10 Great Gay Hotspots Around the World

rainbow flags waving at LGBT festival
I’ve added an LGBT column for the website to make the site more inclusive and talk about issues that affect some members of our community. In this column, we hear from voices in the LGBT community about their experiences on the road, safety tips, events, and overall advice for other LGBT travelers! Returning this month is our column leader, Adam from travelsofadam.com

The great thing about travel today is that more of the world is accessible and open — no matter your sexuality or gender identity. While there have been ups and downs in the political movement for LGBT equality, major cities still provide the safest and friendliest spots for LGBT individuals.

I’ve been traveling around the world since 2009 and have visited some of the world’s most popular LGBT-friendly destinations along the way. I’ve marched and danced in Gay Pride parades from Sydney to Stockholm and been to more queer music festivals than I ever even imagined existed.

As the Orlando Pulse shooting reminded us, the gay club is still an important place to find culture and community. And there are still cities that really strut their LGBT history and queer identity, so we need to hang on to them.

There are many more gay-friendly hotspots around the world, but these are 10 of my favorites because of their history of activism, the number of diverse LGBT events they host, and the fact that they’re just really cool cities. If you are a gay traveler looking for a city that has it all, check out one of these:

Berlin

a man painted in silver at a LGBT pride event in Berlin
Germany’s capital has a unique place in gay history. In the 1920s Weimar era, it was one of Europe’s most liberal cities — home to gaudy cabaret and the site of one of the first gay villages. Today, Berlin’s free-spirited attitude has propelled it to the top of many “best of” lists thanks to 24-hour nightlife, a burgeoning art and food scene, and a diverse, international population.

Historically, the gay center of Berlin was around Nollendorfplatz in Schöneberg, an area still popular for its fetish clubs and leather bars, not to mention the legendary Folsom Europe street party each September (and where you’ll also find a gay history museum). But in today’s Berlin, the new gay hotspots are found throughout the Kreuzberg and Neukölln neighborhoods in indie bars and clubs such as SchwuZ, SilverFuture, or The Club. Berlin’s legendary nightlife shines through queer parties that are increasingly not just for LGBT people — everything from the techno-fueled weekends at Berghain to KitKat Club’s bi-monthly Gegen party.

When to visit: Visit Berlin during the summer, when the city comes alive with countless festivals, open-air parties, and queer events. The annual Christopher Street Day parade (Gay Pride) is celebrated by hundreds of thousands of locals and tourists each June.

Manchester

a plaque dedicated to alan turing in manchester england
While London still holds an important place in the UK’s LGBT scene, Manchester plays host to a number of the biggest and best LGBT events in the country. Once the home to iconic gay hero Alan Turing, Manchester became internationally famous from the 1990s Queer as Folk TV series set in and around the city’s gay neighborhood, Canal Street.

Today, Canal Street is still filled with bars, clubs, and other gay-owned businesses — from the pretty and glitzy Richmond Tea Rooms to popular nightclubs like G-A-Y and Poptastic. Manchester’s Northern Quarter, with its trendy bars, underground rock clubs, and small indie art galleries, has also become a gay hotspot a little further removed from the twinky, tank top–filled Canal Street.

When to visit: Manchester Pride is the UK’s largest, taking place each September, but other queer events happen year-round, such as the trans-focused Sparkle Festival in July and the Queer Contact arts festival each winter.

Dallas

gay pride parade held in Dallas Texas
Maybe it’s not the first LGBT-friendly place you think of in the United States, but Dallas, Texas, has become a hotspot in the past decade. The Oak Lawn neighborhood is the epicenter of LGBT culture there, with many gay bars and LGBT-owned businesses on Cedar Springs Road, as well as in the nearby Bishop Arts District. Legendary nightlife venues like Station 4 and the Round-Up Saloon attract big crowds each weekend with their drag shows, square dancing, and other special events. And for those looking for slightly more offbeat travel adventures, the nearby Wildcatter Ranch is a gay-friendly cowboy resort.

When to visit: Dallas Pride takes place each September, but the Oak Lawn neighborhood also comes alive, full of color and costumes, each Halloween for the annual Oak Lawn Halloween Block Party.

