Two things that are absolutely trending right now: cycling and Berlin! With bearded hipsters roaming the cities on single-speed fixies and your granny’s rusty old vintage gazelle suddenly being the coolest ride in town, cycling has never been hipper than right now. And since Berlin is practically the bearded hipster grandma among the coolest capitals in the world, wouldn’t it be a good idea to explore the city in style on a two-wheeled steed? You might face a problem though: Berlin’s street style, the cafés, clubs, galleries, and fashion boutiques are legendary, yet the much-praised “scene” of the city is not always easy to find – the town’s simply to big and spread out. Well, we got you covered! Your friends from Industriepalast Hostel used a sunny day to hop in the saddle and create an amazing cycling tour through the trendy boroughs of Berlin. From the wild nightlife district Friedrichshain to yuppie paradise Prenzlauer Berg, from the art galleries and fashion boutiques of Mitte to subversive Kreuzberg; and finally to the heart of hipster culture: Neukölln. This tour takes you some 24 kilometers through the hippest the capital currently has to offer. If you stop for a coffee, snacks, and selfies on the way, this should keep you entertained for three to four hours.
The complete route with map and gps waypoints can be found on Bikemaps .
Techno and street art: Friedrichshain
Our tour starts at Industriepalast Hostel, obviously. The street here, Warschauer Straße, has acquired a somewhat mythical reputation for being a place where Europe’s best techno clubs clash with a unique cosmopolitan street culture. Passing street artists and skaters, we turn into Revaler Straße on the corner of RAW Area and reach nightlife hotspot Simon-Dach-Straße. On the way to coffeeshop-lined Boxhagener Platz we see independent fashion labels, skate shops, tattoo studios, and Berlin’s famous späti kiosks. At Frankfurter Tor we reach Karl-Marx-Allee which we follow along its impressive Soviet-style buildings all the way to Strausberger Platz. Here, we take a right and avoid busy Alexanderplatz with a little detour through concrete block quarters on the way to Rosa-Luxemburg-Platz.
Yuppies and third-wave coffee shops: Prenzlauer Berg
The main attraction here on Rosa-Luxemburg-Platz is Volksbühne. Once the most avant-garde theatre in the GDR, it made headlines in recent years because of a controversial fight between director and enfant terrible Frank Castorf and the new intendant. Now it’s time to pedal hard, because we’re ascending Prenzlauer Berg along Schönhauser Allee. We’re right in the heart of Kollwitzkiez now, an area that has been shaped significantly by yuppies and inner-national expats from Southern Germany. On the right-hand side, a cultural hotspot awaits us: Kulturbrauerei. Cinemas, theatres, music venues, nightclubs, and street food markets make this formerly largest brewery in the world (effective 1920) an important artistic centre in the capital. Reaching Eberswalder Straße we stop to munch on East Berlin’s most famous Currywurst at Konnopke’s Imbiss. If you’re doing this tour on a Sunday, make sure to add a quick side-trip to iconic Mauerpark hipster flea market to your list. From here, our way leads us south again along Kastanienallee. Berlin looks a lot like Paris here, with numerous little cafés, lovely boutiques, and a traditional German biergarten: Pratergarten. Down the hill we pass Weingärnterpark right above Rosenthaler Platz, where we can take a rest at one of the French cafés, wine shop, alternative arts centre ACUD, or squatted building Brunnen7. Look out, the intersection here is very busy with traffic and can be a bit confusing!
The art of fancy: Mitte
We cross Torstrasse lined with expat bars, kebab shops, and music pubs and the scenery changes immediately: you are in Berlin Mitte now. On Linienstrasse it’s worth taking a little detour to Auguststraße where every other building is an art galleries and where Clärchens Ballhaus still very much looks like it did in the 1920s. We make for Oranienburger Strasse, past formerly squatted Tacheles (now in ruins) until we see the golden domes of Neue Synagoge. This is the heart of Jewish Berlin and it’s a good idea to stop for some kosher snacks in the neighborhood. Reaching Hackescher Markt you might want to park your bike for a little while and go explore the trendy shopping district surrounding Hackesche Höfe by foot. From neighboring James-Simon-Park you can get a good view across the river to Museum Island. We get back on the bikes and ride past the iconic TV Tower along Spandauer Strasse (don’t miss out on the manati mural on the left-hand side!) towards Kreuzberg.
