While Europe has many gay-friendly places, Amsterdam is, by many accounts, its most gay-friendly city. With dozens of LGBT bars, restaurants, shops, nightclubs and even a few saunas and hotels catering to gays, the Dutch capital is heaven for any non-heterosexual who's ever lived in a repressive culture. In Amsterdam, Gay Pride is celebrated the first weekend in August with buff bods floating down the Prinsengracht on festooned watercraft, Drag Queen Olympics and a plethora of street parties. Any day of the year, you can walk down Reguliersdwarsstraat and see queens lunching al fresco or strolling arm-in-arm.
Canals, windmills and coffeeshops bring some to the Dutch capital, but a bigger draw for others is the city's tolerance for behaviors that don't harm others. Like marrying your boyfriend. Or girlfriend. The Netherlands became the first country in the world to legalize gay unions 12 years ago when mayor Job Cohen married the first same-sex couple on April 1, 2001. Four gay couples tied the knot that night; 382 followed that month.
Find more information about Gay Amsterdam, including accommodations, restaurants, clubs, events and an interactive online map, at www.gayamsterdam.com.