Once split in two, Mitte epitomizes Berlin. It’s wildy creative, fusing the old and the new together in the way only Berlin can: they simply make it work. Sightseers and museum lovers, this is your neighborhood---Berlin’s Museum Island calls Mitte home as well as a number of other historic buildings like the Brandenburger Tor and the Reichstag (still in use today).
Not everywhere can (or should!) remain on the cutting edge of all things. Charlottenburg houses the magnificent Charlottenburg Palace (the largest in Berlin), the Kaiser Wilhelm Memorial Church, Kurfürstendamm (something of a Champs-Elysees in Berlin), and an enviable museum collection. Charlottenburg may have peaked in the 1920s but its cultural riches are just as relevant today.
The largest park in central Berlin, Tiergarten delights Berliners everywhere with its charming atmosphere and plethora of outdoor activities---namely the perennial favorite of people-watching. Spread out on a bright summer’s day in a green field with the locals (and a picnic lunch). Surrounding the park you’ll find embassies and high-end homes with friendly cafes.
Get a feel for East Germany through Friedrichschain’s thoroughly modern lens. The neighborhood exploded with verve and life after the fall of the Berlin Wall; not content to keep art inside four walls, it instead covers entire city blocks. Its streets hum with activity and its parks are packed (when it’s warm, anyway) with the cool denizens that frequent the well-priced bars and cafes. Look past the art and you’ll see some of the best examples of Stalinist architecture from East Berlin’s glory days.
Often paired with equally creative Friedrichshain, Kreuzberg has a flavor all its own. Find it in coffee shops (some of Berlin’s best are here), lounges, bars, and cafes. Fly (figuratively) with the tremendously creative local crowd at the expansive former Tempelhof Airport serves as a playground no matter the weather, so bring your walking shoes, rent a bike, and discover it all.
Prenzlauer Berg may not be as large or famous as neighboring Mitte, but you’d be remiss to pass this location up. It’s still an epicenter of art in Berlin despite recent gentrification and also has a unique preserved pre-war German architecture from the 1880s interspersed with street art. There’s a mix of young families and students reflected in the plethora of nightlife, cafes, high-end boutiques, and playgrounds.
Grunewald mixes beautiful residences next to Berlin’s largest forest in high style. Unquestionably a largely residential area, it’s a neighborhood not many tourists venture out to see. The quiet, tree-lined streets with manses of the rich along with international embassies make for some of the most scenic walking in Berlin, almost seamlessly transitioning to the urban forest once used as a royal hunting ground.