With Spring now ‘sprung’, city break season is kicking off. Many of the top LGBT-friendly European destinations (Barcelona, Paris, Amsterdam to name but a few) will be on our to-visit list this year; however it is worth considering alternative destinations. TravelSupermarket recently revealed that Brits can save nearly 25% on the price of a European city break by opting for an alternative destination, so We at Vada have teamed up with them to bring you a round-up our 6 favourite alternative LGBT friendly city break destinations across Europe.
Last but not least in our collaboration with TravelSupermarket for european city breaks is Bergen, Norway’s 2nd largest city. Bergen is on our list not just because of the Nordic blond beauties. With several mountains surrounding the urban area of Bergen, trails and the Funicular are a big attraction. As an alternative cultural exploit, Bergen is leading the fashion of street art in Norway, with the city council having protected many of the most famous pieces. Water is the biggest focus though, as the city is located on a fjord, it is one of the defining features – a trip on the White Lady should make it onto your itinerary.
The Fincken is the only LGBT bar in Bergen, which celebrates its 24th birthday this year, has a chill out bar area and an upstairs club.
Flights to Bergen are available direct from London with British Airways and Norwegian.
Antwerp is Belgium’s second largest town and having a longstanding commercial history and sprawling ports given it’s coastal position, it is no wonder there has recently undergone an urban regeneration. The many cultural landmarks range from the Royal Museum of Fine Arts, Rubenshuis and Museum aan de Stroom to the Het Steen fortifications.
The city boasts many LGBT friendly cafes, bars, clubs and saunas, with Red & Blue club, Hessenhuis and Het Roze Huis (The Pink House) all worth a visit.
Antwerp is on the Pride calendar this year, with it’s festival running from 10th – 15th August. If you want to coincide your city break with Pride weekend, more information can be found on the Antwerp Pride website.
Flights to Antwerp are direct from London City Airport and the town is also served by direct trains from Paris Gare du Nord.
Genoa (known as Genova to the Italians) is one of Europe’s largest cities on the Mediterranean Sea and the largest seaport in Italy – this means sailors (and their uniform), which is never a bad thing. Genoa boasts many high-end boutiques, five star hotels and gourmet restaurants as a result of the demand for Riviera living. For city break goers this means a mix of culture from traditional sites such as San Lorenzo cathedral, the Lanterna (lighthouse) and the Doge’s Palace with fine dining at Voltalacarta and Ristorante Ippogrifo.
Should you feel the need to drink from a LGBT-friendly watering hole, there is a small offering including Virgo Discoclub and Aqua Club as Genoa’s only gay sauna.
British Airways fly non-stop from London Gatwick to Genoa.
On the Orange Blossom Coast where the River Turia meetings the Mediterranean sits Spain’s third largest city, Valencia. The City of Arts and Sciences dominates the architectural landscape featuring the largest aquarium in Europe the Palau de les Arts Renia Sofia – a flamboyant opera and music palace. For those who favour visiting more traditional sites, the multitude of museums, gothic towers and religious sites are equally as abundant. Food offerings include the well-known paella, tapas and calamari are all of very high quality – book ahead at Richard Camarena’s Canal Bistro for superb tapas or at La Pepica for outstanding paella.
For the night owls, recharged from your siesta, party until the early hours at Deseo54, The Muse or SoandGo.
In summary, those looking for a balance of culture, food and of course beaches – and yes there’s a gay beach at Platja de l’Arbre del Gos (look for the abandoned factory behind the dunes between Pindeo and Saler), then Valencia is definitely an alternative city break option.
Iberia and British Airways offer direct flights from London Gatwick to Valencia.
You’ll be forgiven for not instantly being able to pronounce Ljubljana, the capital city of Slovenia, but for LGBT rights, this Slavic country is the most liberal, including having hosted it’s own, small Pride festival (planned for 18th June this year).
Opera and music are at the heart of Ljubljana’s cultural offering with the Opera and Ballet Theatre and the numerous music festivals including the Ljubljana Summer Festival. Other cultural points of interest include the medieval Ljubljana Castle, the Tivoli City Park and Botanical Gardens.
If you’re unsure about your own travel itinerary, Ljubljana is promoting LGBT-friendly travel in Slovenia with the gay travel concept Pink Week [link: www.pinkweek.eu] (26 – 29th May), a 4-day experience of Slovenia’s major attractions, culinary delights and lively entertainment. We do recommend visiting at the end of May as the Dragon’s Ball is set to be a highlight.
Fly direct to Ljubljana from London Stansted airport.
Paris, the City of love is on the UK’s doorstep, but there is so much more to explore in the country of Champagne, cheese and cinema. Lyon, located approximately halfway between the capital and the southern coast, boasts the true art de vivre that the French have cultivated. Amongst Lyon’s 2,000 restaurants there are a bountiful number with Michelin stars, so you will be hard pressed to find a bad meal. Expect exceptional museums, galleries, chic shopping and all in a city with excellent public transport meaning that you’re never far away from cultural exploit on your city break.
The majority of the LGBT-friendly establishments are broadly located between the Hotel de Ville and Croix Paquet metro stop. There are sufficient to provide a vibrant, fun evening, bars including La Chapelle Cafe or Le Cap Opera for example and the sauna, Double Side – seemingly the most popular.
British Airways, flyby and Easyjet all have direct flights to Lyon from UK airports.
To find the best deal of your next city break, visit TravelSupermarket, who compare to flights, car hire, hotels and package holidays to find the best value travel options for your needs.