Berlin’s 30 best bars and pubs

Enjoy a consummate cocktail or a perfect German beer, with our guide to the capital’s bars and pubs

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© Thilo Reich

With its cheap beer and non-existent licensing laws, you might think Berlin is overrun with drunken stags on an Irish pub crawl, but instead you'll find a rich and very civilised drinking culture. Some of the best bars are here, spread all over Berlin - whether you want to settle into a comfy sofa with a craft beer and book, at a neighbourhood favourite like Natanja und Heinrich, or savour alcohol craftsmen in a concept cocktail bar like Green Door.


There's no real central drinking area in Berlin, each neighbourhood bringing their distinctive characteristics to bar culture. The old West is more old-fashioned, the bars following a café-style with food also served to the table like at the '50s Deiner Tatersall or Paris Bar. Schöneberg was always known for it's nightlife, home to both a Weimar-era Isherwood and much later, David Bowie, but since the wall fell a lot of the action has shifted eastwards. Around Nollendorfplatz you'll find a number of excellent cocktail bars like Stagger Lee and the traditional gay centre. Kreuzberg's more rough and ready with plenty of boozy DJ bars around Kottbusser Tor and further south in Neukölln you can go full barfly at places like the louche Tier.


The locals love a drink but due to most bars being located in residential blocks, drinkers tend to get more and more hushed as the night progresses, displays of drunken behaviour are extremely rare. As with most places in Berlin, don't expect to be able to pay with credit cards anywhere so be sure to carry sufficient cash. And for those used to a last orders call, do remember to go home - Berlin's bars really do close when the last customer leaves!


Tausend

  • Critics choice

With an unmarked entrance – look for the iron door under the train overpass – and strict entrance policy, this grown-up bar/lounge is as exclusive as Berlin gets. This is where the well-heeled come to be seen sipping innovative drinks in a tubular, steel-ceilinged

  1. Schiffbauerdamm 11, 10117
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Prater

  • Price band: 2/4
  • Critics choice

This rowdy beer garden has been doing Berliners a brisk service since 1852, and lies across the courtyard from an old ballroom of the same name, attracting a noisy crowd. The enthusiastic beer-swilling, big wooden tables and platefuls of Bratwurst and Bretzeln

  1. Kastanienallee 7-9, 10435
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Rum Trader

  • Critics choice

Subtitled the ‘Institute for Advanced Drinking’, this tiny bar is a Berlin classic, largely thanks to its eccentric owner, Gregor Scholl, who is ever present, smartly dressed in bow tie and waistcoat. There is no menu: Scholl will ask which spirit you like, and

  1. Fasanenstraße 40, 10719
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Bei Schlawinchen

  • Critics choice

Berlin is famous for its Kneipen, which are best likened to a working man’s club. There are many different types: some act as clubhouses for fanatic fans of the local football team Hertha BSC, some play speed metal and some are just cosy places for local guys to

  1. Schönleinstraße 34, 10967
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Bar 3

  • Critics choice

Located in a backstreet off Torstraße, this Bar 3 is a favourite of the media types that prowl the streets of Mitte. With a large horseshoe shaped bar taking up most of the room, seating options are confined to bar stools, otherwise it’s standing only. This place

  1. Weydingerstrasse 20, 10178
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Newton Bar

  • Critics choice

Homage seems to be Berlin’s preferred method for naming bars, and here iconoclastic fashion photographer Helmut Newton is immortalized. An entire wall of this large bar is dedicated to a series of his black and white nudes – for those unfamiliar with his pictures

  1. Charlottenstraße 57, 10117
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Schwarze Traube

  • Critics choice

This Kreuzberg bar shot to fame when the slight but magnificently bearded owner Atalay Aktas won the award for best mixologist in Germany. You’ll find his altar to the cocktail around the corner from Kreuzberg’s Markthalle Neun. They operate a knock-to-enter

