Many European cities have a rich history, exciting culture and appeal to those who seek a new place to call home — but it’s safe to say that Berlin is among the most popular and truly diverse cities you could hope to hang your hat. In this post, I’ll help you decide where to unpack your bag for living in Berlin with an easy-to-digest guide.
Berlin is not only one of the most desirable city break destinations in Europe but also a place where many visitors would like to make a permanent move. In fact, around 40,000 people move to Berlin every year. This shows you that it is indeed a location that an enormous amount of people fall in love with, but also that the offerings of neighbourhoods in Berlin suit a vast range of needs, interests and lifestyle choices.
As someone who has been living in Berlin for several years and had the pleasure of enjoying the many sights, sounds, activities — I thought it was only right that I provide you with some insight and first-hand knowledge about the Berlin neighbourhoods.
Living in Berlin: the Best Neighbourhoods in Berlin
Neukölln is renowned for being a neighbourhood that seamlessly combines different cultures, architecture, and the contrast of suburban and green spaces. So as you can imagine, this multicultural district is home to people from all over the world, a fact that’s evident from the vast range of street food available. From veggie burritos to American burger joints to the delights of an Arabian bakery, not to mention the incredible organic/vegan restaurants — Neukölln is a multicultural hub in every way.
If you are somewhat of a night owl, Neukölln has a thriving bar scene which consists of many old pubs as well as new, trendy bars. Whether you’re someone who enjoys a good conversation over a beer or cocktail-fuelled dancing until the early hours, Neukölln is the place to be.
In regards to living in Berlin Neukölln, with a healthy mix of old and new properties, it offers plenty of variety to find something to suit your needs and budget. Not only this, but there’s a fairly large “hipster” presence, so it’s home to many events, art exhibitions, and other creative platforms — making it a productive base for creative professionals.
Friedrichshain is indeed one of the neighbourhoods of Berlin with a rich history and industrial aesthetic and the place I call home. But its vibrant art scene, affordable housing, a vast array of bars and coffee shops, and many boutiques have established an exciting environment for a younger crowd. Friedrichshain is also one of the districts in Berlin that attract the attention of partygoers, as the exciting nightlife spreads throughout the entire neighbourhood. Examples of which include world-famous techno clubs such as Berghain and the whole RAW flea market area.
With that said, if you want to surround yourself with the youthful, exciting atmosphere of Friedrichshain but also appreciate moments of peace and quiet, there are several areas where you can be alone with your thoughts while remaining close to public transport.
Kreuzberg is regarded as one of the most popular, vibrant, well-known, and “cooler” neighbourhoods in Berlin. A great deal of the popularity stems from the variation of domestic and foreign cultures, which has created a brilliant environment for those who appreciate day-to-day life with a sprinkle of creativity on top. Art, music, foreign cuisine, and a fantastic nightlife are the beating heart of Kreuzberg. Even if nightlife and the other factors mentioned above aren’t of interest to you, living in Berlin is expensive in certain districts. However, Kreuzberg is somewhere you can purchase and rent property in Berlin for a much lower price.
The streets of Kreuzberg are buzzing with life, and you couldn’t hope for better Turkish cuisine. Of course, food isn’t the only reason why this makes the neighbourhood so unique and trendy. The multicultural vibe throughout the markets, shops, and residential areas are a testament to the welcoming nature of Berlin and the celebration of both local and foreign cultures.
If Berlin is considered to be one of the most exciting cities in Europe, if not the world, then Mitte is without a doubt a massive reason for such intrigue and appeal. Huge volumes of people travel to Berlin because of its rich history and the stories the various monuments and buildings tell. If you are one of these people, living in Mitte will suit you perfectly. From Reichstag, Brandenburger Tor to the Jewish Memorial, there is so much history to see and experience. Fortunately, by living in the area, you’ll have plenty of time to explore it all.
