As a gay couple, Spain is our number one country in the world to travel to.
We have visited and lived in Spain and the level of comfort as a gay couple has consistently been incredible.
We have never felt discriminated against, never felt uncomfortable and never had to second guess ourselves no matter where we have travelled to – for us, this is a priceless feeling.
In 2018 we lived in Madrid, Barcelona was one of our very first holidays together 10 years ago, Sitges is one of the best prides we have been to and we have been to Gran Canaria more than 7 times – Spain has a special place in our hearts.
There is an inherent feeling of safety, acceptance and normality when it comes to being gay in Spain.
In our ‘Best of Gay Spain Guide’ we want to celebrate all the amazing destinations we have travelled to and share our best recommendations with you.
First, let’s take a quick look at gay rights in Spain for some context:
Spain: Gay Rights and Culture
When it comes to gay rights in Spain, these are all very positive.
Same-sex intercourse in Spain has been legal since 1979, unsurprisingly this happened the year after democracy came to Spain and they said good riddance to their dictator Franco.
Spain was also the third country in the world to legalise same-sex marriage in 2005 and discrimination protections run nationwide.
The laws here are also reflected in the culture of the people.
In most destinations we felt that no one even noticed we were a gay couple – it was simply by the by.
Gay Spain: Our Top Gay Destinations in Spain
1. Madrid – The Gay Capital City of Spain
We have to place Madrid at the top of our list of the best gay destinations in Spain!
In 2018 we lived in Madrid for 7 months and completely fell in love with this beautiful city.
Madrid is host to the largest pride event in Europe and holds the record for the 3rd largest pride event that has ever been held worldwide!
It has the most incredible gay nightlife and a whole gay district (Chueca) complete with rainbow painted metro station.
The gay scene can however be found all across the city and is in no way restricted to just one area.
Madrid City Hall estimates there to be half a million gay people living in Madrid! That works out as approximately 10% of the population which is quite incredible.
Beyond the gay scene in Madrid, the city itself is very beautiful with the largest palace in Europe, stunning plazas, a huge selection of delicious tapas bars and many grand historical buildings and monuments throughout.
The one striking thing about Madrid that we will always remember is that we honestly felt part of the majority for a change – no one noticed that we were a gay couple, it is one of those rare places where we truly felt free and at ease.
For more on Madrid take a look at:
- What to expect at Madrid Pride?
- The Best Gay Hotels in Madrid
- The Best Gay Bars in Madrid
- Gay Shops in Madrid
- Where to find the gay area in Madrid
2. Sitges – Our favourite Gay Spanish coastal town
Sitges is one of the most picturesque coastal towns we have been to in Spain. It is also host to one of our all time favourite gay pride celebrations.
It is a beautiful, quaint beach town just 30 minutes southwest from Barcelona by train. It is very easy to get to and definitely worth the trip whether for the day or for a few nights.
Sitges is known for its Mediterranean beaches, pretty narrow streets, stunning marina and especially for its gay scene.
The gay scene is so prominent here in Sitges, it takes centre stage in the heart of the town.
For such a small town, we were pleasantly surprised to find that there were more gay bars, clubs and cruising places than you get in some cities! It really felt like a cute gay utopia.
For more on Sitges, check out:
3. Gran Canaria – The Gay Island of Spain
We have visited Gran Canaria over 7 times now and it keeps us coming back for more – it was our very first holiday together as a couple in 2008.
Gran Canaria is one of the Canary Islands which are found off the north-west coast of Africa. As a result it has amazing weather all year round and is an extremely popular winter sun destination.
Gran Canaria is home to multiple prides throughout the year: Summer Pride, Winter Pride, Freedom Festival and Fet*sh Pride to name a few.
Each attracts tens of thousands of people and it is perhaps one of the biggest and longest pride events we have ever been to, Summer Pride alone last two weeks!
Specifically, in Maspalomas you will find a huge gay scene in the Yumbo Centre and our favorite gay beach in the world at kiosk no.7 along Maspalomas dunes.
Beyond the gay scene, the island of Gran Canaria has a lot to offer in terms of day trips up into the mountains inland and taking road trips to other nearby beaches and towns.
For more on Gran Canaria check out:
- Our Favourite Gay Bars in Gran Canaria
- Full Gay Guide to Gran Canaria: Hotels, bars, beaches and travel tips
- How to find the gay beach in Maspalomas (with maps)
- Guide to Gay Pride in Gran Canaria
4. Barcelona – The Big Gay Coastal City
Barcelona is on par to Madrid when it comes to gay cities in Spain.