  1. Wrangelstrasse 24, 10997
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Le Croco Bleu

  • Critics choice

One of the newest bars to hit the cocktail scene, Le Croco Bleu is the baby of Berlin drinks royalty, Gregor Scholl, who began his career at the Charlottenburg stalwart Paris Bar before opening the cultish Rum Trader. Housed in the old machine rooms of the 19th century

  1. Prenzlauer Allee 242, 10405
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Altes Europa

  • Critics choice

The big picture windows, basic furnishings and old maps and prints on the walls provides a low key, old school setting – a welcome retreat in a touristy neighbourhood. Altes Europa is a reliable stop off for anything from a mid-afternoon drink to a rowdier night out

  1. Gipsstrasse 11, 10119
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Kim

  • Critics choice

This place perfectly captures that unfinished – and inexplicably sexy – look with which Berlin’s fashionable set is so enamoured. Kim has been a favourite for twentysomething art-scenesters since it opened in February 2007. The door is unmarked: just look for an

  1. Brunnenstrasse 10, 10119
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Trust

  • Critics choice

The old Torstrasse dive bar space has now been replaced by this sprawling Hackerschermarkt location, but once you’re past the moody doorman, the same rules apply. All spirits are sold in Trust-branded bottles and the idea is to band together with friends (especially

  1. Torstrasse 72, 10178
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Becketts Kopf

  • Critics choice

This long-running cocktail bar is an oasis of fine drink in the rather sparsely served Prenzlauer Berg. Operating in the classic speak-easy model, it has become something of a local institution: enter via an unmarked door and you’ll find yourself in rooms draped with

  1. Pappelallee 64, 10437
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8mm

  • Critics choice

Sometimes the 4/4 techno beat can seem inescapable in Berlin, but head to this one-room dive bar for an alternative. Weekends get raucous with DJs playing a solid mix of punk and new wave staples, the occasional touring band-member getting behind the decks for a

  1. Schonhauser Allee 177B, 10119
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Geist im Glas

  • Critics choice

A certain breed of living-room bar has taken root in Weserstrasse and cutesy examples have flowered all over Reuterkiez (the hip neighbourhood centred around Reuterstrasse) as people realized how cheap it was to furnish a small shop front and start selling beer. Set

  1. Lenaustraße 27, 12047
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Monster Ronson's Ichiban Karaoke

  • Critics choice

In 1999, Monster Ronson – aka Ron Rineck – moved to Berlin from Salt Lake City with $7,000 in his pocket. As his savings dwindled, he began sleeping in his car, bought a second-hand karaoke machine, and soon was driving to squat houses all over Europe, throwing

  1. Warschauer Strasse 34, 10243
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Supamolly

  • Critics choice

Forget about faux-Weimar bars, this here is a true throwback to Berlin’s '90s squat history, which saw the East rapidly depopulated, then repopulated by punks, anarchists and activists who reclaimed all the crumbling buildings after the wall fell, carving out a

  1. Jessner Strasse 41, 10247
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John Muir

  • Critics choice

Named after the 19th century American naturalist John Muir, who as an outdoorsman most likely understood the health benefits of a good nip of whiskey, this bar aims to bring a bit of a Brooklyn flavor to SO36 with its mounted trophy heads and red-brick walls. There’s

  1. Skalitzerstraße 50, 10997
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Vagabund

  • Rated as: 4/5
  • Critics choice

America, with its insipid lager analogues and Budweiser even daring to crown itself ‘The King of Beers’, has long been an easy target for German beer-related jokes. Germans take pride in their 500-year-old Rheinheitsgebot (purity law), which stipulates that the

  1. Antwerpener Str. 3, 13353
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Barbie Deinhoff's

  • Critics choice

Run by performance artist Lena Braun (one of her many spaces around the city), this lively and unusual bar calls itself home to the more bourgeois members of Berlin’s cross-dressing community. As a queer art space, there are often outrageous performances which