At Jannowitzbrücke we cross the Spree river and soon after find ourselves facing a huge roundabout. Here on Moritzplatz, with guerilla gardening project Prinzessinnengarten we get closer to the heart of the notorious underground culture borough: Kreuzberg 36. Past Oranienplatz – regular place of civil unrest – we follow Oranienstraße and take in the unique atmosphere of pubs, bars, cafés, Turkish and Arabic restaurants, tattoo studios, records stores, and a lot more. One more turn and you’ve reached Kottbusser Tor, bone of contention for social reformers, community workes, and public security experts. This is where wild rallys rampage on Workers’ Day, and where conservative media outlets smell “the most dangerous place in Germany” (which is obviously applesauce). We turn south and ride to Landwehrkanal, beautifully lined with willows and gründerzeit architecture buildings.
Melting pot and hipster paradise: Neukölln
We’re two thirds into the tour already, and you are right where half of London and New York consider moving – the trendiest of the gentrification hotspots, the hipsterest of the hipster paradises, where avocado toast grows and chai latte and matcha flow: Neukölln. You might be surprised at first, because here between “Kotti” and Hermannplatz it’s mostly the Arabic and Turkish influence that shapes the image. There are more falafel and kebab shops, Turkish grocery stores, and baklava patisseries here than anywhere else, so this area is sometimes referred to as “Little Istanbul”. We leave the illuminated gambling dens alone, just like the pub “Schlawinchen”, that’s been open around the clock non-stop since 1979, and cycle south. Just north of Hermannplatz we veer around and cross trendy Graefekiez all the way to the French-looking cathedral at Südstern. The park Hasenheide is a well-known trading place for recreational substances of quality. We don’t stop here (obviously, why would anyone?) and head for Tempelhofer Feld. The abandoned airport right by the city centre is a unique urban space – longboarders, cyclists, kite boarders, and other sportspeople enjoy the big open space of the old landing strips while Spanish hipsters barbecue next to Turkish families and french erasmus students. Take in the fresh air and stiff breeze before we exit the “Feld” to the east where cobbled Herrfurthstrasse has ice cream parlours and spätis to offer. Broad street Hermannstrasse then takes us back towards Hermannplatz. Bevor reaching the notorious square we turn left into Flughafenstrasse (proper downhill!) and via Karl-Marx-Strasse and smaller side streets we approach the heart of Neukölln: Sonnenallee. In a way this street conserves the essence of what makes Neukölln special: A multicultural mix of languages, unrenovated old buildings, flourishing small-scale retail shops, and street food straight from heaven. We turn once again, this time on Pannierstrasse. Trendy pubs, vintage boutiques, and record stores reveal: this is Reuterkiez, the hipster hotspot surrounding Weserstrasse. This area all the way to Maybachufer is named “Kreuzkölln”, as it sits between the two districts Kreuzberg and Neukölln. Within one decade it has turned from deprived area to yuppie’s favorite – ergo, this is a good place to stop for tapas or some third-wave coffee.
To the east: A hint of Treptow
Across Landwehrkanal you’re back in Kreuzberg. Görlitzer Park, the remnants of a former railway station destroyed in world war II, is one of the most controversial urban spaces in the world: some say the beloved gathering place for local residents and people from neighboring areas is proof of healthy neighborhood structures, others claim that the park is a drug trading hub and should be put under police surveillance permanently. A quick side-trip to the east takes us to Kanaldreieck, a very peaceful and beautiful green space at the triangle of Kreuzberg, Neukölln, and Treptow. Along the canal bank we ride north until we see the autonomous caravan park Wagenburg Lohmühle, a squatted area since 1991. Shortly after you reach Schlesische Strasse, where you can experience first-hand how quickly the trendy “scene” expands towards the east. A couple of years ago, this was just abandoned industrial property, now ravers queue in front of popular nightclubs every weekend. We cycle towards Schlesisches Tor and check out the restaurants and cafés of charming Wrangelkiez borough. Turn right and ride across Oberbaumbrücke, where street artists, buskers, punks, and street vendors make for a very unique atmosphere. Overlooking the river you can spot giant Molecule Men. Back in Friedrichshain you can already see the red sign of Industriepalast Hostel, but you should make one last stop and check out famous East Side Gallery: the longest remaining piece of the Berlin Wall, painted with some of the most famous and iconic graffitis and street art murals in the entire world – it’s a must-see!
And that’s the tour! You can hire bikes cheap and easy at our Industriepalast Bike Rental directly at the reception. We’re happy to print the route description for you – simply talk to us.
Pictures: Datei: #52261508 | Urheber: Marcus Klepper, Datei: #132364082 | Urheber: katatonia, Datei: #204616880 | Urheber: eyetronic – fotolia
is Berliner by choice and a passionate backpacker himself. As a receptionist he knows the real hostel life; as a blogger he's been writing for Industriepalast Hostel's Berlin blog since 2014.