From Canada to London… Finally Portugal!

Portugal was voted the world’s most gay-friendly destination (alongside Sweden and Canada), according to the Spartacus International Gay Guide Index 2019.

If you’re looking for somewhere new to relocate to, Portugal could be the place for you! 

There are several important questions to ask before you relocate to another country, and in this article/interview we will be covering the main topics concerning LGBTI+ life in Portugal.

Our country jumped from 27th to the top spot in the Spartacus gay travel guide, mainly due to changes in legal protections for trans and intersex people, as well as for the introduction of anti-hate crime initiatives.

The Portuguese government has been particularly active in recent years in protecting the rights of LGBTI+ residents and working towards a country even more gay-friendly.

Gabriel visiting Serralves Museum in Porto!

Meet Gabriel!

“I first came to Portugal back in 2016. I was living in London at the time, finding my next European destination to chase the sun and escape the grey British summer.

Everyone I spoke to only had the best things to say about Portugal. So, I figured I had to see what the fuss was all about for myself!”

New Place, New Life: Gabriel embraced the true spirit of Portugal

How was your first experience in Portugal?

My best friend and I decided to spend a week discovering Portugal. We started in Porto, travelled to Lisbon for the weekend and then spent a few days in the Algarve. I remember just falling in love each day I was in Portugal. It slowly made sense why everyone kept raving about this beautiful country!

The first time I fell in love was when I visited the beaches along the coast. I grew up in Australia so I find that most of Europe have no idea what a real beach is. They have these fake beaches you know, a little bit of water and surrounded by rocks. Meanwhile, Portugal has so many ‘real’ beaches! These gigantic beaches with endless kilometres of golden sand. It instantly felt like home.

While in Portugal, how did you meet the gay scene and the best clubs to visit?

I didn’t have so much exposure to the gay scene on my first visit. I was using Grindr at the time to speak to the local guys and find all the good local tips.

I ended up going out to Trumps, the famous gay club in Lisbon, with another Swiss tourist who I’d met on Grindr. Purely platonic. I think we were both in the same situation – we both just really wanted to go see the gay clubs.

What I remember was being impressed with how late the nightlife here starts! The Portuguese really know how to party all night long!

Gabriel talking about the night scene in Portugal

Portugal is considered to be one of the most LGBTI+-friendly destinations, with lots of attractive spots. Can you describe the ones that mean much to you?

The beaches in Portugal are world-class and definitely an alluring attraction for the LGBTI+ community.

There’s so many to choose from, they’re all beautiful and they have everything you’d ever want – from remote beaches, beaches with day clubs and of course, the nude beaches! Nude Beaches like Praia 19 are iconic because they truly reflect the hedonistic and liberalist values of the LGBTI+ community.

Of course, I have to also answer the Portuguese people. I don’t know what’s in the water here but everyone is just genetically beautiful! Not only that, but everyone is also super friendly and welcoming and lots of fun to be around.

Also tying in with the people is the Portuguese nightlife. You won’t find a community that can party better than the LGBTI+ community! When you have a nightlife that properly starts at 2 am and goes until the next morning, of course, the LGBTI+ community want to travel here and experience it.

You recently moved to Portugal and are currently working here. Tell us, why Portugal and Lisbon?

I decided to leave London in 2017 and planned to move somewhere else in Europe. At the time I started seeing a Portuguese guy and we decided to do our first trip together as a couple to Portugal.

On that trip, there was a big Eureka moment that happened. I realised how much I absolutely loved Portugal!

Gabriel about falling in love with Portugal

It had everything I was looking for – great food, great weather, fresh air, beaches, nature and Lisbon particularly just had a really great vibe!

6 months later we decided that we would both move to Portugal to be together as a couple! We chose Lisbon because his family lived here and it was important for them to be close to each other. Also, we really wanted to live somewhere with lots of sun and close to the beach, so Lisbon was the perfect city for us to form our home.

Of course, in 2019 we took our relationship to the next step and got married here in Portugal as well. We found the most amazing Quinta in Sintra and had the most special day with close friends and family. In that process, it was really great to know that Portugal supported gay marriage and comforting that legally we had the rights to consolidate our love! 

Hidden within pine-covered hills is a picturesque scenery where Gabriel tied the knot!

Why do you think Portugal is different from other gay-friendly destinations in Europe or around the World?

On average Portugal has something like 250 days of sun in the year. It might sound so simple but that makes for an incredibly attractive and unbeatable destination for the queer community!

I’ve travelled a lot around the world and what I’ve always noticed is that greater sunshine equals more vitality and happiness. It’s chemical too because more exposure to sunshine means more serotonin is released.

This explains why the Portuguese are so relaxed and happy. It also explains why the locals keep active and healthy and have such enviable golden tans.

If you look outside, it’s the middle of winter right now in Portugal and the temperature is basically what Northern Europe would call their “summer”. Everyone’s walking around with a tan just from the amount of sunshine we’re able to receive here! 

Known for being one of the most tolerant countries around the world, Portugal is a safe haven for the LGBTI+ community. Do you secure and comfortable?

I definitely felt safe and comfortable here. I’ve always been so impressed with the LGBTI+ community here. It’s very passionate and strong and it really feels like a big family. The LGBTI+ community are very proud of who they are and unapologetic about it, it’s really admirable to see this pride here.

I think it stems from the Portuguese hospitality and this importance of family. The Portuguese culture is just so welcoming, you’re really greeted with open arms no matter where you’re from. Everyone is made to feel welcome here and that’s something really special. 

Would you recommend a travel to Portugal to your friends?

100%. I think I’ve already convinced most of my friends to come to visit Portugal and every single one of them is amazed with the quality of life when they visit. “Is this place real?” Is usually the most common response when they arrive!

About Gabriel Virata

Olá, my name is Gabriel!

I’m a global creative originally from Sydney, Australia and now living and working remotely in Lisbon. I work on all things video related – from art direction, motion design & video production. I love storytelling and I work with clients from all around the world to bring their stories to life.

Check out some of my work on Instagram @gvxv or my website 

Wish to share your memories with us? Write your own story in Portugal by clicking here.


Gabriel Virata Alves
Photo by Aurelien Thomas on Unsplash
Photo by Elizabeth Lies on Unsplash