This city has the added benefit that it lies on the coast with miles of beaches and is larger than Madrid meaning that when it comes to huge gay clubs, Barcelona is on to a winner.
Barcelona is also home to many incredible sights including the well know Sagrada Familia (pictured), Parc Guell and the Gothic Quarter.
There is an abundance of gay clubs and bars mainly focused around the famed Eixample district which has been nicknamed ‘Gayxample’.
Make sure you check out El Punto for a few drinks before heading to a larger gay club, such as Arena. In El Punto, when you order a drink ask for free entry tickets to Arena and save €15.
Barcelona also offers gay hotels such as the infamous ‘hetero friendly’ adults only Axel Hotel & Urban Spa (also nice for a drink at the Sky Bar).
If you want some luxury make sure you check out the absolutely stunning Cotton House Hotel which we spent two nights at.
For more on Barcelona check out:
5. Torremolinos – The Original Gay Spanish Hotspot
Torremolinos was a huge surprise to us.
Madrid, Barcelona and Gran Canaria are all very well known when thinking about gay destinations in Spain, however we knew nothing about Torremolinos until we visited.
Torremolinos is another beach town with a slow pace and easy-going vibe. It’s less cosmopolitan that the likes of the big cities but stands out as a very affordable and fun place to visit.
When it comes to gay Torremolinos, it has a very long and interesting gay history.
Torremolinos was considered to be the liberal, hedonistic escape in Spain during the Franco era and it was here that Spain’s first ever gay bar opened back in 1962.
With this in mind, it starts to make sense why Torremolinos has eventually become a thriving destination for gay travellers with a lot to offer in terms of its gay scene.
Perhaps we were late to the party, but this was news to us!
For more on Torremolinos check out:
6. Benidorm – For Some Fun in the Sun
Just like Torremolinos, Benidorm was a big surprise to us – we did not expect to find a gay scene here at all.
Benidorm is a town of two halves: the new town which is for cheap tacky fun (think hen parties) and the old town which has small pretty streets, lots of nice places to eat and is where you will find all the gay bars.
Benidorm’s gay scene actually goes all the way back to the 1960s, when its first gay bar, called Gay Bar Pretex opened.
Since then, Benidorm’s gay scene has grown throughout the narrow, cobbled streets of the Old Town.
There are many small gay bars and a few clubs scattered around which can easily tempt you into a bar crawl.
The majority of the gay bars in Benidorms Old Town are centred around the Calle Cuatro Esquinas and Calle Santa Faz.
We were genuinely shocked (and excited) to see the streets in the Old Town lined with gay bars on our first visit to Benidorm. We simply had no idea!
Read our ‘Full Gay Guide to Benidorm’.
Gay Friendly Spain: Other Top Picks
If you are not looking for a gay scene, we highly recommend taking a look at these other gay friendly places in Spain.
We use this terminology with a pinch of salt since we have found all of Spain to be gay friendly in our own experience.
If you are looking for somewhere with style, we highly recommend Marbella.
Marbella is a beach town with a lovely old town centred around a square full of orange trees.
One of the top things to do here has to be exploring the old town and stopping at a bar for freshly squeezed orange juice.
Marbella is also famed for being a destination that attracts the rich and famous, this is very apparent in Puerto Banus where you will find designer shops and multi million dollar yachts.
Make sure you also book a table at Olivias restaurant during your trip and spend the day at a fancy beach club like Nikki Beach.
There is one gay bar in Marbella if you do want a fun night out, find out more about this gay bar here.
Seville is simply stunning and is said to be the sunniest place in Europe with a record number of sunny days throughout the year.
It is an inland city and famous for flamenco dancing, in fact we took a lesson whilst here!
It also has many major landmarks to visit including the Alcazar complex (where some of Game of Thrones was filmed), Plaza de Toros de la Maestranza bullring and the Gothic Seville Cathedral.
If you are looking for a beautiful Spanish city to visit, this is highly recommended.
If you want a cheap getaway our final place to share is the coastal town of Salou. It’s a little bit more old fashioned than some of the other places we have mentioned but ticks the box for cheap fun in the sun.
Salou is very popular for families with a huge theme park and plenty of beaches.
We visited here for a few days with our friend and had a lot of fun getting drunk on the beach with locals.
Salou does have one very small gay bar which we visited, read more about this gay bar here.
Spain has so much to offer gay travellers and we have no doubt that there are still plenty more places for us to visit.
We will keep updating this list as we visit more. Happy travels!
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