All Articles Berlin after dark: 3 locals on the perfect night out

Berlin after dark: 3 locals on the perfect night out

From a Bali-inspired sauna to world-class cocktail bars.

Rachel Coleman
By Rachel Coleman28 Mar 2024 4 minutes read
Young hip people dancing at a nightclub, in Berlin
Image: TommL/Getty Images

Ask any techno lover which city they prefer to party in, and Berlin is likely a top choice. The city has been the home of a vibrant alternative music and dance scene since the ’80s, and it still holds on to that gritty character today. Just spend one night here in summer and you’ll see what we mean: don’t be shocked if you find yourself surrounded by new friends in an abandoned warehouse or at a lakeside rave until 5 a.m.

But while world-renowned clubs like Berghain and KitKatKlub get a lot of attention, there’s more to Berlin’s nightlife than clubs and DJs. We asked three locals to share where they like to go on a night out, from a Bali-inspired sauna to a museum that lets you sip wine after hours while you take in art. Bookmark their picks for your next trip to Berlin:

From Allison Reiber DiLiegro, senior managing editor at Design Hotels

Lucy Raven’s Ready Mix exhibition at Neue Nationalgalerie, in Berlin

“Coming from New York, where it pays to be pretty, I love that the nightclubs here embrace all kinds. The first time I went out in Berlin, I saw a much older man with a cane and a three-piece suit dancing on a platform next to a shirtless twenty-something in a beret. I would have maybe snapped a picture, but—and here’s something else I love—no photos are allowed. Cameras are covered with stickers at most nightclub’s doors, which creates a sense of presence and openness.”

Tip: “I’ve recently embraced the day party. Many clubs are open all weekend long, which means you can go on a 48-hour bender or, if you’re more like me, dance for a couple hours after brunch. I love Berghain in the winter, when the lines tend to be shorter than usual, and Sisyphos or Kater Blau in the summer, with their whimsical outdoor spaces.”

Allison’s favorite late-night spots in Berlin:

  • Neue Nationalgalerie, a Mies van der Rohe–designed modern art museum, stays open late on some summer evenings. Catch the sunset on the terrace, then take a spin through the galleries.
  • Berliners love Vabali, a sprawling Balinese-inspired spa that’s open from morning until midnight. With 13 saunas and steam rooms, a heated outdoor pool, and even a bar and restaurant, it makes for a lovely evening whether you bring your book or a few friends.
  • Fotografiska, the Stockholm-imported photography museum, stays open until 11 p.m. You’re welcome to grab a drink (alcoholic or otherwise) from the bar and bring it along as you explore the exhibitions.
  • If it’s a civilized evening you’re after, stop by one of the city’s lively jazz clubs. Check online to see who’s playing at Donau115, Yorckschlösschen, and A-Trane, and be sure to make a reservation as shows tend to sell out.

From David Kamp, a creative and strategic director

Spinning records at club in Berlin
Image: Hinterhaus Productions/Getty Images

“I love that Berlin has a healthy disdain for exclusive clubs, VIP areas, and bottle service, and that’s what makes it so special compared to other cities. It’s never been about how much you‘re willing to spend, but all about knowing where to go and who you’re with.”

Tip: “The best nights go from planned to spontaneous. Here’s a step-by-step guide to a night out: Step 1. Secure a nice dinner spot. Step 2. Discover a new bar that someone you trust swears by. Step 3. Talk each other into going clubbing.”

David’s favorite places for a night out:

  • Ember OFC is a one-of-a-kind space on a Kreuzberg rooftop offering a quality, unpretentious tasting menu—and if you're lucky, a cotton-candy sunset over the city. All dishes are cooked on an open fire. Book in advance.
  • Sway on the trendy Pannierstarasse in Neukölln is a natural wine bar with a great sound system, a cool crowd, and life-saving late-night snacks.
  • Keep an eye out for parties hosted by Sound Metaphors—an ace record shop and label—and Sound System by H.A.N.D. These folks never disappoint if your goal is to dance.

From Sebastian Graus, the head of creative at Kitchen Stories

People drinking at bar in Kreuzberg neighborhood, in Berlin
Image: Busà Photography/Getty Images

“My perfect night starts in any of the city’s great wine bars. In the summer, there’s probably a beer pit stop at a Späti (the name for Berlin’s 24-hour convenience stores, where it’s also common to take a seat and have a drink with a friend). Depending on how long the night goes, I’ll also pass by a cocktail bar. I love to spend my time in the Kreuzberg and Neukölln neighborhoods, where there are many options for drinking or dancing, so you can just hop from place to place.”

Tip: “Take the night as it comes and don’t take anything too seriously. The clubbing scene here is so special and there definitely are certain ways to behave, but if you go in with an open mind and be respectful, you’ll have a great time.”

Sebastian’s favorite nightlife spots:

  • Wax On was recently named the best bar in Germany in the 2024 Mixology Bar Awards but it has been fantastic since the day it opened.
  • Repeat Bar is a fun, relaxed club if you want to dance but don't want to stand in line. The location near Görlitzer Park means you can easily transition from watching the sun set in the park to drinks and dancing indoors.
  • Sway has a great selection of wines and a few simple cocktails.
  • Bar Brutal 54 is fun and rowdy when you’re in that kind of mood (but it is quite smoky, as many Berlin bars still tend to be).
Rachel Coleman
Rachel Coleman is a Berlin-based freelance writer and social media strategist. Previously based in NYC, she has worked at Condé Nast Traveler, Architectural Digest, GetYourGuide, and other travel and lifestyle publications. Find more of her work at www.rachelcoleman.co.