LGBT+ flag in Athens - credits: hrw.org
LGBT+ flag in Athens - credits: hrw.org

Love is love. It is an indisputable fact that love, in every shape or form, is a blessing. Anyone who sees it differently in 2021 is required to take all their negativity and bad vibes away from the rest of us that want to celebrate love with all of our might!

Greece is one of the most popular destinations for the LGBT+ traveling public, a fact to which the friendly and open-minded culture of the Greeks contributes significantly. Here is a guide to LGBT+ vacations in Greece to enjoy our exotic country living free and proud! 

What are the best places to visit as an LGBT traveler in Greece?

Mykonos

Gay party in Mykonos - credits: mykonostraveller.com

The famous island of the winds, apart from the crowds of celebrities of the international jet set, also attracts a huge number of members of the LGBTQ community. Mykonos, the queen of the Cyclades, is the ultimate summer party destination, where everything is allowed. After all, it is no coincidence that those who visit one of the most beautiful Greek islands are used to say that ‘what happens in Mykonos, stays in Mykonos.’ Take that, Las Vegas.

Mykonos Full-Day Sailing: Delos Guided Tour & Rhenia Swimming
LEARN MORE

During the day, the dozens of beautiful Mykonos’ beaches promise the ultimate experience that only the Greek summer can offer. Blue skies, clear blue waters, a refreshing sea breeze, wonderful scents of coconut sunscreen mixed with the aromas of freshly squeezed juices, cocktails, and traditional dishes of Greek cuisine. The top gay beaches in Mykonos are definitely those of Agrari, Super Paradise, and Elia.

When the sun goes down, the fun climbs up to unprecedented levels. Every corner of Mykonos has at least one bar or club, where the fun never stops. Super Paradise, Cinderella Gay Club, Cavo Paradiso, Jackie O ’, Babylon, and Lola, are just a few of the dozens of LGBTQ hangouts you will come across on the island. Party until you can no more, and dance until dawn. Mykonos is justifiably the top gay summer destination!

Athens

Gay couple in Athens - credits: twobadtourists.com

The gay scene in the Greek capital is not as obvious or vibrant as in other European cities. Regardless, Athens is a liberal city that, of course, brings together the national gay community. Gay bars are concentrated in the Gazi area, but you need to know where they are in order to locate them, as they’re not as “loud as one would expect. 

There are some of the most popular gay bars, such as Sodade2, one of the first gay bars in Athens, and Samone, with drag queen shows and theme nights. In Athens, it is common for the LGBT+ community to go to Rostor, a cafe extremely popular in the gay community of locals and expatriates. It is located in Agias Irinis Square and it is perfect for a beer and a bite. All kinds of people get together in Rostor; it does not matter if you are gay or straight, everyone is welcome!

If you are traveling as a couple in Athens there are many accommodations that are gay-friendly or even exclusively designed for the LGBT+ community. For example, Elegant hotel, near Gazi, with a unique bar and restaurant on site is a perfect choice for LGBT+ travelers. What’s more, the Central Athens Hotel, in the old town of Plaka, and Electra Palace Athens, also in the historic center, with a terrace, a spa, and a gym, welcome LGBT+ people on a daily basis.

Ios

Partying in Ios island - credits: itinari.com

One of the most lovable Greek islands with a fairly strong gay audience from Greece and around the world. Despite the lack of gay bars and clubs, Ios will definitely fascinate you with its stunning beauty and free spirit!

Santorini

Santorini - credits: greeka.com

Santorini is still on the top of the list of destinations that are ideal for gay vacations in Greece. It is a super romantic island, with the caldera that seems to merge with the sky at sunset. Thira has many gay bars and beaches and can be identified as a particularly gay-friendly Greek destination.

Santorini has beaches with black sand, due to its volcanic past. Regardless, you can find the red and white beaches which are both equally stunning and welcoming to the LGBTQ+ crowds. Kamari, Agios, Kokkini Paralia, Perissa, and Gly Vlychada beach are also excellent for your swimming endeavors. If you like outdoor cinema, then you can watch a show at Kamari Cinema, one of the best in Europe, and end your night with a glass of the award-winning Santorini wines the island is known for.

Crete

Crete - credits: el.hotels.com

Crete may not be an established destination for gay travelers, such as Mykonos and Santorini, but it has a lot to offer its gay visitors, from its archeological finds to its beaches, and it is not worth taking for granted.

If you are cruising the Greek islands it is very likely that you will pass through Crete, and specifically from Heraklion. Don’t skip on a visit to the archeological site of Knossos and the museum of Heraklion.

During a tour of the city, the tomb of Nikos Kazantzakis, the architectural diamonds in the alleys of the city, and a cup of coffee in one of the traditional coffee shops of the area will help you fall in love with the city.