Los Angeles

a plaque for Christopher Street, where the first gay pride parade in Los Angeles started
With its seemingly endless warm weather, sunshine, and meticulously manicured population, Los Angeles has been one of the United States’ most gay-friendly cities for a long time. So much so that since 1969 there’s been an LGBT center in the city that now boasts it serves more LGBT individuals than any other organization in the world. You’ll also find the ONE Archives Foundation, tasked with recording LGBT history by preserving historical artifacts, publications, and testimonies. Culturally, Los Angeles is famous for being the global cinematic capital, but it also has world-class restaurants and museums, such as LACMA and the Getty Museum.

Then there’s the nightlife, including West Hollywood’s gay clubs and bars, such as crowd favorites The Abbey and Flaming Saddles. Outside of the “gay ghetto” of WeHo, Silver Lake is a popular gay hotspot. There, you’ll find The Black Cat, site of the first documented LGBT civil rights demonstration in the US and now a popular brunch hangout. For nightlife in Silver Lake, Akbar draws the bearded hipster crowd with its small dance parties.

When to visit: The LA Pride Music Festival and Parade takes place each June in West Hollywood, with hundreds of thousands of spectators, but if summertime is too hot, the biggest gay party of the year is the free Halloween Carnival, a street party on Santa Monica Boulevard.

Buenos Aires

gay pride flag hanging from Argentinian building in Buenos Aires
Argentina was the first South American country to legalize same-sex marriage and adoption rights, putting the country at the forefront of LGBT equality since 2010. The capital Buenos Aires has benefited, with a large and vibrant LGBT culture.

The areas of Recoleta, Palermo, and San Telmo are where you’ll find the largest concentration of gay bars and nightlife. Palermo, with trendy bars, cafés, shops, and restaurants in its Soho district, offers a lot of cool things to see and do — from the Latin pop and drag at Jolie Club (Fiesta Jolie) every Wednesday to the gay-friendly underground speakeasies (such as the new Victoria Brown Bar).

The gay community in Buenos Aires is relatively out and open, but the culture is more subdued than other over-the-top gay destinations. But still, you’ll find LGBT life fairly well integrated in society, with many tango bars and clubs even offering queer tango lessons and dance nights.

When to visit: Buenos Aires Pride takes place in November, at the beginning of the southern hemisphere’s summer season.

Bangkok

men dressed in pink performing in gay pride parade in bangkok
A longtime favorite for LGBT tourists, Bangkok has a lot to offer, making it one of Asia’s most popular gay destinations. The fun and friendly gay scene is centered around the Silom neighborhood, specifically the streets known as Soi 2 and Soi 4. Bangkok’s best gay nightlife is at DJ Station every weekend, specifically the midnight drag shows each Friday. Telephone Pub on Soi 4 serves as an early evening hangout with drag shows and pub food, while G.O.D. (Guys on Display) draws the after-hour crowds when all the other gay bars close down for the night.

While Thailand hasn’t recognized many LGBT rights, many tourists will find the city surprisingly open-minded. And while you’ll find some seedy sex clubs throughout the city, Bangkok’s legendary shopping and culinary scenes make it equally interesting for travelers with more discerning tastes. Also: look out for gay events at Bangkok’s luxury hotels such as the Sofitel So, which runs regular gay parties on its rooftop bar and pool lounge.

When to visit: One of the biggest and best events in Bangkok is the annual Songkran water festival in April, with the largest circuit party, called gCircuit, takes place in Silom — with all the trappings of every other international circuit party (think: hunky shirtless guys and lots of electronic music raging day and night).

Dublin

global gay pride parade in Dublin Ireland
When Ireland passed same-sex marriage laws in mid-2015, the country became the first in the world to offer equal rights by popular vote. At the head of Dublin’s LGBT scene sits local icon and activist Panti Bliss, who has been at the forefront of Ireland’s LGBT movement and owns the popular club Panti Bar. Gay pub The George also plays host to Dublin’s best LGBT events, with regular drag and karaoke nights.

