The unique location between the Ore Mountains, the Elbe Sandstone Mountains, and the Czech Republic in the south, Poland in the east, and the Niederlausitzer Heidelandschaft nature park in the north gives the Florence of the North, Dresden, a special Mediterranean atmosphere. Cold and snow in winter and do alternate with sunny and dry heat periods in summer, which makes a trip to Dresden in Eastern Germany with our Gay Dresden Travel Guide culturally interesting in all seasons. Some of the best spots in Dresden can be found along the Elbe, the river that originates in the Czech Giant Mountains on the Czech-Polish border. For LGBTQ + travelers on a city break in Dresden, it is good to know that the Saxonian capital city can be roughly divided into two cultural districts, which are geographically separated by the Elbe River.
The northern part of Dresden, also simply referred to as the Neustadt, is the place where lesbians, gays, trans, and queer travelers can find the hip, alternative, and unconventional life in the Dresden Neustadt. Historical buildings like the castle, Zwinger and Semper Opera, museums as well as the city Panorama, for which Dresden is so famous, can be admired in the part of the city located south of the River Elbe in the so-called Innere Altstadt, the Inner Old Town of Dresden. Additionally, Dresden organizes some seriously stunning, unique events like the world-famous Christmas market “Striezelmarkt” or the “Filmnächte am Elbufer”. Get ready to discover the unique cultural and natural landscape of Dresden that has been able to inspire millions of (LGBTQ +) tourists from the beginnings around Elector August the Strong, the complete destruction in World War II to the present beauty after the completed reconstruction of the entire city.
City Trip to Dresden – When to go?
First, there is no time of the year when you should or should not visit Dresden. All year-round, the city is offering events, culture, and things to do for everyone. We prefer the time in summer and winter. Why?
The summer in Dresden is full of diverse, almost weekly events in and around the city center with district festivals highlighting the unique and diverse atmosphere of every part of Dresden. It is also the time when Dresden turns into an ocean of rainbows and into the gay capital of Saxony during CSD Dresden Pride.
Thousands of LGBTQ+ people, allies, and spectators from around the world are walking side by side for equality and human rights for everyone at CSD Dresden (German Gay Pride festival).
And in wintertime, Dresden turns into a winter wonderland with Germany’s oldest Christmas Market – the “Dresden Striezelmarkt”- taking place already since 1434. With more than 50 museums, theatres, the Semper Opera, and other indoor experiences like the FestungXperience, it won’t get boring or cold during winter times. Just an hour from Dresden, winter sports enthusiasts are arriving in the winter wonderland of the Mid-German mountain range. The Erzgebirge is known for its internationally successful winter sporters and top modern ski areas. We cannot wait to be back this winter for a hot Glühwein and Gingerbread…
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How LGBTQ+ and gay-friendly is Dresden?
Yes, Dresden can be considered as an LGBTQ+ friendly German city. Inspiring, new, and mostly liberal tendencies are coming from the national, and international students who are bringing Dresden forward. Dresden is home to the Technical University, the TU Dresden in short, which is one of the few German elite universities. Creative minds, the pride of living in such a beautiful city, and the many international (LGBTQ+) tourists that are visiting Dresden every year, are just a few reasons why Dresden should be on top of your bucket list for a gaycation in (Eastern) Germany. However, travelers also have to be aware of where they are and how the locals understand ‘their’ city.
The residents of Dresden can be described as quite conservative and sometimes uneasy with the unknown and new things coming to ‘their’ city. Parts of this mindset are undoubtedly originating from the 40 years of being part of the GDR (German Democratic Republic) living under the communistic influence of the former Sowjet Union. The resulting limitations back then in terms of traveling, consumption, and political freedom and a certain lack of self-confidence until today are, in Karl’s opinion, some reasons for the remaining, typical Dresden conservatism and the controversial tendency to orientate oneself towards the politically conservative and right. But don’t underestimate the positive influence of tourists and foreign success stories that bring more tourists to Saxony’s capital every year!
Gay CSD Dresden Pride
Once a year, the capital of Saxony transforms into a gay capital. Thousands of members of the LGBTQ+ community, families, friends, and allies walking together for equality, LGBT support, and an open-minded free way of living together in beautiful Dresden. Every year, the Pride festival (CSD Dresden Wochenende) will take place on a weekend in early summer (mostly June) as one of the first CSD and Pride celebrations in Germany. The CSD in Dresden has a special place in Karl’s heart as it was his first-ever pride experience back in 2002. After that, he attended the small but colorful demonstration in Dresden every summer and even became a part of organizing the LGBTQ+ event in Dresden. For him, it was an important part of his coming out story and paved the way for our work as LGBTQ+ storytellers and activists. We cannot wait to attend CSD Dresden Pride, this time together.
