There is never a bad time to drink beer in Berlin, but perhaps the best time is outside in a biergarten. Now is the season for cold drinks and the beautiful outdoors. Here are the eight best Berlin biergartens to get your drink on.
Notes on Visiting Berlin Biergartens
The season generally runs from April until the end of September, but may run longer or shorter depending on the weather. They also may not open, or run shorter hours, if it is raining.
Many establishments are cash only and do not provide table service. Beer gardens are rarely full-service venues. They do, however, provide for the full family with activities for children like sand boxes, playgrounds, ice cream and non-alcoholic drinks.
This iconic biergarten is the city's oldest. Located just off the busy intersection of Prenzlauer Berg's Eberswalder Straße, it may also be Berlin's most popular.
Prater was opened in 1837 and though the neighborhood has vastly changed, the biergarten remains the same. Simple bench seating is surrounded by brick buildings and lit with strings of large blub lights once the sun falls. Chestnut trees shade the nearly 600 seats available here. Beer and snacks are available, but the environment is what people come for. This biergarten has survived two World Wars, the DDR and now, most dangerously, gentrification.
If you prefer sitting inside or full meals, try the Prater Restaurant.
This canal-front beer garden can be likened to the NYC's Central Park Boathouse. A bit of "quiet in the big city", the biergarten is hidden deep in the enormous Tiergarten. Entering from winding dirt paths or the roadway that crosses from the canals next to the Berlin Zoo and in front of the Spanish embassy, the site suddenly opens up to reveal boats for rent on the water, a year-round restaurant and the spacious biergarten.
A central pavilion offers beers, pizza and pasta, and desserts. Buy your snacks and drinks and then perilously make your way with loaded arms past the running children and guffawing Germans to your own piece of tranquility on the water. A deck along the water offers idyllic views and guests are shaded by the stoic, leafy, walnut trees.
Catch a beer here on any sunny day and watch for events like showings of the World Cup.
Just across the canal from Cafe am Neuen See, historic Schleusenkrug also serves boozy life on the water. Started as a simple imbiss in 1954, the workers carried refreshments to boaters stopped in the sluice (or Schleuse in German). Today's biergarten-goers can find seating on the lower terrace which provides an excellent view of the action at the locks. Several other levels are just a few steps up or down, but offer plenty of intimate spaces ideal for small groups.
Servers wander the grounds, dropping off everything from grilled wurst to the ever-present pretzel. Watch the menu for seasonal specials. If it is too cold or rainy to brave the outdoors, there is limited seating inside the 1950s-style diner with dishes like schnitzel.
Hidden away in the neighborhood of Wedding within a secluded residential Hof (courtyard) sits one of Berlin's best craft breweries with a fittingly stellar biergarten. Here, the attraction is the beer. Try the seasonal specialty, Panke Gold, or one of their other unique beers like an IPA.
The main seating is in the surprisingly large underground cellar, but as this list concerns biergartens, we'll focus on the handful of tables that are brought out in the summer beneath the massive oak trees.
To soak up the booze, Eschenbräu only has a few dining options, the best of which is the flamkuchen. If you prefer something else, bring it with you. They allow outside food.
Prenzlauer Berg's bursting social scene has spilled over the northern border into the formerly quiet Kiez (neighborhood) of Pankow. As is the trend, this location simply looks like an abandoned factory when not in operation. Once a brewery, the beer flows again for a mostly young local crowd.
Way out in the eastern wilds of Marzahn, the Alte Börse Marzahn is an oasis of modern Berlin. Home to a year-round restaurant, cinema and various events, its expansive grounds are also the site of a biergarten in summer. In 2014 it hosted the International Craft Beer Festival (the cooler, younger brother of the Biermeile).
This is a far different existence than one would have expected from a former stockyard. Its 30,000 were once dedicated to wrangling cattle, not people. No matter the past, it is now the ideal place to get a beer.
Golgatha is a very Berlin biergarten. It is again within a park, lovely Viktoriapark, opened in 1928 with Katzbachstadion.
This is all industrial design and dancing. Sunny days turn into sweaty nights of karaoke, DJs and electronic dance parties. Free wifi makes it the perfect place to hang-out until the party starts sometime after 19:00. Take your pick between the usual picnic tables or lounge in the many available beach chairs.
Once again, we find a great biergarten in a park. The two often go hand in hand. As does great beer. The Brauhaus brews its own beers which are served in its spacious restaurant, as well as in the biergarten in back which opens to Hasenheide Park.
Beer aficionados can not only sample their unfiltered, unpasteurized, cask conditioned beers, they can get a behind-the-scenes tour of the brewery. If you want to get your hands dirty, they also offer regular brewing courses.