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Exclusives | Top Five Other Favorite European countries

Exclusives | Top Five Other Favorite European countries

Europe, a big continent with a lot to offer, has certain destinations that get all the press. Instead, we're highlighting the often-overlooked countries to visit.

While the big five -- the United Kingdom, France, Spain, Germany and Italy -- still dominate most Europe-bound gay travelers' itineraries, the more adventurous globetrotter, determined to check off more than the Louvre and Buckingham Palace on a trip across the pond, is investigating other corners of the map. Add on one of our five other favorite European destinations to your next trip.

1. Portugal
Add a trip west to a trip to Spain and explore Portugal, the other part of the Iberian Peninsula. This compact country of 10.6 million has a lively gay scene in the capital, Lisbon, a delightful climate and gorgeous, colorful streets. Three gayborhoods (Chiado, Bairro Alto and Principe Real) have gay-popular restaurants, bars, stores, and clubs. There's even a choice of gay beaches -- Meco or Beach 19. The city celebrates Pride at the end of June and has a gay and lesbian film festival every September.

Can't make it across the Atlantic? Explore North America's biggest Little Portugal in Toronto. The area is conveniently situated beside the city's alternative homo hotspot, West Queen West.

2. Iceland
If you're in the U.K., take a jaunt up to Scotland and hop on a short flight to friendly Iceland. The tiny population of 300,000 is concentrated in the capital, Reykjavik, home to two-thirds of all Icelanders. Bjork and Sigur Ros' hometown throws some good gay parties. Check with the Gay Community Center to find out what's on. Gay Pride struts through the streets each June.

Can't make it across the Atlantic? The largest Icelandic population outside Iceland is in Manitoba. Charming, art-centric Winnipeg is home to Canada's Icelandic Consul and a slew of annual Icelandic festivals and celebrations.

3. The Czech Republic
An incredibly easy add-on to a trip to Germany, the Czech Republic, a country of just over 10 million, is one of our all-time favorite European destinations. Its capital, Prague, is quite simply one of the most beautiful cities on Earth. A walk through the maze of cobbled streets will reveal breathtaking glimpses of the castle and cathedral on the cliffs above the river Vltava -- there's nothing else like it. Prague offers two sharply contrasting scenes, one mostly gay, the other principally lesbian, although the boundaries are not strictly policed. While the men's scene has embraced the market, Czech lesbians have built on the old prerevolutionary underground to create an alternative queer cultural space embracing poetry, politics, philosophy, and a lot of very good parties.

Can't make it across the Atlantic? Texas has the largest Czech population in the United States.

4. Belgium
France's tiny near-neighbor Belgium (population 10 million) has been offering full civil marriage rights to same-sex couples since 2003. The second country in the world to eliminate all references to gender in the marriage laws (one of you has to live in the country in order to get wed) has dozens of bars, restaurants and clubs in cosmopolitan Brussels. Charleroi, Liege and Mons, Ghent and Antwerp also offer gay goings-on.

Can't make it across the Atlantic? Wisconsin is home to the highest numbers of those with Belgian ancestry in the United States -- nearly 60,000.

5. Greece
Just across the gorgeous Ionian Sea from southern Italy and Sicily, Greece, population 10.7 million, offers the visitor around 3,000 islands and islets, stunning coastline and boisterous, bustling cities to explore. Hotspots include the hectic capital, Athens, chic island playground Mykonos, and, of course, Lesbos.

Can't make it across the Atlantic? Chicago has one of the largest Greek populations in the United States.

Advocate Channel - The Pride StoreOut / Advocate Magazine - Fellow Travelers & Jamie Lee Curtis

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