Where to check out some of Berlin’s best social spots in one (busy!) weekend.
If you think spending time boozing and schmoozing is a distraction from experiencing what a city is all about, then you don’t know Berlin. Its beers are legendary. It’s the capital of techno and insane warehouse clubs. And the bars in Berlin, fuelled by the city’s alternate youth culture, are some of the hippest and coolest in the world.
But anyone serious about making the most of the city’s wild side needs to dedicate more than just their evenings. The nightlife here never stops, with beach bars and beer gardens opening around the same time the craziest clubs in Berlin are kicking everyone out. Nightlife in Berlin should really just be shortened to ‘life’, because it goes day and night. So put two days aside (preferably Friday and Saturday so you have a day to recover before the week starts) and check out our sample itinerary for a taste of everything on offer – drinking, dancing, live music, and even a little bit of history. If you can’t remember much by the time you’re done, then you know you’ve done it well.
Friday – DAY
Prater Garten: the beer-lover’s haven
Prater Garten has been around since 1837, making it the oldest beer garden in the city and one of the few establishments to survive the bombings of World Wars and the iron curtain of Soviet rule. Located in the buzzing nightlife district of Prenzlauer Berg, the tranquil outdoor area can hold a thousand thirsty patrons ready to try a frothy mug – or five – of the Prater house brews. And if the weather turns sour, the interior beer hall and restaurant provide a warm alternative to the outside picnic tables shaded by chestnut trees.
Open from noon till past midnight in the summer, the Prater Garten is a perfect place for daytime beers, a hearty German meal, or a prost-filled start to an evening out.
Friday – NIGHT
White Trash Fast Food: where to rock out
A popular destination for young Berliners and international travellers, this east-Berlin restaurant/bar/music venue was established by a couple of expats and named after two of America’s better-known components. The décor is a campy hodgepodge of old-west, British pub and trailer park. But don’t worry – you won’t run into overweight guys in wife-beater shirts licking the remnants of their greasy cheese paper. The restaurant serves up some of the best American food in town, while trendy hipsters drink at the bar in preparation for the night’s musical performances. You can hang out here to watch the smaller stage, or head downstairs to the Diamond Lounge for some serious rocking out.
Every weekend the large space features international rock and roll acts that jam for the raucous crowds long into the night. For a glimpse into the city’s burgeoning alternate scene, top your first night off at White Trash Fast Food. Yeehaw!
Saturday – DAY
Strandbar Mitte: ideal for day drinking
It’s a sunny summer day in Berlin, so why not hit the beach? You might be closer to the arctic than the equator, but Strandbar Mitte puts a tropical paradise smack in the middle of this landlocked city – palm trees, umbrellas and all. The expansive man-made beach runs along the Spree, Berlin’s main waterway, and looks out across the beautiful buildings on Museum Island. Step onto the warm sand, grab a cold German lager, and impress your friends by coming back from Berlin with a tan.
Saturday – NIGHT
Zu mir oder zu dir: the pre-game lounge
After you’ve got some sun and a couple of beers in the system, you are now ready for the crazy side of Berlin. But before you hit the clubs, throw on your best heels or that new CK collar and set the mood at Zu mir oder zu dir (don’t worry if you can’t pronounce it, we can’t either). The important thing is knowing the name literally means ‘to my place or yours’. The chic lounge attracts an energetic bunch of fashionistas and pre-club drinkers looking to mingle over tasty cocktails. So order a martini, dive into the living-room atmosphere and recruit a couple of sexy additions to your evening out. By the end of your night you’ll know how to say zu mir oder zu dir, if such an occasion arises.
Berghain/Panorama Bar: the club to blow your mind
Scary walk through an industrial park? Check. Imposing abandoned power plant? Check. Cavernous dance halls vibrating with some of the world’s best electronic dance music? Triple check! Berghainis everything you could imagine a Berlin club to be. It’s a massive labyrinth of concrete and metal where beautiful clubbers sweat the night away in hedonistic fashion. The main floor, with 18-metre high ceilings, features internationally renowned techno DJs, while the upstairs Panorama bar spins house music for a slightly more intimate crowd. The club starts to heat up around 2am and keeps pumping past dawn. A strict zero camera policy ensures what happens in Berghain, stays in Berghain.