Essence of berlin

12Hours: Neukölln

Sam Bavin 10 mins
12Hours: Neukölln

Home to both a young international creative crowd and a migrant population consisting mostly of Turkish and Arab communities, Neukölln is one of the most exciting neighbourhoods in Berlin. There’s contrasts around every corner, with Melbourne-style artisan coffee-cum-barber joints rubbing shoulders with cheap and dingy pre-war “Eckkneipe” bars. Walk down a short stretch of street here and you’ll pass independent cinemas, vintage shops, experimental restaurants and even get a glimpse into historic Berlin. Neukölln has it all. Here’s how to get the best out of Berlin’s hippest district in a day...


9:30am: Breakfast of Champions


Start the day off right with an indulgent brunch at  Geist im Glas. Plating up a small menu with plenty of variety, their signature dishes include buttermilk pancakes, Huevos Rancheros and Southern-style biscuits and gravy. Geist im Glas is a cocktail bar by night, which means that there’s a creative cocktail pairing awaiting your arrival.


11am: Canal-side Stroll


Rain or shine, Neukölln’s stretch of canal always attracts a crowd: from buskers and casual beer-drinkers to dog-walkers and duck-feeders. Grab a seat on a nearby bench or grassy patch, you’re guaranteed some entertaining people-watching. If you need a pick-me-up, there are plenty of cute cafes along the canal banks where you can find a decent cup of coffee. We recommend  Concierge


11:45am: Cold War History and Architecture 


The Soviet War Memorial is technically pushing into the Alt-Treptow neighbourhood but it’s easily accessible from Neukölln. Easily one of the most underrated attractions in Berlin, the memorial is located in the middle of leafy haven Treptower Park. One of three Soviet monuments in Berlin (and by far the most grandiose), it was built in 1949 to commemorate the Soviet soldiers who lost their lives in the  Battle of Berlin. Big, bold, and theatrical, it’s a legitimate mind-blower. 


1:30pm: Arabic Lunch on Sonnenallee


By the time you’ve made your way back to the heart of Neukölln, you’ll surely be ready for a bite to eat. Sonnenallee is the centre of Arabic food in Berlin, and can be intimidating due to the seemingly limitless choice. You can’t go wrong with any of the following: the lamb kebab at  Al Faisel; a falafel plate at  Al Andalos; the fatteh (flatbread topped with grilled vegetables, chickpeas, yoghurt and deep-fried cashews) at  Azzam;  Akroum Snack’s Msabbaha (similar to hummus); or a fresh-out-of-the-oven burek from  Euro Imbis Burek. For dessert grab a box of assorted baklava from  Konditorei Damaskus


3pm: Walking on Up


With lunch done, it’s time for a walk. Head from Sonnenallee towards Tempelhof Airport. Depending on the route you take, you could stop by  Curious Fox Books to browse a great selection of English-language titles, look through the second-hand shops along Flughafenstrasse for some vintage finds, or even pop into the  Kindl Centre for Contemporary Art and check out the latest exhibition. When you finally make it up the hill, you’ll find yourself in Schillerkiez, a trendy residential area right before Tempelhof Airport. If you’re hankering for a beer at this point, stop into one of the many cafes or do as the Berliners do and buy a beer from the Späti (meaning Spätkauf, a late-night store). 


4pm: Tempelhof Airport


Thirst quenched, it’s time to head out onto the Tempelhofer Feld, the former airfield of the Tempelhof Airport. Built in the late 1920’s and expanded in 1930 by a Nazi government expecting an increase in air traffic to and from Berlin, Tempelhof is now best known for sunsets, barbecues (in the specially designated BBQ area – we are in Germany of course), outdoor yoga, and kite-surfing. Once you’ve appreciated the imposing architecture of the terminal buildings, do as the Neuköllners do – go with the flow. Top tip: the community garden on the east-facing side of the park is a great spot to read your book in summer.


7pm: Dinner in Schillerkiez


Head back out of the park the way you came and we’re back in trendy Schillerkiez. There are a few popular places to eat, so err on the safe side and book in advance.  Palsta Wine Bar has fantastic sunset views over Tempelhof and some excellent Nordic sharing plates and natural wine.  Barra, meanwhile, serves sharing plates with seasonal and local produce and also has an excellent wine selection. 


9pm: Drinks in Rixdorf


Now it’s time to head over to Rixdorfer Kiez to drink in some village charm from a bygone era – before the area was swallowed up when ‘Greater Berlin’ was formed in the 1920s. Wander past the farmyard remnants, stables, blacksmith centre and the old church. Not exactly the Berlin nightlife you were expecting? Not to worry. Two of Neukölln’s most popular bars –  Herr Lindemann and  Zosse – are tucked away here.


11:30pm: For the All-Nighters


If dancing is on your to-do list, there’s great options nearby.  Sameheads is a quirky and kitsch bar with a dance floor in the cellar and a wacky bar up top. The newly-opened  Arkaoda offers a slightly more cultural programme (for a night club) that goes late into the night. And, lastly, there’s  Griessmuehle – for those after the hardcore party scene. Viel Spaß!