Berlin clubs have been thriving for decades, and the sheer volume and variety of locations throughout the city has made it a key destination for music fans around the globe.
But with so much hype and so many places to choose from, where do you even start? Here’s our guide to some of the finest places to dance in the German capital, whether you’re just looking to jive to some cheesy tracks or you’re on the hunt for some unfettered hedonism.
The Berlin club scene is world famous © Carsten Koall / Getty Images
Berlin’s best clubs for summer
Attracting top DJs from around the world, ://about blank in Friedrichshain hosts intense all night techno parties with multiple dance floors and an expansive garden area for chilling in the warmer months. The derelict facade exemplifies Berlin’s gritty techno scene, and it’s definitely not one to miss.
Club der Visionäre
A laidback local institution, this beautiful riverside spot is a great choice for some low-key beats and an afternoon relaxing in the sun. You’ll be able to chill on the deck, loll about under the willow trees or hit the dance floor while enjoying the minimal tech and house.
Let your hair down at Kater Blau on the river Spree © AXEL SCHMIDT / AFP / Getty Images
Featuring two floors, a boat and an outdoor relaxation area, Kater Blau serves up high-calibre electro and house all weekend long on the banks of the Spree. With the spirit of an adult playground and a stunning view of the river from one of the dance floors, you may want to stay all weekend.
Possibly the best view you’ll find at any club in Berlin, Klunkerkranich is situated at the top of a high-rise parking structure, enabling revellers to see for miles. Get there early for the sunset, then party into the night – the musical offerings can be quite varied, so check the listings to see which night suits your taste. This spot is also a bar and event space by day, so you won’t need to wait until party time if you want to enjoy the panorama of Berlin’s trendiest district.
Salon zur Wilden Renate & Else
Situated on the banks of the River Spree, Salon zur Wilden Renate (just ‘Renate’ to fans) has one of the spectacular interiors of any club in the city. During the summer, Else offers up a unique clubbing experience in Renate’s open-air space. With incredibly eclectic shabby chic decor and a hefty pedigree of techno house DJs, this is a whopper way to spend a summer’s day.
If you’re into dark techno and heavy industrial beats, take a trip to Griessmühle. With three dance floors and a wide range of popular events on the bill, it’s up there with the city’s finest. During the summer, the expansive outdoor area is basically an adult playground filled with funky fixtures and the chance to wander around the banks of the Spree.
Hoppetosse is one of Berlin's best summer spots © Brian Dowling / Getty Images for Zalando
Ahoy! It’s a nightclub on a boat! Hoppetosse is stationed on a docked boat in Eichenstrasse, just a short walk from some other amazing clubs. Expect a simple vibe, with two decks jamming out to techno and house.
Sisyphos has a festival feel, despite being situated in an abandoned dog food factory – it even has a small lake with a beach. Perfect for some summer partying, you could find yourself sticking around for a few days, since it’s open non-stop Friday to Monday. This one is a bit further out of the city, but definitely worth the trip (and there’s a shuttle from Ostkreuz station if you don’t fancy the walk).
Pop, hip hop, R&B and disco
Situated in a former swimming pool in Kreuzberg, this funky joint has become a staple for locals who love 90s hip hop and R&B. The regular Burgers & Hip Hop event has become one of the club’s main attractions, hosting righteous food trucks from around Europe in their courtyard and laying down some crowd-pleasing beats into the early hours.
Usain Bolt mans the decks at an after-party in YAAM © Alexander Hassenstein / Getty Images for PUMA
With its poor-but-sexy riverside feel, YAAM features a beach bar and a food market alongside the main club. Standing out from the crowd of dark techno clubs, YAAM has cemented itself as an important part of the city’s nightlife culture, with a focus on social activism in addition to providing a place for Berliners to dance to reggae, hip hop, R&B, dub, afrobeat and soul.
It might seem like Berlin’s nightlife is a bit heavy on the techno, but those who fancy a more mainstream music selection will have a great time at this monthly event, which hops between clubs like Ritter Butzke and Prince Charles. Here you’ll have various musical options to choose from, with rooms pumping out old disco classics, hip hop, or cheesy pop tunes.
One of the more recent additions to Berlin’s hip hop scene, Craving occurs on the first Wednesday of every month at Monarch near the vibrant Kottbusser Tor. Expect experimental beats, improvised freestyle sessions and poetic verses from this up-and-coming event.
