We know, as a couple, that lesbian travel isn’t always as easy as packing your bags and go. There’s much more think about, regarding safety for example. For a holiday it’s important you can truly be yourself, don’t have to worry about safety and simply feel comfortable. Europe has been leading the way for LGBT travellers for the past decades. It has some of the most open and welcoming countries in the world and is, therefore, the perfect continent for your lesbian holidays. It has so much to offer: from stunning beaches to picturesque cities and much more. Europe is diverse, each European country has its charms, and there’s something for everybody. But which destination to pick?! Let’s dive into the best lesbian holiday destinations Europe has to offer.
For stunning beaches, you need to go to Greece! Greece has 6000 islands so it’s the perfect destination for some island hopping, tropical vibes and relaxing on the beach. The island Lesbos (also known as Lesvos) is, for us lesbians, a special one. More about that later on! Greece is one of the most liberal countries in South East Europe and it’s making great steps forward the past years. Homosexuality has been legal since 1951 and in 2015, civil unions were legalised for same-sex couples. Greece is a friendly destination for LGBT travellers. Mykonos especially is well-known under the male gay travellers as one of the best gay destinations in Europe. And of course, lesbians are also very welcome on the island, though you will find many men there. While Mykonos is great for parties, Santorini is the perfect island for your romantic holiday or a honeymoon.
Lesbian mecca Lesbos
What’s so special about the island Lesbos? Lesbos is a popular island under lesbians. It’s also called a lesbian mecca. Therefore you wouldn’t be surprised to hear that the word lesbian comes from the island. This is due to the poet Sappho who was born on Lesbos and wrote poems about the love between women. Every September Lesbos celebrates one of the biggest lesbian festivals in the world: the International Eressos Women’s Festival. It’s the perfect place to meet other lesbians and like-minded women. But if you’re not looking for that, the island is still a paradise. In Skala Eressos you will find one of the longest sandy beaches on the island. It’s totally a lesbian beach, as you can find lesbian-owned bars, restaurants and other businesses there.
Your lesbian honeymoon destination: Santorini
The perfect destination for your honeymoon in Europe is Santorini. Santorini is well known for its romantic sunsets, beautiful volcanic-sand beaches, stunning views and unique architecture. With it’s white and blue colours houses it’s also the perfect place for pictures! Santorini has everything to let your most romantic dreams come true. The island isn’t a great destination if you are travelling alone, it’s perfect for couples! Though Greece offers civil unions for same-sex couples, same-sex marriage isn’t yet recognized. Since Greece is an LGBT friendly destination, you can book that honeymoon suite without a doubt.
A total different destination is Iceland. If you’re looking for adventure and breath-taking nature, Iceland is the place to travel to! Iceland is a unique country with the most stunning waterfalls, ice caves, fantastic lagoons and amazing landscapes. Plus, during winter time it’s possible to see the Northern Lights. You can’t find another country like Iceland and the best part is: Iceland is incredibly LGBT-friendly and super tolerant. In 2009, Jóhanna Sigurðardóttir became the first openly lesbian head of government in the world. As the 9th country in the world, Iceland legalised gay marriage in 2010. Pride in the capital city Reykjavik is one of the biggest celebrations in the country. Iceland only has a little over 300.000 residents, so a Pride celebration with 100.000 attendees is a lot! You can find gay & lesbian bars in the capital city, but it isn’t that much a party-destination. People go to Iceland for adventure and to enjoy the beautiful nature.
Spain is one of the most welcoming, open and liberal countries of Europe, in the world even. Homosexual activity in Spain is legal since 1979 and same-sex marriage since 2005. Spain was third in the world to legalise same-same marriage! Spain is a big country and while the whole country is perfect as a destination, there are some places that are extra lesbian-friendly and have a huge LGBT community. It’s also a diverse country, you can visit some bigger cities for a city trip but also find beaches and islands for a relaxing holiday. Or even better: a combination!
Gay capital of Europe: Madrid
This is always a big question: which city in Europe is the gay capital of Europe? As much as we love Amsterdam as a gay capital, it fits Madrid better. Madrid is a beautiful city and while the whole city is LGBT-friendly and welcoming, there’s one neighbourhood where you can find most gay & lesbian shops, restaurants, clubs and bars etc. That neighbourhood is Chueca. The gayness spread to more neighbourhoods, such as La Latina, Lavapies and Malasańa. Nevertheless, you can find most lesbian bars in Chueca. Every year at the end of June and the beginning of July, Pride is celebrated in Madrid. It’s a great opportunity to visit Madrid and enjoy one of the world’s biggest Pride celebrations (it’s the biggest in Europe). During Pride, there are parties throughout the whole city and the Pride parade is definitely the highlight.
