Emergency measures in the wake of Covid-19:
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. Berlin also boasted an openly gay mayor, Klaus Wowereit, from 2001 until 2014.
Prices here are reasonable compared to other European capitals, but catching up. Still, people from other EU countries and beyond are flocking in, creating an ever-more-cosmopolitan ambiance. English is firmly established as the second language of many people, especially in the west, so English-only tourists will have little trouble communicating. That said, the locals do appreciate it when people try to speak a few words in German.
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 center, 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 center, close to the Wittenbergplatz U-Bahn station, this is Continental Europe’s largest department store. In addition to the usual retail departments, the upper floors offer a wide variety of gourmet foods and tempting buffet selections to tuck into. 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, Friedrichshain, Kreuzberg, and Prenzlauer Berg neighborhoods. 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 lesbian and gay Stadtfest and the Christopher Street Day Pride celebrations in July.
Many of the gay bars, clubs and shops are located in Schöneberg. Christopher Isherwood, who wrote so evocatively of Berlin, lived in this neighborhood (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 Mann-O-Meter is a queer community center with information on gay Berlin.
The U-Bahn (U2) 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 district 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, 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. Some of the biggest dance clubs are located here, along with plenty of small neighborhood party bars and men's haunts, including the most recent sauna opening. The Schwules Museum in Kreuzberg covers the history, politics and culture of homosexuality, with an art gallery, archives, and ongoing meetings, events and workshops.
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. There’s a network of public swimming pools with saunas, water cascades, and wave makers. In winter they provide a warm and cozy indoor retreat. In summer, open-air pools and lakes offer relief from hot weather. For info on pools see Berliner Bäder. For nudist-friendly pools, see FKK in Berlin.
Berlin will soon have just one new airport. Tegel (TXL), dating from the Berlin Air Lift era, is slated to close November 8, 2020 after the last Air France flight to Paris departs. Berlin Brandenburg (BER), the new replacement airport as of October 31, incorporates the former Schönefeld Airport, known now as Terminal 5. The FEX Train Airport Express connects Flughafen BER Terminals 1-2 with Berlin Hauptbahnhof in 30 minutes. Terminal 5 is served by S-Bahn trains S9 and S45, with connections to Terminals 1-2, or to Hauptbahnhof. To transfer between T1/T2 and T5, use this link.
Express buses X7 and X71 connect U-Bahn Rudow (U7) and both terminal locations (about 20 minutes). Express bus BER1 runs hourly between Steglitz town hall and T1. Other buses include numbers: 171 from Hermannplatz, Neukölln, (U-Bahn 7 and 8); 164 from Köpenick (S-Bahn 3); and 163 from Schöneweide, Niederschöneweide (S-Bahn 8, 9, 45, 46, 47, and 85). See Berlin Airports for more information.
While it remains open, Tegel has buses direct to Zoo Station (Zoologischer Garten) on routes X9 or 109. Tickets may be used to transfer to trains, trams or buses. The Tegel location is to become the Urban Tech Republic.
Long-distance rail lines connect Berlin with all of major German cities and many more in neighboring countries. Regional rail lines provide access to the surrounding regions of Brandenburg and to the Baltic Sea. From Hauptbahnhof, Berlin's main station, Deutsche Bahn operates trains to domestic and international destinations.
For bus/coach services to and from Berlin, see the many companies operating out of the Zentraler Omnibusbahnhof or ZOB, a short walk from either the Kaiserdamm Süd U-Bahn, or the Berlin Messe Nord S-Bahn stations.
The S- and U-Bahn public transit networks are part of a unified fare system, but with different operators. Run by DB, the S-Bahn has 15 lines across and around Berlin. Along with the mostly underground U-Bahn trains of BVG, (also with buses and trams), they form the backbone of Berlin's public transit system.
A single fare ticket (Einzelfahrschein), good for one person for up to two hours within the central AB zones, costs €2.90 and provides access to any train and/or bus combination (except round-trips). For ABC zones it's €3.60. Short trip tickets (3 stations or less) cost just €1.90. Day tickets (AB zones) cost €8.60 - good until 3am the day after you first validate the ticket. The €34 (zones AB) or €41 (zones ABC) seven-day tickets are valid for seven consecutive days (until midnight) from its validation.
To choose your best option, see "tickets" at the BVD website (with Ticket App to download tickets to your smartphone), or city transit info at Berlin.de (for slow-tech/ non-adopters). Pay at machines (multi-language) on the platform, at station kiosks, or buy PrintTickets (AB only) online. Validate your ticket in one of the little yellow boxes before boarding the train, and hold it until outside the station. Fines are imposed on anyone found without a valid ticket on a train, or inside the yellow lines that define station platform areas.
The free “FahrInfo Plus” app for Android or iOS/ Apple smartphone users allows for a phone to be used as a ticket, and research device for routes, connections, and schedules.
