What are the best locations for street photography in Berlin? The amazing Berlin photo spots? The cool Instagram places in Berlin?
I get these questions quite often, so I decided to write the Berlin photography guide, that I would want to read.
Do you want to do a street photography tour in Berlin or do you need to find the top Berlin photo spots to fill your Instagram? This Berlin photography guide will work for you either way. Here is a list of my favorite photo spots in Berlin arranged in 8 walks.
Do you wish for a guided Berlin photo tour in Berlin? Look no further, book me for a personal street photography workshop and let me show you the Berlin I love.
After the the street photography walk section, you’ll find further recommendations for top Berlin photo spots like markets, subway stations, museums, parks and more.
Finally I have added some service information for the photography minded reader:
- Where to buy film in Berlin?
- How to find photo exhibitions in Berlin?
- The best photo galleries in Berlin
- Where can you have photo prints made in Berlin?
Safety: Berlin is a fairly safe city. Contrary to some media reports, there are no “no-go-areas”. Yet as in all big cities there is a certain amount of crime and violence. Much will depend on your street smartness but there are – rarely- acts of random violence. Trust your gut feeling, if it feels unsafe, it probably is. The easiest way to increase your safety, team up, don’t go alone. Safety comes in numbers.
All places are color coded
- green or no color code: generally safe area – still keep your stuff tight, pickpockets are ubiquitous.
- orange: still safe but keep you eyes open
- red: watch your back, be vigilant, particularly at night. teaming up is a good idea.
Is street photography legal in Germany?
The question about the legality of street photography Germany is one that I get asked many times. So I thought I should address this question. Please note this is a non-lawyer answer by a street photographer. Is street photography allowed in Germany? The short answer is “YES”. Street photography is legal in Germany. In a recent ruling the German supreme court recognized street photography as an art form. And creating art is a personal right that is protected by the constitution. So you are well with your rights to shoot street photography in Germany. There are some caveats. Everything that is considered as a
- invasion of privacy
- invasion of intimacy
- showing people in an undignified or helpless manner
is difficult from a legal point of view – and should be avoided from an ethical point of view. Most street photographers respect these boundaries anyway, so there should not be a problem.
Yes, street photography is legal in Germany”
When publishing a street photograph things get a bit tricky. People have a right to their own image and may object to the publication. In the end as with all questions of conflicting rights it is for the court to decide. There is your right to express yourself artistically and there is their right of your subject to their own image. In real life there is little drama or conflict. I do not have a lawyer on a retainer, I have never been sued, actually I never received any written complaint. If people recognize themselves in my images, they usually ask me to send them the image. And I’m happy to oblige, of course.
Street photography in Berlin – how do people react?
Reactions to being photographed are divers in Berlin as they are in most cities. In my experience most people don’t care or do not bother to react, when being photographed, many times they don’t even notice.
The mood varies from neighborhood to neighborhood. Mitte, Prenzlauer Berg and Charlottenburg are fairly easy going, the grittier neighborhoods like Kreuzberg, Neukölln and Wedding can be a bit more challenging.
I never had serious problems doing street photography in Berlin.
Just be mindful of your surroundings and the subjects you pick. A subway station with a lively drug trade might not be best place to start your “street photography in public transportation” project.
A lot depends on your own behavior, a friendly, self-confident and respectful behavior will go a long way. In case of a conflict I recommend to
- stay friendly,
- listen carefully and
- eventually offer to delete the shot in question and
- move on
These steps have worked for me many times. It always amazes me – and that goes way beyond the realm of street photography – how fast a conflict dies down, if one side listens carefully and remains calm and friendly.
While shooting on the streets I met many interesting people and heard many touching stories, the positive experiences in street photography outweigh by far the negative ones. Enjoy your time on the streets of Berlin!
The essential Berlin photography tour: Berlin in one day
This is for you, if you have little time or simply need the Berlin photography basics covered.
