Just within the past few decades, 22 countries from around the world have signed anti-discrimination laws for transgender people. And, though it may seem like a small number, these laws only point to a bigger effort taking shape in destinations around the world, spurred by the gender identity rights movement that has finally snagged an international stage over the past decade. To help guide transgender travelers organize a truly magical and safe vacation, we’ve crafted a list of the top transgender-friendly destinations in the most LGBTQ-friendly continent in the world — Europe. From the sunny, accepting shores of Mykonos to the political activism-focused lounges of Copenhagen, these are the destinations guarantee a stress-free, fun environment. Here are the top transgender-friendly travel experiences in Europe.
1. Berlin, Germany
Considered by many to be one of the most LGBTQ-friendly places in all of Europe and perhaps, in the entire world, the city of Berlin, Germany, with its plethora of queer nightlife hubs and accepting culture is the top destination in Europe for those who classify themselves as transgender. The entire city is chock full of LGBTQ bars, restaurants, and shops. Transgender tourists especially come to appreciate the incredible drag scene in the city center — primarily located at The Club, which hosts art exhibitions and drag shows. The city is also home to the world’s first queer museum, the Schwules Museum.
2. Manchester, England
It would make sense that the same city that Queer As Folk was filmed in would be accepting of all LGBTQ+ lifestyles — and in every sense, Manchester, England, lives up to the queer hype. Whether you’re more interested in dancing the nights away in one of the many clubs and bars in the city (like G-A-Y or Poptastic), or you’d rather pay homage to the history of the LGBTQ community in Manchester by visiting landmarks like the Alan Turing Memorial or the Transgender Remembrance Memorial, any amount of time spent in this city is sure to feel incredibly special.
3. Amsterdam, Netherlands
At its very core, Amsterdam is an incredibly accepting city — as is most of the Netherlands. And, when you combine this accepting nature with the many LGBTQ-friendly excursions and events that are constantly taking place around the city, it’s a must-see (and safe) destination for transgender individuals. If you are planning on being there over summer, be sure that you make it to Amsterdam Pride. The parade production runs on boats in the canal instead of the typical floats you’d see at any other Pride parade. If you can’t make it to Pride, then perhaps you can make it to Milkshake, a queer music festival that is designed to be accepting of all, held this year on July 27 and 28th.
4. London, England
For those looking to dance and admire art while on vacation, London is the ideal LGBTQ-friendly destination, offering a perfect combination of both at venues like Dalston Superstore, which serves up queer art exhibits and musical performances on the regular — as well as The Glory, a queer and transgender-friendly venue that hosts film screenings, cabaret nights, and performance art on the regular. Aside from these experiences, the city of London also has a plethora of LGBTQ bookstores and sex shops that will allow you to explore your limits while on vacation.
5. Paris, France
While not all parts of France prove to be accepting of transgender people, the city of love is another story entirely — especially if you stay within Paris’ gay district, located by the Hotel de Ville metro in the Le Marais neighborhood. To fully enjoy the LGBTQ scene in Paris, it’s best to start your vacation by taking a nightlife-themed or historical-themed tour of the city through Gay Locals, a local LGBTQ tour agency. That way, you’ll be able to more accurately plan your time in the city — whether that means checking out Oscar Wilde’s grave or grabbing drinks at the queer OPEN Café.
6. Dublin, Ireland
Though Ireland has only allowed same-sex marriage since 2015, the city of Dublin has been accepting of all lifestyles (including those of transgender-identifying individuals) for much longer. If you’re a fan of theater, then you’ll enjoy the city’s International Gay Theatre Festival, held every May, boasting some of the best LGBTQ cinema in the entire world. If you prefer watching drag performances, The George is a must-see, a bar crowded most nights with enchanting and famous drag performers. Or, if you’d prefer to hang around a more sophisticated crowd, be sure to check out Pantibar, owned and operated by Ireland’s most famous drag queen, Panti Bliss.
