With its dreamy location in the Mediterranean, just off the coast of Italy, its vibrant nightlife, warm weather, and rich history and culture, it's little wonder Malta tops many travel bucket lists in Europe and beyond. Over time, Malta has also become a popular LGBTQ+ destination thanks to its progressive attitudes towards LGBTQ+ rights and its commitment to promoting LGBTQ+ equality, which has not gone unnoticed worldwide.
Malta has topped ILGA's annual Rainbow Map of Europe's most LGBTQ+ friendly countries for seven years running. Most recently, in Spartacus' 2023 Gay Travel Index, Malta was elected the world's most LGBTQ+ friendly country, according to a points-based system. If that's not enough to send you packing your bags, here are other reasons you should absolutely add Malta to your LGBTQ+ travel bucket list.
Malta has long enjoyed a history of LGBTQ+ rights, and its legal protections and advancements reflect a growing acceptance and support for the local LGBTQ+ community. Homosexuality was legalized in 1973, before many other progressive countries today. The rise of The Malta Gay Rights Movement (MGRM) in the 1990s advocated for LGBTQ+ rights and equality, cementing Malta as a safe and welcoming destination for LGBTQ+ travelers. In 2014, Malta legalized Civil Unions between LGBTQ+ couples, which became full marriage equality in 2017.
With an open and inclusive space for LGBTQ+ people, it comes as no surprise that Malta offers a larger-than-life LGBTQ+ scene, which attracts LGBTQ+ travelers year round - particularly in its vibrant capital, Valletta. Valletta is a UNESCO World Heritage Site home to many of the country's most iconic landmarks. The charming city is renowned for its Baroque architecture, visible in ornate buildings, churches, and palaces. Its narrow and winding streets, with colorful balconies and shutters adorning many of the buildings - make it the perfect star of your Insta stories, after you, of course!
While there is no designated gay district in Malta, several LGBT+ friendly bars and clubs are scattered throughout the island, particularly in the St. Julian's and Paceville areas. These venues provide a safe and welcoming space for LGBTQ+ locals and visitors to socialize and enjoy the nightlife. Some of the most popular LGBTQ+ friendly bars and clubs in Malta, with a favorite being Michelangelo Club Lounge. With welcoming locals and a great scene, you're bound to make new friends in no time! If dancing is on the agenda, you should make a beeline for Michelangelo Club Lounge, a state-of-art gay club over two floors. Enjoy a dance floor (naturally!), a lounge area, a private area, and a great schedule of special events. Lollipop is Malta's biggest organized queer event, taking place at different times throughout the year, so be sure to check their Facebook page for details.
One of the highlights of the LGBTQ+ calendar in Malta is the colorful and vibrant Malta Pride Week, which takes place in the island's capital each year in September. Malta's Pride Week features a parade, parties, and cultural events and is a great opportunity to celebrate LGBTQ+ rights and meet other LGBTQ+ travelers and locals. Over the years, Malta Pride has become an essential platform for LGBTQ+ advocacy and community-building. The event has helped raise awareness of LGBTQ+ issues and brought people from all walks of life to celebrate diversity and inclusivity.
2023 will be a particularly special year for Malta, as it will be hosting EuroPride for the first time. Promoting the apt and relevant mantra of "human rights for everyone, everywhere," this island nation will shine bright in pride spirit, welcoming LGBTQ+ people from around the world. From September 7 to 17, EuroPride 2023 will color the streets of Valletta with a jam-packed program to celebrate love, diversity, inclusion, and of course, pride. Think a Pride Village, an incredible EuroPride march, a EuroPride concert, loads of parties, LGBTQ+ exhibitions, performances, and more.
Even if you can't make Pride season in Malta, there are still loads of other great activities for LGBTQ+ travelers looking to immerse themselves in the local scene. As an island in the Mediterranean, it's no surprise that Malta offers a plethora of gay beaches to drop towels at. Malta has several beaches popular with LGBTQ+ travelers, including St. George's Bay and Golden Bay. These beaches are known for being LGBTQ+ friendly and welcoming to all visitors.
St. George's Bay is a small but popular beach and tourist destination located in the town of St. Julian's, on the northeastern coast of Malta. The bay is known for its clear blue water, sandy beach, and for being LGBTQ+ friendly. LGBTQ+ beachgoers should feel comfortable and safe in St. George's Bay and the surrounding area and can expect to find a friendly, inclusive atmosphere in most places. So drop the towel, soak up some Maltese sun, and enjoy connecting with LGBTQ+ locals.
The surrounding area of St. George's Bay is lively and offers a range of activities for visitors, including cafes, restaurants, bars, and nightclubs. The nearby Paceville district is particularly famous for its nightlife, with many LGBTQ+ clubs and bars staying open late into the night. The bay is also close to several shopping areas and LGBTQ+ accommodations, making it a convenient and popular destination for gay and lesbian travelers.
LGBTQ+ travelers visiting Malta should also follow the unique and beautiful Rainbow Street Art Trail. This unique outdoor art exhibition showcases the work of local and international artists who have created colorful and vibrant murals and street art installations with LGBTQ+ themes. The trail winds through the streets of Valletta, Malta's capital city, and is designed to celebrate diversity and promote acceptance and inclusion of the LGBTQ+ community. The Rainbow Street Art Trail was launched in 2019 as part of Malta's Pride Week celebration and has since become a popular attraction for visitors to the city. It is a powerful celebration of diversity and a testament to Malta's commitment to LGBTQ+ rights and equality. It has become a must-see attraction for visitors to Malta, particularly during Pride Week celebrations.
With its ongoing commitment to LGBTQ+ rights and thriving scene, Malta is hands-down a favorite destination in Europe for LGBTQ+ travelers to visit year-round. Whether you plan to attend its iconic Pride celebrations in September, meander the ancient streets of Valletta, drop towels at a popular gay beach, or do a bit of everything, Malta offers something for everyone. With excellent LGBTQ+ accommodation on the island and loads of welcoming LGBTQ+ locals to connect with, add Malta to your travel bucket list and have an experience to remember.
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