2023 Pride: 12 LGBTIQ+ friendly destinations where you can celebrate

Everybody say “love!” We’re headed around the world in pursuit of the very best cities welcoming the LGBTIQ+ community. These are the kinds of cities that understand that life’s meant for celebrating; whether it be rowdy drag shows that thrill with sass or thumping dance clubs that party on till sunrise.  

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WorldPride in Sydney is just around the corner and people from around the world are ready to celebrate the many facets of LGBTIQ+ love and life. Luckily, if you can’t make it to Australia, there’s a long list of upcoming pride events in the world’s most welcoming destinations. 

These are the most progressive, inclusive and accepting destinations around the world when you can go to really show your pride.

Sydney, Australia 

Sydney WorldPride 2023: This year, WorldPride, the global bi-yearly event that rotates between different cities, will be held in Sydney. Running from February 17 to March 5, the event will be an epic celebration. It will kick off with the iconic Sydney Opera House lit up with a Progress Pride Flag. WorldPride coincides with Sydney’s famous Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras, which is one of the largest LGBTIQ+ celebrations on the planet and takes place during February or March of each year. 

Must-visit LGBTIQ+ neighborhood: The heart of gay Sydney is the Darlinghurst neighborhood, which is conveniently located near Sydney’s central business district and is easily accessible by the city’s mass transit system.

Though Australia only legalized gay marriage in 2017, the country has long been a welcoming place for the queer community. Sydney is the LGBTIQ+ center of Australasia and the South Pacific and has developed a global reputation for its inclusivity. Not only does the city have excellent LGBTIQ+ nightlife, such as the expansive, three-story Stonewall Hotel, but it also has a deeply queer culture that celebrates LGBTIQ+ art and history. The Darlinghurst Bookshop has been selling queer books, magazines and films since the 80s and the city hosts the yearly Queer Screen film festival.

LPT0217_005.jpgLady Bunny, the toast of New York’s legendary drag scene, struts in front of The Stonewall Inn, Greenwich Village, New York City © Lottie Davies / Lonely Planet

New York, New York

2023 Pride dates: June 17-25. NYC Pride is one of the largest Pride celebrations on the planet. The main festivities, including the parade, will be held during the weekend of June 25. 

Must-visit LGBTIQ+ neighborhood: No LGBTIQ+ visit to New York City would be complete without stop in the West Village. It’s here that the Stonewall Uprising took place during the summer of 1969 after police raided the Stonewall Inn and began arresting patrons and bartenders. From here, the modern gay rights movement was born.

Aside from Stonewall, NYC has a deep history and profound connection to the LGBTIQ+ community. From painful moments, like being the epicenter of the HIV pandemic, to joyous ones, like the evolution of Harlem’s ball culture, New York City is a must-visit for all queer travelers.

NYC’s most prominent LGBTIQ+ neighborhood is Hell’s Kitchen. The neighborhood’s 9th and 10th Avenues are loaded with LGBTIQ-owned restaurants, barbershops, cafes and bars. You’ll see rainbow flags flying from windows on virtually every corner. Go-to nightlife spots in Hell’s Kitchen include the wildly popular Industry bar, and the campy, country-themed Flaming Saddles Saloon.

Barcelona, Spain

2023 Pride dates: July 14-15. Barcelona Pride’s official lineup and event info are still to come.

Must-visit LGBTIQ+ neighborhood: Barcelona’s L’Eixample neighborhood is one of the biggest LGBTIQ+ boroughs in all of Europe. It’s even been lovingly given the nickname “Gaixample”. Here, you’ll find LGBTIQ+ beauty salons, bookshops, saunas, cafes, bars, restaurants, sex shops and everything in-between.  

