It’s probably not a surprise, but Europe is one of my favorite continents. The diversity of cultures, peoples, foods, things to see and do—it’s this smorgasbord of life. I love it. Each European country has its own charms and quirks, and each city its own culture and life. And while the modern gay rights movement might’ve begun outside a gay bar in New York City with the Stonewall riots in 1969, Europe has been at the forefront for LGBT issues for much of the past few decades. Denmark was the world’s first country to allow same-sex partnerships and unions back in 1989. And the Netherlands enacted the world’s first law recognizing same-sex marriage in 2001. Since then, the world has seen one of the fastest civil rights movements take place with countries enacting similar progressive laws everywhere from the Americas to Europe and, yes, in Africa and Asia, too.
So it’s no surprise that, today, some of Europe’s biggest and best cities are also some of the most gay-friendly destinations. With the large LGBT populations and legal protections, these cities have become a hotbed of gay events, clubs, parties, history and culture. Trying to make a “top 10” list is always going to incite a bit of drama, so I’ve put below my favorite gay European cities—not in any order, but with my personal recommendations on what makes these such gay-friendly cities. It’s what these cities have to offer—from the countless gay hotels, bars, clubs, festivals and prides—that makes gay Europe such a fascinating place. And surprisingly diverse thanks to the diverse cultures and countries that make Europe, Europe.