After spending a VERY intense week celebrating Pride in Berlin, we only had a few days to recover before it was time to do it all over again for Hamburg Gay Pride!
Prior to our visit, we knew absolutely nothing about Hamburg, let alone what to expect from ‘gay Hamburg’. We didn’t know Hamburg is actually the second largest city in Germany, after Berlin. And we certainly didn’t know it offers one of the biggest and best Pride parades, with over 15,000 participants, plus spectators!
We soon realised that whilst not having the same wide-spread reputation as Berlin, Hamburg is just as supportive of the LGBTQ+ community, and still has a vibrant and diverse gay-scene. And just like Berlin, Pride aside, there is a lot to do and see during your time here.
During our time in the city, we were hosted and supported by Hamburg Tourism, who really helped us to see what the city has to offer.
This guide will help you to find the best Hamburg gay bars, gay clubs, places to stay, as well as recommend some activities to fill your time. Hopefully you will find it useful!
- 1 Gay rights in Germany
- 2 Gay Area of Hamburg
- 3 Hamburg Gay Bars and Clubs
- 4 Hamburg Gay Saunas
- 5 Gay Friendly Hotels in Hamburg
- 6 Hamburg Gay Pride/Christopher Street Day
- 7 Getting around Hamburg
- 8 Other Popular Tourist Attractions
Gay rights in Germany
LGBTQ+ rights in Germany are some of the best found in Europe. To summarise:
- Same sex intercourse: legal since 1968/69
- Gender identity: Sex changes are legal, no need for surgery.
- Discrimination protections: yes
- Marriage: yes since 2017
- Adoption: yes since 2017
Laws and protections aside, the general attitude towards LGBTQ+ people in Germany is more than just tolerant, but rather welcoming. Strolling the streets of both Berlin and Hamburg, we felt very comfortable as an open gay couple, especially seeing other couples walking hand in hand.
Gay Area of Hamburg
The official gaybourhood of Hamburg is found in the St.Georg district, where the majority of gay bars, clubs and even a couple of saunas are located.
The Christopher Street Day/Pride parade also starts here, travelling down the renowned shopping street ‘Lange Reihe’ which is the heart of the St. Georg district. It’s also on the Lange Reihe where you see most of the gay establishments, proudly flying the rainbow flag.
A few gay bars and clubs can also be found in St.Pauli, which is home to Europes largest red-light district ‘Reeperbahn’. Whilst Reeperbahn is mainly home to hetero-focused bars and night-clubs, a lot of these venues do host LGBTQ+ party nights, especially during Pride season.
Hamburg Gay Bars and Clubs
Hamburg has an extensive gay nightlife scene, with a variety of bars and dance clubs to suit everyone.
Hamburg Gay Bars
Generation Bar is situated on Lange Reihe, and like many establishments on this street has a popular outdoor seating area – especially during summer!
Generation is popular with the younger crowd, especially on a weekend when the bar has DJs. Classed as a bit more of an ‘upscale gay bar’, Generation focuses on great cocktails, great music and a great time!
Whilst most definitely a gay bar first and foremost, M&Vs message is ‘offen fur alle’ – meaning ‘open to all’.
This bar is a household name in St.Georg, and is very popular on a weekend when they hold dance parties.
M&V Bar is also situated on Lange Reihe.
PickUp bar markets itself as a ‘no-frills, basement’ bar, located close to the main train station. The crowd here is often mixed – businessmen, workers, the young gay crowd, to artists and hipsters.
PickUp bar is known for its reasonable drinks prices, and buzzing vibe!
Bellini Bar is one of the long-standing gay bars in St.Georg, open since 2002. The bar prides itself on good music, tasteful design, and perfect service, making this a great choice to meet up with friends and relax.
Bellini Bar has an extensive drinks menu; we would definitely opt for something off their cocktail menu!
More Gay Bars in St.Pauli
The bars above are all located within St.Georg, and are amongst the most popular within Hamburg, but more bars can be found in St. Pauli.
The 2 most popular venues here are Wunderbar – known for great DJs and fabulous weekend parties – and Olivia Jones Bar – a well-established drag show, cabaret and comedy venue (although bear in mind the shows are in German!)
Hamburg Gay Cruising Bars
Much like Berlin, Hamburg has a very positive, open-minded and embracing attitude towards sex, and this is reflected in the nightlife scene with a selection of gay-cruising bars to choose from.
