Amsterdam has long been a travel epicentre and the local gay scene has joined in the city's ascendancy as a centre of European style. Whole new neighbourhoods of trendy hot spots have created space for a lively street life to complement the city's urbane burgher origins.
Though Greenwich Village remains home to New York's largest gay and lesbian populations (and the world's biggest Halloween celebration), gay culture has spread its wings throughout the city. Venture beyond the best-known attractions of the Village, Chelsea and Hell's Kitchen, to discover the Upper West Side, Park Slope and Queens, all offering fresh approaches to community and the contemporary scene.
The South's gay capital, Atlanta's tradition of hospitality makes it seem smaller than it is, with a welcoming approach to travellers and new arrivals. Midtown boasts a walkable mix of gay bars, restaurants and shops. Newly gentrified Castleberry Hill, East Atlanta and nearby Decatur also host plenty of gay activity, with the latter known for its lesbian-friendliness.
To enjoy Barcelona in its fullest cultural richness - old and new, classic and modern - it's best to get around on foot. Many gay bars, restaurants and additional accommodation are clustered in the Eixample Derecho. Like most Spaniards, Barcelonans dine late, usually after 10 p.m. Nightlife gets rolling after midnight and continues well into the small hours.
Renaissance Barcelona Hotel | Hotel Arts Barcelona | AC Hotel Irla
With its gorgeous weather, beautiful people, health-orientated lifestyle and hip clubs and parties, Rio has been called the world's most popular gay destination. From annual celebrations such as New Year's Eve and Carnival to local attractions such as spectacular beaches, mountains and rain forests, as well as distinctive music, dancing and cuisine, Rio has it all.
JW Marriott Hotel Rio de Janeiro
Sydney features an exciting variety of attractions from fashionable boutiques to hip bars, from lavish shopping to exciting dining. Neighbourhoods such as Kings Cross, Darling Harbour and King Street Wharf buzz with entertainment and feature outdoor events, nightclubs and live music. Sydney hosts the famed Gay Mardi Gras and offers some of the world's most spectacular surfing and sunbathing.
Sydney Harbour Marriott Hotel at Circular Quay | Courtyard North Ryde
With culturally and architecturally rich neighbourhoods and a wealth of parks and beaches, Chicago is filled with attractions for the gay traveller. The downtown Loop and Near North sections offer world-class window-shopping and entertainment and boutiques and cafés offer something for every taste in such happening and gay-popular destinations as Andersonville and Lakeview.
Phuket is an island paradise known the world over and especially popular with Scandinavian, Russian and Israeli visitors. The west coast features the most beaches and the Royal Paradise Complex located in Patong Beach is filled with LGBT-friendly bars, nightclubs and entertainment.
Gay Los Angeles is diverse and offers communities to suit every traveller’s tastes. For a behind-the-scenes view of Hollywood, visit the Kodak Theatre and Grauman’s Chinese Theatre, famous for celebrity hand prints or just wander the pavements lined with stars, clubs and bars. LA's restaurants, while catering to variety, deserve a special note for delicious Mexican fine dining.
Buenos Aires is widely and deservedly known as one of the world's most gay-friendly destinations. The neighbourhoods of Barrio Norte, Palermo Viejo and San Telmo feature welcoming restaurants and bars: notable nightclubs include Glam, Amerika, Palacio and the Big One, formerly a grand theatre. Visit for the cuisine and nightlife, which combines European influences and the rich cultures of tango.
Marriott Plaza Hotel Buenos Aires
London has everything to offer first-time visitors and sophisticated travellers alike. There's high fashion, great theatre, period architecture and world-class museums, performances and cuisine. The LGBT community is integrated into the city's unmatched cultural energy and is welcomed throughout its diverse neighbourhoods, each with a distinctive personality.
Pulsing with energy and serving as a meeting place for all things diverse, the dynamic Castro District remains home to San Francisco's LGBT community. Castro Street Fair and the annual SF PRIDE celebration festivities are hosted here each year, acting as a catalyst for worldwide change and acceptance. The city's renowned clubs and innovative restaurants cater year-round to the most adventurous and experienced of tastes.
Miami is known as a place like no other. Soak up the sun and enjoy a tropical drink, then get your party started at one of the city’s amazing gay and lesbian clubs. South Beach (SoBe) is home to the city's densest focus of gay-friendly businesses and hotels and is a hotspot for nightlife and the finest dining. Nearby Coconut Grove is home to the Vizcaya Museum and Gardens, host to November’s White Party, the hottest gay event in town.
In Washington the creative class rules and the city shines with new art galleries, great music venues and fresh dining choices. You can get around on foot, by bike, by train or bus and join in the work-hard, play-hard attitude of the LGBT community that helps to run the country by day and enjoys fantastic urban living by night. Each June, Capital Pride ends a week of special events with its Capital Pride Street Festival on the National Mall.