Although many parts of the world are becoming more LGBT friendly, the sad reality is that many LGBT identified travelers face additional challenges when planning to go abroad. Many of us ask crucial questions prior to traveling:
How does this city treat women? Lesbians? Gay men? Transgender identified men and women? Interracial friendships/relationships? Will I be safe?
Fear shouldn’t stop us from travel, however. I’m determined to continue making my mark on the map regardless of the world’s attitudes towards my relationship and identity. The following are a few lesbian friendly cities that are on the top of my bucketlist:
San Francisco, USA
I’m excited to cross this city off my bucket list in July (finally!!). San Francisco has a thriving LGBT reputation, stunning oceanfront views, and an interesting culture. As someone who loves coffee culture, I was interested to find out that there are over 300 coffee shops in San Fran, and that Irish coffee was actually invented in San Fran. Who knew?
Items to check out for sure:
- Alcatraz Island – famous prison housed on an island – you need to take the ferry to get there.
- Muir Woods – Aka the place with big trees. Muir Woods are home of the redwood trees, which can grow up to 379 feet tall!!
- Golden Gate Park – Houses 1,017 acres that include gardens, lakes, picnic groves, trails, and monuments. Need I say more?
- Point Reyes National Seashore – Just look at these views. And more views.
I keep hearing about El Rio. But, supposedly you need to get there at 6pm to beat lines?? For more spots – see Autostraddle’s complete guide of clubs, thrift shops, coffee shops, and even health centers.
I met a really interesting couchsurfer from Germany last year who raved to me about Berlin. We talked for hours and then went ballroom dancing for the heck of it, which it turns out, is a big part of German culture. He was a phenomenal dancer, while I couldn’t stop tripping over my feet. He talked to me about German culture; classical music, going to the theater, and academics in general are big. He could really hold a conversation and had a very analytical and academic way of looking at things.
- Brandenburg Gate and other classical music things – Berlin is well known for its classical music influence, not to mention the Brandenburg Gate which is a stunning piece of architecture.
- Berlin Wall Memorial
- Tiergartin – Urban park with some stunning views
- East Side Gallery – A section of the Berlin Wall that is a memorial for freedom. These pictures say it all! The section features 105 paintings of artists from all over the world!
LGBT Party Time
Yelp has more than 2,000 results for lesbian clubs in Berlin which speaks to the thriving gay life there. Elan Fleisher from Timout reports that gay life is “pretty much a non-stop party, with the saunas, darkrooms, bars, clubs, cafés, festivals, balls, carnivals and gay parties making it a hedonist’s paradise, a sensualist’s haven, an aesthete’s delight and a raver’s Mecca, all in one package.” Sounds pretty good to me – for the complete list of spots see HERE.
Tel Aviv, Israel
Tel Aviv is the second most populated city in Israel. It houses 42% of the population. Interestingly, it is faster to get around by bike than by car due to traffic. Tel Aviv has over 25 miles of bike paths (aka a lesbian stereotype heaven). Fun fact: calling someone a “tzfoni” in Hebrew which translates to “northy” is shorthand for saying the person is a materialistic snob. North Tel Aviv is where the “snobbier” hang out.
Things to see:
- Old City Jaffa – Historic part of the city that features narrow winding streets, historic houses/buildings, and cobblestones.
- Tayelet – Several walkways that offer sweeping views of the city.
- Neve Tzedek – First neighborhood built in the “new” part of the city. It features beautiful architecture that include old restored houses.
- Old Tel Aviv Port – One of the oldest ports in the world with amazing views. Supposedly the same port that Jonah set off of in the Biblical story, Jonah and the Whale.
- Carmel Market – Large local marketplace. Just look at all this!
GET YOUR LGBTQ ON
Some big nightlife names that stuck out in my research are:
- Lima Lima
- Big Boys
- Tip Top
I didn’t find many lesbian themed clubs – if you know of more let me know in the comments 🙂
Madrid is the capital of Spain and the third largest city in the European Union after London and Berlin. Madrid is also the most visited city in Spain. Fun fact: Madrid has the oldest standing restaurant in the world: Restaurante Sobrino, founded 1725. Say what?!
- Royal Palace of Madrid – official residence of the royal family but open to the public often.
- Queen Sofia Art Center – modern art gallery that features 20,000 works of art!
- Museo Cerralbo – both a historic house and an art gallery, Museo Carralbo preserves both the historic environment of the house and the art it held.
- Palacio de Cibeles – Labeled as one of Madrid’s “post card images,” Palacio de Cibeles has exquisite architecture that looks like something straight out of Disney.
- Paseo del Prado – beautiful urban park that is close to other attractions in Madrid.
LET’S GO OUT TONIGHT
Madrid is supposedly a more female-centric city, so I expected to find a multitude of lesbian catered bars , clubs, and spots. Here are a few I found:
Netherlands most populated city, Amsterdam is a top LGBT travel destination. Interestingly, there are 165 canals in Amsterdam, adding up to about 60 miles. Amsterdam also has over 1,000 bridges and over 800,000 bicycles. Sounds pretty much like a lesbian dream. Watch out though, because supposedly countless bicycles are stolen every year. So be careful with your bikes, lesbians.
Things not to miss
- Anne Frank House – Because who hasn’t read The Diaries of Anne Frank as a young book nerding lesbian?
- Van Gogh Museum – Yes, Van Gogh is good for more than the cutting off of his own ear. This museum features some amazing pieces.
- Vondelpark – You can tell I have a thing for urban parks. Here’s another one – you’re welcome.
- The Jordaan – A Beautiful waterfront neighborhood in Amsterdam that I’m pretty much image obsessed with.
Amsterdam has a multitude of LGBT friendly options for clubs, bars, and cafes. Some highlights I found include:
- Vivelavie – lesbian cafe
- Prik – gay bar
- Soho – gay pub
- Saarein – Lesbian bar
That’s it – go excuse me while I indulge in some travel fantasies in these amazing cities.
Now tell us: what’s the best lesbian friendly city you’ve ever been to? Are there others on your travel bucketlist?
Photo credits: Title image – Bob Suir via flickr, San Fran – Vincent Moschetti via flickr, Tel Aviv – Florent Lamoureux via flickr, Amsterdam – Allie_Caulfield via flickr