Berlin After Dark

Exploring the night in the city that never sleeps

Berlin is a 24-hour city renowned for its diverse, and sometimes wild, nightlife, an endless panorama of bars, clubs and late night cafes and restaurants. According to Stuart Braun, a Berlin-based Australian writer and journalist whose book City of Exiles describes Berlin’s special allure for foreign artists like the late David Bowie, the city really switches on after dark. He begins by describing how Berlin’s nightlife has migrated east since west-end neighbourhoods thrived with clubs and cabarets.

In the 1920s, Weimar-era Berlin was called the Babylon on the Spree due to its notorious nightlife, a scene immortalised in the film Cabaret starring Liza Minnelli. The city’s decadent clubs and bars were then centred in the upmarket boulevards of Schöneberg and Charlottenburg in the west, but today the upcoming districts of Mitte, Kreuzberg and Neukölln are where you’ll find streets buzzing long into the wee hours. In Neukölln, for instance, relatively cheap rents have attracted young and restless creatives from around the world, sparking a thriving bar, restaurant and gallery scene focused around Weserstrasse.

What are some of your favourite bars in this area?

Ankerklause is a unique Kreuzberg kneipe (bar) located on the bridge that spans the Landwehr Canal. Marinethemed, with faux fish tanks and a terrace that edges across the water, this late-night Berlin staple caters to a diverse crowd who also like to dance around the 60s juke box. On the other side of the bridge, Das Hotel is compact with lush atmospherics—from the lavish bouquets that fill out every candle lit recess, to the piano, which is often being played, and high, muslin-draped ceiling. The young artists who typically staff the bar typically speak German, English, French and Spanish, and dispense a fine, heady Hefeweizen (wheat beer) while DJs get people hopping on the creaking wood floors.

Any other tips?

If you can first make it for dinner at Max und Moritz on Oranienstrasse in Kreuzberg, a gemütlich, or cosy, wood-lined tavern established in 1902 that serves local specialties including salty pickled pork foot and seasoned meatballs (vegetarian options also available), head after for a digestif among a row of lively, sophisticated bars on nearby Dresdener Strasse. At Würgeengel, the Bauhaus-esque décor is matched by sharply dressed waiters who serve top-shelf cocktails that fuel animated conversation late into the morning.