Jokes about German sausage are the wurst!
…especially when you arrive at the Wittenbergplatz in gay old Schöneberg, to be greeted by the cutest, gayest, rainbow-clad super-kitsch kiosk of Fritz & Co selling particularly yummy currywurst German sausages. More about Fritz & Co below, but as our first impression of Berlin, we knew we were in for a gay old time here! Berlin is notorious for being the city of sin – a truly liberal and diverse hub where anything goes. The absolute wurst…and we live for it!
Schöneberg is considered to be the main gay area of Berlin, the traditional heart and soul of Berlin's LGBTQ gay community, where the bulk of its gay bars, clubs and hotels can be found. The city also has several other exciting gay neighbourhoods to check out, each with its own unique character, vibe and queer hangouts. The main ones are Kreuzberg, Neukölln, Prenzlauer Berg and Friedrichshain.
We've been to Berlin several times and usually base ourselves somewhere in Schöneberg, which we love. For us, Schöneberg remains the best gay neighbourhood of Berlin – the true Queen of the Scene! We also love venturing out to the bars and parties happening in the other gay districts of Berlin such as Möbel Olfe in Kreuzberg, SchwuZ in Neukölln, Flax in Prenzlauer Berg, and the infamous Berghain in Friedrichshain. The Berghain super club is almost like an entire gay neighbourhood in its own right! This is reason alone why we rate Berlin as one of the top gay friendly vacation destinations in the world.
We've put all our notes and stories from our many travels to Berlin in this comprehensive gay guide to help inspire your own holiday to this crazy and super exciting city including the best of the gay scene, gay hotels, parties, events, things to do and more.
Explore the main gay neighbourhood of Berlin with a queer local
Whilst Berlin gay life is all about the ravaging parties and the naughty darkrooms, the LGBTQ community also has a rich historical fabric that we strongly advise you to learn more about. We did a gay walking tour with a queer local (called Finn!) who taught us all about the city's LGBTQ history, focusing on Schoeneberg and Kreuzberg. This tour is a great way to get introduced to gay Berlin.
Where is the main gay area of Berlin?
The main gay area of Berlin is based in Schöneberg. It is the traditional heart and soul of Berlin's LGBTQ gay community, dating back to 1897 when the world's first-ever LGBTQ organisation was founded right here: the Scientific-Humanitarian Committee. From this point on, the area blossomed, becoming the Gay Village capital of the world.
Schöneberg reached its zenith in late the 1920s when it had over 80 LGBTQ venues, with gender attraction fluid celebrities like Marlene Dietrich and Claire Waldoff calling it their home. This was also the time when British author Christopher Isherwood wrote about his adventures in the liberal gay Berlin scene of Schöneberg, which became the inspiration to one of our favourite musicals, the Liza Minnelli Cabaret!
Today, Schöneberg is still very much the thriving epicentre of Berlin's gay scene, containing the bulk of the city's best gay hangouts, as well as gay hotels like Tom's Hotel and the two Axel “heterofriendly” hotels.
Getting to Berlin's city centre from the airport…
So you've just touched down at Schönefeld Airport and you need to negotiate your way to Berlin City Centre. Fear not, we've got you covered in our comprehensive guide on the best ways to get from Schönefeld Airport to Berlin City Centre. If you're arriving at Tegel Airport, then be sure to check our other guide on how to get from Tegel to Berlin City Centre.
The best gay neighbourhoods of Berlin
Since the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1991, the gay scene of Berlin has expanded massively beyond Schoeneberg to include Kreuzberg, Prenzlauer Berg, Neukölln and Friedrichshain. We summarise our favourite ones below:
Schöneberg / Schoeneberg
As explained above, Schöneberg (sometimes spelt Schoeneberg) is the traditional beating heart of the gay scene of Berlin. It was the first gay neighbourhood of the city and still retains its fabulous charm today. It has some of the oldest gay bars of Berlin like Tom's Bar, as well as hip hangouts like Prinzknecht, Heile Welt and Hafen. The main gay hotels of Berlin are based here, like Tom's Hotel, Axel Hotel Berlin, TWO Hotel Berlin by Axel and the Gay Hostel. We use Wittenbergplatz and Nollendorfplatz as our point of reference for getting around Schoeneberg as most of the gay hangouts are located between these two major squares.
Kreuzberg is the other main gay district of Berlin that in our opinion now rivals Schöneberg. Just after the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1991, interest in Kreuzberg started to grow, quickly attracting all the cool, hip kids. Today, the area has a large LGBTQ community living here along with tons of gay hangouts like Möbel Olfe, BarbieBar, and even a gay museum: the Schwules Museum. Kreuzberg is located south-east of Checkpoint Charlie, north of Tempelhofer Feld and towards the Eastern edge of what used to be “West Berlin”. The main metro station for gay Kreuzberg is Kottbusser Tor. Our favourite thing about Kreuzberg is The East Side Gallery – what used to be the remains of the Berlin Wall now converted into one of the world's most famous open-air galleries of art murals.
The popularity of Kreuzberg amongst the LGBTQ community got so big that the cool hipster kids moved further south into Neukölln with more “hipster” and local dive bars opening like Cafe Melitta Sundström and SilverFuture, as well as underground, alternative gay clubs like Cocktail d'Amore. One of our favourite (and oldest) gay clubs of Berlin is right here in Neukölln: SchwuZ. This is a club famous for its diverse nights, with dance floors for the pop queens (ahem – that would be us!) and another for the techno/indie crowd. Neukölln also has a large Middle Eastern community – so expect some of the best shawarmas, lots of hummus joint, baklava pastry shops and a famous Turkish Market towards the canal.
