We spent 3 nights in the beautiful city of Dubrovnik and completely fell in love.
The historical walled old town lays on the water’s edge and is a maze of pretty cobbled streets, beautiful buildings, monuments and the views from the walls themselves are breath-taking.
It’s easy to see why Dubrovnik has become so popular and attracts thousands of tourists every year.
In our gay guide to Dubrovnik we will cover how we found the city as a gay couple, if a gay scene exists, all the incredible things to do during your visit, where to stay and practical tips – we highly recommend that you visit
Gay Dubrovnik Guide
As a country, Croatia is not particularly well known for being progressive and gay friendly, however when visiting the tourist hot spots, like the case in many countries, we felt very safe and had no trouble at all.
In fact, our trip to Croatia starting in Dubrovnik was for a gay sailing trip (which goes each year) and we had a huge pride flag flying for the whole journey and never had an issue!
Thinking specifically about Dubrovnik, we did find that there were many other gay couples in the city when we were walking around, some showing PDAs and some not but again with no issue which made us feel comfortable.
Berlin’s inherent gay friendly nature means that no matter what hotel you stay at, you should be welcomed as a gay traveller.
However, like many cities around Europe there are also a few outright Berlin gay hotels on offer.
For further travel planning, check out our full Gay Guide to Berlin.
Here are our top choices:
Axel Hotel Berlin – Adults Only
This is probably one of the best known gay hotels in Berlin. We stayed at the Axel Hotel Berlin, which is in the heart of the gay area of Berlin making it perfect for a night out and while it may advertise itself as hetero-friendly, is just mainly full of gay men. We loved the sauna area, hot tub and roof top terrace are – perfect to hang out and meet other guests.
Wales has a special place in our hearts given Sion grew up in North Wales.
For those that have not been, Wales is part of the UK (i.e England, Scotland, Wales and Ireland) and is a beautiful country with incredible landscapes and lots of adventures to be had.
But what about gay Wales?
From Sion’s perspective he did not see the gay side of wales at all growing up, it was non-existent at that time. It was only when he arrived at University in the gay capital of the North, Manchester, that he experienced his first gay bar.
So instead, we connected with fellow gay travel blogger Jack who is from South Wales to tell all about what is on offer to the gay traveller coming to Wales today and how accepting the country is from his personal perspective.
Welcome to Screen Gems, our weekend dive into queer and queer-adjacent titles of the past that deserve a watch or a re-watch.
The Hollywood Story: Gods and Monsters
Awesome? Magnificent? Captivating? Sublime? We’re not sure there’s a superlative in the English language that can do Sir Ian McKellen justice.
For proof, look no further than McKellen’s 1998 breakout performance in Gods and Monsters. Then in his late 50s, McKellen had only appeared in a handful of movies, relegating his spellbinding acting abilities to stage performances. Subsequent to the release of the film, he would score his first Oscar nomination and land the roles of Magneto and Gandalf that would cement his status as a screen legend.
But it all began with Gods and Monsters. In the film, McKellen plays Frankenstein director James Whale–a man who lived an openly gay life throughout his career in the early 20th century. By the 1950s, however, Whale’s star had faded, and a ministroke had robbed him of his creative drive. The story picks up just after Whale’s stroke, when a handsome young gardener named Clay Boone (Brendan Frasier) comes to tend to Whale’s bushes. Whale finds himself attracted to the younger man, and the two begin an oddball friendship as Boone begins posing for Whale to sketch. As Whale faces unpleasant truths about his waning life, Boone begins to face his own insecurities around his own background and masculinity. Is Whale trying to create his perfect mate? Or does he want something darker?
