What's it really like?
Vast beer halls filled with men and women in lederhosen, holding huge steins brimming with local beer and munching on sausages and potatoes: when you think of a stereotypical German scene like this, it’s Munich you are thinking about.
Munich is the capital of Bavaria, a proud region with a distinct history and heritage. Our stereotypes of beer and lederhosen come from here, but so do our idea of Germany as a fairytale land: Neuschwanstein Castle, a short drive from Munich, is said to be the inspiration for Disney’s Cinderella castle, seen on its iconic logo.
However, Munich is much more than a cookie-cutter cliche. With world-class museums, cutting-edge galleries, cool nightlife, and a delightful outdoor city life, it is also a top-notch destination for any kind of traveler. The gay Munich scene is modest compared to other German cities, but it is still very much alive and diverse enough to keep things fun.
In Munich, the gayborhood is Glockenbachviertel, a picturesque neighborhood that was home to the city’s original crop of gay venues in the 80s. It has since gentrified and become one of the city’s most upscale areas, which means many of the bars and clubs in the area have a polished, trendy feel. For those who like something more down-to-earth, there are a few casual longstanding venues filled with a loyal clientele that will be glad to tell you about gay Munich through the years.
Munich has been a global center of culture, art, and design for centuries, and it is one of the wealthiest cities in Europe. It goes without saying, then, that there are some truly fabulous hotels to choose from.
Munich’s gay bars are concentrated in the Glockenbachviertel (GBV) neighborhood, while the gay clubs tend to sit a little north surrounding the Central Station. All of the recommended hotels sit either close to GBV or to the station, or somewhere in between.
These are always a safe bet, but expect them to fill up early, especially during Oktoberfest.
Germany has generally progressive LGBT laws in place. Gay marriage and adoption have been legal since 2017, and discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or gender is illegal (as is hate speech). Attitudes throughout the country are mostly liberal: in a 2013 poll, 87% of Germans believed that homosexuality should be accepted by society, the second-largest score of the countries polled.
The Munich gay scene is admittedly smaller than that in Cologne or Berlin, so it’s not like it’s an especially gay city. However, it’s still a large metropolis with a liberal and tolerant vibe, so LGBT visitors are very welcome.
Munich may not have the jam-packed calendar of annual gay events to be found in cities like Berlin and Cologne, but there are a few festivals that are well worth checking out for the full gay Bavarian experience. In particular, try to be in town for Munich Pride or for the city’s legendary Oktoberfest – which has its own gay celebrations.
Munich Pride / Christopher Street Day
Munich Pride, also known as Christopher Street Day (CSD) Munich, usually takes place over a week in July. It culminates in a street party in Marienplatz before moving to the gothic city hall building for an unforgettable gay party. It has a strong celebratory atmosphere, but without forgetting the political and activist roots of pride: the local LGBT political party is often involved, and there are usually protests, talks, and other activist events going on.
This is the biggest gay celebration in Bavaria, so we do recommend planning your trip to Munich around CSD. The city doesn’t fill up for this event like it does for Oktoberfest, but you are still better off booking early, especially if you are planning on staying around the Glockenbachviertel gay area.
Oktoberfest celebrations can now be found essentially anywhere in the world, but this is the real deal. Munich Oktoberfest takes place in late September and early October every year, and is an important part of Bavarian culture and tradition. It is most famous for the astronomical quantities of Bavarian beer that are consumed over the festival’s 17 days, usually specially brewed Oktoberfest editions of famous local beers.
Gays are very welcome to join in the traditional celebrations, but there is also a special LGBT event for those who want the Oktoberfest experience but with more pop, drag, and fetishwear thrown in. The Rosa Wiesn-Oktoberfest (“Pink Meadow Oktoberfest”) takes place on the first Sunday of the festival and gathers a huge queer crowd. Expect lots of drinking and an “anything goes” vibe.
Oktoberfest is Munich’s most popular attraction, so hotel prices around the festival skyrocket, and rooms are booked up very quickly. Book as early as 10 months to a year in advance to avoid disappointment.
Checkpoint, run by Aidshilfe Munich, is the easiest place to get an HIV test in town. Tests are available Monday, Wednesday, and Thursday evenings (5:00 PM to 7:30 PM) with a prior appointment – call the clinic to book.
Rapid HIV tests are 10€ and Antigen-antibody tests are 20€. People in Germany tend to speak pretty good English, so you don’t have to worry about the language barrier.
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