Going to visit the German's capital city and wondering where to stay in Berlin? Berlin is one of those enticing capital cities that many people dream of visiting, and continues to be the top pick for travellers year after year. There’s a lot to offer, from fascinating history to outstanding architecture and arty districts that are bursting with creativity The city overflows with delicious street food and artisanal cafes and restaurants. Officially made up of twelve districts, the list of things to see and do here is endless and, more than most places, there’s something and someplace to suit every kind of traveller. Here is our guide with the pros and cons of various neighbourhoods in Berlin, including accommodation options to suit your needs.
Where to stay in Berlin [2020 Guide For First Time Visitors] - Contents
Where to stay in Berlin
Choosing where to stay in Berlin can be a tough choice; every neighbour is so unique and diverse with plenty to offer. Many people underestimate how big Berlin is (it’s actually nine times bigger than Paris) so choosing the right area for what you want to see is key if you don’t want to spend too much time riding public transport. Luckily, Berlin’s transport system is vast with the U-Bahn (metro), the S-Bahn (city train), the trams, and the buses which also operate at night and the weekends. Staying in the centre will mean you can walk to the various major attractions but you’ll find a very different (and budget-friendly) experience in the eastern parts of the city.
Mitte – Upmarket centre of Berlin
Why stay in Mitte
Perfect for those looking for an upmarket stay in the centre of Berlin, this part of the city is far more commercial than other parts and offers a diverse range of dining options and boutique hotels to choose from. You’ll have easy access to many of Berlin’s most historic sites and it’s ideal if you like exploring museums as you can walk to Museum Island, visit the Reichstag, and take a stroll along the iconic Unter Den Liden to Brandenburg Gate. It’s a chic area that showcases upmarket Berlin.
Why avoid Mitte
If you’re on a budget then this part of the city may get pricey; there’s not much budget accommodation and the restaurants, bars, and shops are on the more expensive end. It’s a traveller hub so it’s geared towards tourism in many ways, particularly in the summer. Loud guided tours and crowds tend to congregate near most attractions so it’s not one of those places where you’ll catch a lot of authentic Berlin life in action.
Where to stay in Mitte
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Tiergarten – Open green spaces and lots to do
Why stay in Tiergarten
Heard of the Berlin Zoo? Then you’ll know it’s one of the biggest in the world, and the impressive aquarium is not far off. The name Tiergarten itself means zoo in German, and apart from the obvious link, it does very much feel like a zoo for people due to the vast green spaces you’ll find in this area - particularly the enormous Tiergarten Park. If you’re a visitor who likes a more relaxed pace of life, open areas, and perhaps space to go jogging or picnicking then Tiergarten is ideal. Boasting its own sites like the Congress Hall, Victory Column, and the Schloss Bellevue it also benefits by being connected to Mitte. If you’re looking to enjoy the historical side of Berlin and indulge in fine dining in both areas without the crowds, then this is for you.
Why avoid Tiergarten
Much like Mitte, this is not a budget-friendly area. There are plenty of attractions, although few to suit those on a budget, and because it’s desirable area even the higher end accommodation can book up fast. It can also get quite quiet after dark when the parks empty and everyone goes elsewhere in the city to enjoy the nightlife so if you’d like to be busy in the evening then you may find yourself travelling a lot.
Where to stay in Tiergarten
Friedrichshain – Arty hub with great nightlife
Why stay in Friedrichshain
If you’re interested in exploring East Berlin and the communist history there, like the East Side Gallery, and would like to stay somewhere with a very different vibe, then Friedrichshain is for you. There’s a real youthful and arty atmosphere here which is amplified by its reputation for being the location of Berlin’s best clubs and nightlife. It’s a perfect base if you like to party. The alternative culture permeates every aspect of the decaying buildings, coffee houses, and expressive street art. The people are generally very liberal, LGBTQ friendly, and like to have fun. There’s fantastic food here due to the prominent Turkish population and there’s no better place to try it then the canal and street food markets. There’s a lot going on so you’ll never be bored.
Why avoid Friedrichshain
The main reason to avoid Friedrichshain is if you don’t enjoy grungy aesthetics, concrete buildings, and graffiti. It’s very hipster and isn’t an area where you’ll find high-end hotels or dining so if you’re used to more polished holidays this might not suit your tastes. It’s definitely more suited to the budget traveller.
Where to stay in Friedrichshain
Kreuzberg Hipster area with lots of museums
Why stay in Kreuzberg
Kreuzberg borders Friedrichshain and shares many similarities with it, like the incredible nightlife, hipster cafes, and interesting shops. It was on the West side of the Berlin Wall so is equally interesting in terms of history and visitors can pay a visit to the Berlin Jewish Museum and Topography of Terror, a fascinating museum that examines Nazi history. The shopping here is extensive so if you’re struggling to choose between here and Friedrichshain and you like shopping then this might be the deal breaker. Two notable shopping streets are Bergmannstraße and Oranienstraße. You’ll also find fantastic Turkish street food here and the area is often dubbed Little Istanbul for the sheer amount of influence.
Why avoid Kreuzberg
For similar reasons you might avoid Friedrichshain, you may want to avoid Kreuzberg. Although it’s becoming more gentrified, this still isn’t a place where you’ll find fine dining establishments or luxury hotels. It can also be very noisy due to the nightlife so not ideal if you’re looking for a peaceful getaway.
