Gay Dresden offers the perfect weekend getaway for LGBT travellers looking to book a holiday in Germany.
The East German city sits perched over the River Elbe and offers gay-friendly hotels, a handful of LGBT bars & clubs, trendy restaurants and world-class museums.
Every year in late May and early June Gay Dresden also hosts a Pride Parade, known to locals as the CSD celebrations or Christopher Street Day.
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History of Gay Dresden
Dresden is an ancient German city that was once the capital and royal residence for the Kings of Saxony. It offers a perfect weekend getaway for LGBT travellers looking to visit posh palaces, world-class museums and the New Town’s unique hipster vibe.
Gay Dresden was once known as the Jewel Box, a city full of ornate baroque and rococo buildings. Located near the border of the Czech Republic and Poland, Dresden is best enjoyed on a two or three night getaway.
While the majority of the city centre was demolished during WWII, decades of restoration work have helped the city return to her regal roots. Today, Dresden offers a dichotomy of treasures, from its opulent castle in the Old Town, to the inspiring graffiti murals of the New Town.
Fans of the Academy Award winning film The Danish Girl can book a unique LGBT tour in Gay Dresden. Hosted by a local lesbian guide, the Lili Elbe Queer Tour of Dresden offers a fascinating gay-centric history of the city.
The first half of the gay walking tour takes place in the Old Town, offering interesting facts about trans rights in Germany and popular cruising areas during GDR times. The Lili Elbe tour then travels north to New Town where guests visit the hospital where Lili Elbe had her sex reassignment surgery. The tour concludes at a quiet cemetery where guests pay their respects at Lili Elbe’s grave.
Gay Dresden Bars & Clubs
Dresden’s small but impressive gay scene is centred around Neustadt, also known as New Town, located just north of the city centre. The trendy district offers a handful of bars serving gay cocktails, saunas and cruise clubs.
- Valentino Cafe: This cute cafe is open 7 nights a week and offers local food and drink. The owner also manages Pick Up Men’s Club next door. He’s well known in Gay Dresden for organizing the city’s annual drag ball, Tuntenball.
- Pick Up Men’s Club: This men-only cruise club features a large dark room, friendly bar and shop selling Andrew Christian underwear.
- Boys Bar: An institution in Gay Dresden, this cozy neighbourhood bar hosts DJs, karaoke, pub quiz night and cabaret. It’s the best gay bar in Dresden to hang out if you’re traveling on your own as it’s known as the friendly queer watering hole.
- BUNKER: Gay Dresden’s main cruise club caters to leather, uniform, rubber and fetish fans. The club spreads across three floors and is equipped with dark rooms, cabins and slings.
- Paradise Dresden: Originally opened in 1999, Paradise is the only gay sauna in Dresden. You’ll find a locker room, dry sauna, bar, lounge area, private cabins, dark room and al fresco terrace.
Looking to visit gay Dresden during Pride? Cities in Germany refer to their annual LGBT festivals as CSD Celebrations, short for Christopher Street Day.
The first gay pride in Germany was a Christopher Street Day celebration that took place in Berlin in 1978. CSD Dresden launched in 1994, five years after the fall of the Berlin Wall.
The annual Dresden Gay Pride takes place each year during the end of May. It’s the best time of year to experience the city’s local yet lively gay scene. Dresden’s CSD celebrations have a history of being more political than Cologne’s party-centric Pride. Since CSD Dresden takes place in the Spring, it’s one of Europe’s earlier pride festivals, growing in popularity every year.
Today, Dresden’s Pride festival and parade take place over one weekend and draw over 7,000 LGBT tourists who proudly wave rainbow flags. CSD Dresden is most lively on Friday and Saturday as the city’s main square offers live music and local food and drinks stalls. Sunday is a bit more quiet, offering a rainbow brunch where an annual award for tolerance is announced and a family-friendly performance program takes place on stage.
Best Hotels in Gay Dresden
The best hotels in Gay Dresden are located in the heart of the Old Town. Since Dresden’s top tourist attractions are largely within walking distance, it makes sense to situate yourself downtown. All of the city’s hotels are gay-friendly and many of the luxury properties offer chic interiors.
