Berlin is a city in constant flux. It’s a vibrant and expansive place that’s continually evolving. Exploring Berlin, especially for the first time, is a massive undertaking when you only have a few days, it helps if you break it down into its unique neighbourhoods.
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Justin and I tackled a few neighbourhoods in Berlin in an attempt to discover and understand as much as we could in a short period of time. While there are 12 neighbourhoods in Berlin, we only had time to venture through a few of them. Wandering around these districts enables you to uncover unique stories, all united by a city that continues to reinvent itself.
These neighbourhoods in Berlin are a great starting point for new and returning travellers.
Mitte means “middle” and it sits in the centre of town. It’s home to some of the most popular attractions in Berlin, so you’ll want to head there to hit up the iconic sites. Although a little bit touristy, you won’t want to miss this abundance of monuments, landmarks, and memorials.
Wander around Brandenburg Gate, a symbol of both the turbulent history of Germany within Europe, also representing peace and unity. The Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe is an abstract monument, acting as a place of remembrance and reflection.
Looking to learn? Check out Museum Island on the Spree River, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It’s a complex of internationally renowned museums, including the Pergamon Museum and the Altes Museum.
One hidden place we discovered on our alternative bike tour of Berlin was the Senate Department for Urban Development and Environment. On the surface, that doesn’t sound terribly exciting. However, there are several city models inside this building that the public can browse for free. These visual representations will help you understand the geography of Berlin and its history through several older constructs.
Part of the Pankow neighbourhood and formerly part of East Germany, Prenzlauer Berg was initially home to artists, bohemians, and students. However, with the gentrification of PB, many apartments come along with a higher price tag, attracting a different crowd.
The bohemians and students have moved to areas with lower rent. Many artists and beatniks have grown up, make a higher income, and have children. It’s very common to see people pushing strollers around Prenzlauer Berg. This upscale neighbourhood is a great place to live, work, shop, and wander.
We found PB to be a very quiet and chill neighbourhood, filled with parks, boutiques, coffee shops, and restaurants. There’s a high volume of vegan restaurants in Prenzlauer Berg that we recommend you check out, such as the cocktail bar, Chaostheorie and the rock music cafe and pub, Bamerang.
Friedrichshain is where you’ll find the youth and counter-cultural scenes of Berlin. Fans of street art will adore this neighbourhood, as every wall is seemingly plastered with original and beautiful art.
It’s a bit gritty, but charming. There are all sorts of cool spots to uncover. We stumbled upon random flea markets in the street, offbeat music venues, and massive amounts of vegan dining options. Justin and I even stayed at a vegetarian and vegan hotel in this district.
As someone without any tattoos or colourful hair, I actually felt a little out of place here. However, Friedrichshain was exactly the kind of neighbourhood I love to explore and it quickly became my favourite of them all.
Friedrichshain is also home to the world famous East Side Gallery, a section of the Berlin Wall left standing turned into a huge outdoor public art gallery. Each section of wall has a commissioned work by artists from all over the world, many of which have strong political messages. The entire gallery itself is a memorial for freedom.
For a peaceful retreat, visit the Volkspark Friedrichshain, he oldest public park in Berlin. One of the most intriguing areas of the park features the Märchenbrunnen, or “Fairy Tale Fountain”. Designed in 1913, the fountain contains 106 sculptures from German fairy tales.
Connected to Friedrichshain by the Oberbaum Bridge (the two districts were divided by the Berlin Wall), Kreuzberg is a former West Berlin neighbourhood with a high population of immigrants, especially of Turkish descent.
Many buildings have cheaper rent as they’re from the 19th century. This attracts a younger population, and a larger immigrant population. There’s also a larger population of squatters, artists, and foreigners, providing an eclectic mix of cultures and countercultures.
We only had the opportunity to explore Kreuzberg on bike during our tour, although we witnessed many green spaces and quaint city streets.
We’d love to return in the future and explore more of Kreuzberg as it’s one of the coolest neighbourhoods in Berlin.
Another multicultural borough, it’s a hip area that’s less visited by tourists. Stay here to live as the locals do. Visit one of the numerous bars, restaurants, or coffee shops. There are food markets here with multicultural offerings, especially Turkish and Middle Eastern delicacies.
Neukölln is also right beside the sprawling park, Tempelhof, a green space that used to be the property of an airport. You can bike, walk or skate down an old airport runway.
We stopped here primarily to try a pair of vegan restaurants, a vegan creperie and burger bar called Let It Be, and a vegan pizzeria called Sfizy Veg.
Looking for more photos of Berlin? Check out our Berlin travel photo album. You can purchase canvas prints, photos, housewares, and so much more right from the photo album itself.
Neighbourhoods in Berlin
Whether you decide to stroll around Berlin or choose more structured tours in Germany, there’s no shortage of hidden spots to discover. Starting with Mitte, Prenzlauer Berg, Friedrichshain-Kreuzberg, and Neukölln, you’ll discover exceptional and unique scenes that appeal to the casual tourist and those looking to dig a little deeper.