The Best of Berlin in 10 Simple Steps

The Best of Berlin in 10 Simple Steps

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A city rich in history, Berlin is filled to the brim with things to see, eat, and do. Offbeat and inspiring, Berlin is city unlike anywhere else I’ve ever been (in a great way!). The icing on the cake, it’s one of the most reasonably priced cities in Europe. Here are TEN steps to seeing the best of Berlin, enjoy!

1 | EXPLORE Berlin’s alternative side on the Alternative Berlin Walking Tour

THIS free tour explores the vibrant street art visible on so many of Berlin’s buildings. Before we started the tour we already appreciated this open expression and social commentary however the tour provided background on the influences of the artists so we could embrace it all the more. For over four hours we walked, trammed and trained our way through the city while our guide, Matthias, helped us spot popular artists work by their style and subject along the way. By the end, we felt like locals (kind of), with a better perspective of the city as whole. I detailed my experience HERE.

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2 | VISIT the Reichstag

The home of the German parliament, the glass dome is an impressive architectural marvel. Make reservations in advance to tour the dome, strolling the swirling ramp to the top for great views of the interior and the city-scape, then relax on the surrounding terrace. We made reservations to arrive at dusk so we could experience the sunset, it was beautiful! HERE is my post about our visit.

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3 | STAY in the vibrant neighborhood of Friedrichshain

On cool summer nights the bars and restaurants flood the sidewalks in the off-beat and charming Friedrichshain neighborhood. With a vibrant nightlife, yummy restaurants (like BURGER AMT & Lemon Leaf), funky shops and convenient location for exploring the city, Friedrichshain is your best bet for a home base during your visit. HERE are more pictures from our stay.

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BURGER AMT // Reviews HERE // $

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Lemon Leaf // Reviews HERE // $

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4 | SLURP down drinks at Cassiopeia

This re-purposed space was formerly an old railway station but nowadays it’s an open-air bar. DJ’s play an interesting mix of chill tunes, a bar serves yummy libations, a small tasty restaurant for dinner or snacks, AND a rock climbing tower encompass a huge, green courtyard. It’s the ultimate beer garden with a cool, not-overplayed hipster vibe. HERE I claimed it to be the coolest bar in Europe (and I still mean it). (Reviews HERE // $)

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5 | BIKE the city with Fat Tire

Berlin is SPRAWLING so cruising the city by bike is absolutely the best way of seeing all the major sights without exhausting yourself with public transportation. We loved our All-In-One Fat Tire bike tour with our hysterical and informed guide. He really knew his stuff about the city’s history and kept us laughing throughout. Over the course of nearly 4 1/2 hours we visited Checkpoint Charlie, Brandenburg Gate, Hitler’s bunker, Topography of Terror and more. To top if top it off, we made a pit stop in a beer garden for refreshments. It’s an absolute must-do.

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6 | PICNIC in Mauer Park

On Sundays thousands flock to this park for picnicking, relaxation and play. The park is riddled with food and clothing vendors, street performers and tucked away beer gardens. It’d be easy to spend the better part of the day here strolling around or just relaxing in the sun. This was one of my favorite finds during our visit (thanks to the Alternative Berlin Walking Tour) and will definitely be on the top of my list for when I return to Berlin.

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7 | SHOP at the Flea Market in Boxhagener Platz in Friedrichshain

Each Sunday vendors set up stalls selling an eclectic mix of old and new. Find everything from hand painted draw pulls (a la Anthropologie) to vintage clothing sold yard-sale style.

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8 | LEARN about Jewish history (the full story)

Starting from the beginning, the Jewish History Museum gives perhaps the best account of Judaism throughout the ages. Not just the beliefs, but social and cultural impacts. We were particularly interested to explore this museum as it was designed by one of my sister-in-law’s favorite architects, Daniel Libeskind. The building features intentional ‘voids’, or dead-ends, to promote further reflection on the complicated and at times painful history. (Be sure to get the audio guide when you go, it adds tremendously to the experience.) 

It’s important to note that unlike the Holocaust Museum in DC, the Jewish History Museum touches on the Holocaust but not in extensive detail. We left feeling informed and not overwhelmingly sober as we did at the Holocaust Museum.

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After visiting the museum, take a short cab ride to ‘Santa Maria’ in the funky-cool Kruezburg neighborhood. Cheap, killer tacos and burritos never hurt anyone! (Reviews HERE // $)

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9 | GET OUT to Potsdam’s gardens

The sprawling grounds and palaces of beautiful Potsdam are rightfully named a UNESCO World Heritage site and a welcomed, green, reprieve from the hub-bub of the city. Dedicate the better part of a day to hop a train out to Potsdam and enjoy the gardens and palaces (there are many!) at a leisurely pace.

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10 | MUNCH on Doner kebabs at Mustafa’s Gemuse Kebab

Doner kebabs are hugely popular in Germany, and for good reason, they are darn delicious. Juicy meat cooked on a vertical rotisserie then topped with lettuce, cabbage and vegetables, wrapped in warm flat-bread. The story is that this caloric delight was invited by a Turkish man who lived in Berlin, so naturally, it’s imperative that you eat a Doner while you’re there. Try Mustafa’s Gemuse Kebab, rated the best in the city and worth every last carb. Salivating? HERE are more pictures from our visit. (Reviews HERE // $)

Doner-KebapAs always, here’s a handy-dandy map with these highlights (plus a few more!) for the map-oriented folks like me. You can view and download it HERE.

Safe to say, you’re going to have a ton of fun! Enjoy!