Tourist Welcome Card premium tickets provide unlimited travel on all public transport services in the city within the AB zones at a cost of €23 for 48 hours, €33 for 72 hours, €40 for 4 days, €46 for 5 days, or €49 for 6 days (as of Oct 2020), with discounts on up to 20 tourist highlights. See Visit Berlin for more information.
Berlin, with a system of roughly 620km of bike lanes, has about half a million daily bike riders. Bike rentals run €8-12 per day from shops and hotels all over town. One of the big outifts, with a choice of 6 models, BerlinOnBike rents for €10/day or €50/week. Bicycles may be taken on designated cars of the S-Bahn, U-Bahn and tram when sufficient space is available, for an extra €2-2.60.
Bike-share companies include DB Call a Bike, Lime, Mobike, and Nextbike. E-scooters may be rented from Bird, Lime, Tier or Voi. Carsharing companies, such as Miles, ShareNow, SIXT Share, and WeShare (with VW E-Golf electric vehicles), offer new cars for short-term rentals in and around town.
If you want someone else to do the work, see the guys with pedi-cabs at BikeTaxi. Their website is German-only, but you can usually see them waiting at places like Potsdammer Platz or Checkpoint Charlie.
In Germany for awhile and want to see the whole country? Consider the German Rail Pass to use the entire DB Bahn network and beyond (Italy, Belgium, Austria, Czech Republic and Poland) for 3, 4, 5, 7, 10 or 15 consecutive or flex travel days, from US$287 to $647. See more price options.
Media & Resources
The local gay magazine Siegessaeule (with English-language calendar), has maps, business and events listings along with articles and photos of the scene. Blu, the Berlin print magazine by Männer Media, has an online reader, plus digital articles and listings.
Boner Magazine, is a gay hardcore and lifestyle magazine with interviews, German gay events listings, news, maps, business listings, and articles about the local queer scenes, in German and English.
L.Mag is a lesbians' publication with news, events and lifestyle articles.
ExBerliner, an English-language online magazine, has news and features, restaurant reviews, art and cultural listings, nightlife and classified listings.
BerlinBear website has the scoop on where the bears are gathering in Berlin and other German cities, with weekly listings for the bars, plus special events.
Schwules Museum (Lützowstraße 73) the gay archives, library and museum, has part of their art and photography collection on display, guest exhibits, film series, lectures and workshops. Guided tours are provided in German or English.
The Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence or Orden der Schwestern der Perpetuellen Indulgenz, the local queer nuns, do volunteer community work, spread universal joy and expiate stigmatic guilt, giving hugs and blessings, distributing safer sex material and raising funds for those with HIV/ AIDS.
Manometer (Bülowstraße 106) is the local LGBT community, health and information center, at Nollendorfplatz U-Bahn station.
Tip Magazine lists all the city nightlife, concerts, films, television and events each week, in their print and online versions.
Visit Berlin is the official city tourism site, with Gay Berlin pages, and lots of information in a dozen languages. The official BerlinCity site also has an introduction and a guide to the city, in four languages.
Fans of David Bowie can read about his years spent here in Berlin, 1976-78, sharing an apartment with Iggy Pop, at Bowie's Berlin.
Schöneberg Postbank/Post Office locations include: Joachimstaler Str 41 (at Kantstrasse near Zoologischer Garten); Kleistrasse 23-26 (at Martin-Luther-Straße near Wittenbergplatz); and Potsdamer Straße 134 (near Kurfürstenstraße U-Bahn). For quick photocopy and printing services see the CopyCenter (Ansbacher Straße 8) in Wittenbergplatz.
For map locations and website links to businesses listed below, see our gay Berlin listings pages.
Art Hotel Connection (Fuggerstraße 33), above Prinzknecht and Connection clubs, is minutes walk from Wittenbergplatz and other Schöneberg neighborhood bars. They have 15 newly renovated rooms, wide-screen televisions, DVD-players, laptop safes, Wi-Fi andiPhone docking stations. Breakfast is served on request 8am-4pm. For those a little kinkier they rent a toy-filled SM playroom.
For the upscale gay traveler, the elegant, stylish and comfortable Axel Hotel Berlin (Lietzenburger Straße 13/15) has rooms near everything in the Shöneberg area. Their Lounge Bar offers sandwiches and other snacks to go with a glass of wine or a cocktail, and there's a rooftop bar and solarium. Water Circuit features a Jacuzzi, and sauna or hammam sessions. The Fitness Area provides machine workouts, and the Relaxation Area has hammocks and expert massage services .
Gay-owned, straight-friendly, the Arco Hotel (Geisbergstraße 30) turn-of-the-century building has 23 rooms, private baths or showers, phone, and cable TV, near Shöneberg gay hangouts, the Ku'damm, and Wittenbergplatz. Moderate rates include breakfast buffet in the breakfast room or in the garden and English-language newspapers. For laptop luggers, there's Wi-Fi throughout, and they'll rent you a machine if you're traveling light.
Frauenhotel. Artemisia (Brandenburgische Straße 18, K'damm), women-only hotel, moderate rates, sun deck, breakfast, women's art displays, WiFi.
