Known nowadays as a yuppie cum yummy-mummy hotspot in Berlin, Prenzlauer Berg has a vivid history and is well worth spending a day exploring. During the 1960s, the district was the core of East Berlin’s counterculture and drew in a multitude of people whom the GDR’s regime deemed contra to the ideals of East German socialism – from hippies and artists to the LGBT community and Christian activists. 1989 then put Prenzlauer Berg on the global map when it became one of the key sites during the Peaceful Revolution that culminated in the fall of the Berlin Wall. This 12Hours guide will help you get the best out of the ‘Berg in a day. Time to dive in...
Prenzlauer Berg’s cafe culture is extremely rich, with plenty of sweet spots to wile away a whole morning in. We’ve got plenty to do though, so we’re starting out swift at Haferkater – where humble bowls of porridge are elevated into a breakfast fit for royalty. There’s plenty of seasonal toppings to choose from, so it’s a healthy start to your busy day. They’re nice and quick too.
On Saturdays Kollwitzplatz — one of Prenzlauer Berg’s (and possibly Berlin’s) prettiest squares — hosts a bustling farmer’s market that is bursting with stalls. A riot for the senses. It’s always a good idea to head here early to beat the crowds but if masses aren’t your vibe, come on a Thursday afternoon to visit the Eco-market for organic and sustainable produce and wares. Don’t worry if you find yourself here on another day of the week – it’s still a gorgeous spot to meander around after breakfast.
Located on Bernauer Straße – the street split in two by the Wall – the Berlin Wall Memorial is the best place to learn about Germany and Berlin’s division after WWII. Running along a 1.4km strip of the former border, the site is the only remaining section of the Berlin Wall standing today that incorporates the former ‘Death Strip’ – the fortified no-man’s land beyond the initial barrier. There’s lots to see, including the Visitor’s Centre, a viewing platform, the open air exhibition and the memorial itself, so give yourself plenty of time to take it all in.
Time for lunch. We’re off to Prater, Prenzlauer Berg’s most famous, and Berlin’s oldest, beer garden. It’s been around, one way or another, since 1837, and having survived the the allied bombings of WWII it became a cultural hotspot when this part of the city was under Soviet administration. It serves up traditional German food (vegetarians and vegans take note – it’s meat heavy) and while the beer garden itself closes over winter, the restaurant is open year-round.
3pm: St George’s Bookshop
An icon of Berlin’s bookstore scene, St George’s boasts the largest selection of English-language reads in the city. There’s both new and used titles, so spend some time picking your next page-turner. If there’s a rare book you’ve had your eye on, order it into the store and get 10% off the purchase price on Abebooks or Booklooker. Check their website for more information!
3.30pm: Flagship Store
Having just celebrated its 10th anniversary, Flagship has cemented itself as a Prenzlauer Berg institution. These guys sell ethical fashion made in Berlin and have a range of other trendy brands from around Europe. Fast-fashion is over, friends.
Yes, you will find Mauerpark on every ‘Best Things to do in Berlin’ list on the internet. But there’s a good reason for it. Quite simply, it’s that good. From 3pm every Sunday (weather permitting) head over to the bearpit karaoke and cheer on the brave folk who get up and sing in front of a crowd that can number well over a thousand people. Welcoming warblers from all over the world and of all ages and abilities, this place is great for a sing-a-long. If you’re lucky you might even witness a marriage proposal. Mauerpark is also home to a massive and fantastic flea market, so check that out while you’re there too.
5.30pm: Zeiss Planetarium
Next we’re heading to the heart of Prenzlauer Berg and to one of Europe’s largest planetariums. First opened in 1987, it was one of the last buildings constructed during the GDR period, and thanks to restorations from 2014 through 2016 it’s been modernized with up-to-date technology for some of the best stargazing in the city. Check their calendar before you go as the planetarium also offers up an array of cultural events, including music and theatre.
Get ready to dive into the best bowl of hummus you’ve ever had. Kanaan is an Israeli-Palenstinian vegan-vegetarian restaurant, and they’re masters of middle eastern cuisine. Giving back to the community is top priority for these guys too, so not only do they employ refugees from the Middle East and Africa, but they promote a safe space for all genders, races and sexual orientations. Food never felt so good! Check out their selection of foodie workshops and events too for some fun memories to take back home with you.
Fairly new to the Prenzlauer Berg cocktail scene is Lamm which combines fresh flavour combinations with sleek interior design and serves up both with style. Everything is available in a small tasting size, which is convenient when you want to try everything on the menu.
Inside these red and yellow brick walls lies endless opportunities for the rest of your night in Prenzlauer Berg. What was once one of the largest breweries in Europe is now a cultural hub with everything from concert and theatre halls to nightclubs, dance studios, a multiplex cinema and even a free GDR history museum. Choose your own adventure from here, flip a coin and see where the night takes you.