As the second most populous city in the European Union, Berlin is a metropolis that can be overwhelming to navigate. With the city in constant flux, the quest to see all of Berlin is a big ask, though there are definitely a few neighbourhoods we think are great places to explore. Next time you ask the question, ‘In welchem Kiez sind wir hier?’ – Kiez being the informal word for neighbourhood – hopefully somebody will answer with one of these.
Bergmannkiez is a beautiful neighbourhood in the Western park of Kreuzberg. It boasts Parisian-like cobblestone roads, café-lined streets and a historic market square. The main street of Bergmannstrasse is well-known for its cool selection of things to do and see, like the historic 2,500 square metre market hall, selling anything from fresh produce to books and other trinkets. Just west of the borough lies Viktoriapark, a beautiful green inner-city escape where you can also see Berlin’s only waterfall. In its northeastern corner there is also the impressive neo-gothic Südstern church.
Here you have nature on your doorstep. The forests of Plänterwald and Treptower Park – with its beautiful dam and magical walking paths – are within the neighbourhood, not to mention being a stone’s throw away from the River Spree. It maintains a certain charm by being outside the action of more overtly popular districts like Kreuzberg, Neukölln or Fredrichstien, yet near enough to all of them that you can still feel the pulse of Berlin’s activity. Highlights include the park that has its own island, the Soviet War monument – impressive to look at in any light – and the observatory where you can check out the night sky, all tucked into a well-connected locale that bridges the best of both worlds.
The epicentre of the glorious Friedrichshain neighbourhood in east Berlin, this Kiez buzzes with cosy cinemas, neighbourhood markets and great restaurants. Friedrichshain is also home to the legendary Berghain club, the edgy urban RAW area complete with artist studios and a skate park, wonderful breweries and Volkspark Friedrichshain – one of the most beautiful parks and green areas in the city. Traditionally, this area is associated with counter-cultural activities, however the number of squats are fast being replaced by cafés, yoga studios and boutiques.
It’s often said by locals that Wrangelkeiz is the most beautiful Kiez in Berlin. It’s an area that forms part of Kreuzberg, bordered by the Spree on one side and Görlitzer Park on the other. Within this little hip hood there are many cute cafes, shops and bars and the atmosphere on the streets always feels good. Many of the roads are cobbled and the beautiful architecture of the old buildings has been retained, contrasting nicely with the street art in the area. Wrangelkiez is certainly considered hot property in Berlin!
This lovely neighbourhood in Kreuzberg is characterised by tree-lined avenues and a plethora of cute shops and delightful gastronomic options. The area includes Kottbusser Damm in the east, the Landwehr Canal in the north, where relaxing on the pretty river banks epitomise the best of Berlin life. This sought-after kiez, with its well-preserved facades and art nouveau aesthetic has been one of the hardest hit by gentrification, but with soaring rents also comes the beauty of a diverse influence of culture. You can find a wine and delicatessen near to a South African Design Store not far from a tasty Israeli kitchen. Admiral’s bridge is also located in Gräfekiez, which has become a famous meeting point for socialists and musicians, to the alarm of local residents.
Wedding sits in the borough of Mitte in the northwestern part of Berlin. It has been Berlin’s up and coming neigbourhood for some time now. The speculation about it being the next wave for artists and other creative types has long been whispered though the saturated, gentrified streets of Kreuzberg, Neukölln and Friedrichstein. It may be that the uptake has been slow and the neighbourhood hasn’t quite taken off like all the hype suggested, but that doesn’t mean it’s not cool. In fact, that might just be the reason for its charm. For many, Wedding offers a microcosm of all that Berlin has to offer, a place that feels more local and constant, where your neighbours don’t change every month and you don’t have to wait in a long queue just to order some breakfast.
Family-orientated Prenzlauer Berg is packed with kid-friendly ice cream shops, cafés and playgrounds. This once-upon-a-time centre for bohemian artists looking for rent-free abandoned buildings to set up live-in studios has undergone a mega transformation to become one of Berlin’s hippest, trendiest and most expensive hoods. It was also the neighbourhood where one of Berlin’s most influential artists, Käthe Kollwitz, lived and studied. Today, it is home to young families who enjoy eating at trendy restaurants and buying artisan wares at boutique shops and markets. Mauerpark is a highlight in the city every Sunday, with a flea market, a thriving busking scene and wildly entertaining karaoke.
Neukölln is where hip expats unite. This traditionally ‘poor’ neighbourhood is now bursting with all manner of bars, cafés, second-hand stores, galleries and art projects. It’s cool, messy, multicultural and still relatively affordable. Weserstrasse is a popular strip for bars and nightlife, but further south, near Schillerpromenade, the abandoned airport turned community garden and epic sunset spot at Tempelhofer Feld is where the the hip kids of Neukölln hang out.
Tucked away in Neukölln, this little gem deserves its own mention. Rixdorf is more of a village than a neighbourhood, but its historic value and enchanting beauty make up for its tiny size. Rixdorf is hidden right in the thicket of urban Neukölln, with former farm buildings just off the main square of Richardplatz. The village dates back to the early 18th century when weavers from Bohemia first settled there. Today a stroll around the cobblestone, rural village is a rare novelty within Berlin. It also has a few lovely restaurants and cafes that have a special charm, especially during the summertime.
The Nikolai quarter is one of the oldest suburbs of Berlin. It’s full of old world and medieval charm, being the area where Berlin was first founded in the early thirteenth century. It has prime location right on the river Spree in Mitte and is one of the city’s more upmarket neighbourhoods. It’s packed with restaurants and cafés set along beautiful, cobbled streets with its own picturesque old church. The surrounding area is a hotspot for Berlin’s museums and galleries.