Picking the best places LGBTQ-inclusive places to visit in 2022 the Out Traveler team considered a lot of factors, drawing on our own experiences, happiness quotients, local LGBTQ+ laws, safety concerns, other rankings, and more.
Here are the places that topped our lists.
Disagree with us? Share your own list at @OutTraveler or [email protected]
Of course it goes without saying that you should always still do your own research, particularly regarding safety on the dates you are traveling.
This list initially appeared in our print edition. Read the digital version of our 25th issue here.
Thailand, known for its lush tropical beaches, fascinating ancient ruins, and gorgeous Buddhist temples, has also been long regarded as the most LGBTQ-friendly country in all of Southeast Asia. The country is especially progressive toward transgender people, who are arguably more a part of mainstream life here than most other places in the world.
The capital city of Bangkok, the center of queer culture in Thailand, juxtaposes quiet canal communities against a modern metropolis filled with clubs, bars, cabarets, and lots of great shopping. The canal waterways, once used as the area’s main form of transportation, still run through much of the city and connect to the Chao Phraya River. Just about any accommodations in Bangkok’s chic gayborhood of Silom are queer-friendly, as well as in the nearby area, Sathorn. We love The Babylon, a gay-exclusive hotel in the center of Bangkok.
The beach resort towns of Pattaya and Phuket are known for their gay beaches and lively LGBTQ+ nightlife. Pattaya’s queer red-light district, BoyzTown, will ensure you have an unforgettable time. Nearby Phuket also offers wild nights (including famous ladyboy shows), white sand beaches, and luxurious boutique hotels like La Flora Resort Patong. Or spice up your trip by staying at the Aquarius Gay Guesthouse & Sauna. By Donald Padgett
Pictured: A beautiful temple in reflection in twilight at Wat Non Kum. Photo: Pakin Songmor/Getty Images
Malta is a small archipelago, or groups of islands, just off the southern coast of Sicily in the Mediterranean Sea. Historically, the tiny island nation has served as an important port and trading hub connecting Europe to Africa. Because of this prime location, much of Maltese food and culture is a nuanced blend of many worlds. Today, Malta is known for its gorgeous views and perfect year-round weather (though visiting in the spring or fall will help you avoid the crowds and costs of the peak seasons).
The predominately Catholic country recognizedsame-sex marriage in 2017 and it is gaining a reputation as a queer-inclusive hot spot, with festive annual Pride celebrations (September). We love club Lollipop, located in the coastal capital city of Valetta. The Birdcage Lounge in Rabat has a fun, mixed crowd and karaoke. Though not an exclusively LGBTQ+ space, lesbian-owned Maori is a popular due to its monthly parties for queer women. The Phoenicia in Valetta offers 1920s elegance and 5-star luxury while the Marco Polo Party hostel in St Julian’s provides a lively, mixed crowd.
Despite its small geographical size, there is no shortage of culture or natural beauty in Malta, so there is always plenty to discover. To soak in some history and architecture, visit Medina, Vittoriosa, and Gozo (an island surrounded by famous shipwrecks). Most importantly though, you’ll want to head over to the island of Camino to see the famous Blue Lagoon, a breathtaking natural pool of deep azure-colored waters. --Donald Padgett
Pictured: Inside the Pirate Cave under the iconic Blue Grotto, Qrendi, Malta. Photo: Joel Daniel Price/Getty Images
The Indigenous people of Mexico were historically accepting of the queer, trans, and nonbinary folks among them until European colonists brought Christianity (and consequently, queer-shaming) to the continent. However, today many locals hold tight to their Indigenous ancestry and it’s a growing movement to return to pre-colonization ways of living and thinking, specifically in terms of queer acceptance. The country has expanded LGBTQ+ protections in recent years,and most areas welcome out travelers with open arms.
If you haven’t heard (have you been living under a rock?), one of the most beautiful, fun, queer-friendly places in the country is Puerto Vallarta, these days often referred to as the “San Francisco of Mexico.” The thriving gay scene is centered in Zona Romántica, a concentrated area of hotels, resorts, queer bars and nightclubs, and a gay beach on the main shore. For beachfront luxury stay at Almar Resort, an exclusive LGBTQ+ hotel. For a wild time off the beaten path, Piñata PV Gay Hotel offers rustic charm and clothing optional pool parties.
