Once one of the most downtrodden areas of West Berlin, with the Berlin Wall enclosing a vibrant community of immigrants, anarchists, and artists on three sides, the district of Kreuzberg is now one of the city’s hippest destinations. Brimming with nightclubs, street food, and art galleries, Kreuzberg is the place to be for Berlin’s young and trendy. We check out the area’s 10 top sights.
The Turkish Market
Kreuzberg is home to a large community of Turkish immigrants, and every Tuesday and Friday the area’s Turkish character becomes more palpable than ever as vendors set up shop along the canal for the city’s largest Turkish market. Exotic street food, colorful fruit and veg stalls, and tables stacked with bolts of bright fabrics entice tourists and locals alike with bargain prices. Cash is a must, and haggling is looked on with approval. If you’re prepared to brave the rush of souvenir-seekers and street performers, this unique market will provide an afternoon of delicious surprises and unexpected finds.
From barely legible tags to bona fide spray paint masterpieces, Kreuzberg is absolutely covered in graffiti and street art. The temporary nature of these urban graphics—constantly being scrubbed out, covered up, added to, or otherwise altered—means that even locals are kept on their toes by the ever-changing facades of Kreuzberg’s buildings. Creations by ambitious amateurs can be found alongside works from well-known names like Victor Ash, Blu, and ROA. The walls of Kreuzberg provide a sumptuous, eclectic visual feast for street art fans everywhere, who can either book a tour (there are many), or discover works for themselves. They won’t have far to look.
Located on the border between Kreuzberg and Mitte, Checkpoint Charlie (“Checkpoint C”) was the best-known crossing point of the Berlin Wall between East Berlin and West Berlin during the Cold War. It was the site of small conflicts and many escape attempts and became a symbol of Cold War separation for both sides. Today, it stands as an important reminder of the divide of the times. Though the original checkpoint structure was removed when the wall came down (it can be seen in the open-air exhibition space of the Allied Museum), the subsequent reconstruction of the famous guard house and sign has become a major tourist attraction and a must-see sight for any visitor to Kreuzberg.
The Berlinische Galerie (Berlin Gallery) displays local fine art, photography, architecture, and sculpture in a former glass warehouse. The white walls and cavernous interior, house a vast collection of work produced in and about the city of Berlin. Berlinische Galerie’s permanent collection is modern yet accessible, featuring works from major movements since 1870 including Berlin Dada, expressionism, and new objectivity. The temporary exhibitions showcase modern artists as well as a more contemporary set, introducing Berlin’s rising stars to the public through solo exhibitions and installations.
Berlinische Galerie, Alte Jakobstraße 124, Berlin, Germany +49 30 78902600
The East Side Gallery
Along the bank of the River Spree, where the Berlin Wall once separated East from West, the longest remaining segment of the wall has been transformed into an extensive open-air art gallery. Originally painted in 1990 and painstakingly restored for its 20th anniversary in 2010, this vast mural stretches for over a kilometer and features work from more than 100 national and international artists. It stands as a visual monument to the widespread euphoria of the wall’s fall, and as a reminder of the city’s complex past. A stroll along the East Side Gallery is a must for any visitor to Berlin, not only for its aesthetic appeal but also for its vital historical significance.
Head to the flagship Kreuzberg branch of Hasir, a hugely successful local chain of Turkish restaurants, for the best döner kebab in town. Founder Mehmet Aygun invented this street food classic in 1971, and his restaurants still serve the best of the best, alongside other mouth-watering traditional Turkish dishes. The unpretentious Kreuzberg location is always packed with regulars, serving up steaming plates at breakneck speed. It’s well worth making your way over for the kebab alone, but don’t miss out on the other equally tasty options bursting with authentic flavors.
Hasir Kreuzberg, Adalbertstraße 10, Berlin, Germany +49 30 6142373
Make your way to German snack bar Curry 36 for the (arguably) best currywurst in Berlin. These traditional bratwurst sausages topped with curried ketchup have been a favorite among locals and visitors for more than 30 years, consistently landing on top 10 lists of the best budget food in Berlin. Along with its famous currywurst, Curry 36 also serves excellent fries and other typical German street dishes. The line can be long, but it moves quickly, and the end result is worth the wait. For a tasty, filling, and budget-friendly meal in Kreuzberg, Curry 36 is the way to go.
Curry 36, Mehringdamm 36, Berlin, Germany +49 30 2517368
The Jewish Museum
The Jewish Museum in Berlin is one of the largest museums of Jewish culture and history in Europe, exploring nearly two millennia of German-Jewish society in its permanent collection, special exhibitions, library, and archive. The building itself is equally noteworthy, consisting of two main structures: an older, baroque palace supplemented by a zinc-paneled, modern extension designed by architect Daniel Libeskind. The extension is symbolically rich, with empty “voids”appearing regularly throughout the building to represent, in Libeskind’s words, “that which can never be exhibited when it comes to Jewish Berlin history: humanity reduced to ashes.”
Jewish Museum, Lindenstraße 9-14, Berlin, Germany +49 30 25993300
A national monument, an artificial waterfall, and two vineyards—Kreuzberg’s Viktoriapark is more than just a place to relax with your picnic (though that is an ever-popular activity). Situated on Berlin’s highest natural elevation, this lush green park provides a spectacular view of city rooftops on clear days. The park’s most famous landmark is a huge cast-iron monument dedicated to the Liberation Wars of the early 19th century. Viktoriapark also contains a 24-meter artificial waterfall and is bordered by two small historic vineyards. Especially popular in the summer, Viktoriapark is Kreuzberg’s most popular spot to relax, toss a Frisbee, and soak up the sun.
Kreuzberg is home to Berlin’s punk scene, and this legendary nightclub has been at the heart of Berlin’s thriving punk rock culture since 1978. Frequented by big-name musicians like Iggy Pop and David Bowie, SO36 rivaled New York City’s famous CBGB as a top punk and new wave venue in the 1980s. These days, the club stays true to its alternative roots, showcasing an eclectic mix of punk, metal, techno, and electronic beats. It is also a hub for Kreuzberg’s LGBTQ community, hosting Gayhane, a popular monthly party, for the area’s Turkish gay and lesbian community. In a city notorious for its nightlife, SO36 remains one of Berlin’s most well-known party destinations.
SO36, Oranienstraße 190, Berlin, Germany +49 30 61401306