Where to Stay in Berlin: Advice from a local Canadian expat and travel blogger about the best neighborhoods to stay in Berlin, Germany! Includes recommendations for 23 of the best apartments and hotels to stay in Berlin.
This guide was originally written in 2016 by Canadian expat in Berlin, Cheryl Howard. We’ve since gone through and updated the guide based on our own experiences, as well as by drawing on the expertise of another Berliner we hired to help us!
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Where to Stay in Berlin: Introducing Berlin
Berlin is a fascinating metropolis with a cool factor unmatched by other cities. Known for being a cultural and political hub, it’s a creative force and home to a diverse art, media and start-up scene.
Though people have lived in Berlin since the 12th century, it’s the more recent history that draw most visitors to the city. During WWII, Berlin earned the ominous title as the most bombed city in the world. Large swaths were reduced to rubble, and Germany was divided into the capitalist West and communist East.
Geographically, Berlin is located in the former East Germany. However the four victorious armies of WWII – France, the UK, the USA, and the Soviet Union – occupied the city. The western allies claimed West Berlin, and the Soviets claimed East. As a result, West Berlin was an island surrounded on all sides by East Germany.
Recognizing West Berlin’s geographic isolation, East Germany built a wall around West Berlin. The Berlin Wall cut through and divided the city, making air travel was the only way in and out of West Berlin.
Despite coming to agreement to divide the city, all was not well in West-East relations.
Tensions rose to a near-boiling point and famous standoff at Checkpoint Charlie. Soviet and Allied tanks took aim at one another, locked and loaded a mere city block apart. Thankfully, it didn’t escalate further. Today, that famous standoff means Checkpoint Charlie is a major tourist attraction. Replicas of the different sectors’ signposts stand where they once were, and two US guards (actors) stand at attention.
After a series of local and geopolitical events and plenty of demonstrations, the wall came down in November 1989. A large section of the wall remains today, however, at the East Side Gallery. It serves as both a tourist attraction and reminder of this dark period.
Following the war, construction began to rebuild Berlin quickly and cheaply. As a result, Berlin isn’t exactly a looker. What it lacks in beauty, however, it more than makes up for in character.
Berlin’s different neighborhoods have their own unique vibe. While you’ll have to choose one area to stay in Berlin, we recommend visiting the others to see what they have to offer. Berlin is a collection of unique districts, emphasis on unique!
Officially, Berlin is made up of 12 boroughs. Each borough is further divided into smaller areas within each. The Berlin neighborhoods we’ve included in our Where to Stay in Berlin guide are the smaller areas within main boroughs. We think this is the most helpful approach for those visiting the city!
Berlin Welcome Card
The Berlin Welcome Card is available for 48 hours up to 6 days, and gives you unlimited use of public transit. Prices start at $23.20 US, which is the equivalent of about 10 rides on public transit. You’ll also receive a free guidebook and discounts to 200 attractions. There is also a Berlin Welcome Card “Museum Island”edition, which gives you the same as above, and also free entry to all the museums on Museum Island including the Pergamon Museum.
Where to Stay in Berlin: Berlin’s Coolest Neighborhoods at a Glance
If you’re looking for quick answer about the best area to stay in Berlin, you’ve come to the right place.
We originally published this Where to Stay in Berlin guide in 2016. Our friend, fellow Canadian and fellow travel blogger, Cheryl Howard, helped write the original guide. Cheryl lives in Berlin and blogs about the city, making her the perfect local expert to offer advice.
In 2019, we made substantial updates to this guide to ensure it’s up-to-date and provides the best information out there. We know from personal experience that choosing the best neighborhood to stay in is the hardest part of trip planning. We hope this guide makes it easy for you to find the best area to stay in Berlin.
We’ve outlined the best places to stay in Berlin in detail below. However, we also wanted to provide an at-a-glance summary to help you choose where to stay in Berlin. This includes a short summary and Berlin neighborhood map. Click on the neighborhood names (in blue) to read about each Berlin district to go right to that section.
If you’re not sure where to stay in Berlin and don’t already have a neighborhood in mind, feel free to skip over this section and read the whole post. We’ve outlined in detail the best places to stay in Berlin!
📍 1. Brandenburg Gate; 2. Reichstag Building; 3. Holocaust Memorial; 4. Checkpoint Charlie; 5. East Side Gallery; 6. Berlin Wall Memorial; 7. Tempelhof Field
❶ Mitte: Stay in Mitte if you want an upmarket experience that’s right in the center. Many of Berlin’s biggest attractions are in Mitte, making it the best area of Berlin to stay for sightseeing. Nearby Wedding gets an honorable mention for its multicultural-meets-hipster vibe. Stay in Wedding if street art, man buns, and artists are your scene. Wedding offers shops and services from around the world, and a rough-around-the-edges cool.
❷ Kreuzberg: Stay in Kreuzberg if you want an alternative, subversive cool. Kreuzberg is Berlin’s home to punk rockers, hipsters, LGBTQI, and lefties . East Kreuzberg (Kreuzberg 61) is edgier, while West Kreuzberg (SO36) is more gentrified.
❸ Prenzlauerberg: Prenzlauerberg offers a bohemian-meets-bourgeois vibe. This Berlin neighborhood has beautiful buildings, modern design, and hip cafés and wine bars. Prenzlauerberg offers a relaxed vibe and plenty of brunch options. It’s an easy introduction to Berlin and is a great choice for families.
❹ Friedrichshain: Stay in Friedrichshain if you’re looking for an artsy-alternative vibe, want to be close to Berlin’s best clubs, or are interested in digging into many of former East Berlin’s biggest attractions, such as the Eastside Gallery.
❺ Schöneberg: Schöneberg is one of the best areas to stay in Berlin for shopping. It offers glamorous, turn-of-the-century buildings and wide open boulevards. Schöneberg’s bar scene include former favorites of legends like David Bowie and Nick Cave.
❻ Neukölln: Stay in Neukölln if you want the coolness of Kreuzberg, with way fewer visitors and tourists. Neukölln is a great neighborhood if you’re just as happy hanging out as you are sightseeing.
