The 8 Best Gay Villages Around the World

These queer-affirming neighborhoods are centers of fun and enjoyed by all

Montreal

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It’s Pride Month! We’re kicking off this joyous, meaningful month with a collection of features completely dedicated to LGBTQ+ travelers. Follow along on a gay writer’s thought-provoking Kentucky road trip and learn about the tropical honeymoon hotspot that embraces all genders. Then, find inspiration for your future trips with our guides to the ins and outs of gay cruising, charming LGBTQ+ bookstores you can support, and the world’s most vibrant gay villages. However you make your way through the features, we’re glad you’re here with us to celebrate the beauty and importance of inclusivity and representation within the travel space and beyond.

Across the planet's biggest cities, the "gay village," or "gayborhood," refers to nightlife-centric neighborhoods where LGBTQ+ people congregate and live. Usually littered with queer-focused publications that guide the community on where to party each night of the week, they were born out of necessity. Today, they tend to be magnets for acceptance where authenticity is valued above everything else. Though attitudes have changed positively for LGBTQ+ people in past years, causing many historically gay neighborhoods to lose businesses, they continue to be celebrated as centers of fun enjoyed by all.

We purposefully left some prominent gay villages out, like San Francisco's Castro, New York's Chelsea and Hell's Kitchen, and Boystown in Chicago, but that's not to say those neighborhoods aren't great, too. It's just that they already get a lot of love. Read on for lesser-known gayborhoods around the globe and get the 411 on the best bars, eateries, and other queer-centric businesses you can support as you travel.

01 of 08

Gay Village, Montreal, Quebec

Montreal Gay Village

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Address
Gay Village, Montreal, QC, Canada

The Gay Village of Montreal is a concentrated mix of LGBTQ+ watering holes (Bar Aigle Noir, District), strip clubs (Stock Bar and G.I. Joe’s), and mega dance clubs (Club Unity), both for the young and the young at heart. Strolling down the street is all about queer people watching. Since a large chunk of the Gay Village’s Saint Catherine Street East is a pedestrian zone, it’s a leisurely activity that is best witnessed on a buzzing Saturday night or Sunday Funday. Or you could just take a seat and watch the show go by at Bar Renard, which serves outdoor meals in the warm summer months and touts itself as a safe space free of labels, an accurate representation of the spirit of this friendly gay neighborhood.  

Cabaret Mado is the place to see drag shows, while Le Stud is a more casual bar with a “daddy” vibe—and while French is the dominant language in Montreal, you don’t need to speak a lick of it to get by here as most folks speak English too, making flirting much easier than during a trip to Paris. If you need a place to coucher, the modern 30-room Studio Living is a queer-owned local hotel.

02 of 08

Taylor Square, Sydney, Australia

Taylor Square, Sydney, Australia

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Address
Taylor Square, New South Wales 2010, Australia

Pumping with queer nightlight, the Taylor Square village and surrounding gay district of Darlinghurst serves as a central hub for the queer community down under. Each year they hold their world-famous Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras, and in 2023 the location will host World Pride, exposing Sydney's beloved gayborhood to a larger crowd. "It is also speculated that by the time of the World Pride event, the area may have a new LGBTQ+ memorial and museum," Dr. Terika Haynes of Dynamite Travel, a luxury travel consultancy with a specialty in LGBTQ+ travel, said.

Queer folks can patronize gay saunas (Bodyline), drag show bars (Ginger's), and even eat and party in what was formerly a funeral home (Kinselas Hotel). The latter is an Art Deco treasure that feels like something out of "The Birdcage," with street fountains flowing just outside its charming doors. Meanwhile, Stonewall Hotel is an institution and a place to find vibrant theme nights, making it a solid option any night of the week. To finally rest your feet, look into the Pullman Sydney Hyde Park, popular with gay travelers and close to all the action of Oxford Street's nightlife scene.

03 of 08

Schöneberg, Berlin, Germany

Schoneberg, Berlin

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Address
Schöneberg, Berlin, Germany

Most LGBTQIA+ life has centered around Schöneberg in Berlin as far back as the '20s. "The great thing about this village is that it does not only include bars and lounges, but also TAG-approved/LGBTQ+ friendly hotels and lodging accommodations," said Haynes. Such queer-centric lodging includes the adults-only Axel Hotel, which boasts a hot tub, and Tom's Hotel, which is popular with the boys and has many room types to accommodate everyone from singles to groups.

Berlin is a city where you can find almost any kind of nightlife you're looking for, so expect everything from cocktail bars like BLOND to casual lounges like Heile Welt. At New Action, a popular dive with a dance floor flooded with laser lights, they're known for their leather and BDSM nights. The friendly Prinzknecht is a Berlin right of passage for most queer visitors, styled like a pub that serves a great selection of beer—but keeps things interesting with a dash of fetish, which is omnipresent in much of the nightlife in the neighborhood. After a night on the town, Schöneberg's breakfast scene starts early at gay-friendly Romeo & Romeo, where the pastries and cakes are tasty, and queer-influenced art surrounds you.