7. Mykonos, Greece
If you’re looking to soak in some sunshine and spectacular views in an accepting and safe place, head to Mykonos, Greece. Especially if you’re looking to meet other LGBTQ-identifying folks, be sure to pay a visit to the island during the XLSIOR Festival, taking place August 21-28, which allows members of the LGBTQ community to meet each other in an accepting environment. If you can’t make it to Mykonos during that week in August, then instead book your stay at the LGBT-friendly Elysium Hotel and spend your nights sipping cocktails at places like JackieO.
8. Sitges and Barcelona, Spain
As it turns out, two of the most accepting LGBTQ destinations in Europe are only within an hour’s drive of one another. While visiting Barcelona, it’s essential to check out the International Gay and Lesbian Film Festival, typically held during the month of October. Then, in the gothic quarter of the city, you’ll find Antinous, an internationally celebrated LGBTQ bookstore stocked with comics, travel guides, and other oddities that promote LGBTQ culture. A short hour drive from Barcelona is the city of Sitges, which has celebrated nude beaches that are welcoming to everyone in the rainbow.
9. Lisbon, Portugal
As far as LGBTQ destinations are concerned, the major cities in Portugal are often overlooked — despite the fact that Lisbon is one of Europe’s most accepting cities on the map. While you’re there, it’s essential that every transgender person visit the Finalmente Club — the first gay club established in the city, in 1976, serving up some of the most iconic drag shows in Europe. Those looking to enjoy all that Lisbon’s nightlife scene has to offer should also pay a visit to Bar 106, a popular establishment for the transgender community, as the club encourages crossdressing and expressing yourself in whatever way you wish.
Since 2015, the local transgender community in Malta have been protected under anti-discrimination laws based on gender identity — meaning that yes, this destination is one that proves to be safe and fun for transgender tourists. For drinks and conversation, head to the Michelangelo Club Lounge, a very intimate location that has great dance music and ample space for getting to know the LGBTQ locals. From there, tourists can head to the Birdcage Lounge for cabaret shows, live music, a cocktail bar, and plenty of drag entertainment.
11. Copenhagen, Denmark
Especially since Denmark was the first country to approve a number of rights for the LGBTQ community and generally has a more liberal approach to matters that pertain to sex and sexuality, Copenhagen is an essential bucket-list destination for transgender people. To begin with, an essential destination, especially for those who identify as transgender, is Warehouse9, a performance space that focuses on the political issues behind gender identity through burlesque, dance, literature, art, activism, and music. After attending a show at Warehouse 9, head for drinks and conversation at the LGBTQ institution Kvindehuset.
12. Cologne, Germany
Move over, Berlin — Cologne might just be the most LGBTQ-friendly city in all of Germany. More than any other destination on the list, Cologne has the highest number of hotels, stores, bars, and even saunas that specifically cater to the ever-growing LGBTQ scene in the city. If you happen to be in Cologne during the weekend of July 5, then be sure to visit Cologne for its annual Pride Festival, proving to be one of the biggest in Europe.
13. Brighton, England
Also called England’s unofficial “gay capital,” Brighton offers an incredibly accepting environment for every LGBTQ person. No matter where you may fall on the queer rainbow, take the time to embark upon the Piers & Queers Tour, an LGBTQ history offered by Only in Brighton. It’s also imperative that transgender tourists pay a visit to Revenge, a bar in Brighton that has served the LGBTQ community in the city for over 20 years, with sprawling premises and themed nights.
14. Stockholm, Sweden
Contrary to other destinations across Europe (and the world) Stockholm, Sweden, is home to the Berns Hotel, famous for being the city’s unofficial “gay hotel,” with two delectable restaurants, a club in the basement, and a concert venue where, once upon a time, Diana Ross and the Supremes performed. If you find that you can drag yourself away from this enchanting place, then be sure to head to Mälarpaviljongen, a scenic restaurant floating over three docks and owned by owners who are actively involved in the LGBTQ scene in the city. Then head out for a night of fun at King Kong Sthlm — a club that has an underground feel, often devoid of tourists and infused with all of the charms of the city’s LGBTQ natives.