Cassiopeia in RAW Gelände offers a mix of genres © View Apart / Shutterstock
In addition to being one of the most in-demand concert venues in the German capital, this spot in the heart of Friedrichshain is part of the iconic RAW Gelände complex of derelict buildings and hosts regular club nights with Afro-Caribbean music, hip hop, disco, pop and funk.
Rock and alternative
One of Berlin’s top spots for rock and alternative gigs and club nights, this former cinema offers a great mix of indie, rock and metal-focused events in the heart of Kreuzberg.
The name on every local punk’s lips when it comes to rocking out, this joint is like Berlin’s answer to CBGB, the iconic New York bar which hosted countless big names and became the epicentre for the genre’s explosion in the US. Unlike CBGB, SO36 is still open and keeping the spirit of punk alive on the vibrant Oranienstrasse.
Sage Club shares it's space with KitKatClub © XAMAXullstein bild via Getty Images
Sharing the space with hedonistic haven KitKatClub, Sage opens its doors every Thursday for a long night of rocking. Three dance floors are on offer, some with live bands, as well as a pool area and a fire-spitting dragon, naturally.
Techno, house and electronic
One of the most lauded names in Berlin’s club scene, Tresor set up shop in a derelict power station in 2007, after losing their original space in a former department store which they had held since the Berlin Wall fell. Expect heavy industrial techno, an unbelievable sound system and lots of nooks and crannies to explore.
If you like your techno and house served up in a small, sweaty space among some of the most committed music fans in the city, this the place for you. Golden Gate is simple, minimalist and all about the music. The fun runs almost non-stop from Thursday until Monday.
Like many other haunts on this list, Trauma is a multi-purpose space boasting a cinema, art space and proving ground for some of the city’s hottest up-and-coming artists with a heavy focus on electronic music.
Now a nightclub, this former public toilet was once a gay cruising spot and now hosts some of the city’s most intimate electronic events. The walls are still plastered with the decades-old graffiti, offering up a little insight into the location’s history, and the crowd is always up for a good time.
Hosting some of Europe’s biggest DJs, Watergate is a must-visit for fans of house, techno or drum and bass. The floor to ceiling glass windows offer a stunning view of the Spree river and the iconic Oberbaumbrücke. Be sure to stay until sunrise for one of the best views any Berlin club has to offer.
Electronic musician George Fitzgerald performing at Schwuz © Jana Legler / Redferns
A good mix
Short for Schwuler Zentrum (gay centre), SchwuZ is one Berlin’s longest-running queer party institutions. With a wide range of parties across three floors, you’ll find anything from cheesy pop to heavy techno here among an always lovely and fabulous crowd.
This eclectic Neukölln bar may seem like a casual hangout during the week, but features a labyrinthine underground club space in the basement with a tight dance floor and a laid-back seating area for relaxing.
Where to let it all hang out
Often lauded as the kinkiest place in Berlin, KitKatClub is a fetish-focused favourite complete with a swimming pool, sauna and dark rooms. You can dance the night away to techno while watching live bondage shows, or engage in some more hedonistic pursuits throughout the space. The door policy can be strict, so arrive dressed in your finest fetish garb.
Sven Marquardt, Berghain's legendary doorman © Jörg Carstensen / picture alliance via Getty Images
You can’t talk about clubbing in Berlin without mentioning Berghain, the iconic club whose famously picky bouncers are known worldwide. The club’s most committed followers call it ‘church’ and many spend whole weekends in the former power station’s maze-like corridors. If intense techno pumped from an exceptional sound system is what you’re looking for, you’ll find it here.
Head to the more relaxed Panorama Bar (one floor up) for some house. If you’re looking for something a bit more risqué, take a look in the underground Lab. Oratory, an ‘anything goes’ club for gay men. Regardless of where you’re heading, you’ll want to impress the bouncers.
Hosting regular sex-positive techno parties, Pornceptual is more than just a kinky party. This event aims to be as inclusive as possible and create a safe space for Berlin’s most hedonistic clubbers, with some top quality DJs and lots of fun to be had.
Berlin’s club scene is incredibly inclusive and LGBT+ locations make up a large number of the city’s most lauded nightclubs. SchwuZ, Berghain and Griessmühle are all LGBT+ clubs at heart. Many other clubs also host regular events for the LGBT+ community.