Berlin has a new, exciting place open up every two minutes – but many of them won't last long. So, what are the Berlin locations that have truly stood the test of time? From Tempelhofer Feld to Nikolaiviertel to SO36, we bring you a list of Berlin's most interesting and enduring attractions that are both typical Berlin and totally unique.
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A trip back in time: Leydicke
'Since 1877' declares a sign on the front of E&M Leydicke. It's a portent of the time travel adventure you're about to embark upon. The interior of this iconic little pub and distillery has barely changed in nearly a century and a half since it opened – the ceiling still sports the original coat of paint (for better or worse). The walls are adorned with posters from various periods in the last century. Leydicke hosts concerts from an impressively varied spectrum of musical genres, from country to old-fashioned rock 'n roll to world music to jazz – and they can get raucous.
Where Mansteinstraße 4, Schöneberg
When: Monday till Sunday 6 pm till 11 pm
Your new favourite pub: Möve im Felsenkeller
Good thing there's a big neon sign from the '70s at the front of Möve im Felsenkeller, because it'd be easy to miss otherwise. It's just five metres wide, making it an intimate place by default. But it's also one of the friendlier and more welcoming of Berlin's old pubs. The maritime décor is from the 1920s (the name means Seagull in the Rock Cellar). Die Möve, as it's affectionately known, is frequented by luminaries like Daniel Brühl and Helge Schneider. Jeffery Eugenides also wrote sections of his Pulitzer prize-winning novel Middlesex here.
Where: Akazienstraße 2, Schöneberg
When: Monday to Saturday 4pm to 1am
Best seafood in town: Rogacki
You might think Berlin is a bit too far from the sea for quality fresh seafood, but the Rogacki family have been disproving that theory for almost a century now. In addition to fresh deliveries from the Baltic Sea, they are experts at smoking fish to preserve it. They've been slowly building their business over the years. What started as a fish and eel smokehouse is now a huge delicatessen with its own bakery, butcher, catering services and more. There aren't many businesses these days that have remained family-run for their entire existence, making Rogacki remarkable for more than just its commitment to excellent food.
Where: Wilmersdorfer Straße 145/46, Charlottenburg
When: Tuesday to Thursday 10 am to 6 pm, Friday 9 am to 6 pm, Saturday 8 am to 2 pm
The artists' haunt: Diener Tattersall
On the site of a pub attached to a riding school destroyed in the war, former heavyweight boxer Franz Diener opened this pub and restaurant. It quickly became a haunt for local artists. The impressive wall of over 500 artist portraits has been growing since the 1950s. Little else has changed, though – including the menu. This is the perfect place to come for all the traditional German treats: sausages, Königsberger Klopse (meatballs), Leberkäse (meat loaf), Spätzle, Kartoffelpuffer (potato pancakes) and much more.
Where: Grolmanstraße 47, Charlottenburg
When: Monday to Saturday from 6 pm
For a warm welcome and warming food: Dicke Wirtin
Anna Stanscheck was the original dicke Wirtin – the plump innkeeper. The current owners of this charming restaurant in Charlottenburg have gone to great lengths to preserve her traditions of running a welcoming establishment that sends its loyal customers home full, satisfied and, possibly, a bit tipsy. They have nine beers on tap and distil their own brandy and schnapps, which all go tremendously well with the generous portions of classic German food.
Where: Carmerstraße 9, Charlottenburg
When: Wednesday till Sunday 11 am till 11 pm
For sunshine and beer: Prater
Prater is Berlin's oldest beer garden and one of its very best. Its exact beginnings are lost to time, but records indicate that beer has been sold on this site since 1837. Like anything old in this city, it has an interesting history, surviving world wars and the Cold War, thriving even through the DDR days, when it was one of last restaurants in the city in private hands. Nowadays it's a leafy summertime utopia with shows from the Volksbühne performed in the open air theatre.
Where: Kastanienallee 7-9, Prenzlauer Berg
When: from spring 2022, Sunday to Monday from 12 noon, weather permitting
The epitome of elegance: Clärchens Ballhaus
There is simply nowhere quite like Clärchens Ballhaus anywhere in the world, let alone in Berlin. Its two sumptuous ballrooms have faded a little since their heyday in the 1920s, but the passage of time has only served to make them even more atmospheric and evocative. Check Clärchen's busy program to find out what is happening any given day – it could be anything from (very affordable) dance classes, guided tours, concerts, film showings, and much more besides. The restaurant has a seasonal menu and remains a very good value considering the remarkable surroundings you'll be dining in.
Where: Auguststraße 24/25, Mitte
When: Tuesday to Friday 5pm to 10pm, Saturday and Sunday 2pm to 10pm
Down-to-earth charm: Zum Schusterjungen
When it starts to feel like Prenzlauer Berg has abandoned its historical working-class roots, it's time for a visit to Zum Schusterjungen. It's a true Berlin Eckkneipe (corner pub) that can feel a little incongruous among all the hip coffee shops and bars. But once you step inside, you realise there's a reason this charming pub and restaurant has survived and thrived for so long. Its no-frills menu offers good food made well. Its simple décor doesn't follow trends, and its basic service caters to locals and tourists without discerning between the two. Good things done well will never go out of style.
Where: Danziger Straße 9, Prenzlauer Berg
When: Monday till Sunday from 12 o'clock
Berlin's favourite chameleon: Tempelhofer Feld
This enormous space between Schöneberg, Kreuzberg, Neukölln and Mariendorf has survived for centuries as a remarkably adaptable chameleon. What began in the 18th century as a military parade ground became a leisure area for Berliners and home to several football teams (including Germany's oldest club still in existence, BFC Germania 1888) before becoming an airport in the 1920s. It played a crucial role in keeping West Berlin alive during the Berlin Blockade of 1948/9. When the airport closed in 2008, it faced an uncertain future. Housing developers circled like vultures, but a citizen's referendum in 2014 stopped all development and ensured Tempelhofer Feld would remain a place of leisure to be enjoyed by all Berliners.
Where: Entrances: Tempelhofer Damm / S- and U-Bahnhof Tempelhof and U-Bahnhof Paradestraße;
Columbiadamm Lilienthalstraße and Golßenerstraße; Oderstraße / Herrfurthstraße as well as 5 further entrances on Oderstraße.
Where it all began: Nikolaiviertel
The city of Berlin is nearly 800 years old, and this is where it all began. Nikolaikirche, Berlin's oldest church, has stood here in one guise or another since around 1230. While it was bombed in the war, it was not completely destroyed and has since been patched up. It's just one of many places worth a visit in this fascinating district. Many of its medieval buildings have been reconstructed, lending the area an almost fairytale atmosphere – but there are also a number of Plattenbauten (Brutalist concrete slab buildings) from the 70s to remind you that Berlin will always be weird, even when rebuilding a cute historical district. Nikolaiviertel is also full of restaurants and cafes that will cater to all your traditional German food needs.
So Berlin: SO36
The seventies were a strange time in Berlin, particularly in Kreuzberg. The war wasn't long over and the Cold War was still fizzling with the contentious border between East and West Germany running all along the district's northern and eastern edges. Kreuzberg was changing rapidly with immigration from southern Europe. Out of this transitional atmosphere rose SO36. It quickly became a haven for anyone with anti-authoritarian inclinations: punks, hippies, hedonists and members of the gay community, to name just a few. David Bowie and Iggy Pop famously frequented the venue in its early years. It has survived numerous attempts at eviction, and its 'Gayhane' events have become legendary among Berlin's LGBTQ Muslim community.
Where: Oranienstraße 190, Kreuzberg
When: Tuesday to Saturday 9pm to 5am