Photo: Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras parade © AIYOSHI | DREAMSTIME.COM
WITH ITS SUN-SOAKED coastal beaches, sophisticated vibe and lively celebrations, Australia’s largest city enjoys an especially high profile with LGBTQ travelers. “It’s a city that has it all; [it’s] lush and green, very walkable, with easy-to-use public transport and friendly locals with a positive vibe,” says Mario Paez, managing director and co-founder, Planetdwellers, a travel company that offers LGBTQ Sydney tours. “The best thing, though, is that no matter where, how or when you choose to party, the [LGBTQ-popular] Village is centered around Oxford Street, which makes it easy to have a big night out with little or no Ubering required.”
Indeed, nightlife is a popular diversion for LGBTQ visitors to Sydney. Top choices include ARQ Sydney, a large-scale dance club that hosts lots of lively theme parties. On Sundays, Paez recommends drinks at The Beresford Hotel, “with all its wall-to-wall sexy locals and mates.”
It’s easy to enjoy the sun in Sydney without traveling far. Legendary Bondi Beach is a must-see, and North Bondi is where the locals go to swim. Lady Jane Beach and Little Congwong Beach are gay-popular, clothing-optional beaches.
Paez recommends several hotels to his friends and clients. “The new Primus Hotel is simply gorgeous, with a beautiful Art Deco feel in an up-and-coming area of the city,” he says, and he also recommends the Sheraton on the Park, where “an executive Hyde Park-view room is a real treat, with views across Hyde Park; and, of course, the stunning Park Hyatt, located across the harbor from the Opera House and almost underneath the Sydney Harbour Bridge, is a Sydney institution.”
Every year Sydney plays host to one of the most legendary LGBTQ celebrations in the world: the Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras, taking place in February and early March. “Sydney is a city which celebrates diversity, and there’s no better event that demonstrates this than the annual Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras, which attracts over 42,000 international and domestic visitors each year,” says Sandra Chipchase, CEO, Destination NSW, the New South Wales tourism organization. “In 2017 more than 100,000 spectators joined the parade celebrations to view over 190 floats and cheer on 12,000 members of the LGBTQI community who marched in the parade.”