Prenzlauer Berg: The East Berlin Neighborhood Is All Grown Up

Gentrification hasn’t hurt the neighborhood’s reputation as the epicenter of hip.

Ask a Berliner their opinion of Prenzlauer Berg and you’ll get mixed results. Some will laud its Wilhelmine architecture and nightlife options, while others will bemoan the influx of families that moved into “Stroller Hill,” causing a surge in rental prices. Either way, you’ll get an idea of what has made Berlin’s northeastern district one of the trendier destinations for everything from shopping to dining.

Before the Berlin Wall came down in 1989, Prenzlauer Berg, then in East Berlin, was home to numerous squat houses, some of which became prominent cultural venues offering poetry readings, concerts, and even political debates. Today, P-Berg has mellowed and blossomed, particularly when compared to grittier neighborhoods such as Neukölln and the Görlitzer Park area of Kreuzberg.

Café Anna Blume
Café Anna Blume (©Philip Koschel/visitBerlin)

Breakfast

Some die-hard fanatics come all the way from Charlottenburg for the three-tiered “breakfast bouquet” at Café Anna Blume. Make sure to save room for a slice (or two) of one of their decadent cakes.

Morning

The area around Kollwitzplatz, named for Expressionist artist Käthe Kollwitz, teems with local boutiques and cafes, while the park itself hosts an “eco-market” on Thursdays and a regular farmers’ market Saturday mornings. Even in winter months, the park is one of the city’s most picturesque.

Lunch

No matter which variety you try, the hummus at the Israeli-Palestinian-owned Kanaan is more aptly called “manna from heaven,” and once you’ve tried it, all other hummus will be ruined for you. Come with a group to sample the numerous and ever-changing Middle Eastern specialties, including spicy shakshuka and daily soups.

Mauerpark market
The Sunday flea market at the Mauerpark is always a popular event with trinkets of all types. (©Günter Steffen/visitBerlin)

Afternoon

Most days of the week, a visit to the Mauerpark (“Wall Park”) can be rather laidback. But on Sundays, the scene is more like a music festival, with drum circles, karaoke, and impromptu performers who regale the crowds with their antics. The Sunday flea market offers relics from GDR days and earlier, as well as handicrafts and food from local artisans.

If you still need your fill of Ostalgie (nostalgia for East Germany), head down the street to VEB Orange, a veritable time capsule of kitsch where you can pick up anything from period furniture to throwback tchotchkes you didn’t even know you needed.

Dinner

As the vegetarian capital of the world, Berlin has more than its share of animal-friendly fare, with even long-time Currywurst shops now selling meat-free options. For a more upscale plant-based dining experience, head to Lucky Leek, a restaurant that proves that vegan cuisine can be elegant, impressive, and delicious. Its creative dishes have even won over non-vegetarians, as evidenced by the rave reviews given by the cast and crew of Berlin Station after dining there at the suggestion of show star and Leek aficionado Michelle Forbes.

 Prater Garten in Berlin
Prater Garten (©Jennifer Morrow/Flickr, Creative Commons)

After Dark

There’s no shortage of nightlife options in P-Berg. For a traditional German experience, head over to Prater Garten, the city’s oldest beer garden, where you can sample the customary Berliner Weisse beer with raspberry or woodruff syrup.

Formerly a brewery, the KulturBrauerei is now a warren of bars, shops, and event venues, including a cinema and stage that hosts concerts and performances. Outdoor events are held year round, with the highlights being a regular street-food market and annual Weihnachtsmarkt (Christmas market).

New York vibes abound at Badfish, a favorite bar for locals and expats that specializes in iced cocktails (frozen pink lemonade with vodka), rotating beer specials, and snarky signage that will make any Brooklynite feel right at home.

Badfish bar in Berlin
(Courtesy Badfish)