When to visit: Paying homage to Dublin’s important place in literary history, the city plays host to the annual International Gay Theatre Festival each May. The festival began in 2004 to mark the 150th anniversary of Oscar Wilde’s birth and has since become the world’s largest queer theatre festival. Wilde, one of Dublin’s most important literary figures, has a statue commemorating his life in Merrion Square Park (near his birthplace). The park is also where Dublin Pride takes place each June.

Stockholm

a rainbow flag at stockholm's gay pride event
Famous for cold winters, sunny summers, and trendsetting Swedes all year long, Stockholm has a strange mix of art, fashion, culture, and design — and one of Scandinavia’s best LGBT scenes. Sweden is also one of the most progressive countries in the world when it comes to LGBT and women’s rights.

The LGBT scene is spread throughout the city. From the underground indie club King Kong to the kitschy ABBA Museum, there’s something for everyone in the city. During the summer months, the Mälarpaviljongen restaurant (located on a set of floating docks) hosts a number of LGBT events, fundraisers, and parties.

When to visit: Stockholm Pride each August is the biggest gay event of the year, with big music acts, parties, and public seminars on everything from fetish training to human rights.

Toronto

lgbt people marching together in toronto canada
Home to Canada’s largest LGBT community, Toronto has a vibrant and lively gay village. The intersecting streets of Church and Wellesley feature a number of gay-owned bars and businesses. The area comes alive each night with locals and visitors, most famously at Woody’s, one of the best clubs on Church Street.

But Toronto’s gay-friendliness extends elsewhere in the city, such as the West Queen West and Trinity Bellwoods neighborhoods. Take a walk down Ossington Avenue, College Street, or Queen Street West (bordering these neighborhoods) for a number of cool, queer-friendly businesses, from Toronto’s best macaroons at Nadege Patisserie to the monthly Yes Yes Y’all queer hip-hop and dancehall party.

When to visit: Too cold in the winter, Toronto is best in the summer when it’s sunny and full of color. Pride Toronto — one of the world’s largest Pride celebrations — attracts hundreds of thousands of visitors. Other popular events include the Inside Out LGBT film festival which takes place over two weeks at the beginning of each summer, showcasing more than 200 queer-themed films alongside artist talks, premieres, and industry panels.

Sydney

sydney opera house decorated in rainbow colors to celebrate gay pride
While Australia is currently arguing over same-sex marriage equality, Sydney remains a beacon of gay-friendliness on the continent. With Sydney’s progressive attitudes, beautiful beaches, and an active arts scene, the city is as vibrant as ever.

The Darlinghurst neighborhood, just south of Hyde Park on Oxford Street, serves as the unofficial gay neighborhood. Palms on Oxford, with its pop hits, hosts some of the biggest parties each weekend and is a longtime favorite for locals and tourists. But the areas of Surrey Hills and Newtown further out from the city center, with their cool cafés, trendy bars, and small, indie basement clubs (like the Tokyo Sing-Song bar) are also accessible and mostly gay-friendly areas.

When to visit: Sydney’s annual Pride takes shape in the form of Mardi Gras (February/March). It’s one of the world’s largest Pride parades and features weeks of events and parties. It’s a colorful event, with crowds that fill the streets and parks of Sydney all day and night.

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Here’s the thing: just about any city in the world can be a “gay hotspot” — it’s always a matter of knowing where is safe and how to meet locals. Planning your visit around LGBT events — from film festivals and Pride parades to political activist seminars — is a pretty solid way to make any holiday that much more gay.

Adam Groffman is a former graphic designer living in Berlin, Germany. He’s a gay travel expert, writer, and blogger and publishes a series of LGBT-friendly Hipster City Guides from around the world on his gay travel blog, Travels of Adam. When he’s not out exploring the coolest bars and clubs, he’s usually enjoying the local arts and culture scene. Find more of his travel tips (and embarrassing stories) on Twitter @travelsofadam.

P.S. Want to meet some cool travelers? The Nomadic Matt team is hosting a bunch of meet-ups around the U.S. over the next few months! You can find out how to join one of them (they are free) by clicking here! We’re even giving away prizes to attendees!