Writer/director Bill Condon won a well-deserved Oscar for his screenplay, based on a novel by Christoper Bram. McKellen also should have won for his heartbreaking performance (sorry, Roberto Benigni). The actor brings a natural pathos to Whale: he is, by turns, hilarious, dirty, and deeply ashamed–not of his sexuality, but of his lower-class upbringing under an abusive father, and his betrayal of an early boyfriend during World War I. Fraiser also delivers the best performance of his career as Boone, a man whose brutish masculinity hides a childlike fear. Touching, stylish, and featuring one of the greatest performances in movie history, we cannot recommend it highly enough.
Streams on HBO Max, Hulu, Amazon, YouTube & iTunes.
Berlins gay scene is insane (in a good way) by most countries’ standards! There is something for everyone and everyone is welcome.
It’s worth pointing out that Berlin is well known for its positive and ‘matter of fact’ attitude when it comes to getting intimate so don’t be surprised to find a dark room and cruising area as standard in most gay bars and gay clubs in Berlin.
We have split this post into two parts: the first half focused on the more typical gays bar in Berlin before moving on to the gay cruising bars in Berlin – this is probably the route your night will take after all!
We have a full gay guide to Berlin you should also check out.
Berlin Gay Bars
Here are some of our favourite Berlin gay bars to visit – let us know your favorite recommendations:
This is one of the go to bars for most people to start their night, especially since they often have 2-4-1 drinks specials.
The crowd here is quite mixed but tends to be slightly older. They do play a huge variety of music and we somehow managed to get them to play back to back Ariana followed by Cher which seem a bit out of place but made us happy!
The main thing about this bar for us was that it was fun, friendly and gave off good vibes. Oh, and there is a small dark room/cruising area downstairs (of course).
Address: Fuggerstraße 33, 10777 Berlin, Germany
By Sion & Ben – Full Story at the Globetrotter Guys
We first visited Ios as part of our gay sailing trip around the Greek Islands in 2019 and immediately fell in love with this beautiful island.
Ios is part of the Cyclades group in the Aegean Sea and can be found between Naxos and Santorini. It is a relatively small island at only 18 kilometres long and 10 kilometres wide.
The island is known for its lazy days, beautiful beaches and party fuelled nights.
As places like Santorini become increasingly popular with huge numbers of tourists, places like Ios give you the opportunity to explore an equally beautiful island without so many crowds, especially since it has no airport so you can only arrive by sea!
Like Santorini, Ios is covered with white washed, blue domed buildings which look stunning and are iconic of these islands.
When it comes to gay Ios, it does not have a well established gay scene like you would find in Mykonos (see our Gay Travel Guide to Mykonos). However like many places we visited around Greece, we felt welcome as a gay couple and did manage to find it’s one gay bar during our explorations!
Check out our Gay Greece Guide for a shortlist of our top gay destinations in Greece.
In our mini ‘Gay Ios Travel Guide’ we share the best things to do in Ios as well as where to stay, and some great recommendations for a sunset drink!
Crete was one of our first vacations as a gay couple and although there isn’t a huge gay scene in Crete we felt very welcome on this beautiful island and have returned since! Crete is the largest island in Greece offering everything from beautiful soft sand beaches, to rich historical sights, a thriving nightlife scene and mountains inland to explore by car.
During our trips we had no issues being gay in Crete and felt particularly comfortable around the touristy areas.
Gay Crete has thousands of visitors from all over the world every year and gay travel around Greece in general is very popular with the likes of Mykonos and Athens for example. In our Gay Crete Travel Guide we have put together the shortlist of the places we have stayed and visited, investigated what the gay scene is like and put together some unmissable trips for your visit!
Where to Stay in Gay Crete
We have been to Crete twice and being the largest island in Greece there are a lot of places to stay.
The first time we stayed in Hersonissos and the second time we split our time between Stalis and Malia. In both cases we made sure to explore as much of the island as possible.
Mykonos is the gay hotspot of Greece and for good reason! We fell in love with gay Mykonos during our first visit with it’s iconic cobbled streets, white washed building, pristine beaches, culinary delights and vibrant gay scene – it really was a mini gay paradise.
