Bordering the Berlin Wall, Berlin Kreuzberg borough was home to students, artists, leftist radicals and a large Turkish population throughout the 1960s-1080s. When the wall fell, the area became, once again, the center of Berlin. Though Kreuzberg is still an eclectic area, rising rents are making it increasingly difficult for alternative businesses and artists to survive in the area.
Kreuzberg is home to the largest Turkish population in Germany as well as a plethora of unique shops and some of the best eats I had during my trip. I also suggest checking out the following vibrant Berlin areas for a multifarious smattering of boutiques, cafes, and local culture: Oranienstrasse, Görlitzer Park, Oberbaumbrücke Bridge, and Bergmannstrasse.
Oranienstrasse is home to one of the liveliest stretches of cafes and shops in Berlin. Due north of the Kottbusser Tor (U) subway stop (from Erkelenzdamm for two blocks east to Mariannenstrasse), you’ll find everything from bookstores to camp gay bars, clothing boutiques and Turkish imbisses. Near Heinrichplatz, at the intersection of Oranienstrasse and Adalbertstrasse, there is another wonderful grouping of cafes and bars.
I enjoyed a leisurely lunch at Bateau Ivre, a bar and café serving earthy, delectable plates at reasonable prices – I had the beet and cambazola quiche and orange almond ginger soup with a glass of rose, which ended up being my most memorable meal of the trip.
U-bahn: Goerlitzer Bahnhof
Nearby Görlitzer Park (“Görli” as it is affectionately called by locals) is definitely worth a visit. It is located where the Görlitzer Bahnhof (train station), which was bombed during WWII, once stood. The park contains several freestanding sculptures, the dilapidated railroad station, and lots of natural foliage. When the weather is nice, you can expect to find locals picnicking, lounging, playing frisbee, or engaging in impromptu drum jams.
Closer to the Spree River, you’ll find the impressive Oberbaumbrücke bridge (the former border between Kreuzberg and Friedrich) as well as plenty of charming streets filled with cafes, bars, nightclubs and funky boutiques.
If you’re looking for casual restaurants and boutiques full of vintage, repurposed, or handmade clothing and accessories, head straight to Bergmanstrasse.
I had a late dinner at Café Milagro, a delightful bar and Italian restaurant. I recommend the spinach and goat cheese pizza and the tomato basil and garlic soup. The copious Mediterranean sampler platter (piled high with olives, cucumbers, hummus, eggplant, cheese and breads) was a fantastic value. They have a great wine and beer selection as well. If you choose to sit outdoors, you can cover your legs with a fleecy blanket provided by the establishment – this seemed to be the trend at Berlin cafes with sidewalk seating.
Written by Jen Westmoreland Bouchard for EuropeUpClose.com