The three big B for beer, BMW, and Bayern Munich stand for three of the biggest export hits of the Bavarian capital, of course, we mustn’t forget the annual Oktoberfest. But in addition to some mugs of the best beer in the world, which we as beer lovers simply had to try during our 4-day stay in Munich, there had entirely different things planned out for our first trip to Munich. Because even if Munich is the capital of the more conservative German state of Bavaria, the city on the Isar is one of the most LGBTQ+ and gay-friendly cities in Germany. Numerous popular locations, annual events, and even monuments tell the story of a deeply rooted, active queer community in Munich that has managed to integrate traditional and modern LGBTQ+ institutions into today’s cityscape.
– paid collaboration with Munich Tourism –
Adventurous and curious as we are, we started our journey with a guided city tour exploring the heart of the gorgeous city center of Munich while learning more about the interesting queer stories of the Bavarian capital, starting with Freddie Mercury, the Deutsche Eiche, and the gayborhood Glockenbackviertel. You can believe us, Munich has some seriously charming places to explore! So, we were set off to a fresh and sporty bike ride away from Munich’s city center to the impressive Nymphenburg Palace, one of the biggest royal palaces in Europe. Our next stop, the Olympic Park from 1972, was supposed to show us a wholly different and sporty side of the city. But what we could experience there, was something we really did not expect. Excited? We hope to inspire you to plan your Munich gay city trip with Couple of Men.
Historical background: What is Munich famous for?
Like so many German cities, Munich has a beautiful old town center. Monumental church buildings shape the Munich cityscape, some of which are original buildings dating back to the 12th century. The most famous churches are the Gothic parish church of St. Peter, the oldest mentioned parish church in Munich, and of course, the late Gothic St. Mary’s Church from the 15th century, which has developed into one of Munich’s landmarks after only 20 years of construction. But not only sacred buildings have to be mentioned here as part of Munich’s history. There are also impressive secular buildings such as the New Town Hall in neo-Gothic style or Nymphenburg Palace, the first building of which dates back to the middle of the 17th century.
Located close to the city center nearby to the gayborhood Glockenbachviertel with shopping and sights, the gay-friendly accommodation offers spacious loft hotel rooms with optional breakfast, a pantry kitchen, a fitness center, and a Cocktailbar in the playful spacious lobby and lounge.
Munich has another special feature in common with other German cities: the (complete) destruction of the city center during World War II. And yet something exciting happened in Munich. Instead of giving priority to modern trends in reconstruction and urban development after the destruction, many old house facades and streets were restored to their original appearance, especially in Munich’s old town. When LGBTQ+ travelers walk the streets of Munich today, they encounter a historic cityscape that not only locals but also visitors appreciate so much.
Old Town Munich: Some of our favorite sights
As always with a city trip, we started our trip to Munich with a tour through Munich’s old town to familiarize ourselves with the atmosphere of the city and to gather first impressions. After a short walk east from our hotel, we reach Karlsplatz. This bustling square with its modern water feature and the neo-baroque Stachus-Rondell arranged in a semicircle, welcomed us fittingly, like the gateway to Munich city center. We strolled hand-in-hand along Neuhaus Strasse with the first stop at St. Michael’s Church. This is also where we meet King Ludwig II from the Wittelsbach dynasty for the first time, the first Bavarian personality from the LGBTQ+ community.
Our way continued through the busy pedestrian zone towards the center. We almost missed the access to the so-called Frauenplatz via the Augustinterstrasse because from the perspective of a pedestrian, both spires of the Cathedral of Our Dear Lady known as Frauenkirche hide so skilfully behind the surrounding buildings. And there we stood in front of the impressive yet simple facade of the sacred building. Inside the church, the cross vault rises above our heads, simply but poignantly. And at exactly the right moment after we left the building from the 15th century, we reached what is probably the most famous square in Munich, the Marienplatz in front of the New Town Hall. The dance of the figures of the Munich Glockenspiel begins, which seems to cast a spell over the astonished visitors for minutes.
