It´s finally over 25° C and you´re back to sleeping naked: summer has arrived in Berlin!
Berlin has a great deal to offer everyone, but for the LGBT community especially, it is the place to be during the summertime. The free-spirited culture that can be witnessed has provided years of pleasurable summer events centered around the gay community. Whether you are gay, lesbian, bisexual, or anything in-between, you are guaranteed to find amusement during the summer months.
So.. without further ado, here are our hottest tips for you to enjoy the Berlin summer!
1) Pack your Badehosen!
Did you know that Berlin has more bridges than Venice? Start off the summer months with a big splash and visit one of Berlin´s eighty lakes- yes, eighty! They are gorgeous, fun way to relax and an easy way to mingle and meet new people.
On top of the list are:
Schlachtensee: located in southwest Berlin and bordering Grunewald, you can swim in the one of the cleanest lakes of Berlin, or rent a boat or stroll around its 7 km borderwalk.
While you´re in the area, be sure to check out a local favourite restaurant named Fischerhütte. Founded over two centuries ago, this large restaurant features a beer garden and a terrace and is a popular host of wedding celebrations through-out the year.
How to get there: “Am Schlachtensee” in Steglitz-Zehlendorf. Take the S1 to “Schlachtensee,” 30 minutes from Potsdamer Platz. No entrance fee.
Müggelsee: located in the eastern suburbs of the city, Müggelsee is the largest lake in Berlin (and apparently has its own “I Love Großer Müggelsee” fan club over at Amazon). It is popular especially for bathing, paddling and hiking. There are three large bathing areas for you to chose from. You can even rent a motorboat (or a canoe!). History buffs, check out the nearby Waterworks Museum!
How to get there: “Großer Müggelsee” in Köpenick is easily reached with public transport in less than an hour from the Central Station (“Hauptbahnhof”). The closest connections are: Underground U5, Train RE1 or Bus 161/ 165.
Weißensee: located in Pankow, Weißensee is one of Berlin´s hidden gems, but don´t let it pass you by! Go for a swim, feed the ducks or hit the beachy area (there are also plenty of spots of shade). It is the ideal location to relax and let the world slip you by.
If you are craving some adventure after your relaxation, grab a friend and head over to the abandoned children´s hospital (“Kinderkrankenhaus“). Though it´s technically trespassing, the buildings are right next to the tram stop and all gates tend to be open, so it´s very tempting to peek a look inside while there. Just be warned that the building is morose in some places (bring your torches!) due to some arson attacks over the years.
How to get there: “Strandbad Weißensee” in Weißensee. Bus 156, 255, 259. Tram M1, M2, M4, M13; 12, 27, 50.
2) Explore a Kiez!
“Kiez” [ˈkiːts] is a German word, mainly used in Berlin and northern Germany, that refers to a neighborhood within a town or city. Schöneberg is one such Kiez: the heart of the LGBT scene in Berlin started here, so why not start out with exploring this one?
To start off the evening, head to Heile Welt, one of Schöneberg´s most widely known gay bars. It boasts a nice interior, as well as a friendly atmosphere, not to forget the mouth-watering sour cocktails. After mingling and meeting a few fellow travellers or those elusive Berliners :-), grab a bite to eat in the nearby Motzstrasse just around the corner. There are various eateries to indulge: Café Kalwil for example is a unique cafe and restaurant (that -by the way- offers sparkling wine with their breakfast. Sold.) If you’re just looking for a quick snack before heading back out onto the scene, the Zsa Zsa Burger can provide a quick, rejuvenating dish to get you back on your feet.
3) Experience “Christopher Street Day”
If you´re flexible with regards to which time of year to visit, try July. It proves to be one of the best months for the LGBT community, especially when it comes to outdoor events. The action starts at the end of June with the Gay Pride parade in Kreuzberg. The streets are swarming with people from all over the world celebrating gay pride. That’s not all, an even larger parade takes place right before Christopher Street Day. The Nollendorfplatz plays host to Motzfest, a street festival with live music that´s popular with everyone, including kids and the grandparents. If you enjoy carnivals or the fair, then these festivities are for you. You can also catch a bite to eat at one of the many food stands that complement the crowded streets.
4) Explore Gay History
After partying it up, why not add in a little bit of history to spice it up? There’s a plethora of rich history to be explored for the LGBT community that can be seen through tours. One of the most popular locations is the Schwules Museum. This museum is home to some of the oldest documentations of the LGBT culture. The main focal point for the museum is Berlin and it has what seems like an endless archive of material. Another monument of history that draws in tourists from all over the world is located in Tiergarten. The Memorial to Homosexuals persecuted under Nazism was created for those, as the name suggest, who were lethally prosecuted during the era of Nazism. A signboard written in German and English documents the persecutions and “Paragraph 175,” the law that was in effect in the 50s and 60s which outlawed homosexuality. It was eventually reformed in 1969, attenuated in 1973 and finally voided in 1994.
5) Go Shopping!
To stay upbeat after all of these facts and figures, turn to shopping for a pick-me-up. There’s hundreds of clothing shops and boutiques in Berlin that specialize in men’s clothing. KaDeWe, the six-story shopping center located on Wittenbergplatz, provides visitors with a luxurious shopping experience, including a variety of designer labels. If clothes aren’t on your “want” list, there are also several specialized gay adult shops such as the 5-star Mister B Berlin, The Jaxx, and Duplexx.
We hope you enjoyed these tips that make for a splashing summer- if you have any more recommendations be sure to leave them in the comments below!