One of the world’s great gay cities, Berlin stands for a welcoming culture, a diverse scene, and the freedom to be who you are and to love who you want. The city has a vibrant culture, inviting hospitality, and robust nightlife. Here’s why you absolutely should visit in 2023.
In Berlin, LGBTQ life is part of the city’s DNA. The city’s rich history of celebrating our community is undeniable. The world’s first gay and lesbian organization was founded in Berlin in 1897, and in the 1920s, the city was a haven for queer people from around the world. During the mid-century, Berlin again became a hotspot and global center for vibrant LGBTQ life. Today you will find Berlin booming with over 170 different LGBTQ venues with its abundance of gay bars and clubs, neighborhoods, and parties in Berlin, but you’ll also find a wide-ranging queer culture, a gay museum, and countless events and celebrations.
Should We Go Now –
Is there a benefit of traveling to Berlin now? Now over times in the past? As they say, money talks. Berlin right now is more affordable than ever. With the currently strong US Dollar, travel to Berlin is the most affordable it has been in recent history. Hotels are still much less than in London, Paris, Amsterdam and New York, and dining and experiences do not have to break the bank. Pair this with low-cost airfare to Berlin, currently offered on Norse Atlantic Airways with new nonstop flights from New York and Fort Lauderdale, an extended weekend trip to Berlin might be just what you need.
Now that we know that its safe and easy on the wallet to go to Berlin, what should you do when you get there?
What To Do In Berlin –
There is no way we could narrow down all that Berlin has to offer, but we can highlight some offerings this year. Here are some of Berlin’s LGBTQ offerings we are looking forward to in 2023:
Art Highlight: All Forms of Love “The Second Glance” (Until Oct 31,2025)
The “The Second Glance” project shows the collections of the Bode Museum from new and different perspectives, which are usually not included in the conventional art history discourse. The first installment in the series, All Forms of Love, developed in cooperation with the Schwules Museum (Gay Museum), focuses on works in the collection that explore the diversity of sexual identities. The five thematic paths that wind through the entire collection and highlight 33 objects, offer insights into the artistic and societal engagement with LGBTQ sexualities and identities that have always been present in art, but have often been overlooked or ignored.
Berlin’s History of Sex: Walking tour in Augmented Reality (Throughout 2023)
The history of sexology and sex in Berlin is the focus of this city tour that integrates augmented reality and leads you on a unique tour full of exciting, shocking, sad and sometimes absolutely unbelievable stories. Historical focal points of the tour are the Golden Twenties and the events leading up to National Socialism. It leads into the Sex Museum in the world’s first institute for sexology, lets participants discover the origins of the modern LGBTIQ movement or the beginnings of German naturist culture. Other topics include sexual fetishes in the Roaring Twenties, the AIDS crisis in divided Berlin, and sex culture in today’s Berlin.
Pride Month Berlin (Jun 28 – Jul 23, 2023)
Beginning at Stonewall Day, leading to the Lesbian and Gay City Festival in Schöneberg district and culminating in Christopher Street Day (CSD), when about one million people protest for equal rights and the right to self-determination, Berlin Pride will be complemented by exchange, education and encounters in and with the queer community. Here’s a video about last year’s Berlin Pride.
Berlin’s Schwules Museum (Gay Museum)
Since its foundation in 1984, Berlin’s Gay Museum has developed into a sought-after institution of both national and international stature. It not only presents gay, lesbian, trans, bisexual and queer life stories, but is also a unique place that reflects the diverse art, culture and history of the LGBTQ communities. Its location in Schöneberg’s Regenbogenkiez is the ideal starting point to explore the LGBTQ scene in Berlin. Keep checking out the museum’s schedule of events and tours as its changing exhibitions explore aspects of queer history and LGBTQ life and art. Highlights for the 2023 season include We Have Always Been Everywhere (Dec 1, 2022-Nov 30, 2023) which explores the history of sex workers.
Those are just a handful of the LGBTQ activities to do while in Berlin this year, but there are hundreds of more things to experience and sights to see. I’d advise keeping the visitBerlin site on hand as it has great listings for LGBTQ options, especially the Sightseeing and Hotels.
When visiting a city, I as well like to use a helpful map app. Check out the About Berlin app downloadable for your phone as it has a great overview of all the touristy and historical things to see in Berlin. paired with the visitBerlin site, it will help you round out your Berlin experience quite nicely.
Where To Stay –
You want to stay somewhere that just gets you and understands how you expect to be treated as an LGBTQ traveler. Berlin has been thinking of this and has established the Pink Pillow Collection Berlin.
Celebrating its 10th anniversary in 2023, Berlin’s successful Pink Pillow Collection of hotels promise exceptionally welcoming, relaxed and professional service to their LGBTQ guests. Going above and beyond “gay friendly”, participating hotels pledged to five principles which include contribution of social projects, knowledge of the LGBTQ scene and – above all – assure that all guests and staff members feel welcomed and respected. The 57 participating hotels include these unique places:
SO/Das Stue – Stylish relaxing retreat
This stylish, quiet 5-star luxury hotel with park-side location in City West offers contemporary design in a historic building and views of the Berlin Zoo from the living-room like Stue Bar and Lounge.
