Living In Kreuzberg, Berlin – Gritty But Cool!

After spending a month in the former-hippie turned wealthy-bohemian-latte-mom Prenzlauer Berg district of Berlin, we decided to change our surroundings – we moved to another popular neighbourhood called Kreuzberg, which turned out to be a complete contrast to Prenzlauer Berg …

Gritty but Cool

Berliners love to refer to their city as “poor but sexy”, and no neighborhood represents this as well as Kreuzberg. With graffiti covered lanes, murky bars and alternative hang-outs, Kreuzberg is gritty but cool – it’s far from picture perfect and pretty, but it has some of that roughness that gives a place depth and makes it interesting. Shops and restaurants seem to pop-up and close down before the ink in newly printed guide books has even dried, which makes this neighborhood the perfect place to explore without a guide book.

Multi Cultural Cuisine

Kreuzberg is one of Berlin’s areas with the densest population of immigrants, which has created a great mixture of different cultures. If you want to sample cuisine from all over the world, Kreuzberg is the ideal district to base yourself in. From Vietnamese to Turkish, Nepalese to Middle-eastern flair, there are restaurants serving delicious food from all over the world, and while we had a perfectly working freestanding oven in our studio apartment, we ended up eating out a lot of the time. It’s hard to resist all the awesome diners when often it was cheaper to eat out than to cook at home, and even when they weren’t – who can resist all that deliciousness?!

Here are some great places to try out when visiting Kreuzberg:

Café Mathilda: This place is by far the coziest cafe we went to in Kreuzberg. Plunge into the comfy armchairs and sofas with a latte macchiato in one hand and a home made cake in the other, and enjoy the laid back vibe and vinyls playing on the DJ set by the bar. With free movie nights every monday, this place has the perfect balance between hip and welcoming (too many places in Berlin are over-doing the hip and underrating comfort!) – address: Graefestr. 12

Wonder Waffel: The staff at this cafe will happily stuff your waffle to the brim with whatever topping you want, from crumbled candy bars to fruit, syrup, ice cream and sprinkles of all kinds. The most baffling part of this is how they manage to keep the price at only €3. We also like the fun atmosphere and retro nintendo game in the cafe – address: Adalbert Strasse 88.

Imren Grill: There are literally hundreds of Turkish diners in Kreuzberg and we have barely scratched the service, buts Imren Grill is a local favorite with cheap, fresh meals and kick-ass Pide! address: Boppstr. 4

Hudson’s: This café truly brings Britain to Berlin, with shortbread, ginger crunch and friendly service in a stylish cafe – and an all-you-can-eat cake and tea deal every Sunday! The only minus is that it can get pretty loud if the cafe is full. address: Boppstr. 1

Wirsthaus Hasenheide: In our last Berlin post we mentioned the obsession Berliners have about the Sunday Brunch, and every Sunday between 9am and 1 pm the most popular Brunch cafes are crowded with locals all meeting up for brunch. While Prenzlauerberg may win in number of brunch places, no place we’ve been to has beaten Wirsthaus with its huge buffet offering many interesting choices with fancy cheese and Dolmas – all for a measly €4.50! An interesting thing about this place is that they charge double for Brunch, even though there seem to be no difference in what’s on offer – so beat the crowd, go there early and pay half the price for the same delicious food. address: Hasenheide 19.

Turkish Market

Visiting the Turkish market on Tuesdays and Fridays were one of the perks of staying in Kreuzberg. There are stalls selling hummus in a hundred varieties, freshly baked bread and home made pasta and dolmas. The aroma from grilled feta cheese wraps is irresistible! The market is located along the river on Maybachufer street, if you’re nearby but have trouble finding it just tag along with the many old ladies in colorful scarves dragging their trolleys to the market to do their weekly shopping.

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Tempelhof Airport – Berlin’s Strangest Playground

It’s not every day you get to roller-skate down a runway or barbecue sausages in the shadow of an airport terminal – but both are everyday scenes in Tempelhof Park, Berlin’s newest playground – check out our article about Tempelhof Airport here!

Exploring The Area

Kreuzberg is full of surprises, most of which you just happen to stumble upon when you’re out exploring.

From street art so big they cover whole buildings to small galleries and a surprising number of odd furniture shops, put on a good pair of walking shoes and bring a camera to capture it all!

One place to include on the itinerary is the Topography of Terror (a free outdoor museum on the site of buildings which during the Nazi regime from 1933 to 1945 were the headquarters of the Gestapo and the SS). Nearby is the famous Checkpoint Charlie, the best-known Berlin Wall crossing point between East and West Berlin during the cold war – also make sure to walk across the beautiful Oberbaum Bridge when walking over to the Berlin Wall in neighbouring Freidrichshain. To sum it up, Kreuzberg is a perfect place for food lovers, travelers who love spontaneous exploring, and those interested in Berlin’s shaky past – so in short, a little bit for everyone.

