When it comes to gay-friendly cities in Europe, Berlin tends to top the list every time. Not only is Germany’s capital renowned for its vibrant and open-minded culture, but the gay (and lesbian) scene rivals most cities in Europe. From pulsating gay nightclubs to steamy gay saunas, and wild gay events to gay cruising areas, Berlin is often considered a gay mecca among LGBT+ travellers.
We recently visited Berlin for the first time during our Winter tour of Europe, and immediately fell in love with the quirky nature of the city. Besides the thriving gay scene, Berlin is one of the most interesting cities we’ve ever encountered. A city oozing hipster culture and creative expression, with a fascinating history to boot, we, like many others, can see ourselves returning time and time again.
What’s more, another thing that struck us about Berlin is just how damn cool everybody is! Not only measured by their unique, trendsetting style but in their incredibly relaxed attitude. You come as you are in Berlin and nobody blinks an eye. We loved that about the city. A place that welcomes diversity and allows us to be ourselves will always be a winner in our eyes.
So with all this in mind, we have put together this Gay & Lesbian travel guide to Berlin. Here you’ll find a list of the hottest gay bars and nightclubs; gay-friendly hotels and hostels; infamous gay and lesbian Berlin events; as well as all the top things to do around the city. We will also touch on LGBT* rights and social opinions in Germany, so you are fully prepared.
A 2020 Guide to Gay & Lesbian Berlin
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LGBT+ Rights in Germany
Same-Sex Sexual Activity: Legal since 1969.
Same-Sex Marriage: Legal since 2017.
Rights to Change Legal Gender: Legal since 2011 (no surgery required.)
Same-Sex Adoption: Legal since 2017.
LGBT Discrimination: Illegal since 2006.
If you are keen to learn more, Equaldex elaborates further on LGBT+ rights in Germany.
Is Berlin Safe for LGBT+ Travellers?
The short answer is, Hell Yeh! In fact, I’d say there are fewer places safer for LGBT+ travellers than in Berlin. If you are from somewhere that forces you to hide your sexuality, we encourage you to visit Berlin and experience what true freedom really feels like. Here you can be openly affectionate with your significant other without fear of judgement. You could be dressed in fetish attire on public transport, and nobody would look twice. In the Summer, you can sunbathe nude in the heart of the city (in designated areas), and this is considered entirely normal. You see, in Gay Berlin, anything goes!
Of course, the usual risks attached to sexual relations or travel in general still apply. Be sure to take the necessary precautions to look after both yourself and your belongings.
The Berlin Gay Scene
When you consider Berlin’s LGBT+ history, it is no surprise that Schöneberg remains the epicentre of gay culture. It is here, amidst a trendy and developed neighbourhood, that the wealth of gay bars, clubs and shops reside. Not to mention, where the major gay and lesbian events such as LGBT Park Festival and Berlin Gay Pride take place. Schöneberg even hosted Berlins first-ever LGBT+ Christmas market in 2019, which we were fortunate enough to attend!
Having said that, in recent years, Berlin’s gay scene has progressed in other districts around the city. Other notable gay areas worth checking out are in the Mitte and Kreuzberg areas. Although, if you’re not seeking any ‘scene’ as such, just reassurance that you’ll be accepted, you’ll find the entire sprawling city of Berlin to be gay-friendly.
Gay Nightlife in Berlin
Whatever you’re in to, you will find no shortage of gays bars and clubs scattered around in Berlin. From dance clubs and fetish clubs, to cruising bars and drag shows, there is truly something for everybody. Christ, you can even find culture-specific parties, for example, Jewish, Turkish, and Brazilian focused LGBT+ nights. To us, it’s a whole other world, but to many, it’s a realm of freedom and possibility. And with that, here are some of the most popular gay bars, clubs and parties in Berlin. Or for a more comprehensive list, we recommend checking out this article by Queer in the World.
Gay Bars in Berlin
Toms Bar: Located in Schöneberg, Toms Bar is somewhat of a gay institution in Berlin. Not for the faint-hearted, most men come here for more than just a quiet drink, if you get my gist. The bar is at it’s busiest on Monday nights, when they host a 2-4-1 drinks promotion.
