Overall, Berlin is a really safe city, and in most of its districts, you wont feel threatened if you’re walking home in the early hours of the morning. Within each safe neighbourhood, there are hot corners where you can observe your local drug dealer, but those spaces are mostly safe for passersby, and the small acts of violence that may erupt are strictly personal and territorial. Then there are those neighbourhoods that you may just want to stay away from if you want to avoid potentially dangerous confrontations. We’re here to guide you through, around, and away from the places you may want to avoid on your next Berlin trip.
Görlitzer Park is not officially a neighborhood, but it may as well be. The park itself is relatively safe, but you need to look out for the pickpockets that cruise through the city during Berlin’s peak summer seasons. These little thieves come in all shapes, sizes, genders and ages, so don’t be fooled by a sweet child asking for donations for deaf children, because her other little friend might be standing behind you, easing your wallet out of your pocket.
Some would argue that Kottbusser Tor is one of the most dangerous places in Berlin, and there is certainly a handful of criminal action going on here. It’s certainly not a place you would want to bring your grandparents to, and not exactly what you would call chic. If you’re walking down Oranienstrasse, you may want to walk from the Moritzplatz station.
Neukölln is generally safe, and we definitely wouldn’t recommend avoiding this neighbourhood. There’s too much to see, do, eat and drink in Neukölln! But beware of your bag at all times throughout your meal, because some thieves here seem to have seriously magical powers. They can enter a restaurant like a ghost and just as surreptitiously make your bag disappear into thin air. The theft will be so untraceable that you will seriously doubt your reality for the next hour of panic and disappointment.
Another word of advice is to avoid parks at night. That should seem pretty obvious, but many people become so enchanted by the Berlin vibes and good times that they forget their basic safety precautions. Entering some of Berlin’s parks at night may deliver an experience or two that you weren’t hoping for.
Moabit is a temporary home to many of Berlin’s contemporary criminals. Berlin’s most central jail is found here, on Alt-Moabit and Rathenower Straße. The jailhouse is known as Justizvollzugsanstalt (JVA), and houses a little over 1,000 inmates. Several of the inmates are in custody and waiting for their trial.
What makes Moabit so intimidating for some is the freedom and privileges that many of the inmates here have. They can take some interesting courses during their stay, such as painting, gardening and bookbinding, and they also have outdoor privileges beyond the garden. So if you find yourself strolling through the neighbourhood, don’t be alarmed if the person behind you or across from you is one of JVA’s very own. These criminals are not necessarily dangerous, but your interests and curiosities may lie elsewhere.
The general whispered rule in Berlin is, the more east you go, the more east you are. The Berlin wall didn’t come down that long ago. The further east you go, the more shaved heads you’ll see, and the more Dr Martens. Nothing bad, or violent, will necessarily happen to you in Marzahn; equally, no one will be that surprised if it does. Consider the consequences of your choices.