The Neukölln district has been transformed from calm working class backwater to Berlin’s hipster headquarters so fast that some locals are still reeling. Pretty Weserstrasse is where much of the new action is, both for cafés by day and bars by night. Top addresses to look out for are Tier (Weserstrasse 42) for dressed-down 20somethings lounging on cushioned packing crates, and Ä (Weserstrasse 40), where locals gather for table football and Wednesday night acoustic gigs. Further down the road is arty mixed/gay bar Silver Future (Weserstrasse 206) and Fuchs und Elster (Weserstrasse 207), whose granny-ish, vintage-styled ground floor bar hides a basement live music venue.
Nearest U-Bahn station: Rathaus Neukölln
Hip but more grown-up than Neukölln, the pavement cafes of the beautiful 19th-century Prenzlauer Berg neighbourhood are gridlocked with affluent young families during the day, while by night a well-heeled crowd fills its bars. Almost every street in Prenzlauer Berg has a decent bar, but look out for Oderberger Strasse’s retro chic Fleischmöbel (Oderberger Strasse 2) and moody late-night haunt Nemo (Oderberger Strasse 46). Just round the corner on Kastanienallee are elegant, fashion-forward cocktail classic 103 (Kastanienallee 49) and Schwarzsauer (Kastanienallee 13), a late-night pavement café with minimalist deco styling and a cool, rather serious-looking crowd chattering away into the small hours.
Nearest U-Bahn station: Eberswalderstrasse
Busy with traffic, Torstrasse in the Mitte district may not look like the last word in cool, but it’s still the place where Berlin’s ever-growing media and gallery set hang out. Sleek, minimal Brut (Torstrasse 68) is one of Berlin’s few bars with really good light food (Franco-German, in this case), which you might need if you feel like trying the great range of icy vodkas at mirror-lined Russian bar Neue Odessa (Torstrasse 89). Just off the street is Bar 3 (Weydingerstrasse 20) where the horseshoe shapes bar attracts gallery owners, bespectacled creative types and even the occasional (German) celebrity. If you can hunt down a member to get you in (or stay in its guest rooms), Soho House Berlin (Torstrasse 1) has stunning views across the city from its sleek rooftop bar, which comes complete with a swimming pool and a crowd of visiting celebrities and other high rollers.
Nearest U-Bahn station: Rosenthaler Platz
Once a home of Berlin’s punk scene, the Schlesisches Tor neighbourhood’s riverside setting has seen it bounce back as a nightlife hub, ranging between the ultra-chic and the gritty. Even if you’re not a fan of house and electro, the cool, dressy (for Berlin at least) Watergate Club (Falckensteinstrasse 49) is worth visiting for a late-night cocktail to enjoy the stunning river views from its picture windows, while next door San Remo is a charming Italian-inspired cocktail bar kitted out in 1960s style (Falckensteinstrasse 46). A few minutes walk away is Club der Visionaere (Am Flutgraben 1) where local hipsters drink on floating pontoons anchored where Berlin’s canal meets the river Spree, while nearby is the incredible Badeschiff (Eichenstrasse 4) a riverside lounge and club with a floating container ship moored on its riverbank that acts as swimming pool in summer, sauna in winter.
Nearest U-Bahn station: Schlesisches Tor