Heile Welt: Also located in Schöneberg, Heile Welt is a more low key gay bar, where popping in and enjoying a cocktail is the norm. Here you’ll find a mixed crowd from the LGBT* community and can enjoy delicious drinks and catchy tunes until the early hours.
Möbel Olfe: Set in the hipster Kreuzberg district, Mobel Olfe attracts a slightly alternative crowd with its rugged vibe and bohemian decor. Set in an old furniture store, it’s undoubtedly one of the coolest gay bars in the city. Combining a heady mix of loud Indie music and a trendy queer crowd, you’re guaranteed a night to remember.
The Coven: Aspiring to be more than a gay bar, and succeeding, The Coven is a modern, chic cocktail bar located in Central Berlin Mitte. Despite the industrial decor, the bar maintains an air of elegance, and with it attracts an alternative LGBT+ crowd. It’s the perfect spot for those looking for a quiet drink without the smutty extras that come with many of the bars in Gay Berlin.
Betty F*** Bar: If it’s trashy drag show entertainment you seek, you need to look to further than Betty F*** Bar. Alongside pimped up cocktails, you’re sure to enjoy a fun-filled night at this glammed up bar in Central Berlin Mitte.
Gay Clubs in Berlin
Berghain: Once a Gay Club, now an ‘anybody who loves to party’ club, Berghain is considered to be one of the best nightclubs in the world. Set in a former railway warehouse, patrons queue for hours to get into the exclusive club which opens from Friday night, all the way through to Monday lunchtime. Be warned, however, the bouncers at Berghain are infamous for turning people away. There are no set rules as to why; merely that they are looking for the ‘right balance of people’. Whatever that’s supposed to mean! Inside you’ll find a labyrinth of corridors leading to a variety of sinful rooms & delights – very mysterious indeed!
Schwuz: Your typical Queen gay nightclub! Schwuz attracts a younger LGBT crowd with its Indie-Pop/R&B mainstream DJ’s alongside over the top drag queens and dancers! While the club is gay every night, look out for the regular themed parties which attract a fun-loving crowd.
Die Busche: An iconic nightclub within the Berlin LGBT* scene, Die Busche was the only gay club in East Germany before reunification. Today the party is still going strong, spreading across three floors and attracting a young crowd. Each room plays a different genre of music ranging from club anthems to disco charts, as well as 80’s & 90’s music.
Gay Parties in Berlin
Revolver Party @ KitKatClub: The chances are you’ve heard of the sleazy goings-on at KitKatClub. If not, let’s just say that it’s a place where literally, anything goes. While you’ll find a mixed bag of genders and sexualities at most parties held at KitKat, the Revolver party is specifically for gay men. Held on the 2nd Friday of every month, you can expect world-class DJs, an array of gay performers, and a series of events you’re unlikely to ever see again.
GMF @ House of Weekend: Slightly less intimidating, GMF is your stereotypical gay party. Expect cheesy playlists, drag queens, an exuberant crowd, and a large dashing of fabulousness. You can attend GMF @ the exclusive House of Weekend nightclub every Sunday night.
Lesbian Nightlife in Berlin
Girls, I wish I could tell you that our gay scene was just as juicy and diverse as it is for the boys. However, we all know the drill by now. Lesbian bars and clubs tend to barely make it past first base. What is that about anyway? Anyhow, that’s not to say there isn’t any fun to be had for lesbians in Berlin. As well as the welcoming gay venues I mentioned above, there are some parties centred towards queer women, that could give even the wildest of gay boys a run for their money.
Lesbian Bars in Berlin
Himmelreich Cafe: And there’s us thinking lesbian bars were dead? Located on the ever-popular Simon-Dach-Straße, Himmelreich Cafe is the sole gay bar in the party district of Friedrichshain. It’s also the only surviving lesbian bar in all of Berlin. That said, the bar has an open-door policy, and anybody is welcome regardless of your sexuality. However, certain nights are LGBT+ specific such as Women’s Lounge on Tuesdays, catering to a lesbian crowd.
Silver Future: Not a lesbian bar per se, or a gay bar for that matter; however, the clientele tends to be mainly gay women. A sign above the door warns customers to ‘leave their hetronormativity’ at the door, so as you can imagine, the vibe is pretty eccentric. If you have the time, it’s a spot worth checking out – even if it’s only for the cheap drinks prices!