Gay Hostel (Kalckreuthstraße 10, Shöneberg), men-only hostel for those age 38 or younger, double or shared rooms with inexpensive beds, at the center of everything; TV lounge, storage lockers, towel, linen, a common kitchen with fridge and microwave, free coffee and WiFi.
Hotel Sarotti-Höfe (Mehringdamm 53-57, Friedrichshain-Kreuzberg), unique-decor rooms and apartment in the former Sarotti chocolate factory; popular cafe/bistro/bar with brunch buffet and free WiFi. Discount arrangements with Revolver/ B:EAST events group.
My Gayhostel (Nollendorfplatz 5), gay men-only hostel, 4-bed dorms with inexpensive rates, WiFi throughout, gay magazines; also private rooms with TVs.
R&Co Berlin Apartments (Fuggerstraße 19), two fully equipped studios, PCs, DVD players, by the owners of the Schöneberg leather store, formerly RoB Berlin.
Tom's Hotel (Motzstraße 19), offers single and double rooms, all with TV, DVD player, free WiFi, and private bathroom at the heart of everything in gay Shöneberg. Tom's Hotel Pass gives you 5-15% discounts or free welcome drinks from 18 local bars, cafes, restaurants and shops.
Schall Und Rauch (Gleimstraße 23), just off Schönhauser Allee, Prenzlauer Berg, where many Brits and North Americans, curious about the old GDR and East Berlin come for laid-back lifestyles and youthful energy. An inexpensive seven-room pension, with bathrooms, shower, and internet access, also one of the area's hippest bars and restaurants. City Guesthouse Pension (Gleimstrasse 24), next door, has large comfortable rooms, all with TV and bath.
All the gay options full up? The family-run Hotel Ambiente (Gossowstraße 11) with moderate prices, the old-world style BB Hotel Berlin (Fuggerstrasse 13), and the Sachsenhof Hotel Berlin (Motzstraße 7) are mixed but gay-friendly alternatives in Schöneberg, convenient to all the bars and restaurants.
See links for over 50 hotel listings at our map & listings tab.
Ebab also lists and books LGBT-friendly rooms, studio apartments and hostel dorms across a broad range of locations, features and prices, in Berlin and elsewhere in Germany.
Hotel prices have risen recently. To stay within a tight budget, or if travelling in groups, HostelBookers lists of dozens of hostels with beds as low as €13 per night in 4 to 8-man dorms, private single rooms from around €35 (higher Friday/ Saturday), plus private doubles or quads for a bit more. Hostels range from small/ homey, alternative/ funky, to huge modern complexes with bars, restaurants, movies and games rooms. Often the majority of guests are young men, so it might sometimes recall the old YMCA days. Older people and women can mix right in, but some places offer female-only dorms.
A&O Hostels offers shared-room beds starting at just €7 per person at four Berlin locations. Generator Hostel Berlin at Landsberger Allee S-Bahn station and the Three Little Pigs Hostel in Kreuzberg are two more shared-room bed options with good prices. Acama Hotel-Hostel Kreuzberg and Aletto Kudamm Hotel & Hostel near Zoo Station have reasonably-priced single and double private rooms.
Similar to airbnb on a local scale, WG-Gesucht lists sublet apartments, a long-time rental tradition here for people who head out of town for weekends, weeks or sometimes months. Costs can usually beat the price of either hotels or hostels, and you have all the comforts of home. Buying a cheap cell phone to use when making e-mail enquiries will make the search process easier (incoming local calls are free).
- bars, cafes, & dining
Berliners party hard and late, and while many bars seldom get busy before midnight, some start earlier, building a crowd by eight or nine o'clock. But with no regulated times for bar closings there isn't a rush, so events can take their own course.
Black Pug (Motzstraße 28), steaks, burgers, seafood, toasts, eggs, beers, wines and cocktails. The former Pasolini and More Cafe locations.
Cafe Berio (Maassenstraße 7, Nollendorfplatz), locals' favorite with sidewalk tables, see and be seen by passers-by any warm afternoon or evening over Ice cream, breakfast coffee and pastries. Open late daily.
Der Neue Oldtimer (Lietzenburger Straße 12), locals' bar, regular mixed gay crowd, near Axis Hotel.
Die Kleine Philharmonie (Schaperstraße 14, Wilmersdorf), neighborhood piano bar, jazz nights, vocalists, theater skits, writers' nights.
Dreizehn (Welserstraße 27), small gay pub near Axel Hotel, open daily from 10am to open-end late; mostly older guys.
Fritz & Co., the rainbow-flag adorned stand for quick currywurst and french fries, by Wittenbergplatz U-bahn on the way to Shöneberg.
Hafen (Motzstraße 19), cavorting for years, good vibes from owners, staff and customers, easy conversations with strangers, wild DJs, drag shows, performances, games, and special events.