Contact Mens Bar
Contact is a typical basement cruise club, located in St. Georg. There is a full bar out front before moving through to the cruising room in the back where the action happens.
The bar has special events and themed nights from time to time, such as ‘masked night’, underwear nights, and of course, in true German style, naked nights. Basically here, less is more!
Contact is found in St. Georg.
Surely the name here says it all??!
This is a men-only fetish-bar/cruise club with a very strict dress code depending on the themed night. Expect leather, rubber, uniform, and of course, even less!
SLUT Club is in the St. Georg district.
Toms Saloon is the oldest gay bar in Hamburg, open since 1974, and was in fact named after ‘Tom of Finland’ who came to Hamburg in the early 1970s. Nowadays the bar is famous for housing the largest, private collection of Tom of Finland originals.
Inside there are 3 rooms. Firstly, the main bar, decorated with the famous drawings. The second room is another drinking room but with many monitors playing the latest adult movies. And of course, the final room is the dark room and cruising area.
Even if this is not your sort of place, it is definitely worth a visit purely for the main bar area and to visit the Tom of Finland gallery, which is so iconic!
Hamburg Gay Saunas
If the cruising bars aren’t enough for you, Hamburg has 3 popular saunas to choose from.
Dragon Sauna has been open for over 20 years, and is in the heart of St.Georg. Spread across 2 floors, Dragon Sauna features a Finnish sauna, steam room, labyrinth, Jacuzzi and a bar.
Slightly smaller, Apollo is popular with the slightly older crowd. Apollo offers a steam room, dry sauna, movie room and cabins for playing.
Mens Heaven Sauna
Mens Heaven is larger than the others, spread across 4 levels. Inside you will find a sauna, steam room, cruising area, private cabins and a TV and lounge area. It is also popular for its inhouse massage services.
Mens Heaven also has themed events from time to time, such as a Foam Party on weekends.
Gay Friendly Hotels in Hamburg
Whilst there doesn’t seem to be any outright ‘gay hotels’, given the inherent gay-friendly nature of Hamburg, almost every hotel will be welcoming to LGBTQ+ travellers. However, there are some hotels that tend to be the go-to choices, and it is hardly surprising that many of these are close to the St. Georg area.
These are our top choices for accommodation whilst in Hamburg:
During our stay we were hosted by Hamburg Tourism, and the Hotel Wedina was one of the properties hosting us. If you want a unique hotel with a lot of character this is the one to choose!
The hotel has four different buildings, each with their own style of architecture, room type, and individual décor in each room.
Much of the hotel has been recently renovated and they offer everything from compact rooms, to duplex rooms you could easily live in!
The staff here are also really friendly and the breakfast was excellent. Also making this a top choice, the hotel is within walking of all the gay bars of St. Georg!
Book your stay at Hotel Wedina here.
Superbude was the second property hosting us during our visit, and is located in the ‘secondary’ gay district of St. Pauli.
Whilst a property calling itself a hostel wouldn’t usually be our first choice, we couldn’t have been happier with our stay at Superbude. It’s definitely not a hostel in the usual sense, with dormitories and shared bathrooms. However, it markets itself as such to let guests know that it is a trendy boutique hotel, at an affordable price.
Superbude is aimed at all types of traveller – couples, backpackers, business guests, and even groups as they have rooms sleeping up to 6 people.
What we loved here was the innovative design and décor – plungers on the walls designed as coat hooks, chairs in the lounge made from wheelbarrows – it was a quirky, fun, trendy hotel with a very cool vibe. And we loved that they were flying the rainbow flag during Pride!
Check it out here for more information.
We have included this hotel due to their location, right in the heart of St. Georg, and just a short walk from various gay bars.
ARCOTEL is a very modern, contemporary hotel, and is popular with gay guests thanks to the onsite fitness room, spa and sauna.
It is also great value for money, even given its great location!
Book your stay now.
Hamburg Gay Pride/Christopher Street Day
We did not know what to expect from Hamburg Pride, but we were shocked by the size of it! To two such small people as ourselves, it felt equally as big and busy as Berlin!
Hamburg Pride is usually a week long, with various events such as a Boat Parade to kick Pride Week off, finishing with the main parties and Pride Parade on the first Saturday in August.
Our highlights of Hamburg Pride included:
Hamburg Pride Parade
The parade was amazing, and to us felt almost as busy as Berlin! The parade route starts in St. Georg, travelling down the Lange Reihe, through the streets of Hamburg and ending at Binnenalster Lake.