Lesbian Parties in Berlin
Girlstown Party: A party organised by girls who love girls – for girls who love girls. You just know this is going to be good. Catch the Girlstown Party at the iconic Gretchen Club, but sadly, only on a bi-monthly basis. Check out the Facebook page for this year’s party dates, so you can try to coordinate your visit. Be aware; this is a strictly female night welcoming lesbian, trans, inter, and bisexual females. Gays and allies are also welcome; however, bouncers will turn away any males deemed inappropriate.
L-Tunes: L-Tunes loves lesbians is their motto, and lesbians love them! This legendary Berlin party takes place once a month in alternating locations across the city. To coordinate your trip, the party usually takes place on the last Saturday of every month; although, we suggest checking the Facebook page for further updates.
Mint: Founded by the same organisers as Girls Town, Mint is for the electro loving raver lesbians. While the crowd is mostly gay women, there are the occasional gay men and straights. Parties are sporadic, so you should keep an eye on their Facebook page for updates.
LGBT+ Events in Berlin
Alongside the vibrant, all year round gay nightlife in Berlin, there are several LGBT+ focused events that are worth noting in your calendar. Here are the Gay Berlin events that we believe should be a priority on your bucket list:
Easter Berlin (April): One of the most popular fetish meetings in Europe, this kinky event is, ironically, held every year on Easter Sunday! One mainly for the boys, it is sure to satisfy all of your fetish desires.
LGBT Park Festival (July): Attracting over 400,000 visitors each year, Park Festival is the biggest LGBT* street festival in all of Europe. Featuring a jam-packed schedule of entertainment, including live music and performances, information booths, market stalls and so much more, this is an annual gay event not to be missed.
Berlin Pride/Christopher Street Day (July): Berlin is said to host one of the most fantastic pride events in all of Europe. Whether that’s true or not, what can there possibly be not to love about hundreds of thousands of people coming together and marching for LGBT* rights? Accompanied by a fun-filled weekend of club nights, parades, and LGBT focused events… where do we sign up?
Gayweisn Berlin (September): Gayweisn is a dedicated LGBT* event held each Monday during the legendary Oktoberfest. While you can still expect steins of Bavarian beer, girls in Dirndl dresses, and boys in Lederhose, the Gayweisn tent is a slightly more extravagant affair.
Christmas Avenue (December): As of December 2019, Schoneberg hosted Berlins first-ever LGBT* focused Christmas market. We were fortunate enough to be in Berlin for this one, and I have to say it was wonderful. If not slightly, over the top. But when Gay meets Christmas, what else do you expect?
Gay & Lesbian-Friendly Accommodation in Berlin
Unsurprisingly, you’ll likely find that every hotel and hostel in Berlin is welcoming to LGBT+ travellers. At the same time, however, some establishments cater solely to the gay (male) crowd, while others are ‘Pink Pillow’ acclaimed as being gay-friendly.
The Pink Pillow Berlin collection is a range of hotels recognised by the VisitBerlin Tourism Board as being LGBT+ friendly. According to their website
“The hotels in the Pink Pillow Berlin Collection welcome gay and lesbian guests with professional and relaxed service. All participating hotels have signed to treat all guests with the same courtesy, dignity and respect and to offer their guests information about the LGBTI scene.”
With this in mind, we have put together this list of LGBT+ friendly accommodation to suit every budget.
Gay Hotels and Hostels in Berlin
Hostel $ – Gay Youth Hostel Berlin
Set in the heart of Berlin’s gay district, Gay Youth Hostel is a lively hostel catering specifically to gay men. With the vibrant Schoneberg nightlife scene on your doorstep, comfortable dorm-style rooms, and plenty of new playmates, we can guarantee you’ll have a wild stay! Amenities include free Wi-Fi, laundry facilities, and a kitchen area where you can prepare your own meals.
Check the current rates and availability for Gay Youth Hostel Berlin here.
Budget $ – Guesthouse 21
If you prefer a little more privacy, Guesthouse 21 is a fantastic budget option in colourful Schoneberg. Within walking distance of Nollendorftplatz Train Station and the vibrant gay scene, the guesthouse is in the perfect location for both sightseeing and nightlife. Guest rooms are spacious, charming, and comfortable, while communal areas are welcoming and a great place to meet people.
Check the current rates and availability for Guesthouse 21 here.
