Truly the city that never sleeps, Berlin’s nightlife scene proves more marathon than sprint. Nightclubs don’t start thumping until well after midnight, and Berliners wait until the wee hours to hit the dance floor. For an earlier start, the German capital boasts more than 40 theaters and stages, while its bar scene also impresses with its depth and variety.
One of the oldest and most revered of the city’s performance spots is 1850s-era Deutsches Theater Berlin, located in Mitte, the central area of the city. Mitte also houses Berlin’s largest stage, Friedrichstadt-Palast, which dates to 1919 and today showcases revues of up to 100 performers. For German-language versions of Broadway-caliber musicals, head to Theater des Westens in Charlottenburg, set in a historic theater that debuted in 1896. Charlottenburg also features Deutsche Oper, one of three opera houses in Berlin.
Post-theater and pre-nightclub, the Prenzlauer Berg neighborhood draws locals with its craft breweries, beer gardens and cocktail bars. Prater Biergarten stakes a claim as the city’s oldest beer garden, while cocktail spots like X-Bar, ZAZA Bar Berlin and Badfish Bar pour libations in a chill setting.
Known for using “foraged” ingredients such as cherry blossoms and Japanese knotweed, Velvet in Neukölln won Bar of the Year in Germany multiple times. Tier also proves a local favorite for its innovative cocktails. The Wash Bar, one of the newer bars on the scene, features a counter designed by local graffiti artists and pours a small collection of handcrafted cocktails as well as neo-classics.
A cocktail proves the perfect lead-up to a late night on the dance floor at one of Berlin’s world-class nightclubs. Tops for techno, Berghain is known for its four sprawling floors of music-fueled hedonism. The club, which dates to 2004, takes its name from the two city quarters bordering this former 1950s-era heating plant: Kreuzberg and Friedrichshain.
For those who prefer live music, Berlin offers a wealth of options, from jazz clubs like Badenscher Hof and b-flat to the alternative and punk music dives in Kreuzberg. Legendary SO36, a punk scene stalwart since the 1970s, resides here, as does the punk live-music bar Franken Bar. Kreuzberg also is a hub for LGBTQIA+ bars such as Möbel-Olfe and Südblock, as is the Schoenberg area of Berlin with popular watering holes such as Prinzknecht and Blond.
For another nightlife option, consider a dance lesson in anything from swing to tango at Clärchens Ballhaus, one of the last remaining ballroom dance houses from the 20th century.
It’s easy to find a nightlife venue for anyone’s tastes in Berlin. The hard part is deciding where to go.
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