Berlin's nightlife scene is hot year-round, but it's at its best in the summer months. Whether you're looking for fancy cocktails, all-night parties, or a relaxed spot for a glass of wine, we have a suggestion for everyone. Here are the hottest spots on our radar right now.
Does relaxing in a comfy lawn chair by the water sound like your idea of relaxation? If so, head to Strandbar (part of Ampelmann Restaurant) on the Spree River, just across from the Museuminsel in Mitte. (The Ampelmann logo is a replica of the old East German pedestrian traffic light symbol, which has become something of a cult figure and popular souvenir icon in Berlin, adorning everything from T-shirts to umbrellas to soccer balls.) The waterside bar has light bites and drinks, including Ampelmann beer, and is open daily until midnight.
If you're looking for a vibe that's swanky and übercool, head to Mitte's Bonbon Bar, where the crowd is well-dressed and attractive. Inside, the décor is all velvet, glass, and seductive lighting, with cocktails served in pretty stemware. Friday and Saturday nights tend to have lines out the door, making this an ultra-exclusive spot.
Clarchens Ballroom, also in Mitte, has been a dance hall since 1913, and people of all ages come for dining, dancing, and dance classes at the perennially popular space. There's a lovely beer garden out front and the main ballroom hosts different styles of music every night. The “mirror hall” upstairs has more intimate concerts and events.
It's hard not to love a rooftop bar, so head to the new Monkey Bar on the 10th floor of the new 25hours Hotel, in Charlottenburg, to enjoy panoramic city views and creative cocktails. Inside, plush pillows are artfully laid out amid eclectic furnishings, but the coveted seats are out on the patio, where there are blankets for chilly evenings. It can be a crush at night, so if you prefer the views and drinks without the crowds, stop by in the late afternoon or early evening.
Quality time hanging out in a beer garden is a quintessential Berlin experience; the Pratergarten, in Prenzlauer Berg, is the oldest (open since 1837), one of the largest (it seats 600), and perhaps the most popular in the city. The long community tables encourage socializing, and the food is good, too; bratwurst and a pretzel are perfect with beer, but there are plenty of other options, including vegetarian choices. If beer isn't your thing, you might want to try a Radler (beer with Sprite) or a glass of wine. Late afternoons and evenings are optimal at the Prater, when there are plenty of people and a relaxed atmosphere.
The provocatively named White Trash, in its new location in Treptower, is generating lots of buzz. If you're looking for cheap drinks, an American expat crowd, and plenty of live bands and DJs, this is the spot for you. There's usually a minimal cover charge, and the restaurant serves American-style fast food like burgers, fries, and nachos.
If outdoor parties are your style, head to one of Berlin's largest, most popular flea markets, Mauerpark, on Sundays from 8 a.m. to about 4 p.m. The market is a good time in itself, but when it's over, the park turns into a giant picnic, with families and friends spread out on the grass with portable barbecues, karaoke, fire juggling, and music performances. Bring your own refreshments, as the party often goes on well into the night.
For more suggestions about where to go in Berlin and information on planning your trip, visit the Fodor's Berlin Guide.