Mid-Range $$ – Hotel Sachsenhof
Hotel Sachsenhof is somewhat historic in Berlins LGBT culture as has famously accommodated several queer artists and creatives. While the hotel doesn’t brand themselves as a gay hotel, its central Schoneberg location attracts a mainly LGBT* crowd. You can’t miss this hotel with its red-brick exterior, which is also home to the ever-popular Heile Welt gay bar.
Check the current rates and availability for Hotel Sachsenhof here.
Mid-Range $$ – Toms Gay Hotel
If you’re coming to Berlin to party, Toms Gay Hotel is the place for you. Situated at the heart of all the vibrant Schoneberg action, this hotel tends to attract a predominantly gay male crowd. Along with the funky artistic rooms and welcoming atmosphere, guests can enjoy a complimentary discount card that is valid in several bars, clubs, and saunas nearby.
Check the current rates and availability for Toms Gay Hotel here.
Luxury $$$ – Axel Hotel Berlin
If you’re all about the luxury, but still want to be in the company of other gay guests, Axel Hotel Berlin is a winning choice. The designer rooms are modern, slick, and spacious – perfect for winding down after a night out at the nearby gay bars. Other hotel amenities include a comprehensive spa and wellness centre, on-site restaurant, and a rooftop bar with panoramic views.
Check the current rates and availability for Axel Hotel Berlin here.
Pink Pillow Hotel Collection
Hostel $ – Three Little Pigs Hostel Berlin
While Three Little Pigs Hostel is not exactly Pink Pillow acclaimed, we stayed here during our time in Berlin and can vouch that this hostel is very welcoming to LGBT+ travellers. The dorms here are incredibly comfortable and spacious, providing personal lockers for your belongings. We also loved the vast communal area with ample seating, pool tables, a bar, and a restaurant.
Check the current rates and availability for Three Little Pigs Hostel here.
Budget $ – Jugendgästehaus St.-Michaels-Heim
Set within a former palace, this charming hotel offers a unique and pleasant experience in the elegant Grunewald district. As well as the interesting architecture of the building, guests can enjoy the peaceful ambience of the surrounding gardens. The rooms here are clean and spacious, with all the amenities required for a comfortable stay.
Check the current rates and availability for Jugendgästehaus St.-Michaels-Heim here.
Mid-Range $$ – DORMERO Hotel Berlin Ku´damm
For a touch of luxury that doesn’t break the bank, Dormero Hotel Berlin is an excellent choice in the beautiful Charlottenburg district. This area is famed for its elegant colonial buildings and high-end boutiques. While at the same time, being well connected by public transport to other areas of Berlin. The overall design of the hotel is a timeless classic, and there are several facilities to keep you entertained.
Check the current rates and availability for DORMERO Hotel Berlin Ku’damm here.
Luxury $$$ – Hotel Palace Berlin
On the slightly more modern end of the spectrum, swanky Hotel Palace Berlin is a top choice if you have the cash. The designer guestrooms, dressed to impress, sport a chic and contemporary design. Not to mention sound-proofed so you can have endless fun without disturbing your neighbours. Facilities of the hotel include a swimming pool, spa, fitness centre, and an on-site restaurant.
Check the current rates and availability for Hotel Palace Berlin here.
Gay Cruising in Berlin
I won’t pretend to be an expert in this area; however, I can tell you that Berlin is notorious for its uninhibited gay cruising scene. Again, for more information, Queer in the World covers this topic in far more detail than I ever could.
Gay Saunas in Berlin
There is only one specific gay sauna in Berlin, and that’s the multi-floored Der Boiler Sauna. Featured across the three floors are a Finnish sauna, steam room, darkroom, whirlpool, and treatment rooms. While the establishment offers a realm of pampering opportunities, it is also famed for being one of Berlin’s cruising hotspots. So unless you’re looking for something more than just a massage, perhaps you’ll want to consider a more conventional spa instead.
Things to do in Gay & Lesbian Berlin
You’re probably starting to wonder what else there is to do in gay and lesbian Berlin, other than wild parties and debaucherous fun. Thankfully, while this is an iconic side to Berlin’s gay scene, there is so much more to the city than sex, drugs, and rock & roll. Here are some of the, should I say, PG-13 things to do for gay & lesbian travellers in Berlin.
