The Best Bars in Berlin

Berlin has long had a reputation as one of the world’s best cities for nightlife. If anything, the scene gets better with every passing year. Whether you prefer a relaxed evening at a high-end dimly-lit cocktail bar; a craft beer in a club that includes a top-notch grungy backyard hangout; live music, a dance floor, and shots shots shots; or the ever-so-Berlin combination of a trippy art installation, beer garden, and dance club, the city serves up the good times.

Skalitzer Str. 51, 10997 Berlin, Germany
Named after wilderness activist John Muir, this trendy cocktail bar in Kreuzberg serves classic libations with a twist. The menu regularly changes, and the interior of the basement bar (lit by candles) is cozy and comfortable—great for cool evenings.
Brunnenstraße 197-198, 10119 Berlin, Germany
If you’re looking for the epitome of “Hipster Berlin,” you can’t find anyplace more suitable than Mein Haus am See. In the most hip area of Mitte, Rosenthaler Platz, the cafe is more than just a coffee spot. It’s also a bar and club. During the day, you’ll see locals working on their laptops or drawing in sketchbooks, but when dusk starts to settle, the lights will dim and usually a DJ will be setting up the sound system. Get a seat in the back of the stadium benches and watch time just pass by. As an added bonus: Mein Haus am See offers free Wi-Fi and is open 24 hours!
13 Stargarder Straße
This smoky, retro-style bar in Prenzlauer Berg, on the trendy Stargarder Strasse, is a great place for a leisurely cocktail on weekend nights. Often crowded, it might be best to arrive early if you want a seat. Otherwise you’ll end up hanging out on the street outside thanks to the often full bar area inside. It’s also popular on Wednesday evenings, which is the official gay night.
Weserstraße 40, 12045 Berlin, Germany
This bar, simply called "Ä,” is on one of Berlin‘s best nightlife streets. Weserstrasse (in Neukolln) leads from Hermannplatz to the south, and along the road are a scattering of new bars, small clubs, international restaurants, and trendy cafes. There could not be anyplace that epitomizes hipster Brooklyn as much as Weserstrasse. The bar Ä offers nights of live music, events, and meetups. The social bar is casual and has two large rooms (one smoking, one non-smoking) which provide a great atmosphere for a relaxed but fun night out. Occasional DJs and a kicker table are just the cherry on top.
3 Vor dem Schlesischen Tor
The nightclub Chalet is located on the busy nightlife-riddled street of Schlesische Strasse. Just steps from one of Berlin‘s longtime hipster nightclubs, Club der Visionaire, Chalet is relatively new to the scene. Open since 2012, the club is run by the same legendary Bar25 crew (now closed down, sad face here). Chalet is located in what appears to be a run-down house, but really that’s par for the course in Berlin. Thankfully the yard out back is a small oasis. All weekend long, you’ll find Berlin’s trendiest folks hanging out in the Chalet courtyard. A night out at this club feels a bit like a house party—just with a small cover at the door. My photo above was taken at 6am on a Sunday morning...so hopefully you get the idea.
Am Wriezener Bahnhof
This club, housed in an old industrial warehouse, does not look unlike a mental ward and, inside, has as many fascinating levels as an Escher drawing. To dance with a sea of the coolest kids in Berlin (and Europe for that matter—it’s a landmark destination for partiers across Europe), stay on the ground floor. For a smaller scene, head to the top floor, which gradually attracts a more queer crowd as the weekend goes on. That’s the other thing: it’s only open from Friday until Monday morning. Wear plain clothes and no smile to get past the doorman. If at first you don’t succeed, come back on Sunday nights when the line is shorter and the bouncers are known to be less prickly.
70 Alt-Stralau
Berlin’s most surreal bar experience is right where you’d expect it to be—in the trendy Friedrichshain neighborhood. Just a few blocks from some of Berlin’s most legendary nightclubs, the club Wilde Renate is a mismatched collection of buildings surrounding a small beer garden. It’s an easy place to get lost, even more so because there’s a purposely-built labyrinth underneath the nightclub. The labyrinth, Peristal Signum, isn’t just an art installation but a full-on experience for the mind. It was designed haphazardly by three artists over nine months in 2010. The maze was built completely out of found scrap materials (like most everything else in Berlin) and includes everything from glass bottles to car parts. For 10€, you’re given a token to enter the labyrinth. Entries are scattered so that only one person enters at a time, though you’re likely to run into people once inside. Without spoiling too much, I’ll say it’s a trippy experience. Persistal Signum is open Wednesday to Saturday, from 6pm to 10pm, at Salon zur wilden Renate. Ask the bartender to put your name on the list to get inside the labyrinth. There’s usually a wait.
Behrenstraße 37 10117 Berlin, Germany
Set in the former headquarters of a 19th-century bank, Hotel de Rome forms a major part of Bebelplatz, the historic square best known as the site of the Nazis’ infamous book burning in 1933. Across from the stately Opera House and the equally handsome Humboldt University, the hotel has retained the bank’s neoclassical exterior. Parts of the interior are original, too, most notably an elegant staircase that winds up to the fourth floor (the first three floors are also original), and the former bank vault, which has been transformed into a spa that is accessed via the vault’s original steel door. The high-ceilinged guestrooms and suites are suitably sumptuous, with marble in the bathroom and furnishings of mahogany; the color palettes, however, were devised by designers Olga Polizzi and Tommaso Ziffer and are ultra-contemporary. The hotel also has a swanky restaurant, a popular cocktail bar, and a rooftop patio with splendid views of Bebelplatz and the city beyond.
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