With historical landmarks, museums and shopping galore, Mitte is one of Berlin’s most popular neighbourhoods among visitors, so you might expect to find tourist-trap bars. However, Mitte has a reputation for some of the most characterful watering holes in the entire city – you just have to know where to look.
Visitors to Berlin will no doubt find themselves in Mitte. While the area has traditionally been a daytime destination – with tourists keen to check out attractions including Museum Island and the Brandenburg Gate before heading over to the vibrant neighbourhoods of Kreuzberg or Neukölln – a growing selection of bars are bolstering Mitte as a place to stay after the sun sets. There’s no need to head east after dark – Mitte’s best bars include stylish speakeasies, elegant wine bars and atmospheric beer lounges.
Bar Saint Jean
Bar, Gay Bar, Cocktails, $$$
Courtesy of Bar Saint Jean
Bar Saint Jean is among Berlin’s best LGBTQ-friendly bars, inclusive and welcoming to everyone who steps through its door. The bar itself is striking – a minimalist wooden art piece where chic patrons stand to order classic and innovative cocktails. It’s not big, but Bar Saint Jean’s charm is in its Gallic vibe. Low lighting, electro music and an elegant crowd make it comparable to a bar in Paris’s posh Saint-Germain-des-Prés neighbourhood. If you’re sensitive to cigarette smoke, visit any night it’s open except for Fridays when the bar allows smoking.
KIM Bar is where members of Mitte’s art community go for a drink, strolling over from the gallery strip on Brunnenstraße to attend or host a party. People come here to debate exhibitions, share projects or dance the night away to electro music. Consequently, KIM itself looks like an art space, complete with stark concrete floors and minimalist wooden furniture. Anyone curious about Berlin’s art scene ought to find themselves at home here.
Beneath the arches of Berlin’s Friedrichstraße railway station is an unmarked door, and if you knock on it, you may get to enter Bar Tausend – the bouncer ultimately decides. A stylish Roaring Twenties-style speakeasy, the bar features a large dance floor that shakes whenever a train runs overhead – a unique experience while flexing your moves – and the bar offers a creative menu that takes inspiration from neighbourhoods from around the world. The bar is popular with theatregoers and makes for a unique and elegant experience that will have you returning to visit its restaurant, Cantina Tausend, and listen to live DJ sets.
Not many places exemplify the trendy Berlin-Mitte bar experience like Neue Odessa. It’s a place where both tourists and residents revel in the top-notch craft cocktails and romantic decor – beginning with the sparkling canopy at the entrance. With its extravagant flower arrangements, rich yet relaxing colour scheme and maximalist bar area, Neue Odessa contrasts with the edgier party spots out east. It’s another venue popular with the creative types.
Off a graffiti-filled alleyway beside the iconic Hackescher Markt is one of Mitte’s most beloved, if unpolished, bars. Café Cinema is an atmospheric spot for a beer or three, with dim lighting provided by wax candles – even in the middle of summer – and vintage trinkets adorning the interior. The crowd is arty, with a healthy number of tourists adding an international vibe, while the atmosphere is unpretentious and fun. No craft beers or special cocktails are on the menu, just basic Bavarian brews – and it is strictly cash only.
Wine bars are popular in Berlin, and Mitte has its fair share. While it’s no longer just a wine bar, CORDO is the epitome of cool. By night, this cosy restaurant-bar is dimly lit and features wood tables with chairs or banquette seating and art decorating the walls. But it isn’t just aesthetically pleasing; CORDO has substance. You can find a carefully curated list of wines you won’t find elsewhere in Berlin and three multi-course menus. If you’re looking to extend your wine adventures in Mitte, Weinerei near Prenzlauer Berg is another excellent choice.
Known as a key meeting place for Mitte’s arty crowd, Bar 3 is somewhere between a friendly dive bar and a trendy lounge. Fittingly for this clientele, the space looks like an art venue from the outside; inside, the horseshoe-shaped bar dominates the sparsely decorated room, which offers bar-stool seating. The drinks menu features wine, whiskey, cognac, or Kölsch beer from Cologne, which comes in a tiny glass, per tradition.