Updated: Feb 10
When arriving in Berlin, most young expats are eager to find themselves a place to stay in one of Berlin’s numerous trendy districts. But where to live in Berlin can be a tricky choice, especially considering the great variety between the city's different neighbourhoods. From the hipster heartlands of Kreuzberg and chic streets of Mitte to the party haven of Friedrichshain and quaint Charlottenburg, the city is comprised of a patchwork of unique and interesting districts. With every district offering a distinctly unique atmosphere, choosing where to live in Berlin will have a significant impact on your time spent in the German capital.
At nine times the geographical size of Paris, Berlin is a vast and sprawling city. The city's complex 20th Century history has resulted in a fascinating and disjointed layout, with the architectural effects of the Cold War still prevalent in almost all of Berlin's different districts. We hope our guide can give you a clearer idea of the culture, quirks and characteristics of the different areas to help you gain an idea of where to live in Berlin. We also aim to lay out where to live in Berlin depending on your interests, whether this is partying at world-renowned techno clubs, cruising around Berlin's many galleries and exhibitions, or lazing in the city's expansive recreational areas. So, without further ado, let’s take a closer look at some of Berlin’s best boroughs.
Where to Live in Berlin if You're a Free Spirit – Kreuzberg
Starting with one of the heavy hitters, you can find few cooler places to live in Berlin than Kreuzberg. Kreuzberg is hands down one of Berlin’s most well-known and vibrant districts. Famed around the world for its alternative scene and counterculture, the streets are lined with record stores, independent bookshops and incredible street art. Not only is the area the historical home of Berlin’s punk rock movement, but it has also been influenced by African-American and hip-hop culture and is considered the epicentre of LGBTQ life and arts in Berlin.
While expats and tourists are drawn to Kreuzberg's music, art and all-round cool vibes, the area is also not short of beauty spots. In particular, the Landwehr canal, which runs through the heart of the district, provides a perfect back drop for an evening beer in the setting sun. And if you fancy hanging with the cool kids, then I'd definitely recommend taking a seat on Admiralbrücke, a popular evening hangout for buskers, locals and tourists alike. The Landwehr canal is also home to some fantastic markets. Notably, you can pick up fresh vegetables, street food, clothes and fabrics on Tuesdays and Fridays at the Turkish market. If you're after something more trendy and hipster, then the Nowkoelln Flowmarkt runs every second Sunday and offers a diverse mix of second-hand art, music and handmade items.
But what about the food?! Well, due to Kreuzberg's large Turkish community, the area offers up authentic and affordable eateries at almost every corner. From sizzling köfte (meatballs) to unbeatable Shawarma, Kreuzberg will almost certainly put your local kebab shop to shame. If you can handle the lines, then Mustafa’s Gemüse Kebab will always go down well, but my personal favourites include Imren Grill and Izmir Köfte. While Turkish food dominates the Kreuzberg food landscape, there are a range of other cuisines in the area. I would definitely recommend checking out:
Kimchi Princess (Korean)
Burgermeister Schlesisches Tor (Burgers)
Needing an afternoon coffee? Once again, Kreuzberg delivers! I highly recommend checking out:
So, if coffee is essential to your daily functioning, then Kreuzberg should definitely be high on your list when determining where to live in Berlin.
Putting the food, coffee and bohemian vibe aside, Kreuzberg is also home to some fantastic museums and galleries, ensuring you get your daily dose of culture while in Berlin. Whether you opt to live in Kreuzberg or not, the Jewish Museum is an absolute must. Designed by Daniel Libeskind, the building itself is a magnificent example of contemporary architecture in Berlin. The museum itself houses two millenia of German-Jewish history. Another highly impactful (and often harrowing) Kreuzberg-based museum is the Topography of Terror. Built on the former headquarters of the SS and Gestapo, the museum clearly depicts a reign of terror that is essential for understanding Berlin and Germany's modern history. For art lovers out there, Berlinische Galerie is must when in Kreuzberg. The gallery houses art work from 1870 to the present day.
Due to its popularity amongst expats moving to Berlin, the rental market is competitive in Kreuzberg and prices are on the rise. But if you are looking to live in an area with ample diversity and culture, then there are fewer better places than X-Berg.
Note: if you are moving to Berlin, we don't recommend booking a hotel or hostel as you first need to register at an address (Anmeldung) in order to begin the relocation process. However, if you are just visiting as a tourist and looking for a place to stay in Berlin, then here are some good options in Kreuzberg.
Best Hostels in Kreuzberg
Best Hotels in Kreuzberg
Where to Live in Berlin if You're a Hipster – Neukölln
Bordering Kreuzberg in the South East of the city, Neukölln is an area undergoing rapid change. Previously regarded as one of Berlin's rougher neighbourhoods, the area has been regenerated into one of Berlin's most happening districts in recent years. Known for its large Turkish, Arab and Kurdish communities, Neukölln has seen a recent influx of students, young professionals and creatives. It’s lively, bustling and vibrantly diverse, and offers a full range of culinary delights and cultural events. As a result, the district is gradually enticing bohemian Berliners away from Kreuzberg.
