Once Berlin's punk-rock powerhouse, Kreuzberg (or X-berg to locals) is one of the coolest, most diverse areas in the German capital. As well as bustling streets lined with boutiques and cafés, it also has peaceful leafy paths by the Landwehr Canal. Buzzing street markets pop up at the weekend and small Turkish restaurants sit side by side with artisan doughnut shops and third-wave coffee houses. The area's also known for its epic nightlife, with everything from lively gigs to bars serving carefully crafted cocktails.
A Kreuzberg hostel is as quirky as the neighbourhood. They include a historic building furnished like a library, a boat anchored on the River Spree and a former 19th-century convent. Some Kreuzberg hostels offer free city tours so you can learn about Germany's history and X-berg's colourful street art. Free Wi-Fi helps you keep in touch with home, while on-site bars with beer gardens are an ideal place to make new friends.
Get a taste for Kreuzberg's distinctive urban vibe at Kottbusser Tor, the busy square right beside Oranienstraße with its punk rock clubs and independent shops selling skater-style clothes. To the south, Bergmannkiez has high-end cocktail bars and an antiques market at the weekend. Sandwiched between the two is Graefekiez, another neighbourhood packed with stylish places to eat, drink and shop. On sunny days, locals and visitors sit on the Admiralbrücke (Admiral's Bridge), known as Berlin's party bridge, sipping beer, eating pizza and playing guitar.
Kreuzberg's Markthalle Neun (Market Hall Nine) is the place to be on Thursday evenings, with street food stalls selling everything from pulled pork sandwiches and soft tacos to German classics like Allgäu cheese spätzle (a cross between noodles and dumplings). Kayaking along the Landwehr Canal will give you a new view of Berlin as you explore its waterways. One of the best places to catch the sunset is Viktoriapark, home to the 66m hill that Kreuzberg is named after. There's also a waterfall, which locals splash in during summer.
If you want to feel like a real X-Berger, hiring a bike is the perfect way to get around. Berlin has an excellent network of cycle paths and Kreuzberg is particularly cyclist friendly. You can also hop on the underground (U-Bahn) train. Berlin Schönefeld Airport is the best option to fly into if you're staying in Kreuzberg, as you can get the overground (S-Bahn) train direct to Warschauer Straße, which is only a couple of stops away on the U-Bahn.