Gay-friendly Hotels in Dresden
There are plenty of LGBTQ+ and gay-friendly accommodations in Dresden that are usually located either in the city center of the old town or in the lively and alternative ‘Neustadt’. Most sights in the city are located nearby, as it will take you max. about 30 minutes from one end to the other of the Inner Old Town. Typically, when we are visiting Dresden, we are staying, of course, with Karl’s family. But occasionally, we treat ourselves to a hotel stay close to the baroque architecture nearby museums, and the most picturesque locations in Dresden. Our choice for our first-ever stay in Dresden was the 5*-Hyperion Dresden am Schloß in Dresden Altstadt. Last summer, we tested the hotel Vienna House QF with a spectacular view over the Frauenkirche. In late summer 2022, we attended CSD Dresden Pride and stayed at the 5-star Hotel Gewandhaus Dresden, Autograph Collection right next door to the city hall of Dresden. We truly can say, all three hotels have been a good choice.
Good to know: From the old town part of Dresden, LGBTQ+ tourists just have to cross the River Elbe to reach the Newtown part of Dresden with restaurants, bars, and a lively cultural scene. There you can also find some really nice hotels, hostels, and, obviously, Bed and Breakfast accommodations.
Gay-friendly Activities & things to do in Dresden
Dresden truly is a cultural treasure chamber with spectacular and unique museums like the treasure chamber Green Vault (Grünes Gewölbe), the museums in the Castle of Dresden in the Dresdner Zwinger, the Albertinum, the museum of fine arts and sculptures, and the Gemälde Gallerie Alte Meister. One of our favorite museums is the so-called Hygienemuseum (Museum of Hygiene) which is unique in the world. Every time we are in Dresden visiting Karl’s family, we are putting at least one of the museums on our bucket list.
Additionally, you can explore Dresden by joining many tours like the “Lili Elbe Dresden queer Tour” we joined during our last visit. Interactive experiences like the FestungXperience, huge parks like the “Großer Garten”, boat tours with the paddle steamer fleet on the River Elbe, open-air cinema and concerts during the “Filmnächte am Elbufer” and, of course, the inner old town city center – Dresden is one of our favorite destinations for a city trip as a gay couple with so many diverse things to do, to see, and to fall in love with, promised!
Gay Bars, Clubs & Sauna in Dresden
It remains difficult for LGBTQ+ businesses, regular series of parties, local gay or lesbian bars, and clubs to establish a running business for a longer period of time, maybe also because Dresden is just 1,5 hours away from Berlin and less than an hour away from Leipzig, the biggest city of the German state Saxony. Nevertheless, Dresden’s small community is quite active and the annual pride parade, called CSD Dresden, is for a German city with ‘only’ about 540,000 residents quite successful. LGBTQ+ travelers will be able to find their favorite place and the right location for a night out in queer Dresden.
List of our favorite places:
- Gay bar “Boys” at Alaunstraße 80, 01099 Dresden
- Gay bar “SAXXIM” at Görlitzer Str. 2b, 01099 Dresden *new*
- LGBTQ+ café and bar “Valentino” at Jordan Straße 2, 01099 Dresden
- Gay leather and fetish club and bar “Bunker” at Prißnitzstraße 51, 01099 Dresden
- Gay sauna “Paradise” at Friedensstraße 45, 01097 Dresden
- Travestie Theater Carte Blanche at Prießnitzstraße 10-12, 01099 Dresden
- Queer & LGBTQ+ community with help and tips from locals “Gerede homo, bi & trans e.V.“
Gay Germany Travel Guide
Made in Germany – Karl’s home country has a phenomenal reputation to produce some of the world’s best quality goods while offering some of the best and most unique vacation places to visit. It is much more than ‘just’ the country of beer and sausages. Germany is also considered to be one of the most LGBTQ+ and gay-friendly countries in the world, with more than 60 LGBTQ+ and gay pride events that are organized every year. Germany ranks 10th in this year’s ranking of the Gay Travel Index 2020, but there are, of course, still many things that need improvement. We love traveling to Germany – to Hamburg, Berlin, Munich, the island Rügen and beyond. We are sure you’ll have a wonderful experience, too!
We found some great flight options flying within Europe with KLM, one of our favorite airlines based in Amsterdam, with some pretty good return-flight deals starting from around €99 to Berlin, Dresden, and 10 other German destinations from Amsterdam. Train and car trips to Germany are a sustainable alternative!
Plan your Gay Dresden Travels with our Gay Dresden Travel Guide
Our experiences in Dresden have been unexceptionally positive: Holding hands in public, giving each other a kiss, or checking in a hotel asking for a double bed – we never faced any difficulties and could thereby fully enjoy our trip to the capital city of Saxony. Of course, Karl knew the best and safest places to visit and not to go as LGBTQ+. Please don’t hesitate to reach out if you have any additional questions.
Nevertheless, please consider our tips 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 this article are honest, authentic, and true. So, are our photos and videos always aiming to prove our experiences to be authentic? We would like to thank Visit Dresden for their invitation, support, and the possibility to experience the German city in a very free and authentic way.
For any clarifications about your plans for traveling to Dresden, Saxony, and Germany, follow us and email us or drop us a line on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Pinterest, and Instagram. See you around the world and the next time in Dresden!
Karl & Daan.
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