Heile Welt (Motzstraße 5), fun-loving and friendly crowd, cute bartenders are smiley and fluent with the fluids. Outdoor seating, weather-permitting. Busy front bar, upscale modern lounge extends far into rear. Wednesday through Sunday casual cruising.
Incognito (Hohenstaufenstraße 53), small neighborhood gay locals' party bar, older men/women mix, holiday specials, drag shows.
K6 (Kleiststraße 3-6), cheap drinks, laid-back old-fashioned vibe, older crowd, large beer garden, drag shows, men/women, dancing, Schlager to Pop music.
Kumpelnest 3000 (Lützowstr. 23), one-time brothel neighborhood bar, gay mix, theme parties, performances, carnival vibe.
Neues Ufer (Hauptstraße 157), laid-back gay cafe/bar, sidewalk tables, breakfast to late-night drinks.
Pizza Luna (Martin-Luther-Straße 21), great little pizza and pasta place on busy corner; chicken, filets, stroganoff and more. Take-out, deliveries, open until 4am on weekends.
Redgold1 (Fuggerstraße 34), mixed locals' music bar, retro/Schlager, DJs, karaoke; near Axel Hotel Berlin.
Romeo und Romeo (Motzstraße 20), gay coffeehouse, coffees, drinks, snacks, cakes on busy corner in building with long gay history; eat here/ take-out. Former Eldorado location.
Zsa Zsa Burger (Motzstraße 28), 21 varieties of specialty/artisan 200g burgers, soups, salads, desserts, full bar.
- men's turf
Many are the opportunities for sex in Berlin clubs. Besides the video arcade options and backroom or cellar dark rooms, many bars and dance clubs have naked nights, sex parties, and blow job zones or contests that might surprise and delight North Americans accustomed to stricter regulations. Sexual opportunities are common enough as to be unremarkable; even in kinkier, serious fetish venues, it's usually playfully casual.
Ajpnia (Wartburgstrasse 18), Wednesday and Saturday casual sex parties for regular guys, naked as you want to be, clothing lockers, bar, pos first and third Saturdays.
Blond (Eisenacher Straße 3a), bright open bar, sidewalk tables serving breakfast mornings 10am; cocktails afternoons and late into evening, younger crowd, free Wi-Fi.
Böse Buben (Sachsendamm 76-77), butt-play sex club, spanking and naked parties, leather/fetish S/M, rubber and sports nights.
Connection (Fuggerstraße 33), long-time gay-favorite dance and cruise club, good sound system, international DJs, special event shower shows. Connection/Garage shop, cruise cinema, basement darkroom maze, naked nights.
Jaxx (Motzstraße 19), porn cinema, cruising area, darkroom; erotic shop toys, accessories, magazines, newspapers, books and guides, DVD rentals and sales.
Mutschmann's (Motzstraße 30), serious leather-and-fetish men-only bar with dedicated following. Large cruising area, late-night busy backroom; naked sex parties. Popular Wednesday no dress code 2-4-1 happy hours. Moved to old Reizbar location.
New Action (Kleiststraße 35), sex club, kinky fetish men-only crowd, casual to strict dresscode events; action continues until 7am on Fridays and Saturdays.
Pinocchio (Fuggerstraße 3), cozy and sociable tiny nook, sidewalk tables share overflow from Tabasco next door.
Prinzknecht (Fuggerstraße 33), sidewalk seating and indoor darkrooms, original art on the walls. Wednesday sunset two-for-one 7-9pm happy hours attract big spill-onto-street crowd.
Pussy Cat (Kalckreuthstraße 7), low-key neighborhood bar, men's leather and cigar socials.
Scheune (Motzstraße 25), longtime favorite for butch men and admirers. Leather and uniform, though popular, not strictly enforced. Cruisy video bar and downstairs darkroom. Naked safe-sex Sunday parties on Sundays, special events throughout the year.
Tabasco (Fuggerstraße 3), self-proclaimed "hustler bar," pool games, heavy eye-contact. Friendly doorman keeps an eye on things to keep trouble away or help shy or no German language-skill clients. International mix, special event strip shows, good weather sidewalk seating.
Tom's Bar (Motzstraße 19), famous for heavy rear darkroom action, cruisy vibe, DJ sets/parties, hot videos, horny male crowd.
Toy Boy (Eisenacher Straße 3a, new gay bar at old Blue Boy location. International crowd, hustlers, drag shows; "flying buffets and sexy topless boys."
Tramps (Eisenacher Straße 6), neighborhood men's bar open 24 hours/ seven days a week.
Woof (Fuggerstraße 37) is home to the German Mr. Leather events, and pulls a good crowd of leather and fetish guys and bears most every night. Regular naked parties take place Thursdays and Sundays.
The Tiergarten (park) is not far away, and near the Siegessaeule (Victory Column) there's a legendary cruising spot and nude sunbathing. There's also action around the Lowenbrucke (Lion Bridge).
