As same-sex couples across the UK are saying “I do” for the first time, we pick our top destinations where the loving couples can celebrate their matrimonial bliss.
For the first time in history, same-sex couples in the UK are able to legally tie the knot as the new Marriage Act comes into full force. This is a major milestone for equality in the UK, which in the words of David Cameron clearly says: “you are equal whether you are straight or gay”. To celebrate the passing of this historic piece of legislation, we have scoured the globe for the finest destinations where the newlyweds will be able to best enjoy their first days of matrimonial magic.
Mardi Gras is Sydney’s biggest magnet for gay boys and girls. Newlyweds keen on a more relaxed and romantic break, however, won’t feel shortchanged by the harbour city with its splendid beaches, buzzing foodie scene, exciting nightlife and bucketloads of glitz.
The Australian metropolis is also one of the most beautiful cities in the world, surrounded by national parks that stretch all the way into the concrete jungle, and hundreds of beaches to choose from. Rainbow flag-flying establishments are centred around Oxford Street, though if you’re after gastronomic delights you’d be better served at the fashionable Quays.
Honeymooners keen on something with a local flavour needn’t look further than the Isle of Wight. The short ferry ride from Portsmouth or Southampton adds an exotic element to the trip, and provides an opportunity to leave your wedding day stresses behind on the mainland. The Priory Bay Hotel’s sumptuous rooms are ideal for an indulgent marital trip to the island.
Those keen on a more active honeymoon are well catered for, especially when opting for one of Island Cycling Adventure’s around-the-island mountainbike tours. Finish that off with an afternoon dangling from the limbs of a 300-year-old Oak tree, courtesy of Goodleaf Tree Climbing, before heading to a secluded and romantic beach to marvel at the sunset.
Hedonistic party nights, sun-drenched beaches and the most gay-friendly destination in the Mediterranean by a mile – you really needn’t do a lot of digging to see why Mykonos remains a gay mecca. Ancient Greece was no stranger to homosexuality either, and the scene still thrives on Mykonos with a thumping nightlife after the sun has dipped into the sea.
During the day most gay visitors’ beach compass will be pointing keenly to the south of the island. This is where you will find Paradise beach and, more importantly, Super Paradise, one of the most famous gay stretches of sand in the world. Recently, however, nearby Elia has come to rival Super Paradise’s popularity among the gay crowd with its gin-clear waters and honey-coloured sand.
Although Thailand doesn’t have any specific legal protection to its LGBT citizens, it is one of the most gay-friendly countries in Asia – the “land of smiles” strapline applies to straight and gay visitors alike. Visitors are lured by the fragrant food, tropical islands, vibrant nightlife of Bangkok and affordability and Thailand is a traveller’s paradise in many respects.
For a truly idyllic island-based honeymoon, head to Phuket. Here you can start the day off by brushing up on local some culture at one of the many Buddhist temples, laze on the beach or charter a private boat for some island hopping, before finishing your day with an indulgent massage. And best of all, you won’t have to flog your wedding gifts on eBay upon your return to help fund the trip.
South Africa boasts one of the most advanced constitutions in the world: it was the first country in the world to outlaw discrimination based on sexual orientation and the first country in Africa to legalise same-sex marriage. No city in the country caters more for LGBT travellers than Cape Town, which can easily be combined with a few days at a private game reserve like Lion Sands and marvelling at the Victoria Falls for an unforgettable honeymoon.
For a taste of the high life book a room at the Cape Grace with its striking views of Table Mountain and spend your days wine tasting, enjoying safaris or soaking up the sun on one of the many splendid beaches. Clifton’s Third beach is especially popular with the boys, while Sandy Bay is your best bet if you prefer an all-over bronzing without any tan lines…
The Maldives is a firm favourite among newlyweds regardless of sexuality, thanks to its crystal-clear waters, palm-fringed beaches and tropical beauty at every turn. With 1,192 islands to choose from (192 of which are inhabited) this is the perfect option for couples hungry for privacy.
The luxury on offer is outstanding, and (budget permitting) an overwater villa with glass floors is a truly memorable way to spend your first days of marital bliss. Should you wish to venture beyond your love nest during the day, the warm Indian Ocean waters and surrounding coral reefs rank among the finest for snorkelling and scuba diving.
Not only the financial capital of Israel, but also the country’s cultural hub, Tel Aviv has recently been stealing the limelight as an LGBT hotspot from such stalwarts as San Francisco and Barcelona. Gay and straight folk alike flock to the city at weekends to enjoy its nightlife and holiday atmosphere, which feels a world away from nearby holy, ancient, Jerusalem.
Be sure to include a visit to the Dead Sea on your trip. Once you and your newly wedded spouse have covered each other’s body with the anti-ageing and healing black mud from its shores, and floated in its super saline water, you can take some time to explore the ruins at Masada.
Synonymous with tango, gauchos and more incredible red wine (not to mention red meat) than you can consume in one lifetime, Argentina has always inspired romantics. The country also approved same-sex marriage in 2010, and Buenos Aires is one of the most gay-friendly cities in South America. Besides, you’ll have the perfect excuse for breaking into song with Don’t cry for me Argentina when strolling past Casa Rosada.
The Argentinian capital itself has plenty to offer – elegant facades reminiscent of Paris, chic shopping and sophisticated dining – but the country’s natural offerings are even more impressive. The tropical Iguazú Falls, frozen Tierra del Fuego, high-altitude Bariloche and wine-rich Córdoba and Mendoza all have completely unique personalities deserving of your attention.
Love is love, regardless of sexual orientation, and the City of Lights’ romantic appeal doesn’t limit itself either. Whether it is a picnic in the Jardin du Luxembourg, a laid-back cruise down the Seine, scaling the Eiffel Tower or strolling through the Promenade plantée, Gay Paree knows how to do romance like few other cities.
France passed gay marriage legislation in 2013, and despite some resistance at the time, the city is generally very gay-friendly. Le Marais is still where most of the action is at for bars and clubs, with several more in the 1st arrondissement to pick from.
Barcelona has a long history of fighting for equality. It was here that the Spanish LGBT movement’s flame was ignited in defiance to the dictatorship of Francisco Franco (being gay was illegal until 1973), and the city’s tolerant approach puts most other cities to shame.
No trip to Barcelona would be complete without a visit to Sitges. Cultured, historic and a revered party town in equal measure, during the day the beaches are where most of the action is at, with plenty of topless tanning from the girls while the boys parade their gym-toned bodies. At night the bars and clubs spill onto the pavements while same-sex couples walk hand in hand or sip on cocktails.
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