Unlike cities such as Paris and Amsterdam, Berlin doesn’t have a true centre. Or rather, it has lots of them. This is probably due to its vast size and the fact it spent decades as two cities during the Cold War.
This quirk is today one of the city’s best features, and the reason so many travellers keep coming back here; there’s so much to do, and so many “Berlins” to explore. To help you decide where to stay in Berlin, we’ve put together a guide to the city’s diverse neighbourhoods – from the loud and hip, to the more laid back and leafy. We’ve recommended things to do, places to eat and some of the best hostels in Berlin for each neighbourhood to make planning your trip a breeze.
Mitte literally translates as ‘middle’. This is the beating heart of the city, and one of the best neighbourhoods to stay in if you’re in Berlin just for the weekend. You’ll be surrounded by hip bars, excellent coffee, world-class museums, and cool street art.
This is also the historic centre of the city, steeped in amazing architecture and a fascinating past. Many of Berlin’s most iconic sites are in walking distance, including the Brandenburg Gate, the TV tower at Alexanderplatz, the Museum Island and the glass-domed Reichstag Building.
Where to eat in Mitte
- House of Small Wonder: one of the prettiest cafes we’ve ever seen in our lives. The coffee and food is top notch too – from €8
- Shiso Burger: Asian-inspired burger perfection with a side of kimchi – from €5.20
- Cô Cô Bánh Mì Deli: cheap and cheerful Vietnamese baguettes – from €5.50
- Zeit Für Brot: warm, buttery, doughy “Schnecken” buns made right there in front of you, try the chocolate or walnut & maple syrup ones – from €2.70
- The Barn, Distrikt Coffee, Ben Rahim & Father Carpenter: if you’re a coffee fanatic these are the only addresses you need for your stay in Mitte.
Things to do in Mitte
Bunker + mind-blowing modern art at the Boros Collection ? @n0ele
- me Collectors Room: offbeat temporary exhibitions and a dazzling cabinet of curiosities.
- Clärchens Ballhaus: a 19th century dance hall that will transport you to a glamorous bygone era. For a few euros you can take a dance class, be it salsa or swing, or if you’re feeling lazy, simply hang out in their pretty beer garden out front.
- Boros Collection: incredible private collection of modern art housed in a former bunker. You’ll need to book a tour in advance to see this one (included in the €12 entry fee), but it’s SO worth it.
- Shopping: Browse the independent boutiques around Hackescher Markt and Torstraβe. Many aren’t as pricey as you’d imagine and you’ll discover cool Berlin designers, as well as some of the best vintage shops in Berlin.
Where To Stay In Mitte
Did you know hostels have private rooms? The ones at Generator Berlin Mitte are rather lovely ? @jemima_christina
- St. Christopher’s Berlin Mitte: if you like rooftop terraces, city views, discounted drinks and bar crawls, this might be the hostel for you!
- Circus Hostel: boasts its own microbrewery and shrine to David Hasselhoff – Rated 9.1 by our travel community
- Wombats City Hostel Berlin: one of the best roof terraces in the city with views of the iconic TV Tower – Rated 9.1 by our travel community
- Generator Berlin Mitte: cool party vibe with slick privates & dorms and a super chilled terrace – Rated 9.1 by our travel community
Kreuzberg feels like its own self-contained island, bordered by the Spree and a network of canals. It’s laid-back, spacious and bohemian with plenty going on any time of the day or night. Despite the invasion of hipster tourists in recent years, Kreuzberg is still one of the city’s best neighbourhoods in Berlin for backpackers with plenty of cheap bars, cheap food and cool people. If you’re an arty type wondering where to stay in Berlin then look no further – you’ll be surrounded by artists, writers and musicians from all over the world.
If you’re visiting on May 1st prepare to watch Kreuzberg celebrate its rebellious roots as the area around Kotbusser Tor becomes one big, loud and quite mad street party.
Where to eat in Kreuzberg
The best damn cheesecake you’ll ever taste at Five Elephant ? @bettyachrainer
- Mustafas Gemüsekebap: if you can face the queues, a veggie kebab from Mustafas is a MUST – from €2.80
- Markthalle Neun: the Holy Grail of street food in Berlin, a gorgeous old market hall packed with organic produce and some amazing cheap grub for Street Food Thursdays – from €1
- Angry Chicken: Korean fried chicken with a side helping of neon signs, hilarious menu and heavenly sweet potato chips – from €4.50
- Curry 36: the best place to sample Currywurst, the city’s iconic street food dish – from €1.70
- Prinzessinnengärten: this community garden serves up mouth-watering, homegrown & healthy lunch dishes in lush surroundings– from around €5
- Five Elephant: this roastery and cute, map-themed coffee shop will ruin cheesecake for you forever – from around €1.50
Things to do in Kreuzberg
Berlin’s magnificent waterfall in Viktoriapark ? @fcozarelli
- Walk the Landwehr Canal: one of Berlin’s hippest places to be, get off the train at Schlesisches Tor and walk a few minutes along Schlesische Straβe until you find the canal. Follow it round past Görlitzer Park towards Kottbusser Damm to experience the trendy Kreuzkölln district, or cross over and follow the western branch towards Neukölln/Treptow and away from the crowds.
