South Africa can be seen as quite conservative, but it’s the only country in Africa where equality is enshrined in law. Despite a complex and often difficult history in relation to the human rights of
LGBT people, in 2006 the rainbow nation became one of the first in the world to legalise same-sex marriage.
It’s a welcoming country for LGBTQ+ travellers, particularly in the bigger cities such as Cape Town and Johannesburg.
Cape Town is known as South Africa’s ‘Pink City’ for very good reason. It has a thriving LGBTQ+ community, particularly within the fashionable village-like district of De Waterkant.
Here and across the city, you’ll find regular events and festivals celebrating LGBT culture, along with brilliant bars, restaurants and LGBT-owned accommodation.
Visit during late February to March and you’ll catch the annual Pride celebrations. Along with 10 days of parties, parades and special events, an integral part of the programme for Cape Town
Pride are protests and marches against discrimination and in support of equal rights and freedoms for LGBTQ+ people across the nation as a whole.
You’ll find yourself spoilt for choice when it comes to things to do and see, from the majestic Table Mountain to the beautiful Kirstenbosch National Botanical Gardens. Try hiking or biking to the Cape of Good Hope, check out the penguins on Boulders Beach or go wine tasting in Stellenbosch – it’s up to you.
While not quite as vibrant as Cape Town, South Africa’s largest city also has a growing LGBT scene.
It’s also a great pick for nightlife, along with trendy art galleries, markets and a deliciously diverse food scene. The city holds its annual Joburg Pride event in October, a march followed by street parties and an open-air concert.
Johannesburg is also a city known for its dedication to preserving its history, so the Apartheid Museum, Hector Pieterson Memorial and Mandela House are all worth adding to your itinerary.
If you love your food, Durban is a must-visit. This sun-drenched coastal city is bursting with speciality restaurants, plus chic boutiques, galleries and of course, a choice of gorgeous golden beaches.
Durban is also starting to become known for its LGBT scene, with an annual Pride event held in summer, monthly LGBT parties and the annual Durban Gay & Lesbian Film Festival. Typically held in September, the festival showcases talented local and international filmmakers.
Take the famous Garden Route road trip and stop in at Knysna on the Western Cape, just in time for the Pink Loerie Mardi Gras and Arts Festival in April/May. This is a fantastic annual event featuring parades, live music, parties and art exhibitions. There are lots of other reasons to visit Knysna too, including a choice of game and wildlife reserves, an annual oyster festival, whale watching and lagoon tours, a bustling waterfront and much more.
Let’s start planning your next amazing South African adventure. Our destination specialists can put together the perfect itinerary for your trip, down to the very last detail. Find out more about LGBTQ+ friendly travel with Blank Canvas here.