It’s also incredibly stylish, trendy and caters well to those who like their luxury. You can expect to see many expensive yachts cruising around the island and equally many attractive guys also cruising around the island!
Mykonos has been known as a gay destination for years and home to one of the largest and most well-known gay circuit parties each August, Xlsior Mykonos, which draws crowds of over 30,000 gay men!
Party scene aside, Mykonos is a picturesque and relaxing island. If you are looking for an idyllic island getaway, we highly recommend.
In our gay Mykonos guide we will share everything you need to know, from the best gay beaches and gay bars, gay hotels, excursions, gay events and some practical tips for planning you trip. Find out everything to keep you busy in our guide to gay Mykonos!
What made Gay Mykonos gay in the first place?
It’s always intriguing as to why certain places become gay hotspots. From Gran Canaria, to Sitges, Madrid and Berlin, Mykonos is easily within the top 10 gay places in Europe. One of the most famous gay hotspots in Mykonos is Jackie O’s and it has been said that it was Jackie Onassis herself who influenced the influx of gay travellers to Mykonos back in the 70’s bringing it to the attention of many gay men that followed her.
GayCities encourages you to stay safe during the Covid 19 pandemic. If you choose to travel, we recommend that you follow all CDC Travel Guidelines and adhere closely to all local regulations regarding face coverings, social distancing and other safety measures.
UPDATE: Due to the Coronvirus pandemic, it is not considered safe to meet up with strangers quite yet. However, there’s nothing wrong, as they say, about looking at the menu as long as you don’t order. These regular guys, handpicked for shoots around the globe, will help you fill in the time before it is safe to venture out and about again.
The photographic subjects for this article were hand-picked by Liam Campbell from the first four years of the magazine project, Elska, to celebrate the magazine’s anniversary last year.
Liam generously agreed to share them exclusively with GayCities along with a bit of behind the scenes commentary on some standout moments.
Aarash K (Mumbai, India)
I often site Mumbai as my favorite city. It was uncomfortably hot, crowded, and simply overwhelming, but also unforgettable and full of some of the most lovely people I’ve ever met. One of the participants offered me dinner with his family, another invited me to the beach after our shoot, and pretty much all of the guys’ mothers and grandmothers were bringing me tea when I came over to shoot. Aarash’s session was particularly memorable though. We started by me getting on the back of his moped so he could tour me around potential shoot locations, then he took me to a café for afternoon tea, then we went to meet his friends, and I almost managed to stay along for dinner if I didn’t have to get to another shoot. I never felt so welcome as in Mumbai, and I can’t wait to return to India one day.
Kolbeinn H (Reykjavík, Iceland)
Conducting a photoshoot out in the middle of a city is interesting enough as jobs go, but when it’s only 2 degrees outside and the subject is half-naked, you really have to pinch yourself. Somehow Kolbeinn managed to neither look cold nor to lose his focus even as the wind howled and as traffic started to slow to watch. It was a Sunday morning and apparently, it’s a popular pastime for older Icelandic couples to cruise in their cars along the harbourfront. They got a somewhat more beautiful view than usual that morning.
Tammie B (Los Angeles, USA)
Over the years, Elska’s become known for not featuring models and celebrities, but it’s never been the case that these people weren’t welcome. It’s just that these sort of people don’t often see the value of a little indie arty publication like this one. Before I got to LA I knew that it was possible I’d end up meeting some celebs just because they’re such a part of the fabric of the city. A couple of them turned out to be egomaniacs, and unfortunately, their shoots had to be canceled when their demands for trailers and MUAs showed a huge misunderstanding of what I am all about. Of course, some celebrities are still human, and that includes the surprisingly down-to-Earth Tammie Brown. When I got to his house he greeted me with a big hug, put on a pot of coffee, and then toured me around his rather ordinary neighborhood hotspots, including the local 99c store and a little playground where he played on the swings as I snapped the camera. It was such a sweet day.