We’ve included helpful links to the best hotel booking sites so you can compare prices and availability.
- Hotel Taschenbergpalais Kempinski 5 STARS: The city’s best luxury hotel is steps from Dresden Castle. It features two restaurants, full-service spa, indoor pool and Gay Dresden’s best cocktail bar.
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- Hilton Dresden 4 STARS: Conveniently located across from Frauenkirche, the Hilton is a standard business hotel featuring 5 restaurants and indoor and outdoor swimming pools.
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- Holiday Inn Express Dresden City Centre 3 STARS: Adjacent to Altmarkt square, this straightforward, modern hotel offers guests modern, colorful rooms at a great price.
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Best Dresden Tours
- Dresden Hop On Hop Off Bus Ticket: Book Dresden’s only hop on, hop off bus tour featuring 22 stops.
- Dresden City Tour: Explore Dresden without the stress of planning on a half-day tour with round-trip transport from your accommodation.
- Dresden Private Tour: See Dresden Castle, Dresden Frauenkirche, and Brühl’s Terrace, the “Balcony of Europe.”
- Dresden Bike Tour: Rent a bike and discover Dresden, from the historic old town to the Baroque quarter, through the New Town and the suburbs.
- Street Art Tour of Dresden Neustadt: Learn about Dresden’s unique street art scene on this 3-4 hour walking tour of New Town.
- Bohemian Saxon Switzerland Day Trip From Dresden: spend a day at Saxon Switzerland National Park with a small-group operator. You’ll get picked up at your Dresden hotel and enjoy a scenic hike and authentic Czech and German food.
Gay Dresden: New Town
Neustadt, also known as New Town, is the beating heart of Gay Dresden’s creative and alternative scenes. It’s here, just north of the River Elbe that you’ll find a clutch of hipster art galleries, cafes, pubs and Dresden’s gay bars and clubs.
We suggest starting your tour of Gay Dresden in Neustadt as it’s the centre of the city’s queer community. If you’re an art lover visiting Dresden we suggest booking a guided graffiti tour of New Town.
Alaunstraße 36-40, 49-351-32355640
Located in the former youth clubhouse Martin Andersen Nexö, Kulturzentrum Scheune is Neustadt’s culture and arts centre.
Known by locals as “The Barn,” it’s conveniently located next door to the popular Katy’s Garage. You can’t miss New Town’s community centre as its covered in gorgeous graffiti. Visit Kulturzentrum Scheune and you’ll find some of Dresden’s best street art murals.
Today, the cultural centre in New Town offers a wide range of performance offerings. Locals love to party here thanks to the institution’s eclectic arts calendar. Review the schedule before your Gay Dresden getaway as you may want to check out a local theatre show, music concert, ballet or modern dance, movie screening, or art exhibition or festival.
Görlitzer Str. 21-25, 49-351-8025445
Neustadt’s most photographed street art can be found at Kunsthofpassage. It was more than 20 years ago when a group of visionary artists in Dresden decided to revive several run-down backyards in New Town.
Dresden Kunsthofpassage consists of a complex of five small courtyards. Each courtyard has its own design theme and name, which is expressed through a combination of art and architecture.
- Courtyard of Elements: the most iconic courtyard at Kunsthofpassage consists of a blue facade with pipes that play music when it rains.
- Courtyard of Light: two bridge stages and several projection surfaces allow multi-media performances. It’s also illuminated by a metal mirror, which produces a variety of coloured reflections from the sun.
- Courtyard of Animals: a green facade decorated in animal reliefs such as a giraffe, monkey and crane.
- Courtyard of Mythical Creatures: Viola Schope’s courtyard features a combination of sgraffito and mosaic with mystical creatures such as cosmic elements, starts and comets.
- Courtyard of Metamorphoses: Arend Zwicker’s installation includes six 15-metre long heavy shields, which hold a secret that are only revealed at night.
Lila Soße Restaurant
Alaunstraße 70, 49-351-8036723
One of the New Town’s best restaurants is located in the heart of Kunsthofpassage.
