The Queer Charms of Hamburg, Germany: 5 Picks for the Gay Traveler
Like all sophisticates, Hamburg doesn’t reveal all its charms at once. It’s a city whose many pleasures take time to discover. Both ancient and modern, its history continues to be shaped by the sea around it, a port city whose wealth and strategic location have created a city of great beauty, tolerance and a healthy dose of attitude.
Hamburg shares a reserved countenance with its Scandinavian neighbors. Its style is decidedly less flashy than Munich, its counterpart in southern Germany. While showy displays of wealth are expected in the Bavarian capital, Hamburg’s old-money demeanor is marked by understatement. Hamburg is less wild than Berlin, Germany’s nightlife capital, but don’t mistake that for prudishness: The Hamburgers may have less free time on their hands, but the Reeperbahn in the St. Pauli neighborhood is one of Germany’s best known red-light districts, and still home to both the pleasures of the flesh and the free-wheeling acceptance that is common among port cities.
Hamburg is an unlikely tourist destination, without the fairytale castles of Germany’s south and east, or Berlin’s party scene. Its natives are often criticized for being elitist and reserved. But we found the city to be warm and welcoming, easily navigated, filled with cultural, culinary and architectural highlights, and much less encumbered by the usual throng of annoying Euro tourists.