Photo credit: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11

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10 Common Questions About Solo Female Travel

10 COMMON QUESTIONS ABOUT SOLO FEMALE TRAVEL

Kristin looking at a beautiful castle in the distance atop a lush green hill
On the second Wednesday of the month, Kristin Addis from Be My Travel Muse writes a guest column featuring tips and advice on solo female travel. It’s an important topic I can’t adequately cover, so I brought in an expert to share her advice for other solo female travelers!

There are a lot of unknowns before you travel solo for the first time, like whether it’s going to be safe, how to find others to hang with, and how to choose where to go.

While solo traveling is an amazing chance to be the architect of your own adventure, to see the world on your terms, and to get to know yourself, it can be scary, exhilarating, and bemusing all at the same time.

As someone who has been traveling and blogging about it for the last four years, I’ve seen all sorts of questions from first-time travelers. Many of them are the same questions I had when I first started.

Today, I’m going to answer the 10 most common questions female travelers have so as to help alleviate your anxiety and inspire you to get on the road quicker!

What is the one thing you know now that you wish you knew before you started?
I wish I knew back then that I didn’t have to stress so much about meeting people.

It’s normal to be afraid of being alone, but the reality is that when traveling, it’s possible to meet more amazing people than you could’ve ever imagined. Travelers are incredibly friendly people.

Even if you’re socially awkward, it’ll work out.

There are so many other solo travelers out there that you tend to find each other. It’s as easy as sitting in the common room of a guesthouse and asking the person to your right where they’re from. Even if you don’t break the ice, chances are someone more outgoing at the hostel will involve you in the conversation.

One thing I really appreciate about traveling is how much less shy it has made me. I used to find it hard to talk to people I didn’t know, and now I’m a lot more confident. That has been a huge benefit of solo traveling.

Have you ever canceled a trip because you felt a place had become too dangerous?
The best thing to do is to make the choice on depending on the severity of the situation. It’s hard when all you see in the media are images of destruction, but remember, this is how they sell their stories.

If you feel like it would be stupid to put yourself in harm’s way, then don’t go. But if it seems like an isolated incident, ask yourself if one bad story should scare you off.

What are some of your strategies for deflecting unwanted attention as a female on the road alone?
The most effective strategy for deflecting unwanted attention abroad is to learn about the modesty requirements and the meaning of gestures before you visit that country.

In Nepal, Indonesia, and Malaysia, for example, it is important for women to wear things that cover their knees and shoulders. That’s true in many countries and covering up is often a sign of showing respect.

It’s also important to avoid getting too intoxicated or going out alone after dark in certain areas — which goes for both sexes — and always remain respectful, but demand respect as well.

Kristin Addis standing in a green field with views of rolling hills

As someone who is planning her first solo long-term travels, what is the most important bit of advice you could give?
Be as prepared as possible. That doesn’t mean planning out every little thing that happens during your trip, but rather being financially secure, having things like healthcare, visas, and a strategy for earning on the road all in mind before going, and reading up on customs and scams first.

It’s all about doing everything you can to tie up loose ends at home before you go, so that you can be present when you are on your trip.

Do you know of any networks where women can find female traveling buddies?
You might be surprised by what already exists in your personal network. Put up a Facebook post to see if your friends know anyone in new places you’re traveling to. Even if your friends aren’t the type to travel, you might be surprised by who knows whom and where.

Forums are also a great way to meet other travelers. Check out Nomadic Matt’s forum, and the Thorn Tree forum by Lonely Planet is also good. Some people use regional Couchsurfing boards as well. There are often regional Facebook groups, like Chiang Mai digital nomads and Backpacking Africa, for example.

There are new apps as well, like Wandermate and Tourlina, that are designed to connect solo female travelers, but I have not personally tried any, so I cannot comment on how good they are (or aren’t).

How do you deal with loneliness?
Loneliness gets to me about as often as it used to get to me before I started traveling.

I think it comes down to remembering that life is still life and there are up days and there are down days. It can’t all just be perfect all the time, and traveling won’t change the nature of being alive. It’s a great chance to get to love time spent with yourself, and that’s a benefit of solo traveling at times.