Visit Schwules – The Gay Museum
Located in the gay capital of Schoneberg, Schwules is a fascinating museum reflecting the diverse history of LGBT* communities in Berlin. Founded in 1985, the museum has since become one of the worlds largest institutions for preserving and communicating the history of LGBT* culture. The museum is home to various exhibitions, including the memoirs of Charlotte von Mahlsdorf – A gay and trans icon in former East Germany.
Allow: 2-3 hours / Entrance: €9 or €6 with a Berlin Card/Open: Every day apart from Tuesday.
Check out Berlin’s Gay Cafe Culture
For those seeking a gay scene without the, ahem ‘scene’, the gay cafe culture is where you can find it. Foodies will also be in their element, with several of these establishments serving an array of culinary delights. Not to mention the delicious coffee and colourful patrons that ensure a thoroughly enjoyable experience indeed.
Südblock: Südblock is an LGBT-friendly cafe in the heart of alternative Kreuzberg. Boasting a big outdoor beer garden, it’s especially popular during the summer months. Along with traditional German beer, the menu is typical hearty pub grub. During the evenings, you can often find live music and a pleasant atmosphere.
Romeo & Romeo: As the name suggests, this trendy cafe in Schoneberg is a popular hangout among gay men. However, if you’re in the area, I would pop your head in just to sample their famous rainbow cake and coffee.
Cafe Berio: One of the oldest cafes in the Schoneberg area, Cafe Berio is an all-time favourite of the gay and lesbian community. During the Summer, the outdoor terrace is considered a prime place, and you will often struggle to find a spot at all during peak hours. Although, once you do, you can expect delectable food and coffee.
Begine: Established in 1986, Begine is a cultural centre exclusively for women. What began in a squatted building, the organisation aims to provide a safe space for lesbian, bisexual, and trans women. At Begine, you can connect with like-minded individuals, read a variety of queer literature, or find out about LGBT events in Berlin. They also host regular parties, concerts and workshops.
Pay your Respects at the Gay Holocaust Memorial
Set in the heart of Berlins Tiergarten, this memorial is a reminder of all the LGBT+ community who suffered under the Nazi regime. Along with the jews, other minority groups such as the LGBT community were targeted and endured unspeakable treatment during those dark times. Today, a looped video plays through a gap in the concrete cube memorial, depicting a variety of gay love scenes.
Allow: 15 minutes / Entrance: Free/Open: 24/7
Take a Queer Walking Tour
If you’re keen to learn more about the fascinating history behind LGBT* culture in Berlin, we highly recommend the Queer Walking Tour with Berlinwalks. The tour will lead you through infamous Schoneberg – the first-ever gay district in the World! At the same time, you’ll learn the transition of LGBT rights through the years, and how Berlin became the flourishing rainbow capital that it is today.
Allow: 3-4 hours/Price: €14 or €10 with a Berlin Welcome Card/Tours run at least once a week – check the website for more info.
Marvel the ‘Gay’ Street Art at the Eastside Gallery
We’ve all seen that iconic mural on the Berlin wall of two, erm older, gentlemen sharing an intimate kiss. Many believe the piece titled “My God, help me survive this deadly love” is a symbol of Berlin’s inclusivity and gay-friendly attitude. And from a creative perspective, it probably is. However, the history behind the kiss is actually very different. In fact, the graffiti is a depiction of two famous politicians kissing on the 30th anniversary of the foundation of the German Democratic Republic. All the same, it’s an impressive mural well worth checking out – along with the other compelling artwork that adorns the Eastside gallery.
Allow: 2 hours/Entrance: Free/Open: 24/7
MonGay’s at Kino International Cinema
You guessed it. Every Monday at 10 pm, Kino International Cinema host a queer cinema night. Every week is a different film – often it’s an LGBT focused film, but sometimes it could be the latest blockbuster. Either way, it’s a chance to connect with like-minded individuals in a relaxed environment.
Nude Sunbathing at Berlins Tiergarten
Berlins Tiergarten is one of the cities most popular outdoor attractions. A striking 210-hectares of green space filled with gardens, lakes, plants and tucked-away locations. Perfect for escaping the hustle & bustle. Or sunbathing naked it would seem! The nudist sunbathing area is called ‘gay meadow’ and is mostly frequented by gay men. The area surrounding the meadow is also a renowned cruising area, so you’ll want to be wary of what’s lurking in the bushes!