Malia is the cosmopolitan center of the island, while Hersonissos is the center of the LGBTQ+ community's night entertainment. In Hersonissos, it is recommended to visit the gay bar Roze Maandag in the port, and La Brasserie in Heraklion.

A tour of the villages of the south is suggested, such as Koutouloufari, Piskopiano, and Ano Hersonissos, with their traditional taverns, the slow rhythms of life, and the low prices. In addition to the Sarandari nudist beach, a visit to Vai Beach and Balos, Matala, or Komos Beach is recommended.

Skiathos

Skiathos - credits: greeka.com

Skiathos is a beautiful Greek island that many consider the "next big thing" in relation to gay holidays in Greece. Apart from the beautiful beaches and the amazing hotels, Skiathos also offers lively nightlife that will keep you in excellent spirits for countless nights. 

Skiathos has 50 beaches to explore, but the most popular for gay tourists are Big Banana and Small Banana. For romantic sunsets, there is Agia Eleni Beach, as well as the fine sand beaches of Lalaria and Koukounaries. 

Things to do for Gay travelers

A gay couple - credits: thevidaconsultancy.com

1. Explore the informal "gay beaches" in the country

Gay couple on a Greek beach - credits: ibizaontdekker.nl

Although in Greece there are no purely gay beaches, except in Mykonos, it is common for the gay public to choose more alternative and private beaches, as a reference point for their holidays. Some of the best beaches have been found in Crete, which is considered one of the top destinations for the LGBTQ+ public in Greece.

2. Book luxury villas for social events and groups of friends

Friends having fun on a luxury villa - credits: mili-lo.com

With the clear increase of social events, such as gay weddings and receptions, the gay public more and more often chooses luxury villas for their parallel holidays in Greece. Larger villas seem to attract the interest of the public, as they can meet the needs of more guests, to a greater extent. 

3. The alternative islands are placed high in the preferences of gay travelers

Gay couple on the beach - credits: fatsoma.com

As island hopping is a common way for LGBTQ+ people to travel, more and more alternative islands are being added to the holiday program. Although popular destinations such as Mykonos and Santorini remain firmly on the list of top options, many alternatives, such as Karpathos and Alonissos, are dynamically entering travelers' exploration options.

4. Participate in Gay Events and Athens and Thessaloniki Pride

Thessaloniki pride - credits: epoa.eu.com 

Every year, both Athens Pride and Thessaloniki Pride attract many visitors who come to participate in the LGBTQ+ celebrations, with the Pride parade as the main attraction, as well as a variety of events, parties, and activities throughout the city. 

Gay/Gay-friendly Establishments in Greece

Gay club - credits: theguardian.com

Sodade2 Club

The timeless LGBTQ+ club of Athens is still a reference point for many fun nights. Divided into three stages, Sodade2 is for all musical tastes. The main stage plays mainstream and Greek music, the backstage Deep n Tech House, to the rhythm of Dj Fo and the courtyard connects the two music worlds offering refreshing cocktails.

Brasil Cafe / Bar

This friendly "hangout" on a quiet pedestrian street, overlooking Pedion tou Areos, awaits you to experience aromas and flavors from distant Brazil. It has a wide variety of drinks for every taste and several genuine cocktail recipes from Latin America. Do not forget to try the Brazilian delicacies they prepare every day.

Limanakia

The most well-known gay beach in Athens. A 30-minute drive out of the city. Crystal clear waters, hot men, and a very cruisy attitude - especially during the steamy summer months. It is a rocky nudist beach with plenty of hidden caves and everything you might need are there are no shops nearby.

Prosopa restaurant

The evening meeting point for all people who live or visit Athens. With an excellent balance of price and quality of food. Mediterranean aromas and flavors, but also selected dishes from the international cuisine. During the summer months, enjoy your meal or cocktail under the moon on a quiet and romantic sidewalk.

Shamonette Cafe / Bar

Located in the city center, close to Syntagma Square, this colorful and cozy corner is intended to be a weekday after-work meeting point thanks to its delicious rainbow project cocktails, a variety of greek and vegetarian finger food, and uplifting Dj beats. Frequently hosting famous (greek) drag queen shows and themed parties.

Bequeer Club

If you are looking to find the heart of queer entertainment in Athens you are in the right place. Here voguing is a way of life and with the help of drag queens, you can integrate it into your daily life. Be queer is a club in the center of Athens, with DJ, themed events, and drag shows.

Alexander Sauna

One of the cleanest saunas in Europe with over four floors hosting dark rooms, steam rooms, massage rooms, mazes, private cabins, sauna, jacuzzi, and themed playrooms. There is also a bar and garden space to relax for drinks and snacks.

