Get naked in a hot tub in Iceland. Hike across the Greek isles. Sample the sausages of Spain - from Barcelona to Seville.
Gay travel and holidays - how we make it easy
Gay travel is booming, especially in Europe, the world’s most popular tourist market. GETA (the Gay European Tourism Association, Gay Welcome’s ‘parent’) estimates the value of the Gay European Tourist Market at a massive €50b. Whereas once a ‘gay holiday’ meant a week in Mykonos or Sitges, the options for travel in Europe have multiplied to include everything from huge circuit parties in Barcelona or London, gay cruises such as those from Atlantis cruises, with thousands of revelers on board, a week floating down the Rhône tasting the region’s wines, going on a gay biking week in Tuscany, or donning a wig and sashaying through Madrid on their annual gay pride march. Gay Travel now means so many more things than it did before and the diversity and size of our travel options continues to grow, with Europe’s gay hotels, event planners and tour operators busily concocting more ways for gays and lesbians to holiday together.
And that’s exactly why this website exists. Partly to make it easier for people to find gay and gay-friendly hotels that welcome them (rather than a stern look when you ask for a double bed), but also to make it much easier to explore the multiplying gay travel options available to us all. Our website brings it all together in one easy-to-use travel website. Our Gay Cruises, Tours and Holidays page, for example, puts every cruise, big and small, onto one easy to use map. And then adds every tour and holiday. Our Gay Events calendar, the biggest in Europe, gives you instant access to everything from bear weeks to opera programs to the hottest clubbing dates - from Antwerp to Zurich. With over 3,900 places to stay, our accommodation finder allows you to track down a warm welcome in seconds. Our Gay Travel Guides are a great way to prepare for a trip somewhere, or decide where to travel to. They include handy maps, lists of the top attractions, out tips for the top bars and gay beaches, and links to other travel websites with even more information. And in our Travel Shop you’ll find everything from guides and maps to the sexiest swimwear - for that oh-so-homoselxual holiday to Mykonos.
Gay hotels in Europe
From swanky city-centre hotels in London, Paris and Berlin, to rustic guesthouses in the south of France and the Greek islands, the range of gay and gay-friendly accommodation that exists across Europe is huge. Gay travel has truly arrived - in the form of our very own hotels.
Most of Europe's cities and resorts will have a good range of exclusively-gay hotels, B&Bs and guesthouses catering to those who really want to 'let their hair down' when they travel and be with like-minded holiday makers. But increasingly, with gay travel on the rise, mainstream hotels, bed and breakfasts and guesthouses in Europe are making their non-straight guests feel more comfortable. Hotels are less likely than they were to give same-sex couples two single beds. Concierges are more likely to know where the nearest gay bars are. And the attitudes of straight guests is also more positive, as gay travel becomes more accepted.
That said, gay-only accommodation still remains quite popular. A lot of travellers seem to like to spend at least one of their holidays a year in the company of other like-minded men or women. Most of these exclusively-gay hotels are small. Except for the Hotel Axel chain (Barcelona and Berlin), most comprises of either guesthouses or B&Bs. And most are located along the Mediterranean - summer properties with pools dotted along the Spanish and Portuguese coasts, the Canary, Balearic and Greek islands, and along the southern coast of France.
Finding gay-only hotels, guesthouses or B&Bs in city-centres can be more tricky. Thanks to the growth of gay travel in recent years, most of the hotels in the bigger cities are very accepting, and offer more facilities than a small, gay-only property. And in cities, location can be more important to Travellers who are probably not be hiring a car. You'll find good hotels close to all of the gay 'quarters' in Europe's big city centres (all of which are marked with rainbow-coloured pins on our property search map).
The ‘Gay Holiday’ comes of age
Gay cruises are booming. Organised gay holidays are popping up all over Europe. Gay tours are proliferating. The days when ‘gay holiday’ merely meant homosexuals going abroad are over. As our community has grown and become ever more cohesive and sophisticated, so our 'economy’ has too - and with it the gay travel industry.