Where to stay in Kreuzberg
Moabit – Central area with amazing transport links
Why stay in Moabit
A central and very popular place to stay due to the proximity to the city’s main train station, ideal if you’re moving on to other destinations after Berlin or hoping to do day trips. There’s a wide range of accommodation, from budget to luxury and most are in walking distance to the station. There are some museums and art galleries in the area like Hamburger Bahnhof Museum für Gegenwart and plenty of restaurants and cafes nearby. There’s a real multicultural vibe here as it’s made up of four neighbourhoods and this is very much reflected in the cuisine options which range from Italian to Turkish and beyond.
Why avoid Moabit
It’s a very busy area due to being so popular and gets particularly packed during commuting hours and on the weekend. You may find yourself travelling to Mittie and Tiergarten a lot to see the sights as there relatively few here but since you’re in the transport hub it shouldn’t be too much trouble.
Where to stay in Moabit
Wedding – Authentic, hipster area with nature
Why stay in Wedding
This under-the-radar spot is very much up and coming and has a lot to offer anyone staying in Berlin. Located in the North West of the city, it provides a very authentic place to stay which matches up to many people’s image of Berlin as being hip and arty. Despite the local atmosphere, you’ll find a pleasant selection of vegan restaurants, artisan cafes, nightclubs in abandoned swimming pools, breakfast inside an old bus, an events space in a tree house. You name it, you’ll find it in this multicultural, hipster area. If you like the sound of amazing street art, well-kept cycle paths, a beautiful swimming lake, and a gothic castle (Brunnenplatz) to explore then this is the neighbourhood for you. You can also explore the historic Berlin Wall Trail.
Why avoid Wedding
It does get very busy in the summer due to the cycle path and lake and doesn’t offer a lot of high-end accommodation or dining choices. You’re also a little far from the main attractions of the city so you may find yourself on public transport a lot.
Where to stay in Wedding
Prenzlauer Berg – Relaxed spot with lots of markets
Why stay in Prenzlauer Berg
More relaxed than some of the more bohemian areas of Berlin but with a similar vibe, Prenzlauer strikes the balance between the two extremes of Berlin with its tree-lined streets, wine bars, a large variety of restaurants, boutique shops, and street performers. You can rent modern apartments with high ceilings and due to the area's proximity to Mitte, you’ll be close to the main attractions. There are plenty of flea and street markets to enjoy here. It does have some of its own unmissable attractions which will keep you busy like the largest synagogue in Germany, the Jewish cemetery, and Gethsemanekirche – a gorgeous piece of neo-gothic architecture where locals would plot against the East German government. Perfect for history lovers and those who want a more peaceful area to explore.
Why avoid Prenzlauer Berg
Because of its ideal location and relaxing yet bohemian vibe, the apartments book up very early so try to book early if you’d love to stay here. Also, the main square can be very noisy so it’s best if you book in one of the quieter side streets if possible. Despite being close to Mitte, you will have to travel to all major attractions so this may not be ideal if you’d like to keep off public transport as much as possible. It can be a little touristy in Prenzlauer Berg so if you’re looking to get a slice of authentic Berlin life, it may be best to avoid this area.
Where to stay in Prenzlauer Berg
Neukölln – Arty area with a great Turkish Market
Why stay in Neukölln
A more affordable part the city and, as a result, a hub for students and artists, Neukölln is a smaller neighbourhood within a large district of the same name. There are plenty of food choices, cafes, and shopping here and are all suited to those on a budget. It’s linked by an excellent transport system so it’ll be very quick to get to other parts of Berlin and greater Neukölln. One highlight of the area is the popular Turkish Market where you can explore Turkish culture and excellent cuisine. While there’s an edgy vibe to this area, it’s not as popular with tourists yet due to lack of attractions in the area so it’s far more authentic in many ways. Locals and visitors tend to gather at Tempelhof, a huge park that was once an airport.
Why avoid Neukölln
As mentioned, there aren’t any significant tourist attractions in the area so this can often put people off staying there despite the transport links. There aren’t as many accommodations options in the area and what is there tends to lean towards budget rather than mid-range. Many people treat this area as a day-trip to visit the Turkish market but would rather be closer to the nightlife and bigger attractions otherwise.
Where to stay in Neukölln
Schöneberg – Classy neighbourhood with lots of history
Why stay in Schöneberg
If you’re in Berlin to walk in the footsteps of some of your favourite celebrities like David Bowie and Nick Cave, then this is the area you’re looking for as they both once lived here. Full of open boulevards, quaint buildings, live music venues, bars, and cafes, this quiet area is just as popular with locals as visitors. It’s close to Kreuzberg so you can enjoy the arty vibes and buzzing atmosphere of that area while having a calmer base. History wise there’s a lot going on too, this is where John F. Kennedy delivered his famous ‘I am a Berliner’ speech in 1963 and was the home of West Berlin’s headquarters.
Why avoid Schöneberg
As pleasant as Schöneberg is, there aren’t any major attractions here and can take over half an hour to reach them on the subway which could add up. Also, the area is on the pricier end in general so if you’re on a strict budget it might not be for you.
Where to stay in Schöneberg
Charlottenburg – Wealthy area with incredible architecture
Why stay in Charlottenburg
This is one of the wealthiest areas of Berlin and the area reflects that with its pristine gardens, impressive architecture, and theatres. With photo opportunities at every corner, the whole neighbourhood is a work of art with the pinnacle being the stunning baroque Charlottenburg Palace which stands proudly in the centre. The famous Kurfürstendamm avenue runs through here and this is where you’ll find the high-end hotels, fine dining, department stores, and boutiques. This is Berlin at its most polished.
Why avoid Charlottenburg
There are few downsides to staying in Charlottenburg except for the fact it does generally cater to tourists and can be quite expensive compared to other areas of Berlin. It’s very busy so can be noisy but, on the flipside, there’s plenty to do nearby in the evenings.