CLOSED: CDL Club (Hohenstaufenstraße 58), men's sex club/bar, naked, jock, sex shows; Bull (Kleiststraße 35), 24/7 men-only afterhours fetish/ sex playspace/ darkroom; Reizbar (Motzstraße 30), men's cruise bar, naked/ erotic/ fetish parties.
Schöneberg - shopping & services
Bodyworker (Nollendorfstraße 26) offers man-to-man, hand's-on work with sensitive erotic techniques and tantric traditions; massage that's both turn-on and deeply relaxing physical therapy.
Boner (Kalckreuthstraße 14), exclusive brands in underwear, fetish gear, club wear, personal lubricants and toys.
Boxer Berlin (Eisenacher Straße 11), men's clothing store leather, skin, rubber, sport, underwearwear, and sex toys, designed and made in Barcelona.
Boys-r-us (Maaßenstraße 8), men's fashion store in Nollendorfplatz with all the top brand names.
Brunos (Maaßenstraße 14, Winterfeldt-Markt), their largest of five Gay Lifestyle Stores in Germany from the Bruno Gmünder Group - publishers of Spartacus travel guides and the Bruno Gmunder photo books, magazines, and calendars. Retail porn DVDs, magazines, plus underwear and sex toys.
Centro Delfino (Nollendorfstraße 20), relaxing physiotherapy, Swedish, Ayurveda, and Shiatsu procedures among others, classic whole-body oil massages.
Connection Shop (Fuggerstraße 33), casual men's clothing, underwear and accessories, brand name labels; lubes. Was Garage.
Eisenherz (Motzstraße 23), on the gay block near Nollendorfplatz, gay-and-lesbian bookstore, friendly, English-speaking staff; local gay press and maps, large assortment of gay books of every kind, magazines, videos, postcards, and photography from world-over. Good English language section, coffee bar.
Galerie Janssen (Pariser Straße 45), men's gallery of imagery, large assortment of gay video DVDs, photo books, magazines, and cards spanning a wider and deeper range of male erotic themes than found most anywhere else -- from art to raunch, several eras, for many varied tastes.
Gear (Kalckreuthstraße 13), outgoing and helpful staff, central, spacious, comfortable store. Imaginative lines of leather, rubber, and urban sports wear, footwear and accessories, plus toys, lubes, cards and photo books.
Leathers (Eisenacher Straße 101), leather clothing & accessories, erotic shop, online sales.
Military Store (Eisenacher Straße 114), military surplus store, provocative display windows, clothing, accessories, gear.
Mister B (Motzstraße 22) -- the leather, rubber, and accessories store with roots in Amsterdam. From cockrings to leather chaps, all the famous, well-designed Mister B items, plus cards, videos, and magazines of interest, plus their own brand of lubes and slippery sex-enhancers.
R&Co Berlin (Fuggerstraße 19), leather, rubber, fetish gear and sportswear; kinky toys, lubes and accessories, helpful/ engaging staff, apartments for rent. The former RoB Berlin.
Sex video arcades and sales outlets include: City Men (Fuggerstraße 26, Schöneberg); Duplexx (Martin-Luther-Straße 14, Schöneberg + Schönhauser Allee 131, Prenzlauer Berg); and Pool (Schaperstraße 11, Schöneberg).
Heading east - Prenzlauer Berg / Friedrichshain / Kreuzberg
Prenzlauer Berg & Mitte - bars, cafes
The large district to the northeast of Schöneberg was once in East Berlin behind the wall. It's easily accessible by U2 trains and has lots of sidewalk cafes, restaurants, little shops and a fair number of gay businesses to explore.
Bar Saint Jean (Steinstraße 21, Mitte), underground, minimalist decor, French-owned cocktail bar, guest DJs.
Besenkammer (Rathausstraße 1, Alexanderplatz) small neighborhood gay bar since GDR days, inexpensive drinks prices. Open 24 hours.
Betty F*** Bar (Mulackstraße 13, Mitte), cosy, open-minded hideaway bar; mixed people, kitchy drag parties, mixed drinks/cocktails and "Kölsch" beer from Cologne. Open daily 9pm-late.
Capture (Wühlischstraße 32, Friedrichshain), gay party bar, DJs/dancing, game nights, Middle-Eastern theme parties.
The Coven (Kleine Präsidentenstraße 3, Mitte), stylish/minimalist decor, new music, inventive cocktails; former Prinzknecht bartenders' club, mostly men.
Flax (Chodowieckistraße 41, Prenzlauer Berg), fun young crowd, Wednesday pasta buffets, topless service-boy Fridays, big Sunday brunch buffetS. First Fridays each month karaoke party for younger guys.
Marienhof Bar & Cafe (Marienburger Straße 7, Prenzlauer Berg), Pop & Schlager party bar, shows, BINGO, terrace seating, theme nights, young gay mix.
Perle (Sredzkistrasse 64, Prenzlauer Berg), cozy neighborhood bar, Mediterranean bar food snacks, classic and creative fruit juice cocktails.