Do the 3 Berlin Mitte Walks:
This walks cover most of the typical attraction in Mitte like the Brandenburg gate, the Government district, the museum’s island etc. Add to this Across the Spree, Kreuzberg-Friedrichshain covering the East Side gallery, the iconic Oberbaumbrücke and giving you a whiff of trendy Friedrichshain and Kreuzberg. The “Berlin in one day tour” basically gives you Berlin on an Instagram level. Start with Mitte and end the day in one of the many bars and restaurants in Friedrichshain or Kreuzberg.
The Berlin photography walks
These photo walks show the classical Berlin, a mix of everything. I have added a few off the beaten path tips at the end of the section.
Government District, Mitte
Walk: Central Station – Washington Platz – along the river Spree direction east – Chancellery – Paul Löbe Haus – Reichstag – Brandenburg Gate
What to expect: Modern architecture, tourists, travellers and Angela Merkel
Best time: During day time, Brandenburg gate has excellent light at dawn and sunset
Getting there: S-Bahn station “Brandenburger Tor” or S-Bahn station “Hauptbahnhof”
Walk: S-Bahn or U-Bahn station Friedrichstrasse – Georgenstrasse – Museum’s island – Hackescher Markt – visit Hackesche Höfe and Haus Schwarzenberg – Neue Schönhauser Strasse – Münzstrasse – Alexanderplatz
What to expect: A crazy mix, the grungy but busy Friedrichstrasse station and ugly but lively Alexanderplatz, the poetic museum’s island, outdoor Tango dancers, 3rd wave coffee-shops, hipster shopping and anything in between. Outstandingly beautiful walk on summer evenings.
Best time: day time and summer evenings
Getting there: S-Bahn / U-Bahn station “Friedrichstrasse” or “Alexanderplatz”
Walk: U-Bahn station “Eberswalder Strasse” – Kastanienallee – Oderberger Strasse – Rykestrasse – visit Kulturbrauerei
What to expect: heavily gentrified neighbourhood, 3rd wave coffee shops, nice bars, clubs restaurants, very busy at night, excellent for night street photography.
Best time: afternoon, evening and at night
Getting there: U Bahn station “Eberswalder Strasse”
Along the Landwehr Canal, Kreuzberg and Neukölln
Walk: Kottbusser Tor – Reichenberger Strasse – Mariannenstrasse– Paul-Lincke Ufer – Maybachufer – Planufer – Admiralsbrücke
What to expect: Kottbusser Tor is easily the most notorious neighbourhood of Berlin, you will find anything here, drug dealers and drug addicts, Turkish immigrants, party people, artists, alternative lifestylers, tourists etc. Kottbusser Tor is quite active at night with a lot of bars and restaurants being open. As for the walk within some hundred meters the neighborhood changes into nice and gentrified. A lot of well known streetart between Kottbusser Tor and Schlesisches Strasse along Skalitzer Strasse. Summer evenings people hang out at Admiralsbrücke. Great atmosphere. Oranienstrasse (close to Kottbusser Tor) is well worth a visit at night (bars, clubs, restaurants).
Best time: day time and summer evenings
Getting there: U-Bahn station “Kottbusser Tor”
Across the Spree, Kreuzberg-Friedrichshain
Walk: U-Bahn station Schlesisches Tor – Oberbaumbrücke – Warschauer Straße– visit Eastside Gallery– visit Raw area (Warschauer /corner Revaler Strasse)
What to expect: Easily my favorite walk. Magnificent vistas from Oberbaumbrücke, breath-taking urban ugliness, terrific light at dawn and sunset, busy day and night, the RAW area can be a bit rough at night.
Best time: Afternoon till night
Getting there: U-Bahn station “Schlesisches Tor” or “Warschauer Strasse”
The new Mitte
This walk is meant for those who in Berlin at the central station, if you don’t simply extend walk 6 towards the government district.
Walk: Potsdamer Platz – Leipziger platz – visit Mall of Berlin– Holocaust Memorial
What to expect: Basically everything you’ll see is built after the unification of Berlin. Modern architecture, offices, shops, shopping centers, restaurants, bars cinemas. completely artificial yet buzzing with people. The Mall of Berlin offers an open gangway on the second floor, which allows for some interesting views. Potsdamer Platz has a huge underground area including an U-Bahn, train and S-Bahn station. The holocaust memorial is well worth a visit for many reasons. Street photography wise it is a challenging but rewarding terrain. Best bring some time and be patient.