Lila Soße Restaurant offers a modern spin on German cuisine by serving the majority of its menu in glass mason jars, tapas style. If you’re visiting during the busy summer months call to book a reservation in advance so you can enjoy dinner on the patio.
The wine list at Lila Soße Restaurant offers a curated selection of exceptional German bottles. Highlights from the menu include cheesy pesto spaetzle, mango sausage, pastrami salad and roasted sweet potatoes with a creamy herb sauce for dipping.
Horst Vier Vogel
Rothenburger Str. 43, 49-174-2161992
If you’re a craft beer fan planning a getaway to Gay Dresden be sure to hop up on a bar stool at Horst Vier Vogel.
Dresden’s best craft brewery has an interesting origin story that starts in Colombia back in 2012. Four beer-loving friends from the Technical University of Dresden began a semester abroad in South America. The four young scientists sought to craft a quaffable German beer in the heart of the tropics.
The hobby brewers later returned to Dresden and launched Horst Vier Vogel, a craft beer bar in New Town. The local brewery offers two signature brews, a thirst-quenching pilsner and sweet radler.
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Drag Show at Carte Blanche
Prießnitzstraße 10 -12, 49-351-204720
The best night out in Gay Dresden takes place at Carte Blanche theatre. The campy production is noted for being Europe’s largest drag show. It features a dazzling number of costume changes, performed by some of Germany’s most talented trans artists.
Carte Blanche first launched in 2003 by the grand dame Deborah Zora Black. Today’s Carte Blanche drag cabaret showcases well-known musicals with a distinctly German flare.
The show begins with Zora herself descending upon the stage on a giant swing. Throughout the show, Dresden’s drag star skips across the stage in glamorous costumes featuring oversized feathers and glittering diamonds.
Carte Blanche Dresden’s world-class theatre offers a seasonal German menu as well as local wine, beer and cocktails. It’s the best queer dinner and show in town and we highly suggest spending a night out here if you’re a fan of drag art.
Important to note, the entire show is in German and features a hilarious MC who offers banter between each number. While the crowd is largely German tourists due to the language barrier, we’re certain you’ll enjoy an entertaining night out at this uniquely German drag show.
Gay Dresden: Old Town
Most tourists in Dresden spend the majority of their time exploring Altstadt, also known as Old Town.
The city’s historic centre is located south of the Elbe River and features Gay Dresden’s most famous landmarks. We’d suggest spending at least two full days exploring Dresden’s Old Town on foot.
The historic buildings in Altstadt have spent years undergoing renovations to bring them back to their former pre-WWII glory. Today, you’ll find awesome architecture from the Renaissance, Baroque and 19th-century.
Start your tour of Dresden’s Old Town at Bruhl’s Terrace, nicknamed “The Balcony of Europe,” by Goethe. The famous terrace sits perched over the River Elbe, offering panoramic views over New Town.
Dresden’s iconic terrace and gardens were originally part of the ramparts built to protect the city. Between 1739 and 1748 count Henrich von Bruhl transformed the ramparts into a terraced garden for his palace.
It wasn’t until 1814 that the gardens were open to the public. A monumental staircase was built to connect the Schlossplatz to the terrace, flanked by four bronze sculptures that symbolize the seasons.
Tzschirnerpl. 2, 49-351-49142000
The Albertinum is Dresden’s best modern art museum. The sandstone Renaissance building is located across from Bruhl’s Terrace and named after King Albert of Saxony.
Originally built between 1884 and 1887, The Albertnium was restored by 1953 after the 1945 bombing of Dresden in WWII.
Today, the Albertinum museum showcases both paintings and sculptures from Romanticism to present day, covering a period of 200 years. It houses the New Masters Gallery and the Dresden Sculpture Collection. Highlights include paintings from Casper David Friedrich to Kandinsky and sculptures from Auguste Rodin and Wilhelm Lehmbruck.