Shamone Club

A wonderful place that is reminiscent of a living room with the most fabulous drag shows and other live events entertaining its guests. Outside you will find people enjoying wonderful cocktails and throwing all those necessary glances.

Artcore Cafe / Bar

A collective multicultural space, operating since 2013, and became known by word of mouth. Open daily for coffee/drink in a beautiful and warm environment that from time to time also hosts artistic events. It accommodates live music events, art performances and exhibitions, and a cozy all-day cafe lounge.

Play Thessaloniki

A unique multi-purpose space of 300sqm. with private themed rooms, dark rooms, glory holes, labyrinths, slings and all this on three atmospheric levels. Play also has the most up-to-date sex shop in the city that meets all the requirements, with a wealthy variety of products.

Enola Club

For over ten years he has been holding the scepter of LGBTQ + night entertainment in Thessaloniki. Open every night waiting for you to have fun and dance to a mix of music choices that will keep you up until the morning.

Little Big House Cafe / Bar

The Little Big House is in addition to a welcoming space that offers spontaneous meetings, endless conversations, and exquisite flavors, a “bridge” of communication for unique people. Homemade cakes, brunch and cocktails on the colorful terrace and patio all year round.

De Facto Bar

The only LGBTQ+ bar in Skiathos has been operating since 1998. The perfect place to meet people, talk, relax, and have fun during your summer vacations.

Seminario Break & Brunch

A Greek restaurant that managed to be awarded by TripAdvisor as the best in Ermoupolis. It stands out for the quality and quantity of food, but also for its vegetarian and vegan options. In the alley with the bougainvilleas the LGBTQ+ people will find a safe place to enjoy a beautiful meal.

Elysium Sunset Bar

The best view to see the sunset on the island of Mykonos is the bar of the famous gay hotel Elysium. For over two decades it has been established as the favorite meeting point of the island. Daily shows by Gloria Darling and Dj Kappa Nee.

Porta Bar

The oldest gay bar in Mykonos. You will find it in a picturesque alley with a great selection of unbeatable cocktails, eclectic music that will keep your toes tapping, a chic crowd and an

extravagantly stylish decor. 

Practical Tips for your Gay Greek Vacation

LGBTQ+ Rights in Greece

LGBTQ+ protests in Athens - credits: amazonaws.com

In Greece, same-sex sex has been legal since 1951. In 2005, a law was passed that protects homosexuals from being discriminated against on the basis of sexual orientation. Nevertheless, the Greek constitution nowhere mentions sexual discrimination. In the same year, anti-discrimination legislation based on a person's sexual orientation in the workplace came into force.

In 2010, law 3896/2010 was passed, which prohibits any discrimination against transgender people based on their gender. At the same time, transgender people are now entitled to change their gender and name in their birth certificate, simply by applying to the local Single-Member Court of First Instance. In 2015, Greece went one step further by legalizing the cohabitation agreement for LGBTQ+ couples. As far as marriage is concerned, the Greek constitution does not provide a definition that concerns it. Typically, some legal margin is left for same-sex marriage.

The LGBTQ+ community is active without fear in the capital of Greece, Athens, and specifically in Gazi. The same happens in the islands of Greece as well as in Thessaloniki. Also, the gay scene of Mykonos is now well known worldwide. At the same time, there are four gay pride festivals in Greece that take place every year in the cities of Athens, Thessaloniki, Patras, and Heraklion.

In general, homosexuality is gradually becoming more and more accepted by the Greek population, especially in the big cities. In fact, according to the ILGA-Europe report in 2016, which deals with assessments related to LGBTQ+ rights in European countries, Greece that year, was ranked fifteenth out of a total of 49 European countries. In particular, it showed the largest percentage change annually compared to other European countries, in terms of the degree of improvement of LGBTQ+ rights compared to 2015.

LGBTQ+  Safety in Greece

Woman wrapped in a pride flag - credits: bbc.com

Thankfully, The fight against homophobia and transphobia is no longer considered a luxury item in economically developed societies, nor is it part of the agenda of a small group of people.

The National Committee for Equality of LGBTQ+ under the chairmanship of the former President of the European Court of Human Rights, Alexandros Sisilianos, with the participation of representatives of three LGBTQ+ organizations, is certainly a reason why people of this community are safe in Greece.

At the moment, Greece, after bills for the Cohabitation Agreement and the recognition of the gender identity of the previous government, is ranked among the European countries that -institutionally- recognize and welcome the visibility of the LGBTQ+ community.

As you can see, there are many gay-friendly destinations in Greece. Hopefully, over time there will be more or more, and the time will come where the ‘gay-friendly’ label will no longer be necessary.

In tourism, there are no barriers, neither in the country of origin of travelers, nor in the financial ability to spend, nor in sexual preferences. Follow our guide to LGBTQ+ vacations in our country and ensure a "colorful" stay in Greece!