This guide was updated on November 24, 2019.
Berlin is arguably the gayest capital city in Europe…or at least the kinkiest and most alternative. Yes, Berlin is a scene for artists and independents and this becomes obvious through the variety of places to explore in the city. From amazing street art and gritty neighborhoods with leftover feelings from the East Germany GDR times to the hip and trendy neighborhoods like Kreuzberg or Schoneberg, Berlin truly has something to offer for everyone. Whether it’s art and history or dancing until the sun comes up in one of the countless nightlife options, Berlin doesn’t disappoint. Berlin is truly an international city in Europe and is probably only rivaled by London with its diversity of foreigners and creatively. In fact, you could probably live your whole life in Berlin and probably not need to learn more than a few words in German.
Transportation & Airport Transfer
Berlin has an incredibly developed public transport system including subway, overground train, trams, buses and bike share. Berlin is extremely bike friendly with tons of dedicated lanes and locals stick to their bikes through rain and shine, snow and heat. The transport system can be a bit overwhelming for a first-time visitor. The subway system is called the “U-bahn” while the overground train is called the “S-bahn.” Berlin works on a zone system starting with Zone A in the center and B and C moving out towards the outskirts of the city. Tickets are valid all on all trains and buses and need to be validated at the machine before boarding. The most economical route is to purchase either an unlimited or multi-day ticket or perhaps a 4-ride ticket which offers a discount compared to single rides.
Berlin has two airports: Berlin Tegel and Berlin Schönefeld. Berlin Tegel is in zone B and you can reach the city center by taking either the TXL bus or X9 JetExpressBus with a zone AB ticket, purchased from the machine outside the terminal. Berlin Schönefeld requires a zone ABC ticket since it’s farther out but is connected by the S-bahn train. The train station is not directly at the airport so you’ll take a free transfer bus from the terminal to the station.
Gay Hotels and Gay Friendly Accommodation in Berlin
Pullman Berlin Schweizerhof – Amenities include a pool, restaurant, gym/workout room, bar/lounge, spa and babysitting. The hotel restaurant, XXenia, features fish and chips or International cuisine.
Hotel De Rome – Not gay specific but very centrally located, this 146-room hotel’s amenities include an Olympic-sized swimming pool, high-tech gym, all-organic body treatments and a former jewel vault, 800-square-meter spa.
Casa Camper – With 51 suites and rooms, this hotel is in a neighborhood that boasts galleries with cutting edge art, restaurants, shops and an array of bars.
Hotel Adlon Kempinkski – 2 bars, 78 suites, 304 rooms. Amenities: pool, restaurant, gym/workout room, bar/lounge, spa, hot tub, babysitting and it’s pet-friendly.
ArtHotel Connection – A gay hotel with 16 rooms in the gay area of Berlin-Schöneberg; conveniently situated next to the Prinzknecht bar and Connection Club.
Hotel zu Hause Berlin – Gay-owned and subtly charming, this accommodating bed and breakfast is located right in the heart of gay Schöneberg; 10 seconds from ‘Bull’ or ‘New Action’.
Axel Hotel – the most famous gay hotel chain also has a location in Berlin. They are first gay hotel to coin the term “straight-friendly.” They have a nice rooftop terrace (enclosed) and popular restaurant and bar on the ground floor called Hamburger Mary’s. The Axel is centrally located and near the Schöneberg gay neighborhood. Rates start at 100€ per night.
Michelberger Hotel – Mid-range rates with free WiFi and a restaurant. Rebellious fun, stylish, charismatic, individualistic, and just like gay Berlin… anything goes!
Hüttenpalast – A pet-friendly collection of hotel rooms, retro-style caravans and huts, with a garden for outdoor seating. Restaurants, cafes, and bars are a short 5-minute walk
Mercure Hotel – This is one of the long time favorites for gay travelers located in the heart of the Schoenberg neighborhood. You’ll find plenty of nightlife, restaurants, and gay shops within walking distance. Friendly staff and huge breakfast for just 10€ extra. Bike rentals available onsite.
Tom’s Hotel – A clean, near-budget, basic-plus and modern hotel in central gay Berlin. Coincidentally (or not) located right above one of the most established man-on-man bars in Berlin. Breakfast is served until 5 pm for party boys having taken full advantage of Berlin’s ‘no closing time’ policy.
Guesthouse 21 – (rooms run 40–60 €) A small, quaint, gay guesthouse in Berlin-Schöneberg with helpful and friendly hosts.
Motel One – (rooms run 72–90 €) A ‘design’ hotel chain for budget travelers. Modern, clean and a good value for the money. Very close to Schöneberg’s gay area.