❼ Charlottenburg: Charlottenburg offers a genteel and quiet residential vibe. This Berlin district has high-end restaurants, cafés and shops, and is a great Berlin area for travelers who want to stay in an upmarket residential area.
Also in This Where to Stay in Berlin Guide…
- Berlin Where to Stay Summary: A summary of Berlin’s coolest neighborhoods and places to stay.
- Berlin FAQs: How to get to and from Berlin airports, and taking Berlin public transportation.
- Top Berlin Tours: Top rated Berlin city tours.
- More Where to Stay Guides: Check out more of our Where to Stay City Guides for other popular destinations from Berlin to help you plan.
Where to Stay in Berlin: Introduction
One of the biggest dilemmas travelers face when visiting Germany’s capital is working out where to stay in Berlin. Many people underestimate the sheer size of the city, which is nine times the size of Paris! Officially made up of 12 districts, each area has its own distinct personality and flair.
The good news is, Berlin has fantastic public transportation. Whichever Berlin districts you’re considering, you’ll more than likely be well-connected to the U-Bahn (metro), S-Bahn (city train), tram, or bus. Many of these operate overnight on weekends, making it easy to get around in the wee hours. You’ll also find a great infrastructure of bike lanes. Many visitors opt to hire a bike, which makes for a cool and easy way to see the city in style.
Where to Stay in Berlin: Mitte
Mitte is right in the centre of the sightseeing action
Stay in Mitte if you’re a first-time visitor to Berlin, or if you only have a day or two to see everything. Mitte has great restaurants, making it a good choice for foodies. Families will appreciate its walkability, public transport, and proximity to green space. And cultural travelers will love Mitte’s museums, landmarks, and points of interest. If you’re in search of Berlin’s hippest spots or famed nightlife, look elsewhere: Mitte is chic, but no longer edgy edgy.
Berlin Neighborhood Map: Mitte Hotels & Attractions
❶ Brandenburg Gate; ❷ Berlin Cathedral; ❸ Reichstag; ❹ Holocaust Memorial; ❺ Berlin Wall Memorial
❶ Casa Camper Hotel; ❷ Gat Point Charlie; ❸ Hotel Boutique i31; ❹ Grimm’s Hotel Potsdamer Platz; ❺ art’otel Berlin Mitte
One of Berlin’s iconic it neighborhoods, Mitte is chic, but unpretentious. While you won’t find any starving artists in Mitte, the neighborhood does retain some of its former edge.
Like many areas in former East Berlin, housing was cheap when the wall came down. Creative types from West Berlin moved in. Artists and musicians, craving inexpensive space to hone their crafts, came running.
Mitte means middle in German, and while it’s not technically in the middle of the city, it’s close enough! While Mitte is a large Berlin borough that includes many smaller districts, in practice locals refer to Mitte as area around old Berlin. This includes Alexanderplatz, Museum Island, City Hall (Rathaus), Brandenburg Gate, and the Reichstag Building.
Formerly edgy, Mitte these days is as about as commercial as Berlin dares get. That means it still has plenty of fantastic dining, boutique hotels, and art galleries.
It’s also close to some of Berlin’s most historic sites. If you stay in Mitte, you can walk to Museum Island, take a tour of the Reichstag, stroll along the famous Unter Den Linden to the Brandenburg Gate.
If you’re looking for a slightly more upmarket experience than some of Berlin’s edgier neighborhoods, and you want to be ultra central, stay in Mitte.
Who Should Stay in Mitte?
There is something for everyone in Mitte. Museum lovers, history buffs, partiers and general sightseers will also find something to like about Mitte. Central and well connected, many of Berlin’s top attractions are within easy reach. Mitte is a top choice for where to stay in Berlin, no matter what your trip style.
Top Mitte Highlights
- Brandenburg Gate – Once a city gate, the neoclassical structure was damaged, but miraculously survived the war. After being repaired, it stood as a border crossing between East and West Berlin. Today, the Brandenburg Gate is a classic landmark and symbol of Berlin.
- Berlin Cathedral – This late-19th century church is an imposing presence on Museum Island. Badly damaged during the war, it was rebuilt and fully restored in the 1970s, reopening in 1980.
- Reichstag – Victim to an arson attack in 1933, the Reichstag Fire was a pivotal event in German history, cementing Nazi political power. Today, the glass dome shows how far Germany has come. The dome contains a spiralling walkway with 360 degree views over Berlin. It also looks directly onto the parliamentary debate floor, symbolizing transparent government.
- Holocaust Memorial – Berlin has separate memorials to almost all groups affected by the Holocaust. This monument is officially called the Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe. The massive area consists of 2,711 concrete slabs. Some say they resemble coffins, some say the rows resemble prisons. Whatever you think, please don’t be one of those people who take selfies and Instagram photos jumping on the blocks. Under the memorial there is a “Place of Information” where the names of three million Jews are read aloud and pictures projected on the wall.
- Berlin Wall Memorial – A commemoration of Berlin’s division, there’s a preserved section of the wall and a documentation center.
Staying in Mitte Pros & Cons
- Central and convenient
- Lots of bars, cafes and restaurants
- Close to many Berlin attractions
- Can be noisy in parts
- More expensive than other areas
Where to Stay in Berlin Mitte: Top Berlin Hotels in Mitte
Hotel Casa Camper: Luxury Boutique
9.5 / 10 on Booking.com
This hotel is nailing it – another one of those I want to stay here right now and I never want to leave hotels. Reviews are absolutely glowing as well, with points for location, design, top-floor lounge, comfort, and free snacks! When I check prices on Booking.com, rooms seem to run between US $190 to $250. This one is on my “dream hotels Berlin” mental list.
Gat Point Charlie: Affordable Boutique
8.6 / 10 on Booking.com
A personal experience! We stayed here a few summers ago on a short weekend trip, and loved it. It’s upscale with quirky (military-cat-themed…yes you read that right) touches. We really enjoyed our time at this hotel, and would absolutely stay there again: great location, good value, great wifi, comfy beds, and beautiful, but with a sense of humour! When I check prices on Booking.com, I can find rooms starting around US $90 per night.
