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Like a local: cool things to do in Berlin

Travel & ExplorationGermany

Ever-cool but ever-changing, only a local can tell you what’s really worth seeing and doing in Berlin right now. Lucky for us, local creatives Neslihan Değerli and Enlil Isik are giving us the inside scoop.

Berlin isn’t just one of the most hip and happening places in Europe, but in the world. So, it’s no surprise that creatives from all over flock to Germany’s capital to live and visit. A patchwork of history and monuments alongside hotspots and museums, there are also many unknown corners of Berlin that have become meeting places for young people, defining this moment in time for a city with such a storied history.

In this guide, the local creative duo Neslihan Değerli and Enlil Isik are taking us to those places across Berlin, exploring different cultures and communities that have found a second home in this ever-evolving city. Founders of the creative agency Avec Nous and the digital magazine Title, this talented young couple knows what to see and do across the city right now.

From Mitte to Neukölln, Tempelhof to Friedirchshain, and Kreuzberg to Charlottenburg and Lichtenberg, we’re taking you to hidden gems and creative hotspots you’d probably overlook if you didn’t have a local to push you in the right direction. So come on – let us show you what locals say are the cool things to do in Berlin right now.

1. Le Brot Neukölln bakery

Location: Fuldastraße 54
Activity: Eats
The Vibe: Authentic

Once known as Berlin’s so-called “ghetto,” Neslihan tells us this now gentrified neighbourhood is a hotspot for locals and tourists looking for cool things to do in Berlin, like eat at an authentic French bakery. “Le Brot takes their goods just as seriously as you’d expect. Totally dedicated to quality and sustainability, these are some of the best baked goods you can get outside of France. People come from all across town to get their hands on these baked treats.”

2. Linienstraße/Auguststraße neighbourhood

Location: Linienstraße/Auguststraße
Activity: City exploring
The Vibe: Chic and hipster

Dubbed the ‘Marais’ of Berlin, this chic and hip area near the Spree is overflowing with mouth-watering food spots, small parks and hidden, in-the-know galleries, making it one of the cool things to do in Berlin. “This is definitely one of my favourite places to wander around,” Enlil explained. “There are a lot of small businesses here that are worth finding and exploring, and I always love popping in and out of the different art galleries and seeing what’s on show. In the summer, the restaurants spread out onto the street and it has a real laid back vibe.”

3. Bravo Bravko bakery

Location: Lausitzer Str. 47
Activity: Eats
The Vibe: Sweet

Anyone with a sweet tooth will love the homemade cakes and tartes being turned out at Bravo Bravko cake manufacturer in Kreuzberg. “The cakes are so artfully decorated and made with care, and the late art is always beautiful,” Enlil told us. “Plus, it’s located right in Kottbusser Tor, where everything’s happening, right by Görlitzer Park. Come evening, this is where you’ll find some of the best clubs in town.”

4. König Galerie

Location: Alexandrinenstraße 118-121
Activity: Art gallery
The Vibe: Brutally cool

Exhibiting a range of interdisciplinary, concept-oriented, and space-based approaches in various forms, from sculpture and video to painting, sound and performance, Neslihan tells us the König Galerie is one of the best independent galleries in town to immerse yourself in art. “If you’re looking for cool things to do in Berlin, look no further. At König Galerie you have free entrance and always a rotating roster of new, young, international artists. Plus, the space is incredible. It’s located in a Brutalist church from the 1960s which is just the most amazing backdrop. Be sure to pop in after visiting the Jewish museum nearby.”

5. Dong Xuan Shopping Centre

Location: Herzbergstraße 128-139
Activity: Shopping
The Vibe: Authentic and eclectic

An eclectic mix of cultures, colour and food, the Dong Xuan Centre is the largest Asian market in the city and modelled after the oldest market in Vietnam. Neslihan tells us locals come here for all sorts of stuff, from household goods and their favourite Asian market groceries to clothing, haircuts, decor and more. “It’s known as ‘Little Vietnam,’ but traders and business owners from Vietnam, India, China, and Pakistan have set up shop here, too. It’s a really fun place to eat, shop and wander through small businesses.”

6. Park am Gleisdreieck

Location: Möckernstraße 26
Activity: City park
The Vibe: Laid back and local

In very Berlin fashion, the city has transformed an old, unsightly railway site into a beloved local park. “This is where Berliners come to hangout all summer long,” Enlil explains. “Skaters love it here, but there are also running trails and volleyball courts. There are even underground concerts here in the summer. This is one of my favourite places to have a low-key birthday party. So if you really want to feel like a local, come here with a blanket and beers and you’ll fit right in.”

7. Neue Nationalgalerie museum

Location: Potsdamer Str. 50
Activity: Museum
The Vibe: Modernist

Recently renovated and reopened in 2020, the Neue Nationalgalerie is filled with twentieth-century art from the Nationalgalerie’s diverse collection. The last design by world-famous architect Ludwig Mies van der Rohe, Neslihan says the modernist building is also worth visiting itself. “As a creative director and stylist, I love it here. There’s amazing light for shoots, so you’ll definitely get a great Instagram picture. Now that it’s reopened, it’s also a great opportunity to see this fresh, reopened gallery that’s a real institution and one of the cool things to do in Berlin at the moment.”

8. Staatsbibliothek

Location: Haus Unter den Linden 8
Activity: Architecture spotting
The Vibe: Historical

Whether you’re a new student in town who needs a study spot or a visitor who loves architecture, Enlil says the Staatsbibliothek is a must-visit. Located central to many other spots on this list, you’ll have no problem making your way to one of the largest libraries in Europe. “This building is quite historic, as the library itself was first founded in 1661. Today, it's a cornerstone of the community and German history and literature. Plus, it’s a beautiful building, one I love to shoot at.”

9. Babylon Theatre

Location: Rosa-Luxemburg-Straße 30
Activity: Theatre
The Vibe: Independent and inclusive

Locals will tell you that a visit to Babylon Theatre is like taking a trip back in time, no matter what kind of film you’re watching. At this independent theatre in the Mitte neighbourhood, you’ll find everything from vintage movies to contemporary French films on show at the 1920s Art Deco theatre. “A quick 10-minute walk from The Social Hub Berlin, this is a great spot to go if you want to feel like a local and really immerse yourself in local culture,” Neslihan explained. “There are tons of spots to grab a bite before you go, as well as a cold beer afterwards.”

10. Humana thrift shop

Location: Frankfurter Tor 3
Activity: Shopping
The Vibe: Vintage

There are a few Humana around town, but the shop located at Frankfurter Tor 3 is known for its vintage gems and celebrity clientele. While Berliners have the luxury of being able to shop at this vintage and second-hand shop anytime, Enlil says people come in from all over the world to pick through the alternative finds here. “If you’re looking for something really unique, you head to Humana at Frankfurter. It’s the biggest one in the city and always has the best selection. Plus, it’s located right next to the Boxhagener Platz, which is great for grabbing a good meal and revelling in your new vintage finds. Definitely one of the cool things to do in Berlin.”

Cool things to do in Berlin: stay at The Social Hub

Don’t just stay anywhere - stay with us and discover the city like a local at The Social Hub Berlin. Centrally located right in the heart of Mitte, our Berlin hub is the perfect jumping off point to explore everything on this list, and to connect with a community of people from all walks of life who will make your trip one to remember forever.

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