Spain has long been at the forefront of LGBTIQ+ rights. The nation legalized same-sex marriage back in 2005 and has since enacted numerous laws that ensure equality and protection for the queer community, including those who are nonbinary and trans. Platja de la Mar Bella is Barcelona’s premier gay beach (and it also happens to be clothing optional) with most beachgoers baring it all. Among the numerous other LGBTIQ+ hotspots, Arena Classic is a popular lesbian bar that’s a staple to the local community, and Candy Darling, a Warhol-inspired club, sees partygoers dance nightly until the early hours of morning, sometimes all the way until the sun comes up.

Auckland, New Zealand

2023 Pride dates: February 1-26. Being in the Southern Hemisphere, Auckland is holding its Pride celebration all through February. 

Must-visit LGBTIQ+ neighborhood: Karangahape Road, referred to as “K Road” by locals, is where you’ll find most of Auckland’s LGBTIQ+ nightlife. Many Aucklanders make a night of it by starting their evening at The Eagle bar, a local, unpretentious watering hole that welcomes a wide variety of members from the LGBTIQ+ community. Later in the night, locals make their way to Family Bar… which is conveniently located across the street. Family Bar has more of a club vibe, with a bustling dance floor and weekly drag shows.

New Zealand has long been known as a friendly and welcoming country. It has robust anti-discrimination laws and legalized same-sex marriage in 2013. Since then, the nation as a whole, and especially its major cities like Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch, have become known as some of the most LGBTIQ-friendly places anywhere in the world.

Puerto Vallarta, Mexico

2023 Pride dates: May 20-28. Puerto Vallarta Pride is one of Mexico’s biggest Pride celebrations, with a fun mix of locals and visitors alike.

Must-visit LGBTIQ+ neighborhood: Emiliano Zapata (also called Old Town) is where a vast majority of Puerto Vallarta’s queer nightlife is based. However, the entire city is an LGBTIQ+ vacation magnet and it’s virtually impossible to find any section of town that isn’t welcoming.

Throughout the years, Mexico has become more and more LGBTIQ-friendly, and the oceanfront resort town of Puerto Vallarta is one of the nation’s most progressive cities. All the big brand resorts are LGBTIQ-inclusive, and there are even LGBTIQ-exclusive hotels, like the Almar Resort. For socializing and meeting other members of the community, the options are endless. From the beachy, indoor/outdoor Mr. Flamingo; to the comic-book-inspired Blondies Loft + Slushbar and even the sleek and trendy La Noche, there’s no shortage of places to go. Plus, there are all the fantastic beaches, with Playa de los Muertos known as PV’s “gay beach.”

Amsterdam Gay Pride on the canalsA spectacle of pride: Amsterdam Gay Pride brings a burst of color and life to the canals © Salwa Afef / Shutterstock

Amsterdam, Netherlands

2023 Pride dates: August 1-6. Amsterdam Pride is one of the world’s more unique celebrations since its parade takes place on boats floating along the city’s famous canals.

Must-visit LGBTIQ+ neighborhood: Amsterdam is a very progressive city and LGBTIQ+ venues can be found throughout, but a lot of activity is centered within the Reguliersdwarsstraat neighborhood, located at the center of town.

The Netherlands was the first country in the world to legalize same-sex marriage back in 2001 and has remained one of the most LGBTIQ-inclusive countries on the planet thanks to its numerous anti-discrimination laws and policies that protect civil rights for the queer community.

Cafe ‘t Mandje is an absolute staple of the city’s queer scene. It was opened in 1927 by its boisterous lesbian owner, Bet van Beeran. To this day, patrons continue to enjoy the eclectic interior and friendly crowd. If late-night adventures are more your style, check out EXIT Café, a thumping LGBTIQ+ bar that welcomes everyone from the LGBTIQ+ spectrum and their allies. Best of all, EXIT is open later than most bars in the city, making it perfect for night owls and those looking for an epic night on the town. For first-time visitors, the Pink Point info kiosk is a great resource. It’s a dedicated LGBTIQ+ information booth that provides travelers with tips, recommendations and information on all things queer in the city.