Other Things to do in Berlin
While you could spend an entire weekend exploring the Gay side of Berlin, we suggest trying to work in some of the touristy stuff too. Unless you have more than a week in the city, it’s impossible to get around everything. But pick the locations that sound most interesting to you, and go from there. Whether you’re into history, art, culture, nature, or food, there is something on this list for everybody.
Go on a Free Walking Tour
We find free walking tours to be one of the best ways to get to know a new city. Especially if you only have a few days to explore, it’s a convenient way to familiarise yourself. While at the same time absorbing a wealth of information regarding the history and culture from a local. In Berlin, there are a ton of free walking tours. Whether it’s the iconic landmarks you seek, the cities best street art, or the best bars and clubs, there’s a free tour for you. Just remember to tip your guide generously if you enjoy the tour! Check out Alternative Berlin Tours and Free Berlin Tours for more information.
Allow: 4-5 hours/Tours run at least once a week – check the websites for more info.
Brandenburg Gate at Sunrise
Brandenburg Gate is Berlin’s most recognisable landmark. What was once a symbol of Berlin and German division during the Cold War is now a national symbol of peace and unity. Set alongside one of Berlins busiest shopping districts and sprawling Tiergarten, the gate tends to get extremely busy throughout the day. Therefore, if you don’t mind the early start, we recommend visiting at sunrise where the view is quite beautiful. It’s also worth a visit at night.
Allow: 30 Minutes/Entrance: Free/Open: 24/7
Stop by the Jewish Holocaust Memorial & Topography of Terrors
It is no secret that Berlin has a troubled and turbulent past. After all, it is the location of the Nazi’s rise to power, and where Hitler lived out his days as leader. While it can be distressing, we recommend that anybody planning a trip to the city takes the time to visit these two significant World War II sites. The first, the Jewish Holocaust Memorial, is a unique outdoor memorial. A sweeping series of concrete slabs, each of a different size, symbolic to humanity and the Nazis warped vision of a ‘superior’ race. The second, Topography Terror, is both an indoor and outdoor museum. It aims to provide a detailed account of how the events of World War II unfolded.
Allow: 2-3 hours/Entrance: Free/Open: Monday-Sunday 10am-8pm
Climb the Victory Column
The iconic Victory Column, with its striking golden statue, is one of the must-see sights in Berlin. With a history that dates back as early as the Franco-German War in 1873, it’s a monument that’s certainly moved with the times. Today, visitors can climb the 270 steps to the top. The reward is a sensational panoramic view over Berlins beautiful Tiergarten.
Allow: 1 hour/Entrance: €3/Open: 24/7
Take an Underground Tour
An Underground Tour was by far one of the most interesting things we did in Berlin. Not only did the tour provide an alternative insight into the city’s complex history; but it was an unusual experience that you don’t find on many Berlin guides. The company is the Berlin Underworlds Association (Berliner Unterwelten). They provide various tours of Berlin’s underground tunnel network. From old WWII bunkers to beneath-the-Berlin-wall escape tunnels, you’ll be amazed to discover a whole other world that exists below the bustling streets of the city.
Allow: 2-3 hours/Tour Prices Vary/Check Website for more information.
Explore Museum Island & Berlin Cathedral
Regardless if you’re a museum buff or not, it’s worth taking a trip to Museum Island simply to marvel the various UNESCO buildings. For those who are, you will want to allocate a full day here if you plan to visit them all. There are five world-renowned museums on the Island, including the Pergamon, Bode and Neues museums. Entry to the museums can be expensive; therefore, we recommend purchasing a Berlin WelcomeCard that allows you to enter many of them for free. Located next to Museum Island, it’s worth visiting the stunning Berlin Cathedral at the same time.
Have a Picnic on an Abandoned Runway
The abandoned Tempelhof Airport is undoubtedly one of the coolest spots in all of Berlin. Particularly in Summer, this is the ideal place for a picnic, sports, or to simply hang out with friends. Constructed by the leaders of the Third Reich in the 1920s, the momentous structure has been a centre point of Berlin’s turbulent history ever since. Now non-operational the grounds serve as a public park area. Or if you’re curious to explore inside, you can do so on an organised tour.
