Travel insights from Jenna Buege, contributing editor of The Compass

The Top 5 Destinations for LGBTQ Romance

Nothing says love like a romantic getaway. Whether you’re planning a destination wedding, honeymoon or a trip just for fun, these destinations are some of the best for LGBTQ romance.

San Francisco, California

The city of San Francisco spells romance with its winding roads, rickety cable cars and of course, the iconic Golden Gate Bridge. Not only is the City by the Bay one of California’s top destinations, it’s also a mecca for LGBTQ romance and fun. Here travelers can explore historic sites like the Castro District, referred to some as “the Epicenter of gay life in San Francisco,” where rainbow flags, lively bars and popular shops line the streets. Couples with a fondness for culture and the arts won’t want to miss a visit to the de Young Museum or the California Academy of Arts and Sciences where they can admire a wide array of collections and exhibits. The city also has plenty to offer those who prefer to celebrate their love in the great outdoors; a few notable stops are the San Francisco Botanical Garden, Buffalo Paddock and the Japanese Tea Garden.

Cape Town, South Africa

With golden beaches, majestic mountains and sculpture-lined gardens, Cape Town is as breathtaking as it is rich in culture and history. It also happens to be Africa’s gayest city. With vineyards and plenty of fun and welcoming neighborhoods like De Waterkant, Cape Town makes for the perfect LGBTQ destination wedding spot. Besides, where else can wedding parties embrace their adventurous side with shark-cage diving and penguin-watching tours? The Mother City is also a fabulous spot for nightlife and entertainment with no shortage of venues for dancing, cabaret shows, fine dining and high-class shopping.     

Iceland

The country of Iceland is a worldwide leader in LGBTQ equality and legal protections. In fact, Iceland is so inclusive that not a single member of Icelandic parliament voted against marriage equality when the law was proposed in 2010. One of the top events in the area is the annual Reykjavik gay pride parade, a fabulous event that celebrates and brings light to the realities of LGBTQ people with fun, entertainment and food. This northernmost destination has no shortage of natural wonders. Couples can indulge in a unique date night outing with a trip to the Blue Lagoon where they can enjoy specialty spa services and take a dip in Iceland’s famous hot springs. For a once in a lifetime romantic experience, night owls can book a Northern lights tour where they can gaze up at the brightly lit sky from a remote cabin, black-sand beaches or an outdoor hot pool.        

Berlin, Germany

The self-proclaimed gay and lesbian capital or Europe, Berlin holds a special place in many members of the LGBTQ community’s hearts. Berlin is extremely walkable, making it easy for couples to explore the city either independently or as part of a group with one of the many walking tours available throughout town. The most popular area for LGBTQ activity is Schöneberg, a neighborhood famous for its wild nightlife and fantastic restaurants. Lovebirds looking for a relaxing afternoon will enjoy a trip to Café am Neuen See, a beer garden located in Berlin’s Tiergarten district complete with a romantic lake view. Of course a trip to Berlin wouldn’t be complete without some sightseeing at historic locations such as the Brandenburg Gate, the Reichstag Building and the famous East Side Gallery. Travelers can also pay their respects to those persecuted and killed under the Nazi regime at the Memorial to the Homosexuals Persecuted Under Nazism.  

Gran Canaria, Canary Islands

A Spanish island located off the coast of Africa, Gran Canaria is part of the Canary Islands and is a famous destination for European gays. Most of the fun occurs on the island’s southernmost point in the resort towns of Maspalomas and Playa del Ingles where travelers can explore exciting LGBTQ bars, clubs, restaurants and shops. Maspalomas and Playa del Ingles are also notable for Kiosk No. 7, a large gay beach famous for its cold beer, raging parties and delightful snacks that is situated between the two towns. For the ultimate in island romance, couples can book a boat trip to a remote, clothing-optional beach called Gui Gui on the island’s western coast.

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