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Berlin is bubbling with culture, intriguing nightlife, and a relatively low cost of living. However, this city has various districts or streets with different personalities; you need to identify the bad neighborhoods to avoid in Berlin before relocating or visiting.
The bad neighborhoods and areas in Berlin are mainly located in the city center and include Neukölln, Mitte, Friedrichshain-Kreuzberg, and Charlottenburg. This is due to the high crime rates, prostitution, and drug peddling that takes place in these areas. It’s advisable to stay away from these places, especially at night.
Nothing’s worse than being pickpocketed while on a trip or getting home to find your possessions stolen. In this regard, this article gives you a clear picture of Berlin by analyzing its crime rate. It also lists and describes the dangerous cities to avoid in Berlin.
Also read the guide on why you should not move to Berlin, never, ever.
Areas to avoid in Berlin
You might be surprised, but the German capital of Berlin is the most dangerous city in Germany after Frankfurt am Main. In 2019, Berlin’s police registered approximately 513,000 criminal offenses.
Berlin has a mix of bustling, alive communities and laid-back suburban streets. This city is divided into twelve districts or “Bezirke”; they include Mitte, Friedrichshain, Charlottenburg, Wedding, Neukölln, Pankow, Lichtenberg, Tempelhof, Treptow, Spandau, Mahrzahn, and Steglit-zehlendorf.
Below are some of the areas to avoid while in German’s capital city.
According to the crime statistics, district Neukölln is the fourth most unsafe place in Berlin.
Neukölln is located on the southeastern side of Berlin, close to the Schoenefeld Airport and adjacent to the Kreuzberg district. This district also borders Alt-Treptow, Baumschulenweg, Tempelhof, and Planterwald.
Neukölln is divided into nine neighborhoods which include Rollberg, Schillerpromenade, Flughafenstraße, Reuterkiez, Weiße Siedlung, High-Deck-Siedlung, and Körnerpark. This area has several public parks in its western and eastern outskirts.
About 320,000 people live in this residential area; ethnic Germans make up 58%, non-nationals are around 22%, and migrants are approximately 58%.
The northern part of the district has the highest number of migrants, which is about 65%. Some ethnic groups include; Yugoslavia, Arabian, Turkish, Polish, Yugoslavia, and Sowjetunion.
That said, most of this district’s population comprises young educated like-minded people. However, they don’t affect this district’s social life as most of them leave after starting a family.
Neukölln is full of cool stuff like vintage shops, markets, and vegan eateries, making it a favorite for cool kids. The creative community in this district is alive and makes it their goal for everyone to feel welcomed into bars, art galleries, and the best restaurants.
This district also buzzes with the LGBTQ community, hence quite inclusive.
Infrastructure in Neukölln is efficient as it offers easy access through the city. Additionally, this district contains many historic buildings and has the highest capacity for immigrants.
That said, Neukölln is among the top four most unsafe districts in Berlin. The poverty levels in this district are quite high, contributing to the high crime rates.
Youth and child violent crimes are pretty high in this district due to the high percentage of young adults. The Hermanstrasee and Hermanplatz areas have the highest crime rates.
2. Berlin Mitte
Mitte is the central district of Berlin as it contains regions in the East and West Berlin, thanks to the fall of the Berlin Wall in1989. It consists of six sub-districts which include Mitte proper, Gesundbrunnen, Hansaviertel, Moabit, Tiergarten, and Wedding. In this regard, Mitte shows the diverse aspects of Berlin.
Mitte is among the two districts, another being Friedrichshain-Kreuzberg, divided between the east and west sides of Berlin. This district also surrounds Berlin’s main historic aspects.
This district has many art galleries, museums like the beautiful museum island, and major historic sites like the Jewish Memorial, the Berlin Hauptbahnhof, Potsdamer Platz, and Bradensburg. Therefore, as a fan of archeological ruins or an art lover, you should stop by his area if you visit Berlin to stop by if you’re a fan of archeological ruins or an art lover.
This district also has many job opportunities hence perfect for expats in search of greener pastures.
Mitte has about 385,748 people. The number of females in this district is higher than males as it sits at 51.4%. Generally, Mitte’s population median age is forty-three years. That said, this district has many young people thanks to the Humboldt University presence in the city.
Due to the high numbers of tourists visiting this district’s beautiful scenery like the Brandenburg Gate and Unter den Linden, pickpocketing incidents are high here. Tourists get occupied as they romp from one attraction to the next, making it easy for criminals to steal without noticing.
The crime rates in Berlin Mitte rank as the highest in this district, with about 27,000 crimes per 100,000 residents.
Alexanderplatz in Mitte
Alexanderplatz is one of the most popular places for tourists in Berlin, yet, it’s not a safe city. Due to its central location, it’s the city’s hub for public transport. That fact attracts many homeless and other questionable people.
Thefts, drugs, and assaults are common in this area. In 2021, 5,073 were reported only in Alexanderplatz. To lower the crime, Berlin’s police have opened an extra station there.
