Guide to the Best Berlin Neighborhoods
People living in Berlin are extremely proud and slightly defensive when it comes to their neighborhood or Kiez. Each neighborhood is distinctly different, feeling like a small city within a city. When visiting Berlin, it’s best to explore multiple neighborhoods and soak up the unique atmosphere each one offers. Luckily the city has a fantastic transport system, so it’s super easy to zip between the neighborhoods.
This guide will cover 4 of the best neighborhoods in Germany’s capital, and they should all be included on your next trip itinerary.
Prenzlauer Berg: Trendy and Young
First up we have the ultra-trendy Prenzlauer Berg, an area littered with hipster cafes and small boutique shops. It has a reputation for being the young family district of Berlin, so you might have to dodge around all the strollers, but it’s worth it. This area, in the north of the city, has some of the most beautiful architecture, and as you may have guessed from its reputation, things are slightly more expensive here.
When visiting this neighborhood, you have to stop at the famous Maurerpark. It’s a sprawling green park that used to be the ‘death strip’ between the Berlin Wall, but today it’s a lively meeting place with an unmatched atmosphere. In warmer months, there’s a Sunday flea market and the legendary Maurerpark bearpit karaoke. Crowds gather to sit around the outdoor pit and volunteer to sing their hearts out to the waiting audience. It can feel like the entire city has come out to congregate here most weekends.
When it comes to food, Prenzlauer Berg has some great German bakeries. Zeit für Brot is one of the best. People travel far and wide to get their hands on the much sought-after cinnamon rolls. They have a few locations scattered around Berlin, but head to the one on Eberswalder Strasse, as it’s not far from Maurerpark.
What would a trip to Germany’s capital city be without stopping at a beer garden? Prenzlauer Berg is also home to one of the most famous, the Prater Beer Garden. Closed for winter but open again in spring, this huge beer garden has a fabulous atmosphere. You can sit outside under the fairy lights and sample some of the traditional German food accompanied by a huge Stein of beer (the equivalent of 2 pints).
Staying in this neighborhood is a great choice, and those looking for budget accommodation can head to the Lette’m Sleep Hostel. This affordable option is in a great location, right outside the U-Bahn Eberswalder Strasse station which connects directly to Alexanderplatz.
Mitte: Best for Sightseeing
Next, we have Mitte or ‘the middle’. This district is just that, the bustling center of the city. This is the neighborhood where you will find all the must-see historical sites, all within easy walking distance. You can efficiently spend a day walking through and checking off the main sites such as Alexanderplatz, the TV Tower, the Berlin Cathedral, Checkpoint Charlie, the Reichstag, and the Brandenburg Gate. The best way to do this in one day is to join a walking tour. There is stiff competition in Berlin, with many different companies offering their own unique twist on the traditional walking tour, with price ranges to suit every type of traveler.
The TV tower is a must if you want some incredible views across the city. To save time, you can book your tickets in advance online. The basic ticket to the observation deck costs 22.50€ for adults. Checkpoint Charlie should also be on your itinerary. It was the most well-known crossing point between East Berlin and West Berlin. Today it connects the 2 neighborhoods of Mitte and Kreuzberg. As it’s so popular with tourists the food and drink around here is expensive, so you’re better to head a bit further out. The cafe Zimt & Zucker near the S and U-Bahn station Friedrichstrasse is a lovely option for lunch.
Mitte doesn’t have such a cool or alternative atmosphere as other neighborhoods, mainly because Berliners don’t really live there. However, because of its central location, it’s a great place to stay if you want to be well-connected to other neighborhoods.
A top choice of where to stay is The Circus Hotel. This hotel has something for everyone, offering all types of accommodation, from budget dorm rooms to luxury apartments. The hotel is very centrally located just outside the U-Bahn stop Rosenthaler Platz and within walking distance of Alexanderplatz.