Prenzlauer Berg used to form the heart of what used to be Soviet Berlin. It is located towards the northeast of the city centre and Kreuzberg, and west of Mitte. It was famous in the 1960s for being the hub of East Germany's gay scene, where the intellectuals, artists and students once lived. After the Berlin Wall fell in 1991, the area became a vibrant squatting scene, but subsequently experienced quite a rapid gentrification, today becoming one of the city's nightlife hotspots. We found the gay scene of Prenzlauer Berg to be generally a younger crowd in their 20s-40s, with trendy gay bars like Flax and popular gay brunch spots like Schall & Rauch.
The is the more gritty, raw side of Berlin with a very punky, alternative and underground vibe. It used to be part of East Berlin before the Wall came down in 1991, located East from Kreuzberg and south of Prenzlauer Berg. It's undergoing massive gentrification become trendier and more hip by the minute, but despite this, this is where you'll find some of the best clubs of Berlin, particularly the king of them all: the Berghain! Also in Friedrichshain is the famous naughty club Lab, the Same Bitcհҽs and Polygon gay parties and the super hip Bar Zum Schmutzigen Hobby.
Getting around Berlin
To maximise your enjoyment and avoid queues at the ticketing machines, it's definitely worth investing in a Visit Berlin WelcomeCard before you arrive. It will give you unlimited access on the metro (from 2 to 6 days) and discounts on various attractions.
Gay hotels in Berlin
Berlin is one super gay city where we felt completely safe and welcome! There are very few places we feel comfortable walking the streets holding hands, and this is one of them, especially in the gay hotspots like Schöneberg and Kreuzberg. The Berliners are one very open-minded bunch. Whether you're gay, lesbian, transgender, bi, dressed in leather or simply curious, people don't care. In Berlin, you can come just as you are. The same applies to the hotels in Berlin. We never had an issue getting a double bed in any of the places we stayed in Berlin.
This is our summary of some of our favourite gay hotels in Berlin, along with a few “hetero-friendly” options:
Why we love it
- Very cool gay “hetero friendly” hotel
- Outdoor Jacuzzi with views over the city
- Sauna, steam room, Turkish bath and gym
- Restaurant and bar attached
Our favourite gay hotel in Berlin is the “hetero-friendly” Axel hotel. It's located right in the heart of Schöneberg's lively gay area with gay bars like Heile Welt, Hafen, Tom's Bar and WOOF literally just around the corner.
The rooms have a modern design with darkened lighting to give it that sensual atmosphere. Look out for the famous “DO DISTURB” signs you can put on the door if you want some attention from other guests…!
With big comfy beds, flat-screen TVs and sound-proofing throughout, you know you can relax or even get a bit naughty and loud. We heard some guests refer to it as “a Grindr hotel” which made us giggle! The top floor is certainly a gay man's playground, complete with a gym, outdoor Jacuzzi and an infamous sauna/steam room area for lots of hanky panky.
The hotel also has a restaurant and bar attached to it, which are both a great place to get a bite to eat or a few drinks before a gay night out in Schöneberg. On some evenings the lounge bar also features live music, stand-up comedy and drag shows. When the big ITB Berlin travel show happens in March, this is where one of the best gay parties takes place.
STAY WITH A GAY LOCAL
Misterb&b is the Airbnb equivalent for the LGBTQ community. Unlike on Airbnb, you know your host is gay, avoiding any nasty surprises when you check in. It is also a great way to meet gay locals and discover the underground gay scene. Click below to get 10 € (or $10) off your first booking.
Hotel Palace Berlin
Why we love it
- Luxurious five-star hotel
- Excellent gym and business facilities
- Swimming pool, Jacuzzi, sauna and spa
- Multiple cool bars and delicious restaurant
Hotel Palace Berlin is a 5-star luxury gay friendly option, based right in the heart of the main shopping area opposite the Zoological Garden and just minutes walk away from Schöneberg's gay scene. Also, OMG the cute footballers of the home team Hertha Bsc stay here when they play a home game!
This is the place to come and truly spoil yourself, and c'mon, with a name like Palace you know you're going to feel like a true Queen here…
The rooms are spacious and the beds super comfortable, with a choice of three pillow types to ensure a good night's sleep. The Hotel Palace has an excellent lounge area for business use as well as a small but well-equipped gym for getting a workout in. Next to the gym is a large indoor pool to relax and splash about in. We also loved the sauna complex which includes a Finnish sauna, tepidarium, ice cave and a relaxation room.
The dining options of the Hotel Palace Berlin are well rated. There is a bountiful buffet breakfast at the Bon Dia restaurant, which also includes a tea bar and a live cooking unit where you can get your eggs done in front of you. Carnivores will also love Restaurant Beef 45 which serves, you guessed it, premium meat cuts on a minimalist menu. The House of Gin is a where gin lovers like our Seby need to head to, with over 150 gin varieties to try!
Gay Youth Hostel
Why we love it
- Hostel exclusively for young gay men: 18-38 years old
- Great budget option
- Small and intimate
- Close to the gay bars and clubs
This is a good budget option if you're travelling alone and want to make friends. The Gay Youth Hostel is located in the heart of the gay scene in Schöneberg, minutes away from all the bars and clubs.
It's a small and intimate space, exclusively for gay men aged 18-38 years old, so you'll definitely be making friends with other guests.
While it's not a party hostel per se, we saw plenty of hanky panky going on in the communal showers!
They offer private double rooms and dorm rooms with bunk beds for up to 8 people for very affordable prices. The whole space is always impeccably clean which can sometimes be a concern with hostels, but not here. You can also choose to use either the private or shared bathrooms We love their marketing for what goes on in their dorm rooms and other shared spaces – have a look at their website to see what we mean…!