With cafes, bars and nightclubs galore, Neukölln is increasingly enticing for expats when deciding on where to live in Berlin. While the cafes, bars and nightclubs are great (see below for more about these!), Neukölln's crowning glory has to be Tempelhofer Feld. Running along the borough’s western border, it's undoubtedly one of the city’s most remarkable green spaces. Previously home to one of the world's busiest transport hubs, the former airport has been converted to a multi-purpose community park measuring over 386 hectares. The park is truly vast and incorporates a 6 km skating, jogging and cycling trail, multiple BBQ areas and endless space for kite flying, football, softball, basketball, in-line skating, dancing, jugger(!), and almost any other activity you can think of. The park is best seen by bike, where you can zip down the former runway at breakneck speed!
Once you've worked up a sweat at Tempelhofer Feld, it's time for a well-earned drink. For this, there are few better places in Neukölln than Klunkerkranich. Klunkerkranich is a rooftop bar located on top of a mall and is every Instagrammers dream – arriving on the rooftop feels like arriving at a secret garden party, and offers a delightful blend of plants, reclaimed wood, live music and DJs, affordable drinks, and views of the city. A winning combination if you ask me!
After some drinks at Klunkerkarnich, you may be wanting to throw some shapes. To get a true taste of Berlin's nightlife, head east to Griessmuehle, which mainly puts on techno, house and electronic music nights. With a relatively strict door policy, definitely make sure you do some research about what night you are going to and make a plan B in the event you are turned away.
If nursing a hangover after a late one at Griessmuehle, Neukölln also offers visitors a range of hangover-friendly activities. Here are some of my favourites:
Grab an ice cream at Fräulein Frost
Enjoy coffee and music at Prachtwerk
Explore a diverse array of art at Cell 63
Stroll around Britzer Garden
Note: if you are moving to Berlin, we don't recommend booking a hotel or hostel as you first need to register at an address (Anmeldung) in order to begin the relocation process. However, Neukölln is definitely becoming an increasingly attractive option for tourists when deciding on where to stay in Berlin. If you feel this is the district for you, then here are some accommodation options.
Hostels in Neukölln
Hotels in Neukölln
Where to Live in Berlin if You Want to Party – Friedrichshain
Alongside Kreuzberg, Prenzlauer Berg and Mitte, Friedrichshain has a reputation as one of Berlin’s trendiest districts. Previously home to many of Berlin’s most famous and colourful squats, Friedrichshain is still renowned for its artistic communities and industrial nightlife, with many visitors drawn towards the relentless techno beats that are omnipresent throughout the area. As a result, Friedrichshain is proving popular with expats relocating to Berlin, who are increasingly opting for the lively area when choosing where to live in Berlin.
Friedrichshain is located in former East Berlin, and it shows! The area is steeped in GDR-era history, with many of East Berlin's famous landmarks dominating the district's aesthetic. Notably, running between Friedrichshain and Mitte, you'll find the mighty Karl-Marx Allee, an impressive tree-lined boulevard that wouldn't look out of place in St Petersburg. Don't miss out on photo opportunities at Strausberger Platz and Frankfurter Tor!
The most famous relic of the Cold War is of course the Berlin Wall, and Friedrichshain is home to a 1,316 m stretch that has been transformed into the longest open-air gallery in the world. Known as the East Side Gallery, there are over 100 paintings lining the wall. Often plagued by large numbers of visitors, I would recommend checking out the East Side Gallery early in the morning to avoid the hordes. At the eastern end of the East Side Gallery, you'll find the magnificent Oberbaumbrücke. Built in 1895, the bridge runs across the River Spree linking Friedrichshain (former East Berlin) and Kreuzberg (former West Berlin). A Cold War landmark of division, the bridge is today an important symbol of Berlin's unity. At the other end of the district you will find Volkspark Friedrichshain, a large park and a personal favourite of mine offering everything from volleyball, tennis, football, basketball and much much more.
But, while Friedrichshain's historical landmarks are fascinating, the district has lots of different facets to keep visitors coming back for more. Notably, you'll find an extremely high concentration of bars, restaurants and cafes around Simon-Dach-Straße and Boxhagener Platz. I highly recommend checking out some of these restaurants and eateries:
Kwhan (Thai food and one of my favourite restaurants in Berlin - make sure you order the banquet!)
Silo (Australian-style brunch venue)
While the restaurants in Friedrichshain are good, its bars really set it apart from Berlin's other districts. Here there is a perfect blend of large riverside bars housed in fantastic venues to quirky smaller joints that are ideal for spending an evening. Whether living in Berlin or just visiting, make sure you check out:
YAAM (Young African Art Market that serves as a beach bar, live music venue, nightclub, streetfood market, exhibition space, etc.)
Holzmarkt (riverside bar, music venue, street food, artists residency, all round great place!)
