I'd recommend staying in Kreuzberg or Neukölln. There's an area right between which is really nice. “Kreuzkölln” is the nick name but don't know if it's official, here it is on AirBNB.
There are lots of other cool areas to stay in. Prenzlauer Berg was the first area to get gentrified, and has developed into a rather pricey area but still maintains an artist vibe from the early days. Wedding further out, but more up-and-coming. The Centre of Berlin, “Mitte”, I would generally avoid. Nothing much happens there, as it’s mostly offices.
This is the main “working café” for startup people in Berlin. It’s a bit packed and noisy, but at an extra cost you can rent day-spaces upstairs and have meetings as well.
There are a lot of great coffee places in Berlin, but don’t count on it for work, though. Many cafe’s in Berlin, the have a “no laptops” policy. I will just mention my favourites:
Godshot - also has amazing furniture
Five Elephant - This place has the best cheesecake in the city
The Barn - Really good roasters, worth bringing home
Great Ramen! Get’s busy but worth the wait.
Really good Pizza. You can take it to go and enjoy it by the canal. It's nicer and less crowded if you head east.
Falafel is a huge deal in Berlin, and this whole in the wall is one of the best in my opinion.
Just a great Vietnamese place for a quick dinner.
Amazing Mexican food and even better Margaritas! The vibe here is amazing, unless your look for a quick bite in a quiet atmosphere. It’s super busy, and as you can’t book you usually need to wait a bit to get a table. It’s really worth it though, and just order a drink while you wait and take it as an experience.
If you want some more high-end food, this a a great place with a beautiful location. They bring huge amounts of food, and manage to make modern interpretations of classic German dishes. I was pretty broke when living in Germany, so I’m sure there’s a ton of other good restaurants, but I don’t them.
Dive bars are really the whole point of going out in Berlin. Don’t look for fancy bars, they tend to suck.
Good cheap bar, also super casual. I've rolled joints in there and the bartender's didn't give a shit. The whole place is decorated like a Jungle, and the G&T’s are great.
This is a prototypical Berlin-style bar. If you are staying in the area, it’s a great place to hang.
This is probably the tiniest bar in the city, and used to be my go-to when coming home really late. You always strike up interesting conversations with strange people, and you just might end up going back out again.
Cocktail culture in Berlin is Amazing. You get a lot for your money, and this combined with German precision makes for some truly amazing experiences.
This might have been the bar that made me fall in love with cocktails. I once saw the bartender super carefully make me an Old Fashioned only to taste it and pour it out as it wasn’t perfect. It’s a speak-easy style, so a bit of a random street, and you need to ring the doorbell and wait. If it’s full, the green door is close by.
This place serves amazingly well-crafted cocktails, but is also casual enough to just go for a beer and hang out. One time a friends couple was visiting, and they had such a good time here that they forgot to use protection later that night. Great kid they got though! Weser-strasse has a lot of other great bars and restaurants.
As a restaurant, this place is nothing special, but in the basements hides an amazing cocktail bare which is not shy of some crazy experimentation with strange ingredients and combinations. The waiting staff is extremely knowledgeable, so for once I’d even say it’s ok not to sit in the bar.
Clubs should maybe not be listed under drink, as not much drinking goes on in the Berlin clubs. You can easily have a good time drinking there though, just don’t show up drunk as they won’t let you in. Also, don’t come in a big group, don’t be arrogant, don’t be overdressed and don’t be just guys.
Don't try to go to Berghain. There's a lot of cool clubs. I really liked this one as it’s kindoff a maze of old apartments that have been joined together and turned into a club. Or Griessmuehle. The latter is hardcore techno. If you really want a Berlin experience, Schwutz or KitKat. 😀
This closed-down airfield, built by the Nazis, was used for the airbridge to West Berlin during the soviet blockade. It’s definitely worth reading about the history of this place, but what I really love is how little they have done to turn it into a park or tourist attraction. It really keeps the Berlin roughness, and the best thing to do is just to make a picnic and drink a ton of cheap German Beer. Sternburger “Sternie” pilsner is the classic choice.
This is one of my favourite places. It's outdoors, so only if the weather is good. They took the top floor of the parking house of a crappy mall and made it into an awesome outside bar/venue with an amazing view of the city. It’s a bit hard to find, but just go inside the mall, find an elevator and take it all the way to the top. You’ll come out on the parking-lot, and need to go left and walk up one more story.
Really nice old bookstore with an amazing selection of vintage books. If that’s what you’re into.
Boat ride to Charlottenburg
This is definitely on the touristy list, but it’s actually really cool if you are in good company, and just want to sit and talk while seeing a lot of the city. You can buy beer and food onboard (You are in Germany, after all), and the tour takes around two hours so you really get around.
This is a personal favourite of mine. All over Berlin, you fill find small late-night kiosks/liquor stores nicknamed “spätis” from spatkauf (late-store"). Due to the lack regulation/licence requirement for serving alcohol, most of these have tables and chairs outside, where you can sit and enjoy 80-cent beer and rolling tobacco. The must-drinks are:
“Sternie” - Sternburg is among the cheapest beers you can find;
Vodka-Mate - Club Mate is an extremely popular ice tea which has a lot of caffein and does a good job concealing the taste of cheap polish vodka. Take a zip and pour in the vodka. In many bars, this is also how they serve it. The bigger the Zip you take, the more vodka the add.
“Pfeffie” - Peppermint schnapps from Berliner Luft. Great for getting a fresh taste in your mouth after all those home-rolled cigarettes