The Vibrant Berlin Nightlife — My Top Twenty After-Hours Hotspots

No nightlife in any city on earth may ever again match the Berlin nightlife of the 1920s! If you, like me, enjoy good time, however, Berlin in the early 21st century has got some of the most dazzling, naughty, and original clubs on the face of the Earth.

Berlin itself has undergone many transformations since World War II and the reunification. So it's not surprising in, my opinion anyway, that the Berlin nightlife has transformed many an empty dilapidated warehouse into a super-techno place to party.

Because, as you already know, Berlin is an enormous city, finding the true gems among its nightlife venues and bars can be tricky. So...

For your convenience, I've put together my own list of Berlin's Top Twenty nightlife hotspots. You want to spend your time partying in these places, not looking for them!

Berlin's Top 20 Nightlife Hotspots & Bars

1) Cookies

Cookies began as a moveable feast of nightlife, with its followers gathering each week at a new location chosen by the host Cookie. Cookie's talents for after-hours fun made the weekly get-together so popular that he eventually found a permanent location for "Cookies the club" at Friedrichstraße 158-164, so you won't need to be in his inner circle to find out where the action is! Just show up on Tuesday or Thursday at 9:00pm, grab a seat under one of bars' chandeliers, order some of the best vegetarian food you'll ever eat, and kick back to the techno music of the house DJs.

2) Bar Tausend

A relative newcomer to the after-dark club scene, Tausend at Schiffbauerdamm 11 is gunning for the top ranking. But you'll have to work to find it, because there is no sign or bell to identify its stark iron door shadowed by the Paris-Moskau railway. The club's interior is a single room of glass, steel, subdued lighting and plenty of mirrors so you can see yourself while you're being seen.

I love this enormous bar! The raised seating area with its luxurious sofas is perfect for sipping the Bar's legendary Moscow Mule.

3) Picknick

Picknick, at Dorotheenstraße 90, has in its less than three years of existence become one of the hottest Berlin nightlife destinations. A big part of its success comes from the once-a-month wardrobe parties, hosted by the club's VERY fashion-sensitive owners Björn and Tanya. The indie pop and electro music is even louder than the apparel of the crowd!

4) Rodeo Club

You may have to hunt to find Rodeo Club in the Post Office Building (Postfuhramt) on Oranienburger Straße. The entrance is in a dark area at the back of the building (look for the red light gleaming from within); and unless you're a club member or have a table reservation, you won't get in anyway.

But Rodeo Club is worth the trouble. Its interior walls are covered in urban art, and your gourmet dinner will be served at 8:00pm sharp. Then you'll dance the night away!

5) Newton Bar

Come here to Charlottenstraße 57 and head upstairs if you want to breathe cigar smoke and mingle with celebrities from the worlds of fashion, film, and politics.

The main lounge bar is a tribute to photographer Helmut Newton, with its walls dedicated to his black-and-white nude shots. (They're blown up to a height of 18 feet (5.5m) and look great against the green marble floors and black leather upholstery.

6) Kiki Blofeld

You might not think that a beach club on the banks of the River Spree would offer much in the way of nightlife. Kiki Blofeld, at Köpenicker Straße 48-49, was formerly a boat bunker, but now it's a one-of-a kind dance floor when the sun goes down.

There are plenty of great cocktails and food fresh from the outdoor grill!

7) Maria am Ostbahnhof (Maria)

I hate to party alone, and I never need to worry about that when I show up at Maria (An der Schillingbrücke/Stralauer Platz 34-35). Maria is simply huge, with two separate dance halls and room for up to 1,500 (!) frenzied partiers. DJs and live musicians entertain accompanied by mind-blowing visual effects.

If you want some "quiet time" with a date, head for the Josef room (as in Maria and Josef). If you need some fresh air, head outdoors where the River Spree is steps away.

8) TAPE

At Heidestraße 14 in the Mitte district, TAPE is located behind the Hamburger Bahnhof Museum in a rather dreary industrial warehouse. You can easily get lost as you seek the dance floor among its multitude of rooms spread over several floors, but I find that not knowing where I'm headed next is all part of the fun of partying!

TAPE's DJs keep the joint jumping with a continuing stream of electro, disco, house, and hip-hop selections!

9) Berghain/Panorama

I doubt that there could be any better setting for a no-holds-barred hardcore techno party scene than a former power plant. You'll enter Berghain, with its 60-foot (18m) ceilings on the lower floor after getting approval from a tattooed doorman, and find yourself throbbing to the noise from a set of enormous bass speakers.

The room will be filled with an assortment of gay muscle men, drag queens, old hippies and hip oldies, art students and fashion designer hopefuls, and tourists hoping for a taste of Berlin's wild side.