3. Friedrichshain-Kreuzberg (part of West and East Berlin)
Friedrichshain-Kreuzberg was created by merging the east and west Berlin boroughs. It’s located on the southern side of Mitte. This district was previously one of the poorest in Berlin but has since developed into a trendy place scene.
Young expats or students who want to live amid all the entertainment in Berlin are best suited for Friedrichshain. Although this district was widely damaged during the World War II bombing, it’s now rebuilt and buzzing with creatives.
Consequently, there are several co-working spaces due to the many innovators.
Aside from the lively nightlife and cheap rent, this district has countless pubs, clubs, and bars, making it a hotspot for students. Friedrichshain also has various cultures, and its residents handle life easily.
Friedrichshain-Kreuzberg has about 290,386 people, with a majority of them being young adults. The number of males in this district exceeds that of females, with more than eight thousand.
Friedrichshain-Kreuzberg is also buzzing with immigrants, especially the Turkish hence having a vast Turkish market.
Although you can walk safely in Mitte’s streets during the day, you should avoid them at night or with children.
This is because a sharp rise in crimes like theft, drug offenses, public transport fraud, and physical assault has recently been reported.
Gorlitzer Park is a crime hot spot in this district, and thus strolling there after dark is one of the things you should avoid in Berlin. For example, in 2021, there were 5,967 criminal offenses only in that park.
Yet, the park is very well visited by locals and tourists visiting Berlin, especially in summer. You might see drug dealers standing at the entrances offering their products. Hence, it’s not surprising that drug violations are the number one criminal offense in this area.
Kottbusser Tor in Friedrichshain-Kreuzberg
Kottbusser Tor is particularly known for shoplifting. In 2021, there were 420 cases of this crime. Besides, pickpocketing is also common, with 460 offenses.
Berlin police also tracked 758 drug crimes in 2021. This all makes Kottbusser Tor one of the top places to avoid in Berlin.
Warschauer Brücke Warschauer Brücke in Friedrichshain-Kreuzberg
The Warschauer Brücke or Warsaw Bridge connects the popular entertainment spots in Friedrichshain. These include The RAW area with the numerous clubs and the area of Simon-Dach-Kiez with the many gay bars and restaurants.
During the tourist season, Warschauer Brücke is frequently crossed. Drug-related offenses and assaults like robbery are pretty common there. Especially the part between Schlesisches Tor and the RAW area is better to be avoided at night.
Generally, Charlottenburg is one of the safest cities and the top recommended district for living for expats. However, organized crime rates are pretty high around certain areas like Hardenbergplatz and Breitscheidplatz.
Charlottenburg is located on the west side of Berlin and is named after the Sophia Charlotte of Hannover. This district also borders Halensee, Moabit, Tiergarten, Hansaviertel, and Schöneberg.
This district is popular due to its enormous shopping centers, making it easy to get jobs in renowned enterprises like Apple and Chanel.
Around 130,663 people live in this district. A large part of the population consists of young people due to the presence of the ESCP business school or the Technical University and several art schools. It’s also full of English-speaking expats, who understand only a few German phrases.
If you’re looking for a peaceful neighborhood in Berlin, this is the best place for you. This is because Charlottenburg residents are ambitious, tradition-conscious, and value a specific mode of life hence not chaotic.
Consequently, this district has high rents and thus isn’t suitable when trying to save some coins.
Charlottenburg’s boulevard attracts lots of tourists due to the many shopping malls. For this reason, the number of pickpockets is also relatively high. Always watch your bag in this area and avoid accepting help from strangers as they can easily disappear with your belongings.
Shoplifting is also high in this area. Therefore, if you intend on starting a business here, ensure that the security is tight to avoid losing your property.
Which areas of Berlin are bad or dangerous?
Berlin’s police currently report the following areas and the “Bezirks” where they are located with the most crime:
- Alexanderplatz (Alexander square) – in Mitte
- Leopoldplatz (Leopold square) – in Mitte
- Schöneberg-Nord – Schöneberg North (Nollendorfplatz and Regenbogenkiez) – in Tempelhof-Schöneberg
- Görlitzer Park – in Kreuzberg
- Warschauer Brücke (Warsaw bridge) – in Friedrichshain-Kreuzberg
- Kottbusser Tor (Kottbusser Gate) – in Friedrichshain-Kreuzberg
- And parts of the following streets Hermannstraße (Hermann Street), Hermannplatz (Hermann Square), Rigaer Straße (Rigaer Street) – in Neukölln and Friedrichshain-Kreuzberg
The “Bezirkes” are further partitioned into smaller divisions known as “Kiez,” which are also split into several streets with different characteristics and personalities. Although some areas are Berlin safe regardless of the time, others are risky. See the full list of Kiezes in Berlin.
Here are the crime rates in Berlin.
That said, below are some of the risks you may encounter in Berlin streets.
Pickpocketing (Petty crime)
Petty crime like pickpocketing is the paramount crime in this city. It’s easy to be pickpocketed not only in tourist areas and public transportation, like the u bahn, but also in pubs and clubs.