Have you found it difficult to talk to locals?
Talking to locals is one of the safest things you can do, because they are the ones that know about the area and can tell you where to visit and what to stay away from. Bonus: I almost always get really good info about where to eat or where to go next when talking to a local person. It’s the best!

Couchsurfing, talking to the owners of your guesthouse, or hanging out in the places were locals hang out and eat — and especially showing an interest in their culture — are all great ways to meet and chat with local people.

solo female traveler in front of incredible sunrise near water bungalows

Do you notice female inequality when you travel solo? Do you get the same treatment and opportunities as male travelers?
There is definitely inequality in the world for females, but the good news is that we are also living in one of the most progressive times to date, so I think it’s an exciting and important time to travel.

There’s also a lot of benefit to being a solo female traveler. The locals tend to really look after us solo travelers and often take us under their wing.

A lot of amazing things can happen when you’re solo because you’re free to be completely open to serendipity. And while I’m sure this happens for guys as well, I can say with certainty that traveling solo as a female opens up doors that wouldn’t open when with a group or in a duo. So many times there will be room for just one on a motorbike, or a plus one at an event, and you never know what exciting things that might lead to.

Is there a specific age (or age group) that you would recommend for traveling solo?
Not at all! People of all ages and of all walks of life travel, and there is no magic number for when you should travel solo. You should just do it when you have the opportunity and the desire to.

If you are an open, curious, and friendly person, your age doesn’t matter.

solo female traveler swimming near ocean caverns

Do you ever think to yourself, “Shit, what am I doing? Shouldn’t I be back home now and own an apartment or house or something?”
Every now and then I have a little existential crisis, but I totally had that back when I did have an apartment and a 9-5 job. If I’ve learned anything, it’s that I’m always going to pause and question things every now and then. Perhaps that’s just part of being human.

I think the way it’s traditionally done right now is backwards. Staying in one place when I’m young and fit and then traveling the world after I retire and can’t do as many crazy things just looks like the reverse of what it should be. I’m just happy I found a way to get around that.

So no, I don’t stress about not having a settled life, because I just wanted to have freedom and to be able to choose whatever is suitable when it’s the right time.

Source: http://www.nomadicmatt.com/

Where I Find The Best Travel Deals

Surfing the web for travel deals
Finding travel deals is a matter of timing.

A lot of people think travel is just plain expensive, but in reality there are incredible deals happening all the time. They usually don’t last too long, and you have to act quickly. That can sometimes be a problem when a deal requires jumping on a plane tomorrow (how many people can do that?), but in fact most deals are for months in the future, giving you ample time to plan your schedule.

Often I will book a flight and then figure out my plans. Since you can cancel a flight within 24 hours without incurring a fee, I lock in the deal and then figure out if I can make it work. Sometimes I can (like the $1,200 business-class flight from LA to Stockholm round-trip); sometimes I can’t (like the $400 New Zealand flights I had to cancel).

I am always looking out for deals. Today, I want to give you a peek into where I go for deals, tips, and expert advice. After all, these are people who focus solely on this one aspect of travel, so why not use them? I can’t be everywhere and I can’t know everything, so I rely on the specialists. If travel were a hospital, I would be your general practitioner and these people below are the specialists I would consult with!

Flight deals

cabin seats on an airplane
When it comes to flights, I use three websites:

I’m subscribed to all of their newsletters so I don’t miss any flight deals. Often you’ll find the same deal on all three sites, but getting all three in my inbox each day ensures I won’t miss anything in case one website doesn’t pick up the deal.

On Twitter, I am also subscribed to Airfarewatchdog (great general deals) and YVR Deals (Vancouver Airport deals. It’s a big airport hub!). You can subscribe to them via their website too, but they usually send out so many emails that Twitter is easier!

Read more: How to Get Cheap Airfare 

Airline News

amazing view from a plane
When it comes to finding the latest in airline and frequent flier news, I turn to these sites, which give me the latest on the changes in the industry and loyalty programs, and any travel hacking news I can use:

(For family travel, I visit Mommy Points. For Australia/NZ travel hacking, I consult Points Hack. For Canada, I use Canadian Kilometers and for the UK, Head for Points.)

