This comprehensive guide includes our personal favorites in Berlin. These are our top choices to soak up the culture and feel of the German capital.
It is by no means final.
One of our favorite cities, we will be back in Berlin again and again and will continue to add to the list. We are not locals (yet) and have not spent enough time in Berlin to explore every single neighborhood in this sprawling, booming city.
Have a look at our Berlin Quick Guides:
GlobetrotterGirls Quick Guide to Berlin: An overview of the German capital
GlobetrotterGirls Quick Guide to Berlin: Our favorite restaurants, cafes and bars
GlobetrotterGirls Quick Guide to Berlin: Parks, lakes and outdoor Berlin
In this part, we are sharing which neighborhoods you should explore while in Berlin, and what not to miss in each one:
For the two of us, Kreuzberg has the best of everything: an eclectic mix of cultures, more ethnic restaurants than we could ever eat at, gorgeous Wilhelminian-style buildings, green spaces, and an interesting blend of young punks and Turkish immigrants, the latter have made up a large part of Kreuzberg’s population for decades. Oranienstrasse and Bergmannstrasse are both lined with bars, cafes and restaurants, or you can sit by the Landwehr Canal and buy some drinks and snacks from the entrepreneurial Turkish folks who pass by with shopping trolleys filled with cold beer or sandwiches.
This self-guided walking tour of Kreuzberg is actually pretty good and gives you a good feel for the neighborhood. If you go to Kreuzberg, you might want to go on Tuesday or Friday, when the Turkish Market in Maybachufer takes place. Open from 12pm-6pm, this market is full of fruit and vegetable stalls, Turkish snacks, gluten-free deserts, frozen yogurt, coffee stalls, clothes and anything you might or might not need – all at absolute bargain prices.
Not to be missed in Kreuzberg:
- Try Turkish food along Kottbusser Damm and around Kottbusser Tor. Hasir is apparently the place where the Doner Kebab was invented and where Anthony Bourdain ate while in town, and right across the streets you can have Lebanese food at Maroush. My personal favorite there is the Makkali (grilled vegetables with chickpea puree wrapped in pita bread).
- Have drinks on Admiralsbrücke on a warm summer night, when the bridge it is packed with young people from all around the world.
- Climb the actual Kreuzberg, the hill that gave the neighborhood its name. Located in Victoria Park (Großbeerenstraße and Kreuzbergstraße), there is an artificial waterfall and a national monument commemorating the battles of the War of Liberation on top of the hill. This is a great spot to watch the sunset.
- Pick up fresh snacks from Maybachufer Turkish Market and eat them at the Landwehr Canal on a sunny Friday afternoon when the whole world seems to already be celebrating the weekend.
Berlin Mitte is the actual center of Berlin and where most of the city’s best-known sights are located. You can start with a stroll along Unter den Linden, Berlin’s biggest boulevard, all the way from Museum Island (see below) to the Victory Column in Tiergarten, passing through the Brandenburg Gate. Stop at the Reichstag, the Memorial of the Murdered Jews of Europe, Bellevue Palace, Gendarmenmarkt and Hackesche Höfe, venture down Friedrichsstrasse to Checkpoint Charlie or from Hackescher Markt to Alexanderplatz and the TV Tower. Potsdamer Platz, in walking distance from Brandenburg Gate, is known for its striking modern architecture and is home to several restaurants, bars, cafes, cinemas and shopping malls.
- Gendarmenmarkt (often named Berlin’s most beautiful square with a Friedrich Schiller statue in its center and home to the French and German Cathedrals)
- Lustgarten, a little park right by the Berlin Cathedral.
- Nikolaiviertel, the reconstructed historic quarter of Berlin, with cobbled stones and historic buildings, including Nikolai Church, the city’s oldest church.
- Monjiboupark, a small park by the Spree River, opposite Museum Island.
- Tiergarten Park, Berlin‘s biggest park (see Parks, lakes and outdoor Berlin).
- Hackescher Markt, a small square filled with cafes and restaurants, good for people watching.
