It all depends on who you are and what do you need.
Berlin – as wonderful as it is, it is also an endless maze of streets and neighborhoods. Each and every ‘Kiez’ is a different world, with its own peculiarities and special magic. It is important to know where you are moving before you actually move.
In this article, we highlight the most important characteristics of five epic Berlin neighborhoods: Mitte, Prenzlauer Berg, Kreuzberg, Friedrichshain, Neukölln and Charlottenburg – Wilmersdorf. Ready to dive deep?
Just as the name ‘Middle’ indicates, this is the absolute center. If you want to be in the middle of everything (also in the middle of touristic crowds), here you are. The Museum Island, Alexanderplatz and the Opera are all within walking distance, making this a great starting point for exploring the capital. You can have a very nice walk in the Monbijou Park and around Hackescher Markt but this is also a district that never really rests. It is not really the party place neither, but the center of culture- and history-driven tourism. The big advantage is the fact that it is very easy to speak English everywhere you go and you will never run out of restaurants and bars, open at any hour.
Are you a little bit posh deep inside of your heart? You don’t like dirty streets and drunk people all around? Well, then you should choose Prenzlauer Berg. It is full of specialty coffee shops, great restaurants, and bars that are slightly more sophisticated than in other Berlin parts. If you go for a walk around on a Saturday afternoon, you will see more babies than in any other neighborhood. The reason new hip parents choose to move to Prenzlauer Berg is that it is clean, safe and there is an inviting atmosphere for children and a full range of activities for mummies and babies, from pre-natal yoga to playgrounds in every corner. The hipsters of Prenzlauer Berg are definitely richer than the other Berlin hipsters and they don’t mind showing it. Prenzlauer Berg is very close to the city center and contains everything you need in a small radius. It is also popular for its health food scene, with more organic food shops and vegan cafes than any other neighborhood.
The legendary part of Berlin is Kreuzberg: full of street art, bars full of smoke, the Görlitzer Park and second-hand stores. It has become extremely crowded in the last years. No wonder that foreigners love living here, it is an amazing mixture of nationalities, different food, music, and a vibrant atmosphere all night long. It is a perfect place for artistic souls, party people, and students who love cheap oriental food.
Friedrichshain has the East Side Gallery, which displays 105 works by 118 artists from 21 countries, painted onto a section of the Berlin Wall, as well as the epic bridge on Warschauer Straße. It has also an atmosphere similar to Kreuzberg, a lot of street music and all the best party spots. Holzmarkt is a great place to have a drink or enjoy the Christmas market. Boxhagener Platz hosts a street food market on Saturdays, and on Sundays, you can score a bargain or antique at one of the best flea markets in the city. It is recommended for younger, adventure-keen people, similar to the previous one. If you move to Friedrichshain and plan to spend some nights out, be ready to invest in black clothing.
Neukölln is a deep Berlin. Really deep. It is the neighborhood where you find the most real native Berlin people, but also tons of foreigners and oriental food. If what you need is the best kebab in town, here you go. Otherwise, Neukölln can be pretty loud and not always very clean. It is something like the Bronx in New York or Lavapies in Madrid. Real experience? For sure. Take a walk from Hermannplatz to Weserstrasse, and you’ll find an array of cool candle-lit bars and independent shops, as well as tattoo studios, creative spaces and arthouse cinemas. Traditionally Neukölln is home to a very big Arabic and Turkish community, which gives this neighborhood a very exotic touch. In recent years many new-Berliners discovered Neukölln as a great place to live, as rents are still comparably low and the nightlife is almost unmatched.
Charlottenburg – Wilmersdorf
The vibe of this area is definitely closer to Prenzlauer Berg. It is quiet and residential, still including good gastronomic offers and fancy shops. Charlottenburg has been gaining in popularity in the last years among young professionals and families. There is something for everyone here, from attractions such as the Tiergarten park and Charlottenburg Palace to cosmopolitan, high-end shopping complexes that include KaDeWe. A variety of fine-dining establishments means the area is well-suited for an evening out.
As you surely noticed, Berlin is booming and growing every day. The housing market is struggling to keep up with the demands of rapid population growth, and this is particularly true in parts of Berlin’s trendier districts such as Prenzlauer Berg, Friedrichshain, and Kreuzberg where empty apartments can receive dozens of tenant applications within hours of being listed.
Before you set your heart on one particular district or rule another out, keep in mind that the feel of the local neighborhood (or Kiez) can completely change from block to block. Unlike in other cities where there are often a handful of coveted “family-friendly” neighborhoods, a specific business district, an artsy quarter, and a few no-go areas, Berlin isn’t quite so easy to compartmentalize.
A sprawling city, that was once divided in two, Berlin doesn’t conform to the neat-and-tidy layout of other cities. Whilst it’s true that Berlin’s districts each have their own particular flavor, many of them can offer a little something for everyone.
Not an easy decision, isn’t it? If you have any further doubts or questions, feel free to ask us about any of the mentioned Berlin parts. Nobody knows all the secrets of this vibrant capital, but we are doing our best. 😉