There are shared hangout areas to relax, as well as a small kitchen with everything you need to cook for yourself and keep costs down. Another excellent detail is that all guests at Gay Hostel get a “Hostel Pass” which provides lots of discounts for nearby stores, cafes or bars and sometimes free welcome drinks or free entry to certain places. Make sure you take advantage of the discounts at the nearby Romeo und Romeo and Cafe Kalwil for the best brunch.
Why we love it
- Cool and quirky hotel in Kreuzberg
- On-site restaurant, cafe and wine bar
- Artistic decor in the rooms
- Lovely terrace area with sauna and table tennis
If you want to base yourself in Friedrichshain, close to the Berghain super-club, we recommend checking out the Michelberger Hotel. Everything about this spot is super hip, from the artistic decor in the rooms to the organic produce (with vegan/vegetarian options available FYI) served in the restaurant and cafe.
It's conveniently located close to both the Schlesisches Tor metro station and the Berlin Ostbahnhof. It's also minutes away from the East Side Gallery.
We love the communal terrace area of the Michelberger Hotel. It's the perfect place to hang out and connect with other travellers. You can also get food and drinks from their in-house restaurant and bar. They also have themed nights on Thursday to Sunday evenings to encourage guests to mingle. The “Table Tennis night” is one of the most popular and usually includes a live DJ.
Continuing on with the hip theme so prevalent in this hotel are the rooms, which range from small and cosy to the suites with private sauna. There are split-level rooms for families or groups of friends while all the rooms feature cool design elements like loft beds, quirky layouts and even yoga mats. So you can get your downward dog on before heading into the cafe for a hearty vegan breakfast and then a day of exploring Berlin's rampant gay scene!
Why we love it
- Hetero-friendly gay hotel
- Very unique rooms
- LATE breakfast available!
- Close to gay bars and clubs of Schöneberg
ArtHotel Connection is a super-gorgeous and super-cute “hetero-friendly” hotel, right in the heart of the Schöneberg's gay scene.
It's an excellent choice for a gay friendly hotel that's not going to break the bank but still feels like you're staying in a classy hotel. We like it 'cause it's homely. ArtHotel has more of a B&B feel. And they know they're audience well: breakfast is available until 4pm…Berghain party bunnies just sayin'!
All the rooms are designed in a kitschy art-nouveau style. The one we stayed in had purple/red walls, zebra print chairs and very colourful artwork on display! The creaking wooden stairway just adds to the old-world charm so prevalent throughout the ArtHotel as does the super cool antique (fully operational!) elevator. It definitely gave us Priscilla, Queen of the Desert vibes!
The ArtHotel Connection is located on a quiet tree-lined residential street in Schöneberg, right next door to Prinzknecht gay bar and down the road from WOOF and Connection Club. It's also well connected, close to 3 metro stations: Wittenbergplatz, Augsburger Strasse and Viktoria-Luise-Platz.
Gay bars in Berlin
The first thing we noticed when researching where to go out in Berlin is that there are literally tons of gay bars sprawled around the city. Berlin really is one very gay place!
The bulk of the gay bars of Berlin are concentrated in Schöneberg and Kreuzberg with a sprinkling in Neukölln, Prenzlauer Berg and a few underground ones in Friedrichshain. We've only selected what we think is a snippet of the best ones as otherwise, our list would go on forever! The main tip from us, look out for the evenings when the bars do 2 for 1 drink promotions as that's when they will be most busy.
Prinzknecht in Schöneberg
This unpronounceable gay bar is actually one of the best ones in Schöneberg. It's always been busy when we've come here, especially on Wednesdays when they have their 2 for 1 drinks promotion. On warm days, the atmosphere pours onto the terrace outside creating a fun street party vibe along the super gay Fuggerstrasse street. When we came here, the crowd was mainly locals, all men, of all ages. And in true Berlin fashion, obligatory darkroom located downstairs! Prinzknecht is open daily until 2am (3am on weekends). It is located at Fuggerstrasse 33, just around the corner from the main Axel Hotel.
Heile Welt in Schöneberg
Heile Welt is our favourite gay bar in Schöneberg for a normal sit down drink with friends – minus the sleazy fun! It's stylish, classy, feeling more like a lounge than a bar. There is always a mixed friendly crowd (both male and female), with zero judgment. Cocktails are yummy, especially their Pisco Sours – not has one like it since our travels in Lima. The most striking thing about Heile Welt is their pretty out-there wall decoration -literally made out of Chewbacca fluff!You'll see what we mean when you visit… Heile Welt is open daily until 1am (3am on weekends). It is located at Motzstrasse 19, which is minutes walking distance from Nollendorfplatz metro station.
Hafen in Schöneberg
Hafen felt to us like a cosy friendly neighbourhood dive bar, where everyone knows everyone. Every evening we came to this small unassuming bar it's always been busy, even on weekdays. We actually stumbled on Hafen by accident when looking for a gay bar open late on a Thursday – it closes at 4am on most nights. The crowd here is mixed – male and female, mainly locals, and super chilled. They have themed nights worth checking out like their Monday quiz nights and the occasional karaoke evenings. Hafen is open daily until around 4am. It is located at Motzstrasse 19, just a few doors down from Heile Welt.
Möbel Olfe in Kreuzberg
Möbel Olfe was our introduction to Kreuzberg, the first place we came to when checking out the gay scene of this more hipster side of Berlin. And it was steaming here! Nothing sleazy, but a very packed (and handsome!) crowd of mostly men, in their 20s, 30s and 40s. The only downside is it gets a bit too packed here on weekend evenings, which makes going to the bar to get drinks a pain in the backside as everyone accidentally tramples on you. Also, smoking is allowed inside, so expect to leave this place smelling of an ashtray! Handy note: Tuesdays is their female-only night. Möbel Olfe is open daily until around 3am. It is located at Reichenberger Strasse 177, near the Kottbusser Tor metro station.