Coselpalais Grand Cafe
An der Frauenkirche 12, 49-351-4962444
No gay Germany holiday is complete unless you’ve indulged your sweet tooth in the tradition of “Kaffee und Kuchen.” German’s love to take a break each day for “coffee and cake,” and there’s no better place in Dresden to sip and nibble sweets then at Coselpalais Grand Cafe.
Located directly across from the city’s famous Frauenkirche, The Coselpalais was built in 1765. It is known as one of the best baroque buildings in Dresden.
Today, Coselpalais Grand Cafe is one of the best restaurant’s in Dresden’s Old Town. The menu specializes in a wide variety of traditional German cakes, ice cream parfais and speciality coffee.
Karl May Bar
Kleine Brüdergasse 5-3, 49-351-4912720
Keen to spend an evening sipping craft cocktails at Dresden’s best bar? Head to Karl May Bar at the luxurious Hotel Taschenbergerpalais Kempinski in Altstadt. Inspired by the famous New York Oak Room, the luxury hotel’s exclusive ambiance features Bordeaux red leather and fine oak details.
Karl May Bar’s mixologist Niko Pavlidis was named Barkeeper of the Year 2008 and the Saxon Cocktail Champion in 2012. In addition to winning Bar of the Year 2013, Kempinski Dresden’s Karl May Bar has also received the most coveted award for Germany’s bar scene – the Glenfiddich Award for Bar Culture.
Hop up at the bar and wag your finger down the city’s most extensive cocktail list, some 200 lovely libations. Be sure to ask one of the bartenders to show you the secret celebrity door, where A-listers like Tom Hanks and Bon Jovi have scrawled their autographs.
On Friday and Saturday you can enjoy live music at Karl May Bar, or arrive for a pre-dinner tipple to enjoy daily Happy Hour from 6-8pm.
Karl May Bar has a unique connection to gay culture and history in Dresden. The celebrated author wrote popular novels that linked non-normative sexualities and discussed same sex desire.
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Taschenberg 3, 49-351-497260
If you’re looking for a campy German dining experience in Dresden’s Old Town, spend a night feasting at Sophienkeller Restaurant.
Diners travel back in time to the 1730s as waitresses dressed in period costumes serve up local Saxon specialities. Sophienkeller’s magical dining room harks back to Dresden’s glory days, the glamorous Baroque period when independent Saxony was at the height of its power.
The festive and merry environment is popular with tourists, offering a joyous atmosphere featuring singing, dancing, minstrel musicians and fortune tellers. If you’re a fan of Medieval Times in Toronto, Sophienkeller will satiate your love for historic dining.
The theme of Sophienkeller restaurant is actually based on a legendary festival in 1730 when August the Strong wanted to impress Frederick Wilhelm I, the King of Prussia. The tented field kitchen cooked up local dishes from Saxony, served on a carousel.
Today, Sophienkeller Dresden is located under the former Tashenbergpalais, now the Kempinski Hotel. The menu features several popular Dresden dishes such as blood and liver sausage, cold pork jelly, fried herring with onions and braised beef roulade.
Considered one of Dresden’s most recognizable architectural icons, Frauenkirche is located in the heart of the city’s Old Town.
Also known as Church of Our Lady, the Lutheran church in Dresden is considered a fine example of Protestant sacred architecture. It was originally built as a local reminder to remain Protestant after their ruler converted to Catholicism.
After the bombing of Dresden in WWII, Frauenkirche was fully restored in 2005. Today, it contains one of Europe’s largest domes, made of 12,000 tonnes of sandstone that rest on eight slender supports. A bronze statue of reformer and theologian Martin Luther, which miraculously survived the bombings, has been restored and stands at the front of the church.
Since Frauenkirche reopened it has been one of Dresden’s most popular tourist attractions. In its first three years, 7 million people visited or attended a worship service. Most notable was US President Barrack Obama’s visit in 2009 after meeting with German Chancellor Angela Merkel.
Our favourite free art experience in Dresden can be found a stones throw from the castle complex.
The Furstenzug “Procession of Princes,” is a large mural featuring a procession of the rulers of Saxony. It was originally painted between 1871 and 1876 to celebrate the 800th anniversary of the Wettin Dynasty, Saxony’s ruling family.
