Berlin is eclectic. It’s wild and raucous but also sophisticated and cool. Home to artists and creative types of all stripes, it’s somewhere you can reinvent yourself and be whoever you want to be.
The largest city in the European Union and the capital of Germany, Berlin is also the capital of the 20th century. Nearly every history-making, world-changing event of the last century somehow passed through this metropolis: World War I, World War II, the Cold War (and its dramatic end: the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989).
And while it’s fortunately not making such dramatic history these days, Berlin looks to be a star of the 21st century too. It’s the place on the planet to party and go clubbing. It still draws artistic types from all over the world. And it’s a huge hub for digital nomads and entrepreneurs, owing to the country’s popular freelancer visa.
It may not be the prettiest city in Europe, but what it lacks in physical aesthetics, it more than makes up for in its oh-so-cool vibe and energy.
And it has some great neighborhoods too, each with its own characteristics and personality. The “it” neighborhood seems to always be shifting, which means there is an ever-expanding list of amazing places to stay — no matter your interest or budget.
To help you make the most of your time in this lively place, here’s my list of the best neighborhoods in the city so you know exactly where to stay in Berlin during your next trip.
But before we dive in, here are some of the most frequently asked questions I get in Berlin:
What is the best neighborhood for budget travelers?
There are a lot of fun things to do in Friedrichshain, some of them free, such as seeing the largest existing section of the Berlin Wall. And there are also a lot of affordable accommodation options here too.
What is the best neighborhood for families?
Prenzlauer Berg has been compared to Park Slope, Brooklyn because it once attracted young hipsters who eventually coupled up, had kids and stayed in the neighborhood. Today this hilly district is filled with hip families and a lot of great restaurants and cafés.
What is the best neighborhood for partyers?
There are amazing party places all over Berlin, but if you want the most centrally located neighborhood for letting off some Teutonic-scale steam, head to Neukölln. It’s teeming with awesome bars and pubs.
What is the best neighborhood overall?
Regierungsviertel is located in the middle of town and is home to many of the main sights, including the Brandenburg Gate, Checkpoint Charlie, and the Reichstag. If you plan to play tourist and see the highlights, this is the best place to base yourself.
So, with those questions answered, here’s a breakdown of where to stay in Berlin, with suggested accommodations for each:
Berlin Neighborhood Overview
Best Neighborhood for Budget Travelers
Best Neighborhood for Charm
Best Neighborhood for Partying
Best Neighborhood for Museum Lovers
Best Neighborhood for First-Time Visitors
Best Neighborhood for Families
Best Neighborhood for Shopping
Where to Stay for Budget Travelers: Friedrichshain
Located in the erstwhile East Berlin, Friedrichshain is a fun and budget-friendly neighborhood to plant yourself in for a while. For starters, there are a lot of affordable accommodation options here. And there are a ton of cheap restaurants, bars, and cafés lining the leafy streets, especially around the Boxhagener Kiez, the most bustling swath of Friedrichshain.
There are also a lot of free things to do, such as admiring the longest, still-existing stretch of the Berlin Wall and also walking (or biking) down Karl Marx Allee, a long, wide boulevard flanked by one of the most impressive collections of Stalinist architecture on the planet.
The Best Places to Stay in Friedrichshain
BUDGET: Sunflower Hostel — For over two decades, this cheerful hostel has been accommodating budget travelers. There are various room types here — dorms, two-person rooms, single rooms, apartments — and breakfast is included.
MID-RANGE: Moxy Berlin Ostbahnhof — Located in the northern part of the neighborhood, the Moxy is a hip, fun place to base yourself, as you’re straddling Friedrichshain, Kreuzberg, and Mitte. The hotel is also pet friendly, for anyone traveling with a furry friend.
LUXURY: Michelberger Hotel — One of the coolest places to stay in Berlin, the Michelberger takes a cue from Ace Hotels, in that you’re pretty much encouraged to hang out in the lobby with your laptop. The excellent in-house restaurant encourages you to stick around too, with its delicious and impressive menu. The rooms are minimalist but very comfortable.
Where to Stay for Charm: Kreuzberg
There are many faces of Kreuzberg. There’s a slightly dangerous element in one part. There’s a grungy, punk-rock part. There’s an industrial part. And then there’s the section that runs along the Landwehr Canal. This is likely the most charming, aesthetically pleasing part of Berlin. The nearby streets are lined with tranquil, often sophisticated, restaurants, and the banks of the canal itself are a fun place to linger, sipping on a drink while watching boats and barges float by.
The Best Places to Stay in Kreuzberg
BUDGET: Die Fabrik baxpax Hotel — Housed in a former factory in one of the coolest parts of Kreuzberg, Die Fabrik offers both private rooms and dorms, free Wi-Fi, and an on-site bar. There’s a chill outdoor common area too.
