Neighborhood guides: Live like a local in Neukölln, Berlin
2 Mar 2022
Neukölln is renowned for its juxtaposition of old and new. After years of being dubbed the up-and-coming ‘hood in Berlin, it’s in the midst of regeneration, however, the locals have been changing dramatically ever since David Bowie romanticized the area with his song, ‘Neuköln’.
The ever-changing bezirk – district in German – is home to some of the best nightlife in the city, with the new explosion of dive bars and vegan cafes sitting alongside long-standing kebab shops and African grocers. Expect to find veggie burrito spots nestling next to Basque specialities, while US burger outlets rub shoulders with Arabian bakeries, Vietnamese snack bars and upscale restaurants. The neighborhood’s culinary flavors demonstrate just how much the area is bursting with international inspiration.
We recommend heading to Landwehr Canal, arguably one of Berlin’s best people-watching spots, as it sits at the junction with neighboring Kreuzberg. Fun fact: this crossover area is now called ‘Kreuzkölln’, and it's here that you’ll get a glimpse of the city's bohemian counterculture scene.
Here are our favorite spots:
Let Them Eat Cake
This cleverly named vintage store and project space takes its cue from the line supposedly uttered by Marie Antoinette. Let Them Eat Cake’s clothes are hand-picked with quality at the forefront of the decision-making process, which is why this spot errs on the more expensive side of second-hand sustainability, but the great vibe and selection make this place worthy of its praise.
The ultimate hidden gem among Berlin's excellent public pools, Stadtbad Neukölln opened back in 1914, and is known to welcome 10,000 people a day to its regal, Greek and Roman-inspired architecture. You’ll find a modern sauna, Russian/Roman plunge pool, along with an integrated restaurant, Nackt Kantine, serving homemade curries, onigiris, toasties, and smoothies for your post-swim snack. Oh and remember: German saunas are strictly nude, swimwear is prohibited.
The Future Breakfast
Florian Tränker used to dream of the breakfast he’d have in the morning, so when he and his girlfriend, Katie James, decided to start a business, The Future Breakfast won hands-down. The couple initially won fans with their super-cute food truck at various street-food markets. However, after a few years on the street, they opened their permanent home in sleepy Rixdorf. Make sure you opt for a grilled croissant, at least once – you’ll be returning, for sure.
This Centre for Contemporary Art is housed in a historically listed former brewery. KINDL features work by artists of all mediums – from installations to live performances and special exhibits – and their exciting work is set against the industrial, impressive 1920s brick-building.
‘Vintage Coffee & Clothes’ reads the sign over the entrance of this store-meets-cafe, and you won’t be disappointed by either. Here you’ll find second-hand fashion from Germany and the USA, while you ponder your purchases over a cup of coffee and a piece of cake. Who doesn’t like their clothes with a side of cake?
You’ll find Klunkerkranich nestled on the top of a half-mall, half-parking garage high-rise, that lends itself to any quintessential New York summer rooftop party vibe. Only more spacious and way more German. It’s perfect for starting off the night or enjoying a relaxing tipple with a sunset view.
Here, you can expect tasty, vibrant coffee served in cups made from upcycled coffee grounds, bread pudding made from leftover pastries, and ricotta made from leftover milk. Isla owner Peter Duran aims to turn his little coffee-spot on Hermannstraße into a zero waste-café, and we’re all for it.
Gordon’s Café and Records
Gordon is a café-meets-record shop. Its owner believes that some things just pair well together: drinking and currywurst, wintertime and hibernation, and now, finally, sonic exploration and caffeine. This Israeli implanted establishment pairs seriously good tunes from Tel Aviv with frothy, well-made cappuccinos, while the inside is piled high with textiles, wooden accents and, of course, records – lots of them.
Vegan locals head to Two Planets in the heart of the ‘hood for their avo on toast. Although the specialty coffee and good vibes bring in the crowds at this compact cafe. Its sidewalk tables serve more than just coffee, however, as the smoothies are nutritious, organic and very tasty.