My Gay Hostel – Rooms are between 18–60 €, with a minimum 2-night stay. This small gay hostel in Berlin-Schöneberg has shared facilities for its single rooms, double rooms and bunk rooms.
Gay Hostel – Super affordable, very clean and personable (and the beds are comfy) with an equally affordable Chinese restaurant in the same building.
There are many sites for apartment rentals in Berlin, with AirBnB probably being one of the most popular. Prices are generally comparable to budget hotels, especially if you’re willing to get a room in a shared apartment.
There are even a few LGBT-oriented booking sites like misterb&b with listings from gay hosts for gay guests where you can either rent a whole apartment or a private room in a shared apartment. Understanding Berlin’s gay scene is much more easily done with the help of a local and apartment sharing is one of the best ways to meet someone living in the city who knows how things work, where and when are the best nights to go out, and what places to eat at and which to avoid.
Sightseeing & Activities in Berlin
Brandenburg Gate – During WWII, allied bombing damaged but, thankfully, did not completely destroy the Brandenburg Gate.
Berlin Wall Memorial – An iconic part of Berlin’s history. Grab a beer and take a stroll, or take the Trabi tour along the wall. The story of a bizarre period in time is told by the graffiti artwork.
East Side Gallery – Take a walking tour to see the wall, artwork, and neighborhood. The largest standing portion of the former divide between West and East Germany.
Reichstag Building – Situated just north of the Brandenburg Gate, this building houses the German Parliament. Superb sunsets!
The Holocaust Memorial: Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe – While still a tasteful memorial, this is a somber reminder of the horrors of the past regime in Berlin.
Tiergarten – Only minutes from transportation to all of Berlin, this massively lush park stretches through central Berlin and offers a relaxing contrast to the city’s hustle and bustle.
Schwules Museum – This museum chronicles the history of gay culture, both internationally and in Germany specifically. Interesting for a quick visit but perhaps not for everyone.
Gay Tours in Berlin
Rainbow Tours Berlin – If you’re looking for a tour oriented for the LGBT traveler, then we definitely recommend Rainbow Tours Berlin. The company started in 2014 in Barcelona and they’ve expanded to Madrid, Berlin, and London. Eloi is the owner and has become a good friend. We went on some of his tours in both Madrid and Barcelona and had a great time. They offer city tours as well as nightlife and pub crawl type tours with local gay guides that can answer any possible question about gay Berlin you could ever think of.
Special Offer! You can save 10% on all Rainbow Gay Tours by using the code “TWOBADTOURISTS” when booking online.
Queer Berlin Walking Tour – Explore Berlin’s gay and lesbian history on a unique Queer Berlin tour of its gay neighborhoods and locations. See the poignant Holocaust memorial, visit one of the city’s oldest gay and transvestite bars and end at the Gay Museum.
Gay Berlin Tour: Out in Schöneberg – Experience an exciting tour of the historical traces of Berlin’s oldest gay neighborhood, the rainbow quarter of north Schöneberg, between Dennewitzstraße and Nollendorfplatz. Learn about how the district became what it is today and what the future holds.
Restaurants and Cafes in Berlin
Curry 36 – A playful, friendly staff serving up the best currywurst ever! Enjoy a cold beer and side of fries with mayo and ketchup out on the patio. Address: Mehringdamm 36, 10961
Schwarzes Café – A laid-back, all-day cafe and bar with a courtyard terrace, picture covered walls, extensive drink menu and eclectic food. Serving pastries, sandwiches, breakfast and main dish dinners. Address: Kantstraße 148, 10623
Hasir – the place to go for great authentic Turkish food. The quality of the chicken and lamb is excellent and cooked to perfection. The vegetarian starters are also superb. Address: Maaßenstraße 10, 10777
Markthalle Neun (Kreuzberg market hall) – be sure to partake in ‘Street Food Thursday’ for Korean Buns, American B-B-Q, Nigerian FuFu, Peruvian Ceviche, Allgäu Kässpatzen, Mexican tacos, Thai Tapioca Dumplings and British Pies. Address: Eisenbahnstraße 42-43, 10997
Sissi – Kitchen open daily 12:00pm – 10:00pm; Friday, Saturday till 11:00pm. Nice but small Austrian restaurant in Berlin-Schöneberg. Address: Motzstraße 34, 10777
Café Berio – Popular in summer, this cafe in Berlin-Schöneberg, has a busy street terrace and a mixed clientele. Address: Maaßenstraße 7, 10777
Mustafa’s – great dining on a budget. Can get crazy busy, but for the best kebabs in town, it’s well worth the wait. Fresh bread and veggies are noteworthy as well. Address: Mehringdamm 32, 10961
Berlin Gay Bars and Lounges