Hotel Boutique i31: Affordable Boutique
9.2 / 10 on Booking.com
A lovely, modern-looking and design-focused 4-star boutique hotel, i31 is firmly in Mitte, close to both an U-Bahn and an S-Bahn station. Lobby bar, free soft drinks, and a nice-looking lounge, you can rent bikes on site and they offer a number of tours and activities you can arrange as well. When I check prices on Booking.com, I can find rooms starting around US $110 to $140 per night.
A Few More Hotel Options in Mitte…
The thing about this area of Berlin, is there’s lots of choice. If you haven’t fallen in love with the options above, give these a try:
- Grimm’s Hotel am Potsdamer Platz – Really cool looking design hotel with cool decor and great reviews. Rooms can be had for less than USD $100. (Booking.com / TripAdvisor)
- art’otel Berlin Mitte – Nice looking hotel closer to the Kreuzberg end of Mitte, and close to the river. Great looking rooms with design touches, and hotel decor featuring a local artist. (Booking.com / TripAdvisor)
Find the Perfect Hotel in Mitte
Also Check Out Wedding…
Business Insider declared Wedding Berlin’s hottest new neighborhood in 2015. Largely a working-class and immigrant neighborhood, gentrification is now creeping in.
In the 18th century, Wedding was Berlin’s gambling and red light district. In the 19th century, it morphed into a low-income neighbourhood for working-class Germans and immigrants. Post-war, Wedding became part of the French part of West Berlin. Its southern border along Bernauer Straße butted up against the Soviet sector.
These days, Wedding has a multicultural-meets-hipster vibe. Think street art, man buns and beards, and artists, side-by-side with the neighborhood’s longtime residents. Shops and services from around the world hint at the area’s multiculturalism.
Where to Stay in Berlin: Kreuzberg
Enjoy Berlin’s Reputation for Edgy, Subversive Cool
Berlin’s Kreuzberg neighborhood is punk rock, LGBTQI-friendly, and politically left wing. It’s been the starting point for many counterculture movements, touted by the media as the center of “hip Berlin.”
Translated from German as ‘Cross Hill’, Kreuzberg gets its name from the giant cross atop Viktoriapark hill. Formerly a prominent commercial area, Kreuzberg was home to major export businesses, newspapers and publishers before the war. As such, it was a prime target for allied bombing during WWII.
The bombing mostly obliterated east Kreuzberg (SO36). After the war, regulations kept rent cheap, but also meant it wasn’t a desirable neighborhood. Once the Berlin wall fell, Kreuzberg was suddenly dead center of the now unified metropolis.
If your search for the best place to stay in Berlin has lead you to Kreuzberg, you should know the district is further split into two distinct areas. SO36 East Kreuzberg is the edgier part of this Berlin district. Kreuzberg 61/SW 61 (West Kreuzberg) is a bit more upmarket, while still retaining its cool. SO36 and Kreuzberg 61 refer to the old, now obsolete, post code numbers.
East Kreuzberg (SO36)
East Kreuzberg (SO36) is the heart of alternative Berlin. Old squat houses, decaying buildings, and street art mix with third wave coffee shops and hipster hotspots. It is diverse and full of an alternative, subversive brand of cool. It’s also home to a large Turkish population, making it a great choice for foodies. Check out the canal-side Turkish Markets at Maybachufer and the decidedly more hipster street food at Markthalle Neun.
Within East Kreuzberg, the areas of Wranglerkiez and Kotti are particularly popular.
Wranglerkiez has great access to pubs, live music, and bars, and is a short bike ride from some of Berlin’s most popular techno hotspots. There are a few hostels to choose from in this area, but not much in the way of boutique or upmarket accommodation.
Kotti, which is in and around Oranienstraße, has an edgy feel to it, with loads of good restaurants, cafés and bars to choose from.
Stay in East Kreuzberg, around Köttbusser Tor, Görlitzer Bahnhof, and Schlesisches Tor on the U1, if you want fantastic nightlife and an edgy crowd.
West Kreuzberg (Kreuzberg 61)
If you’d prefer something that’s a bit more upmarket, check out West Kreuzberg (Kreuzberg 61). Still somewhat alternative, but far more gentrified than the east, this area has loads of cute shops, cafés and a great market.
Accommodation in and around Bergmannkiez (running between Mehringdamm and Südstern) is your best bet if you want to stay in SW61.
Who Should Stay in Kreuzberg?
The two faces of Kreuzberg will appeal to different types of travelers to Berlin. Budget travelers and those looking for nightlife will likely want to stay in East Kreuzberg. Families and those looking for a more upmarket but still cool vibe may prefer West Kreuzberg.
Generally speaking, you’ll want to choose where you stay in Kreuzberg carefully. Read our more in depth Kreuzberg Berlin neighborhood guide for help deciding.
Kreuzberg is a central neighborhood that’s well connected and home to some main attractions. It has some gritty urban areas and some spots filled with cool boutiques. It’s also very multi-cultural.
The area of Bergmannkiez is great for families with leafy streets, and some nice parks and playgrounds. SO36, near Görlitzer Bahnhof, and Schlesisches Tor, is great for nightlife.
Top Kreuzberg Highlights
- Checkpoint Charlie – Checkpoint Charlie was the main crossing point between East Berlin and the Allied (US) sector. Replicas of all former signs and guard post stand where they once did. Actors portray US guards in full uniform.
- Tempelhof – Tempelhof is West Berlin’s former airport. These days it’s used as a massive public green space. People rollerblade, kitesurf, go-kart and stroll around the former airport runways! Read more about Tempelhof in the Neukolln section, below.
- Gleisdreieck Park – An award winning park on the grounds of a former railway junction.
- Gräfekiez – A cute and quiet area that’s full of nice cafes and shops. An urban oasis among the urban grit and nightlife of Kreuzberg. Noise regulations kick in at 10pm.