Best time: day time and early evenings.
Getting there: U-Bahn / S-Bahn station “Potsdamer Platz”
West Berlin, Schöneberg – Charlottenburg
Walk: Wittenbergplatz – Tauentzienstraße – Breitscheidplatz – Zoo – Kurfürstendamm – Uhlandstraße – Savignyplatz – Knesebeckstraße – Ernst-Reuter-Platz
What to expect: Modern and not so modern architecture, offices, shopping areas, bars, coffee-shops, restaurants, galleries. Relaxed and laid back. This was the former center of West-Berlin, today it is still going strong but the party is elsewhere.
Best time: Daytime, wonderful light in the evening
Getting there: U-Bahn station ”Wittenbergplatz”, “Zoologischer Garten” or “Ernst-Reuter Platz”
The bad weather tour
Of course, bad weather provides the opportunity for great Berlin photography. Yet, let’s face it: There are deeply unpleasant combinations of “wet, cold, windy and dark” – also known as the Berlin winter. Here are my tips for nasty weather:
Start at central station. The central station of Berlin is a huge, very modern and open building with lots of glass and steel, always busy always safe. You can literally spend hours here.
Head over to Hamburger Bahnhof former train station turned into a museum of modern art with a great coffee shop inside.
Next stop is Hackescher Markt, walk over to museum’s island and explore Alte Nationalgalerie and Neues Museum, two old school museums that provide great photography opportunities.
If you are still up more, head over to Alexanderplatz and explore the 3 subway stations (U2, U5 and U8) or check out the underground S-Bahn station at Friedrichstrasse.
Berlin photography tips – off the trodden path
Here are some recommendations, if you feel the need to see something a bit of the conventional paths.
- Neukölln starting with Hermannplatz and follow Sonnenallee. This area is a complete mix, many inhabitants are of Turkish or Arabic origin and the street feeling is overwhelmingly oriental. At the same time this area has become a bit of a Hipster playground with newly opened coffee-shops, bars and restaurants. So beyond Turkish and Arabic, you’ll hear a lot of Spanish, Italian and English…and even the occasional German.
- Steglitz starting at Rathaus Steglitz and follow Schlossstrasse up north. A traditional middle class West Berlin neighbourhood. No expat hipsters, no craft beer, very few tourists. This area hasn’t changed much in the last 30 years.
- Brutalist architecture: Go for Hallesches Tor, Kreuzberg and explore the northern and eastern part. Kottbusser Tor is close by and has also its fair share of brutalist architecture.
- Gropiusstadt and Marzahn: Both quarters were built from scratch in the 60ies and 70ies, Gropiusstadt in Westberlin and Marzahn in Eastberlin. Worth a visit, if you are interested in architecture and urban landscape photography.
More top photo spots in Berlin
Best Markets for street photography in Berlin
- Turkish market
When: Tuesday and Friday
Best time: Early afternoon
Getting there: U-Bahn Station Schoenleinstrasse
- Market at Boxhagener Platz
When: Saturday and Sunday
Best time: late morning
Getting there: U-Bahn Station Samariterstraße
- Winterfeld Market
Best time: late morning
Getting there: U-Bahn station Nollendorfplatz
Best time: Early afternoon till sunset
Getting there: U-Bahn Station Eberswalder Straße
- Volkspark am Friedrichshain
- Park am Gleisdreieck
- Tempelhof Airfield (former airport)
- Volkspark Humboldthain (amazing view over the city on top of former WWII bunker)
Great S-Bahn / U-Bahn stations for street photography
- Märkisches Museum
- Fehrbelliner Platz
- Potsdamer Platz
- Central Station
Best museums for street photography
Museums are a great place for street photography and a great choice if the weather is ghastly outside. Not all museums in Berlin allow photography. The ones on the list do.
- Neues Museum
- Alte Nationalgalerie
- Hamburger Bahnhof
Berlin for photography enthusiasts
Some service information for the photography enthusiast visiting Berlin.