04 of 08

Gayborhood, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Philadelphia

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Address
Gayborhood, Philadelphia, PA, USA

Follow Google Maps to the intersection of Walnut & 13th streets and you’ll be standing in front of Woody’s, the longtime epicenter of queer life in The City of Brotherly Love, which is filled with multiple rooms where you can dance to different genres of music. Compact in size, the Gayborhood of Philly—which is hard to miss due to its rainbow street signs—runs from 11th and Broad streets to Pine and Chestnut Streets but spills outside those boundaries. This livelier part of town is home to many restaurants on 13th Street, like the queer-owned and crowd-pleasing Lolita and Barbuzzo. Knock Restaurant and Bar, Tabu Lounge & Sports Bar, and Tavern on Camac, the latter of which has a popular piano lounge, are where queer folks look to dine and dish. Meander into U Bar, a neighborhood spot with windows that face the street for people-watching—it’s also the most likely place to strike up a conversation.

Around the corner, The Bike Stop is a raunchier alternative for sewing your oats, especially if you’re into leather. The party inevitably moves to Voyeur after hours, a mega-club with separate dance floors, though over the years, it’s become less overtly queer and more inclusive of all late-night owls in Philly. To support gay-owned businesses in the city, visit Marcie Blaine for something sweet, Philly AIDS Thrift, which gives proceeds to local AIDS organizations, LGBTQ+ bookstore Giovanni’s Room, and knitting shop Loop Yarn.

Continue to 5 of 8 below.
05 of 08

Palermo, Buenos Aires, Argentina

Palermo, Buenos Aires

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Address
Palermo Buenos Aires, Argentina

Buenos Aires has been dubbed one of the most queer-friendly destinations in South America, and the eclectic Soho section of the Palermo neighborhood is where most gay bars, clubs, LGBTQ+ friendly restaurants, and accommodations can be found in la Reina del Plata. Bookmark Km zero, Peuteo, and Work Bar for nights out, and Maricafe—part café, bar, and bookstore—for a more chill experience or just a lovely bite with friends. A gay mega club, Amerika, keeps the city that salsas moving very late into the night.

We’d be remiss not to mention Tres de Febrero, which has a reputation for gay cruising but is also a lovely park to enjoy and where you’re likely to run into queer Porteños going about their daily lives. And while it’s not located in Palermo, Lugar Gay de Buenos Aires, a slightly upgraded but still no-frills hostel in the San Telmo neighborhood, does cater specifically to gay men and is a great budget-friendly option—rates will run you around $60 a night.

06 of 08

West Hollywood, Los Angeles, California

West Hollywood

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Address
West Hollywood, CA, USA

Arguably the best representation of a gayborhood in the U.S., as you drive east on Santa Monica Blvd. from the well-manicured and residential Beverly Hills, a stark contrast of buzzing gay bars, eateries, coffee shops, gyms, and even med spas with a queer identity come into view. The compact, walkable neighborhood is a rarity in Los Angeles, and seeing queer folks—a mix of pretty muscle boys, twinks, butch, lipstick, and every stereotype in between—is half the fun of roaming the streets. Most of the action is on Santa Monica Boulevard, including the iconic The Abbey, pulsing Mickys and Revolver, and an abundance of other options to choose from (including Beaches, Hamburger Mary’s, Heart WeHo, Hi Tops, and Stache). Even the Starbucks here feels queer.

WeHo, as the gayborhood is affectionately called, is also where you’ll find gay-themed parties and events that take place at many of the hotels boasting rooftop pools on Sunset Blvd. Filled with Los Angeles glitz, the ‘nabe has sleek hotels that will appeal to creative types and queer travelers, like the West Hollywood Edition, Pendry West Hollywood, and Hotel Ziggy.

07 of 08

Zona Rosa, Mexico City, Mexico

Zona Rosa

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Address
Zona Rosa, Mexico City, Juárez, 06600 Mexico City, CDMX, Mexico

"Mexico City has been a leader of inclusivity in the Latin American region with their standout decision to legalize gay marriage in 2010," says Haynes. The Zona Rosa (or "The Pink Zone") village is the LGBTQ+ place to hang in CDMX, where friendly bars and clubs attract locals and those willing to brave their Spanish in North America's largest metropolis. "Also worth mentioning are the Roma and Condesa areas, which are a little more laid back and attract travelers who prefer something different than a wild sweaty night out on the town," adds Haynes.

Closer to the trendy neighborhood of Juarez, Zona Rosa's bars include Almacen, a multi-level crowd-pleaser with different music in each room and where you're bound to find a packed dance floor. Nicho Bears & Bar caters to furrier clientele, while Kinky Bar is a festive spot for a mixed crowd of people and a slightly chaotic mix of everything packed into a bar—karaoke rooms, a cantina vibe, smoking and dancing dens, and shirtless or scantily-clothed bartenders.

08 of 08

West 4th Street, Austin, Texas

Austin

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Address
W 4th St, Austin, TX, USA

They say everything's bigger in Texas, but Austin probably has one of the smaller gay villages on this list. More of a gay "enclave," Bat City's queer identity orients itself on West 4th Street between Lavaca and Colorado streets. Here, you'll find a concentrated mix of bars right next to and across from one another. Highlights include Rain, a dance club with a rainbow-hued, light-up dance floor; Oilcan Harry's, an always-buzzing bar with lots of entertainment and a great patio area, on some nights drawing in straight women celebrating bachelorette parties—often to the excitement or dismay of patrons. Bottle service can be found at Highland Lounge, a larger nightclub that pulls top drag celebrities like Sharon Needles and Manila Luzon for appearances. The gayborhood's reach also extends a few blocks north to The Iron Bear, a sightlier divier and more local bar with great happy hours and patrons who are very serious about playing rounds of pool.  

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The 8 Best Gay Villages Around the World