Tom’s Bar – Berlin’s most famous cruising-oriented gay bar/club. The atmosphere gets markedly hotter the further you go to the back. Behind the table soccer games and the large screen is an entrance to the infamous, cellar-located ‘dark room’. Address: Motzstraße 19, 10777
Hafen – This popular, stylish bar has an artistic twist. When the weather is fine, guys enjoy a beer outside on the pavement. Quizz-O-Rama, a unique quiz show, is presented on Mondays. Address: Motzstraße 19, 10777
Roses – This has a completely pink interior and, on weekends, is jam-packed. If pink is your color, get to this small, cozy, very campy gay bar. Address: Oranienstraße 187, 10999
Zum Schmutzigen Hobby – Berlin’s most famous transvestite, Nina Queer, hosts this flashy bar in Berlin-Friedrichshain with a cozy living-room atmosphere and very friendly people. Easy going and casual, the main crowd is 30-something. Address: Revaler Str. 99, 10245
Gay Clubs and Parties in Berlin
Berghain/Panorama – DJs playing electronic music and live acts on stage in a nightclub that used to be a warehouse. The ice cream bar hidden in the corner upstairs is a great little place to take breaks between stomping sessions. Address: Am Wriezener Bahnhof, 10243
GMF – Open Sunday from 11 pm, it’s one of the best gay parties in Berlin with a friendly, pleasantly diverse crowd. Everyone from older muscle guys to trendy young queens mixes it up to House/Electro and Pop/R’n’B. Admission: 10 €. Address: Klosterstraße 44, 10179 Berlin
Schwuz – Schwuz has been the place for lesbians, music festivals, queer film, sex parties, discussions, readings, and transvestite shows for over 30 years. It’s a former brewery now offering Saturday and Friday night parties with various music styles. Address: Rollbergstraße 26, 12053
KitKatClub – Popular nightclub in Berlin, opened in March 1994 by Austrian pornographic film maker Simon Thaur and his partner Kirsten Krüger. It’s known for fetish parties, techno & trance music. The space has 3 floors with an outdoor area and a pool.
Cruising & Men Only
Der Boiler – one of the most popular saunas in Berlin located in Kreuzberg. You’ll find a combination of traditional spa amenities plus plenty of darkroom adventures. There’s a nice bar on site with drinks and snacks. Very clean facilities, nice looking guys with a wide range of ages. It’s worth the 20€ entrance price and is open every day of the year. Address: Mehringdamm 34, 10961
Note: there are SOOO many more cruising bars and kinky places in Berlin. Der Boiler is probably the top choice for sauna but we’ll let you explore the rest on your own! Some possible cruising options might include Tom’s Bar (downstairs), Sheune, Connection Club, Bull and well, the list goes on and on.
Popular Events in Berlin
Berlin CSD (gay pride) – also called Christopher Street Day. A 12:30 parade: from Kurfürstendamm via Nollendorfplatz and Siegessäule to the world-famous Brandenburger Tor, where the 4:30 pm till midnight closing ceremony takes place.
Stadtfest – the perfect warm-up to Berlin’s Pride. Days before Berlin’s official pride celebrations, the Stadtfest takes place around Nollendorfplatz in the Schoneberg district.
Folsom Europe – lots of parties from Friday till Sunday and a Saturday afternoon international fetish and leather weekend street fair. Europe’s largest gay fetish event.
Hustlaball – features a VIP room with hardcore ‘performances’ on 2 stages by a variety of famous sex stars. Performances cover a number of ‘genres’ including Roman Gladiator, rubber, leather, etc.
Day Trips from Berlin
Potsdam – take S-Bahn S7 line from the Berlin Hauptbahnhof. Cost: 7.40€ for an ABC day ticket. (RE1 is also an option.) If you rent a bike to tour these unforgettable gardens, keep in mind that some are ‘walking-only’ accessible. Consider yourself a photographer? You’ll never find a backdrop the likes of this anywhere!
Sachsenhausen Concentration Camp – enlightening but somber, this is one giant history lesson all wrapped up. The real picture of mankind‘s inhumanity toward his fellow man. You’ll learn more spending one day at this somber but tastefully done memorial than in all your history lessons combined. Find the best route/transportation by clicking here.
Dresden – Dresden railway is an electrified, double track, main line railway through the German states of Saxony, Brandenburg and Berlin, originally operated and built by the Berlin-Dresden Railway Company. You may well need more than one day to shop, eat, drink and sight-see your way through this historic haven! Plan on at least 2 days.You can travel from Berlin by train (cost between $40 and $80, depending on the type of train. Recommended: the EC train – it is cheaper than the ICE and goes directly to Dresden in about 2 hours), by car (about a 2 hour drive) or by bus (2.5 hours for only $12).
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