Just like in Berlin, we drank in the street and it didn’t take long for us to find a float that was playing music we liked and we soon joined in and danced alongside!
CSD Street Festival
One of the highlights of Hamburg Pride is definitely the Street Festival, which takes place Friday – Sunday of the Pride Weekend.
This is usually held at Jungfernstieg, which runs alongside the bottom edge of the Binnenalster Lake. The area is filled with stages, bars, food trucks, and even multiple DJs and small dance floors. Given that this is where the parade route finishes, most people tend to follow the parade and then spend the rest of their Saturday night dancing here.
Each year during Pride Week the Vogelball takes place, and this year celebrated its 9th year.
The Vogelball is essentially a large, queer masquerade ball/electronic music festival. Full of confetti, elaborate costumes and glitter, Vogelball usually attracts a few thousand partygoers, and has a well-known lineup of headliners.
Hamburg Winter Pride
Hamburg Winter Pride is an annual event, running for almost a month from the end of November to just after Christmas. Essentially a ‘gay Christmas market’, Winter Pride is held on Lange Reihe in St. Georg. Locals and tourists get together to enjoy Gluhwein, food, Christmas shopping, and dance to the DJs on Fridays and Saturdays.
Getting around Hamburg
We were not expecting Hamburg to be so big – we didn’t know it was the second largest city in Germany! And just like Berlin, there is no way you can walk from place to place when sightseeing.
The easiest way to travel is with the Hamburg CARD. As well as providing you with unlimited public transport on both the U/S Bahn trains, buses and ferries, it also gives up to 50% discount on a variety of popular tourist attractions, aswell as discount in various restaurants.
The Hamburg CARD can be purchased online, from any of the transport ticket machines, or from tourist information offices.
Prices vary depending on how many people want to use the card, aswell as how many days it is needed.
For full information on the Hamburg card, click here.
Other Popular Tourist Attractions
Although we were primarily visiting Hamburg for Pride, we still wanted to spend some time being regular tourists, and enjoying what the city has to offer. We were not disappointed!
Hamburg is a beautiful city, and has plenty to keep you entertained as a tourist. Here are our top recommendations:
The Elbphilharmonie is a concert hall, found in the Hafencity district of Hamburg. One of the tallest buildings in Hamburg, it is actually one of the largest concert halls, and one of the most acoustically advanced in the world.
The 8th floor of the building, the Elbphilharmonie Plaza, is an observation deck, and is open to the public. The Plaza provides an incredible view of the River Elbe, the modern HafenCity area of the city, and the harbour itself.
For security reasons only a certain number of people are allowed in the Plaza at any one time, so tickets are required to visit. Tickets are free if arranged through the office onsite (only available for the same day and you may need to wait depending on availability), or can be purchased online for 2 euros (no queuing and you can arrange for a future date).
Miniatur Wunderland is home to the worlds largest model railway, and has been voted as one of the most popular tourist attractions in Germany. Whilst this isn’t going to be everyones cup of tea (Sion was much more interested than me!), it is very impressive to see how much work has gone into creating the models, and how intricate all the pieces are.
The attraction is divided into sections, each one a replica of a country or city in miniature size! Examples include floating gondolas in Venice, moving ski lifts in Switzerland, and even a miniature airport!
Red Double Decker Bus Tour – ‘Die Roten Doppeldecker’
Red, double-decker, open-top buses are now part and parcel of city sight-seeing all over the world. Die Roten Doppeldecker has been operating in Hamburg for over 40 years, and today is one of the most popular ways of seeing the major sights of the city.
There are a variety of tours to choose from, all operating on a ‘hop-on hop-off’ system during the day if you wish to spend longer at any given attraction. Commentary is given live in German, with a GPS-controlled audio commentary also provided via headsets in 9 further languages.
Hamburg Harbour is a major part of the city. Part of it has been declared a UNESCO World-Heritage site, it features many well-known and unknown bridges, container terminals, historic cargo ships and more.
A harbour cruise is the best way of seeing all these up close, as well as a waterside view of the Elbphilharmonie and the HafenCity district.
Hamburg certainly took our expectations and blew them away. If you are looking for a slightly lesser known gay city break, and fancy trying somewhere a little different, we strongly recommend you check out Hamburg! We guarantee you won’t be disappointed!
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