Berlin, Berlin, Berlin. Even the mere name of this place makes me rejoice inside. Germany’s biggest city, the capital of the whole country, Berlin is wearing many hats, trying out many masks. I always say that Berlin has something for everybody. For party-goers, Berlin is a centrepiece of the European nightlife. For history geeks, Berlin is the place where the past meets the present. For food lovers, Berlin is a combination of the most eclectic tastes from the world’s most different cuisines.
Somehow, everything comes together in Berlin — even the most contradicting things. You see cats being friends with dogs. You see punks having prestigious jobs. You see 50-year-olds partying hard with twenty-somethings. It is the freedom to choose what you want to be — and how you want to live your life — that makes Berlin so attractive, so desirable, and so interesting for travellers. Visiting Berlin is like getting a gulp of fresh air.
So, whether it’s your first or your umpteenth time to Berlin, here’s a little local guide that will help you to get around and choose what Berlin really means for you.
A LOCAL’S GUIDE TO BERLIN
First things first, here’s the deal about Berlin: the city has no city centre. While everybody thinks that it’s Alexanderplatz, they couldn’t be more wrong.
In fact, Berlin was never a real city. It is a conglomeration of smaller settlements — Berlin, Cölln, Friedrichswerder, Dorotheenstadt, Friedrichsstadt, Charlottenburg, Schöneberg, Wilmersdorf, Lichtenberg, Spandau, Niederbarnim, and Teltow — that made Berlin what it is today.
And today, there are 6 main exploration areas that people are usually go to, for different reasons and purposes:
- In Mitte, you get to see most of the famous landmarks and museums.
- In Kreuzberg, you go clubbing like you never clubbed before.
- In Neukolln, you eat.
- In Friedrichshain, you go to bars.
- In Charlottenburg, you shop.
- In Prenzlauer Perg, you try out the hipster lifestyle.
Let’s dive a bit into detail of what you can do in each of these areas!
- Check some of the world’s best museums at the Museum Island
- Get a birds view over Berlin from the famous Berlin TV-Tower
- Get another spectacular view over the city from Berlin Siegessäule, the Victory Column
- Visit Berlin’s arguably most beautiful spot, Gendarmenmarkt
- See the gorgeous Berliner Dom and chill at the park in front of it
- Visit an even more gorgeous Jewish Synagogue
- Have a stroll in the Nikolaiviertel area, i.e. the oldest place of the city
- Visit Reichstag for free
- Take a photo of yourself in front of the Brandenburg Gate
- Revisit the Soviet past at Check Point Charlie
- Check out the art scene in Hackescher Markt
Where to stay: ONE80 for an affordable night in a boutique hostel
- Walk along the Eastside Gallery
- Go to Berlin’s most legendary club, SO36, frequented by Iggy Pop and David Bowie back in the day
- Eat the best doner kebab in the city at Hasir Kreuzberg
- Party until dawn at Berghain, Berlin’s most hard-to-get club
- Have a look at the weird-looking Molecule Man
- Check out graffiti everywhere you go
- Learn about the royal past of Berlin at the Charlottenburg Palace
- Admire the ruins of Kaiser Wilhelm Memorial Church where concerts are being held
- Go to the Berlin Zoo
- Feel the fancy atmosphere of Kurfürstendamm
- Visit Europe’s biggest department store, KaDeWe, and shop until you drop
- Check out Bahnhof Zoo, the main railway station in Berlin until 2006, forever immortalised in the famous book “We Children from Bahnhof Zoo”.
Where to stay: Scandic Hotels Kurfürstendamm if you’re looking for a touch of luxury
Berlin, Prenzlauer Berg
- Eat the best vegetarian wraps at Fast Rabbit
- Bargain at the flea market at Mauerpark on a Sunday
- Go to the open karaoke at Mauerpark (and also participate!!)
- Visit a famous Jewish cemetery on Schönhauser Allee
- Enjoy the vibe of Kastanienallee with its restaurants and bars
- Take a stroll along the Karl-Marx-Allee, a Stalinist boulevard lined up with Soviet-looking buildings
- Cross the Oberbaumbrücke while heading to Kreuzberg
- Check out the busy Simon-Dach-Straße, which is probably the loudest and the crowdiest pub street in Berlin
- Visit Yet Another Flea Market at Boxhagener Platz
- Feel little next to the huge Frankfurter Tor
- Admire the pretty Gründerzeit architecture
- Fall in love with Berlin’s sunsets at Klunkerkranich, a bar at the top of a parking lot
- Eat the most beautifully arranged food at Roamers
- Go for a swim in Stadtbad Neukölln, once Europe’s grandest spas
- Have a picnic at Tempelhofer Feld
- Have a drink or three in the secret bars at Kottbuser Tor
And finally, just enjoy every minute of being in Berlin! Rent a bike for a day — luckily, it’s 10 EUR only — an go off exploring! The Berlin adventures are awaiting for you at every corner 🙂
Are you planning a trip to Germany? You can find great deals and book your hotel room, apartment or B&B here. (And, most bookings can be cancelled for free)!
Is a trip to Berlin on your bucket list? What would you most like to see and do?
This guest post was written by Olga Rabo: Hey! I am Olga from The Russian Abroad — and the name of my blog says it all, doesn’t it? Back in 2014, I created The Russian Abroad to capture the experiences that I collect on the road, as well as to connect with other fellow travellers and explorers. I love getting inspired, and I love it even more to inspire others. My mission is to spread the excitement around, infect with wanderlust, give itchy feet, and help people learn and discover places they never heard about before.
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