Schall Und Rauch (Gleimstraße 23, Prenzlauer Berg), guesthouse, restaurant, sidewalk cafe/bar. Menu to please all, including vegetarians. Weekend/holiday breakfast buffets, daily noon lunch, daily specials, tea-time pastries and 20 kinds of tea. Typisch Deutsch specials, good old fashioned German fare; over 100 cocktails, special holiday celebrations.
Sonntags Club (Greifenhagener Straße 28, Prenzlauer Berg) bar and cafe is also a meeting house that dates from the GDR days, and retains some of that ambience still.
TheLiberate (Kleine Präsidentenstraße 4, Mitte/Hackescher Markt), chic, opulent black and gold decor homage to classic cocktail bars, evoking Hollywood's Golden Age, from More/ Heile Welt owners. DJ sets and live music.
Prenzlauer Berg - men's turf
Several area shops, bars, clubs and tubs are male territory.
Bärenhöhle (Schoenhauser Allee 90), cozy cave for bears, many years providing comfort and converstation space for a broad cross-section of guys, especially those big friendly ursine ones.
Greifbar (Wichertstraße 10), men's cruise bar with sexually charged atmosphere, porn videos, DJ sets.
Stahlrohr 2.0 (Paul-Robeson-Straße 50), diverse, uninhibited sex and fetish parties; men's sex party bar, underwear, naked, sports, sneakers and BJ nights.
XXL-Berlin (Bornholmer Straße 7), video arcade, sex shop, DVD sales, cruise area.
Friedrichshain / Kreuzberg / Neukölln bars & cafes
Besides the big dance venues, the area has several smaller gay clubs to check out:
Arman (Mehringdamm 45, Kreuzberg), casual young international mix, Indian meat or veggie meals, good prices, brunch, cocktail happy hours.
Barbiebar (Mehringdamm 77), cafe and bar, home-style fresh cakes and cookies, coffee drinks, cocktails.
Chalet (Vor dem Schlesischen Tor 3, Kreuzberg), live music concerts, piano recitals to live electronics, special parties, after-hours events.
The Club (Bieber Straße 14, Neukölln), queer bar, art exhibits, music concerts, poetry readings and drag shows on front room stage, living-room style back lounge.
DODO (Großbeerenstraße 32, Kreuzberg), smoking bar with live music acts, amateur singers, comedians and performance artists, spoken-word and new film nights; lively mixed crowd.
Maze (Mehringdamm 61, Kreuzberg), casual art/cultural exhibition and hangout space, electronic/underground music scene, DJs, dance parties, diverse mixed alternative crowd.
Melitta Sundstrom (Mehringdamm 61, Kreuzberg), gay coffeeshop/restaurant of faded charms, sidewalk terrace, old East-zone vibe, intense conversations; popular with women.
Möbel Olfe (Reichenberger Straße 177, Kreuzberg), coffee, juice spritzers, young hip crowd comes late, big on Thursdays, music, strong vodkas, Polish beers.
Monster Ronson's Ichiban Karaoke (Warschauerstraße 34, Friedrichshain), karaoke bar in several rooms, seven private karaoke cabins, gay and alternative young mixed crowd.
Myxa Café-Bar (Lenaustraße 22, Neukölln), mixed coffeehouse, brunch, quiche, cakes, Greek snacks; live music, art exhibits, events.
Rauschgold (Mehringdamm 62, Kreuzberg), mixed neighbourhood party bar, drag cabaret shows, early before-the-clubs warmup crowd.
Roses Bar (Oranienstraße 187, Kreuzberg), small bar, kitschy faded glamour decor, mixed local & international crowd.
Silver Future (Weserstraße 206, Hermannplatz), locals' bar for "Kings & Queens & Criminal Queers" - as they put it; film screenings, craft beers.
Südblock (Admiralstraße 1-2, Kreuzberg), queer/str8 mixed locals' day cafe/ night karaoke bar; poetry readings, accoustic concerts, eclectic and unusual music mixes.
Untertage (Mehringdamm 32), new industrial underground House & Techno club space for men by Boiler Sauna, dance floor DJs, cruise/play areas; Hunters and foam parties; Lecken, femme-fwd engine for sonic, somatic and visual exploration unfolding once per trimester - with performance art and workshops.
Friedrichshain / Kreuzberg - men's turf
There's outdoor cruising at Friedrichshain's Volkspark around the Marchenbrunnen (water-fountain area), both day and night, but be cautious after dark. A half dozen indoor men's meeting places are scattered around the districts.
Club Culture Houze (Gorlitzer Straße 71, Kreuzberg), erotic playground for just about any taste, or gender; bear nights, Fist Factory, and men-only Naked Sex Mondays.
Ficken 3000 (Urbanstraße 70, Kreuzberg), near Volkspark, a sparky little bar, also with darkroom sexual adventures.
Grosse Freiheit 114 (Boxhagener Straße 114, Friedrichshain), popular gay drinkers' pub, darkroom cruising 'til dawn Tuesdays-Sundays; mix of types/ages male crowd.