Roses in Kreuzberg
Roses is a super quirky and kitsch gay bar in Kreuzberg: as you enter, you're welcomed with a loud pink glitter decor that then transforms into the most unique collection figurines and pictures of the Virgin Mary that we've ever seen! The crowd here is a mix of male and female from the entire LGBTQ spectrum, mainly locals and some curious tourists. Despite being a small bar, it felt very reminiscent of the alternative hipster vibe of Kreuzberg. It's also super popular, always attracting a large crowd on every night of the week. Roses is open daily until around 6am the next day. It is located at Oranienstrasse 187, near the Kottbusser Tor metro station.
SilverFuture in Neukölln
For Kings and Queens and Criminal Queers…the tag line was enough to pique our interest! Just when you thought you couldn't get more hipster, along comes this flamboyant queer gem with its fun, loud and super campy kitsch decor – countless pictures plastered across the wall! The crowd here is very alternative – a wonderful mix of everyone in our LGBTQ family. The later it got, we noticed the female to male ratio increasing considerably. SilverFuture is open daily (except Sundays) until 2am (3am on weekends). It is located at Weserstrasse 206, near the Hermannplatz metro station.
Flax in Prenzlauer Berg
Flax is where the Berliner twinks head to. This is one of the most popular gay bars in the Prenzlauer Berg neighbourhood. We'll be honest, we felt a bit old hanging out here – the crowd was mainly young lads in their late teens and twenties. Their busiest nights are their themed karaoke nights which happen on the 1st and 3rd Friday of every month. Also, check out their other themed nights like “We Love Music”, Table Tennis and Beer Pong. Flax is open daily (except Mondays) until 2/3am (5am on weekends). It is located at Chodowieckistraße 41, several blocks from the Greifswalder Strasse metro station.
Bar Zum Schmutzigen Hobby in Friedrichshain
Another really cool (and totally unpronounceable!) gay bar in Berlin. Bar Zum is located in a former fire station in the Friedrichshain neighbourhood, where some of the city's best gay clubs are. It's super cosy here – think armchairs and sofas, like hanging out in your friend's apartment. We loved Thursday evenings because that's when they have their 90s party, allowing us to show off a few of our Ace of Base and Spice Girls moves… Bar Zum has become very trendy and popular in recent years, often attracting the odd celeb – like Rupert Everett and Tara Reid. Bar Zum is open daily until around 4am (6am on weekends). It is located at Revaler Strasse 99, near the Warschauer Strasse metro station.
Gay clubs in Berlin
Berlin is packed with tons of clubs! The general Berlin club theme we got used to seeing is smoky underground-type dancing venues, set in former industrial warehouses pumping out electro house – complete with obligatory darkroom. Boom-boom is in the air here- you can literally inhale the hot loving pheromones as you enter most places!
The Berghain is, of course, the mama of all gay clubs in Berlin. There are a bunch of other options available in case you're not allowed in – which is very likely given how exclusive it is!) As with the gay bars of Berlin, there are tons of clubs here, particularly in Friedrichshain, Kreuzberg and Neukölln, so we've only selected a handful of our favourites:
Berghain in Friedrichshain
The Berghain is definitely the most unique club we've ever been to, the ultimate rave of your life! It's located in a huge former power plant in the middle of an industrial estate in Friedrichshain, where up to 1,500 come to rave all weekend long. Inside it felt completely euphoric to us – everyone high on something, in black (or wearing nothing at all!), partying away to the pumping techno beats. It's typical Berlin – dark, mysterious, underground, smokey, gritty and of course, plenty of darkrooms! Photography is strictly forbidden here. It's always full. Queues to get in can take hours! However, the Berghain's infamous reputation is due to the severe and secretive entry policy of its door staff. Put it this way, if they don't like you, you're not getting in, whoever you are or however long you queued. Even Britney and Macklemore have been famously turned away! Our tip, come on Sunday late morning when queues are shorter. Wear dark grungy colours and come solo or in twos, never in a large group. Also, do not smile when the door staff are scanning you and do not act drunk…Good luck! The Berghain is only open at weekends, starting on Friday midnight and going on throughout the weekend until midday on Monday! It is located at Am Wriezener Bahnhof, close to the Berlin Ostbahnhof railway station.
SchwuZ in Neukölln
One of our favourite gay clubs in Berlin and certainly a more sober experience than the crazy Berghain! SchwuZ has become an institution for the gay scene of Berlin. It's one of the oldest gay clubs in the whole of Germany, starting as an alternative underground club for the LGBTQ community back in 1977. Today it's one of the hippest clubs in the cities, particularly on weekends when they have 3 dance rooms: one for 80s cheese (this is where you'll find us!), one for techno/indie another for modern pop. When we went on a Friday evening, the crowd was mixed LGBTQ, mainly in their 20s and 30s. Schwuz has parties on Thursday to Sunday evenings from around 11pm until around 5am the next day. It is located at Rollbergstrasse 26, near the Rathaus Neukölln metro station.
Buttons @ About:Blank in Friedrichshain
About Blank is a wild and colourful all weekend rave open to everyone, or as the promoters proudly put it: “Gay / Lesbo / Queers / Transgender / Freaks / Genderqueer / Gender Variant / Social bottoms / Polyamory / Genderfuck / Lacanian / Puppets / Colours…and ends with “Humans”! On the third Friday of each month, they have the popular Buttons party attracting a diverse queer crowd from cute twinks in their leather harness to androgynous girls in bright colours to muscle boys in their super tight football kits. About Blank is open from Friday evening and the parties go on through the weekend until around midday on Monday. It is located at Markgrafendamm 24c, very close to the Berlin Ostkreuz metro.