In an attempt to make the public art piece waterproof, it was replaced with approximately 23,000 porcelain tiles between 1904 and 1907. Running a length of 102 meres, it is known as the largest porcelain artwork in the world.
Look closely and you’ll find the Furstenzug mural depicts the ancestral portraits of the 35 margraves, electors, dukes and kings of the House of Wittin between 1127 and 1904.
Dresden Porcelain Collection
Theaterplatz 1, 49-351-49142000
One of the world’s most spectacular porcelain collections is housed inside Dresden’s jaw-dropping Zwinger Palace.
The collection was originally founded in 1715 by the Saxon Prince Augustus the Strong. It was originally housed in the Japanese Palace on the banks of the River Elbe. After WWII the collection largely survived and was moved to its current home in the southern section of the Zwinger in 1962.
Fans of pretty porcelain on a getaway to Gay Dresden will get an eye-full of over 20,000 ornate artefacts. The city’s world-renowned Porcelain Collection is particularly admired for its Chinese and Japanese pieces. Highlights include blue and white porcelain from the Ming and Qing dynasties, in particular the Dragoon Vases.
Our favourite room features a posh hall entirely decorated in white porcelain animal sculptures. The eye-catching collection feels like you’re walking through a delicate zoo, featuring monkeys, goats, vultures, roosters and rhino.
Old Masters Picture Gallery
Theaterplatz 1, 49-351-49142000
Located on the north end of the Zwinger, the Old Masters Picture Gallery is the best art museum in Dresden.
Ranked as one of Germany’s best art collections, the Old Masters Picture Gallery displays over 750 paintings from the 15th-18th-century. The celebrated collection is one of the top attractions in Dresden so we suggest arriving early to avoid the afternoon crowds.
The Old Masters Picture Gallery is best known for its Italian Renaissance works as well as Dutch and Flemish paintings. The museum’s must-see is Raphael’s Sistine Madonna. Other not-to-be-missed highlights include works by Titian, Correggio, Tintoretto, Rubens, Rembrandt, Lucas Cranach the Elder and Van Dyck.
Looking for a gay Dresden connection? The famous drawing Chocolatiere by Liotard was bought by Francesco the Count of Algarotti. He was regarded as the gay version of Casanova, supposedly the lover of the Prussian King Friedrich II.
Theaterplatz 2, 49-351-4911705
Are you an opera or ballet fan planning a trip to Gay Dresden? The city’s iconic opera house in Altstadt is ranked as one of the best in all of Germany. It is currently home to Saxony’s state opera, orchestra and ballet.
Originally built in 1841 by architect Gottifried Semper, it was rebuilt in 1978 after a devastating fire. Dresden’s Semperoper has a long history of hosting notable premieres, including major works by Richard Wagner and Richard Strauss.
We suggest checking the performance schedule before your trip to see what ballet or opera may be on offer during your visit. The Semperoper regularly offers group tours, allowing visitors to take a peak behind the curtain.
Schloßstraße 24, 49-351-4844712
Katholische Hofkirche, also known as Dresden Cathedral, is the city’s official place of worship for Catholics.
Designed by architect Gaetano Chiaveri and built between 1738 to 1751, Dresden Cathedral is one of the city’s more recognizable landmarks. Fun fact, the city’s cathedral is connected to Dresden Castle via an ornate high level walkway.
Access to Dresden Cathedral is free during the day and interior highlights include a restored Gottfried Silbermann organ and Rococo pulpit by Balthasar Permoser.
In the cathedral’s crypt you’ll find King Augustus the Strong buried alongside the last King of Saxony and 49 members of the Wettin family. Many Polish tourists visit Dresden Cathedral as King Augustus III of Poland is entombed here. He is one of very few Polish kings to be buried outside of Wawel Cathedral in Krakow.
Taschenberg 2, 49-351-49142000
Dresden Castle, also known as Residenzschloss, or the Royal Palace, is the most visited attraction in the city.