Berlin – A Mixture Of Ugly, Pretty & Everything In Between

Berlin is the city everyone is talking about, and has grown in popularity to become the third most visited city in Europe. My friends keep returning over and over, and when I ask what they love so much about Berlin that makes them return again they say – ”well…it’s Berlin!”. Last time we were in Berlin we only spent two days there, and while we managed to see a lot of things despite the rainy weather we still felt like we had not given the city a chance and wanted to return to see what all the fuss was about. Now, after having spent two weeks exploring the many streets and corners of Berlin at a slow pace, I can see what they’re talking about.

Berlin is a city which is alive, and ever changing – while many European cities’ main attraction is its history and past, Berlin is the past, the present and the future – all mixed into one.

It’s a cocktail of ugly, beautiful, sad, quirky, and the charm and fascination about the city is nothing specific, but everything in a confusing mixture.

I have never been to a city where everything seems to change as often as in Berlin. In Berlin, there is no specific ”party street” or ”shopping street”, but more like ”party street of the month”. Berlin is very much like Asia in the way that you never know what’s around the corner, and the best thing to do is to get lost and see what odd places you will find next.

It’s a city full of randomness, where things seem to ”just happen”, almost by mistake.

There are hidden treasures around every corner, from small cinemas and shops to galleries and bars that will pop-up and close down before you know it. Despite the tourism boom, Berlin is a rather poor city, which is one of the reasons why it has become one of the most popular graffiti-hubs – the government simply can’t afford to take it all away.

Artists from all over the world come to leave their mark, and you can see some pretty amazing work by just walking down the street. It’s an interesting city, with no real center – it’s neighborhoods, Kiez, actually feel more like small cities in themselves, and are treated as such by locals as well. Talking to the locals, they say they rarely even leave their district, and are just as lost as any other tourist in the rest of Berlin. Living in Schönhausallee I could really see why – you have everything you need right by your doorstep; there are shopping malls, boutiques, supermarkets, cafes, restaurants, bars, theaters, cinemas in abundance.

On the same street where we lived there were restaurants serving food from all over the world, you would almost be silly to go through the hassle of finding a nice restaurant in another neighborhood when there were so many right across the street. When we told people that we would travel down to Bavaria in southern Germany, they kept saying that Bavaria was ”different”, or that it would be very different from Berlin. I would agree, but from another angle, down south it really is different from Berlin, but so is everywhere else as well. In fact, I don’t think that there is any place like Berlin, I think Berlin is the place which is ”different” … and that’s what makes it such a wonderful city.

13 Responses to Living In Kreuzberg, Berlin – Gritty But Cool!

  1. Adventurous Kate February 27, 2013 at 11:42 pm #

    Thanks for the recommendations! I’m staying in Kreuzberg for a week during ITB and know nothing at all about it other than it’s “cool” — will be sure to try out some of these places. Forgot how much I love pide!

    • Sofia March 1, 2013 at 3:00 pm #

      Awesome, I think you’ll love it there!

  2. Jam @icoSnap February 28, 2013 at 5:01 pm #

    Berlin city of the poor but sexy – just heard that recently from my trip last January. I totally adore the art wall painting (graffiti) looks so cool.

    • Sofia March 1, 2013 at 3:06 pm #

      I love how the city really lives up to that identity of poor but sexy, and the street art in Kreuzberg definitely adds to it :)

  3. creative nomad February 28, 2013 at 5:51 pm #

    I spent a bit of time in Berlin 2 years ago but have just found that no mater how long you are their for, there is always something you missed!!! its like a bigger version of East London!

    • Sofia March 1, 2013 at 3:07 pm #

      I totally agree, we’ve been there four times in just two years, and we will probably be going back there many more times again!

  4. Sonya March 1, 2013 at 1:39 am #

    I’m dreaming about visiting artist friends in Berlin soon! This neighborhood definitely looks colorful.

    • Sofia March 1, 2013 at 3:09 pm #

      It’s a great place, full of strange things and surprises, haha.

  5. Sarah Park March 1, 2013 at 9:26 am #

    I’ve heard so much of good stuff about Berlin. This is one of my dream place to visit.

    • Sofia March 1, 2013 at 3:10 pm #

      It’s definitely a place that leaves an impression on people, and most often a good one :). Hope you get to visit some day soon!

  6. Sofie March 1, 2013 at 2:36 pm #

    A friend of mine has studies in Berlin for some time and she used to live in Kreuzberg. I went to visit her for a week and we both loved it there. Especially in summer there’s so much going on in the neighborhood.
    It’s also a side of Berlin where you can really feel comunist influences still linger.

    • Sofia March 1, 2013 at 3:11 pm #

      I can imagine that summer is an awesome time to be in Kreuzberg, I’ll have to return some day when it’s summer to see it then as well!

  7. Jasmine March 27, 2013 at 12:54 pm #

    Thanks for the awesome list of food places!

    When I was new to Berlin, I went on a tour with this company: Eat The World and they took me to some legit places in Kreuzberg. I highly recommend them.

    There’s also a very cool bar overlooking Kottbusser Tor called Monarch Bar which I also vouch for.

    Glad you made the move to x-berg!