Berlin and Amsterdam: two of the most fun gay cities in the world today. And two of Europe’s greatest cities of art and history—including gay history, from the first gay rights organization in the world (founded in Berlin in 1897) to the first gay marriage in modern times (celebrated in Amsterdam in 2001). Served by lightning-fast train connections, these two cities together form the ideal travel destination; and when you throw in the chance to participate in Berlin’s amazing Pride celebration, 2019 becomes THE year for you to discover these two European gems!
We’ve put it all together for you. A one-week tour that is your gateway to Germany and Holland, with their dynamic gay communities and their complex histories (both gay and straight). Revel in Berlin Pride, visit majestic art museums and palaces, take a boat ride along Dutch canals, see the Berlin wall, tour the great gayborhood of the decadent 1920s, encounter of Nazism and Communism, and celebrate the triumph of liberty where the first gay marriage took place. There’s all this and so much more on Oscar Wilde Tours' fascinating introduction to Berlin and Amsterdam.
• Gay history tours of both cities
• Berlin Gay Pride 2019!
• Walking tour in the Berlin gayborhood of the Wild 20s
• German Gay Museum, Berlin Jewish Museum, Topography of Terror Museum
• Gay Secrets tours of Berlin art museums
• Sanssouci Palace and Park
• Tour of Amsterdam’s red-light district
• Sexy tour of the Rijksmuseum
• Canal boat tour
• Anne Frank House
Day 1 -
On our first afternoon, we take a bus tour around Berlin to get our bearings, both spatially and historically. The Nazi period and the years of the divided city loom large, inescapable reminders of Germany’s troubled past: the famous Reichstag that saw the rise of Hitler; Alexanderplatz, with its Soviet-era TV tower that is still Germany’s tallest structure and remains a symbol of the city; and such key sites as the Bebelplatz, where the Nazis held their most famous book burning, on May 6, 1933—including, in the pyre, 20,000 books and journals from Magnus Hirschfeld’s Institut für Sexualwissenschaft, the world’s first center for gay studies.
Fortunately, though, there’s another side to Berlin, one that is in fact uplifting. Despite its horrifying cataclysms, the city has retained its own charm and vitality, and it’s important to remember that Berlin in the Weimar Republic was the city that Hitler hated, because of its tolerance and diversity. And, fortunately, in the end it was that Berlin which ultimately won! We’ll see this everywhere in the city, starting with the main gayborhood of the Roaring 20s, Schöneberg—famous as the setting for the Christopher Isherwood memoirs that are the basis for the movie (and musical) Cabaret. Schöneberg is still today Berlin’s main gayborhood, and we will start to get to know it tonight with a welcome dinner in one of its charming restaurants.
Day 2 -
This morning, we will take a walking tour of Schöneberg, learning about the heady years in which Berlin was the gay capital of Europe. Our particular theme will be Christopher Isherwood’s stay in the area, where he wrote his Berlin stories, and the bars he and his friends frequented. We will also learn something about the childhood of another great LGBTQ (and anti-Nazi) Berliner, Marlene Dietrich, who was born in the neighborhood, and then make a stop at Germany’s Gay Museum, a center of gay life and thought for the whole country.
After lunch, we will spend the afternoon back on the traumatic side of Germany’s history. In two of Berlin’s newest museums, the Jewish Museum and the Topography of Terror (built on the site of the SS headquarters), we will see the overwhelming reality of tyranny in Germany and the victims it claimed—including the countless gays who were marked out by pink triangles in the concentration camps. The evening is free to decompress and celebrate our freedom today—by exploring the many hip neighborhoods, chic restaurants and many gay-friendly sites in what is now one of the world’s most tolerant cities.
Day 3 -
Today is Berlin Gay Pride, also called Christopher Street Day — one of Europe's biggest and wildest Pride celebrations for 40 years. We will start the morning in Berlin’s impressive art museums, where Professor Lear will take us on one of his renowned “gay secrets” tours, including everything from stunning Greek vases to homoerotic German art of the 19thcentury.
At noon, we head over to the start of the Pride parade for an experience to stir the heart and lift the spirit - especially in Germany’s historical context. After viewing the parade our group is free to explore Pride together or individually - visiting the Pride village, taking in the stage program, dancing, drinking, or even protesting to your heart’s delight. (Note: Berlin is a very international city, and English is spoken just about everywhere, so you don’t need to worry about jumping right in.) Post-parade festivities—at least the official ones—last from 2 p.m. till midnight.
Day 4 -
After the exhilaration of Pride, we spend a day in the country on an excursion to the charming nearby city of Potsdam, famous for the Potsdam Conference, the bridge of spies, and baroque palaces and gardens. We will see the palace where the Conference took place and cross the famous bridge, but our main purpose will be to visit the park and palace of Sanssouci, generally known as Germany’s Versailles and the favorite palace of Frederick the Great. Frederick was Prussia’s great Enlightenment monarch, the early architect of Germany’s rise to world power, and almost certainly gay. (His clearly gay aide, Baron von Steuben, trained the American Revolutionary Army.)
Lunch will be in the beer garden at Sanssouci’s original farm—a tad touristy, but a great place to experience traditional German food. We then return to Berlin for another free evening and whatever R&R suits you.
Day 5 -
Today, we take an early train across Germany and the Netherlands to Amsterdam. We arrive in time to do a walking tour of central Amsterdam — including the place where the first legal gay marriage in modern history took place! We’ll see the picturesque canals, distinctive architecture and fascinating trading houses of the Dutch Golden Age, during which the plucky Dutch turned themselves into a maritime power to rival the mighty British.