London's gay prideIf you’re going to go, go full out: some of the fun costumes you’re likely to see at London’s Pride celebration © mubus7 / Shutterstock

London, United Kingdom

2023 Pride dates: July 1. London Pride is the biggest Pride celebration in the UK, and one of the largest in Europe, and the world.

Must-visit LGBTIQ+ neighborhood: Soho, in London’s West End, has historically been the city’s epicenter of queer life, and to this day, it remains a hub of the city’s LGBTIQ+ bars, shops and clubs.

London has been one of the most prominent epicenters of queer culture for hundreds of years, dating all the way back to the city’s 18th-century “Molly Houses”, which were meeting places for LGBTIQ+ people. London remains a massively queer city and is known for its brimming underground LGBTIQ+ scene that can be found at rotating parties, like those put on by Cybil’s House.

A must-visit for any LGBTIQ+ traveler is the Admiral Duncan. It’s a chance to learn about queer history, honor the past and find community… all while enjoying a pint. Admiral Duncan was bombed by a Neo-Nazi in 1999 because it’s located in the middle of London’s largest LGBTIQ+ neighborhood, Soho.

It was a massive turning point for the city. Following the bombing, a giant rally was formed outside the pub and London’s police force promised to do all they could to find the perpetrator. They even staffed a police van outside the bar with openly-LGBTIQ+ officers to help make the community feel safe and more comfortable approaching the police to file reports. To this day, the Admiral Duncan is a symbol of London’s LGBTIQ+ community coming together to grow stronger in the face of adversity.

While in the city, be sure to visit one of the various pubs that serve PROUD beer, a queer-owned beer company that helps support local charities. Best of all, PROUD is totally cheeky, naming its brew the LGBTQIPA.

A 600-foot rainbow pride flag is marched through Palm Springs as part of Palm Springs' annual Pride FestA 600-foot rainbow pride flag is marched through Palm Springs as part of Palm Springs’ annual Pride Fest © constantgardener / Getty Images

Palm Springs, California 

2023 Pride dates: November 3-5. Thanks to the city’s year-round warm weather, Palm Springs Pride takes place much later than most.

Must-visit LGBTIQ+ neighborhood: All of Palm Springs is an LGBTIQ-centric neighborhood. In fact, Palm Springs has such a queer presence, that even adjacent suburbs like Cathedral City and Palm Desert are developing their own queer populations, holding their own Pride celebrations.

It’s believed that Palm Springs became an LGBTIQ+ hotspot because of the film industry. During the Golden Age of Hollywood, actors, actresses, directors, producers and agents made Palm Springs their desert escape. Naturally, with the heavy LGBTIQ+ populous within the arts, Palm Springs became a refuge for many who had to hide their sexuality. It became the go-to spot for closeted artists to let their hair down and enjoy themselves. That vibe still exists to this day, with numerous LGBTIQ+ resorts dotting the town, many of which are clothing-optional. For a bit of the city’s famed LGBTIQ+ nightlife, be sure to check out longstanding staples like Chill Bar and Hunters.

Amnesty International marches in the Toronto Pride ParadeAmnesty International marches in the Toronto Pride Parade © Shawn Goldberg / Shutterstock

2023 Pride dates: June 23-25. Toronto’s Pride celebration consists of a parade, parties and a popular street fair that’s a great option for those looking to have a more laidback and kid-friendly Pride experience.

Must-visit LGBTIQ+ neighborhood: Queen Street has been Toronto’s main LGBTIQ+ destination for decades, perhaps most recognized as the filming location of the US version of the groundbreaking drama Queer as Folk.

Canada has some of the best protections for LGBTIQ+ people anywhere on the planet. The country as a whole is known for being welcoming and is considered one of the friendliest places on the planet. To visit the bar where Queer as Folk was filmed, make a trip to Woody’s. It’s Church Street’s oldest LGBTIQ+ establishment, dating back to 1989, and remains one of the most prominent staples of Toronto’s queer culture. For something you can only find in Toronto, visit the Buddies in Bad Times theater. It’s a queer performance space and cabaret that also transforms into a nightclub during nights when there are no performances.