This is hard-core Berlin nightlife!

Panorama, the upstairs bar, has house music which carries over from Saturday night to Sunday afternoon. Berghain is at Am Wriezener Bahnhof.

10) Week12End

A night spent at week 12 and will fine you at Alexanderplatz 5, on the 12th and 15th floors and the roof terrace of one of the former GDR concrete tower blocks. Forget about how it looks from the outside, because there is no other club in Berlin which can match Week12End for its drop-dead gorgeous rooftop views of Berlin.

Other clubs to lower floors, you can dance the night away to some great techno music played by Berlin's top DJs.

11) Clärchens Ballhaus

Clärchens Ballhaus at Auguststraße 24 is all about old-fashioned fun, from its tuxedoed doorman to its retro décor and music which appeals to clubbers from 20 to 50. The classic pop and rock numbers are often played by local live bands. When DJs are in charge, the occasional German folk music number is thrown in. (Don't be scared!)

The dance floor is always crowded, and I love the Italian-German cuisine. What other club will keep you fueled with pizza and schnitzel?

12) Hafen

One of Berlin's premier gay clubs, Hafen at Motzstraße 19 in the Schoneburg district, is legendary as the place where Sally Bowles (Liza Minelli's character in one of my favorite films, "Cabaret") and her crowd had fun in the '20s.

Hafen's Monday evening Quiz Shows are a legend in themselves!

13) Greenwich

Greenwich at Gippestrasse 5 in the Mitte district is another creation of Berlin's master of nightlife, Cookie. Greenwich is all about "cool," from its green lighting to its huge wall aquariums where live fish glide through cool water. The walls themselves are padded and covered in green leather.

I love the laid-back clientele who make Greenwich the most relaxed bar of the Berlin nightlife!

14) Zpyz

I think it's supposed to sound like "Spies" when you say it aloud, because it's almost as secretive as a top Cold War spy would have been!

Zpys is a small nightclub loft almost lost in the vastness of Reichenberger Straße. Within its two rooms are a bar, dance floor, and corners to which you can escape for conversation. Expect electro music with a strong beat, a twenty-something crowd, and (my favorite) lots of cheap but good German beer!

15) A-Trane

How legendary is the jazz club A-Trane (Bleibtreustraße 1 in Charlottenburg)? Legendary enough to attract Wynton Marsalis, Alice Coltrane, and Herbie Hancock to its stage.

If you, like I do, enjoy your jazz performed live in a dark, smoky, and very personal setting, this is the place for you. The Saturday night impromptu jam sessions begin early Sunday morning and are open to all at no charge.

16) Bohannon

Funk is the catchword at Bohannon, as you might guess from its name. Hamilton Bohannon himself was the inspiration for the sounds of soul, R&B, reggae, and hip-hop issuing from Dircksenstraße 40. Berlin DJs Barney Millah and Artoo keep things hopping on the club's two dance floors.

I highly recommend Bohannon's weekly Fever party!

17) Rosi's

Although its décor (mid-90s revamped industrial space adorned with graffiti) may be a bit outdated, I love that Rosi's (Revaler Straße 29) has music to please every ear and dance style. Live bands and DJs keep thing moving with mixes of punk, electro, indie, dancehall, and Balkan beat numbers.

Rosi's prices are affordable for students, and their beer garden serves great summertime barbecue!

18) Rechenzentrum

My first impression of Rechenzentrum, at Nalepastraße 10-16 southeast of Treptower Park, was of an alien spaceship stranded far from home.

Truly unique among Berlin's clubs, Rechenzentrum has an outdoor area with volleyball courts, individual tents, a restaurant, and bars scattered about in the sand. The nightlife takes place on weekends within the “spacecraft” itself, where you'll lift off to one of the world's best sound systems.

During warm weather you can rent one of the tents overnight in case you're too partied out to make it home! ;-)

19) White Trash Fast Food

The burgers at White Trash Fast Food are, in my opinion, certainly the equal of America's best, and they taste even better when eaten to the sound of the club's rock 'n roll cabaret shows.

The crowd at White Trash Fast Food is a mixed bag, like the club's mix of live music and DJs. WTFF's Bloody Mary is something special, and by itself worth the trip to Schönhauser Allee 6-7.

There's nothing trashy about this place!

20) Tresor

Tresor, when it opened in 1991, quickly became the leading nightclub in the Berlin nightlife scene. It closed in late 2004, but re-opened in early 2007 and has come a long way in regaining its stature.

At Kopenickerstrasse 59-73, Tresor is Berlin's largest nightspot and its downstairs is a magnet for big-boom techno fans. There's lighter music upstairs, but I suggest you come prepared to fight for room on the dance floors!

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