Like other capital cities, Berlin is home to a diverse and global population of over three million people. Situation in northeastern Germany, along the Spree River, Berlin has a long and sometimes messy history, but in recent years has come to be known as an expatriate playground of sorts.
Like any big city, Berlin is divided up into twelve large Berlin districts and altogether twenty-three smaller boroughs, each of which has its own feel and unique attractions.
The most popular Berlin district, Mitte, in the middle of the city, is a main tourist destination, and for good reason. Home to an overabundance of museums and other attractions, Mitte immediately gives one a feel for Berlin. A very diverse area, Mitte contains the city’s largest park, Tiergarten, as well as the German Parliament building.
Nearby is Charlottenburg-Wilmersdorf, an upper-middleclass borough filled with shopping avenues and restaurants. Schloss Charlottenburg, a giant 17th century palace, is located within Charlottenburg-Wilmersdorf, as is the 1936 Summer Olympic Stadium.
Bordering Charlottenburg-Wilmersdorf to the west is Spandau, where you can discover a fortress within a city or take a stroll through a traditional Christmas market. Spandau was home to the Spandau Prison, where Rudolf Hess was held, until its destruction in 1987.
North of Spandau is Reinickendorf, where Berlin’s busiest airport, Flughafen Tegel, is located. In addition to being Berlin’s travel hub, Reinickendorf contains several cute traditional German villages and Lake Tegel.
Pankow, although largely residential in nature, is one of the most up-and-coming districts of Berlin. Populated by young families and students looking for a fun place to live, the area is constantly in motion and always up on the current fads.
To a lesser extent, Friedrichshain-Kreuzberg is too. Less pretentious than Pankow, Friedrichshain-Kreuzberg is like the Village in New York was in the 80s—filled with artists, students, and some troublemakers. Attractive to young people for its cheap rents, the area is also home to many immigrants.
You won’t, however, find many immigrants in Lichtenberg, one of the few Berlin districts where there has been some Neo-Nazi activity within the past few years. This isn’t to say you should avoid traveling to Lichtenberg—there’s a fantastic zoo located there—but if you do, make sure to keep an eye out and avoid trouble.
Often grouped with Lichtenberg is Marzahn-Hellersdorf, another residential borough filled with traditional East German buildings.
Treptow-Köpenick is both an industrial and residential Berlin district, containing the beautiful Müggelsee, the largest lake in Berlin. In Treptow-Köpenick you’ll find a beautiful park, Treptower Park, with a large Soviet War Memorial.
Just across the canal from Treptow-Köpenick is Neukölln, a traditionally Turkish neighborhood which in recent years has become home to a lot of young people looking for a trendy neighborhood with access to various cultures. In Neukölln you’ll find one of an absolutely first-rate market on Tuesdays and Fridays. It is not to be missed.
Tempelhof-Schöneberg contains both one of the oldest airports in Europe and one of the biggest department stores. Flughafen Tempelhof was closed in October of 2008 but the structure still stands, showing off what was once a major hub of travel. Kaufhaus des Westens, or KaDeWe, is the largest department store in continental Europe, and contains almost anything you could ever need at exorbitant prices.
Steglitz-Zehlendorf maintains the high class of Charlottenburg-Wilmersdorf. Containing the most popular swimming and recreation location within Berlin, the Wannsee, as well as the city’s largest university, Steglitz-Zehlendorf is a great place to go to take a break from the constantly moving city.
That being said, no matter where you go within the Berlin districts, you’re sure to have a grand time.
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