It’s slightly surreal to think that the Berlin Wall has now been down longer than it was up. The wall divided the city from 1961 to 1989, but it symbolises a period of history that in many ways still defines Berlin today.
While there are numerous memorials, museums, and monuments to help educate and remind us all of the dangers of extremism and division, most of the physical scars of that period are beginning to fade.
On this visit, I was returning to the city with my boyfriend — Liviu. It was his first visit to Berlin. It struck me, as I saw things through his eyes, that for visitors today it would be possible to enjoy a city-break to Berlin without really having any understanding of or exposure to the broken history of Germany.
Where to stay
- Schöneberg is Berlin’s gay district, and on this trip we stayed at Tom’s Hotel — a men-only hotel right on Motzstraße. In Berlin terms, it doesn’t get much gayer than that. We were in one of the self-contained apartments that Tom’s Hotel has available — it was perfect. Modern, spacious, and a kitchen equipped with the essentials.
- Previous trips I’ve rented Airbnb apartments, which always seems to work well and be reasonably priced.
- I’ve also stayed at Lux 11 — a cool hotel in the central Mitte district of Berlin. Very nice rooms that aren’t too expensive, the hotel also has a small but quite cool bar where the cocktails are good. Good transport links to get you all around town, but the best thing about the hotel is that the surrounding area is great just to hang out in — really good shopping, cafes and restaurants.
Things to do
- Visit The Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe, also known as the Holocaust Memorial.
- Walk along Zimmerstraße, and follow the route of the wall that divided the city.
- Checkpoint Charlie is one of the key historical markers when trying to understand the history of the Berlin Wall and the post-war division of the city.
- Topography of Terror — A place of remembrance on the site of the SS central command. You’ll find this on Niederkirchnerstraße, close to Checkpoint Charlie.
- Schwules Museum showcases art and photography that reflects the LGTBQ experience. If you’re staying in the Schöneberg neighbourhood, then the museum is right on your doorstep, and definitely worth a visit.
Things to eat
- It’s hard to go past the giant pretzels that you see vendors selling at the tourist spots. They’re a pretty good option if you’re hungry.
Currywurst has somehow become an iconic Berlin street-food. It’s a hot-dog in a tomato sauce with curry powder. Surprisingly delicious.
Where to drink
- Heile Welt — a relaxed cocktail bar on Motzstraße in the gay district of Schöneberg.
- Hafen — popular bar on Motzstraße in the gay district of Schöneberg. Everyone stands outside drinking beer.
- Woof — a bear bar in the gay district of Schöneberg, you’ll find it on Fuggerstraße.
Where to eat
- Romeo und Romeo cafe — popular cafe on Motzstraße in the gay district of Schöneberg.
- Sissi — an Austrian restaurant on Motzstraße in the gay district of Schöneberg.
We want to hear your opinion
Which are the gay travel hot spots?
Need some inspiration for your travel plans?
We ran a survey of Mainly Male readers to ask gay men about their expeditions and adventures.
108 guys responded to our survey.
Here’s what they told us.
When you go on vacation, who do you generally travel with?
- By myself: 23%
- With a partner: 49%
- With friends: 14%
- With family: 11%
- I don’t travel: 3%
Which is your favourite type of vacation?
- Beach: 23%
- Somewhere warm: 15%
- Winter sports: 3%
- City-break: 12%
- Something active or outdoorsy: 9%
- Something cultural: 16%
- Something relaxing: 22%
“Some holidays that have been the best of times start with staying at a B&B and being able to go sky diving, canoeing, and a range of outdoor activities, then relaxing at night in a warm house and great dinner and bed.” — anonymous survey respondent
“Combination of someplace warm where we can explore and then have a few down days to relax on the beach.” — anonymous survey respondent
“Tend to do a mix — city to party, relax, somewhere warm, cultural, and active. Our trip this year is San Francisco to party, relax on boat travelling up the west coast, Napa, hike in the red wood forest, and Palm Springs.” — anonymous survey respondent
“Cruise!” — anonymous survey respondent
When you’re on vacation, are you interested in checking out gay bars, venues, or events?
- Yes: 62%
- No: 14%
- It depends who I’m with: 24%
When you’re on vacation, are you interested in staying in a gay-friendly hotel or accommodation?
- Yes: 58%
- No: 19%
- It depends who I’m with: 23%
Which destinations are at the top of your travel wish-list?
- Responses to this question weren’t particularly cut and dried, as people listed both countries and specific cities in their answers — in some cases respondents listed entire continents. We’ve manually reviewed the answers to draw together the common themes.
- Spain featured prominently on the wish-list of a lot of our respondents. When we include beach-side destinations such as Sitges, Ibiza, and Gran Canaria, 8% of respondents had Spain on their wish-list
- Italy polled strongly, with 4% of respondents reporting that Italy was on their wish-list. As did Australia, and Germany — both of these destinations also appeared on the travel wish-list of 4% of respondents.
- An additional 4% of respondents simply nominated Europe as being on their wish-list, which would translate to further interest in destinations such as Spain, Italy, and Germany.
- Iceland polled strongly — featuring on the travel wish-list of 3% of survey respondents.
- Other destinations that respondents had high on their wish-list included New York City, Greece, Mexico, London, South America, France, Chicago, Japan, New Zealand, and San Francisco.
- Key take-out: Australia, Iceland, and European destinations are at the top of mind for gay travellers. When it comes to the US, gay travellers tend to focus on the specific cities that they want to visit, such as New York City and San Francisco.
Which destination will you be going to for your next vacation?
- Looking at the specific destinations that respondents reported, the big winner was Paris — however it’s clear that this was influenced by the timing of the survey. Respondents were completing the survey just ahead of the Gay Games hosted by Paris.
- When we look at the results at a country level, somewhere in the United States was where a large proportion (21%) of respondents were spending their next vacation — most of this seemed to be fuelled by domestic travel. Australia (9%)is a popular destination for gay travellers, as is Spain (12%) and Italy (8%).
- Key take-out: Like all travel, there are seasonal factors that influence the choices of gay travellers — for example, the beach resorts of Spain are popular in Summer. What we’d perhaps underestimated is how event-driven travel is a big factor in the choices being made by gay men.
Where do you get your travel inspirations?
- Friends and family: 29%
- Personal research: 49%
- Travel articles or features: 19%
- Advertising: 3%
“A lot of it depends on price as well, I use Skyscanner and see what cheap flights are available so if there’s a cheap flight to be taken advantage of, then why not?” — anonymous survey respondent
“I also love to read about history, so that too give me ideas about travelling.” — anonymous survey respondent
- Gay travellers are influenced by seasonal and event-driven considerations when planning their vacation destinations. Although winter sports options seem to be fairly low on the priority list.
- European destinations are popular with gay travellers, as well as destinations such as Australia, Iceland, and North American cities such as San Francisco and New York City.
- We were surprised by the number of gay men who reported that they generally travel by themselves — 23% of respondents.
- Gay travellers are interested in staying in accommodation that demonstrates that it is gay-friendly.
- On vacation, gay travellers are interested in experiencing the local gay nightlife of bars, clubs, and venues.
- The most effective way to draw a gay traveller’s attention to a specific destination is to help them feel that it’s their idea. In sci-fi terms, it’s inception — supporting the initial ‘discovery’ with positive reinforcement from friends and family, travel articles, and advertising.
- The survey was conducted across a four-week period in July 2018.
- Respondents were recruited via Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn. No incentives were offered for respondents to complete the survey.
- We used Survey Monkey to collect the survey responses, and then analysed the results manually
- Comments from respondents were captured during the survey process.
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