But history is not all that Mitte offers, as it is in no way a neighbourhood that lives in the past. Today, Mitte is somewhat of a hub for startups and creative industries, not to mention the vast range of expensive boutiques, exclusive brands, and wonderful restaurants. While Mitte is definitely one of the neighbourhoods of Berlin that celebrates its history, it’s continually looking to the future and moving with the times. So, whether you’re a young creative looking for a base for your next project, or someone who appreciates a neighbourhood with an interesting past — Mitte is worth your while.
Prenzlauer Berg is quickly turning into one of the most family-oriented neighbourhoods in Berlin. The reason lots of young families move to the area is that Prenzlauer Berg is clean and safe, but also there’s a warm and welcoming atmosphere for children. Combine this with the wide range of activities available for parents and children — from playgrounds to pre-natal yoga — and you have yourself an inviting and exciting place to reside.
As you can already tell from the descriptions of the other neighbourhoods above, living in Berlin provides you with an incredible array of delicious and nutritious food to enjoy. Prenzlauer Berg is also renowned for its healthy food scene, with a larger number of organic food shops and vegan cafes than the other Berlin neighbourhoods.
It’s safe to say that Schöneberg is one of the most special of the neighbourhoods in Berlin. Formerly a central hub of West-Germany, where artists such as David Bowie recorded classic albums, it’s now a bright and colourful reflection of Berlin’s tolerance and celebration for every culture and the unique ways people choose to live their lives. The LGBTQ community has had a strong presence in Schöneberg since the 1920s, and the area is one for free spirits who embrace the present and future but absolutely do not forget the past. The latter is particularly evident when visiting the memorial to homosexuals during the holocaust.
Few would disagree that Schöneberg is also one of the most intriguing neighbourhoods in Berlin. With trendy bars, cafes, restaurants, and unique museums to explore, as well as exciting street events — boredom is hard to come by in this particular neighbourhood. If you plan to visit or live in the area, a little niche gem that’s well worth your time is the Cosima Cinema. A post WW2 cinema that still functions as an art-house cinema that shows artistic films for small crowds. Whether you’re a classic film buff or simply want to make yourself look a bit more cultured on a first date, it’ll be an experience for sure!
Treptow is another of the neighbourhoods in Berlin that’s awesome for families to live or anyone who loves lots of green spaces to enjoy some peace and quiet. A great example of this is Treptower Park, a large open space where you can sit down and relax with a picnic, embark on a boat trip, visit a beer garden or check out the Soviet War Memorial.
But much like many other neighbourhoods in Berlin, Treptow also boasts an incredible nightlife with underground music spaces, nightclubs, and even a techno warehouse. One of Berlin’s most appealing aspects is the ability to combine scenery, nightlight, and immersive historical sights in a way that few cities can emulate. Treptow may not offer as much variety as some of its neighbouring districts, but it’s safe to say you will have plenty of activities to keep you busy.
Wedding (pronounced VED-ing, not the “‘til death do us part” type of wedding) is considered by many to be one of the Berlin neighbourhoods on the rise — but then again, it’s been rising for some time and never really rose fully — but perhaps that’s Wedding’s charm. Based in the North-West of the city, it’s become a hub for artists, musicians, and creative types who are looking for people looking to move to Berlin or to a new area of Berlin. New and developing startups are a vital part of Berlin’s creative and business sectors, and it looks as though Wedding is one of the “cooler” neighbourhoods where many business owners will look to establish their headquarters.
But don’t be fooled, Wedding isn’t merely a business district where there’s no fun to be had or culture to experience. With a warm and welcoming atmosphere created by its beautiful green spaces, which contrasts with architecture and older industrial structures — Wedding certainly catches the eye and makes you feel at home. In particular, Plötzensee bathing lake is not to be missed, a hidden gem that provides the tranquillity needed for a relaxing day on the sand. No matter where you go in Berlin, lots of different cultures are represented and celebrated, and Wedding doesn’t break the mould with its incredible array of first-rate global restaurants.
So, now you know where to live in Berlin, but what about renting apartments, what to get up to during a weekend away, or finding the best vegan spots in the city? All worthwhile inquiries, no? Fortunately, all you have to do is check out my other guides to the various other must-know aspects of visiting and living in Berlin!