Quirky, creative and cosmopolitan; Neukölln has shaken off its rough-around-the-edges image in the last decade and emerged as one of Berlin’s coolest districts (too cool, if you ask locals, who have been lamenting the rising house prices and gentrification for years). Once a rundown residential area suffering from its close proximity to the Tempelhof airport, it’s now the bohemian outpost of neighboring Kreuzberg, while the abandoned Tempelhof has been transformed into a park and festival venue.
In keeping with its newfound popularity, Neukölln is now a neighbourhood in constant flux – a hotbed of creative minds, where new bars, clubs and art galleries seem to spring up each week. As such, the best way to explore is to do away with the map and heed the advice of the locals.
Where to go depends on what you’re looking for – the quieter residential area of Schillerkiez has some of the neighborhood’s best cafés and bars, as well as leafy parks and a laid-back attitude. Further north, the area around Wesertrasse and Reuterstrasse is teeming with hip bars, local designer boutiques and independent art galleries, while the Turkish influence is apparent along Karl-Marx-Strasse and Sonnenallee, where kebab houses and Arab patisseries abound. Nearby, Maybachufer boasts an idyllic canal-side spot, as well as hosts one of the city’s most famous Turkish markets (Tuesdays and Fridays) and a cluster of waterfront restaurants.
Above all, the best thing about Neukölln is that nothing is surprising – venture down the maze-like streets, and you’ll find walls emblazoned with bold graffiti art, urban gardens sprouting vegetables on street corners and uniquely repurposed buildings, including an indoor caravan park (Hüttenpalast) and a former parking lot transformed into rooftop party venue (Klunkerkranich).