Berlin is nobody’s secret anymore, yet it still remains one of the most effortlessly stylish cities on the planet. Check out our insider tips, so that you can drop the guide book and get involved.
Kreuzberg has long been heralded as Berlin’s coolest Bezirk. Brimming with shops, eateries, bars and clubs, it’s the go to place for new arrivals searching for a piece of the action. Although some question whether gentrification has watered down the area’s bohemian tone, there are still plenty of spots that have swerved the deluge of clued-up tourists.
If you’re drinking, John Muir and Schwarze Traube are off the beaten track and each serve up taste bud rattling libations. Old Weimar Berlin is completely embodied within the debauchery on show at Barbie Deinhoff’s. Sipping a belting whiskey sour next to a leather-clad granddad and an urbane cross-dresser is all part and parcel of the raucous attitude the place thrives on. For a more gritty experience, Zur Fetten Ecke won’t disappoint; the open-end, leave when it’s light, policy fits subtly with the dark interior, dubbed-out rhythms and smoky atmosphere. Those with a penchant for digging need to check some of the local record shops. Record Loft and the legendary Hard Wax are two favourites where it’s more than easy to fill an afternoon lost in vinyl.
Go south to the border between Kreuzberg and trendy Neukölln, an area aptly named Kreuzkölln, and you’ll reach the Landwehrkanal – an 11km canal that winds languidly through the city. If the sun’s up, Paul-Lincke Ufer is perfect for a pause to enjoy a cold beer paired with some people watching by the water’s edge. With old men perfecting their boules and the younger cohort kicking-off their nights, the bank-side has a sense of the inclusivity and energy Berlin enshrines. Görlitzer Park and Tempelhofer Feld are also close by, both ideal for mammoth BBQs with friends, and nearby Maybachufer hosts a bustling Turkish market twice a week, packed with enough tasty bites to sate any appetite.
Cross the Spree on the Oberbaumbrücke and enter Friedrichshain, a chic borough that used to be part of the DDR controlled East Berlin. On Sundays Boxhangener Platz flea market is a must-do, trawling the cornucopia of stands for obscure artwork or mad Adidas tracksuits is an entertaining weekend pastime. On the square you can also savour one of Berlin’s juiciest burgers at Burgeramt, counter comedown territory for sure. Neue Heimat off Revaler Straße is another venue to scope out. Set in an old railway depot, every Sunday it explodes with food stalls, pop-up bars, eclectic DJs and live jazz bands. And when you’ve got the party urge, the mind-altering Berghain is just around the corner, along with club-cum-mini-festival Kater Blau within a stone’s throw too.
If you feel for a bit of café culture, pop up to Prenzlauer Berg. Kastanienalle is replete with excellent coffee shops. An einem Sonntag im August is ideal for those who enjoy tunes and a book with their espresso. For Saturday brunch, Café Morgenrot is a foodie’s paradise.
Head further north and you’ll unearth Wedding, a locality frequently coined as the “new Neukölln”. With a largely migrant population, streets such as Badstraße fizz with vibrant life during the day. Comparisons aside, Wedding is home to a host of quirky boozers; Moritz Bar, Jatz Bar and Weine & Geflügel are worthy of note. For the discerning craft-ale drinker, a visit to the Vagabund Brauerei will set lips smacking. Owned by two Americans, they micro-brew their own beers on site and flog them fresh from the keg in the bar out front. For a more aural source of hedonism, Stattbad is the club to hit up. Housed in an old swimming complex, it’s quite surreal stepping into an empty pool to watch a world class DJ smash out a set in the deep end.
Words: Alex Rennie
Main Photos: Ross Cooper