How to make friends in Berlin

How to make friends in Berlin

A guide to finding hangout buddies in the German capital.

It's not easy to start from scratch in a new city. Close friendships take time to form, and for a while, you will be pretty lonely. This is a reality all expats have to face.

It's normal to feel lonely

I have met countless expats in the last 5 years, and all of them felt lonely during their first year. You will feel lonely too. It's completely normal.

The first friends you'll make will be other expats. Many of them will move away, or simply disappear. This is also normal. It happens to everyone else. It takes at least a year to build a circle of close friends.

If you don't speak German, social interactions can be pretty stressful. Even booking an appointment or reserving a table will be difficult. Small talk will be even harder. This makes you feel even more isolated.

Many Germans speak English, but it's not always easy for them. If they appear rude or impatient, don't be so quick to judge them. They make an effort so you don't have to. It can be just as difficult and embarrassing for them to speak another language. Once you learn German, the locals are much nicer to you.

Find your diaspora

Berlin has a huge international community. No matter where you come from, you will find people from your country here. It's good to hear your own language once in a while.

Here are a few groups I am aware of. There are many, many more, and I'd love to hear more recommendations.

Canada

France

Spain

Find your support group

It takes time to make good friends. In the meantime, you'll still need people who can answer your questions and relate to your problems. There are many groups who can help. If things get more serious, you might want to talk to an English-speaking therapist.

Related guide: Where to find help about life in Berlin?

Join a hobby meetup

I am a motorcyclist, and I met many of my friends through that hobby. We spent more and more time together off the bike, and eventually my motorcycle friends became just friends. There's always room for new members in our group.

Whether you like board games, hiking or motorcycles, you will find your crowd. There are all sorts of groups on Meetup.com and on Facebook, and many of them are English-speaking.

Take a language course

You should learn German, but let's not get sanctimonious about it. It's just a really good way to meet people.

Join the student community

If you’re starting classes in the fall, go to orientation week. This is crucial for making friends. Everyone is eager to meet new people. The Erasmus community organises many activities for international students.

Meet people one on one

If you don't like meetups, there are a few communities where you can meet people one on one.

  • /r/berlinsocialclub
    A subreddit for making friends in Berlin. Some people are new in Berlin, and others are looking for friends to attend events. They have a meetup every Tuesday at Mendy und Edeltraut. Most of the attendees speak English.
  • CouchSurfing
    The CouchSurfing app has a Hangout feature that lets you meet travellers and locals. You can meet them one on one, or join local CouchSurfing events

Go out on your own

You can always go out then think about making friends. There are a few events where people let their guards down and are open to new friendships.

  • BerlinSocialClub meetup
    Every Tuesday at Mendy und Edeltraut in Neukölln. Most of the attendees speak English. This is organised by /r/berlinsocialclub.
  • Board games
    There are plenty of board game nights in Berlin. The biggest one is at RuDi in Friedrichshain. Most of the tables play in English. Don't worry about coming alone. People will gladly let you join their table.
  • Clubs
    Clubbing alone is normal and accepted in Berlin. If no one wants to go with you, you can still go out and have a blast.
  • Ping pong and kicker bars
    Just order a beer and join the ping pong circle or the kicker table. Even if you're not good; you'll simply start interacting with everyone else by osmosis. Try Schmittz or Minimal.
  • Späti crawl
    The Späti crawl is just like a pub crawl, but you walk from Späti to Späti. There is always between a dozen and a hundred attendees, and most of them are new in Berlin. The location is announced a few days in advance on Facebook.

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