MID-RANGE: Hotel Johann — Situated by the lovely, leafy canal, Johann is a friendly, warm, and comfy place to stay. Rooms are big, with high ceilings, free Wi-Fi, and extra-large flat-screen TVs.
LUXURY: Orania — Since 1913 this stylish property has been easing weary travelers in Kreuzberg with spacious, comfortable rooms and great service. The rooms feature free coffee, plush bathrobes, complimentary bottled water, and bathrooms with a rain shower and luxury products.
Where to Stay for Partying: Neukölln
About a decade ago, Neukölln, in former East Germany, was deemed the new “hip” neighborhood. But instead of losing the title to another district, Neukölln has remained one of the coolest places to hang out. It has a large Turkish community, so there are plenty of great kabob places to scarf down some delicious (and affordable) food. And around each corner, there seem to be great bars packed with cool kids from all over the place. It’s a popular neighborhood for students and artists, so it has a very young, hip feel.
The Best Places to Stay in Neukölln
BUDGET: Hotel-Pension Grand — Situated in a quiet part of Neukölln and a short stroll from the nearest subway station, the Grand offers basic but comfortable amenities, including free Wi-Fi. The rooms are bright and colorful and the hotel is just 200 meters from the S-Bahn.
MID-RANGE: ibis Berlin City Süd — This 57-room property features rooms that have parquet floors, bathrooms with marble tiles, and a large desk, as well as free Wi-Fi. There’s a large breakfast buffet every morning as well.
LUXURY: Estrel Hotel — Located in a brand-new building, Estrel is one of the largest hotels in town and features all the trappings of a luxurious property, including earth-tone-colored rooms that are spacious and well equipped for comfort. There’s an on-site spa as well as four restaurants to choose from, making it a delectable choice for traveling foodies.
Where to Stay for Museum Lovers: Spreeinsel
Spreeinsel, or Spree Island, is also known as Museuminsel. That’s because—surprise, surprise—this oblong-shape isle in the middle of the Spree River is crammed with some of the best museums on the planet. Both the Altes (Greek and Roman artifacts) and Neues Museums (a UNESCO site with rare Egyptian artifacts) are here. So is the amazing Pergamum Museum (another UNESCO site with a rare Antiquity collection), the Bode Museum (Byzantine art and sculptures), and the Alte Nationalgalerie (home to over 2,000 paintings). It’s also home to the brand-new Humboldt Forum, a dynamic cultural and art center in the newly reconstructed Berlin Palace.
The Best Places to Stay in Spreeinsel
BUDGET: Motel 1 Berlin, Spittelmarkt — Just across the canal from Spreeinsel, Motel 1 is a European chain of budget hotels. You get a bigger bang for your euro at places like this. Rooms have large flat-screen TVs, free Wi-Fi, and mosaic designs; the bathrooms have rain showers.
MID-RANGE: Novotel Berlin Mitte — Smack in the center of Spreeinsel, Novotel is a four-star hotel that offers free use of its sauna and gym. Rooms are nicely soundproofed and have the usual amenities you’d expect: flat-screen TVs, fast Wi-Fi, and a comfy bed.
LUXURY: Capri by Fraser — Located next to the canal, Capri by Fraser offers comfortable, fully stocked, and self-contained studio apartments — perfect for travelers who need to rest those cobblestone-weary feet after a day of exploring the German capital.
Where to Stay for First-Time Visitors: Regierungsviertel
While it may be hard to pronounce, Regierungsviertel is a very central neighborhood home to many of the iconic attractions of the city: Checkpoint Charlie, part of the Berlin, Wall, the Topografie des Terrors, the Brandenburg Gate, and the Reichstag. In some ways, the Regierungsviertel in Berlin in a nussschale, or nutshell. If it’s your first visit and you plan on playing tourist, this is the best place to base yourself.
The Best Places to Stay in Regierungsviertel
BUDGET: Hotel M68 — This budget hotel is in the center of it all. Some rooms have nice views of the nearby surroundings, and all have extra-large beds (unless you opt for a single bed). The location is within walking distance of many major attractions.
MID-RANGE: The Westin Grand — This centrally located hotel really is grand. The super spacious rooms have huge flat-screen TVs, free Wi-Fi, oversized showers, upscale bath products, bathrobes, and slippers.
LUXURY: Hotel Adlon — Opened in 1907, Adlon is one of the poshest addresses in Berlin and one of the most famous hotels in Europe. Located right across the street from the Brandenburg Gate, it has all the charm and style of an über-luxurious Old World hotel. There have been a lot of famous events in its history, not least that day in November 2002 when Michael Jackson dangled his infant son out of a window here.
