Berlin is Germany’s magnetic capital, which has soared in popularity in recent years. Berlin’s turbulent Cold War past is firmly designated to the history books and today reigns as Europe’s top LGBT destination.

The Many Neighborhoods of Berlin

Known as Kiez in German, Berlin’s eclectic and distinct neighborhoods are what set this city apart from others. The East and West still have distinct vibes, the former being the more alternative and urban of the two with the latter having a more elegant and sophisticated air.

Kreuzberg and Neukolln are arguably the liveliest boroughs. Kreuzberg is packed with hip bars and trendy restaurants, which centers around Kotsbusser Tor. The canal side restaurants close to the Admiralbrucke (Admiral Bridge) are wonderful in summer and the waterside weekend flea market is perfect for exploring with friends and a bottle of the local Berliner beer from the local Spatkauf (convenience store). Neukolln has a more local feel and attracts fewer tourists but is the home of the former airport come public park – Tmeplehof.

Also located in East Berlin is Friedrichshain. The vibe is a little more adult than Kreuzberg, but still has plenty going on for young and old alike. Neu Heimat is an open-market and warehouse hosting pop up restaurants and bars with regular special events. Boxhegener Platz is the epicentre of Friedrichshain and is surrounded by a range of cool cafes and reasonably priced restaurants. The East Side Gallery, the only remaining section of the Berlin Wall, is situated on the border of Kreuzberg and Friedrichshain.

Mitte is the city’s central district and is largely driven by business and tourism. This is home to a majority of the notable attractions, such as the Brandenburg Gate and Holocaust Memorial. It’s great for some daytime exploration, but there’s little reason to stay here after dark. There are, of course, plenty of bars, but this is not necessarily where the locals would choose to party.

Schoenberg is a huge district but most of the action (including the ‘gay village’) is nestled around the Nollendorf Platz U-Bahn stop. Highlights of the district include KaDeWe – Europe’s largest department store, and the Town Hall where JFK made his famous ‘ich bin ein Berliner’ speech.

Getting Your Fill of German Food

Berlin is packed with restaurants and eateries perfect for every budget. Most of the high-end restaurants are located in Mitte and primarily service a business clientele. Some of the culinary highlights include Hugos, headed by esteemed chef Eberhard Lange, and Lutter & Wegner – famed for their fantastic Bavarian dishes served in opulent surroundings.

If you’re looking for excellent German cuisine at mid-range prices then Max & Moritz in Kreuzberg fits the bill perfectly. Set in a former ballroom, the schnitzel is a menu highlight and the range of German beers on tap will keep you suitably hydrated. Currywurst 36 is cited as the best sausage eatery in the German capital. The portions are generous and with a whole meal coming in at under five euros, we’re talking premium tastes at rock bottom prices.

You can pop into one of the many Fleischerei that are dotted around the city for a quick bite at lunch. Literally translated to mean ‘butchers’, many of them serve authentic German dishes and beers – your hearty al fresco lunch can be enjoyed on the tables and chairs provided outside.

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Drinking in Berlin

Bars in Berlin are plentiful, as they are varied – you’ll never go thirsty in this city. It would be impossible to provide a definitive list of all the excellent watering holes, but here are a few favorite options…

Das Hotel
Das Hotel is a small, but lively Kreuzberg hangout frequented by locals and tourists alike. The vibe is boho chic and the drinks are excellent and very reasonably priced – the bartenders don’t skimp on the booze in the cocktails either.

Tante Lisbeth
At first glance, Tante Lisbeth appears to be your regular Berlin bar, complete with vintage furniture and plenty of aloof bar staff. However, it’s the subterranean bowling, or kegal, which makes it a largely undiscovered gem. Booking in advance is advised, but it’s always worth an ask if you walk in and fancy a little activity.

Primtiv Bar
Primtiv is a Russian-style venue in Berlin that boasts a kitsch, but cozy vibe… and some of the cheapest drinks you’ll find in the city. The fantastically retro music and vintage carefree attitude that prevails here make it one of the must-visit bars.

Hops & Barley
This bar and brew-house has a fantastic authentic feel and the home brew beers are delicious – despite the range been a little limited. They also serve bar snacks if you get a little hungry and the ample outside seating is perfect for the warm summer evenings.

Bar Saint Jean
This centrally located gay bar is one of the better places to go for a drink if you happen to find yourself in Mitte for the evening. The after work vibe reigns king in the week with people heading here for pre-drinks at the weekend before heading on to a club to the small hours.