Ever wondered what a super-cool post-apocalyptic metropolis would look like? Head to Berlin and find out from yourself. From the ashes of a divided city has sprung an adult playground, where you can dance in the daytime, swim in canal boats, and go wild in the city’s green spaces.
Anyone who claims that Berlin has lost its edge should head straight for the Badeschiff. Pick your way through the remains of a deserted warehouse and you’ll come out onto an urban, canal-side beach, where a DJ spins, and beautiful people drink beer around the edge of a pool fashioned out of a canal boat. Or drop by legendary club Berghain, where – provided you make it past the notoriously picky bouncers – you can dance until dawn … and all through the next day, too.
When you eventually emerge, blinking in the sunlight, there’s plenty more chilled out fun to be had. On Sundays locals brunch in quirky, leafy Prenzlauer Berg, before heading to Mauer Park for the city’s most popular fleamarket. It has miles of stalls selling 78s, homemade cakes, and battered Levi’s. For the brave or foolhardy, the open-air Bear Pit Karaoke gives regulars and newcomers alike the chance to belt out their best David Hasselhof cover for the entertainment of a baying crowd.
Another park not to be missed is Tempelhof, the former airport which is now a haven of open skies and straight roads. It’s placed in the south of the city, and a magnet for open-air gigs and outdoor art happenings. Get lost in the forests of the Tiergarten, and hope to emerge near the charming Café Buchwald, where they’ve been perfecting their Baumkuchen for more than 150 years.
Out East in Kreuzberg and Freidrichshain, you’re likely to find that the local cafe doubles as a hairdresser, a bookstore or a vintage clothes shop. Likewise in Neukölln, locals flit between traditional beer gardens and strange hybrids like Sameheads, which combine tongue-in-cheek art with serious partying.
Other cities might copy Berlin’s beat-up, graffittied aesthetic, but it’s impossible to duplicate its creativity and free spirit.