Myeongjin K and Y.E.S (Seoul, Korea)
One of the most incredibly fun and exciting cities I ever visited was Seoul, but it was also perhaps the most difficult place to shoot. Despite over ten million people and the biggest gay scene in Korea, the number of men who were out, or out enough to feel comfortable being published in a magazine was tiny, making it very hard to find guys for the issue. Furthermore, there was this ludicrously oppressive standard of beauty that the men seemed to be subjected to, meaning that even if they wanted to take part, they kept insisting they were too ugly or uninteresting. I tried to reassure them, but they weren’t listening to me. Luckily with the help of some local LGBTQ activists (like Myeongjin here on the right) and a few local drag queens, the word managed to spread and we made it a success. Korea is opening up more and more, but it’s a slow process.
Nikolas L and Pieterjan V (Brussels, Belgium)
It’s always a pleasure to meet a couple. Even though there’s some difficulties getting two people to coordinate for a photo, the results of seeing a happy loving gay couple in their home environment are worth it. One common challenge is that one half of a couple tends to be shier than the other, meaning you constantly have to pause while the couples argue about what to reveal, and this was definitely the case with this Brussels couple. At first, it was easy because the shots were very simple – them sitting on the sofa together, having a laugh, drinking tea – but then when we moved to the bedroom it got tricky. Let’s just say that Pieterjan (the one on top) got a little bit frisky, and although I tried to shoot what was going on for a while, eventually my natural shyness took over. I ended up putting my camera away and sneaking out, and left it to my imagination what happened next.
Sonwabo S (Cape Town, South Africa)
When Elska started I wanted each of the issues to be really different from the one preceding it, so I tried to choose cities that were geographically or demographically diverse. However, my choice of locations was also subject to a really tight budget. It took some time but eventually, we managed to save enough funds to shoot an issue on every continent (except Antarctica), including Africa, which was somewhere I always wanted to go. Sadly, Africa is one of the most difficult places in the world to be gay, and a lot of the region is simply too unsafe for me or for the participants due to incredibly high levels of social and political homophobia. South Africa however, and particularly Cape Town, is safe, free, and is a real beacon of hope for all queer Africans. I can’t wait to get back to Africa, even if it’s to another city in South Africa. Johannesburg maybe?
Marcin Z (Szczecin, Poland)
One of the things I like about photography is the spontaneity of the images. I like to treat each photoshoot like a documentary, leaving it up to each participant and to the mood of the moment where we shoot, how we shoot, and what he wears or doesn’t wear. Due to social differences between cities, naturally we end up with some issues that have a lot of nudity (our two Latin American issues, Guadalajara and Bogotá, have the most) and some that have very few guys who want to bare all (two of our Nordic issues, Reykjavík and Helsinki, have the least). Although I enjoy going with the flow, I did get a bit annoyed at how shy everyone in Helsinki was. That’s why a few days later on a side trip to visit friends in Berlin I took my camera on a day trip to the Polish city of Szczecin. When I arrived I turned on a gay dating app and started messaging strangers to ask if they wanted to do a shoot and story for us. Two guys agreed straightaway – Beniamin and Marcin – both of whom weren’t the least bit shy. So I ended up adding them to our Helsinki issue and looked forward to one day doing a full issue somewhere in Poland. Stay tuned for that.
Daniel D (Los Angeles, USA)
While it’s not our biggest seller by any stretch, our Los Angeles issue is truly one of the best, both for the hard work the men put into their stories, and especially for the photography, which just somehow flourished under the California sun. Photography is technically all about using light, something that Daniel here, a photo-artist himself, understood well. I remember sitting in his kitchen, happily chatting but also aware that he seemed to be killing time. Eventually, I asked if we should get started, so he went over to look out the window and said, “Yes, the sun is in the right place now.” He then took me up to his bedroom where at that moment the sun was streaming through his blinds, creating a zebra light effect. I quickly sat him in the mix of sun and shadows and starting clicking the camera.