Where to Stay for Families: Prenzlauer Berg
Set up on a hill, Prenzlauer Berg is a lot of different things to a lot of different people. If you’re a traveling family, you’ll see a lot of pleasant families who reside here. There are parks and playgrounds, and the cafés and restaurants are very child friendly. For anyone else, “P-Berg” is a charming, picturesque neighborhood filled with some of Berlin’s best restaurants and bars. Nearby Mauerpark is a fun place to go on weekends when the city’s best flea market gets revved up.
The Best Places to Stay in Prenzlauer Berg
BUDGET: Generator Berlin Prenzlauer Berg — This legendary hostel is one of the most fun places to stay in town. Housed in a former Communist-era building, the property boasts a great beer garden and several public spaces for hanging out. It offers dorms (including female-only ones), family rooms, and private rooms.
MID-RANGE: Vienna House — In the heart of Prenzlauer Berg, Vienna House is a three-star hotel that offers large rooms, free Wi-Fi, co-working spaces, and brightly colored walls. It’s also pet friendly, and there’s a breakfast lounge on-site with fresh baked goods.
LUXURY: Hotel Oderberger — Once a public swimming pool building, Hotel Oderberger is a lovely, retro-chic hotel that would qualify as being “accidentally Wes Anderson.” The spacious rooms are comfortable and have free Wi-Fi. The sauna is great for cold days. And yes, there’s a swimming pool here.
Where to Stay for Shopping: Charlottenburg
Before the Wall came tumbling down in November 1989, Charlottenburg was pretty much the center of Berlin — West Berlin, that is. After reunification, the center of attention and activity shifted more to neighborhoods like Kreuzberg, Mitte, and Prenzlauer Berg. And, you could argue, that the tourists’ gaze is still focused in that direction.
But Charlottenburg is a fascinating neighborhood, like suddenly strolling into an entirely different city. Plus, if you like shopping, this is the place to take your credit card for a walk, as every designer is here, plus there are great shopping malls, like Bikini Berlin, that focus on up-and-coming and indie designers. Plus, KaDeWe, the legendary department store, is nearby.
The Best Places to Stay in Charlottenburg
BUDGET: Happy Go Lucky Hotel + Hostel — Offering basic but comfortable rooms with shared bathrooms, this is a central spot in which to base oneself. A buffet breakfast is served every morning (for a small fee), and the art-covered walls even have space for visitors to do their own painting.
MID-RANGE: 25Hours Bikini Berlin — 25 Hours is a German-owned chain of properties — but this one is unique: it hugs up against the zoo. So if your room is on the zoo side, you can actually sit there for hours and gawk at the animals. That’s why the great rooftop bar here is called Monkey Bar: look down from the top and you can see the simians monkeying around.
LUXURY: Waldorf Astoria — If you want to drop a pretty (euro) penny while in Charlottenburg, this is the hotel to do it in. The rooms are superlative and about as comfy as they come. The Art Deco-infused Lang Bar is an elegant place to enjoy a classic cocktail, and the luxe on-site spa is perfect for splashing out on some self-care.
Berlin is a huge, sprawling city, so where you decide to base yourself will impact your experience. Fortunately, it has a plethora of charming, fun, and affordable neighborhoods to choose from.
Whether your priority is partying, eating, visiting museums, or saving money, there is a neighborhood that will help you have a memorable, authentic visit to the lively German capital.
Book Your Trip to Berlin: Logistical Tips and Tricks
Book Your Flight
Use Skyscanner to find a cheap flight. They are my favorite search engine because they search websites and airlines around the globe so you always know no stone is left unturned!
Book Your Accommodation
You can book your hostel with Hostelworld as they have the biggest inventory and best deals. If you want to stay somewhere other than a hostel, use Booking.com as they consistently return the cheapest rates for guesthouses and cheap hotels.
If you’re looking for more places to stay, here is a list of my favorite hostels in Berlin.
Don’t Forget Travel Insurance
Travel insurance will protect you against illness, injury, theft, and cancellations. It’s comprehensive protection in case anything goes wrong. I never go on a trip without it as I’ve had to use it many times in the past. My favorite companies that offer the best service and value are:
Looking for the Best Companies to Save Money With?
Check out my resource page for the best companies to use when you travel. I list all the ones I use to save money when I’m on the road. They will save you money when you travel too.
Want a Guide?
Berlin has some interesting great tours. If you want to see all the main sights, book a bike tour with Fat Tire Tours. They use expert local guides so you’ll learn a lot and have fun in the process!
Want More Information on Berlin?
Be sure to visit our robust destination guide on Berlin for even more planning tips!
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