How LGBTQ+ and gay-friendly is Munich? Did you know that Munich has one of the biggest LGBTQ+ Pride events in Germany? Which gay-friendly Hotel should I book when planning my visit to Munich? Are there any Gay Bars, queer Clubs, or even a gay Sauna in Munich? We got the answers for your perfect Munich Trip!
Gay City Tour with Gay Tour Guide Alex
Immersed in an intensive conversation about the history of Munich, we walk together with our tour guide Alex past the old town hall to the famous Viktualienmarkt. Spicy smells, the negotiating discussions of the market sellers, and the clinking of beer glasses while toasting in the beer garden – this square has an exceptional atmosphere. If you keep your eyes (and ears) open, you will discover a multitude of beautiful fountains all telling their own stories. A welcome refreshment. We reach Munich’s gay district, probably the most expensive trendy district in Germany.
Lunch Tip: Deutsche Eiche – Gay Bar, Restaurant, Sauna
Time for a break. Hardly any location in Munich would be better suited for a lunch break on a gay city tour in Munich than the Deutsche Eiche. The restaurant, hotel, and sauna in one is a popular LGBTQ+ hot spot and an excellent starting point for an exciting night out in Munich. But back to our lunch break: Roasted pork, German dumplings, and sauerkraut, a really typical German delicacy for hungry Karl, while Daan opted for a plate full of delicious vegetarian Spätzle. Three guesses which drink we chose for our meal! Of course, a big wheat beer for our hungry and thirsty stomachs.
During lunch, we also had the opportunity to have a short conversation with the owners of the Deutsche Eiche. We learned more about the history of the place and about the huge gay sauna in the back of the building, not to forget to mention, their rooftop bar. With the prospect of a sunset and unique view over the rooftops of Munich, we put a second visit to the Deutsche Eiche on our to-do list for the next evening. And we really shouldn’t be disappointed!
Freddie Mercury, The Pissoir & the Glockenbackviertel
Now is the time to learn more about the city’s LGBTQ+ community starting our tour at the popular Gärtnerplatz square. And while Alexander tells one exciting story after the other, we walk past well-known and less well-known LGBTQ+ and gay locations. Until we finally reach a special place, the square Hofplatz. Special, because the monument The Pissoir honoring the three famous Munich residents Freddie Mercury, Albert Einstein, and Rainer Werner Fassbinder was created here from a historical, public urinal.
In Mercury’s time, the urinal was a so-called Klappe, an unofficial, but public cruising place for gay men. Generally speaking, many Munich residents themselves do not know that Freddie Mercury lived in Munich for about five years and thus became the city’s gay icon in the early 80s. But the movie from 2018, Bohemian Rhapsody, should change that as well. Learn more about Munich’s LGBTQ+ history during a YourMunichTour with Alexander!
Our favorite airline KLM Royal Dutch Airlines offers flights from €99* to Munich. A special tip for German LGBTQ+ travelers: SkyTeam member KLM Royal Dutch Airlines with their modern fleet brings you comfortably and quickly from 10 German Airports via Amsterdam-Schiphol, the KLM hub, to over 160 destinations around the globe. *subject to availability / last check: October 2020
Bike Tour to Nymphenburg Palace
Our first impressions of Munich’s old town and the queer Glockenbachviertel were more colorful, queer, and more exciting than we had hoped for. But of course, we were hungry for more, more of the city, the people of Munich and, of course, the parks and green spaces of the city for which Munich is so famous. Without further ado, we set off by bike to one of the largest palace complexes in Europe, Nymphenburg Palace. By the way, did you know that Munich has set itself the goal of becoming an even more bicycle-friendly city? As experienced Amsterdam cyclists, we felt safe on the city’s countless cycle paths. The many cyclists who seem to have a large share of the daily traffic attract us.
