San Francisco’s The Castro has long been mecca for gay visitors to the United States. Palm Springs, about 100 miles east of Los Angeles, offers the same opportunities but with sun, sand and optional clothing beaches thrown in. In the east coast, nothing can beat the Big Apple’s West Village, Hell’s Kitchen and Chelsea. There’s so much to get lost in, but the Harvey Milk School, the Lesbian Herstory Archives, and the Broadway and Theater District are all great places to start with in New York. If your New Year’s resolution this year is to explore LGBT-friendly destinations, here are 5 places abroad to go to for that unforgettable trip.

New Zealand

The Land of the Long White Cloud was the first country to grant women the right to vote, and in 1998, it was also the first country to use 'Gay/Lesbian Friendly' labels when referring to LGBT-inclusive restaurants, accommodation and other businesses. More than this all-inclusive gesture to members of the rainbow community, New Zealand has it all – cosmopolitan cities brimming with gastronomic choices (think Auckland and Wellington), the white sand beaches of Bay of Plenty, world-class wineries of Hawke's Bay and Marlborough, tranquil and postcard-worthy fjords of Milford Sound, the white peaks of Aoraki Mount Cook, the adrenaline-fueled attractions of Queenstown, and preserved movie sets that served as Peter Jackson’s Middle Earth.


The home of world-renowned toy brand Lego has long been known for thinking outside the box, so it’s not surprising that it’s going to be a trailblazer in the pursuit of gay equality. In 1989, Denmark became the first nation to recognize registered same-sex partnerships. It's hardly an out-of-character move for Denmark, as its capital, Copenhagen, is home to the first openly gay bar that had its beginnings in the 1950s. For the fashion-minded gay traveler, Copenhagen is also the most happening when it comes to funky and edgy yet functional couture. Combined with its reputation as an upstart destination for New Nordic cuisine and buzzing, alcohol-fueled nightlife, Copenhagen is also a traveler’s launching point for cruises in the Baltic and Nordic seas.  


One of the most inclusive places on earth is Iceland. Famed for its geothermal lagoons, volcanoes of both active and dormant variety, cascading waterfalls, and 
enchanting auroras, Reykjavik, the northernmost capital of the world, is less famed for its same-sex partnership laws. Compared to gay marriage laws around the world, Iceland’s are relatively ahead of its time: These laws grant rights, without limitations, to gay couples in the same extent that heterosexual couples enjoy. Reykjavik has also one of the most active and long-running Gay Pride March in Europe: The city is going to host its 17th this year.


When it comes to fetishes, the sky’s the limit in Schoneberg, Kreuzberg and Prenzlauerberg, a handful of German districts that cater to the rainbow community both domestic and foreign. Schoneberg’s Gay Pride parade is probably one Berlin’s tourist draws, but there’s plenty of history, art and architecture to gawk at if you miss the waving rainbow flags.


Just across the border, Canada is the most inclusive and progressive country in the Americas in terms of advocacy for LGBT equality. Toronto, in particular, bursts with neighborhoods and businesses that exclusively cater to the gay visitor for decades. Make a beeline for The Village where the Pride Week Celebrations and Pride March are held. If you can’t make it to such events, the fun-tabulous Halloween Block Party is where out-of-this-world costumes come out of the closet.