At once party-mad and uber-chilled, elegant and easy-going, grand and gritty, Berlin is the ultimate city of contrasts. It’s famed for its majestic Reichstag but also for its sleepless techno clubs. It flaunts chic pop-up eateries next to casual bratwurst stalls. You can tour the leafy gardens of the Tiergarten before strutting the boulevards under the Brandenburg Gate in nearby Mitte. Meanwhile, the priceless art collections of Museum Island beckon right next door to ramshackle squat bars and jazz dives and cumin-scented kebab stalls in hip Friedrichshain and cool Kreuzberg. Creative, sprightly, but steeped in history, it’s a capital you won’t forget in a hurry.
These days, Airbnb offers a whole load of potential stays in Germany’s first city. There are elegant penthouses that open onto the Mitte district in the heart of the capital. There are boho-boutique lodges down in the happening nightlife quarters. There are even houseboats and shared flats that help you feel the local vibe. Let’s take a look…
The situation with Airbnb in Berlin is fluid. Up until 2018, landlords faced strict rules on short-term rentals. That’s since changed. A new law has recently made it legal to lease out properties all over the city, provided hosts get an official permit from their borough. There are hefty fines – up to half a million euros! – for any property owners who try to dodge those responsibilities, so most will do things by the book. The good news is that travelers aren’t the target of the Airbnb laws. You can browse and book to your heart’s content, although you might want to check that your prospective Berlin pad has all the necessary registrations and whatnot.
Where should I stay in Berlin Airbnb?
Berlin is a patchwork of countless neighbourhoods, each with their own unique character and charm. We think beginning your Airbnb search in Mitte(1) is always a good idea, because a stay there means a stay right on the doorstep of the major sights and museums. For hipster bars and multicultural dining, the duo of Kreuzberg(2) and Friedrichshain(3) simply can’t be ignored. Neukölln(4) is an upcoming artist’s hub that’s great for those keen on heading off the beaten track. Then you’ve got the vibrant young professional area of Prenzlauer Berg(5), backed up by relaxed and well-to-do Charlottenburg(6).
Chic fashion shopping
Probably the most expensive part of town
Pricy to stay and live
Mitte means ‘the middle’, and it lives up to its name: The district forms the beating heart of the German capital. This is the stomping ground of iconic landmarks like the Brandenburg Gate, the shimmering glass dome of the Reichstag, and the tram-rattling interchange at Potsdamer Platz. You can while away your days shopping in the boutiques of chic Unter den Linden (Berlin’s answer to the Champs-Élysées). You can unravel raw 20th-century history at Checkpoint Charlie. You can get lost amid Mesopotamian relics and Greek busts in fascinating Museum Island. It’s positively brimming with things to do and see.
The original incubator of Berlin’s subculture scene, Kreuzberg is a punky, pugnacious part of the capital. Recent years have seen gentrification filter in, too, so you’ll now encounter graffiti-strewn squat bars next to independent coffee roasteries and creative media brands. The vibe remains relaxed and buzzy. There are oodles of places to sample multicultural menus – Turkish falafel, spicy Mexicana tacos, Indian rotis – along with rollicking live-music venues come the evening.
The character of Friedrichshain was forged in the aftermath of the fall of the Berlin Wall. In fact, you can still see some of that infamous bulwark, half crumbled and strewn with inspiring street art, at the East Side Gallery along the district’s riverside. The keywords here are alternative and rebellious. Friedrichshain has established itself as a hub for subversive politics and artists in the last few decades. It’s got countless photography galleries, smoky cafés where students chatter, and seriously legendary nightlife venues like Berghain (said to be virtually impossible to get into).
Neukölln is an unexpected arrival on the scene for visitors to Berlin. Until only recently, it was a workday neighbourhood without much to entice the traveler. Then came the artists and the students and, as if by magic, there’s now an array of coffee houses and beer bars and tempting gastronomy. The area swirls in a mass of stoic 60s tenements around the charming cobbled square of Richardplatz (you’ll find a lovely Christmas market there in December). The rest of the area is about art-house cinemas and flea markets and Scandi-cool Airbnbs that rarely break the bank.