Staying in Kreuzberg Pros & Cons
- Very good transit access
- Easy access to some top attractions
- Many bars, cafes, and restaurants
- Gritty and urban
- Can be quite noisy in some parts
Where to Stay in Berlin Kreuzberg: Top Berlin Hotels in Kreuzberg
Hotel Vier Jahreszeiten Berlin City: 4-Star in the Heart of East Kreuzberg (Kotti/SO36)
8.2 / 10 on Booking.com
A fantastic location right in the heart of Kreuzberg’s action, this hotel offers upmarket feel amidst the sea of counter outside your windows. If you stay here, you won’t be wanting for places to eat, bars, and cafés, including Santa Maria, an insanely popular Mexican place (go on Tuesdays for cheap eats and tequila!). Plus, it’s right on the metro for anywhere you want to go. When I checked prices on Booking.com, I found rooms starting around USD $90-100 per night in off season.
Hotel Sarotti-Höfe: Boutique Cool in West Kreuzberg/SW61
8.4 / 10 on Booking.com
Set in a former chocolate factory in the cute Bergmannkiez area of Kreuzberg, past guests rave about this hotel. Clean, comfortable and quiet, and in a great location with more of a local vibe than Mitte and more of an upmarket vibe than east Kreuzberg, it’s served by both the U6 and U7, which is just a few steps away.
Find the Perfect Hotel in Kreuzberg
Where to Stay in Berlin: Prenzlauerberg
Bohemian Meets Bourgeois
Tree-lined streets, boutique shops and wine bars aplenty. Prenzlauer Berg’s bohemian-meets-bourgeois vibe offers an easy introduction to Berlin.
Once an alternative hotspot, Prenzlauer Berg flooded with low cost apartments after the wall came down. As the area became more and more popular, it also became more and more upmarket.
These days, Prenzlauer Berg is chilled out, making it a great Berlin neighborhood for families and those who want a relaxing stay. Weekend brunches and Sundays spent at the Mauerpark flea market are the norm. You can even join in the public karaoke if you’re game!
The Kollwitzplatz and Helmholtzplatz areas are packed with cafes, bars and restaurants. These are great areas to stay, but you may want to find something on a quiet side street, rather than the main platz (square). You can also find a holiday apartment in the ‘Hinterhof’ of the building. This is the back of the apartment building, ensuring a good night’s sleep!
Prenzlauer Berg offers a cool local experience. However, it’s also well-connected to most tourist sites, public transport, and both airports. As such, it’s one of the best places to stay in Berlin!
Who Should Stay in Prenzlauer Berg?
Prenzlauer Berg is one of the best areas to stay in Berlin for families. Laid back and residential, it will also appeal to travelers looking to stay off the tourist trail. Best of all, Prenzlauer Berg is still close enough to easily visit Berlin’s main attractions.
Top Prenzlauer Berg Highlights
- Mauerpark – Mauer means “wall” in German, and this park gets its name from its location at the Berlin Wall. It was part of the so-called “death strip” section of the Berlin Wall. There was both an inner and outer wall here, filled in between with soft sand. Escape attempts were made near impossible by the sand, and were a near-certain death. Today, in contrast, it has been turned into a very pleasant green space beloved by locals.
- Kollwitzplatz – A popular square with a large concentration of cafes and restaurants. It also has a market every Thursday beginning at noon, and every Saturday beginning at 8:30am. The Saturday market is mainly produce.
- Gethsemane Church – Known for being a meeting place for opponents of the East German regime. Members from all over East Germany attended demonstrations here, intensifying the resistance.
Staying in Prenzlauer Berg Pros & Cons
- Family friendly
- Many nice cafes and restaurants
- Good access to attractions
- Not very well connected to some other Berlin neighborhoods
- Slightly upscale/expensive
- Not much in the way of nightlife (could be a pro)
Where to Stay in Berlin Prenzlauer Berg: Top Berlin Hotels in Prenzlauer Berg
Adele Designhotel – Affordable Boutique
8.2 / 10 on Booking.com
Boutique design that’s affordable, this place has a fun, kitschy look to it without sacrificing on comfort and a little bit of luxury. The design theme is officially art deco, but it definitely looks like they’ve added some twists and personality, as animal prints, natural materials and found objects show-up in the decor. Gets great reviews.
Linnen – Affordable Boutique
9.2 / 10 on Booking.com
Linnen has two locations in Prenzlauer Berg (and one in Mitte), and they all look drop-dead beautiful. The Sleeping Inn offers 6 rooms with an on-site café, and is the one I’d be most interested in staying in.
Ackselhaus & Blue Home – Luxury
9.3 / 10 on Booking.com
A stately character home that’s been converted into a boutique hotel (with a beautiful back garden). This place has 13 rooms, each with a distinct and totally unique theme (from Africa to New York to Beach House). To me, this place seems to strike a nice balance between a cozy, at-home feeling and boutique luxury.
Hotel Oderberger – Lux Boutique
9.0 / 10 on Booking.com
Exposed brick, floor to ceiling windows, balconies, modern design details and a beautiful restaurant. The Oderberger gets fantastic reviews, with past guests commenting on how quiet, tranquil, and beautiful the hotel is. The apartment-style rooms fit up to 8, and aren’t that much more expensive, considering the split.
Berlin Holiday Apartments in Prenzlauer Berg
There are loads of beautiful, modern apartments in Prenzlauer Berg with high ceilings, great light, and unique touches like rooftop terraces and exposed brick walls. The problem is, these apartments sometimes book out months in advance. So if your Berlin wish list includes staying in a beautiful apartment in Prenzlauer Berg, book early! Also of note, some of these apartments seem to require 2 or 3 minimum night stay. If your search comes back “not available” for one night, try upping it to 2 or 3 nights.