On the way west, we passed impressive residential streets, parks, and one or the other church building, such as the super modern Sacred Heart Church. And then the time had come, and we were able to catch the first glimpses of the huge castle complex from afar on our bikes. With no less than 632 meters, the span of the secular building even exceeds the French Versailles Palace. Wow! We didn’t have enough time for the Nymphenburg Palace Park, the four park castles, and the palace rondel, which was unfortunate. But we had other plans for today. After biking along canals and overgrown avenues, we arrived at the Olympic Park with the famous TV Tower!
Rooftop Tour on Olympic Stadium Munich
A place where you can really have a great time, especially on hot summer days. This is how you can describe our first impression of the Olympia Park Munich, the huge, green space outside the busy city center of Munich. Everywhere we saw people of all ages picnicking and relaxing on the lush green lawn, while active sports people were busy training their bodies or enjoyed a refreshing boat tour on the Olympic lake. We had other plans, of course. It was time for the part of our city trip to Munich that we adventurers had been waiting for. After intensive training and equipped with a helmet and safety belts, we went on a tour of the roof of the Olympic stadium. For real! We felt a bit like on a glacier hike in Iceland when we started our rooftop hike with a group of other adventurers.
The view over the stadium, the park, and the roofs of Munich so far away was simply unbelievably impressive! We could even see the Alps on the horizon, tiny, of course. But that’s not all. For one thing, we had our rainbow flag with us. On the other hand, the most exciting part of the tour was still ahead of us: A zip-line flight Flying Fox across the Munich Olympic Stadium. The first one in line was Karl equipped with his smartphone and our rainbow flag! What an insane spectacle it was to see him waving the rainbow flag over one of Munich’s landmarks while zip lining from one side of the stadium to the other … Of course, you can marvel at the recordings in our Munich video and watch them over and over again!
According to the Spartacus Gay Travel Index, Germany is ranking among the top 10 LGBT-friendly countries in the world and is known as a very welcoming and gay-friendly country according to the annual Gay Travel Index – and, of course, to our own queer experiences!
Dinner Tip: Bavarian Picknick on a Ferris Wheel
Back at our hotel, still full of adrenaline from our zip-line flight, it started to rain cats and dogs. A long hot summer period came to an end, but for us, there was still one highlight on the list. We decided to take the Munich subway, which should bring us comfortably to the so-called Werksviertel-Mitte, to Umadum the observation wheel, an almost 80 meters high Ferris wheel and thereby Munich’s greatest attraction. Our plan was actually to celebrate the sunset here on our last evening with a Bavarian picnic. But the constant rain thwarted our plans. Nevertheless, we did not let the bad weather get us down and started to indulge ourselves with the Umadum picnic basket Monaco full of the finest Italian specialties, Erdinger wheat beer, and a view of Munich in the evening – what more could you want? Yes, right, a sunset. But you can’t always have everything, can you?
Good to know: Tips for your Munich Gay City Trip
Our favorite airline KLM connects Amsterdam and Munich with direct flights from the whole world via Amsterdam Schiphol in just under 1 hour. Give it a try, the prices are spectacular good! But don’t forget about further options for a trip to the Bavarian Capital, either way by train, by bus, or conveniently by car. The easiest way by train is the 5-hour connection from Berlin or the 3-4 hours connection from Frankfurt am Main. Munich does have an underground, tram, and bus system connecting everything in the city center and the surrounding parts of the city. Ticket machines usually accept credit cards. But don’t forget to have some cash with you, you are in Germany after all.
Please consider our information as suggestions with no guarantee that it still will be like that when you are traveling there. Though we did our research and all our opinions written in our Munich Gay City Trip journal and in our Gay Munich Travel Guide are honest, authentic, and true. For any clarifications about your plans for traveling to Germany, email us or follow us along and drop us a line on Facebook, Twitter, Youtube, Pinterest, and Instagram. See you around the world and the next time in Munich, Berlin, Hamburg, Dresden, and Germany! Enjoy Munich!
Karl & Daan.
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