At €75 per hour (for a minimum of three hours, see his services don’t come cheap

But the Berlin Tourist Board has lent him to us for a couple of hours so we waste no time in picking his brains over the coolest haunts in Berlin.

He leads us straight to Prenzlauer Berg, just north of Friedrichshain. It used to be considered deepest east, a drab working-class suburb.

Henrik points to a crumbling grey facade.

“All the buildings used to look like that,” he says. But now it’s a riot of candy-coloured buildings with modern ironwork balconies.

The suburb’s hub is Kollwitzplatz, named after socially conscious artist Kathe Kollwitz.

Lined with trendy cafés and restaurants it boasts a “must-see” organic food market on Thursdays and Saturdays.

This is also the old stomping ground of dishy German actor Daniel Brühl, who starred in Goodbye Lenin and Inglourious Basterds, and who used to work in Gagarin café on nearby Knaackstrasse.

East Berlin has a much younger demographic than the west, Henrik tells us, and has earned the sobriquet of “nappy valley” due to the high number of young families living here. Judging by the rows of prams parked outside the cafés, he’s not exaggerating.

Henrik’s advice for exploring Prenzlauer Berg is: “Be curious – stick your head into courtyards, you might find an outdoor bar or a cinema.”

Or a squat. Prenzlauer Berg might be pretty yuppiefied these days, but it still retains a bohemian flavour.

Squats are easy to spot: usually shabby-looking buildings colourfully decorated with posters and flags. In the summer months many of them put on food, film nights and gigs.

Perhaps the most famous squat is Kunsthaus Tacheles, in Mitte, a former department store taken over by a collective of artists when the Berlin Wall came down in 1990.

Although a question mark hangs over its future, there are plenty of others to see.

We poke our heads into the rainbow decorated Das Hausprojekt on Kastanienallee 86. There’s not much happening, but come summer and this place will be buzzing.

» Alison Grinter travelled with Germanwings ( A return flight via Cologne starts at £100, including charges and taxes

24 hours in cool Berlin


1. Breakfast

Berliners take breakfast very seriously. It’s a chance to catch up after a night of clubbing and can last hours.

2. Hit the markets

The Sunday flea market in the Mauer Park is Berlin’s answer to Portobello, but less pretentious.

3. People watch

Head to Volkspark am Weinberg, known as “drug park” because apparently there are more dealers here than any other park in Berlin!

4. Art scene

Check out the chichi little art galleries on the Auguststrasse strip in Mitte.

5. Shopping

Hit the shops Prenzlauer Berg and Mitte are full of quirky vintage boutiques with names such as No Socks, No Pants and Who Killed Bambi?

6. Bar life

Head to Oranienstrasse in East Kreuzberg for cool bars. Local favourite is hard-to-find Paloma Bar at Kottbusser Tor.

7. Clubbing

Cutting-edge nightlife is in the east. Party at Berghain, “the temple of techno and house on planet Earth”, or more mainstream Watergate, on the banks of the Spree. 

8.  Dancing

For ballroom dancing Berlin-style, check out Clärchens Ballhaus in Mitte .