It hardly needs to be said: our fantastic NSW capital is one of the world’s great destinations for gay travellers, and has been for a very long time.
If you’re unfamiliar with Sydney, the places to aim for are evolving and expanding continually: some as famous as the city itself (think King’s Cross and Darlinghurst) and others which have become more and more GLBTQ-friendly over the years: Crown Street in Surry Hills; suburbs like Marrickville, Erskineville, Petersham and Enmore and, of course, the fabulous King Street in Newtown, which is slowly replacing Oxford Street as the gay hub. However, it’s probably still best to base yourself around Oxford Street if you’re looking for party action, and you’ll be close to the city’s other attractions too.
Going to Sydney for Mardi Gras? Book early and avoid being disappointed.
You’ll never feel alone in this city – it has the biggest gay population in the Canadian west, and is famously tolerant as well! Choosing where to stay is relatively simple: go for one of the distinctly gay districts. The biggest of these is Davie Village (also known as The Gay Village) in the West End; and not only is it gay – it’s a fantastic location for international visitors, close to some of the biggest tourist attractions.
The heart of the area is in the section of Davie Street, between Burrard and Jervis Streets, with plenty of cafes, shops, pubs and clubs. The other gay district – usually referred to as “The Drive” (Commercial Drive) – lies in the east and offers great dining, with the emphasis on ethnic, plus pubs, clubs and specialty shops. It’s not as central, but has good transport connections, and is the primary lesbian quarter of Vancouver.
Hot tip: While you’re in Davie Village, remember to visit Canada’s oldest bookshop (Little Sisters’ Bookstore).
If you’re going to San Francisco... yes, we all know the ’60s song, and this is one gorgeous, gay-friendly city. San Francisco claims to be – and quite probably is – the greatest gay destination of all, so you’re guaranteed a fantastic time here, whether you’re simply out to sightsee, or intend making the most of the GLBT scene.
Obviously, it’s moved on since those happy, hippy days of the song, but the gay hub is still The Castro and its adjoining neighbourhoods, which include the fabled Haight Ashbury, the Mission District and Twin Peaks. And that’s far from all, because the gay scene spreads right across the Bay City – there are gay bars, clubs, restaurants and rainbow flags everywhere.
Head there in June for Gay Pride Weekend – or go any time at all for a superb holiday. It’s been voted one of the world’s top 100 destinations, and one of the 25 best in the USA. Book early for Pride Weekend though – and note that the annual Castro Street Fair is held on the first Sunday of October; another great time to visit.
This is a breathtakingly beautiful city is the world’s Number 2 gay capital (whodathunkit?), with plenty of gay-friendly accommodation, gay-pride festivals and a very lively party scene. One of the top times to visit is December for The Mother City Queer Project Festival – and if you can’t make it then, book yourself for the end of April and start of May, when Africa’s only Mardi Gras, Pink Loerie Festival, takes place in the nearby coastal town of Knysna, which has its own burgeoning gay community. Then there’s the two-week-long Cape Town Pride in February/March, and the glorious Out In Africa gay film fest each September.
Where to stay in this city? Head for Green Point or the picturesque village of De Waterkant nearby – it’s Cape Town’s atmosphere-packed Gay Village and a perfect place to use as your base. Then there’s Camps Bay with its white sand and palm trees; somewhere that definitely lives up to its name!
The city has plenty of gay bars, saunas and clubs, with same-sex marriage and gay-rights fully accepted. Beach life is big here, and the main beach for gays is Clifton – but be aware that this fabulous stretch of sand is divided into four sections and the one you want is No. 3.
The world’s party capital lives life to the full, year in, year out – gay or straight. Ipanema and Copacabana are crowded with gay (and straight) bars, and there are dance clubs all around the city. Some of the biggest and best are Redondo in Leblon, The Week in Centro, Le Boy and The Copa in Copacabana. Ipanema has none of the massive dance/party venues, but plenty of smaller gay bars, restaurants and clubs. Circuit parties are big in this city too, with most happening in the downtown district near the docks.
Beaches are an integral part carioca life: go to Farme Gay in Ipanema. And, for a taste of Rio’s gay history, try the 70-year-old (plus) Cabaret Casanova.
When’s the best time to visit? Carnival (four days, February or March; date changes annually) brings on the world-famous Samba Parade and a number of glamorous gay balls, and New Year’s at Copacabana is something special – but Rio never slows down, so any time at all will be fine!