5 gay-friendly destinations to add to your travel bucket list during South African Pride Month

Sloterdijk in Amsterdam, Netherlands. Picture: Unsplash

Sloterdijk in Amsterdam, Netherlands. Picture: Unsplash

Published Oct 18, 2023


With a bevy of exciting Pride Month events planned across South Africa this October, perhaps you’re also dreaming of other Pride celebrations and destinations across the world.

However, picking the right destination can seem daunting, especially if it’s your first gay-friendly trip abroad.

According to the Africa Travel Week Trend Report 2023, the LGBTQIA+ travel market has been instrumental in leading the global tourism recovery after the pandemic.

The market’s purchasing power, especially in the travel industry, reached more than $211 billion before the pandemic and it shows no signs of abating.

Where should you go? What’s the LGBTQIA+ scene like? Is it safe? What events are happening?

The key, the experts say, is finding destinations with well-established LGBTQIA+ communities, anti-discrimination laws and vibrant nightlife scenes.

Flight Centre South Africa’s general manager Antoinette Turner lists destinations that have active LGBTQIA+ communities, protections and an overall open culture, however, it’s still important to research local laws and cultural norms before visiting.

The 5 top destinations making their mark in LGBTQIA+ tourism right now, according to Flight Centre South Africa, is below:

New York City, US

The Big Apple has been a beacon for LGBTQIA+ communities for years.

“Its welcoming vibe, legal protections and endless nightlife make it a rite of passage for many first-time LGBTQIA+ travellers,” says Flight Centre SA.

Don’t miss the Pride March across Manhattan in June, with more than two million people attending.

“Dance along with drag queens at Marie’s Crisis Café piano bar in the West Village or simply walk freely hand-in-hand, just like in the movies, with your loved one through Central Park.”

Amsterdam, Netherlands

With its anything-goes attitude, Amsterdam makes everyone feel at home.

“The Netherlands was the first country to legalise same-sex marriage, so you can expect openness and acceptance here,” says Flight Centre SA.

Check out the world-famous Canal Pride parade on boats in August, part of the Pride Amsterdam festival or the Warmoesstraat area in the heart of the LGBTQIA+ scene which is also a great spot to hang out.

Also visit the Homomonument memorial and Grachtengordel neighbourhood or take a stroll through Vondelpark.

Berlin, Germany

Berlin is a Mecca for the LGBTQIA+ community, known for its openness, arts scene and 24- hour entertainment.

“Don’t miss the Christopher Street Day parade and festival in July. Party at SchwuZ, one of Germany’s first gay clubs founded in 1977, or wander the exhibits at the Schwules Museum, the first museum in the world dedicated to LGBTQI+ history.

“Or simply soak up the culture in Schöneberg, fondly known as the ‘gaybourhood’.”

Sydney, Australia

Sunny Sydney is regularly voted among the most LGBTQI+ friendly cities in the world, thanks to its vibrant, easy-going culture.

“Did you know the annual Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras is one of the world’s biggest LGBTQI+ events? Post-party, relax at LGBTQI-popular Bondi Beach or explore Newtown with its trendy murals, cafés, and shops. A romantic must-do, if you’re travelling with a partner, is to take a ferry ride across the harbour – you’re guaranteed stunning views.”.

Cape Town, South Africa

One of the top LGBTQIA+ destinations is right on our doorstep in Mzansi.

“Cape Town is arguably the most progressive city in Africa for LGBTQIA+ travellers, hosting the annual Mother City Queer Project and heaps of open and friendly spots and clubs.

“Look forward to partying along at the Mother City Queer Project’s costume parade in December or heading to De Waterkant for cocktails and clubbing.

“Clifton Beach, a popular LGBTQIA+ hangout, is the place to people-watch.”