What to Do in Berlin’s Kreuzberg Neighborhood

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Posted July 10, 2017

Eat, drink and shop like a local in Berlin.

In the former West Berlin, Kreuzberg was one of the poorer, grittier neighborhoods of the city—and Friedrichshain its counterpart just across the river (and the wall) in the East. Today, though, the neighboring Kreuzberg-Friedrichshain region has morphed into one of the hippest, most desirable residential areas for Berliners, with innumerable cafes, restaurants, independent shops and businesses to explore. And despite the changes, there’s still an entrenched Turkish community (which has been a presence in the neighborhood for decades), making it a must-stop for anyone who wants to experience the unique Turkish culture for which the city is known (along with amazing kebabs and baklava).

Staying in Kreuzberg-Friedrichshain is a good way to experience what day-to-day life is like in the German capital while also having everything you could want at your doorstep. Here, eight places to get a jump start on exploring one of the most dynamic neighborhoods in Berlin.

Voo Store

Voo makes a very Berliner first impression with a near-invisible entrance off a gritty Kreuzberg courtyard. But inside is 3,000 square feet of emerging labels—along with vintage vinyl and a lovely tearoom.

Motto

While many of the best bookshops are concentrated in Berlin's Mitte district, Motto is an exception. Originally a distribution company serving 150 publishers to 100+ stores internationally, Motto the bookstore was founded in Kreuzberg in 2008. Designed to be a home-away-from-home from bibliophiles, Motto focuses on its own editions, as well as art and photography publications, as well as popular events.

Modulor

A three-level fantasy of every art, architecture, and design tool imaginable, Modulor sells exquisite papers and textiles, paint palettes and pen sets. It also has an extensive library of art magazines and books.

Horvath

World-class chef Sebastian Frank presides over the kitchen at Horvath, providing guests with a delicate and innovative approach to Austrian cuisine.

ORA

ORA is a gorgeous café and bar located in an old pharmacy, with lots of the original apothecary's furnishings and interior details intact, serving up delicious cocktails and light fare.

Street Food Thursdays at Markthalle Neun

Markthalle IX was established in 2011 as part of a community-wide initiative to bring locals and food producers together under one, exuberant roof. While other days at the Markthalle are devoted to regional farmers, Thursday evenings take on a festive air: Street-food kitchens (mostly aspiring restaurant owners) all pop-up at once, for a culinary extravaganza that feels like the best tasting party you've been to all year.

East Side Gallery

One of only a handful of standing sections of the Berlin Wall, the East Side Gallery is by far the longest and certainly the most interesting. Winding its way along the Spree River between Ostbahnhof and the Oberbaumbrücke is nearly a mile of the Cold War partition, where 100-odd panels were painted in 1989 and 1990 by international artists. Many of the works are politically inspired—like Dimitrij Vrubel’s famous depiction of former East German party leader Erich Honecker locked in a kiss with Leonid Brezhnev. Despite restoration efforts in 2000, less than half of the wall is in good condition; the rest is fading into peeling paint and graffiti. Seeing this extraordinary open-air gallery, though—itself a testament to the power of ideology and the joy of liberation—is an absolute must.

Where to Stay:

MOXY Berlin Ostbahnhof

One of the newest outposts of Marriott’s youthful, hip Moxy brand of budget-friendly hotels is an ideal place to stay in the neighborhood. It’s convenient to everything in Friedrichshain-Kreuzberg, and houses some of the most clean, comfortable rooms you’ll find in the city for the price point (all of which come with 42-inch flat screen tv’s and super fast wifi). The expansive lobby, meanwhile, doubles as a social hub for guests and a few locals, with a casual, comfy lounge area decorated with funky contemporary artwork, as well as a bar—an easy pre-dinner spot for a drink before heading out to dinner. It’s also directly across the street from the Ostbahnhof metro station if you feel like venturing further out of the immediate area.

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