Whether you’re in the mood for romance, showing a friend around from out of town, or just collecting your own thoughts outdoors, it’s always a good idea to take a stroll through Berlin’s cosmopolitan wonder. And now that the lovely spring weather is arriving, can you think of anything better?
Kastanienallee and its surrounding area has a reputation for being a bit uppity, perhaps too trendy, perhaps too crowded with tourists and young moms and their baby strollers. But despite the onslaught of haters, the Kiez continues to be one of the most beautiful areas in the city, if not the world!
Let’s start our walking tour on the northern part of this area at U Eberswalder Straße, where Danziger Straße ends (turning into Eberswalderstraße for just one city block) and Kastanienallee begins. (North of here, at the major intersection of Schönhauser Allee, it turns into Pappelallee). At this major Prenzlauer Berg intersection we find a bustling collection of shops, cafes and street food establishments (like Currywurst at Konnopke’s Imbiss). At night, this area is taken over by a certain type of party-goer, perhaps epitomized by Soda Club.
Our first point of interest on Kastanienalle is An einem Sonntag im August, a lovely cafe known for sweets, brunch and veggie burgers. Next door is terrific Gemüse Kebab and across the street, next to pizza shops, is the Prater Garten, a lively beer garden in the summer. Also on this block are reliable places for a drink: Schwarzsauer features one simple U-shaped bar. Kani Mani has many comfy couches and dim lighting.
Kastanienallee intersects Oderberger Straße, which might feature the most lovely architecture in the city. The pastel building facades are somehow reminiscent of Paris. This street features many good restaurants (Vietnam Village, Entweder Oder, Sushi Ky and countless others), cafes (Kauf Dich Glücklich, Cafe Krone, Bonanza) and shopping. Paul’s Boutique and Goo are vintage stand-outs worth checking out simply for their amazing collections. New trends can be picked up at places like Cyroline and Flagship Store.
Oderberger Straße ends at Mauerpark. Our day could simply ravel into a stroll through here, especially on Sundays when the Flohmarkt and karaoke take over. Fast Rabbit on Eberswalder is a great vegan restaurant across from the park. But lets continue on.
Back on Kastanienallee are more solid restaurants like the reliable Schiller Burger, Cat Tuong (Vegetarian Vietnamese) and Pizza Pane, and some institutions that retain a certain East Berlin edge: Lichtblick Kino is a charming single-screen cinema that screens Casablanca every Saturday night. The building exterior near Cafe Morgenrot features a large critique of capitalism: Kapitalismus normiert zerstört tötet (Capitalism normalizes, destroys, kills). On the eve of May Day, a vocal protest marches up this street.
In ironic contrast to the anti-capitalist sentiment are many high-end boutiques for shopping. Greta & Luis has a couple locations here, along with Mazooka and Temporary Showroom and many others. It’s easy to get lost in these shops! Also here is a charming video store, where you can still rent DVDs. It may seem like a relic in the days of internet streaming, but it’s still fun to browse movies physically.
Zionskirchplatz is the next point of interest on our tour. The church here is a definite photo op, even from within its spires. It’s surrounded, of course, with more places to sit back and relax with food or drink, including W Der Imbiss and the Weinerei Forum, where unlimited wine is pay-as-you-wish.
Other restaurants worth mentioning are Babel, renowned for its Lebanese offerings, Die Schule, a unique spot for traditional fare, and Berlin Burrito Company, where you can substitute rice for pommes (Berliner style).
Somewhere along our walk, we have seamlessly passed from Prenzlauer Berg into Mitte. It’s funny how random and arbitrary the borders between districts can seem!
Technically at the end of Kastanienallee, and in the true spirit of this neighborhood, we have another Kauf Dich Glücklich, this time a boutique shop within a cafe. Berliners (and visitors) spill onto the street, eating pastries and drinking refreshments. Also near are records at Melting Point. Here the street changes its name (for some reason) to Weinbergsweg.
We’ll end our tour on this final vibrant block, a downward walk into Rosenthaler Platz. This area is bursting with interesting spots, like Yumcha Heroes and the new Roy&Pris, Daluma, and the chic book & magazine shop soda. There is also Gorki Park, Zur Rose and Cafe Fleury, which sits at the entrance of Volkspark am Weinbergsweg. In terms of fashion we have two quite interesting boutiques: Adrett and Superconscious.
The park here is amazing. It’s perfect for people-watching in warm weather, featuring a great collection of fashionable Berliners. Overlooking the pond is Nola’s, a Swiss restaurant with a bit of a vintage 50s decor. Also here is the oldest Photoautomat in the city!
Our walking tour could easily continue through Rosenthaler Platz and into Mitte, but this is surely enough for one day! Perhaps end with a beer at Mein Haus am See, or grab maybe the best cheeseburger in the city from Tommi’s Burger Joint nearby. Of course, you could bring your own refreshments from the local Späti into the park and enjoy the setting sun. Prost!
Images by Keith Telfeyan & Eszter Rohacsek