Top Holiday Apartments to Consider
- For a Luxury Design Apartment, check out Berlin Base Apartments. The units look beautiful, and get fantastic reviews. Think exposed brick wall and wide-panel wood flooring with bright white modern fixtures. Plus: rooftop terrace! There’s also a lift, which is great if you have a lot of luggage or have trouble with stairs! They are only a five-minute walk from Schönhauser Allee U-Bahn. Check Availability on Booking.com
- For an Affordable Modern Apartment, check out Apartment Heinrich-Roller-Str. Bright, spacious and beautiful, this apartment features lovely wooden floors, high ceilings, a nice bathroom, and a well-equipped kitchen. It’s walking distance to the M2 (Tram) Prenzlauer Allee/Metzer Str. stop, and within easy distance to Alexander Platz and Museum Island. Fair warning – this place seems to book up really early, so plan in advance. Check Availability: Booking.com
- If you are travelling as a family, check out Familienstudio 27 — This looks like a great option for up to 2 adults, 2 kids, or 4 adults. The apartment consists of a double/queen bed, plus two bunk beds. It’s bright and modern-looking with wooden floors and high ceilings, and is on the ground floor giving easy access in a building with no lift. It’s walking distance to the Prenzlauer Allee S-Bahn station, making it convenient to get around, and again gets fantastic reviews on Booking.com. This family studio also seems to book up really early, so it’s best to plan your Berlin stay in advance. Check Availability: Booking.com
- Ferienwohnung – Absolutely beautiful, and it looks like you can get it for under $100 per night during some dates!
Apartment Prenzlauer Berg — Another beautiful space, with an amazing-looking spa bath. I would be tempted to stay in the apartment all day. Plus, this place looks pretty massive!
Find the Perfect Hotel in Prenzlauer Berg
Where to Stay in Berlin: Friedrichshain
A Cool, East-Berlin Vibe
Across the river Spree in former East Berlin, you’ll find charismatic Friedrichshain. Formerly working class, targeted allied bombing raids destroyed much of its industry during WWII. Flattened by bombing, it was then separated from Kreuzberg by the Berlin Wall.
Since the fall of the wall, Friedrichshain has morphed into one of Berlin’s most desirable neighborhoods to live and stay.
Friedrichshain is one of the best places to stay in Berlin for nightlife. Home to Berlin’s best clubs, and generally referred to as the birthplace of the German techno scene, stay here if you’re in Berlin to party. It’s also a good place to stay in Berlin if you’re interested in East Berlin history. Today, the biggest surviving chunk of the Berlin Wall — the East Side Gallery — is in Friedrichshain.
Who Should Stay in Friedrichshain?
Friedrichshain is one of the best areas to stay in Berlin for nightlife. If you want to stay somewhere with an artsy-alternative vibe and be close to Berlin’s best clubs, stay in Friedrichshain. Location-wise, Friedrichshain’s nightlife happens around Ostbahnhof and Revaler Straße/Simon-Dach-Straße.
Towards Lichtenberg is much quieter, and is a better choice if you’re not into Berlin’s clubbing/techno scene.
Top Friedrichshain Highlights
- East Side Gallery – The East Side Gallery is the longest-surviving section of the Berlin Wall. An open-air museum of sorts, it consists of one mile of Wall, covered in murals painted by well-known artists. Although it has protected heritage status, some of the 3 million annual visitors vandalize the paintings. A non-profit organization periodically restores the works, but please don’t add to their workload.
- Karl-Marx-Allee – Originally named for Stalin, this wide boulevard got a name change after his death. Today, it’s a great example of East Germany’s post war reconstruction. Think massive Soviet style architecture all built in the Socialist style of the time. Today, you’ll find luxury apartments, hotels, and a movie theater.
- Computer Games Museum – Take a walk down memory lane. Computer and video games of yesteryear are all on display and playable for a bit of fun. Also try your hand at current a futuristic video games. Not a bad option on a rainy day.
- Oberbaumbrücke – A gorgeous 18th-century bridge which once served as a border crossing between the East and West. It’s been fully restored to its former glory.
Staying in Friedrichshain Pros & Cons
- Trendy and local
- Many bars, cafes, and restaurants
- True ‘cool’ Berlin neighborhood
- Gritty and urban
- Can be quite noisy in some parts around Ostbahnhof
Where to Stay in Berlin Friedrichshain: Top Berlin Hotels in Friedrichshain
nHow Berlin: 4-Star Design (& Music) Hotel
8.6 / 10 on Booking.com
This hotel looks exceedingly cool. To start with, it’s a music hotel with electric guitars, keyboards, or DJ set-ups you can borrow. Yep – you can have a DJ set-up delivered to your room to rock out. Even though I have absolutely no musical talent, I REALLY WANT TO DO THIS. Other features: in-room Nespresso machines, heated floors, rain shower, and an interior designed by Karim Rashid.
Holiday Inn Berlin East Side: Fancy Holiday Inn
8.8 / 10 on Booking.com
Holiday Inn doesn’t exactly scream “boutique,” but this one seems to be doing a great job. This property gets fantastic reviews, and has a design boutique-ish look on the inside, if not the exterior (which is pretty plain looking).
Find the Perfect Hotel in Friedrichshain
Where to Stay in Berlin: Schöneberg
Old, West German Glamour with Cute Bars and Beautiful Buildings
Schöneberg means “beautiful mountain” in German. Its glamorous turn-of-the-century buildings and wide open boulevards live up to the moniker.
In the 1980s, Schöneberg was Berlin’s bohemian paradise. Its cute bars once housed some of Berlin’s most famous foreigners, including David Bowie, Iggy Pop and Lou Reed. When the Wall came down, artists, writers, and musicians abandoned Schöneberg in search of the cheaper, larger spaces of East Berlin.
Schöneberg still clings to its bohemian roots. Hidden art galleries, churches that double as live music venues, and enticing cafes make it a perfect neighbourhood for a relaxed trip. If mingling with locals over a glass of wine at a neighborhood cafe sound up your alley, consider staying in Schöneberg.
Despite all the cultural attractions, Schöneberg remains blissfully quiet. It is well connected to Kreuzberg, keeping you close to the action.
