When we think Germany, we immediately think beer and the wooden-structured brewhouses where the consumption of such is as age-old reliable as oompah music and lederhosen. This concept is more Bavaria than Berlin, although we can't deny that you'll find your fair share of excellent brewhouses and waitresses in suspenders and skirts here as well. Still, Berlin is actually the most contemporary, most progressive nightlife city in Central Europe. Sure, there are plenty of traditional drinking establishments, but there are over 200 clubs in the city, along with a going-out crowd that enjoys nightly cocktails. Just keep in mind that with clubs especially, you'll be paying a cover (surprisingly less than some other big European cities), and that things don't usually get going until after midnight.
The most accessible area of the city and closest to anything else you'll be doing is Mitte, the most exciting section of which is the dozen or so blocks north of the river between Friedrichstraße and Karl-Liebknecht-Straße. The establishments here are mostly hip hangouts and cocktail bars, although quite a few dance parties involving latex have sprung up here and there ("there" being the Kitkat Club on Brücken Straße). There are quite a few Mitte staples that have defied the come-and-go nature of Berlin's nightlife: 40 Seconds, named for the time it takes for the elevator to reach this sophisticated, multi-tiered party; Tresor, which is the forebearer of the Berlin techno scene and based in a power plant; and White-Trash Fast Food, where irony is God and neo-Polka is the music of choice. Mitte is also your best place to find local brewhouses, including Brauhaus Georgbraeu, Gaffel Haus, and Brauhaus Mitte. Finally, the Friedrichstadtpalast on Friedrichstraße is a must if you're looking to get a taste of cabaret culture in its most glamorous form.
East Central Berlin may very well be where you want to enjoy your weekend, without stopping once for breath or sleep until the weekend is over and you've missed your flight. Kreuzberg and Friedrichshain are great neighborhoods where you'll find something to your liking, whether you are into an eclectic range of live music or just want a drink where people are packing in. There are reputable, long-standing clubs like Watergate, Rosi's, and Berghain/Panorama Bar, live music staples like Madame KLAUD and SO36, and laid-back watering holes in many-named abundance. There is a stellar concentration of establishments along Warschauer Straße and the perpendicular Boxhagener Straße, particularly in Boxhagener Platz. Also in East Central is Prenzlauer Berg, a borough that supports a great bar and cafe culture that is often (but not always) a bit less garish or eccentric than other parts of Berlin. Schönhauser Allee is a popular area, especially at the huge Kulturbrauerei, where an old brewery has been turned into a selection of bars and restaurants.
Elsewhere in Berlin (and there are many elsewhere's we won't specifically be covering), Charlottenburg and Schöneberg are quality nightlife neighborhoods in West Berlin known for inebriation-fests like Q-dorf, the great home-made brews of LuisenBrau or the Latin fiesta that is Havanna. There will definitely be less tourists here than in Mitte. Neukölln is also an off-the-beaten-path area and is most lively where it borders Kreuzberg (try staying close to Columbiadamm). There's the long-time staple Syndikat and a great beer selection at Freies Neukoelln. For more information on many of the establishments mentioned here or if you have a more general curiosity then look through our activity pages.