As a very, very, very avid travel hacker, and while I have my own special tricks and tips, when you’re overseas a lot, it’s hard to stay up to date on your own so I use these three sites to keep me in the loop.

Read more: How I Earn 1 Million Frequent Flyer Miles a Year

Cruises

view of a cruise ship deck
In my mind, there is only one cruise deal website worth following: CruiseSheet. This site consistently has some of the lowest rates out there, and their interface is beautiful. If I don’t find anything on CruiseSheet or want to double-check a price, I go to the second-best website, vacationstogo.com.

Read more: How to Take a Cruise for as Little as $30 USD Per Day

Hotels

bed, desk, and couch in a hotel room
Hotels deals are pretty hard to find and often so limited that they don’t apply to a lot of people. Plus, as a hostel and Airbnb lover (if you’re new to Airbnb, get $35 off your first stay), I frequently just use points for hotel rooms (they’re damn expensive!). While lot of the travel hacking websites list hotel sales for large brands like Hilton and SPG, I also subscribe to the following:

Getting their emails keeps me up to date on city sales. Often, I look up the rates on their websites and then go over to the hotel’s website to book directly, as there is usually a lower rate — and I can then get points too.

Read more: How to Find a Cheap Hotel Room: Sites to Use and Sites to Avoid

Tours

tour group posing for a photo while traveling
For tours and excursions, I keep an eye on the following companies by subscribing to their emails too:

These companies have very good last-minute deals, and if the price is right, I’ll jump on them!

Read more: Why Organized Tours are a Good Option for Travelers

The One Company I Never Use..

TripAdvisor! Though TripAdvisor isn’t a “deal website,” I want to mention it because a lot of people use it in their planning. This is one of the worst travel websites out there and I never, ever, ever use it in my research to or to look for awesome budget accommodation. While I am not against user-generated reviews, the TripAdvisor system is easily gamed and often inaccurate. The site is widely known to delete negative review; hotel owners post fake reviews; and users get demanding of owners and often say “if you don’t do this, I’ll post a negative review.” It’s an open secret in the industry that the review system is a joke. This is one website I would stay away from. Sometimes there is not wisdom in the crowds. In my professional opinion, stay clear of this website when planning your trip.

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So while I think my site is amazing for your on-the-ground tips, tricks, and advice needs, for deals to get you to where you want to go, use the sites above. They’re what I use, and they’ve never steered me wrong!

Editor’s Note:
I wrote a comment down below about Trip Advisor but here it is so you don’t miss it:“There is a lot of TripAdvisor love out there! I get it. We’re all honest brokers. No one thinks of themselves as dishonest and I have no doubt that you all write honest reviews. I have no doubt many of you have had good luck with the site and found some hidden gems too.

But that’s one experience of many and, if there’s anything I’ve learned writing about travel for eight years, it is that your one experience is not always the norm.

TripAdvisor is an easily gamed service that is often mocked and laughed at by people within the industry. I can’t tell you the countless stories I’ve heard and data I’ve seen about bots, fake reviews and listings, removed reviews, and much more.

TA is a great service in theory. In practice, it’s very hit or miss and too much of a minefield. It’s not reliable tool when taken as a whole.

One person’s paradise is another person’s hell hole. In this age of user reviews, we all like to think of ourselves as experts but, in reality, the masses are a really poor judge of quality because we like the experience and frame of reference to really give a fair and unbiased opinion. The South Park episode on Yelpers really nails it on the head. As they say, everyone’s a critic!

Take it from someone in the industry, TA is a site to be avoided when choosing a place to stay or activity to do.

Use it but know that most people within the industry think it’s a hilarious joke. And if all the professionals don’t like it, maybe there is some credence to their opinion!”

I’ll also add this rhetorical question: If you take the reviews with a grain of salt, why spend time on the review site in the first place!?

Tripadvisor: Just say no!

Source: http://www.nomadicmatt.com/