Fun fact: an estimate of 500.00 gay people live in Madrid, that’s 10% of the population of the city!
Sitges is a beautiful town only 45 minutes South of Barcelona. While Barcelona is a big city, Sitges is a small and relaxing town. And the combination of these two is perfect! Both are incredibly LGBT-friendly and have a great gay & lesbian scene. Especially Sitges attracts many gay men but there are some lesbian bars as well. Sitges is becoming more and more popular every year under lesbian women. In Sitges, you can truly be yourself and enjoy the peace of the Medditerean beach!
Mallorca: Ella International Festival
Mallorca is an island of Spain that is most famous under lesbians for its Ella International Festival. Ella Festival is a festival for lesbians where music, culture, art and sports come together. Because of Ella Festival, Mallorca is famous for being a very LGBT-friendly, especially lesbian-friendly, destination. It’s not only a great island to go to the festival, but it’s also perfect for your relaxing holiday at the beach. Mallorca is a beautiful island!
England is a very tolerant and welcoming country. While the capital city has lots to offer for the gay & lesbian traveller, there are also other cities like Brighton and Manchester that are worth a visit! Brighton is even called the ‘gay capital’ of the United Kingdom. Brighton has the highest percentage of same-sex households in England! In 1967, same-sex sexual activity between men became legal in England, for women it was never illegal. And since 2014 gay couples are able to marry in the United Kingdom. London, Brighton and Manchester are all perfect cities for your city-trip. London is definitely a city you should visit once in your life. Besides fantastic cities, England also has beautiful nature to visit! The Seven Sisters cliffs, for example, are already on our bucket list already for a long time.
Portugal is up and coming! The beginning of 2019 Spartacus released their newest gay travel index with Portugal jumping from the 27th place to the first place. Together with Sweden and Canada, Portugal is the most friendly country for LGBT travellers. How amazing is that? Same-sex sexual activity has been legal in Portugal since 1983. And since 2010 you can marry in Portugal as a same-sex couple. Portugal definitely is an LGBT-friendly country and you can find LGBT communities all around the country with the biggest ones in Lisbon and Porto. And if you not only want to visit the big cities: visit the stunning region Algarve for incredible nature.
Lisbon has a lot to offer. From beautiful beaches and nature to amazing architecture, delicious food and Portuguese culture: Lisbon has it all. It’s the perfect city for a city trip, but also for relaxing on the beach. All beaches are LGBT-friendly but Beach 19 is especially popular under gay men, there isn’t a specific lesbian beach as far as we know. In the city, there’s one street in the neighbourhood Bairro Alto where you will find the pink corner of Lisbon: Rua Barroca. Every year in summer, Lisbon hosts Pride and in September it hosts one of the biggest LGBTQ+ film festivals in Europe: Queer Lisboa – Lisbon Gay & Lesbian Film Festival. And the hetero-friendly-party Lisboa is popular under the lesbians. When you visit Lisbon, definitely do a day trip to the town Sintra. The Palacio da Pena in Sintra is incredibly beautiful and magical.
Porto is Portugal’s second biggest city and while most travellers only visit Lisbon, Porto is also up and coming. The old city centre of Porto is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and beautiful to wander around in. Lisbon has the biggest gay & lesbian scene but you can also find one in Porto. Mostly in the area around Jardim da Cordaria.
Okay, we are a bit biased, since we are Dutchies ourselves. The Netherlands was the first country in the world to legalize same-sex marriage in 2001. Amsterdam used to be the gay capital of Europe, and it’s still a very diverse, welcoming and open city. Amsterdam is incredibly beautiful but besides the capital city, The Netherlands has a lot more to offer. And it’s super LGBT-friendly. It’s a small country so it’s very easy to travel around. Think about visiting the tulip fields in April/May, finding windmills at the Zaanse Schans or Kinderdijk and visit other cities like Alkmaar, Utrecht and Rotterdam. We encourage you to see more of the Netherlands than just Amsterdam.
Recommended read: How LGBT-friendly is the Netherlands?
Fancy something else? Cruises are becoming more and more popular every year. And while there are many cruises are catered to gay men, there also some specifically for lesbian women. Travelling by cruise ship is a very relaxing, luxurious and a worry-free way of celebrating your holiday. Cruises are also a great way to meet other people and see multiple countries within one vacation. Olivia Travel organises lesbian cruises (yes, women only!) in Europe and in other continents. They offer all kinds of entertainment on board, from concerts to comedy shows and dancing. Or you can just relax by the pool. The cruises of Royal Carribean aren’t exclusively for LGBT people, but are well known for their LGBT-friendly cruises!
So what are you waiting for? Book that flight to lesbian Europe! Enjoy our lesbian holidays!
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