Book a Tour: Tempelhof Airport History Tour.
Streetfood Thursdays at Markthalle Neun
Again, one of our favourite experiences in Berlin. If you’re in Berlin of a Thursday evening, get yourself down to Markthalle Neun for Streetfood Thursday. Here you’ll find a sweeping indoor market of international food stalls and pop up bars. It’s an incredible atmosphere, and the food choices are out of this world. From Italian to Syrian, Vegan to Vegetarian, there is something here for everybody. We were so spoilt for choice; it took us over an hour to decide.
Explore the dark history of the Sachsenhausen Concentration Camp
Not for the faint-hearted, this educational tour explores the Sachsenhausen Memorial on the outskirts of Berlin on a Full-day walking tour. Unfortunately, we didn’t have time to take part in the tour this time around; however, this is the best rated I could find. Click the link and you can read hundreds of positive reviews from satisfied customers.
- Take a train ride through the lovely forests of north Berlin
- Explore the dark history of the Sachsenhausen Concentration Camp
- See the location of the gas chambers and gallows
- Learn about life in the camp during World War II and after
BOOK YOUR TOUR: Sachsenhausen Memorial Full-Day Walking Tour
History of LGBT+ Culture in Berlin
Berlin has always been ahead of the times when it comes to LGBT+ acceptance. However, how it came to be the progressive rainbow capital, it is today? Well, now that’s an interesting story. It’s also a long one, so, for now, I’ll attempt to give you the short version.
The timeline really begins in 1871, when the government first criminalised homosexuality. Though, things only start juicing up in 1896 when the worlds first ever gay magazine, Der Eigene was published. Despite the public uproar, the scandalous publication ran until the early 1930s when the Nazis shut it down.
In the meantime, the 1920s was the golden decade of LGBT freedom in Berlin, where supposedly hundreds of thousands of LGBT+ people resided in the city. That’s because, following the first-ever gay-rights demonstration in Nollendorfplatz, Berlin became a gay mecca for the remainder of the decade. Fuelled by a thriving gay-media scene, out & proud Hollywood stars frolicked in the numerous LGBT bars, and the entire scene got glorified to the max.
In the late 1920s, a strong movement appealed to legalise same-sex relations; however, when the Nazis rose to power, it was abolished. Instead, the Nazis stepped up the persecution of LGBT+ communities and offenders were sent to concentration camps and forced to wear pink triangles. Sadly, many met the same fate as the Jews and other minority groups.
Unfortunately, the injustice doesn’t end there. Out of those who did survive the Nazi era and liberated from camps in 1945, many had to carry out their sentences in state prisons. It wasn’t until 2002 that the German Government decided to overturn these convictions.
In a positive turn of events, the government decriminalised acts of homosexuality at the end of the 1960s. With that, the LGBT+ scene in Berlin thrived once again, progressing Berlin to the liberal society it is today.
Travel Tips & Advice for LGBT* Travellers in Berlin
While Berlin is considered extremely safe for LGBT+ travellers, naturally there are some things to be aware of when enjoying your time in the city.
Getting Around in Berlin
Berlin is a large and sprawling city, which means if you plan on covering several districts, you’ll need to know how to get around. Thankfully, getting around in Berlin is super easy and convenient. It’s also really affordable, so long as you know the insider secrets.
First and foremost, we strongly recommend you get yourself a Berlin WelcomeCard. The card not only includes unlimited access to Berlins public transport network, but you’ll also get discounts at over 200 of the cities attractions. We travelled extensively around the city, and the Berlin WelcomeCard saved us a ton of money.
Now, the four major transport networks are the U-Bahn (underground trains), S-Bahn (overground trains), buses, and trams. The extensive network covers every corner of the city, so no matter where you want to go, you can always rely on public transport.
To find the quickest route, we always relied on good ol’ Google. So long as you have data or wifi, you can type in your destination, and Google will find the quickest route from your exact location. It will direct you to the station closest to you and state the trains or buses you need to take to reach your destination.
Sounds easy enough, right? And it is! The only thing I would say is that it isn’t always clear which direction you need to travel in. Several times we got on our bus or train, only to realise a few minutes later we were going in the wrong direction. No big deal, but it’s worth checking with somebody at the station or stop that you’re heading the right way.