Süß War Gestern (bar with three dance floors!)
And now that you've limbered up in the bars, it's time to hit the clubs. Here Friedrichshain is again a cut above the rest with some of the best renowned electronic music venues in the world. Primarily housed in warehouses and disused industrial buildings, Friedrichshain offers a unique clubbing experience that you won't find replicated elsewhere. Here's a list of nightclubs to get you started:
In short, when choosing where to live in Berlin, there are few better places to go partying than in Friedrichshain.
And if you're just passing through as a tourist, here are some Friedrichshain hostels and hotels for your consideration. Note: if you are planning to relocate to Berlin, we do not recommend staying at a hostel or hotel as you first need to register at an address (Anmeldung) to start the relocation process.
Hostels in Friedrichshain
Hotels in Friedrichshain
Best Neighbourhood to Live in Berlin – Prenzlauer Berg
Unlike many of Berlin’s districts, Prenzlauer Berg has retained much of its pre-war architecture, and is still replete with cobble-stoned streets and ornate buildings from the beginning of the 20th century. As well as being one of Berlin’s more picturesque areas, the district is a haven for young families and is a less grungy, more polished version of Berlin’s more alternative districts. If you are wondering where the nicest place to live in Berlin is, then Prenzlauer Berg would score highly on most people's lists.
The district’s broad tree-lined streets are filled with organic food shops, juice stores and yoga studios, while its pavements are crawling with young mothers and fathers, students and freelancers. While Prenzlauer Berg perhaps has a slightly more residential feel than its more lively counterparts, there is still a large number of activities to get stuck into.
Most notably, a trip to Mauerpark on Sundays is these days a mainstay of many a Berliner's calendar. The park is teeming with locals and visitors, who seek out bargains at the park's large flea market, listen to some of Berlin's best bands and buskers showcase their new tunes, and belt out songs at the famous open-air Bearpit Karaoke Show. If you've got the courage, I highly recommend giving the microphone a whirl (when else are you going to have the opportunity to sing your favourite karaoke song in front of 1000 people!).
And if all that singing has worn you out, then there are some great places to recharge your batteries in Prenzlauer Berg. Here are some of my favourites:
Prater Garten – the oldest beer garden in town has been serving punters since 1837. In the summer, the large garden is buzzing with ever-increasing laughter and enjoyment as the pints begin to flow. With over 600 seats, the beer garden is a fabulous way to while away an evening under the gentle glow of Prater's twinkling lights.
Konnopke's Imbiss – while Prater Garten does serve food, it is well worth strolling to Konnopke's Imbiss at Eberswalder U-Bahn station. The currywurst is one of the most famous in Berlin, which Konnopke's Imbiss has been churning out since 1930.
Kulturbraurei – a former brewery, Kulturbraurei has been transformed into a cultural centre and event space, which also contains bars, cafes, restaurants, art studios, a theatre, a cinema and GDR museum. It's well worth keeping a close eye on their event calendar as they host some crackers throughout the year!
Kollwitzplatz – if you are looking for an area that epitomises Prenzlauer Berg, then go no further than Kollwitzplatz. With Berlin's oldest water tower overlooking the square, Kollwitzplatz is characterised by laid back cafes, trendy young parents and tree-lined boulevards. The organic market is also well worth a visit as are a number of restaurants and cafes including Café Anna Blume, Restaurant Pasternak, Betty'n Caty and Grindhouse.
For me, Prenzlauer Berg is a great mix of culture, activity and peaceful living. If you want to get away from the more frenetic districts, then it is a great option when choosing where to live in Berlin.
If you are a tourist and just passing through Berlin, then here are some options of where to stay in Prenzlauer Berg:
Hostels in Prenzlauer Berg
Hotels in Prenzlauer Berg
Where to Live in Berlin if You Want to See the Famous Sites – Mitte
As the name suggests, Mitte (centre) is located in the very centre of the city. The area covers both former East and West Berlin districts and is the historic core of the city. As a result, the district draws in a lot of tourism, with tour groups beavering around some of Berlin’s most well-known sites including Museum Island, the Brandenburg Gate, Unter den Linden, the TV Tower, Potsdamer Platz and the Reichstag.
Home to high-end shopping, exotic art collections and trendy exhibitions, the district is smart, clean and easier on the eye than the neighbouring districts of Friedrichshain and Kreuzberg. It has superb architecture, an extensive and varied food scene (with new eateries popping every month), and is perfectly located for accessing and exploring Berlin’s other districts.
In this article, I have focused on some of Berlin’s more expat-oriented districts. While I have briefly outlined some of my favourite areas, there are a number of other super areas that are worth checking out including Charlottenburg, Wedding, Schöneberg, Pankow, Treptow, Lichtenberg and Steglitz. Whether you are after an alternative scene, party mania or a chilled-out vibe, the city has a district for everything and everyone.
Are you thinking about making the move to Berlin? Check out our wide range of relocation services.