- Viktoriapark: stunning panoramic views and Berlin’s only waterfall, this tiny park even grows its own wine.
- Graffiti Walk: Kreuzberg is home to some of the best graffiti in Berlin, particularly around Oranienstraβe and Schlesisches Tor station.
- Görlitzer Park: sadly this has become the most popular place in Berlin for drug dealers, but it’s still a very cool place to chill during the summer and you can even play a round of trippy fluorescent mini golf at Schwarzlicht Minigolf.
Where to stay in Kreuzberg
Neon and velvet at Cat’s Pyjamas Hostel ? @taniatsy
The grand old library at Grand Hostel Berlin ? @_yoorstruly
- Grand Hostel Berlin: great beer and a cosy communal library – Rated 9.1 by our travel community
- Jetpack Alternative: a small and very friendly hostel perfect for solo travellers – Rated 9.2 by our travel community
Another very cool neighbourhood in the east, adjoining Kreuzberg, and worth staying in if you find the former a little too hectic. There are parks, wide streets, canal side walks, and a street, Sonnenallee, that is so famous there is even a film made about it. Hurry, though, because Neukolln is fast becoming the new Kreuzberg – that is, the place to hang out in Berlin.
Where to eat in Neukölln
GET IN MY MOUTH. French toast at Cabslam ? @sewinchell
- Cabslam: a strong contender for the title of Berlin’s best brunch. The french toast or blueberry pancakes with butter, candied nuts and fruit are unreal – from €4.50
- BBI (Berlin Burger International): this tiny hole in the wall restaurant serves up the best burgers in Berlin, FACT, and their chilli fries are out of this world – from €5.90
- Roamers: locally sourced, healthy and SO flipping pretty! We love this tiny cafe, but so does the rest of Berlin, so prepare to queue – from €3.50
- Isla Coffee Berlin, Prachtwerk & Camon Coffee: head to one of these spots for great coffee in Neukölln.
Things to do in Neukölln
- Klunkerkranich: probably the best bar in Berlin, the roof of a multi-storey car park has been transformed into an urban oasis with cheap drinks and jaw-dropping views.
- Nowkoelln Flowmarkt: our favourite Berlin flea market, with amazing vintage clothes, antiques, book and more. More local and less crazy than Mauerpark.
- Turkish Market: insanely cheap fruit and veg plus tasty street food from around the world (try the spicy Ghanaian peanut soup). Eat your bounty on the wooden decks canal-side, listening to impromptu music performances and watching the pleasure boats go by.
Where to stay in Neukölln
- Minimal: shabby chic hostel in incredible canal-side location with Neukölln’s best coffee shops, bars and brunch spots on the doorsetp – Rated 9.6 by our travel community
- 2A Hostel: a big, modern hostel in the heart of Berlin’s most vibrant, multicultural district and 2 minutes from tube – Rated 8.1 by our travel community
- Viertelvier: A new boutique hostel located on the Neukölln side of the Landwehr Canal, in the heart of the über-trendy Kreuzkölln neighbourhood – Rated 9.7 by our travel community
This neighbourhood just north of Mitte was once the anti-establishment heartland of Berlin, with numerous squats and illegal parties. It was also one of the first neighbourhoods to succumb to the ever-advancing wave of gentrification in the city, transforming the area into a more sedate affair that’s all about the weekend brunching and relaxation.
Although a lot of the art crowd has since moved on, it still retains a cool, bohemian atmosphere, and, being a short hop from both Mitte and Friedrichshain, is the best place to stay in Berlin if you want a more chilled stay without being too detached from the action. Prenzlauer Berg is also the setting for Hans Fallada’s phenomenal Alone In Berlin.
Where to eat in Prenzlauer Berg
Who says Berlin can’t do good Indian food? Get your dosa fix at Chutnify
- Chutnify: Bucking the trend for terrible curry in Berlin, you can enjoy fantastic Indian street food here, safe in the knowledge nobody will great cheese into your Madras – from €5.20
- Zula: an excellent cheap spot to get your houmous fix in the pretty Kollwitzkiez area of Prenzlauer Berg – from €2.90
- No Fire No Glory, Godshot & Bonanza Coffee: for the best coffee in Prenzlauer Berg.
