Guest blogger Anita Dykstra is a travel writer from New Zealand. You can read her great blog on her website.
Berlin is definitely one of the most diverse and hip cities in Europe. With lots of neighbourhoods to pick from, it’s the perfect place to escape your daily life and jump right into the depth of German culture because there’s something for everyone. Its art scene is becoming increasingly popular, bringing thousands of artists and art fanatics into the city every day. Since the 13th century, the city’s unique history has shaped Berlin into what it is today.
Neukölln is known as the trendiest ‘hood in Berlin. Located in the southernmost part of the city, this place is forever changing. With its lively streets and buildings plastered in street art, it attracts a bunch of different cultures and artists who come here to hang out. This little pocket in Berlin is also referred to as ‘Little Istanbul’ as you’ll find a large amount of cafés selling Turkish food and delicacies lining the streets. One of the most popular places for the locals to hang out is the former Berlin airport, Tempelhof. It closed in 2008 and is now a great park to come to in the summer with your friends to fly a kite, roller skate and end the night with a summer BBQ. If you want one of the best views of the city then make sure you visit a bar called Klunkerkranich. It’s one of the most popular rooftop bars in the city. This place used to be an illegal hangout in Berlin, but is now fully legal and not to be missed!
Prenzlauer Berg and Friedrichshain
These neighbourhoods used to be popular with the artists in the 1990s, but nowadays there’s a bohemian mix of old artists, university students and young parents that live here. It has been called the best-preserved pre-war area in Germany because most of the buildings that still stand here were built in the 1800s. You will find the streets lined with flourishing trees and quaint, vibrant boutiques. A popular hang-out place is Mauerpark—which also has another name. This used to be where part of the Berlin Wall used to stand and was known as the ‘Death strip’ that divided the East from the West. Now it has become a hub for street performers and people to come together and enjoy a great day out. It’s also home to Berlin’s most popular flea market, which is held on Sundays from 9am until 6pm.
Mitte simply cannot be missed on your trip to Berlin. It holds most of the iconic sights in the city, such as museums, memorials and enormous murals. It’s right in the centre of the city and can only be described as the bustling hub of the German capital. At the Berlin Wall Memorial, you can see some of the last remains of the Berlin Wall. You can also pay your respects at the striking Holocaust memorials, some of which are located near Brandenburg Gate and the Reichstag. Berlin is known for its museums so make sure you take a look at Museum Island, home to five world-renowned museums including the Pergamon Museum (Ancient and Islamic art, including Ishtar Gate and the Pergamon Altar), Bode Museum (Byzantine), Neues Museum (Ancient Egyptian, including Nefertiti’s bust) and the Alte Nationalgalerie (Romantic and Impressionist). It’s also classed as an UNESCO World Heritage Site so it’s definitely not to be missed.
During the 1920s and 1930s the very first gay village was built in the neighbourhood of Schöneberg. These days, it’s still thriving with a large amount of gay bars, clubs and a bustling LGBTQ community. One of the most popular places to hang out is the Neues Ufer which was established in the 1970s and was a favourite of David Bowie’s—look for his photo on the wall. Another place to check out is Zum Schmutzigen Hobby, a kitsch, fashion-concious spot to be! Schöneberg is also lined with plenty of vintage stores and outdoor markets where you can find fresh local produce and handmade goods.
Located in the former West Berlin, this upmarket neighbourhood has an abundance of five-star restaurants and high-end shops for you to enjoy. Charlottenburg Palace is the largest historical palace in Berlin and is one of the most famous sights located here. You won’t find many artists or young people in this neighbourhood as it has more of a family vibe, but if you’re not interested in fancy restaurants and shopping then it does have something you may be interested in—the oldest chocolate producer in Berlin. Take a look at Hamann on Kurfürstendamm Boulevard, a perfect little shop for anybody that has a sweet tooth.
With the array of diversity within Berlin’s neighbourhoods, which part would you love to visit? Will it be the street art in Neukölln or the museums in Mitte that will tempt you to a holiday in this historic German city?
Where to stay?
EastSeven Berlin Hostel in Mitte has super-friendly staff offering tons of free extras, such as walking tours, Wi-Fi and more. Meanwhile, over in Kreuzberg is the Cat’s Pajama’s Hostel, a spacious, modern and clean hostel in a great location.