Yosh N (Yokohama, Japan)
I definitely can’t make a list of my favorite moments without mentioning the Yokohama issue, which I shot along with my husband serving as an assistant and designated bag-carrier. My husband is kind of a Japanophile, and he used to always bring up stories from a business trip he once took to Yokohama, which is Japan’s second-largest city. I imagined that if I ever did an issue in Japan, it would be Tokyo or Osaka, or maybe even Sapporo, but I ended up going for Yokohama, in part to surprise him and invite him along. We ended up having a great time but of course, we also did a lot of work dealing with some of the shiest people I’ve ever met, Yosh here being a happy-go-lucky exception. Making an issue in Japan has its challenges, but it’s also super fun.
Gabriel P and Mario A (Bogotá, Colombia)
Another of my absolute favorite issues to make was our trip to Bogotá. It was truly one of the most stereotype-breaking places I’ve been. I remember how horrified my grandmother was when I told her I was going there, after which she started to tell me horror stories that I presume she stole from episodes of “Narcos.” In reality, Bogotá is one of the coolest and gayest places I’ve ever been, and quite safe too in my experience. But the people really are what made it special. They were some of the most open and up-for-it I’ve met, including Mario (the one in front), who I was meant to shoot alone, but when I casually asked his boyfriend Gabriel if he wanted to join rather than sit staring at us from the sofa, he promptly undressed, wrapped his arms around Mario, and looked right into the camera. Magic.
Victor UK (London, England)
Ok, so I meant to give my top ten images, but I’m adding one more. Consider it an ‘honorable mention’ bonus shot. London is my hometown, and when I shot our Elska London issue it was my first time back in the city after moving to the USA two years earlier. Unfortunately, it became one of the most unpleasant experiences I’ve had – the schedule was just too busy, the commuting and crowds exhausted me, and frankly a good number of the guys I met were moody AF. This isn’t really a surprise if you’re used to London, but I guess I sort of forgot after the time away. Anyway, Victor was a total ray of sunshine in an otherwise grey experience. If it wasn’t for him I’d have probably jumped into the Thames. Cheers, Victor!
Liam Campbell is editor and photographer of the indie print mag, Elska, a project that involves traveling around the world, getting to know some regular local guys, and introducing them and their city to the world through honest photography and personal stories. This month the project marks its fourth anniversary, so far comprising twenty-four issues in twenty-four cities and more than four hundred photographic subjects.
Issues of Elska Magazine are available, both in a limited edition print version and in an e-version. Signed art prints, annual subscriptions, and a behind-the-scenes bonus zine called Elska Ekstra are also available.
Madrid is well known for being a beautiful and open city and you will easily find gay friendly Madrid hotels. It’s a bit odd to need to talk about being gay friendly in Madrid and we would use the term quite loosely here.
The city is so open and such a safe haven for gay travellers that we can say with confidence that pretty much all hotels will welcome all types of traveller without batting an eyelid.
It feels like asking the question ‘is your hotel gay friendly‘ is a bit redundant in Madrid and you would probably get some quizzical looks for asking – it feels ingrained in the culture here.
However, there are always hotels that are naturally more popular with the gay community, whether because of their brand or by their proximity to the gay area of Madrid.
We have focused on hotels that are in close proximity to the city centre and Chueca (the gay district). Here is our shortlist of gay friendly and gay hotels in Madrid to book for your next trip:
Axel Hotel Madrid – Adults Only
If you are looking for a hotel that falls in the category of ‘gay hotel’ then look no further. Having stayed at Axel Hotels in Berlin and Gran Canaria this would be our first choice, especially since it is specifically aimed at gay travellers and brands itself as ‘hetero-friendly’. The rooms are stylishly decorated, insta-worthy and come with the very cheeky ‘do disturb’ signs if you want to hang them on your doors!