Mexico City runs a close second, particularly for the electric gay nightlife located at the heart of the city in Zona Rosa, the area’s official gayborhood (which also has some of the best shopping). During the day, you can take in the sights via an all-gay tour of the capital city and surrounding areas (outadventures.com) — highlights include Frida Kahlo’s “Blue House,” Chapultepec Castle, and nearby Teotihuacan. --Desiree Gurrerro
Pictured: Panoramic aerial view of Puerto Vallarta skyline. Photo: Ferrantraite/Getty Images
New Zealand has long been a bucket list destination for nature lovers, and it’s also a sought-after destination for queer travelers as well. The nation is divided into the North and South Islands, with the former being the more populated of the two. South Island has a buffet of travel options for the intrepid LGBTQ+ traveler. Start your visit in Christchurch, staying at The George, a 5-star hotel that overlooks Hagley Park and is a short distance from the famed Christchurch Botanic Gardens. But don’t limit yourself to the bright lights of the city.
The South Island is bisected by the Southern Alps which reach heights of over 12,000 feet. These mountains also feature some of the most accessible glaciers in the world, like the Fox and Franz Josef Glaciers. You can hike to them with relative ease, but perhaps the most spectacular views come from a helicopter tour. Be sure to also visit Fiordland National Park for near-limitless exploration of these mountains and their fiords, forests, and alpine lakes. And don’t miss a visit to Te Anau and its famed glow worms. --Donald Padgett
Pictured: The Milford Sound fiord, in Fiordland national park in New Zealand. Photo: Prime Images/Getty Images
The LGBTQ+ love affair with Australia began for many with the iconic movie, The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert, but it continued with the great food, queer-friendly nightlife, friendly people, the Great Barrier Reef, and miles of unspoiled beaches. Sydney is the country’s gay capital and home to Mardi Gras, its unique version of Pride. The quirky yet refined 5-star Ovolo 1888 Darling Harbor Boutique Hotel is centrally located. See the famed Oxford Street gay district with a private tour from The Fabulous Wonder Mama (@thefabulouswondermama), a wealth of knowledge and humor who also possesses some of the biggest peaks this side of the Grand Tetons.
Bondi Beach is perfect for working on your tan or taking a surfing lesson. From there you can stroll the Bondi to Bronte coastal walk. The pathway’s natural beauty hides a dark past during the 1980s when a number of gay men lost their lives thrown from the cliffs onto the rocks below.
Further north is Byron Bay and its amazing beaches, famed lighthouse, and pristine waters. After a day of responsible snorkeling with endangered sea turtles, you can glamp at the Hideaway at Cabarita Beach. Just steps from a mileslong unspoiled beach and adjacent to a nature reserve, the well-appointed airconditioned tents will keep you cool on hot summer nights. No visit to Australia would be complete without an excursion to the Great Barrier Reef, a natural wonder that is currently threatened by the warming oceans brought on by climate change. --Donald Padgett
Pictured: The Bondi to Bronte coastal path. Photo: Donald Padgett
Spain remains a coveted LGBTQ+ tourist destination despite its deep Catholic heritage. Whether you choose to walk the historic Way of St. James in the north, explore the Gaudi architecture and nightlife of Barcelona, or party nonstop on the Mediterranean isle of Ibiza, you’ll never be at a loss for activities of every kind in the Iberian Peninsula nation. Queer travelers looking to let their hair down after a long global lockdown simply bypass the mainland and head directly to Ibiza for a wild and crazy gaycation.
The island is rightfully renowned for its over-the-top nightlife since there’s probably a party going on somewhere at any hour during the summer months, filled with both the glitterati and locals, all mixing together. Ibiza is also the site of the infamous punch thrown by Orlando Bloom at that Bieber boy in the super swanky Cipriani restaurant back in 2014. Queer visitors should head to Ibiza Town’s gay neighborhood, Calle de la Virgen, with its terraced restaurants and gay bars ideal for fun times, people watching, and cruising for hookups.
If you’d rather not party like Paris Hilton but prefer to relax in luxury and relative solitude, leave behind Ibiza Town and head north to the Six Senses Resort. This exclusive beachside hotel and spa centers wellness and relaxation rather than a night on the town. The accommodations are refined, the food thoughtfully prepared, and the setting is simply a natural work of art. --Donald Padgett
Pictured: Rainbow flag flies during Ibiza’s Gay Pride. Photo: Jaime Reina/Getty Images
As evidenced by Canadian trans author Cooper Lee Bombardier’s amazing IG grid, the island of Newfoundland is a nature- and history-lovers paradise. It’s also a safe, queer-inviting destination, as demonstrated by a new program from the Association For New Canadians to sponsor LGBTQ+ asylum seekers.
Newfoundland’s quaint capital of St. John’s is the oldest city in the country at over 500 years and counting. The British colonial architecture can still be seen alongside later styles of more traditional Canadian fishing villages. The hilly terrain might remind you of San Francisco, as will the array of fresh seafood restaurants. Find LGBTQ-welcoming boutique accommodations at establishments like Gower Manor Historic B&B.
St. John’s conveniently connects to the East Coast Trail, a network of paths extending 200 miles along the Atlantic coast. To truly experience Newfoundland’s incredible natural beauty leave the city for the island’s National Parks.