Today, a ‘gay holiday’ means going on a cruise with 3000 other revellers. Or travelling to a pride event or clubbing weekend. It means joining a tour of the Greek Isles, where you and your fellow travellers island hop, trek around ancient ruins and bop the night away in a gay bar in Mykonos. Our communiuty, it seems, are enjoying holidaying with other like-minded people - and they’re doing it more often and in greater numbers than ever before. Atlantis Gay Cruises now carry over 5,000 men across the high seas - with two separate cruises each summer now in Europe alone. River boat gay cruises are also increasingly popular within the travel sector, plying up the Rhine, Rhône and Danube while their passengers sip chilled rosé and admire the passing castles. For the circuit crowd, Europe’s huge clubbing brands such as Circuit, WE, La Démence and Matinée now organise massive clubbing weekends - from London to Madrid to Ibiza - replete with outdoor beach and pool parties, laser shows and the world’s top DJs.
A lot of the Gay Tours and Gay Cruises organised within Europe originate in the USA - with travel tour operators such as Pied Piper, Brand G, Aquafest and Olivia shipping thousands of Americans over the Atlantic to enjoy the delights of a culinary tour of Tuscany, a wine-tasting trip through France or a cruise through the turquoise waters of Greece and Turkey. Still mostly childless - gay travellers have the money and time to get away on organised tours and cruises of a week or two. And what better way to heighten the experience than to share it with like-minded, friendly travel companions? The ‘en mass’ element of cruises and tours also ensures a party atmosphere at every stop - a gay cruise pulling in to a port such as Malaga can transform the town’s gay bars for the night - filling them with literally thousands of happy (and horny) holiday-makers. The events and parties organised around gay cruises and gay tours also help to make the experience all the more fun.
But gay-only cruises and tours aren’t the only travel options available. A growing number of ‘gay groups’ are organised on cruises. This allows a tour operator to put a relatively small group of travellers together (10-50 say) and then book them on an otherwise ‘mainstream’ cruise. With the number of gay-only cruises relatively limited, this allows you to get a similar community experience on a much wider range of cruises. Pied Piper, for example, organise such groups on a cruise around the Greek Isles. They then organise a number of dinners, parties and outings for the group, while ensuring they also have plenty of time to be alone or mix with other heterosexual guests should they want to.
Gay events are also giving the concept of gay travel a boost. Europe’s pride marches are now huge, and whereas they were once mostly local affairs, the biggest now attract travellers from all over Europe and the world. Join the gay carnivals in Madrid, London or Berlin, and you’ll bump in to visitors from Athens to Zurich - who’ve travelled there specifically for the pride parade and countless parties and club nights organised around it.
Gay holidays are also now being organised within Europe. There are now 8-10 gay ‘Ski Weeks’ organised each winter in France Switzerland and Austria, each offering plenty of skiing plus fun après-ski activities such as club nights, dinners and spa outings. Pink Iceland organise a week of fun and games amongst the steamy spas and volcanoes of Iceland each year. And a number of gay weeks in the sun have popped up in recent years, from a Club Med vacation near Nice to a week in the sun in Tel Aviv and on Rhodes.
We’ve listed all the gay cruises, gay tours and gay holidays you could possible want - on our Holidays page. If you know of any we’ve missed, please let us know. They’re all charted on handy maps, so you can see them all geographically. We expect this section of our gay travel site to grow over time, as the gay travel industry continues to expand and more gay cruises and tours are launched each year.
Who are Gay Welcome?
Gay Welcome was developed by GETA - the Gay European Tourism Association. GETA's mission is to make gay travel, to and within Europe, as easy and fun as possible for people. GETA is totally independent of big hotel chains, so you can confident that all the travel reviews and articles on our website are unbiased. Should you have any feedback on the site, or want any information on gay travel within Europe, please don’t hesitate to contact us. If you work in the gay travel industry, then why not join GETA - it’s completely free.