Cocktail d'Amore in Neukölln
Cocktail d'Amore is one of the best underground gay dance parties in Berlin for disco house fans. Here it's all about pure hedonism and love liberty. Some serious humping is in the air as soon as you enter. Note, it's not a 100% cruising club per say. You come here to dance, for the house beats. It just so happens that quite a lot of guys who are also appreciative of those disco beats will be vigorously making out openly around you. This is Berlin! The Cocktail d'Amore parties happen once a month on Saturdays and go on all through Sunday until Monday midday. It usually happens at Griessmuehle, which is a converted former factory. Check their Facebook page for details of the next event.
Pronceptual in Friedrichshain
At its core, Pronceptual describes itself as an art project aiming to de-contextualise ponrography to show that explicit content can be considered art. Sign us right up for that! Especially when their way of displaying said art form is with a large awesome queer party, pumping out techno/house music, along with body performances and art installations. Dress code? Well, the less you wear, the less cover charge you pay! Don't judge…this is Berlin! The Ponrceptual parties happen roughly once a month at “Alte Münze”, which is located at Molkenmarkt 2, north of Kreuzberg near Alexanderplatz in the Friedrichshain neighbourhood. Check their Facebook for details of the next party and their Twitter for some of their best, erm, art!
Same Bitcհҽs in Friedrichshain
Same Bitcհҽs is another excellent electro gay party in Berlin that happens once every 2 months. It's more an after-hours, where the party boys come in the daylight hours to continue the party in this dark, unassuming and smokey techno club. The music is a mix of techno, tribal house, hard house, acid techno, acid house…basically not the sort of place we'd be able to show off our Britney dance moves… The Same Bitcհҽs parties usually take place at the Siucide Circus, which is located at Revaler Strasse 99, near the Warschauer metro. They also have ad hoc parties at “secret locations”, which are announced on their social media. We recommend keeping an eye on their Facebook page.
Gay cruising in Berlin
There are many gay cruising places in Berlin, both indoor and outdoor. What's interesting is that whilst Grindr has almost destroyed the gay outdoor cruising in most other cities, in Berlin it's still going strong. This is one city where there is no shortage of spaces for good old fashioned anonymous encounters!
Oh and on the subject of gay apps? As well as Grindr and Scruff, we also recommend using Planet Romeo in Berlin – also referred to locally as “die blauen Seiten” (the blue pages). We've split this section into the best outdoor gay cruising areas and the indoor, which are essentially bars with a prominent darkroom area.
Outdoor gay cruising areas in Berlin
- Tiergarten in Schöneberg: the oldest gay cruising ground in Berlin dating back to the late 1800s. The most popular gay cruising spot is at Tuntenwiese, located on the south side of the Victory Column.
- Hasenheide Park in Neukölln: more private and discreet than Tiergarten. The forest is thick, so no problems finding a private spot here, which means it's busy night and day.
- Friedrichshain Park: has a cruising area on the slope of the hill, especially behind the Spanienkämpfer-Denkmal (the memorial for the victims of the Spanish Civil War) on Friedenstrasse.
- Ernst-Thälmann Park in Prenzlauer Berg: has a small cruising area alongside the S-Bahn rail tracks.
Indoor gay cruising areas in Berlin
- WOOF in Schöneberg: popular gay cruising bar for bears, otters, hairy daddies and skinheads with a busy darkroom. Tuesday is one of the best nights to come when they have a 2 for 1 drinks promotion.
- Tom's Bar in Schöneberg: a former leather bar now a male-only cruising bar with a darkroom and dungeon. Monday evening is the best night to come when they have their 2 for 1 drinks promotion.
- Connection Club in Schöneberg: cruising leather themed bar for men with large cruising labyrinth and darkroom in the basement affectionately called “The Twilight Zone”!
- Club Triebwerk in Kreuzberg: cosy male-only cruising club with a large basement darkroom. Look out for their popular themed party nights like “Underwear” or “Nude-Only”.
Gay saunas in Berlin
For a city that oozes hedonism so liberally, it's quite lacking in gay saunas, particularly when compared to somewhere like the gay scene of Bangkok (which has loads!). Despite this, Berlin is home to one of the most famous gay saunas in Europe – possibly the world – der Boiler! We've also included a unique gay Tคntrค experience worth checking out:
- Boiler Berlin Sauna in Kreuzberg: famed for being one of the biggest and best gay saunas in Europe, if not the world! It is spread over 3 levels, attracting a huge mix of foreigners, locals of all ages.
- Gay-Tคntrค Oasis: a company offering gay-Tคntrค massages. The service includes a full massage and a “shower ritual”! They only reveal their address once you've confirmed your appointment, so message them via their website to arrange.
Gay cafes in Berlin
Germans love their coffee as much as they like cheeky cuddles in bed… There's a cafe on almost every other street corner in Berlin along with several gay ones sprinkled around the city, particularly in Schoeneberg – Romeo & Romeo our personal favourite. We've set out the best gay cafes in Berlin below, but remember, as with the bars, there are loads: this list is not exclusive!
- Romeo & Romeo in Schöneberg: our favourite gay cafe in Berlin. It's always busy. We recommend trying out their rainbow vegan cake! All those boys you met the night before in Heile Welt? They'll all be hanging out here during the day! Romeo & Romeo is open daily from 8am to 10pm and is located at Motzstrasse 20.
- Cafe Berio in Schöneberg: one of the oldest gay hangouts in Schoeneberg, famous for their freshly baked cakes. Also, a useful spot to meet your Grindr hookup! Cafe Berio is open daily from 7am to 6pm and is located at Maassenstrasse 7.
