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Berlin

Berlin

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Germany's capital is a mecca for gay tourists
Berlin is one of the most gay-friendly cities in the world. A vast and diverse set of gay scenes, thoughtful civic amenities and tourist-friendly pricing make Germany’s capital a popular destination. The city is a mecca, and not only for gay people.

Prices here are reasonable compared to other European capitals, and rent-refugees from other EU countries and beyond are flocking in, creating an ever-more-cosmopolitan ambiance. English is firmly established as the second language of most people, especially in the west, so English-only tourists will have little trouble communicating.

Berlin’s — and the country’s — most notable monument is the Brandenburg Gate. Restored over a two-year period, starting in 2000, this iconic structure, located west of the city centre, served as the entrance to the city palace of the Prussian monarchs. The square immediately behind, Pariser Platz, is home to embassies and the luxurious Hotel Adlon Kempinski, which offers a two-star Michelin restaurant, a luxury spa and an outdoor terrace overlooking the gate. Sunday brunch is a sublime culinary experience.

Located in the middle of the Spree River, which flows through the city centre, is the famous Museum Island, consisting of five internationally significant museums: the Old Museum, the Old National Gallery, the Bode Museum, the New Museum and the Pergamon Museum. The entire complex, worth a trip for the buildings themselves, was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1999. Once you get through the extensive collections, or if you need to rest, you can escape by way of the charming cobblestone paths to the island’s hidden gardens, quality restaurants and boutiques to recharge.

Look no further than KaDeWe for your shopping pleasure. Located in the city centre, close to the Wittenbergplatz U-Bahn station, KaDeWe is Continental Europe’s largest department store. The variety of brand names and quality of product is comparable to Holts in Canada, but bigger. The surrounding area features an array of exquisite shops, wonderful restaurants and quaint parkettes. Other shopping districts include Alexanderplatz, Friedrichstrasse, Hackescher Markt, Kurfürstendamm, Tauentzienstrasse, Spandau Old Town, Schlossstrasse and Schönhauser Allee. Flea markets are also very popular and can be found throughout the city.

Gay life is easily found in the Schöneberg, Kreuzberg, Prenzlauer Berg and Friedrichshain neighbourhoods. Best known to tourists are the quiet tree-lined streets of Schöneberg, a little south of the area between Wittenbergplatz and Nollendorfplatz U-Bahn stations. It has a well-established, multifaceted gay community, and you’ll often see same-sex affection and leathermen in full regalia alongside families and kids on bikes. It is also the location of the big summer street events: the Stadtfest lesbian and gay festival and the Christopher Street Day celebrations.

Most of the gay bars, clubs and shops are located in Schöneberg, including the gay-owned and -operated Axel Hotel, which offers chic accommodation, outdoor and rooftop terraces, wellness facilities, bars, and a cocktail lounge and restaurant. Christopher Isherwood, who wrote so evocatively of Berlin, lived in this neighbourhood (at Nollendorfstrasse 17) more than 70 years ago. As in other German cities, the straight folks blend right in. A few minutes’ walk from Nollendorfplatz station is Mann-O-Meter, a queer community centre with information on gay Berlin.

The U-Bahn will take you from Schöneberg to Eberswalder Strasse and Schönhauser Allee stations, in what was once East Berlin. Around and between the two stations, the Prenzlauer Berg neighbourhood is full of interesting sights. East German gay society emerged from an alternative art and political milieu, which came of age under the old regime behind the wall. The district retains, almost a generation later, a distinct appearance and atmosphere from that of the former West Berlin. There are gay sex shops, saunas, restaurants and bars here, but gay sensibilities and perspectives owe less to American and Western European models than to their own historical roots.

Kreuzberg and Friedrichshain districts also have an alternative feel and are growing in popularity with gay people looking for lower housing prices and a more multicultural mix.

There are many beautiful parks scattered throughout Berlin, not least the cruisy Tiergarten, where one can enjoy the summer sunshine without a stitch on and raise nary an eyebrow — not surprising in one of the most gay-friendly cities in the world.

Gay Pride/Christopher Street Day Festival
June 21–23, 2012

Numerous events, a street fair in and around Motzstrasse, Gay Night at the Zoo and festivities along the Spree River, all leading up to a parade.

Folsom Fair Berlin

Sept 8, 2012

Europe’s largest leather and fetish event runs noon until 9pm, with more than 20,000 people attending. The fairground features food and drinking areas, shopping, information booths and live music from Europe’s hottest DJs.

