In the 1920’s Berlin was a bastion of LGBT+ culture, and a century later it’s taken up that mantle again. Germany’s largest city has a huge number of gay and queer friendly establishments dotted throughout equally friendly neighbourhoods. Beyond the usual bars, clubs, and places to stay, there’s also a lot of LGBT+ cultural touchstones, from the Gay Museum to plaques and other sites memorialising the LGBT+ people who lived and died in the city. Whether you’re looking to hit up the famous gay clubs in Berlin or want to learn more about the queer history of this sprawling city, then read ahead for our guide to LGBT+ Berlin.
In the 1920’s Magnus Hirschfield’s Institut für Sexualwissenschaft was already pioneering studies into queer and trans life, but his incredible research was cut short by the Nazis. Nowadays Berlin is once again at the forefront of the LGBT+ community, and the Schwules Museum is a massive part of that: it’s one of the largest global institution for researching and communicating the history and culture of queer communities.
The museum has plenty of exhibitions that go through the long history of Berlin’s LGBT+ community, and in the evening there are often interesting lectures about various queer topics. The institution itself has been running for 35 years now, telling these almost lost stories to captivated audiences. Tickets are available at EUR 9 (GBP 8) for adults and EUR 3 (GBP 2.60) for various concessions.
Kitty-Kuse-Platz and Schöneberg
The Schöneberg neighbourhood has historically been a gay area in Berlin and was where many of the most famous gay and lesbian nightclubs in Berlin were homed in the 1920s. In fact, the neighbourhood was where the first gay bar in Germany was founded, and was a firm favourite of Marlene Dietrich and Christopher Isherwood, both icons of early 20th century queer culture.
Kitty-Kuse-Platz, a square in the community, is named for the prominent lesbian activist of the 1970s Kitty Kuse, who was also known for helping the Jewish painter Gertrude Sandmann to survive the Nazis.
She isn’t the only person related to Germany’s gay history who had links to this neighbourhood: Claire Waldoff, a famous cabaret singer known for her songs with lesbian undertones lived here too. Aside from the landmarks commemorating these pioneers and others, Schöneberg has plenty of great, friendly bars, so it’s a wonderful place to get lost in. At night some of the best gay clubs in Berlin open their doors here too, so it’s an easy place to spend the entire day.
This tiny bar in the centre of the city is known for being one of the venues that many people snag a few drinks at before heading to the gay clubs that dot Berlin. With that said, the bar itself is a fun night out, with 80s and 90s hits being pumped through the speakers until the early hours.
The cramped space doesn’t feel claustrophobic but instead engenders a friendly atmosphere, and the bar is surprisingly well-stocked given how small it is. There’s great beer on tap, fairly cheap spirits, and a wonderful crowd: what more could you want to start off your night?
Heile Welt Club
Situated in the heart of Schöneberg, Heile Welt Club is a Berlin gay club institution. Split into a bar and club, the friendly bar section is open from 8pm. Here, you can grab some tasty beer and manage to snag a bit of conversation too – the locals and regulars are a great bunch who are always keen to make newcomers and tourists feel welcome. However, when 11pm hits the club section of the venue opens, and in there it’s a hundred percent party. You have to pay entry to get entry to the late-night section but it’s without a doubt one of Berlin’s best gay clubs, so well worth the fee (which varies depending on the night that’s on).
There are different themes to the nights depending on the evening you decide to go, but no matter when you end up here it’s bound to be an evening to remember. The DJs are all class, packing in classic grooves alongside some new hits, and the crowd are about as friendly as it gets. Once you step through the doors, you’ll be wishing the night will carry on forever.
Making a guide to gay clubs and spaces in Berlin and not including KitKatKlub would be sacrilege. The infamous spot, named for the nightclub in Broadway favourite Cabaret, has been running since the mid-90s and has had to move location several times, although now is just by the Spree, south of Mitte. Initially founded by the famous pornographer Simon Thaur and his partner Kirsten Krüger, KitKatClub specialises in trance and techno, as well as a permissive freedom that makes many other spots look like convents.
Although the free-flowing party atmosphere of the early, heady days of the club has been somewhat tempered by its increasing popularity, there’s no doubt it’s still an icon that has to be on any list of great Berlin gay clubs – although there are also plenty of hetero revellers around too.
Its newest location also puts it in proximity to two other Berlin greats, Tresor and Berghain, making this little area south of the city centre the pantheon of Berlin clubbing. A night to tick off the bucket list, for sure.
With over three decades of history, Connection is located in the famous gay area of Berlin, Schöneberg. This iconic venue plays primarily dance and house music, although on some nights they’re a bit more fabulous, spinning classic 80s and 90s dance. There are multiple floors to explore, and plenty of drinks to be had – the staff are all professional and pour booze as efficiently as they can to get you back on the dancefloor where you belong. It’s a friendly venue too, and there are plenty of revellers who’d be happy to meet your acquaintance. A firm favourite in Berlin’s gay club scene for good reason.