- Cafe Kalwil Kunde in Schöneberg: a super quirky gem with fancy Victorian-esque decor, perfect for a romantic brunch or coffee with a group of friends. We recommend their Breakfast Heinrich – it's so photogenic, like your having High Tea with Queen Victoria! Cafe Kalwil Kunde is open daily (except Tuesday) from 9am to 7pm and is located at Motzstrasse 30.
- Südblock in Kreuzberg: one of the best gay cafe snack bars in Kreuzberg. They also have events and parties in the evening, particularly on weekends. Südblock is open daily from 11am to 1/2am and is located at Admiralstrasse 1-2.
- Café K-Ŧetisch in Neukölln: a super cool hipster gay vegan cafe famous for its delicious pastries as well as its antipasti. Always a vibrant and busy atmosphere here. Cafe K-Ŧetisch is open daily (except on Mondays) from 10am to midnight and is located at Wildenbruchstrasse 86.
Gay restaurants in Berlin
German sausage jokes aside, the Currywurst is a must! When you first arrive in Schöneberg's Wittenbergplatz, you'll no doubt see the famous gay Fritz & Co stand. There are of course many excellent restaurants to check out in Berlin. We checked out some of the best gay restaurants in Berlin and have summarised our favourites right here:
Ok, so teeechnically this isn't really a restaurant, but it's a food spot you definitely have to visit while you're in Berlin! Fritz & Co is one of the food stands right outside the Wittenbergplatz metro in Schoeneberg selling the famous Berlin spiced sausage: currywurst. Except this is no ordinary currywurst… This is a gay currywurst, sprinkled with fabulousness! Not only do they serve some of the best currywurst with fries in the city, but there's campy rainbow artwork all around and even a disco ball hanging overhead. The staff who work here are all gay, lesbian or transgender and it's a great spot to have a snack while cruising/people-watching. You can also get drinks to go with your currywurst, including beer and wine.
For a proper sit-down meal, we recommend the gay friendly Austrian restaurant in Schöneberg called Sissi. It's quite a small space that quickly gets busy so definitely make sure you call ahead to reserve a table. Once inside you'll be charmed by the pink walls, wooden furniture and yummy Austrian dishes like the “wiener schnitzel” or “cheese spätzle”. I particularly loved it because they make delicious pastries – fellow sweet tooth travellers you'll empathise. Their Sissi Cake cake is a must (honestly, once you get beyond the comical name, it's so tasty!) Sissi also put on a decent inexpensive luncheon with a menu that changes daily.
If you like wine and tapas-style dishes, you must visit Facciola, an Italian restaurant/wine-bar in Kreuzberg. It's owned and run by Aurora Facciola, who really knows her stuff when it comes to Italian wine. Most of the wines available on the menu are from her home region of Piedmont, but other regions are also represented. There's a small food menu of rustic dishes that perfectly complement your tasting of the different wines, including some of the most incredible pasta we've ever had! Aurora and all the staff really make this place unforgettable, as they are so friendly towards every single patron.
Vegans and vegetarians in Berlin need not despair, as Alaska is a gay vegan restaurant in Neukölln serving delicious Spanish tapas. Yeah, we'll give you a second to wrap your head around a restaurant in Berlin named after an American state serving Spanish food! The tapas here are delectable. Even non-vegan/veggie diners will love it. Some of our favourites include the carrot crostini (which somehow tastes like smoked salmon!), as well as the patatas bravas with aioli. And you've got to leave room for some churros for dessert. Also, vegan cocktails! Yup – it's a thing…try it out here, trust us you'll love it!
Schall und Rauch (which means “sound and smoke”), is one of our favourite places to come in Berlin for an uber-gay Sunday brunch! It's located in the plush Prenzlauer Berg neighbourhood, close to Flax. The interior feels a bit like an eclectic lounge room that's begging for a spot in your Instagram feed. It also has an outdoor terrace which is great to come for coffee and cake on sunny days. Highlights of the Sunday brunch include bake-your-own waffles and a massive chocolate fountain! Tea lovers will be in paradise with no fewer than 32 different tea varieties to choose from.
Gay events in Berlin
When it comes to annual gay events, Berlin leads the way! It's like our European answer to San Francisco, from the Pig parties of Folsom to the քorɳ event of Hustlaball. Here's our summary of some of the best gay events in Berlin to look out for:
Easter in Berlin Leather Week – March/April
Easter in Berlin is one of the largest leather events in Europe. It is organised by the BLF group who also crown the next Mr Leather Berlin on Easter Sunday. The focal point of the event is in Nollendorfplatz in Schöneberg. This is one of the best festivals for all things leather, rubber, skin gear and uniform. The festival includes lots of parties including a fabulous Cabaret.
The Lesbian and Gay City Stadtfest Festival – June/July
Stadtfest is the largest street festival for Berling's LGBTQ community, taking place every June/July around Nollendorfplatz in Schöneberg. The festival is massive, attracting over 400,000 visitors each year! Events include films, celebrity talk shows, gay entertainers and live DJs.
This is the main Pride event of Berlin, often referred to as CSD or St Christopher's Street Day in Europe. The first one took place on 30th June 1979 as a protest rally of 450 people. Today this grown to one of the largest gay Pride events in the world, attracting around 1 million people! The highlight is the Saturday parade which follows a route from the Kurfurstendamm to the Siegesäule (Berlin Victory Column).
Folsom Europe – September
This is the largest gay leather festival in Europe going strong since 2003. It's the cousin of San Francisco's equivalent, attracting around 20,000 guys who are into leather and more. The highlight is the popular outdoor Folsom Europe Street Fair, which takes place along Fuggerstrasse and Welserstrasse. Some of the best parties take place during Folsom Europe, in particular Pig and P*rverts.