Lab.oratory (Am Wriezener Bahnhof, Friedrichshain), gay bar and sex club where few acts are left unexplored. Naked, fetish and piss nights; also monthly crossover party with mixed genders, DJs and live action.
Triebwerk (Urbanstraße 64, Kreuzberg), gay sex club/bar on two floors with DJs, darkroom, St. Andrew's Cross, video cabins, sling, and naked sex parties over 250 times per year.
Berlin has many, constantly changing dance venues, exploring new entertainment concepts or revisiting and reinventing the old ones, at various venues around town.
About Blank (Markgrafendamm 24, Friedrichshain), underground dance parties, summer garden, young queer and mixed crowd.
Addiction sports fetisk men-only parties at various venues, several times a year at Easter, Pride Folsom Europe and other significant dates.
B:EAST Berlin at Polygon Club (Wiesenweg 1-4, Friedrichshain) and other venues, last Saturdays of most months, techno progressive and trash party by Revolver, with summer garden, international guests and resident DJ/producers - majority gay, but everyone welcome.
Berghain (Radersdorfer Straße at Wriezener Bahnhof, Friedrichshain), techno-partier's dream in spectacular former power plant. Gay and mixed crowd dances midnight Saturdays until Sunday afternoons. Long lines, selective door. Panorama Bar Finest Friday special guests.
Die Busche (Warschauer Platz 18, Friedrichshain), young gay/mixed crowd, weekend dancing, talent shows include erotic amateur strip. The former Haus B.
Connection Club (Welserstraße at Fuggerstrasse, Schöneberg), the long-time Friday and Saturday gay dance club, with DJ fresh faces, and big basement cruise labyrinth.
GayBeach at BeachMitte (Caroline-Michaelis-Straße 8, Mitte), summertime June through October Mondays 6pm-2am near Nordbahnhof, DJs, vollyball, dancing, main/ pop/ house/ edm, entertainment, firepits, drinks, frozen yogurt and food, plus massages and games.
GMF at Ritter Butzke (Ritterstraße 26, Kreuzberg), big gay dance party each Sunday night, broad range of people, two dance floors playing Electro and Pop by DJs that include Gloria Viagra, AleXio, Charlet C. House and Chris Bekker. Special dates at Metropol (Nollendorfplatz 5).
Golosa welcomes all people who love freaky experiences - queer, trans, non-binary, undefined - with an appetite for all things new, crazy, extravagant and different - with "satisfaction allowed too." Events, performances, film screenings at Suicide Circus, SchwuZ and other venues.
Hunters Party at Untertage (Mehringdamm 32, Kreuzberg), an everybody welcome monthly gay dance party with laser show, Tech House + Techno-Minimal music by resident DJs, big dancefloor, dark room, playspace, and Jägermeister promo shots.
Irrenhouse at Musik & Frieden (Falckensteinstraße 47, Kreuzberg), monthly Nina Queer dance and drag party with polysexual XXL darkroom, freak gogos, walking acts, blowjob center, drag queen game floor.
Kitkat Club (Kopenickerstraße 76, Mitte), the "socially, political, experimental techno club & fetish event playground for the enlightened, and uninhibited" as they put it. Dress code encourages erotic flambouyance for young and old, gay and straight of all classes, and several genders -- a "complete sensual and multi-sexual focus." FickstutenMarkt sex parties.
Mentasm - now innactive - gay Techno music Saturday dance party for men.
Revolver, second Fridays, 11pm-8am, at KitKat (Kopenickerstraße 76, Mitte). Relocated from London, one of the biggest and most successful monthly parties in Berlin, with international DJs and unique performers from the gay underground. Majority gay/ all welcome. Also Pride and Folsom Europe events. New Giant Party series by Revolver at Metropol (Nollendorfplatz 5).
Schwuz (Rollbergstraße 26, Neukölln), favorite weekend gay dance option for young Berliners. Music and shows for many tastes, and styles. Men-only naked sex parties sometimes. Moved from old Kreuzberg location to new address, near Rathaus Neukölln.
SO 36 (Oranienstraße 190, Kreuzberg), ever-changing variety of events, shows, live bands and dance nights including techno fests, Turkish and Arab music events. Roller Skate Disko Mondays and Gayhane House of Halay "HomOriental party" last Saturday Middle East nights. Café Fatal "wonderfully uncool Sunday party" for over 21 years 7-11pm, starts with a dance class and ballroom, then disco with pop music hits and Schlager.
Tresor Club (Köpenicker Straße 70, Friedrichshain), mixed rave parties on three floors, experimental music, top DJs, Mondays, Wednesdays, Fridays, and Saturdays.
For more party nights, see our events page and the nightlife pages at local gay magazine websites such as Siegessaeule (German and English), or Blu (German). Check out ChromaNova to hear what's playing in the clubs.
For film lovers Berlin has lots to offer.
Arsenal (Potsdamer Straße 2, Potsdamer Platz) has a focus on independent and experimental film, with screenings, lectures, workshops, plus a gallery and archives.
