This year turned out to be different for us. Planned trips got canceled, Pride parades have been postponed or held online, and we all had to get used to the idea of spending this summer in our countries. But no reason to be sad or disappointed. There is so much to see, explore, learn, and enjoy just a few steps outside our homes. And there is no reason to just take a few more steps and to find out how beautiful Europe actually is. It all started with a call from Sweden, Malmö to be precise, and ended up on a 3,500 km road trip around LGBTQ+ Germany, Sweden, Austria, and back to Amsterdam.
You might remember our first trip last summer where we attended Malmö Pride and toured around the Southern part of Sweden, Scania. This year, we are going back to see even more of Malmö, especially the preparations for World Pride 2021 together with Copenhagen. Well, out of this idea developed a plan to see more of central Europe. The idea for a staycation 2020 was born. After our road trip to Sweden, we will make our way over the Baltic Sea to Germany by ferry to start our one-month road “Best of LGBTQ+ Germany”. Join us on our gay couple road trip and summer staycation adventure through a Couple of Men‘s eyes!
Our Best of LGBTQ+ Germany – Road Trip 2020
And now all eyes on our road trip around Germany’s highlights with information about LGBTQ+ hot spots, cultural highlights, and our favorite things to do while traveling as a gay couple from Western Europe. Some of Daan’s highlights will be our visits to three of the biggest theme parks in Germany including Heide Park in Soltau, Europa-Park in southern Germany, and last but not least, Phantasialand in Western Germany. Karl cannot wait to go on a camping adventure again but not just somewhere: On the island Rügen in the Baltic Sea! Additionally, we will spend some days in some of the most LGBTQ+ and gay-friendly German cities including Berlin, Dresden, Munich, Heidelberg, and all the cute little villages, castles, and towns on our way. Get ready for some German realness with Couple of Men!
Heide Park Resort – Northern Germany’s biggest Theme Park
We started our journey in Amsterdam heading in a north-eastern direction. Our first destination was, of course, a theme park! Heide Park in Soltau is located between the German cities Bremen and Hamburg and is Northern Germany’s biggest theme park. Daan couldn’t wait to finally be on a rollercoaster again. The biggest theme park of Northern Germany has more than 40 attractions we can try out, of course, with a mask and by respecting the park regulations. Definitely on our to-do list is a #heideparkmaskies, a selfie with a mask!
Our accommodation for two days was the Holiday Camp with its wooden huts – pure adventure outdoor feeling for us nature lovers!
The Hanseatic city in the Northern part of Germany was high on our gay travel’s bucket list already for a while. We visited Hamburg for three days in the early summer. Exploring the main port city of Germany with its Warehouse District, the gay (friendly) neighborhood St. Georg and the world-famous Reeperbahn.
Detour – Sweden for a week
Before we will continue to travel around Germany, we will cross the borders to Denmark and Sweden for a couple of days in Malmö. The city in Southern Sweden will be the co-host of next year’s World Pride 2021 together with the Danish capital Copenhagen. It will be our second trip to Scania. As you might recall, it is a beautiful and LGBTQ+ welcoming part of Sweden and in our eyes a worthy place to celebrate one of the biggest pride events in Europe. Did you know that the Crown Princess of Denmark is the patron of World Pride 2021? She will be the first-ever royal to serve as the patron for a major LGBTQ+ event. Stay tuned for our articles, interviews, and videos to get ready for World Pride next year!
Camping on the Island Rügen – Baltic Sea
From one side of the Baltic Sea to the other… mhh… What would be the best way to do it? Of course, with a ferry. Starting from Trelleborg, we will cross the Baltic Sea, or how the Germans call it, the Ostsee, to reach Rostock, one of Germany’s Hanseatic cities. We cannot wait to reunite with Martin and Henning, two very good friends of Karl before we will continue our journey to the island Rügen. Fans of Caspar David Friedrich, a 19th-century German Romantic landscape painter and in our eyes one of the inspirations for many Instagram pictures of today, will love what we are going to do. We will spend a good week on the island in the Baltic Sea camping at the Regenbogen Camp and visiting Karl’s nice. The chalk cliffs of Rügen, in particular, will undoubtedly become one of our highlights of Rügen as a natural monument.
Gay Capital Berlin & pickled cucumbers at Spreewald
Our next stop in Germany will be a short visit to Berlin to pick up Karl’s friends for a short vacation in the German pickled cucumber paradise, the Spreewald. Just a short drive southeast from Berlin in the German state Brandenburg, Karl’s parents have a small, secluded holiday home. Dense pine forests and an extensive lake and river landscape have everything you need for a short trip to Brandenburg. Of course, we take our inflatable canoes with us to paddle through late summer nature. And of course, we will take a few jars of the famous pickled gherkins from the Spreewald with us, just in case.
Berlin is one of the most international cities in Germany and is, at the same time, considered to be one of the gay-friendlies European cities for LGBTQ+ travelers from all over the world. The gay scene and the LGBTQ+ community are considered to be very diverse, welcoming, truly hipster, and rainbow proudly queer.
