Back in the 90s and early 00s, if you mentioned Neukölln to a Berliner the probable answer you were going to get from them was a fearful one.
Riddled with street crime, Neukölln was perceived as one of Berlin's roughest neighbouhoods back then, a neighbourhood that had not hopped on the train of modernity and trendy decadent like Friedrichshain had.
Contrary to most beliefs, Kreuzberg isn't the district outside of Mitte with the largest Turkish population; that would be Neukölln, a district that has one third of its population with non-German origin.
However, if you had departed Neukölln 15 years ago and returned in the late 00s, you would never have believed that it was the same place. The key word used to describe Neukölln often is gentrification, because Neukölln has gone through a metamorphosis where students and creative types have taken over this part of Southeast Berlin by storm, arriving in hordes and transforming its landscape. From 2007 to 2010, there was an inflation in housing prices of 23% and what used to be one of Berlin's cheapest places to live has now become yet another victim of the popularity that the German capital has experienced in recent decades.
While the graffitis and the run-down bars still remain, they have now been surrounded by trendy cafés, art galleries and clothing stores of the vintage type.
Neukölln is hailed as one of Europe's most trendy and up-and-coming districts and its popularity hasn't gone unnoticed by Germans and foreigners. Its leisure options are endless; on a nice sunny Berlin day, you can choose to go and spend a nice day relaxing in the sun at Tempelhof Airport or, even better, in the beautiful Körnerpark. Enjoy nice coffee and food in the cafés around Hermannstraße, where you can also find some nice bars to go out in the evening. During the day, walk down the busy Karl-Marx Straße and turn into the cobbled streets around Richardplatz, the beating heart of the district.
This district blends its past with the present, and that is what makes it so unique.
It's a similar process to what Friedrichshain experienced in the 90s, but this has arrived here 20 years later. Because the "cool place to be" in Berlin changes to quickly, this article will probably be obsolete if you re-read it in, say, 5-10 years, but for now, Neukölln is the trendiest place in the city according to many.
Its aforementioned multiculturalism is also something that you can use to your advantage, because the cuisine options from Turkey, Africa and the Middle East that you can find here are endless. Whether it's a döner kebab or Egyptian or Lebanese bistros and even exquisite Italian restaurants, you are guaranteed to eat well, because Berlin is not just about the Currywurst.
All in all, Neukölln is a new place on the map in Berlin, a new place that you should add to your list of things to visit in Berlin, because it has it all that a traveller might want to find in a city.
Whether it's food, culture, atmosphere or nightlife, find your way to the south of the city and experience this gem. If you're up for a unique urban adventure, rent apartments in Berlin and make your way to Neukölln for a taste of one of Europe's hottest districts.