Affluent and happening Prenzlauer Berg is the chosen neighbourhood of Berlin’s hardworking youthful professionals. Its streets are trimmed with trees and wholesome cafes, vegan eateries and artisan bakeries. You’ll find charming, old-style architecture abounds, because this was one of the luckier corners of the metropolis to emerge relatively unscathed from WWII. There are also lots of parks and playgrounds. In short: It’s the perfect spot for families!
Out on the western fringes of the capital, past the vast parklands of the Tiergarten, the district of Charlottenburg offers an escape from the pumping nightlife and bars of Mitte and beyond. It’s perfect for couples and families and older travelers who aren’t on the hunt for sleepless nights, but rather intriguing modern art museums, stylish and comfy Airbnbs, safe streets, and urban green spaces. Yep, it’s the sort of place you’re more likely to run into a Baroque opera house than a beer-soaked watering hole!
There’s an element of the industrial-chic about this modish pad in south Berlin. Minimalist white walls, retro metro tiles, exposed brick and brushed steel are the sort of materials and colours you can expect inside. They run through a narrow galley kitchen and a large dining-lounge area. The bathroom is a huge plus, what with a spacious walk-in shower and elongated mirror on the wall.
Nestled in an old industrial complex on the northern fringes of downtown Berlin, this refurbished townhouse is a prime option if you’re keen on an Airbnb with a little extra room to spread out and relax. With three individual bedrooms and a large open-plan lounge and dining area, it’s very much a home away from home – great for medium-sized groups and families alike. What’s more, it’s a mere 1.5km or less to mainstay draws like the Hackescher Markt and Museum Island.
Located just above the buzzing interchange and bar hub of the Hackescher Markt, there will be plenty to entertain the whole family right outside the door of this lovely penthouse. But there’s also loads inside. It’s got a taste of luxury, with bright skylight windows opening into vaulted ceilings where stylish contemporary kitchen and lounge spaces abound. Expect three bedrooms and capacity enough for eight guests in total.
It’s possible to book out this entire guest house in the vibrant and central quarter of Schöneberg. Set over four individual apartments, it comes with room enough for 16 people at any one time, with sleeping arrangements across sofa beds, folding mattresses and double beds. The real draw has to be the communal space. The guesthouse comes with a private cobbled garden complete with shaded outdoor seating, not to mention dedicated facilities suitable for corporate workshops and meetings.
Scratch the city streets of Berlin and choose to hit the waters of the River Spree, all by opting to bed down on this houseboat. It’s surrounded on all sides by H2O, with floor-to-ceiling windows that let you lounge and gaze out across the main waterway as it winds through the capital. Inside, you get a wood stove and cosy lounge, along with a small kitchenette. Just remember that you’ll need to sail across on your complimentary pedalboat to arrive!
The cost of both hotels and Airbnbs in Berlin might just come as a pleasant surprise. Neither should break the bank, although you’re likely to find that private, sort-term apartments and homes are a tad cheaper. What’s more, you can use Airbnb to really trim the price of a trip to Germany further. First, try to scout out a pad with enough bedrooms for your whole group, so you can share the price of the holiday. Second, always see if there are weekly or monthly discounts on offer – longer-term travelers can sometimes save over 50% with those!
The downside of an Airbnb compared to a traditional hotel is the lack of service. To be pampered, have your bratwurst and beer delivered straight to your suite, or return to a fully cleaned room, you’ll have to pick somewhere like the Classik Hotel Hackescher Markt. It’s smack bang in the heart of the city, has its own cobbled garden, breakfast buffet, concierge, and more.
Unravel the story of the Berlin Wall, party the night away in sprawling underground techno clubs, taste currywurst and frothy German beers, shop through flea markets, watch jazz in squat bars – there’s oodles on the itinerary in this happening capital. What are you waiting for?