Edited by Elodi Troskie
If you’re planning a trip to Germany, Berlin should be at the top of your list. Berlin beautifully merges the past and the present – the city center, for example, is ultra-modern yet the ancient architecture and historical charm are kept intact.
Berlin’s culture, nightlife, cuisine, and alternative art scene make it an incredible travel destination whatever the season maybe! Start your trip planning with this neighborhood guide to help you decide where to stay in Berlin.
Prenzlauer Berg: Family-friendly
Prenzlauer Berg is one of Berlin’s most popular neighborhoods, well-inhabited by young local families. I recommend families traveling with kids to stay in this area because it’s removed from the hustle and bustle of the city center and offers so many family-friendly activities and entertainment.
Prenzlauer Berg is beautiful. Founded in 1920, this district survived World War ll and still boasts impressive old-world architecture and the same picturesque streets it’s always had. For families staying here, there is a multitude of playgrounds, public parks, and kindercafes to visit with children.
This area is home to well-known attractions like the massive Mauerpark (the weekly Sunday market in this park is a highlight!), the Berlin Wall Memorial, the Volkspark Friedrichshain, and more than 300 buildings protected as historic monuments.
Prenzlauer Berg is well-connected to the rest of Berlin, situated about half an hour from Tegel Airport and less than 20 minutes from the main train station, Hauptbahnhof.
Kreuzberg: Alternative nightlife
Kreuzberg is where Berlin’s hipsters and artists come together. This neighborhood is packed with art galleries, trendy cafes, offbeat bars and nightclubs, street food, and street art – the best of alternative Berlin! For the creative types who aren’t shy about crowds, I’d say this is the best area to stay in Berlin.
Kreuzberg is also popular among long-term ex-pats and is home to a large foreign community. This means that the cuisine around here is super diverse, featuring foods from India, Turkey, and many other Asian cultures. The nightlife in Kreuzberg is one of the best parts of this neighborhood. Head to the vibrant area surrounding Görlitzer Park for a variety of casual bars, laid-back eateries, and food stalls at the popular Markthalle Neun.
For vintage gems and thrift shopping, go to the trendy Bergmannkiez area, just a few minutes from the serene Viktoriapark. And, of course, you can’t miss out on the iconic East Side Gallery, the largest remaining segment of the Berlin Wall, now transformed into the biggest open-air art gallery in Germany.
Neukölln: Up and coming
Neukölln is one of Berlin’s best hidden gems. Still on the rise in popularity among tourists, this area isn’t overrun by crowds yet, making it a great place to stay if you want to experience the best of Berlin without being trampled by the masses. In recent years, the city has worked hard to bring new life into this neighborhood that used to be one of the poorest areas in Berlin.
Spruced up with quirky coffee shops, vintage stores, community gardens and cultural spaces like art galleries and interesting museums. The industrial feel of abandoned warehouses revamped to house these cool new spots make this district very appealing to the younger crowd.
This is a good area to stay in Berlin for digital nomads who are working while traveling and are always on the lookout for cafes with strong coffee and fast wifi.
Mitte: Sightseeing hub
Mitte forms the center of Berlin. As one of the only neighborhoods in Berlin that stretch over both East and West Berlin, this is the best area to stay if you want to be as centrally placed among all the city’s best sightseeing spots. Right in the middle of Mitte lies Alexanderplatz, one of the biggest public squares in Berlin.
Alex has an interesting history as a public trading center where local farmers would come to sell their fresh produce. When Berlin’s railway station opened in the late 1800’s, it drew even more feet to this part of the city. Although it’s not used in the same way anymore, Alex remains the social and cultural heart of Berlin.
If you only have a couple of days in Berlin, I recommend staying in the area surrounding Alex, since it’s so conveniently close to everything. Spread out around the square are many of Berlin’s must-see tourist attractions like Fernsehturm, Rotes Rathaus, the Fountain of International Friendship and the World Clock. Apart from sightseeing, this is also a really good area for shopping and nightlife entertainment.
Lichtenberg: Youthful and creative
Lichtenberg is another neighborhood that’s a great fit for young families and travelers looking to explore Berlin off the beaten path. This area has a very interesting history dating back to war times, home to the Stasi Museum, the former headquarters of East Germany’s secret police, and the Hohenschönhausen Memorial, a former prison that is now open to the public for guided tours.
Lichtenberg underwent a lot of renovations after the destruction of the war and many of the old, industrial buildings have been refurbished to houses, shops and restaurants. The nightlife in this neighborhood is fairly quiet, but there is more than enough to do during the day.
A few cool places to visit in Lichtenberg is the Dong Xuan Center, a Vietnamese produce market selling a big variety of clothes and street food, and the Friedrichsfelde Palace, an impressive Neoclassical-style building that was formerly owned by Prussian royalty.
Charlottenburg: Elegant and charming
Located in the western part of Berlin, Charlottenburg is one of the oldest neighborhoods in the city. This area is on the higher end and has more hotels and luxury shopping facilities than most other parts of the city.
Charlottenburg’s main shopping street, Ku’damm, is lined with high-end fashion boutiques and international luxury brands – an interesting contrast of new shops in beautiful, pre-war buildings.
But there’s more to this neighborhood than shopping! Charlottenburg is a paradise for the history-lovers, with all its historic sites, museums, and cultural attractions. A must-visit is the Charlottenburg Palace, the biggest and oldest existing palace in Berlin, dating back to the 17th century.
Another interesting visit is the Museum Charlottenburg-Wilmersdorf, showcasing the local culture and history of how this part of the city came to be since it was established in the early 1700s. Although this neighborhood might be a bit more expensive, it’s well worth exploring – perfect for a photography mission in the city!
Tempelhof-Schöneberg: Vibrant nightlife
Tempelhof-Schöneberg is one of the coolest neighborhoods in Berlin – it has history, culture, the great outdoors, and incredible nightlife. This area has been through a lot of changes since the early 1900s.
Suppose you’re interested in the founding stories of this district. In that case, you can visit the old Jewish neighborhood surrounding the Bayerischer Platz, the beautiful town hall, and the St. Matthäus Kirchhof cemetery where famous historical figures like the Grimm Brothers are buried.
Tempelhof-Schöneberg’s nightlife really boomed in the 1920s and the feel of the ‘roaring twenties’ is still very much present. The Winterfeldplatz is where all the action is. This square is a hub of bars and nightclubs that never seem to shut down.
The clubs, cafes, and other businesses in Winterfeldplatz are primarily known for being very welcoming to the queer community, adding to the charm and warmth of this neighborhood. A top pick if you’re still deciding where to stay in Berlin!
Photo credit: commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Strandbad
Wedding: Local living
Wedding has been getting a lot more buzz in recent years, but it remains a relaxed and slow-paced neighborhood mostly inhabited by locals. If you’re planning on staying in Berlin for a while, this is a really good option – you’ll get a feel of local life and will be hidden away from the big tourist crowds in the city center yet you’ll be within easy reach of the rest of the city for sightseeing and exciting nightlife experiences.
As a bonus, accommodation in this area is really affordable in comparison with the more tourist-oriented suburbs. Although the population in Wedding mainly consists of locals, you’ll be surprised at how internationally diverse it is. There is a large community of long-term ex-pats, giving way to a captivating variety of international cultural influences.
A few of Wedding’s best spots are Eschenbräu (one of the best craft breweries in Berlin!), the Neo-Gothic castle in the peaceful Brunnenplatz park, and Plötzensee, a serene swimming lake ideal for weekend outings and brunch picnics.
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