Hustlaball Circuit Party Weekend – October
This is one of the largest p*rn parties in the world – an entire weekend fun, fantasy and dancing! This is where some of the top xrated actors gather and perform some pretty in-your-face live shows. The best event of Hustlaball takes place at the KitKatClub. To keep in the loop about their latest news, we recommend following them on Twitter.
Top things to do in Berlin
Whilst Berlin is synonymous with hedonism and sleaze, there is, of course, a very different and more sober side to this phenomenal city. The Brandenberg Gates stands as a symbol of pride and unity not only to Germans but to all Europeans. The Second World War, the Cold War era and the Fall of the Berlin Wall each left their mark on Berlin. We've highlighted some of the best things to do and see in Berlin so you get a flavour of this city's rich, diverse history:
Go on a queer walking tour
Berlin walks offers a queer walking tour to learn about the history of Schöneberg, the first gay district in the world which dates back to the 1920s. We did a tour with Finn McCool from Berlin Walks who we highly recommend. He's a fountain of knowledge about everything to do with queer Berlin and the city in general. We loved learning about Christopher Isherwood, the British writer whose novel Goodbye to Berlin inspired the famous gay musical Cabaret! Finn also offers his own private tours to places like the “gay concentration camps”: gay men were taken to the Sachsenhausen camp and the lesbians to the Ravensbrück camp!
Visit the Schwules gay museum
This is an excellent museum in Schöneberg, dedicated to the history and culture of the LGBTQ community. It was founded in 1985 and is now the world's largest institution for the queer community. It's open every day (except Tuesdays) and features a variety of different exhibitions throughout the year. One of our favourite exhibitions is SuperQueeroes, which is all about the famous queer comic heroes and heroines. It holds over 50,000 objects showcasing gay culture with everything from postcards to clothing and vinyl records. They also display themes relating to drag, gender issues, AIDS and more. You could easily spend an entire day exploring – we sure did!
Prepare your wallet for some serious shopping
If you like shopping, then Schöneberg is the place for you. The high-end shopping mall Kaufhaus des Westens (also, more simply referred to as “KaDeWe”), is based right outside Wittenbergplatz metro. It is the second-largest department store in Europe after Harrods in London. The Kurfürstendamm Boulevard is like the Champs Elysees of Berlin, with all the popular high street retailers like H&M, Zara, Lacoste and many more. Other shopping malls in the area include the Bikini Mall and the Karstadt shopping centre. Make sure you also check out some of the naughty gay shops, like the City Men Shop!
Discover Berlin on a Bike
One of the best ways to embrace Berlin's rich cultural heritage is to explore it by bike, especially as the city is overall very flat. It's also a handy way to do sightseeing in Berlin because the main sites are quite spread out from each other. We did a private tour with Sascha of Berlin on Bike who showed us the main sites like the iconic Brandenburg Gate, the remains of the famous Berlin Wall, the Bundestag and more. Depending on where you're staying, you may also be able to rent bikes from your hotel (or use them for free). You can even join a bike tour specifically exploring Berlin's gay culture!
Explore the Berlin Wall and Checkpoint Charlie
A historic ‘must-see’ for us when we visited Berlin was the infamous Berlin Wall. Whilst most of the wall has been removed, parts of the original wall have been retained as a memory, particularly by the Berlin Wall Memorial and Checkpoint Charlie – the most famous crossing of the wall during the height of the Cold War. This highly-rated Third Reich and Cold War walking tour is an excellent way to learn more about the fall of the Berlin Wall while exploring different sections of it. As well as visiting Checkpoint Charlie and different remaining sections of the wall you'll also learn more about the rise and fall of the totalitarian regime.
East Side Gallery
The East Side Gallery is another part of the famous Berlin Wall that has been preserved. It is located on the East of Kreuzberg along the river. It has now been turned into an excellent outdoor museum with some of the best street art murals we've ever seen, all geared towards Peace! The most iconic street art mural to look out for is the Two Men Kissing picture. These particular men are Leonid Brezhnev, the General Secretary of the Soviet Union at the time, and Erich Honecker, the General Secretary of the Socialist Unity Party of the GDR. They are not actually kissing romantically. This is simply based on a photograph of them engaged in a quick smack on the lips, which was back then considered a kind of socialist greeting (a “Bruderkuss” in German).
Visit Charlottenburg Palace
This was our favourite date night in Berlin! Charlottenburg is the largest palace in the city, surrounded by beautiful gardens and woodland. The interior is also stunning, with lavish baroque and rococo styles. We came for a three-course dinner and classical music concert performed by musicians from the Berlin Residence Orchestra in period costume! The food was traditional Prussian cuisine, served by candlelight. Then the musicians played classic pieces by Bach, Handel and Mozart. We definitely recommend this for gay couples looking for a romantic and alternative night out in Berlin – ie free from darkroom, swings and glory holes!
Dine at the Berlin TV Tower
The Fernsehturm Berlin is a television tower that was constructed in the 60s. Originally it was meant to be Berlin's symbol of Communist Power. Today it is a popular tourist attraction and our favourite spot for some of the best views across the city. Towards the top is the revolving Sphere restaurant, which makes for another super romantic date night. We recommend booking a VIP-dinner at the Sphere restaurant, particularly at sunset. The restaurant slowly rotates during your meal, so you can gaze out over the Brandenburg Gate, Reichstag and Museum Island while enjoying a lovely three-course meal.
