What to do in funky Kreuzberg, Berlin

December 09, 2019
Kirstie Hall
Kirstie Hall is the writer and photographer behind Originally from North Carolina, she has lived on three different continents, travelled to over 30 countries, and is now based in Malmo, Sweden.

Vintage shops, funky street art, vibrant nightlife, and lush green spaces – There are lots of things to love about Kreuzberg … and that’s just to name a few.

Whether you’ve got money to blow or are ballin’ on a budget, there is something for everyone in this diverse and colourful neighbourhood… and plenty of history, too.

Now and then

Strolling the streets of the funky Kreuzberg neighbourhood with a local Urban Adventures guide. | Photo by Berlin Urban Adventures

Kreuzberg is hipster heaven, and is considered by many to be the most vibrant and lively neighbourhood in Berlin… But it wasn’t always this way.

During the Cold War, the Berlin Wall enclosed Kreuzberg almost entirely in the east, at Checkpoint Charlie in the west, and isolated the district both physically and economically. Though it was one of the poorest areas in West Berlin, low housing costs made it a popular area for squatters, artists, hippies, and also immigrants.

A surge of migrant workers came to Berlin in 1961 after West Germany and Turkey made a deal in an effort to meet the area’s growing workforce needs. Both countries expected for the relocation to be temporary, but many Turkish workers and their families stayed and eventually became German citizens.

Today, Berlin is nicknamed “Little Istanbul,” and is the world’s second Turkish capital. It has the largest community of Turkish people living outside of Turkey, many of whom live in Kreuzberg.

Things to do

Some of Berlin's best currywurst can be found in Kreuzberg. | Photo by Berlin Urban Adventures

Eat your way through the neighbourhood

The influence of Kreuzber’s large Turkish community can be seen (and tasted) throughout the neighbourhood, so, if you’re planning on dining here, your taste buds are in for a treat! You’ll find some of the best currywurst and döner kebab joints in the city, as well as a variety of other delicious and affordable international cuisines.

Don’t worry – there are plenty of healthy options, too! For vegan and vegetarian-friendly eats, check out Hallesches Haus, Café V, or Miss. Saigon.

In search of something healthy… but also want to satisfy your sweet tooth? Head to Brammibal’s on Maybachufer to try some of their delicious vegan donuts! Opened in 2016, this is Europe’s first all-vegan donut shop… and a great place to grab a guilt-free dessert.

Read more: Best places to eat in Berlin

Visit the markets

Plan your Brammibal’s visit on a Tuesday or Friday, and you can get the full “Little Istanbul” experience at the Turkish market. This famous market takes place along the Landwehr Canal bi-weekly from 11 am to 6:30 pm. For more outdoor market action on Maybauchufer, check out the Nowkölln Flowmarkt every Sunday from March to December. At this popular flea market, you can shop for antiques, secondhand clothes, and other vintage finds.

Too cold for outdoor markets? Head to Market Hall Neun instead. This historic indoor hall hosts a weekly market, and a variety of other special events throughout the year like Street Food Night on Thursdays, and a Breakfast Market once a month.

Shop (sustainably) ‘til you drop

This neighbourhood is a paradise for foodies… but it’s also a pretty popular spot for shopaholics. Thanks to all of the local markets and a thriving vintage scene, in Kreuzberg, retail therapy is pretty good for the environment.

Head over to Bergmannstraße to find one-of-a-kind second-hand pieces at Pick & Weight vintage kilo store, or check out Oxfam. This second-hand shop donates a portion of their proceeds to aid projects around the world. For more retro finds, don’t miss Oranienstraße. With favorites like Voo, one of Berlin’s hippest concept stores, and dozens of vintage shops, Oranienstraße is easily one of Kreuzberg’s best shopping streets.

Explore the art scene

When in Kreuzberg, be sure to soak up the art scene… and unless you’re walkin’ around with your eyes glued to your phone, you won’t have much of a choice. It’s everywhere!

From the world’s longest open-air art gallery at the East Side Gallery to the thought-provoking exhibitions at the New Society of Fine Arts (nGbK) museum, installations illustrating historical events, societal taboos, and other important issues can be found all over the neighbourhood. Hunt for iconic murals like the “Astronaut Cosmonaut” by Victor Ash, or try to spot graffiti by famous Berlin crews like 1up and Berlin Kidz.

To learn more about Berlin’s most notorious street artists visit the Urban Nation Art Museum! Technically speaking, it isn’t “in” Kreuzberg, but, it’s not too far away. Admission is free, so it’s definitely worth checking out if you’re a fan of contemporary art.

Get a breath of fresh air

There are several parks and green spaces scattered around Kreuzberg. One of the most well-known is the Victoria Garden. Grab a drink at the beer garden, enjoy the ambiance of the trickling waterfall, or head to the monument at the top of the hill. This hill, named Kreuzberg, gives the neighbourhood its name and is a great place to go to watch the sun set.

Just across from Victoria Park is the Tempelhof Airfield. This former airfield is another popular outdoor area among locals, and one of the largest inner-city parks in the world. You can even take a guided tour inside the airport terminal!

To the north, in the heart of the Kreuzberg, you’ll also find Berlin’s most well-known organic urban garden. Prinzessinnengarten was started in 2009 by a local non-profit called Nomadic Green in Moritzplatz. The site was previously a wasteland, but today it is a community garden and so much more. Prinzessinnengarten is a beer garden, a meeting space, and an open-air classroom where people and plants come together and grow together. During opening hours, you can even participate in gardening sessions and other workshops here.

Finding Kreuzberg

The bridge that connects the neighbourhoods of Kreuzberg and Friedrichshain. | Photo by Yu Siang Teo

Kreuzberg is a massive neighborhood, so there’s not just one right way to get there. However, according to locals, the best spot to begin your Kreuzberg visit is from the Oberbaumbrucke Bridge. Take the underground or S-Bahn train to Warschauerstraße, (the station at the east end of the East Side Gallery), or head to Ostbahnhof (at the west end) to explore the full gallery before heading to Kreuzberg.

After crossing the bridge, you’ll see a funky, colorful building on your left. It says “Hoş geldiniz,” which means “Welcome” in Turkish. That’s when you’ll know you’ve made it into Kreuzberg territory… and that the kebabs, vintage shops, and Turkish delights are just around the corner.

Want the full inside scoop on this trendy neighborhood? Explore the best of Kreuzberg with a local guide by your side on Urban Adventures’ Food and Art in Funky Kreuzberg tour.

Funky Kreuzberg Tour

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