Crowds got you down? This post is part of a series of 10 European Discoveries for 2019 — off-the-beaten-path gems where you can escape the tourist rut and find a corner of Europe all your own.
Kreuzberg has long been known as Berlin’s “Turkish immigrant neighborhood.” But it’s also so much more. Once surrounded on three sides by the Berlin Wall — ground zero for squatters, draft dodgers, punks, and protesters — Kreuzberg is now at the vanguard of Berlin gentrification. Wall? What wall?
Chasing down leads for our Rick Steves Berlin guidebook, I discovered that Kreuzberg is made up of many micro-neighborhoods called Kieze, each with its own distinct personality. Ride the U-Bahn to Kottbusser Tor (“Kotti” to Berliners) on a Tuesday or Friday and stroll to the riverside Turkish Market, a commotion of sights, sounds, and smells reminiscent of an Istanbul bazaar: vibrant rugs, piles of olives, aromatic teas, and sizzling food carts, along with everyday items like clothes and kitchenware. From there, simply explore.
Just across the canal, the Graefekiez lives at the perfect intersection of foodie, yuppie, and affordable; the nearby Paul-Lincke-Ufer embankment is home to some of Berlin’s most cutting-edge restaurants. A few blocks away, Markthalle Neun is Berlin’s super-trendy food hall, with stalls selling gourmet tapas, tofu sandwiches, and Berlin-style meatballs (Buletten). The Bergmannkiez features a swanky shopping zone, a lively market hall, and famous Gemüse Kebab and Currywurst stands with lines around the block. And the Wrangelkiez is jammed with creative bars and restaurants, from microbrews to traditional Georgian food.
You could have a fun and varied visit to Berlin without ever leaving Kreuzberg.
The second edition of our Rick Steves Berlin guidebook — hot off the press —includes a brand-new self-guided walking tour of Kreuzberg.
For nine more suggestions on where to get away from the crowds, check out my 10 European Discoveries for 2019.