Tel Aviv's pride parade attracts crowds from all around the worldTel Aviv’s pride parade attracts people from all around the world © Getty

Tel Aviv, Israel 

2023 Pride dates: June 9. Tel Aviv Pride is the largest (and one of the only) Pride celebrations in the Middle East… and it also happens to be considered one of the largest in the world. 

Must-visit LGBTIQ+ neighborhood: Tel Aviv doesn’t have a specific “gayborhood”, but instead, is incredibly LGBTIQ-friendly throughout. In fact, the Boston Globe cites Tel Aviv as having 25% of its population identify as gay, literally making it one of the gayest places on Earth.

Tel Aviv is a very strange anomaly. Gay marriage isn’t legal in Israel, yet Tel Aviv has become one of the most progressive, LGBTIQ-friendly cities on the planet. Many say to look at Tel Aviv as its own entity that operates differently from the rest of the country. A great example of this is Hilton Beach. While it’s technically an “unofficial” gay beach, it’s such a well-known fact that even Tel Aviv’s tourism website bills it as a hotspot for the LGBTIQ+ community. One of the city’s most popular locales for queer nightlife is Shpagat. The club is renowned for being a welcoming space frequented by people from the entire LGBTIQ+ spectrum, as well as allies. It’s also a great mix of locals and tourists, ensuring that you’ll always be meeting someone new.

Provincetown, Massachusetts 

2023 Pride dates: June 2-4. Provincetown Pride has a diverse lineup of events, including everything from the town’s famous parade to a comedy showcase, 5k race, yoga sessions and more.

Must-visit LGBTIQ+ neighborhood: Provincetown (known as P-town) can be seen as the Palm Springs of New England. The entire city is a flourishing queer hotspot. And much like Palm Springs, it was P-town’s connection to the arts that began attracting its large LGBTIQ+ populous.

Located at the very easternmost tip of Cape Cod, P-town has been a summer escape for the LGBTIQ+ community for over 60 years. From the riotous parties at A-House to the (technically illegal) nude beachgoers at Herring Cove Beach, there’s no shortage of fun to be had in P-town. Plan your visit to align with one of the town’s many queer festivals, including Bear Week, Girl Splash lesbian weekend, Fan Fair trans week and more.

Berlin's Christopher Street DayBerlin’s Christopher Street Day is Germany’s largest Pride celebration © Sergey Kohl / Shutterstock

Berlin, Germany

2023 Pride dates: June 18-July 23. Berlin’s Christopher Street Day (June 18) is Germany’s largest Pride celebration. The annual festival is named in honor of the Manhattan street where the Stonewall Inn is located.

Must-visit LGBTIQ+ neighborhood: The heart of Berlin’s LGBTIQ+ activity is in Schöneberg, which has had gay and lesbian bars since the 1920s, making it one of the oldest gay boroughs on the planet.

Germany is a progressive nation when it comes to LGBTIQ+ rights, especially in its major city centers. Berlin especially has a fascinating queer history. In the 20s and 30s, queer culture flourished in the city, before being almost eradicated by the Nazis during World War II. After the war, the LGBTIQ community was forced to rebuild from the ground up, ultimately creating the buzzing and beautiful Berlin of today.   

Berlin is famous for being a city where people stay out clubbing until the sun rises the next morning. This is great for clubbers who want to party at Berlin institutions like GMF. But Berlin has so much more than clubs. Its Gay Hostel is a unique lodging opportunity that’s only available to LGBTIQ+ people under the age of 38, creating a safe space where you’re bound to meet some new friends. The city is also home to the Schwules Museum, one of the only museums in the entire world dedicated to researching and preserving the history of LGBTIQ+ cultures around the world.


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