Berlinale is the Berlin International Film Festival, a huge affair with screenings in two dozen venues around town of around 400 films each year, of every genre, length and format.
The CineStar IMAX, at the Sony Center in Potsdamer Platz, screens mainstream films in their original languages -- which usually means English.
Deutsche Kinomatik, also at the Sony Center in Potsdamer Platz; permanent exhibitions on German film history and German television, plus special exhibitions.
Lichtblick-Kino (Kastanienallee 77, Prenzlauer Berg), tiny 32-seat art-house cinema, rare/obscure titles, documentaries, film fests.
QueerFilmnacht, an ongoing series of monthly gay film nights, formerly at Cinemaxx Potsdamer Platz, has moved to the new Kino Delphi Lux near Bahnhof Zoologischer Garten. See the website for upcoming screenings in Berlin and 19 more German cities. On break during summer months.
Hollywood in Berlin is a walking tour with an insider's perspective, of the city as backdrop for blockbuster movies with stars such as Liza Minnelli, Matt Damon and Tom Cruise.
Videodrom - Filmkunst Videothek (Friesenstraße 11, Kreuzberg), DVD and BLU-RAY video rental store, vast selections, mostly foreign-language films --read: English-language films or German/other with English subtitles.
PornFilmFestival Berlin takes place each October; see their website for schedules.
Berlin's Gay/Lesbian cinema Xenon Kino (Kolonnenstraße 5-6, Schöneberg) is like a year-round gay film-festival with new films weekly from around the world.
Elsewhere in Germany, in Bochum, Cologne, Dortmund, Düsseldorf, Essen, and Oberhausen, Homochrom does year-round LGBT screenings and an annual October film festival in Cologne and Dortmund.
Several big gay annual events in summer and autumn bring everyone out into the streets and parks of Berlin. See dates and locations for these and more at our events page.
Part of Gay Pride festivities, Schöneberg hosts the annual June site of Gay Stadtfest, Europe's largest queer open-air event. Main stages attract the largest crowds, but the surrounding streets, clubs and beer gardens in the vicinity of Nollendorfplatz will be packed in all directions.
The July Christopher Street Day parade typically includes a hundred floats that proceed from the Kurfurstendamm to the Siegessaeule with half a million or so people, and more than a few playful shenanigans in public.
Hustlaball, with it's "world of hustlers, hookers, pimps, streetwalkers, flesh-peddlers, porn stars and other scandalous sorts," swings through Berlin in October, an annual festival of sex and dance parties - with the main event at KitKat.
Parkfest Friedrichshain, a big gay/lesbian annual mid-August party for Friedrichshain and Kreuzberg, takes place in Volkspark with thousands in attendance and lots of food and local talent.
QueerBoot is another August event, since 2006, a summer boat party on the waterways of Berlin - but cancelled this year (2017) - look for 2018 updates.
Folsom Europe in September, one of the world's biggest leather/fetish/skin/rubber events. Parties include the men-only PERVERTS and PIG nights, and events all over town in bars and bathhouses. They also do a big streetfair for everyone, on Fuggerstrasse too.
The Easter in Berlin | Mr Leather Germany Contest takes place over the long Easter Weekend. Europe's biggest Leather/Fetish Week of the year includes contest events, an Easter Sunday mega party and lots more events in bars/clubs around town.
See our events pages for more, and our map & listings page for more locations and website links. For even more party nights, see the nightlife page at local gay magazine websites such as Siegessaeule in German and English, Out in Berlin also in both languages, or Blu in German. Check out ChromaNova to hear whats playing in the clubs.
CLOSED: Darkzone (Urbanstraße 64, Kreuzberg) porn/ cruising; Gate Sauna (Wilhelmstraße 81), bears' bathhouse; Harlekin (Schaperstrasse 12-13, Wilmersdorf), cabaret/ showbar; HarDie's Kneipe (Ansbacher Straße 29, Schöneberg), gay locals' bar; Herz (Weichselstraße 15, Neukölln), women's/queer/alt bar; Maze World (Kurfurstenstraße 79) porn/ cruising; Naherholung Sternchen (Berolinastraße 7, Mitte), old GDR bar/ artspace; Privatleben (Rhinower Straße 12, Prenzlauer Berg), men/women mix; Sanatorium 23 (Frankfurter Allee 23), café/bar lounge; Sofia (Wrangelstraße 93, Kreuzberg), gay party bar; Steam Works, formerly Apollo Splash Club (Kurfurstenstraße 101), steam/sauna.
Articles of Interest
December 10, 2019 - 'The vibe was sex, sex, sex': Cocktail D'Amore, Berlin's free-love club night - Liam Cagney/ The Guardian
June 30, 2017 - German parliament votes to legalise same-sex marriage - Kate Connolly/ The Guardian
June 22, 2017 - Germany to quash convictions of 50,000 gay men under Nazi-era law - AFP in Berlin/ The Guardian