It is one of the oldest buildings in Dresden, acting as the residence of the electors and kings of Saxony for almost 400 years. For architecture aficionados, Dresden Castle is unique for its various styles, from Baroque to Neo-Renaissance.
Today, Dresden’s Royal Palace is a popular museum that contains the historic Green Vault, Coin Cabinet, Collection of Prints, Dresden Armoury and the dazzling Turkish Chamber.
- Green Vault: contains the largest collection of treasures in Europe.
- Coin Cabinet: features nearly 300,000 shiny currency that date back to the 16th-century.
- Collection of Prints: features 515,000 objects by more than 20,000 artists across eight centuries. Highlights include Albrecht Durer, Rembrandt, Michelangelo and Pablo Picasso.
- Dresden Armoury: the most jaw-dropping collection at Residenzschloss is considered one of the world’s most valuable collections of weapons and armour. The sprawling exhibit includes 10,000 objects including helmets, shields, swords and rifles.
- Turkish Chamber: focussed on art from the Ottoman Empire, it displays more than 600 objects from Turkey.
Wineries Near Dresden
Oenophiles looking to swirl and sip Saxony’s best wine can easily visit a clutch of award-winning vineyards on a day trip from Dresden.
From Old Town you can easily hop on a tram to explore Meissen wine country. The one hour journey allows those planning a Gay Dresden getaway to enjoy a quiet moment outside of the city.
You’ll learn about Saxony’s unique viticulture area while enjoying scenic views and sweet sips at Wackerbarth, Hoflobnitz and Karl Friedrich Aust wineries. The heart of Dresden’s nearby wine country lies along the well-marked Saxon Wine Route. Founded 25 years ago, it stretches across scenic routes popular with hikers and cyclists.
Today, the region comprises just 500 acres of vineyards, which play home to just over twenty wineries near the town of Radebeu. Considered one of Germany’s smallest wine regions, the area produces enough wine for locals and visitors but exports very little. More reason than ever for German wine lovers to pay a visit in person!
Saxony’s small wine production has kept their offerings largely unknown, even though the sparkling bottles (Sekt) and white varietals have a history dating back over 850 years.
Wackerbarthstraße 1, 49-351-89550
Schloss Wackerbarth is a state-owned winery located a short 30 minute drive from Dresden. The former Baroque party palace of August the Strong is now one of Saxony’s largest and most sophisticated wineries.
Start your visit by enjoying a state-of-the-art-tour featuring educational video and a stroll through the wineries vineyards, production facility, barrel cellar and tasting room.
Plan a visit here over the lunch hour in summer and be sure to grab a seat at the winery’s outdoor terrace. The chef offers refined local dishes from Saxony that are best paired with a flight of Wackerbarth award-winning sparkling and white wines.
Knohllweg 37, 49-351-8398333
Wine lovers keen on a history lesson should make a point of visiting Hoflößnitz, also known as Hoflössnitz.
The historic 600 year old Saxon winery was founded in 1401 as a yard for growing wine by the ruling Wettin family. Hoflößnitz later expanded to included additional vineyards and a hillside pavilion, built in 1650.
Today, Hoflößnitz winery offers visitors access to a local wine museum, winery, restaurant and popular al fresco terrace. The winery in Saxony sits on steep rolling hills across 8.5 hectare and is dedicated to producing certified organic wine.
Karl Friedrich Aust Winery
Weinbergstraße 10, 49-351-8338750
Located a short walk from Hoflößnitz, Karl Friedrich Aust Winery spreads across a small 15-acre boutique vineyard.
Karl Friedrich Aust was born into a family of amateur wine makers. Today, his namesake winery in Saxony is located in a historic homestead dating back to 1650. The property today includes a winery, restaurant, gift shop and art school.
Karl Friedrich Aust Winery’s most celebrated bottles are its rieslings, pinot blancs and pinot noir. After enjoying a tour and tasting we suggest enjoying lunch or dinner at the onsite restaurant. Highlights from the kitchen include fresh seasonal salads, smoked fish, ratatouille and quiche.
In the winery’s historic corner, Karl’s sister Friederike Curling-Aust runs a studio and art school with her husband Brian Curling.
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