Photography exhibitions in Berlin
There are at any time many photography exhibitions in Berlin. These websites will keep you informed about photo exhibitions in Berlin:
PIB has the best information on all photography related events in Berlin.
Best galleries for photography in Berlin
There many places and locations that host photography exhibitions in Berlin. There is a museum for photography, many commercial photo galleries and quite a few non-profit photo galleries and other spaces for photography in Berlin. And the best photo galleries is of course a matter of personal choice. Two locations are really outstanding: CO Berlin and the Willy Brandt Haus. Both places combine great architecture with top level photography exhibitions.
Within walking distance to U / S-Bahn station “Zoologischer Garten” you will find:
- Museum for Photography, Jebensstraße 2-3, 10623 Berlin, Charlottenburg
- C/O Berlin, Hardenbergstraße 22-24, 10623 Berlin, Charlottenburg
- Camera Work Photo Gallery, Kanstraße 149, 10623 Berlin, Charlottenburg
There are many more galleries for photography in Berlin and other photography exhibitions locations. These are my favorite places to see photography in Berlin – in in no particular order:
- Willy Brandt Haus, Wilhelmstrasse 140, 10963 Berlin, Kreuzberg (bring passport)
- Aff Gallery for Photography, Kochhannstrasse 14, 10249 Berlin, Friedrichshain
- Robert Morat Gallery, Linienstrasse 107, 10115 Berlin, Mitte
- Haus am Kleistpark, Grunewaldstrasse 6 – 7 , 10823 Berlin, Schöneberg
- pavlov’s dog, Bergstrasse 19, 10115 Berlin, Mitte
- Photo Gallery Friedrichshain, Helsingforser Platz 1, 10243 Berlin, Friedrichshain
- Galerie Springer, Fasanenstrasse 13, 10623 Berlin, Charlottenburg
- Alfred Ehrhardt Foundation, Auguststrasse 75, 10117 Berlin, Mitte
- f3 – space for photography, Waldemarstrasse 17, 10179 Berlin, Kreuzberg
- Atelier für Fotografie, Christburger Str. 18, 10405 Berlin, Prenzlauer Berg
- Jarvis Dooney Gallery, Linienstrasse 116, 10115 Berlin, Mitte
- Bildband Berlin, photo book shop + photo gallery, Immanuelkirchstrasse 33, 10405 Berlin, Prenzlauer Berg
Buying Photobooks in Berlin
There is a nearly endless number of book shops in Berlin. So you will find photo books in many places in Berlin. Yet I feel two places are standing out:
Buchhandlung Walther König, Burgstraße 27, 10178 Berlin, Mitte.
An old school bookshop near museum’s island with a large photobook department.
Bildband Berlin, Immanuelkirchstraße 33, 10405 Berlin, Prenzlauer Berg.
A place purely dedicated to photo books. A photo gallery and a photobook shop. Driven by passion. Excellent selection of books. If you are into photobooks, this is the place to go.
Recommended camera and film shops in Berlin
Photography prints in Berlin
Any drugstore (DM or Rossmann) will do prints in a decent quality. Foto Meyer offers a one hour service. If you need a high quality print on fine art paper, here are some choices. I had work done at “44 inch printwork”, they did an amazing job: fast, great quality and awesome customer service.
Street Photographers in Berlin: Meet the scene
Berlin has a pretty active street photography scene. There are two street photography collectives BLNSPC and Berlin1020 and many more street photographers . Here is a list of my favorite street photographers in Berlin – in no particular order:
You can find more information about these and many more Berlin street photographers in my article on Street Photography in Germany.
I hope you enjoyed this Berlin photography guide. I would be delighted to hear your feedback. If there is something you would like me to add or if you have a comment, please contact me.
Martin U Waltz is a photographer, educator and writer in Berlin. His passion is street photography. The streets of Berlin are his preferred hunting ground.
Martin has written and co-authored several books on street photography. Martin has won numerous photography awards. His work has been shown in exhibitions in New York, London, Paris, Budapest and Berlin.
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