The most spectacular is Gros Mornek National Park on the island’s western side. Explore a seemingly endless landscape of fjords with thunderous waterfalls, dense forests, and the Earth’s exposed mantle pushed upwards by plate tectonics. The region is stunning and yet accessible and there are a number of smaller accommodations in the area.
Pictured: St. John’s, Newfoundland reminds some of San Francisco. Credit: Jarmo Piironen/Getty Images
In the land of fjords, Bergen is a hidden gem for queer travelers in search of history, natural beauty, and welcoming locals.
Norway is one of world’s happiest countries, and one with a long history of LGBTQ-inclusion (legalizing samesex sexual relations in 1972). Discerning visitors will center Bergen on their itineraries. The UNESCO World Heritage City has a vibrant queer scene and a wonderful yearly Pride March that takes place rain or shine. As the locals like to say in Norway, there is no bad weather, just bad clothes. Known alternatively as the “city fjord” or the “city of seven mountains,” Bergen’s history, which dates back to the 11th century, is preserved today with cobblestone streets and historic architecture. Bryggen, the city’s old wharf that was rebuilt after a fire in 1702, is still a bustling center of trade. A stately former stock exchange building from the 1800s has been repurposed into the marvelous Bergen Børs Hotel.
Journeying just a few minutes outside Bergen rewards travelers with limitless natural beauty. You can visit Sognefjord, the “king of fjords,” the longest and deepest in the country, with mountain walls rising 6,500 feet, conveniently located between Oslo and Bergen. Another option is the Flåm Railway (Flåmsbana), which whisks riders through small villages and deep fjords filled with emerald-green rivers and cascading waterfalls. The Northern Lights add a mystic quality to the majestic landscapes. --Donald Padgett
Pictured: The cable car to Mt Ulricken rises above Bergen, Norway (above) but cycling is a popular way to get around town on the ground. Photo: Espen Haagensen/Vistit Bergen (Bergen)
Scandinavian countries are known for their inclusiveness, and Sweden consistently stages the largest Pride celebrations among Nordic countries. That makes sense, seeing as how Sweden got a head start on inclusivity. In 2019 the nation celebrated the 75th anniversary of its decriminalization of homosexuality, making it, the locals like to say, “gay since 1944.” It’s been celebrating Pride for 30 years, and holds more Pride festivities per capita than anywhere else on the planet.
This August, the Swedish city of Malmö proudly cohosted WorldPride 2021 with Copenhagen (just across the river in Denmark). Malmö combines Old World charm with a modern cosmopolitan atmosphere. Walk the cobblestone streets of Old Town, visit the gothic 14th century Saint Peter’s Church, then meet up with friends for drinks and dinner at one of the many bars, cafés, and restaurants of the 500-year-old Lilla Torg district.
There’s certainly more to Sweden than Pride and the best place to start is in the country’s capital. Stockholm, oft called the Venice of the north, is located on a 14-island archipelago on the southeast coast. The Nationalmuseum is a must see, as are the Royal Palace and Bergius Botanic Garden in the Haga Royal Park. But the one excursion you can’t miss is the Stockholm archipelago, know as skärgården among local Swedes, is a collection of roughly 30,000 islands extending 50 miles east of the city. It’s the perfect daytrip for exploring by boat, but it’s also perfect for hiking, biking, kayaking, fishing, and more. Try staying at the historic Grand Hotel, which truly lives up to its name. --Donald Padgett
Photo: Drazen/Getty Images
According to the Happy Planet Index, Costa Rica is the world’s happiest place. Compared to those living in 139 other countries, Costa Ricans report laughing, smiling, and experiencing joy more than the inhabitants of any other place on Earth.
And its why your next trip should be to this country, where tourism is built around sustainability. The country’s simpler life impacts quantity, not just quality, of life. The death rate for men from heart disease here is about a third less than in the U.S.
At La Paz Waterfall Gardens Nature Park, the most-visited privately-owned eco attraction in Costa Rica, stay at Peace Lodge, a boutique hotel with only 18 rooms, waterfall showers, giant stone tubs, and amazing views of La Paz River Valley and the towering Poás Volcano. The lodge is built around the country’s largest animal sanctuary.
Tabacón Thermal Resort & Spa offers 20 in-river thermal springs and waterfalls are all naturally warmed by a volcano’s bubbling magma. The 103 room eco-retreat's spa features open-air bungalows where the calls of monkeys and macaws serve as a live relaxation serenade to treatments. --Diane Anderson-Minshall
Andaz Costa Rica Resort At Peninsula Papagayo (pictured) is a Guanacaste luxury resort within a pristine 1,400-acre private peninsula. Photo courtesy Andaz Costa Rica.