The Holocaust Memorial
A sobering but must-visit spot in Berlin is the Memorial to the lost Jews of Europe, also called the Holocaust Memorial. What's your first impression? Not every piece is the same right? This fascinating outdoor memorial was designed to confuse, showing a supposedly ordered system that has lost touch with human reason. Which is kind of what happened during the Holocaust. As well as being an important site to visit, we also found it very unique, like no other touristic site we've ever visited. Just please, don't be like some visitors who think it's an appropriate place to take silly selfies…
Go on a free street art walking tour
We always seek out free tours in every new city we visit. We love them because they're usually run by local students, looking to make some cash from the tips given. In Berlin, we found Alternative Berlin Tours who offer street art tours as well as other offbeat options, such as craft beer, green city and nightlife tours. It's one of the best ways to orientate yourself in a new place, from the eyes of a willing local. Just remember to tip generously! Only the “alternative Berlin” tour is actually free, but we still definitely recommend the street art tour for people who love graffiti art. It's the best backdrop for those selfies!
Plan your trip to Berlin
We've put together some handy hints and tips to help you plan your own trip to Berlin. Read on to find out everything the gay traveller should know before they go.
How to get there: There are excellent transport links to Berlin from throughout Europe. You can get there via car, bus, train or by flying into Schonefeld or Tegel Airport. We usually fly to Berlin and then get a private airport transfer with Welcome Pickups to our accommodation. They are reliable, always on time and you get a big car all to yourself with an English speaking local driver.
Visa requirements: If you're coming to Germany from many countries like the United States, United Kingdom, Canada and Australia then you won't need a visa to enter the country (and other countries in the Schengen Area) as a tourist. This means you can visit Berlin quite easily but make sure you check your personal visa requirements before you travel, especially if you are planning to visit other parts of Europe as well.
Getting around: Berlin is a huge city with an extensive public transport system made up of the U-Bahn (subway), S-Bahn (light rail), buses and trams. The city is divided into three different fare zones: A, B and C. We recommend you pre-purchase the Berlin Welcome Card as it gives you unlimited travel in the zones you choose for the whole duration of your stay as well as lots of discounts on popular attractions.
Power Plugs: Power plug socket F is used in Berlin, and the rest of Germany, which is also compatible with plugs for types C and E. If you're travelling from within Europe you shouldn't have a problem, but travellers to from the United Kingdom, United States, Canada, Australia and many other countries will need to bring a travel adaptor with them.
Travel insurance: No matter how well you plan and prepare, sometimes things just go wrong when you're travelling. We recommend all travellers to Berlin ensure they have travel insurance so you're protected in the case of accident, illness or even just lost luggage. We've been using WorldNomads Travel Insurance for years and love them. They provide affordable and comprehensive cover, plus it's easy to make a claim online when you need to.
Safety and Security: While Berlin is a relatively safe destination, it's also possible you may encounter danger when travelling and need immediate assistance. We like to use CloseCircle's ‘virtual bodyguard' app because it provides security alerts and support wherever you are in the world. They have a 24/7 emergency response team monitoring their users who will contact you immediately if the SOS swipe button is activated. Find out more about CloseCircle in our post on how gay travellers can stay safe while travelling.
Vaccinations: Before travelling to Berlin, make sure you're up-to-date with routine vaccinations like measles, mumps, chickenpox, etc. Depending on what you are planning to do in other parts of Germany you may also need vaccinations for Hepatitis A and B as well as rabies. Check the most recent advice on the CDC website and talk to your doctor before you make any travel arrangements.
Currency: The currency used in Berlin is the Euro, just like the rest of Germany and 18 of the other countries that are part of the European Union. The symbol for the euro is € and $1 US converts to about 90 euro cents while £1 is worth around €1.17.
Tipping culture: Berlin does have a tipping culture, but only if the service warrants it so don't ever feel forced to tip. Usually, you can round up your bill to the nearest euro, or give a few euros to the housekeeper at a nice hotel. Here's some more detailed information on tipping in Berlin.
Online privacy: Germany as a whole is very gay friendly, so you're unlikely to encounter anything in the way of internet censorship or difficulty accessing gay dating apps while you're in Berlin. If you just prefer to keep your online activities private then we recommend using a VPN like those from ExpressVPN. They provide very reliable and affordable online privacy for when you're travelling so you can maintain your anonymity.
Accommodation: For more accommodation options in Berlin make sure you check out Booking.com which is our favourite place to find accommodation at the best prices. They have a huge selection of properties, many with free cancellation and provide excellent 24/7 online customer support.
Sightseeing and adventure: There are also lots more exciting things to see and do in Berlin beyond what we've mentioned in this guide. We like to use GetYourGuide to plan our adventures since they have many wonderful options, an easy to use online booking system and 24/7 online customer support.
When to visit: Berlin is an exciting city with things happening pretty much all throughout the year. When you visit will be based on specific events you may want to attend or your own personal weather preferences. It can get hot during summer which is from June-August in Germany. Spring and autumn are both mild, with pretty flowers or colourful changing leaves. While winter can be harsh it can also be magical, especially around Christmas!
Gay map of Berlin
Here's our gay map of Berlin to show you where everything we've mentioned in this article is located. Use it to find out where all the best gay hotels, bars clubs, restaurants and activities are for your own visit to Berlin!
For more inspiration:
- To get a locals' perspective, check out our interview with cutie Marcel from Berlin about gay life in Germany
- Find out why we rate Berlin as one of our top gay travel destinations in Europe
- For some raunchy action, you might like to stay at one of these Best hotels in Berlin for some cheeky time
- While loved-up couples won't want to miss these romantic things to do in Berlin
- If it's your first visit then you might find these gay tours in Berlin helpful
- After Berlin, you need to visit and find out why Cologne is rivalling Berlin as Germany's gay capital!
- You might be surprised by some of these gay friendly cities in East Europe
- If you're travelling on a budget then you'll love these awesome gay hostels in Europe
- And don't miss the gayest cities in Europe as well!