Best gay cities
Barcelona and Amsterdam are Outtraveller's top European picks for gay travellers in this year's best international destination awards category. Buenos Aires pipped both at the post internationally, however, for its burgeoning gay bars and clubs, street cafes and legalised gay unions. Outtraveller was so impressed the capital of Argentina even clinched destination of the year too.
Outtraveller is a popular gay and lesbian travel magazine and issued the results of its fourth annual online Reader's Choice Awards recently, which generated twice as many votes for best in gay travel than last year. Its European hot favourites have been on the gay and lesbian map for quite a while but are still proving popular.
Barcelona was second place for the second year in a row to Buenos Aires, Argentina. The gay and lesbian district here is called L'Eixample and hosts loads of gay-friendly bars and performers. The main nightclubbing area of Las Ramblas runs from the port to the centre of town and stops just short of the gay village, where men and women will often be seen holding hands without anyone else batting an eyelid.
To show its commitment to being a gay-friendly city, the local government recently became a full member of the International Lesbian and Gay Association with gay rights protected by law. As Gay Barcelona says "This isn't just lip service to gay culture ... this is how it should be! Come experience it!" Look for the best hotels in Barcelona to make your stay a memorable one.
Look for a friendly hotel in Barcelona from where you can explore the gay scene. Remember in Spain everyone eats out at 22:00, enters the bars at 0:00 and head to the nightclubs at opening times of 03:00.
AmsterdamAmsterdam is so gay and lesbian friendly the city has monuments dedicated to homosexuality as well as a packed gay scene. Many foreigners have historically been attracted to this city for this precisely this reason. Its culture is laid back and fancy free with more than one hundred gay bars, discos, restaurants and hotels. The range of affordable accommodation in Amsterdam is healthy. This city came third in Outtraveller's rankings of best gay destination this year.
Don't miss the Homomonument in Westermarkt on the Keizersgracht, which is dedicated to gay visitors. There will be plenty of volunteers nearby to answer your questions about the capital city, including which hotels in Amsterdam to stay in. The monument's advice bureau is open every day from 12:00 until 18:00 GMT.
For gay and lesbian areas, check out places across the whole of the city. However, many bars and clubs are clustered around the Rembrandtplein square and the Reguliersdwarsstraat, via Halvemaansteeg along the Amstel. Also talk a walk along Warmoesstraat, which is a parallel street to Damrak. Look out for names like Bar Prik, which has a mix of gay and open minded people with cocktails and snacks, the Queen's Head near Centraal Station and Exit.
Making third place on Outtraveller's international destinations was Madrid with its gay Chueca neighbourhood. Like Barcelona the party scene is late with discos opening around 04:00, so book one of the best hotels in Madrid. Our list provides a few pointers of where to start if you are looking for a hotel list for Madrid.