Schöneberg has a wide variety of international chain hotels, and many of the familiar players operate here. This is in large part due to Schöneberg being home to West Berlin’s city hall (Rathaus Schöneberg) until 1991. Rathaus Schöneberg is where Kennedy gave his famous ‘ich bin ein Berliner’ speech. After his assassination, Berlin renamed the square John-F-Kennedyplatz.
Top Schöneberg Highlights
- Rathaus Schöneberg – West Berlin’s former city hall. This is the spot in which Kennedy declared himself a Berliner months before his assassination in 1963.
- KaDeWe at Wittenbergplatz – Mainland Europe’s largest department store, and the 2nd largest on the continent. It welcomes up to 50,000 shoppers a day. Hit up the food floor for an elegant but affordable experience.
- Pallasstraße Hochbunker – A four storey ‘high-rise bunker’ built during WWII with forced labor, it’s now a ‘place of remembrance.’ Not open to the public, as residences were built around the structure in the 1970s. It has 3 meter thick walls – multiple blast attempts by the Allies failed.
Staying in Schöneberg Pros & Cons
- The northern part is very Central and convenient
- Choice of nice cafes and restaurants
- Close to many Berlin attractions
- Too quiet for some
- Areas near Bülow Straße, Goebenstraße, and Steinmeztstraße are a bit rougher
Where to Stay in Berlin Schöneberg: Top Berlin Hotels in Schöneberg
Motel One Berlin-Tiergarten
8.7 / 10 on Booking.com
Forget the “Motel” in the name, and give this property a chance. It’s really cool looking, and like the ibis, it’s channeling a boutique hotel feel, despite being a chain hotel. 24-hour lounge, beautiful, and great location – what’s not to like? When I check prices on Booking.com, I can find rooms starting around US $90 per night.
Hotel ibis Berlin Kurfuerstendamm
8.7 / 10 on Booking.com
I’m just going to come out and say it: I really like ibis hotels. Typically, we try to stay in locally-owned or boutique-style properties, but as far as chain hotels go, ibis does a great job and really manages to capture that boutique, design hotel vibe, at a great price. This one appears to be no different: awesome reviews, great location, nice-looking decor. When I check prices on Booking.com, I can find rooms starting around US $75 per night.
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Where to Stay in Berlin: Neukölln
Edgy like Kreuzberg, Neukölln is a bit more out of the way and residential. As such, it hasn’t become as popular with tourists. If you want to experience Berlin’s edginess and blend in like a local, Neukölln is the place to do it.
A huge plus of staying in Neukölln, in our opinion, is the proximity to Tempelhof. A former airport that closed down in 2008, the city converted Tempelhof into a huge park. On weekend afternoons, Tempelhof is filled with people hanging out in the park. You can kite surf on the old airport runways, play soccer or frisbee on the fields, or rent a bike. You can also take an organized tour of the Tempelhof Airport terminal buildings and departure lounges. Click here to learn more.
Tempelhof Airport played a vital role in sustaining the 2 million plus residents of West Berlin when the Soviets cut off land and river access. To sustain the city, almost 2000 tons of supplies, plus 3500 tons of fuel and coal, were flown in every single day. Operation Vittles began in June 1948 and lasted almost a year. At its height, 1500 flights a day passed through Templehof! It was an amazing feat of perseverance, which could have been catastrophic if not for the airport.
Nowadays, the Neukölln Berlin neighborhood is another example of the city’s multicultural identity. Almost half of its residents are non-native Germans. It is also experiencing some gentrification in recent years, with a large student, expat and creative base.
Who Should Stay in Neukölln?
Travelers who have a bit more time and want to stay away from the tourist hotspots and enjoy a local neighborhood might enjoy Neukölln.
Parts of Neukölln can get pretty far away from Berlin’s city center. If you stay close to Tempelhof Field and not too far from an S-bahn/U-bahn, you will find it easy to get around.
Neukölln is also one of the best places to stay in Berlin for families, as Tempelhof offers a great place to run around!
Top Neukölln Highlights
- Tempelhof Field – The Tempelhof Airport closed in 2008 and turned into a large green space. People can kitesurf, rollerblade, go kart, run, picnic, etc. over the former runways. It was this airport that kept West Berlin residents from experiencing a major humanitarian crisis.
- Schillermarkt – A weekly Saturday market.
- Klunkerkranich – A super quirky and fun rooftop patio – very Berlin!
Staying in Neukölln Pros & Cons
- Local living
- Good selection of cafes and restaurants
- Close to Tempelhof Field
- Great for families
- Parts are a bit far from the center
- Might be too quiet for some
Where to Stay in Berlin Neukölln: Top Berlin Hotels in Neukölln
8.1 / 10 on Booking.com
Stay at Europe’s largest hotel complex! Estrel Berlin has its own boat pier where water tours depart from, and is a 3 minute walk to the s-bahn. It has multiple entertainment and dining options on site to go with more than 1100 rooms!
Hüttenpalast – Quirky, Cool Boutique Hotel
8.6 / 10 on Booking.com
This place — which offers indoor “camping” in Retro caravans – just looks so quintessentially Berlin. I 100% want to stay here next time we go to Berlin. Seriously – look at the pictures on Booking.com – this is just such a strange and appealing concept, and so very Berlin!
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Where to Stay in Berlin: Charlottenburg
Incorporated into Greater Berlin in 1920, affluent Charlottenburg is home to Berlin’s largest surviving royal palace (yes – really!). Charlottenburg Palace was built for Sophia Charlotte of Hanover, Queen of Prussia.
Charlottenburg is the very definition of upmarket Berlin. Up until the 1920s, Charlottenburg was a separate town. During the last decades of this freedom, it was a centre of high-culture and entertainment. Theaters, grand cafés, shopping, wide boulevards and green spaces attracted culture-shaping intellectuals like Bertolt Brecht.
Prior to Germany’s division, Charlottenburg was the heart of West Berlin. Today it retains that upmarket feel.
Who Should Stay in Charlottenburg?
Stay in Charlottenburg if you want a genteel and quiet residential vibe. Staying here, you’ll have access to high-end restaurants, cafés and shops, as well as beautiful pre-war buildings.
