Vibrant, inviting, energetic and always creative, Berlin is one of our favorite cities in Europe. It certainly has a little bit of everything: a fascinating history that includes Hitler’s rise to power and the Berlin Wall, wonderful restaurants and cafes, great music and art, easy-to-navigate public transportation, and something to see on just about every street.
But since Berlin is so big, it can be hard to take it all in during one trip. So it’s a good idea, especially for first-time visitors, to decide what sort of activities and atmospheres you’re most interested in, and to find the places that suit your agenda. There are many neighborhoods in Berlin, but here are six of our favorite.
Kreuzberg: An artist’s mecca
Kreuzberg is a place where you can let it all hang out. This bohemian enclave is famous for its colorful murals and colorful people of just about every counter-culture you can think of. There are plenty of reasons to visit, from the tasty restaurants and quaint cafes, to music venues and vintage shops. It feels like there’s a party going on here at any time of day or night. Kreuzberg may be anti-establishment, but it is certainly not anti-fun.
Mitte: The center of it all
“Mitte” literally means “middle,” and indeed this neighborhood is in the heart of Berlin, where the majority of the city’s main sights are located. Torstraße is the main street here, and a walk along it will take you past numerous shawarma shops, delicious pizza restaurants, and several of Berlin’s ubiquitous (and very tasty) currywurst stands. But you won’t only find food here. There are also plenty of quirky shops, art galleries, and much more, including excellent views of the TV tower at Alexanderplatz.
Moabit: Architecture and canals
Moabit is the home of Berlin’s main train station, so it’s really in the center of the urban action. Surrounded by lazy canals, this cosmopolitan neighborhood boasts clubs and chic galleries rubbing elbows with family-run restaurants and bars that have been here for generations. Public space is the name of the game in Moabit, and you’re never far from a comfortable place to sit and people watch. You can have a wonderful time just walking around and seeing where your feet take you.
Schoneberg: Urban style
Schoneberg is one of Berlin’s quintessential neighborhoods, with wide-open streets and public squares, green parks and outdoor markets. There’s a thriving gay community here, and the nightlife is second-to-none, with clubs, music venues and pop-ups on just about every street. There’s a mix of high and low culture in this neighborhood, as government buildings loom over the bustling social life, which includes regular parades and parties. On the weekends the streets come alive with locals and visitors.
Prenzlauer Berg: Quaint yet chic
A laid-back neighborhood with vegetarian restaurants and cool cafes, Prenzlauer Berg is populated by young families and students. It’s one of the hippest spots in the city. You’ll find cozy, tree-lined streets and outdoor cafes where you can relax with a soy latte or a glass of wine and mingle among the friendly locals, who always seem to be enjoying themselves. The neighborhood has a unique vibe that’s a little more restrained than some of Berlin’s wilder enclaves.
Friedrichshain: Art, bars and boutiques
Friedrichshain is like one giant art exhibition, with murals galore and entire buildings turned into canvases for colorful expression. This is also the home of the East Side Gallery, where the longest remaining stretch of the Berlin Wall has been turned into an art gallery. You’ll find squats and low-down bars here, but the neighborhood is always bustling with irrepressible energy. It’s definitely one of the city’s must-sees.
Planning a trip to Berlin? We’d love to put together a Berlin travel package just for you. Get in touch to find out more!
Stephan Delbos is an internationally published writer and editor. Born in the US, he has lived, worked and traveled in Europe for a decade. He’s fond of oysters and arid martinis.