Berlin is, by far, Germany’s biggest and most visited city, with nearly 30 million tourists making their way into the formerly divided capital each year – but that just adds to its unique atmosphere.
A bit rough around the edges, with German honesty mistaken for harshness and an accent people used to think was mocking ‘high German’, the capital is a place full of unusual charm, aiming to make everyone feel welcome.
Berlin doesn’t have one definite gay quarter, but Schöneberg clocks in the highest number of LGBTI citizens according to community websites – and the number of gay bars and clubs certainly adds to it.
Enclosed by posh district of Charlottenburg and its smaller brother Wilmersdorf to the West and historical Berlin-Mitte and slightly rough, but culturally incredibly diverse Kreuzberg, Schöneberg benefits from all the best aspects.
Historically, the area around the Nollendorfplatz – Berlin’s hub of gay nightlife – was the capital’s gay quarter, until the Nazi regime took over, closed one venue after the other and created ‘pink lists’ to arrest homosexuals.
Today, the community has reclaimed the area, and not just by opening new venues; each year, usually a week before Berlin Pride, the Schwul-lesbisches Stadtfest (gay and lesbian city festival) takes places, the biggest of its kind in Europe with 420,000 visitors in 2014.
But there’s more on offer than just going out at night; take some time out of the day to explore your ‘Kiez’, as Berliners call smaller parts of their districts. It’s more than just a place to live – many people see it as part of their identity.
Head to the Urania, the world’s first science center, for one of their numerous events – from technology to social sciences, there are panel discussions, workshops and cultural events for every taste.
Marlene Dietrich made the Kiez her home, as did Albert Einstein, Kurt Tucholsky and David Bowie; follow their footsteps along the streets, leading you to the cemetery on the Stubenrauchstrasse, where Dietrich was laid to rest.
On a nice summer’s day, head to the many green spaces to enjoy a Berliner Weisse, have a barbecue with your friends or just lie back and relax in the middle of town.
Its quiet, green exterior only underlines Schöneberg’s character as a hidden gem; it’s unconventional, with an exciting mix of young and old and the district never seems to rest.
In case you want to get out, just lace up your trainers or hop onto the public transport (just don’t forget to greet your bus driver) to make the short trip to central Berlin’s main attractions.
Flats clock in at an average of €3,754 (£2,628, $4,098.50) per square meter for buyers, with monthly rent prices starting from €450 (£315, $491.29).