Having thrown off the shackles of its conservative past, Latin America is emerging as very gay-friendly destination, both in local attitudes and politics. Despite the reputation of being deeply religious, Argentina, Brazil, Colombia, Costa Rica, Ecuador, French Guyana, Mexico and Uruguay have all legalized same-sex marriage, while Chile accepts civil unions and many of the other nations are updating their laws as we speak.
Every LGBTQI+ traveller is acutely aware of those awkward, uncomfortable moments that can happen when travelling that really add a sour note to your experience – an embarrassing hotel check-in when they realize that you have requested a double bed, a guide asking inappropriate questions or just a weird look from another table at dinner. Whilst the situation has improved globally, these cringe-worthy moments can still happen. Fortunately, we have a large inventory of accommodation choices and tour operators that are sensitive to these issues and considerate to any special needs that you may have. We also have team members who are proud members of the community and local partners who are well versed in gay friendly travel experiences and can guarantee that you will be treated with respect and sensitivity wherever you go.
Buenos Aires, ArgentinaBuenos Aires is beyond doubt the gay capital of Latin America. Despite its strong Catholic heritage, Argentina is a socially liberal country and no more so than in its sexy capital, Buenos Aires. Combining the grandeur of a major European City with the passion of its Latin inhabitants, no one can escape the charms of this stunning capital. Explore its famous fashion houses, its major museums and grand public buildings and then spend the evening feasting on the world’s best beef as you witness the seductive dance of the tango.
One of the most unique things about Buenos Aires is its tango culture, in particular the rise of the queer milongas (tango halls) over the past decade. In fact, when it started in the late 1800s, tango was initially a dance between two men. Today, head to one of these milongas to learn the tango and then watch live shows with same-sex partners. There are two main queer milongas located in the San Telmo district. For the more traditional gay scene, head to the Palermo and Recoleta neighbourhoods. Plan your visit for November when the annual Pride Festival takes over the city for a week of LGBT activities and events.
Mexico City, MexicoThis large metropolis is one of the world’s most exciting and dynamic cities. Founded by the Aztecs and crafted by the Spaniards, modern Mexico City is bursting with centuries of culture, art, architecture and design in addition to a food scene ranging from street food to some of the planet’s best fine dining. For the gay traveller, the inner city neighbourhoods of Condesa, Roma and Polanco are full of gay friendly eateries and bars, whilst the vibrant Zona Rosa is the main gay neighbourhood with countless bars ranging from karaoke with friendly locals singing Mexican pop songs to gay Cowboy bars where they dance the two-step. The warmth and friendliness of the locals is hard to resist.
Puerto Vallarta, MexicoProving that gay life exists outside of the major cities, Mexico’s Puerto Vallarta on the Pacific Coast has one of the largest and most vibrant gay populations in Latin America. With a healthy mix of locals and expats, this beachside town is mecca for LGBTQI+ travellers from all over the world. A charming old town with notable historic churches and public buildings, stunning beaches, whale watching and coastal drives, there is a lot to occupy your days before heading to the aptly named Zona Romantica to explore the nightlife that has made this city so famous.
Rio de Janeiro, BrazilFew cities can compete with the stunning natural beauty of Rio. However, beyond its golden beaches and lush mountains sits one of the most exciting cities on Earth, whose inhabitants have made enjoying life into an art form. The city boasts a vibrant gay scene centered around the beaches of Ipanema and Copacabana. Just look out for the rainbow flags on either beach where the friendly locals will instantly make you feel at home. Consider visiting during the annual Carnaval, which takes place in February each year and includes a sizeable gay contingent. Otherwise, visit during Rio Pride in September which attracts over one million revelers.
Sao Paulo, BrazilSao Paulo is often overlooked by travellers for its more glamorous sister. While it may not have the intrinsic beauty of Rio, it is a cosmopolitan, sophisticated and artistic city offering an exciting art scene, Avant Garde architecture and a food culture that should delight any visitor. If that is not enough for the LGBTQI+ traveller, Sao Paulo also hosts the world’s largest Pride parade every year in June, attracting between 3 to 5 million people. Now that is worth celebrating.
Bogota, ColombiaDespite its turbulent history, Colombia’s vibrant capital city has undergone a massive transition over the past 20 years, making it one of the most culturally diverse and tolerant cities in Latin America. Whilst the traditional “machismo” attitude does still exist in Colombia, particularly in the rural areas, Bogota has become a very tolerant and open city with a lot to offer the LGBTQI+ traveller. The city boasts colourful street art, a bohemian student vibe, an impressive array of world class museums and stunning monuments and architecture in the historic Candelaria district. Most of the gay scene is centered around the Chapinero neighbourhood.
Santiago, ChileSurrounded by world class wineries on one side and the massive snowcapped Andes on the other, Santiago is home to a significant number of museums and galleries, and a vibrant food and wine scene. At first glance the locals may not seem as outgoing as their Argentinean neighbours, but do not confuse this shyness with lack of warmth. They may seem a little reserved at first, but once you get to know them, they are one of the most friendly and welcoming people in Latin America. They also boast a relatively large gay population with a significant number of bars and restaurants that are both inviting and fun. Most of the gay life is centered around the Bellavista neighbourhood.
Cusco, PeruThe first thing that LGBTQI+ travellers will notice are the large number of rainbow flags proudly flown all over Cusco. You will be forgiven for believing you have arrived during Pride Week, this colourful flag is actually the local Inca flag, almost identical to the Pride flag with an extra blue stripe. It is a testament to the locals who have resisted calls to have the flag replaced due to its association with the gay community. Cusco is a tolerant town within a socially conservative country. Whilst the gay population in Cusco is smaller than in Lima, with its thriving nightlife in Miraflores and Barranco, the historic sights of Cusco and its proximity to Machu Picchu make it one of the continent's most popular destinations.
Montevideo, UruguayLike Sao Paulo, Montevideo is another city that is over shadowed by its more popular neighbour. That said, there is a unique, laid-back charm to the city that you cannot find anywhere else in Latin America. As a country, Uruguay is so compact that it is easy to explore from your Montevideo base. Just outside the capital, enjoy spectacular beaches, stunning wineries, and iconic gaucho estancias. The gay scene is small but friendly and also features a tradition of same-sex tango as found in Buenos Aires. There is no better way to meet some like-minded locals than in a queer tango class.
Quito, EcuadorQuito is fast becoming one of the more open-minded cities in Latin America. The young generation have far more progressive views than their parents which makes Ecuador’s capital city a safe and fun destination for gay travellers. The community is located predominately around the Mariscal neighbourhood and the city hosts an annual Pride Parade every year in June and a film festival in November. Quito is also home to an impressive number of museums and some of the most ornate and lavish churches that would not feel out of place in Liberace’s home. It is also the jumping off point for trips to the Galapagos Islands and the Amazon Rainforest, making it a great city escape between these two iconic areas.
This list is by no means complete. There are literally hundreds of places within Latin America worth exploring and most will have at least some LGBTQI+ presence. Whether you time your visit with one of these famous Pride festivals or decide to travel at another time, we can guarantee that you will have a gay old time!
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We do not subscribe to the ‘one-size-fits-all’ philosophy. Sample itineraries and cost estimates are meant purely as a guide. To find out more, please contact one of our expert travel consultants to plan a customized itinerary based on your budget and interests.