Then it’s time for a welcome dinner of Dutch-Indonesian rijssttafel, a banquet inspired by the flavors of Indonesia (a colony of the Dutch when it rose to worldwide commercial preeminence), followed by an evening tour of the city’s famous red-light district.
Day 6 -
Today we continue our exploration of Amsterdam. Our guide’s specialty is 17th-century Dutch art, and we spend this morning at the greatest museum of that period, the Rijksmuseum, where we see masterpieces of painters like Hals, Vermeer, and Rembrandt—with some special details about the often-ignored sexy (though straight) side of Dutch art in the Golden Age.
After lunch in the cafés of the lovely Vondelpark, our afternoon ends with a tour of the city from a canal boat—probably the best way to appreciate the charms of this so-called “Venice of the North.” Here you will see the cityscapes that inspired many of the Dutch artists that we saw in the morning at the Rijksmuseum, and gain a deeper appreciation of the remarkable history of this country that has succeeded against all odds. The evening is free for your own explorations.
Day 7 -
This day starts with a visit to a very sad monument: the secret apartment where Anne Frank and her family hid from the Nazi occupiers for four years, where she wrote her world-famous diary, and where ultimately they were discovered and arrested. We follow this with a more cheerful visit, a walking tour of the Jordaan, Amsterdam’s artsiest and gayest neighborhood—a treasure house of charming architecture and enchanting shops.
This afternoon you are free to continue your explorations of the city and its museums; we suggest the Van Gogh Museum, with its peerless collection of the quintessential modern painter, or, if you are feeling like a break, let us explain how to get to an easily accessible nude beach!
This evening we meet for a farewell dinner with a lovely view over this effervescent city, and toast our Pride with a renewed appreciation of what it means to be gay.
Day 8 -
Our tour ends at breakfast today, but let us know if you need help or advice with further travel plans. Also, if you want to enjoy another great Pride celebration, Amsterdam’s takes place this Saturday, so let us know if you want to stay another three days!
• 7 nights in centraly located Deluxe hotels:
- 4 nights in Berlin Adina Apartment Hotel Berlin Hackescher Markt
- 3 nights in Amsterdam INK Hotel Amsterdam MGallery by Sofitel
• All breakfasts, and 3 lunches;
• Welcome dinner, and a farewell dinner;
• Services of escort and local guides;
• Admission to all sights on the tour, and transportation to them (by taxi, minibus, and train).
• International airfare
• Transportation from your arrival point (e.g. airport, train station) to your hotel
• Transportation from your hotel to your departure point (e.g. airport, train station)
• Travel insurance
• Alcoholic beverages other than wine at welcome and farewell dinners and other times specifically mentioned in the itinerary
• Personal items, such as snacks, laundry, and telephone calls
• Optional activities
• Gratuities for bus drivers and local guides.
This tour starts in Berlin, Germany and ends in Amsterdam, Netherlands.
Breakfast is included every day in our tours, and on most days we include either lunch or dinner, according to the itinerary. On this tour we include all breakfasts, a welcome dinner, and a farewell dinner, and 3 lunches.
Singles are very welcome! Our groups generally consist of a mix of couples and singles, and there is generally a nice group ethos, so no-one will ever feel left out. Single rooms are available, with a supplement; we are also happy to try to find you a room-mate if you would prefer.
Professor Andrew Lear combines a love of travel with a passion for gay history, and he brings both of those attributes to Oscar Wilde Tours.
Professor Lear holds a B.A. from Harvard and a Ph.D. from UCLA. He has published a widely praised book on male-male love in ancient Greek art, as well as a number of important scholarly articles in this area. Indeed he is generally considered one of the foremost experts on same-sex love in the ancient world, but his interest in gay history extends to other key periods, such as fin-de-siècle England, Renaissance Italy, and medieval Japan—places and periods that we will explore at Oscar Wilde Tours.
Our hotels are chosen for excellent 4* quality, historic charm, and central location. Our hotels on this tour are:
BERLIN – Adina Apartment Hotel Berlin Hackescher Markt
The Adina Apartment Hotel is a very nice apartment hotel by the Hackesche Höfe, a complex of connected courtyards that since Berlin’s reunification has been one of the city’s centers for shopping and nightlife, with a cabaret, a theater, nightclubs etc.. It is also next to the old Jewish quarter and within 5 minutes walk of the Alexanderplatz, Berlin’s main square, and the museum island, with the city’s great art museums. In short, it has a truly great location.
AMSTERDAM – INK Hotel Amsterdam MGallery by Sofitel
The Ink Hotel Amsterdam is a charming luxury hotel in the historic building of The Netherlands’ main Catholic newspaper, built in 1904, and decorated with antiques connected with the Dutch newspaper trade. It too is extremely central: 5 minutes walk from the Dam Square (where the city was born and still the center of town), 10 from the Anne Frank House, and so on.
We try to design our tours both for repeat and first-time visitors. We include a number of lesser-known sights, but also major sights—which we see from the perspective of their often ignored gay history.
Oscar Wilde Tours focus on LGBT history and art and are designed for groups of LGBT people. They are however open to the LGBT-friendly as well.
In each city, we include a free afternoon, so you can explore, shop, or visit museums not included in the tour.
All of the main sights in the tour are visited on foot, on walking or museum tours. There may be uneven ground, and steps in some museums or historic houses. The amount of walking is not, however, excessive: we rarely exceed 2 miles a day. We travel from site to site by train or air conditioned bus (or at times, in major cities, in fleets of taxis or limousines).