  1. Schlesische Strasse 16, 10997
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Luzia

  • Critics choice

A favourite of Berlin club kids, this Oranienstrasse spot gets pretty rowdy on weekends as the perfect launch pad for an extended party session. The bar is decorated with bizarre bric-a-brac and the murals by local artist Chin Chin are pitched somewhere between the

  1. Oranienstraße 34, 10999
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Würgeengel

  • Critics choice

A bit of a mouthful, but this sultry boozer is named after Luis Buñuel’s absurdist masterpiece ‘The Exterminating Angel’, in which a group of bourgeois worthies find themselves inexplicably unable to leave a lavish dinner party. There is certainly an Old World

  1. Dresdener Strasse 122, 10999
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Tier

  • Critics choice

Neukölln’s Weserstrasse is one of the driving forces behind the area’s hipster ascendency, shifting ever southwards towards Hermannstrasse. Its lively bar scene is punctuated by grown up affairs such as Tier. Looking in through the frosted windows, the long bar

  1. Weserstraße 42, 12045
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Green Door

  • Critics choice

Behind an actual green door (access granted by doorbell) lies this popular Schöneberg cocktail bar. The heavily kitsch décor will maybe grow on you after a few strong drinks: all oversized gingham wallpaper, curvy white walls and framed 1970s pictures. Playwright

  1. Winterfeldtstrasse 50, 10781
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Stagger Lee

  • Critics choice

This vaudeville bar takes its name from a 1920s folk song about the true-life exploits of a violent Missouri pimp. The styling is suitably Charleston, low-hanging saloon lamps, Victorian wallpaper and an enormous mechanical till add to its faux-Americana charm. The

  1. Nollendorfstrasse 27, 10777
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Natanja und Heinrich

  • Critics choice

By far the most comfortable drinking den in the Weserstrasse neighbourhood, this triple roomed establishment enjoys high ceilings and efficient ventilation, doing away with the smokiness that plagues most places when full. Large windows open onto either side of a

  1. Weichselstrasse 44, 12045
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Victoria Bar

  • Critics choice

The louche Victoria Bar was first to lay claim to Potsdamer Strasse in 2003 and has recently been joined by a spate of gallery openings. Owner Stefan Weber has a humorous art collection of his own with works by Sarah Lucas and Martin Kippenberger adorning the walls of

  1. Potsdamer Strasse 102, 10785
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Möbel-Olfe

  • Critics choice

One of the marvels of peaceful co-existence is the area around Kottbusser Tor, where the thriving Turkish community and bohemian art and gay community meet. The vast 1960s housing estate that is home to many Turkish families also houses Möbel-Olfe, a rowdy alternative

  1. Reichenberger Straße 177, 10999
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Diener Tattersall

  • Critics choice

The walls of this classic artist’s bar in Charlottenburg are covered in naïve depictions of hunting scenes and over the years those horsemen have witnessed all sorts of activity. Ex-boxer Franz Diener took the place over in 1954 and with his artist friends turned it

  1. Grolmanstraße 47, 10623
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Bellmans

  • Critics choice

This unassuming corner bar is some way down Reichenbergerstrasse which keeps noise to a pleasant level. An ideal winter hidey-hole, its crumbling plaster walls and wooden tableware whose varnish is a distant memory convey a feeling of somewhat faded grandeur. Berlin is

  1. Reichenberger Straße 103, 10999
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Hops & Barley

  • Critics choice

The capital’s most famous tipple, Berliner Weisse, had almost 700 breweries producing it in the 19th century, so much so that a popular story has it that Napoleon’s troops even nicknamed it ‘the Champagne of the North’. Sadly history took its toll on the sour

  1. Wühlischstraße 22-23, 10245
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Users say

1 comments
Colin R
Colin R

Your write up about John Muir needs amending. John Muir was a Scotsman who would have drank whisky and not whiskey and it would have been a dram and not a nip. Just saying.

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