Things To Do in Prenzlauer Berg
- Mauerpark: it’s no insider tip, but despite the crowds this flea market, park and open-air karaoke venue is a great place to spend a lazy Sunday.
- St George’s Bookshop: if you’ve been on the road a while and run out of English books, or if you simply want to hang out with the Berlin expat crowd then head to this cheap second hand English bookshop packed to the rafters with the greats from Kerouac to Kafka.
- Prater Garten: soak up the atmosphere at Berlin’s oldest beer garden.
- Pigasus: a tiny but eye-opening gallery and shop dedicated to Polish film posters.
Where to stay in Prenzlauer Berg
Hostel gardens don’t get much prettier than this little gem at Eastseven Berlin Hostel ? @alinazidan
- Pfefferbett Hostel: stunning redbrick former brewery with a sociable beer garden and cosy open fire in the winter – Rated 8.9 by our travel community
- Eastseven Berlin Hostel: awesome beer garden, mahoosive BBQ – Rated 9.5 by our travel community
- Alcatraz Backpacker Hostel: this colourful graffiti-covered little gem is just a hop, skip and a jump from Mauerpark – Rated 8.7 by our travel community
Friedrichshain is one of the most popular places to stay in Berlin, mainly thanks to its legendary nightlife and world-famous Berghain. This neighbourhood is unashamedly rough around the edges, so expect heavily pierced and tattoed locals, dilapidated buildings, and even more dog poo than is usual for Berlin.
Top tip: Brits should set their party clock to Berlin time, which means pre-napping and not leaving the house before 11pm.
Where to eat in Friedrichshain
- St-Mauli: The home of “Maultaschen”, Germany’s answer to ravioli and the perfect antidote to a hangover – from €4.80
- Kiez 99: if you like your Berlin street food with a side of graffiti in a dilapidated shell of a former train repairs depot then this one’s for you, open Saturdays & Sundays – from €4
- Silo, Coffee Profilers, Happy Baristas & Tres Cabezas: for the best coffee in Friedrichshain.
Things to do in Friedrichshain
Hello, summer! The pool at Haubentaucher is a great place to chill ? @leachforthestars
- Humana: Europe’s biggest second hand shop! It’s basically impossible to leave here empty handed.
- Oberbaum Bridge: this pretty bridge connecting Fridrichshain to Kreuzberg is one of Berlin’s most iconic landmarks and a great spot to .
- Frankfurter Tor: this is the best place to marvel at the colossal Stalinist architecture built in East Berlin after WW2.
- Haubentaucher: Located in a former train repairs depot turned cultural centre, this open-air pool, beer garden and events venue is a great place to spend the summer in Berlin and even has a volleyball court.
- East Side Gallery: one of Berlin’s most iconic landmarks, this section of the Berlin wall has been turned into an open-air gallery with murals focusing on freedom and unity by artists from all over the world.
- Volkspark Friedrichshain: one of the biggest and best parks in Berlin, this is a favourite with locals with plenty of nooks and crannies to get lost in. Keep an eye out for the pretty Märchenbrunnen, a fairy tale-themed fountain.
Where to stay in Friedrichshain
Eclectic artworks at PLUS Berlin rescued from the former Tacheles creative hub ? @joserizzu
- Eastern Comfort Hostel Boat: Live the dream and sleep on the River Spree with a cool bunch of fellow travellers. Moored right next to the East Side Gallery in the beating heart of Friedrichshain, location doesn’t get better than this – Rated 8.7 by our travel community
- PLUS Berlin: mahoosive swimming pool? Check. Quirky art gallery in the back yard? Check. Amazing staff, massive rooms and a super social vibe? Check. – Rated 9.2 by our travel community
- Sunflower Hostel: this psychedelic, chilled out hostel moments from Berghain offers late breakfast until noon – Rated 8.7 by our travel community
- U Inn Berlin Hostel: with free tours, cheap bike rental and a super social vibe, this quirky hostel is a great base to meet new friends and explore Berlin together – Rated 8.8 by our travel community
- BackpackerBerlin: staying in this cosy hostel right next to Boxhagener Platz is like staying in a really friendly and clean shared apartment, and one of the best hostels in Fridrichshain for solo travellers – Rated 8.4 by our travel community
Why not pin this article for later? ?
Hopefully you’ve decided where to stay in Berlin by now, but if not, here’s a guide to the ultimate city break that might point you in the right direction.