The Best of Berlin in 10 Simple Steps
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.
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.
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.
BURGER AMT // Reviews HERE // $
Lemon Leaf // Reviews HERE // $
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 // $)
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 // $)
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.
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 // $)
As 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!