Dresden – Florence of the North
From the Spreewald, it is just about 1.5 hours by car to our next stop: Dresden. The so-called Florence of the North is Karl’s hometown located in the heart of the German state Saxony. Although the city was destroyed in the last days of WW II, the efforts to rebuild, recover, and focus on the future are exemplary of the Saxon people and their strong connection to their heritage and history. Although the LGBTQ+ and gay scenes are comprehensible, events, parties, and localities are offering a diverse queer life for the locals and for LGBTQ+ travelers. We will stay for a couple of days to visit the city and Karl’s family before we will be back on the road in a southern direction!
A small but lively gay community, many bars, cafés, and restaurants, and of course, the river Elbe are creating this very special Italian city flair, even in Germany. Once a year, Dresden turns into the gay capital of Saxony with thousands of LGBTQ+ demonstrating equality and human rights at CSD Dresden.
Munich – Summer in the capital city of Bavaria
Many years ago, Karl visited Munich with his former boyfriend just for a night or two. But of course, the Bavarian capital city has much to offer for LGBTQ+ travelers. Known for being relatively conservative and religious, the South-German state of Bavaria is for many international travelers the epitome of what LGBTQ+ Germany is all about beer, sausages, Oktoberfest. But let us tell you, that’s how we define Germany. We will spend a couple of days in Munich exploring some cultural heritage, get to know the gay scene, and the best places to go for LGBTQ+ travelers. Please let us know what you want to know about Munich and we will make sure to find it out!
Beer, bratwursts, traditional costumes, and sporting ambitions – Munich has many characteristics for which Germany is famous. Even if the German state of Bavaria is one of the politically more conservative federal states, Munich is a well-known and popular place to live for Germany’s LGBTQ+ community.
Gay Munich City Guide >
Discover Salzburg the Different Way
Not in Germany… but just a 2-hour drive away: Salzburg! What Munich is to Germany, Salzburg is to Austria. The Mozart and Sound of Music city in Austria close to the German border is a true picture book travel destination in Austria. We had the chance to visit Salzburg two years ago and dreamt about going back ever since. If everything works out as planned, we should have time for four days in Salzburg to meet friends again, to see some more places in the Austrian city, and even to attend CSD Salzburg Pride 2020.
Sound of Music, Mozart, Salzburg Castle, Schönbrunn Castle… and we could go on and on and on with highlights LGBTQ+ travelers can experience in Salzburg. But we let our blog article speak for itself. Make sure to have enough data on your phone and SD card because there is much to explore in Salzburg!
A Day Trip to Neuschwanstein Castle
Did you know that the Disney castles have been modeled after the famous Neuschwanstein castle? Well, we do, of course, #themeparknerds! So, guess where we are going after our stay in Munich!? Correct: Schloß Neuschwanstein! And since we couldn’t fly to Orlando this spring, we’re bringing a piece of Disney home to us. Neuschwanstein Castle was built in 1869 for the then Bavarian King Ludwig II above the town of Hohenschwangau near Füssen. Just a 1.5 hours car ride south-west of Munich. From there, we will make our way west to our next theme park adventure in LGBTQ+ Germany!
Europa Park – Germany’s largest amusement park
Leaving Disney’s ideal castle behind, we are on our way to the largest theme park in German, the Europa-Park. With its 18 rollercoasters and 18 areas themed after European countries, Europa-Park is the second most popular theme park resort in Europe, following Disneyland Paris. And guess what: Daan, the theme park nerd, never visited this German amusement highlight before! Simply a must-do when traveling around the south-western part of Germany and perfectly located for our following gay city trip!
Heidelberg Old Town over the Heidelberg Castle
Right in the middle between Europa Park and our last destinations before returning to Amsterdam, we will visit Heidelberg. Known for its beautiful old town and majestic castle, Heidelberg is home to a lively LGBTQ+ community. One of the annual highlights is the Queer Festival taking place every year in May. Our plan was to visit the festival this spring and to show you the best of the Queer Festival. But, you know what happened… We are super excited to get the chance for at least a short stop to get a first glimpse of the picturesque German city by the Neckar River. See you next May for the Queer Festival 2021?
Phantasialand – Award-winning Theme park close to Cologne
Finally, we will arrive in a fantasy wonderland. Karl was once at Phantasialand at the cute age of 8. All he can recall is the magically enchanted forest and the feeling of being overwhelmed by beautifully themed areas. Phantasialand is one of the largest amusement parks in Germany and really offers something for everyone with six lively theme worlds, unique attractions, and exciting shows. Disney fan and theme park nerd Daan has never made it to Phantasialand. But that should finally change. It is about time!
From Europe with Love: SAFE gay traveling!
Traveling in the time of an international pandemic is a delicate topic. Especially in Europe where, after months of (partial) lockdown in many EU countries, the numbers of active cases are either stagnating or slowly increasing again. However, it is vacation time for Europeans and the keyword for safe traveling is “responsibility”. Every country worldwide has its restrictions and measures to flatten the curve and to protect especially the vulnerable in our society. Facemasks, physical distancing (we like this term better than social distancing), and regularly disinfecting of our hands are part of our standards to reduce the risk for ourselves and everyone else. Additional to that, please inform yourselves about the specific measure in the countries you will travel to during a trip including Sweden and Germany.