Kreuzberg: The Alternative District
The iconic neighborhood of Kreuzberg is probably one of the most popular with visitors. It’s home to the most graffiti and the infamous all-night Berlin parties. Definitely, the place to be if you want to be surrounded by great bars and clubs that never close.
If you’re interested in street art, you will be spoilt for choice in this neighborhood. There are famous commissioned murals covering buildings mixed with smaller graffiti everywhere you look. One of the most well-known is the Astronaut / Cosmonaut mural painted onto the side of a building in 2007 by Victor Ash. It’s easy to find, located between the 2 U-Bahn stations Kottbusser Tor and Görlitzer Bahnhof.
When it comes to food, there is so much variety to be found in this neighborhood. A true reflection of the diversity of the people who call Kreuzberg home. You have to try Berlin’s favorite Sudanese falafel at Sahara Imbiss. They serve delicious hot falafel in pita bread covered with their signature peanut sauce.
The next food recommendation really sums up the quirkiness of Kreuzberg. Berliners will queue for hours to get their hands on a burger from Burgermeister. This once solitary burger joint has since expanded to multiple locations in many neighborhoods across the city, but the original one is in an old public toilet in Kreuzberg. You can find it under the rattling platforms of the U-Bahn stop Schlesisches Tor.
Another great place to visit in Kreuzberg is the Markhalle Neun. This is an indoor covered food market bursting with fresh food stalls. It’s the perfect place to drop by if you’re visiting during the colder months and need to escape the freezing temperatures for a while. They tend to have different stalls during different days of the week, so best to check their website to be sure what’s on.
As you would expect from such an alternative neighborhood, there is an amazing coffee scene with new cafes opening up constantly. Definitely check out 19grams for top-notch coffee (that they roast themselves) and it’s a great rest stop in between all the sightseeing.
For accommodation, the Comebackpackers is a basic hostel that offers cheap dorm rooms. It has a spacious communal area and balcony, making it easy to meet fellow travelers. It’s located above a noisy intersection outside the U-Bahn Kottbusser Tor, so it can get loud. For something more chilled, try the Hotel the YARD.
Friedrichshain: The Edgy Neighbourhood
The last neighborhood is my personal favorite. Friedrichshain is just across the river from Kreuzberg, and it shares many similarities with its neighbor but manages to feel a little calmer. It’s home to many famous clubs, but also delicious food. You can find every single type of cuisine lining the streets here, and it makes a great base for your first time exploring Berlin.
Berlin is very well-known for its incredible Vietnamese food, and one of the best places is the Vietnamese fusion restaurant Nyom in Friedrichshain. They serve mouthwatering vegan, vegetarian, and meat dishes and also small plates, which are great to split with friends. Their cocktails are not to be missed either.
If you need a midday coffee, head to Shakespeare and Sons. It’s an English language bookshop and cafe, serving delicious homemade bagels and brewing fresh coffee. Tucker Brunch Bar is many Berliners’ favorite spot for weekend brunch. It’s a great Australian brunch spot offering everything from Eggs Benny to Breakfast Burritos. It’s best to book ahead using their website as it can get busy.
You can’t visit this neighborhood and not check out a bar or two. A great option is Fitcher’s Vogel. It’s a cozy candlelit bar with football tables and a great menu, you will find it near the Warschauer Straße S and U-Bahn stations.
When it comes to things to see, the most famous attraction in Friedrichshain is the East Side Gallery. This is the stretch of the Berlin Wall that is now covered in artwork. To walk the entire 1.3 km takes some time and it can get crowded with people trying to take their photos, so best to go early before the crowds.
Looking for accommodation here? The Sunflower Hostel is a budget choice close to the world-renowned Berghain club. For private rooms, try Backpacker Berlin.
The Variety of Berlin Neighbourhoods
Hopefully, this guide has shown the diversity that Berlin offers with its many different neighborhoods. Each neighborhood has a distinct atmosphere, and you will certainly have your favorite by the end of your trip. Ultimately whichever neighborhood you choose to stay in, you’re in for a great time!