Rio: World's Best Gay Destination

Rio: World's Best Gay Destination

Elected as the best gay destination in the world, Rio de Janeiro now confirms, through many attractions, why it is worthy of such title. Besides its endless natural beauty, the city also counts on an extensive schedule focused on gay tourism, which, according to recently carried surveys, is the most prominent segment in the industry. Hotels, restaurants, bars and night-clubs, besides rental car services and cab services specialized in servicing LGBT tourists represent the biggest difference that makes Rio a receptive city by nature. 

- That is yet another victory which comes to reiterate Rio de Janeiro’s vocation as one of the best touristic destinations in the world. Rio welcomes everyone with open arms and it would not be any different with LGBT public” – said Antônio Pedro Figueira de Melo, the Rio de Janeiro Tourism secretary after Rio was elected the best gay destination in the world, at a contest held by Logo channel, in MTV, and website Outtriptravel.

One fourth of the approximately three million foreign tourists that visit Rio every year belong to the LGBT segment. From that total, 75% are men, with ages ranging between 20 and 35 years old and who remain in the city for an average of five days. According to the Ministry of Tourism, a gay tourist will spend approximately US$ 200 per day, against the US$ 74 spent by a heterosexual tourist.

The numbers and visitors satisfaction only reinforce the image of Rio as one of the main touristic destinations in the world. To fashion designer Carlos Tufvesson, member of the State of Rio de Janeiro LGBT Council and of the Rio City Hall Guaranty of Rights Committee, one of the main factor which rendered it possible for Rio to win is the fact that the city welcomes its visitors very well, and also offers an extensive and varied choice of activities.

- Rio is one of the few cities in the world that is inclusive by nature, because it has an extensive array of activities focused on leisure and fun, particularly between the months of December and January, and those aspects are increasingly attractive to the LGBT segment.

Tufvesson also highlights how significant is the diversity of programs the city has to offer tourists. According to him, all places in the city today are gay friendly, due to law no. 2.475/1996, which does not allow discrimination in any commercial facilities. Therefore, people tend to get together much more because they share the same tastes – in music, food – rather than due to sexual orientation.

Among the places most visited by LGBT tourists are the quarter of Ipanema, with its countless bars and night-clubs, as well as the beach that is known as the most democratic in the world; Tijuca Forest – the world’s largest urban forest. The Sugar Loaf, Christ the Redeemer (selected as one of the wonders of the modern world) and the Botanic Garden are also to be highlighted. On Friday nights, one of the greatest symbols of Carioca bohemian life, the quarter of Lapa, gathers a vast number of Gay tourists, which are spread among the many bars and musical show theatres.

Electronic music parties are also among the most sought by LGBT tourists. The main events are “Moo” party, held in Centro (Downtown) and “Revolution”, which gathers DJs renowned all over the world. Each season the party is held at a different location, such as the Museum of Modern Art at Aterro do Flamengo, and “Armazém 5” (Warehouse 5) at Cais do Porto, in the city docks.

Regarding discos, The Week is an import from São Paulo that's located in a faded old warehouse downtown with a huge dance floor, several bars, and even a wading pool; big-name international DJs frequently spin on Saturday nights. Trustworthy Le Boy has been around for eons and can be a mixed bag, though its Sunday night parties are usually hopping the same owners also run the city's biggest lesbian club, La Girl.

Still in accordance with a Carioca research institute (*), the main markets providing LGBT tourists are Europe and North America, which together represent 70% of the amount of visitors. Due to the fact that their standards are rated as “A”, they tend to stay in five star hotels or luxury apartments.

- And this is only getting better: we gave our full support to the campaign for having Rio elected as the world’s best Gay destination and we want to continue serving well and improving the quality of services rendered to this segment of society – says the secretary of Tourism.

Restaurants such as “Gero”, in Ipanema, specialized in Italian cuisine; “Aprazível”, in Santa Teresa and “Garcia e Rodrigues”, in Leblon, are highly favoured by LGBT tourists visiting the city. Besides those, “Zazá”, in Ipanema and “Alessandro e Frederico”, in Leblon, are also much appreciated.

The city also offers actual consumerism temples, such as Shopping Leblon mall, in Zona Sul (the South Zone) and Barra Shopping mall, at Barra da Tijuca, which gather internationally known luxury brands such as Armani Exchange, Sara Chofakian, and places for leisure and entertainment, such as movie theatres with 3D technology, restaurants specialized in the most varied cooking styles as well as theatres.

Services specialized in this segment are becoming ever more frequent in the city, showing how important those tourists are. One of the best highlights is Nova Aliança cab services cooperative, specialized in transporting gays and lesbians, and which serves all of Rio, particularly the South Zone. Tourism Agency “Rio G”, in Ipanema, specialized in LGBT tourism, offers specific tourism packages which include visits to the city’s main touristic spots.

In order to guarantee the improvement on services rendered to tourists, the City Hall is already investing in manpower training and specialization, such as teaching foreign languages, specialized services for public of various age ranges and needs. The Tourism Secretariat also has a website ( displaying all activities available in the city, suggestions and an icon meant exclusively for LGBT viewers. The guide’s printed issue, which is published every two months, as of the special summer issue, shall display an icon only with programs focused on LGBT public.