Hustlaball Circuit Festival
Oct 19, 2012

The biggest HustlaBall franchise brings together people from around the world who are looking to explore their erotic senses freely without fear of discrimination.

For more information, visit airberlin.com.


Berlin trip advisor:

Bars & Clubs


Blue Boy Bar
Prinzknecht

Lodgings

Tom’s Hotel
Arco Hotel

Restaurants & Cafés

AndaLucía Tapasbar
Maharadscha Indian Restaurant

Shopping & Services

Mister B
Prinz Eisenherz

Saunas & Sex Clubs

Apollo Splash Club
Treibhaus Sauna

For map locations and website links to over 200 places of interest see our gay Berlin listings pages.

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Comments

Even better than what George just said...
The people who complain about said businesses and BIA should be opening up businesses themselves and having a go of it, instead of just bitching like crazy about how Church St. isn't like Montreal or Berlin. If they think that a gay movie theater would be amazing, let's see a well thought out proposal for one. If they want to see more nightlife, start investing in some nightclubs and get them started. Let's see the (mostly) white GLBT population of Church St. take the risks of opening up businesses that the (mostly) immigrant people of Toronto have already done, and are doing now.
The BIA? Seriously?
BIA bashing in an article about Berlin? This city drives me crazy. Since when it is the responsibility of a restaurant or convenience store owner to define and promote Toronto's LGTB community to the world? If gay Torontonians want to keep their community vibrant, they should actually frequent businesses in the village instead of shopping online or at big box stores. It's up to you and me to keep the village gay, not the businesses that are struggling just to break even. The village BIA is not in the business of propping up a dying leather scene. They're in the business of making money to put food on the table for their families. Just because they have a storefront on the street in the village doesn't mean they have an obligation to lose money for the sake of the gay community. Do you really think it's fair to shame them for not spending $12,000 to shut down the street for a day so that 400 queers can get their leather fix? It lost them money. What business in their right mind would keep repeating a failed venture? Buddy, it's not all about you. Actually, I take that back. It *is* all about you. You want fetish pride? You want a gay village? Organize a community event, raise the money yourself, and go for it. But don't complain about the BIA. They're not the gatekeepers of our community. If the gay community actually supported Church Street businesses they way they should, the BIA would respond in kind. It's very easy to rail from your keyboard about everything that the BIA should or shouldn't do. What are *you* doing for the village BIA? What are *you* doing for the gay community? Spend an afternoon talking to business owners on Church. You might learn a thing or two about the struggle they're dealing with. The village is evolving. You should do the same.
Berlin is nice, but be alert..
After six (enjoyable) years at Church and Maitland I switched (back, to Berlin, though I spend a lot of time in another European capital as well. That feature feature above was fairly well compiled... But gay visitors who do not speak German and do not understand what they are told should be warned more against anti-gay attitudes and violence, among right wing oriented young men, often of immigrant background, outside the tourist areas. Please remember that Germany is an "open country" (no immigration or entry control) to all of Eeastern Europe (excl Russia, Ukraine, Byelorussia and further east). Attitudes in Eastern Europe are still blatantly anti-gay and reflect in the behavior of young men who have come to Berlin to find work or just to hang around. General command of English as a foreign language is not at the level encountered, say, in Holland or Scandinavia. The societal differences between parts of town are huge. Myself I live in the upper middle class comfort in South Western Berlin. The differences between boroughs (Bezirken) is more noticable than between "east of Jarvis" and Leeside or Forrest Hill.
Why can't Toronto be a Mecca for Gay tourists ??!!
Why can't Toronto be a Mecca for Gay tourists from around the world ??!! The Church Wellesley BIA in it's small minded effort to bring dollars to our Gaybourhood wants to tone down Gay with Vanilla and include Straight families and their children --and to not offend anyone at all. WRONG DECISION Fuck the Straight business owners. Close off Church Street to cars --pedestrians only. Beautify, green and restore the area. Create fun debauched events which will make international splashes. Bring back LGBT street life --music, dancing, theatre and poetry in the street. Advertise Toronto LGBT wonderland. Bring in the LGBT tourists from around the world. Put LGBT Toronto on the Map again.
Not to sure about Germany ....
Germany still refuses to give its Gay citizens full equality. Because Germany was the country, which in the past, rounded Gays up and murdered them in concentration camps, this failure, still today, to give Gays full equality, is a significantly greater injustice and evidence that things have not entirely changed since the 1940s. So they have a couple of self declared "Gay Friendly" spots, whatever that means.
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