- Haus Schwarzenberg, a back alley off Rosenthaler Straße 39 filled with street art.
- Potsdamer Platz, one of Berlin’s greatest examples of contemporary architecture, lots of shopping, cinemas and restaurants.
- Rosenthaler Platz, busy square with many bars and cafes.
Prenzlauer Berg, or Prenzlberg for short, is probably Berlin’s most bohemian neighborhood, filled with little boutiques, sidewalk cafes and restaurants, and squares where young moms push their strollers to meet for morning chats. The starving artists and alternative thinkers that once populated the neighborhood have grown up, and Prenzlberg has grown up with it, becoming a chic neighborhood with high rent, young professionals, twice-weekly farmers markets, organic ice cream shops and independent boutiques. After undergoing a significant amount of renovation in the last decade, Prenzlberg is one of the most beautiful neighborhoods in the city, with tree-lined streets and outdoor cafes perfect for people watching.
- The Mauerpark, ideally on a Sunday when the flea market and Mauerpark karaoke take place.
- Wasserturmplatz, the water tower and surrounding park are a great place to relax.
- Oderbergstraße has some great cafes and restaurants
- The farmer’s market around Kollwitzplatz every Thursday and Saturday.
- Kulturbrauerei, a former brewery that now houses bars, restaurants, clubs, galleries and a cinema.
- Jewish Cemetery on Schönhauser Allee 22-23.
- Kastanienallee, a long street filled with restaurants and shops.
Friedrichshain is technically part of Kreuzberg, but big enough that it deserves a mention in its own right. While Kreuzberg is south of the Spree, the Friedrichshain part of the borough is located north of the river and borders with Mitte and Prenzlauer Berg in the west. Friedrichshain is one of Berlin’s most lively areas, with a buzzing nightlife scene, lots of cafes and restaurants, street art and some great riverside bars.
- The Sunday Flea Market on Boxhagener Platz
- The East Side Gallery (also see An overview of the German capital)
- Badeschiff, a swimming pool on the River Spree (in the summer)
- RAW Tempel for street art and clubbing on Revaler Straße 99.
- Berlin’s infamous Berghain techno club, for a great sample of the city’s nightlife
- Simon-Dach-Straße has many popular bars.
- Volkspark Friedrichhain and the magnificent Fairytale Fountain.
- Oberbaumbrücke, a double-deck bridge with two towers over the River Spree.
- The Osthafen (East Port) area and the ‘Molecule Man’ sculpture in the Spree River, best seen from Oberbaumbrücke.
Neukölln, a socially problematic neighborhood only a few years ago, is now an up-and-coming alternative to Kreuzberg. A similar melting pot of cultures, the neighborhood has seen a huge upswing over the last few years, with art galleries, creative businesses, cafes and bars popping up everywhere. The most interesting area is the Reuter Quarter, the area around Reuterstraße where most of the new businesses and boutiques set up and attract hipsters and artists alike. The historical center of Neukölln is Rixdorf (between Karl-Marx-Straße and Sonnenallee) with Richardplatz being its heart, a surprisingly bohemian part of Neukölln which still has many buildings from the mid-19th century. Old churches, small shops and courtyard off winding roads give this part of the neighborhood a village feel.
Not to be missed in Neukölln:
- Tempelhofer Freiheit, the former airport which is now a giant recreational space – see the parks section for more.
- Comenius-Garden, a public garden in Rixdorf at Richardstraße 35.
- Let Them Eat Cake, an awesome art space meets vintage clothes store, Weserstraße 164.
- Körnerpark, a beautiful park with a cafe and gallery at Schierker Straße 8.
- Klunkerkranich Rooftop Bar, ideally at sunset, see also in Our favorite restaurants, cafes and bars.
- Volkspark Hasenheide, a big park off of Hasenheide.
Have something to add?
As you can see, we have only started to explore Berlin’s neighborhoods and will update this guide every time we return to Berlin – if you have any suggestions for neighborhoods we should check out or things you think people shouldn’t miss in the neighborhoods above, please share them in the comments below!