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Berlin’s unique and complex history as an LGBTQ hotspot dates back to the Prussian era and the age of 1920s cabaret when LGBTQ people flocked to the liberal city. A tumultuous 20th century of wars and politics devastated the LGBTQ community in Berlin, but the divided city retained its artistic and edgy history during the rise of techno music.

Historically, the Schöneberg neighborhood was the go-to hangout for Berlin’s LGBTQ locals and tourists. Nearby is where the 20th century sexologist Magnus Hirschfeld opened the Institute of Sexual Research from 1919 to 1933 — an early institute which advocated for sexual minorities before the eventual rise of Nazism.

Gay couple at Brandenburg Gate, Berlin
Credit: TOBIAS SCHWARZ/AFP via Getty Images

Today, Berlin’s vibrant LGBTQ community attracts tourists from around the world for big events like the Christopher Street Day pride parade in July, the Folsom Europe street party and fetish fair in September, and the Berlinale Film Festival and Teddy Awards in February.

What to See and Do

Futurium Museum in Berlin
Credit: JOHN MACDOUGALL/AFP via Getty Images

Many of Berlin’s most iconic monuments and tourist attractions are historical, such as the Brandenburg Gate, remnants of the Berlin Wall, and the rebuilt Berlin City Palace. But there are also several monuments to the LGBTQ rights movement and persecuted persons. 

The most famous LGBTQ monument in Berlin is the iconic Memorial to Homosexuals Persecuted Under Nazism (open since 2008), a large reflective stone that plays a repeating video clip of men kissing men and women kissing women. The memorial is part of the collection of Holocaust memorials that exist in and around Tiergarten park.

Other LGBTQ memorials in Berlin include an AIDS memorial in the Schöneberg neighborhood and a memorial plaque at the Nollendorf U-Bahn station commemorating the persecution of homosexuals in Nazi Germany. The rainbow-colored roof of the U-Bahn station also reflects the LGBTQ inclusivity of the nearby streets where you’ll find many LGBTQ-owned businesses.

Berlin is also home to more than 170 different museums. One of the newest is the Futurium, an interactive museum located right on the River Spree with exhibitions dedicated to important discussions of the future, such as nutrition, health, energy, work and urban life, and how it all fits into our collective future. It’s a fitting museum for a city that’s been at the forefront of European politics and social issues since reunification.

Where to Eat and Drink

Görlitzer Park, Berlin
People Sitting On Steps In Görlitzer Park, Berlin
| Credit: Adam Kuylenstierna / EyeEm / Getty Images

While Berlin’s Schöneberg neighborhood is the historic gayborhood, a lot of Berlin’s best bars are actually further east in the Kreuzberg and Neukölln neighborhoods. Saying that, however, around Nollendorfplatz are some great LGBTQ-owned cafes, restaurants, and bars. 

Romeo und Romeo is a cute gay café with sweet breakfast options and a popular hangout for locals. Pick up some of the many LGBT event flyers or Berlin’s free LGBT magazine Siegessäule to find out about weekly queer events. 

In Kreuzberg, the Facciola bar and restaurant serves fine Italian wines and foods, including a popular Thursday night aperitivo event with free snacks at the bar. Nearby, Südbock operates as a gay café and restaurant during the day, and hosts parties, events, and queer TV showings at night. 

Where to Party

Berlin Drag Queen Dancing
Credit: JOHN MACDOUGALL/AFP via Getty Images

 Though Berlin has plenty of lucrative tourist attractions, one of its biggest draws is the city’s legendary nightlife. Germany’s artists and musicians, such as Kraftwerk, have long been credited with popularizing electronic music — and Berlin’s nightlife is still among the world’s top cities for the genre. Iconic electronic clubs, such as Berghain (a longtime favorite for gay men), Tresor, and Sisyphos, attract thousands of club-goers each and every weekend.

But in Berlin, it’s not all techno all the time. Drag artists have increasingly become popular in Berlin, with the House of Presents every Tuesday at Monster Ronson’s, a long-running weekly drag show called Chantel’s House of Shame at Suicide Circus on Thursdays, and the monthly Dragoholic party at Silver Future (a favorite queer bar that also hosts inclusive and diverse events for every spectrum of the LGBTQ community).

Where to Stay

Motel One Leather Chair and fire
Credit: Courtesy of Motel One

Many of Berlin’s hotels are located in the center of the city, but just about anywhere in Berlin is generally convenient and accessible thanks to an efficient public transportation system (that runs 24 hours on the weekends). Near the Central Train Station (Hauptbahnhof) in Berlin, the large Motel One offers budget rooms in a great location with lots of modern amenities. It’s also located just steps from one of Berlin’s best saunas, the Vabali Spa, which features Bali-style decorations, and indoor/outdoor spas.

For a more decorative and unique hotel stay, the Arte Luise Arthotel is a fantastic option. The property started as an art project, and today each room has its own unique style, including unique furniture and sculptures throughout the property. For art lovers visiting Berlin, there’s nowhere more special. 

Also in Berlin, and nearby to much of Berlin’s nightlife, the Michleberger Hotel offers a special experience for LGBTQ tourists. Beautifully designed with a mix of modern and classic aesthetics, the highlight of the hotel is its ground floor, which includes a restaurant serving modern, organic dishes from nearby farmers, as well as a bar and café serving its own craft beers. Rooms at the Michelberger are generally small, but with plenty to see and do around Berlin, it’s a great option for urban explorers.