That said, pickpockets target both travelers and Berliners. Therefore, whether visiting or relocating to Berlin, always be alert, as carelessness will make it easy for these criminals to steal your smartphones, cash, and credit cards.
Locals are the most prone to mugging and kidnapping in Berlin. Therefore, always stay alert if you relocate to this city. Although these incidences are rare among tourists, you should keep watch to be on the safe side.
Berlin is a larger city in Germany, but it has only a few terrorist attacks, including the most recent one in 2016. The last one was on 18 August 2020, when a driver rammed his car into another vehicle, and so injured six people.
These criminal activities mainly take place in congested or crowded areas. Although tourists aren’t the ultimate target of such attacks, they can be victims in case they are in the wrong place at the wrong time. That said, compared to most cities, Berlin is a hot spot.
Tourists are susceptible to being scammed as they are easy to trick. Scammers will try to divert your attention and then disappear with your belongings. Never accept help from strangers; instead, insist on carrying your luggage.
Across Germany, 815 people were killed with the gun in 2018. The rate of shooting deaths in Germany is 1.01 per 100,000 yearly. This means that gun death is reported every one and a half days, given the population in Berlin is more than three million residents.
That said, below is a representation of the number of guns per hundred people in Berlin.
Nonetheless, gun crime in Germany is significantly lower than in the US, for example. The US is ranked in 1st place, and Germany the 15th. Moreover, the murder rate in the US is 19 times higher than in Germany. There are also 11 times more rapes than in Germany.
Although Berlin’s violent crime rate is over the roof, there are several tips you can implement to have a safe stay in this city.
- The first step to take, as an expat in Germany’s capital city, is to settle in a place with lots of street lights or close to the metro station. With street lights, you’ll be able to detect danger fast and get home safely.
- Never be tempted to use underlit streets simply because they are shorter. It’s better to get there late than get harmed or lose something valuable.
- Before walking out, ensure you use Google Maps satellite to note the areas with enough light. Never assume to scan the area, as it could very much save your life.
- Secure your belongings sufficiently. It’s probably common sense, but ensure you’ve locked your doors and windows before leaving. If your landlord or agent allows, consider installing a second lock to top the security.
- Be extra careful when around S Bahn and U Bahn transport stations. These areas are full of homeless communities, who are mostly ingenuine people. High chances are that you’ll lose something immediately if you slip or get distracted in these dangerous places.
- Always keep cash close to you. The safest places are in your pants’ front pocket and inside your jacket.
- In case you choose to give some cash to the beggars in the Berlin streets, ensure you take it out of the purse earlier on. Some gang members simply parade themselves as beggars and will steal from you while pretending to be collecting money.
- Never fall asleep while using public transport and walking in the city’s cycle lanes. Doing this, especially at night, makes you a target for crimes like pickpocketing.
- Berlin gangs, like all others worldwide, consistently come up with new ways to steal. If a person approaches you from nowhere and introduces themselves as a police officer, always call 100 or ask for their police ID before conversing with them.
- Always make sure you know where you’re going. Asking around and appearing lost also makes you a pickpocketing target. Use your Google Maps before leaving the house for easy and safe travels around the city.
- Never try to intervene or indulge in fights. Being surrounded by rowdy and mostly drunk people keeps you at risk.
- Avoid buying and indulging in drugs when new in Berlin. Gangs may add harmful substances to your purchases, so you fall unconscious and fall prey to their malicious plans.
Steps to take after experiencing a crime in Berlin
Record the events
Note down the progression or sequence of the events as clearly as you remember them. This should include the date, place, time, what was said, what was done, what the offender was wearing, and a mention of whether there were any witnesses.
Evidence is crucial in court proceedings. First, take the names of the witnesses and any other details like text messages or calls. Secondly, don’t shower in case of sexual assault, and keep the soiled clothes in a paper bag.
If you suspect that you might have been drugged, freeze a urine sample and take it with you to the hospital.
Report and file for a criminal complaint.
Criminal proceedings only start after a report is filed. Visit any counseling center close to you for assistance when filing a report or filing a criminal complaint.
Authorities will launch investigations immediately after receiving the report.
Is Munich the safest city in Germany?
If you still want to enjoy Germany’s vast sights and attractions but are taken aback by the capital city’s crime levels, Munich is the perfect travel destination for you. This city is the safest in Germany and was voted worldwide as the eighth safest city in 2021.
Most crimes that are prevalent in Berlin cities are almost non-existent in Munich. However, this doesn’t mean that you should be careless and ignore all traveling safety tips. Since this city receives lots of visitors during certain celebrations like Christmas and Oktoberfest, Munich may attract some pickpockets and thieves occasionally.
That said, although Munich parts are safe, there are some areas that may experience a slightly higher crime rate than others. They include:
The crime levels in Neuperlach are slightly higher than in other Munich areas thanks to the high levels of unemployment. This city also has little activity, leaving the streets desolate and crime rich during the night hours.
Hasenberlg’s crime rate is highly attributed to the area’s high poverty levels. However, most of the crime activities occur within the locals and visitors have low chances of experiencing them.