Berlin has a fantastic reputation all around the world. It has such widespread appeal that you will rarely hear anyone saying bad things about it.
The city is high-energy, arty and vibrant with a complex and fascinating history. It is always evolving, so if you glance back over the last three decades, it’s practically unrecognisable. Practically every once grey wartime building is now intricately decorated with a passionately expressive, modern street art.
This city is the epitome of cool, and its people are generally open and welcoming. One look around Berlin confirms just how far it has come since its days of oppression and division. Today’s Berlin has a huge alternative scene and attracts all kinds of people, from creative types to music lovers, backpackers, hipsters and entrepreneurs.
Our guide to the best attractions, neighbourhoods, accommodation and dining experiences should help you navigate this city for a truly memorable trip:
Getting around Berlin
If you want a little help getting to know the city better, you could take advantage of one of the many free tours starting in and around the Brandenburg Gate area. Otherwise, you can grab a seven-day travel pass that allows you to use all modes of public transport.
Berlin neighbourhoods to stay in or visit
Navigating Berlin takes a bit of knowledge, as the place is massive; it is five times larger than Paris, to give you an idea. The Berlin wall, when in existence, resulted in a complex city layout. Each berlin neighbourhood is quite different, so it’s worth exploring a few to get a true feel for this diverse city.
Mitte is for history lovers. It’s the city’s historic centre and is peppered with fascinating museums. However, if you want to avoid crowds of tourists, it might not be for you. Historical sites of interest are Museum Island, the Holocaust Monument, Brandenburg Gate, TV Tower and the Reichstag building.
Kreuzberg is popular with those who want to indulge in plenty of eating and drinking. It has many restaurants and bars that cater for whatever preferences you can dream up. This centrally located neighbourhood is home to many different types of people, from foreigners (in particular Turkish nationals) to LGBT communities, bohemians, and of course artists.
It is only a short stroll to find plenty of popular nightclubs if you want to party. Other options here are the Jewish Museum and Viktoria Park, where you can lounge all day on the lush green grass.
Friedrichshain is situated right next door to Kreuzberg, and it’s a haven for street art lovers, alternative minds, and partygoers. This is where you’ll find the best nightclubs, but it’s also home to the East Side Gallery, on the longest section of what once was the Berlin wall.
Top things to do in Berlin
Check out some street art
Street art is a huge part of what makes Berlin what it is today, and as you’ll see, a great deal of it is politically controversial. It is an artistic way of delivering the public voice. To see some of the best street art in Berlin, visit RAW & Revaler Strasse, a one time train station decorated in eclectic artists’ expressions. It’s located close to the nightclubs of Friedrichshain, and if you visit on a Sunday, you can also find some cool flea markets.
Wander a bit further out (through the park) and you can see some awesome murals in Teufelsberg. The area is rich in history and will give you a true Berlin experience; the area is essentially a hill made up of WWII bomb blast rubble. The walls of a spy station ruin are now decorated with mind-blowing street art.
As mentioned above, another spot worth visiting is the East Side Gallery, which has morphed into a memorial since the Berlin Wall came down. Here you can find 101 murals depicting concepts related to Berlin’s history. They were created by artists from every corner of the planet, and are totally worth seeing.
Have fun in some of Berlin’s green parks
Parks are a little different in Berlin, as they’re not just for walking, relaxing and picnics. You can find people playing sports, drinking copious amounts of beer and even going naked! Tiergarten (the central park) is for the sporty and uninhibited types, whereas those who want to shop for cool trinkets, souvenirs and street foods might go to Mauerpark’s Sunday flea market.
Tempelhof Park is full of sporty types, doing anything from cycling and running to kite surfing. It used to be an airport, so it’s quite a novel experience. For a more typical park experience, head to Viktoria Park.
Party like it’s 1999
No doubt Berlin’s party scene has come into your awareness at some point, whether it’s your scene or not. Here you’ll find clubs open night and day; you can literally party whenever you like and in this city, anything goes.
Techno music originated in Berlin, so it’s playing everywhere; not just in clubs – cafes, bars and shops are all fond of a bit of techno. Since the fall of the Berlin Wall, disused wartime warehouses are now nightclubs, and there are lots of underground parties.
If you’re looking for a party, check out Resident Advisor, which lists everything worth attending. If you want a more low-key affair, feel free to join the locals in their park and street drinking activities! It’s the norm (provided that you know how to behave).
Eating and drinking in Berlin
Berlin is absolutely jam packed with great cafes, restaurants and bars. Here are a few worth checking out:
Roamers is a farm style decorated situated in Noklolln. Its décor is minimalist, and it’s also popular with drinkers thanks to its diverse alcohol menu. For great street food, visit the many farmers’ markets or head to Street food Thursday at Kreuzberg’s Noelle Market.
If you love a hamburger, get down to The Bird, and if you’re into healthy food, the Rose Garden is for you. Vegetarians and vegans love Café V in Kreuzberg for its ambient vibe and reasonable prices.
Coffee-loving hipsters go to Bitte Coffeehouse while beer lovers opt for Birgit und Bier in Kreuzberg for its festivals and events. Then there is another Kreuzberg bar, Madame Claude, which used to be a brothel but is now a vintage style bar with furniture attached to the ceiling.
Accommodation in Berlin
Airbnb is a great option in Berlin, as you get to know locals and experience the city in a more authentic way. If you want to meet other travellers, you might prefer to stay in a hostel.
If you like boutique hotels, consider Hackescher Markt, a quirky hotel located in the centre of the Hackescher Markt bar scene. Then there is the famous Soho House, which has a rooftop pool, bars and restaurants. It’s located in a restored 1920’s style Bauhaus. Ackselhaus is a good place for those who like to stay in apartments; it’s located on a pretty residential street in the atmospheric Prenzlauer Berg locality.
In a nutshell, Berlin is a city that has it all. From monuments to parks, street arts, amazing cuisine and the world’s best parties, you can find plenty to amuse you. You won’t forget a visit to Berlin in a hurry, that’s for sure. Enjoy!