The Reichstag, Brandenburg Gate and Checkpoint Charlie are the city’s most famous sites but the real Berlin is found in polyglot backstreets and neighbourhoods; this time in the district of Kreuzberg.
The once working-class and now sought-after Kreuzberg district is known for its diverse people, its international restaurants and cafes, and of course its all-night clubs and bars. To best appreciate the areas peculiar charm, its best to stroll around its very different neighbourhoods.
To start your day in Kreuzberg, head to the neighbourhood cut by Graefe Strasse and flanked by the Landwehr Canal, where you wander rustic oak-lined boulevards ringing with bicycle bells and overhung with pretty flowering tenement balconies. Pass the bookstores, quirky liquorice shops and Turkish delis as their doors lazily open, until stopping at Brandi Espresso Bar (Dieffenbachstrasse 63) for a robust coffee and perfect pain au chocolat or panini.
Wandering east along the canal, continue to Maybachufer until it becomes the Turkish Market, a souk-like mile where head-turning fragrances permeate alleys with stalls selling fruit and vegetables, fabrics and handmade curios (only on Tuesdays and Fridays; art and flea markets happen over the weekends). You’ll find all the pan-continental flavours here – from African stews and German poppy-seed cake to Palestinian hummus and Italian tomatoes – with buskers entertaining the masses on the waterside deck. Here you’ll see a cross-section of the entire city.
Nearby Bergmannstrasse is one of Berlin’s best-preserved neighbourhoods and offers pristine Prussian architecture (especially around Chamissoplatz) and a sheer abundance of food. Start at the Marheineke Markthalle (Market Hall), where you can pick up wine, cheese and regional delicacies before snacking at counter bars serving Greek, Italian, Vietnamese and more. At the opposite end of the street you’ll find Viktoriapark, a veritable mountain in an otherwise flat landscape. It’s crowned by a monument that marks Prussia’s liberation from Napoleon and, from this vantage point, you can spy the city like the angels did in Wim Wenders’ film, Wings of Desire.
It’s a perfect spot to watch the sun go down over the city before exploring some of Kreuzberg’s endless eateries and watering holes.