If you prefer to avoid public transport, taxis are easy to come by at taxi stands, train stations, and the airport. Uber is also in operation and is usually cheaper than the local taxis.
The Best Time to Visit Berlin
There isn’t really any right or wrong time to visit Berlin, as there is a great atmosphere all your round. Although, if you are relying on good, warm weather, between May and October will be your safest bet. July and August are the hottest months and is also when the city is at its busiest. Personally, we can also vouch for visiting in December. Although the temperatures can be freezing, the Christmas markets and festivities are truly magical.
Staying Safe in Berlin
Compared to most other cities in the world, Berlin is extremely safe; however, there are still some precautions you should take to protect yourself and your belongings.
First of all, petty thefts such as pickpocketing and bag snatching are not uncommon. We suggest keeping your belongings close to you at all times and use a small padlock or compartmental bag to keep your valuables safe. When travelling at night, avoid being alone in parks or dark areas.
Common scams pose another risk to tourists, and we advise being vigilant at all times. If something doesn’t feel right, trust your gut and walk away from the situation. Check out this article for examples of common scams in Berlin.
With that, don’t even think about going to Berlin without travel insurance. Travel insurance will protect you against illness, injury, theft, and cancellations. If the unlikely event that something goes wrong, you’ll want the best cover money can buy.
For this reason, we always recommend World Nomads for travel insurance. They are affordable, offer a variety of packages and add ons, and allow you to make amendments to your policy while travelling. Say, for example, you go scuba diving or hiking a mountain, World Nomads will amend your plan accordingly. It’s a super handy feature that we’ve used numerous times including the time we trekked to Annapurna Base Camp.
If you need further convincing, read our article on why you need travel insurance. Or get an on-the-spot quote from World Nomads using the form below.
Festivals and Events in Berlin
The Berlin events calendar is jam-packed, and no matter when you visit, there is guaranteed to be something going on. From music festivals in the Summer and Christmas markets in the Winter, to a variety of cultural events and exhibitions throughout the year; there’s always something to keep you entertained! Check out the Visit Berlin Events Calendar for this year’s juicy entertainment.
Meeting Other LGBT+ people in Berlin
With a thriving gay scene like Berlin, it’s incredibly easy to meet other members of the LGBT+ community. Having said that, we understand that it isn’t always easy to stroll into a gay bar or event and attempt to make friends.
That is why the internet is such a great tool for connecting with like-minded individuals. We suggest using social media to locate other LGBT+ travellers or locals in Berlin. You can use Facebook, for example, to yield dedicated LGBT groups in the area. Similarly, navigating certain hashtags on Instagram such as #gayberlin or #lesbianberlin, can help you locate all things LGBT near you.
Similarly, dating apps can be a great way of connecting with like-minded people – and not necessarily for a hook-up. If you’re lucky, you could find yourself connecting with a local who can give you a full insider low down of the area. Grindr & Planet Romeo are popular amongst the boys, Her for the girls, and Tinder for all. We always suggest using a secure VPN when surfing the web internationally. We can recommend Ivacy, the worlds fastest VPN service, click here to sign up!
Staying Connected in Berlin
If, like us, you rely on the internet when you travel (let’s face it, who doesn’t anymore), we have the perfect solution. After coming home to too many hefty phone bills and buying countless international sim cards, we were desperate for an affordable solution. That’s when we discovered TravelWifi. TravelWifi’s portable pocket wifi allows us to quickly and securely connect when we need it the most. Click the link for more information on coverage, packages, and the latest offers.
More on Berlin
Planning a trip to Berlin? Check out our other articles to help plan your trip.
More on Europe
Planning a tour of Europe? See the following travel guides and itineraries to help plan your trip:
- 2 Days in Berlin – 2 Day Berlin Itinerary
- 4 Days in Budapest – 4 Day Budapest Itinerary
- 2 Days in Prague – 2 Day Prague Itinerary
Did you enjoy our Gay in Berlin Guide?
Well, that concludes Gay in: Berlin – A 2020 Gay & Lesbian Travel Guide to Berlin. If you have any questions or feel we have missed anything, please reach out to us in the comment section below. Don’t forget to follow us on Instagram here!
Stay adventurous and Happy travels.
Charlotte & Natalie x
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Last Updated on July 21, 2021 by Our Taste For Life