Top Charlottenburg Highlights
- Charlottenburg Palace – A 17th-century Baroque palace built for the first queen of Prussia, Sophia Charlotte.
- Charlottenburg Town Hall – When Sophia Charlotte died in 1705 at the young age of 36, her distraught husband, Frederich I, King of Prussia, had the village of Lietzow upgraded to town status and renamed Charlottenburg. Once it grew into a larger affluent city of its own, residents decided a lavish town hall was needed (as you do!).
- Charlottenburg Gate – Built in the early 1900s as an entrance gate to the then-separate city of Charlottenburg.
- Theater des Westens – As the city of Charlottenburg was mainly populated by people of status and means, it’s no surprise they wanted a gorgeous, grand theater for entertainment. Fun fact: it was the first theatre in the country to host musicals.
- Royal Mausoleum – In the palace gardens, you’ll find a mausoleum in the shape of an ancient temple. The crypt beneath is closed to the public, but the tombs of 19th century royals can be visited. They were created by master craftsmen and sculptors.
Staying in Charlottenburg Pros & Cons
- Quiet and laid back
- Good choice of nice cafes and restaurants
- Close to Tiergarten
- Too quiet for some
- A bit far from some attractions
- More expensive than other areas
Where to Stay in Berlin Charlottenburg: Top Berlin Hotels in Charlottenburg
H10 Berlin Ku’Damm: Stylish & Modern 4 Star
9.0 / 10 on Booking.com
A super modern 4 star with an onsite gym and spa and offers a daily breakfast. Stylish rooms have hardwood floors, air conditioning, USB ports, comfy beds and walk-in showers. A great location with lots of bars, restaurants and cafes nearby, and the metro is literally one minute from the hotel. Past guests have commented that the rooms are very quiet, both from street noise and room to room.
25hours Hotel Bikini Berlin: 4 Star with an Amazing View
9.0/ 10 on Booking.com
A relatively new hotel overlooking Kufürstendamm shopping street. Hotel boasts a great bar with giant windows looking out over the Tiergarten. Even the on-site sauna has a great view from its large windows. Each unique room is nicely designed, many with great views, some overlook the elephant enclosure at Berlin Zoo! You can always enjoy a drink on the rooftop terrace, or in the restaurant but there are many other options nearby, 5 minute walk to the metro.
Hotel Q!: 4 Star Relaxation
8.8 / 10 on Booking.com
Relax in this hotel with multiple wellness options including a Finnish sauna, and a sand relaxation room (whatever that is)! Hotel offers a daily buffet breakfast, a restaurant and a seasonal terrace and courtyard. Uber modern rooms with features maybe not everyone will appreciate, open plan rooms so only the toilet is truly ‘private’, great showers and comfortable beds. Lots of shopping, food and entertainment around the hotel, and very close to the metro.
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The Best Area to Stay in Berlin: A Summary
So … What is the Best Area to Stay in Berlin?
If you only have a few days in Berlin or you’re a first-time visitor to the city, stay in Prenzlauer Berg, Kreuzberg, or Mitte. Prenzlauer Berg is one of the best areas for families to stay in Berlin. Kreuzberg is edgy and has loads of nightlife. And Mitte is super central and chic.
Where to Stay in Berlin District Summaries
Mitte – Mitte is the best area to stay in Berlin for sightseeing. If you’re a first-time visitor to Berlin, or if you only have a day or two to see everything, Mitte is a good choice. Mitte also has great restaurants, making it a good choice for foodies. Families will appreciate Mitte’s walkability, public transport, and proximity to green space. Cultural travelers will love Mitte’s museums, landmarks, and points of interest. If you’re in search of Berlin’s hippest spots or famed nightlife, look elsewhere: Mitte is chic, but no longer edgy.
Wedding – Stay in Wedding if you want to be central (like Mitte) but with a bit more edginess. A working-class and immigrant neighborhood, gentrification is filling Wedding with hipsters and artists.
Kreuzberg – Kreuzberg is one of the best areas to stay in Berlin for nightlife and to experience the city’s famed edginess. Stay around Köttbusser Tor, Görlitzer Bahnhof, and Schlesisches Tor on the U1 for cool nightlife. Stay in Bergmannkiez (running between Mehringdamm and Südstern) for cute shops, cafés and a great market.
Prenzlauer Berg – Prenzlauer Berg is one of the best areas to stay in Berlin for families and adult couples looking for a cool, chilled-out trip. If weekend brunches and wine bars sound like your speed, you should consider Prenzlauer Berg.
Friedrichshain – Friedrichshain is the best Berlin district for nightlife. If you’re coming to Berlin to party in its famed clubs, stay in Friedrichshain. Friedrichshain’s nightlife happens around Ostbahnhof and Revaler Straße/Simon-Dach-Straße.
Schöneberg – If mingling with locals over a glass of wine at a neighborhood cafe sound up your alley, consider staying in Schöneberg. You’ll also find art galleries, live music venues, and enticing cafes aplenty.
Neukölln – Neukölln is a bit more out of the way and residential than Kreuzberg, but still edgy. Stay in Neukölln if you want to experience Berlin’s edginess while also blending in like a local. Around Tempelhof is a nice area for families as well.
Charlottenburg – Charlottenburg offers an upmarket and quiet residential vibe. If you stay in Charlottenburg, you can enjoy high-end restaurants, cafés and shops.
For the most part, Berlin is a very safe city. Staying inside the ring (ringbahn) and close to a U-bahn station means you’re well connected, wherever you may decide to stay.
Are the Best Areas to Stay in Berlin Always Near Public Transit?
Berlin’s public transport system is world-class. No matter where you stay in Berlin, you’ll likely be able to get around quite easily via public transit. The U-Bahn (pronounced “Ooooooh bahn”) underground metro, S-Bahn above-ground train, and bus and tram network are extensive.
While transit is great, we’d definitely recommend you stay on the “inside” of the S-Bahn train ring route that encircles the city. You’ll save a lot of time getting to and from the most popular tourist attractions, and you’ll find some of Berlin’s coolest neighborhoods within that ring.