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  • I am seriously impressed at the amount you were able to do during your stay and the great places you hit. Way to go! Mmmmm… Santa Maria. (drool) Friedrichshain is a lovely place to stay: I like that there’s a lot going on there without it being too crazy.

  • I would love to visit Berlin, perhaps next year I will find a summer job there 🙂

  • I’m a new blog follower, and this wonderful post could not have come at more of a perfect time for me! I just booked my train ticket over to Berlin for next week. Thanks, I’m totally going to follow a ton of this itinerary.

  • Berlin is on my short list to hit sometime next year… great guide! 🙂

  • That palace at Potsdam looks SO gorgeous!! Berlin is such an amazing city and I love how it continually changes with the times – no staying back in the past for them! Btw. To answer your question – I don’t know about Ryan air in Italy. I think you can fly into Pisa (which might be the closest to Florence and Rome…) however that requires taking a train, and taking a train in Italy requires you being SUPER pronto as they sometimes don’t come and are usually late! Italy’s one of those places that you truly pay for what you get!

  • …Berlin looks so eclectic–GANZ TOLL, as they would say in German!!…

  • Wow! These all look like great tips!

  • Wow! These photos are just perfect and making me wish I was back in Berlin now. Wonderful guide, thanks so much for sharing. 🙂 x

  • I regret not doing the alternative walking tour, I have heard so many great things! But this is a good list, all great things to do in Berlin, and I am glad you mentioned Potsdam!
    Katie
    http://www.worldwidevegetarian.com

  • Oh my fondest memory of visiting Berlin was probably the Reichstag – it was amazing and so informative! Your pictures are amazing from the top. We sadly reached the top in the winter evening and it was very very dark by then!

  • I love my home country’s capital! And awesome pics!!!

    Did you see my new linkup yet? It’s online for the first time today and I would be happy to see your blog linked up as well! http://www.grapefruitprincess.com/search/label/Weekend%20recap

    Have a lovely day!

    xoxo Anni

  • We went to Berlin about 3 years ago but only for the day, we were InterRailing at the time so we’re just having a taste of the different places. I would really like to go back to Berlin and having read this post and another Berlin one just before, I think I need to organise a trip!

  • I’d loveeeee to go to Berlin one day! I’ll keep all these in mind for when I do!

  • I wish I could visit Berlin soon 🙂 Thanks for the tips! 🙂

    http://travelingcookies.blogspot.co.uk/

  • I hope you can make it to Berlin soon too! Just a short hop from London! 😀

  • Yay, good! I hope you can get over there soon, or.. well, whenever it’s convenient. It’s definitely a fun city. 🙂

  • Ohh boy, it’s such a sprawling city so I bet it was tough to squeeze it in a day. I actually haven’t used InterRail yet (crazy, right?) because of the cost but I’d LOVE to travel through Europe that way. It sure beats time in the car on the autobahn!

  • Hi Anni, I love your home country’s capital too! Where are you from? I love in Heidelberg and adore it!

    Thanks for the linkup information!

  • I agree, the Reichstag is utterly impressive. I struggled to capture it actually, there were so many different angles and perspectives that I ended up just filling up my memory card with a zillion pictures that were just ever-so-slightly different. I also appreciation the symbolism behind it. Phew, sorry, rambling now… bottom line, I agree with you! 🙂

  • thanks, Katie! Glad we’re in agreement. 🙂 Welp, I think this just means you’ll need to go back soon for the Alternative Walking Tour, right? 😀

  • Thanks dear! So happy you enjoyed them! Yay for Berlin! 🙂

  • Thanks, Toni! Did you live in Berlin? I’d be deeply envious if you did – what a city! 🙂

  • Ha! Eclectic is right! It’s so offbeat, I love it!

  • Ahh, great to know! I’m heading to Cinque Terre next week with my family via Pisa. We’re supposed to take the train but I have my doubts (based on your experiences and my coworker’s) so perhaps we’ll go for the cab ride?

  • Thanks, dear! You and Nick really know how to travel (though that’s incredibly obvious at this point). Are you guys going back to Asia anytime soon?

  • Hi Alexis, so happy to have you on board (and now I sound incredibly cheesy)! Have a great time in Berlin! If you have any follow up recommendations let me know, I’m really hoping to get back there sometime next year. 🙂

  • Yes, great idea! That way I can come visit and eat more doner kebabs, right? 😀

  • Ha, thanks Cynthia! Dan will attest that I’m pretty serious about covering ground when I’m on travel, butttt maybe to a fault? I just love doing everything possible.

    Your drool is appropriate (I’ve never said that to someone before..), Santa Maria was silly-good. 😀

  • We’re looking at the possibility of a trip through Asia next Fall perhaps… we’ll see 🙂

  • Haha, so right ! 😀

  • We think it’s also worth to go to Radisson Blu Hotel for a coffee to see one the biggest cylindrical aquarium on the world 🙂

  • too bad I read this right after a trip to Berlin! though I’m pretty sure I’ll be going there again at some point in the future, so bookmarking this for sure 🙂 i love your comprehensive guides!

  • Really great Berlin list! Love love the arts community there.

  • Good Berlin tips 🙂 Cassiopeia is a really nice club and beer garden so glad to see that on your list! I also really love Boxhagener Platz’s flohmarkt – it’s way better than the one at Mauer Park which is often too crowded.

  • Very interesting post! Here some more ideas to do in Kreuzberg 🙂 http://bit.ly/MidoriKreuzberg

  • Cheryl Smith Prior

    Thanks so much for all of your helpful information. I’ve taken notes of all your recommendations. I am going to Berlin next June with my 20 year old son. I’m sure he will love it also.

  • I actually searched for this on your blog because we’re headed to Berlin next week! Thanks for the great tips 😉