Looking for travel tips on what to do in Berlin?
As part of our city guides series we interviewed Yvonne Zagermann who has been living in Berlin since June 2010. Yvonne first visited Berlin when she was 18 and immediately fell in love with the city.
Yvonne share’s with us her insider tips on what to do in Berlin for those looking for the best things to see and do, where to eat, stay, drink, and play. Take it away Yvonne…
Why Visit Berlin?
Berlin is the heart of Europe and full of history. It’s vibrant and multicultural and it doesn’t matter if you’re interested in history, food, art, nightlife or culture – you’ll find exactly what you’re looking for in Berlin. It’s maybe not the prettiest European city but – as mayor Klaus Wowereit said – it’s poor but sexy. And it has it’s very own charm, especially in summer.
What to Do in Berlin
Oh, where should I start? There are so many things to do and see in Berlin.
For first-timers I recommend for sure the Brandenburg Gate, the East Side Gallery, the TV Tower and Checkpoint Charlie. But that’s kind of the “tourist” program.
If you’re really into history you should visit the Berlin Wall Memorial at Bernauer Strasse.
The best photo op with the TV Tower IN the picture is from top of the Park Inn Hotel at Alexanderplatz. Ever heard about Base Flying? Because when you’re up there you should think about “flying” down.
And one of my favourite places to go in Berlin is the abandoned airport Tempelhof, where you can go for a run or watch kite surfers on the old airfield. There are also different occasions throughout the year like the Berlin Festival in September when you even can go into the old building.
Places to Eat in Berlin
When in Berlin you have to eat a Currywurst.
Every Berliner will recommend another place but I think the best Currywurst is the one from Konnopke’s at Eberswalderstraße. If you want to learn more about Currywurst I recommend the Currywurst Museum near Checkpoint Charlie.
Did you know Doner Kebab was invented in Berlin too? My favourite kebab booth is the one from Mustafa at Mehringdamm, where you also get a tasty vegetable kebab. And as nothing in Berlin starts without a cafe, here’s my pick where you get the best coffee in town: The Barn. And don’t forget to get also a piece of their homemade carrot cake.
Where to Drink in Berlin
In Berlin every day there is a new bar opening.
One of my favourites is the Butcher Bar. It feels like entering a speakeasy, when you finally find the entrance. Here’s how to get there: Go to Rosenthaler Platz and find the “Fleischerei”, a fast food restaurant where you also get a good Currywurst, go to the back room and there, IN the hidden phone booth, you’ll find the entrance to the Butcher Bar. But: no pictures allowed!
Best Place for a Night on the Town in Berlin
There’s one stop place for dinner, live concerts, dancing the night away and even getting a tattoo: The White Trash. It’s not only famous for its yummy burger but also for its unique interior, it’s extremely cool stuff and great parties. Most nights you party there you’ll crawl up the stairs when leaving.
Where to Stay in Berlin
There are so many hotels and hostels in Berlin it’s hard to choose.
I recommend the Meininger Hotels, as they offer good quality and a good price. There are six of them all over the city, so you just have to choose the neighbourhood you want to stay in.
For a unique experience, you should stay at the Propeller Island City Lodge, which is more an art project than a hostel. For example, you can sleep in a room with a “flying bed” or in a “prison cell”.
If you want to splurge on yourself I recommend the Ritz Carlton, not only because Robbie Williams and Brangelina use to stay here when they are in Berlin but also because of the great staff who will remember your name.
Markets and Shopping in Berlin
The most famous shopping district is the Kurfürstendamm, called Ku’damm.
On this avenue, you can shop till you drop. Here you also find the famous KaDeWe (Kaufhaus des Westens). It’s Europe’s biggest mall with a gourmet section as large as 7,000 square meters. But don’t ever go there on a Saturday.
On Sundays, stop by Mauerpark where you’ll find Berlin’s most famous flea market with vintage clothes, art, food and more.
One thing I really love about Berlin are the Late Night Shops, you’ll find them at every corner and most of them are open 24h, here you can not only buy a late night beer but also everything you need for a party or stuff you’ll need when you’ve forgot to go to the supermarket.
Events and Festivals in Berlin
If you love music festivals you should come to Berlin in September when you can go to the Berlin Festival at the abandoned airport Tempelhof.
In October at the Festival of Lights an illumination artists light up historical buildings and other important landmarks in a spectacular show of lights. A cool photo opportunity!
Getting around Berlin
Although Berlin itself is a very cheap city, public transport isn’t.
The best deal is to buy a Welcome Card, there are 8 options, from 48hrs up to 5 days, and you can use unlimited public transport but also get a discount on more than 200 tourist and cultural highlights. Besides this public transport often is late, or not running or you have to use buses as a replacement service.
Although Berlin is huge it’s also a city you can explore by foot or by bike. I recommend you take a walking tour or bike tour.
Finding WiFi in Berlin
Yes, Berlin is very WiFi friendly, you’ll get free WiFi in most cafes, bars and restaurants. Just ask the staff for the password.
Best Time to Visit Berlin
Definitely Summer as Winter in Berlin can be VERY cold.
But in summer the city shows its pretty side and you can even go for a swim in one of the many lakes in and around Berlin.
I always tell people to visit Berlin for the first time in Summer, as you’ll probably fall in love with the city and if you then come back in winter it won’t be that hard for you to still love the city.
Getting There and Away?
There are two German budget airlines, Germanwings and Airberlin. You can also easily get to Berlin by train although it can be more expensive. The best and cheapest way to get to Berlin (when you’re already in Germany or Europe) is a ride-share.
Best insiders tip for travel to Berlin
It’s hard to find a “real” insider tip in Berlin, but one thing you shouldn’t miss is the Open Air Karaoke Sundays in Mauerpark and the abandoned amusement park Spreepark.
I love Berlin because …
This city doesn’t expect anything from you but to be yourself. And Berlin has more bridges than Venice. Period.
Plan Your Trip to Berlin
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Flights to Berlin
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Car Rental in Berlin
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BIO – Yvonne Zagermann is an award winning German TV journalist based in Berlin, who travels around the world and writes about it in English and German on her travel blog Just Travelous. You can follow her on her way to travelosity also on Twitter and Facebook.
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