Hotel Henri – Belle Epoche opulence
Step back in time and into Berlin’s bohème scene, when entering this this 4-star boutique hotel, located in a magnificent building from the late 1800. The vibe is friendly and welcoming, the style is belle époque chic meets modern-day style, and the location right next to the fashionable Kurfüstendamm.
Hotel Oderberger – Cool vibe in former public bath house
This public pool from the early 1900s has been converted into a stylish 4-star hotel in 2016. The large pool remains and is a perfect way to get your daily workout. Now a historic monument, the one-of-a-kind hotel features stylish rooms of all categories.
Lulu Guldsmeden – Cozy boho eco and four-poster beds
Located near Potsdamer Platz, this relaxed Berlin boutique hotel offers luxurious simplicity in its 81 individually-designed rooms and six suites – and offers an organic, all-you-can-eat breakfast.
Miniloft Kreuzberg – Your own place in Berlin’s most diverse district.
Your own studio or large loft-like apartment in a building that just won a design award. Each apartment is equipped with its own kitchenette and everything you need to feel like a Berlin local.
Where To Be Seen –
Berlin has a reputation worldwide for having an exciting and unique LGBTQ nightlife. There are many varying options throughout Berlin but most will be found in Schöneberg in the south west of the city. This area is also the location for the annual Gay Pride Festival in July. But each neighborhood of the city has its own nightlife spots as well as celebrations.
Visitors can experience one of the most colorful parts of the city at The Motzstraße in Schöneberg. If you stroll through the streets of Schöneberg and suddenly you see rainbow flags hanging from every shop, then you’re most likely in Motzstraße. Motzstraße is the first port of call for anyone involved in the LGBTQ scene. The classic infrastructure ranges from a gay-friendly fitness club or pharmacy to stores for fetish outfits, and more. Especially recommended here is the restaurant “Zsa Zsa Burger“, who are serving some of the best burgers in Berlin. Every evening, when the bars open their doors, the Motzstraße turns into a lively and harmonious environment. Every year in July (this year the 15th and 16th), the Motzstraßenfest takes place here, which you should check out! Gay or not gay.
But for the bars, some of the more recognizable bars include Marietta, with its unmistakably cool ’60s decor, and New Action, which welcomes newbies looking to test the waters of the leather scene. Cafe Berio is an excellent place for great food and drinks, while Betty F*** is a tiny but vivacious place to kick-start a big night out.
The bar Große Freiheit 114 has long been an institution of the gay scene, and not just because it’s the only gay pub with a darkroom in Friedrichshain. The small Berlin bar regularly offers an exciting DJ line-up and special events. The 80s parties by DJ Herr von Keil in particular are legendary, because the people who attend, many of whom are dyed-in-the-wool regulars, don’t always take themselves too seriously. Well-established special events complete the range of entertainment on offer. Große Freiheit 114 used to be just a pub for men but now, after its “Corona hibernation and has reopened its doors since October 2021”, all queer people and their friends can attend. “Unlike before, everyone is welcome now!”
The Große Freiheit 114 update mentioned above does bring up an important item. There is a great deal of history and tradition in Berlin, but even that may need to change. Travel guides and tourism websites are great, and we like to think our travel stories can be very helpful, but always have a second glance at locations’ Facebook pages or websites to get the most up-to-date information as things do change. Is a place no longer just gay men or is it still just for men only? Has a place decided to no longer be clothing optional and that’s what you’re looking for? Did they change operation hours or even days? Just do that extra click, just to make sure.
Why Visit Berlin In 2023 –
We’re looking forward to exploring Berlin this year and here are a couple of reasons why.
It is time to travel! With the pandemic mainly behind us, we travelers are ready to go back to experiencing life, journeys, and destinations. Embracing the mentality of always being safe, we can reach out and vacation and explore once again. Considering the offerings mentioned above and so many more yet to find, and with the economy in our favor paired with the new Norse Atlantic Airways offerings, what is stopping us!
It is time to see the old and the new and even the newest. Reading up on the historical and LGBTQ offerings, Berlin positions itself as one of the top travel destinations of Europe. The city sounds like it has something for everyone. We are ready to experience all it has for museums, hotels, festivals and LGBTQ offerings and we are also excited to see what may have changed because of what the world just went through. From the sounds of it, Berlin has only become better.
And probably the best reason? Berlin is ready for us. Last year in 2022, we saw the successful return of the large festivals as they welcomed locals and international travelers to celebrate. For 2023, these are bound to be bigger and better than ever.
We’re excited to start planning our trip(s) to Berlin this year. Will we see you there?
More information on LGBTQ+ Berlin here.