Both of Berlin’s airports (Tegel and Schönefeld) are connected by either an airport bus (which goes direct to Alexanderplatz) or an S-bahn line. Be sure to buy the correct public transport ticket (AB for Tegel and ABC for Schönefeld) and validate the ticket at the start of your journey. Depending on how long you’re staying in Berlin, you may also want to buy a Berlin WelcomeCard, or a monthly ticket. Just carry your validated ticket with you at all times – no need to swipe on and off.
When considering where to stay in Berlin, these are some good lines and stations to look for:
- U2: The U2 line runs from Pankow to Ruhleben, but most importantly connects some of the most beautiful residential neighborhoods such as Prenzlauer Berg and Schöneberg, to transport and shopping hubs like Alexanderplatz, and to popular tourist attractions around Potsdamer Platz and Zoologischer Garten.
- U7: The colourful U7 line passes through no less than 12 of Berlin’s neighbourhoods including Neukölln, Kreuzberg, Charlottenburg, and Wilmersdorf. Hermannplatz is a big and bustling station, which just a few streets away you can access cool bars, cute cafes, sprawling parks, all within a buzzing multicultural atmosphere.
- The Ringbahn: The Ringbahn is the S-bahn ring which does a complete 37 km circuit of Berlin. All you need to remember is that the S41 goes clockwise and the S42 goes anti-clockwise. Try not to miss your stop late at night when tired, as you may end up “riding the ring” and completing several laps.
Is Taking Public Transit in Berlin Difficult?
It can be confusing if you’re buying single tickets, so it’s best to buy a pass and forget about it. Tickets are sold based on tariff zones: A, B and C. All of the attractions and neighborhoods mentioned in this guide will be covered by an ‘AB’ zone ticket. The exception is travelling by public transit toSchönefeld Airport, which requires an ABC zone ticket.
Regular Priced Berlin Public Transit Tickets: Tickets MUST be validated!
- Single Ticket AB Zones: 120min €2.80 (~$3.20USD)
- 4 Trip Ticket AB Zones: €9.00 (~$10.25USD)
- 1 day AB Zones: 24h €7.00 (~$8.00USD)
- 7 day AB Zones: €30.00 (~$34.20USD)
If you plan on taking public transportation and do not have a Berlin Welcome Card, I suggest saving some hassle, and get yourself a one-day or seven-day pass – the public transit system is really quite convenient.
How Do I Get From Berlin Airport to the City Center?
Berlin is served by two airports, Tegel (TXL) and Schönefeld (SXF).If you have a Berlin Welcome Card, public transit will be included for the duration of your card, or tickets are available at the vending machines, or at Visitors Centers inside the terminal.
Berlin Tegel Airport
Tegel Airport is the main international airport serving the city. Outside the main entrance there are plenty of buses that head to a number of different Berlin neighborhoods. The most popular is the TXL bus which stops at Berlin Hauptbahnhof (main train station), and on the Alexanderplatz which is a main transit hub with multiple U-bahn and S-bahn connections. There are many ticket vending machines outside the terminal, as well as a visitor’s center just inside Terminal A where you can buy any type of transit ticket, and the handy Berlin Welcome Card. Click here for more information.
Book a private transfer from Berlin Tegel Airport: Learn More
Berlin Schönefeld Airport
Schönefeld Airport is a smaller airport seeing about half the amount of passenger traffic as Tegel. Typically, the airport serves shorter continental European discount airlines like Ryan Air, Easy Jet, WizzAir and more. This airport is served by both regional railway and the S-bahn. Schönefeld is in fair zone C, so you will require an ABC zone ticket. S-bahn line S-9 will stop at both Hauptbahnhof and Alexanderplatz for convenient onward connections. Regional rail line RE7 will also stop at Hauptbahnhof and Alexanderplatz. The s-bahn runs every 10 minutes, and the regional rail lines will go twice an hour. Several bus lines also operate from Schönefeld Airport with multiple destinations in the city. Click here for more information.
Book a private transfer from Berlin Schönefeld Airport: Learn More
Why Visit Berlin?
If you’re reading this guide, we assume you’ve already made up your mind to visit Berlin. However, if you’re still on the fence, let us give it a shot to convince you!
Berlin is one of those ‘it’ cities that is just as much about experiencing city life as it is about seeing the sites. All the best areas to stay in Berlin offer something different. Many events that began here sent the world on a new path, so some things like monuments, art and even music can have a little more meaning behind them to some. Germany was the epicenter of evil and cruelty during WWII, and Berlin was its headquarters. It’s nothing short of amazing that Berliners and Germans alike have picked up the crumbs, owned up to their piece of history, and opened their arms to the world.
Many Berlin neighborhoods radiate acceptance and invite creativity. There is always something going on in this city for just about any interest imaginable. Whether you come for the museums, the food, the music, the shopping, or something else, one thing is for sure, you will find it in Berlin.
When is the Best Time to Visit Berlin?
Like most of central and northern Europe, the warmer months are where it’s at. The best time to visit Berlin is April to mid-September. The winter months, especially around Christmas, can be pleasant depending on what you’re visiting for, but they offer less daylight, and can otherwise be cool and grey.
Top Rated Berlin Tours
Alternative Berlin Experience
Dive into Berlin’s urban scene and find out why it’s one of the coolest cities on earth. This tour takes an in-depth look at Prenzlauerberg, Mitte and Kreuzberg. You’ll learn about the community funded urban gardens, Berlin beach bars, and the history of Currywurst, and lots more.
Berlin Tempelhof Airport Tour
One of the things that makes Berlin the kind of city that it is! What do you do with an abandoned airport in the middle of the city? Make it as useful and fun as possible for everyone! This tour however takes you inside the terminal, closed since 2008, but once served as the only way in and out of West Berlin.
One Hour City Tour by Boat Tour
If you’re short on time, this one hour river cruise on the Spree River might be for you. You’ll have an audio guide filling you in on the history of the city and it’s most famous landmarks. You float past the Reichstag, Museum Island, The Berlin Cathedral and lots more.
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