandy beaches and in most tourist spots you will find a gay beach or nudist beach. Popular tourist resorts for gay travellers in Portugal include Madeira, Algarve and the islands of Azores – where you will also find a number of gay events.

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Stockholm is the centre of life in this low-populated country and the same goes for the gay nightlife, however both Malmo and Gothenburg have a gay scene. Stockholm Pride has been going since August 1998, there are a few gay bars here but all Swedish bars are mixed and gay-inclusive. Lino is probably the best gay party spot in Stockholm along with Goken, while Gothenborg has MataHari and Malmo has the Wonk nightclub. The gay calendar is littered with events so there is always a party to join in with.

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The Swiss tourist board fully embraces the gay and lesbian traveller and has many promotional campaigns for the LGBT visitor.  Both Zurich and Geneva have a thriving gay scene and Lausanne’s large student population makes Switzerland a very welcoming and comfortable country for gay visitors.

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