My Berlin in a Nutshell
(a visitor's guide)
Notes upon your arrival...
Welcome to my own little guide for visiting Berlin. I've created this page to direct friends and family that are visiting the city to fun options while they are in town. Click here to visit a much more complete city guide and please feel free to send me your recommendations! I love discovering new spots!
1. Remember: customer service is different in Berlin. Don't feel offended if people are rude or inattentive at establishments, they have nothing against you. People working in the service industry here are not used to pleasing the customer they way they are in other countries.
2. Tipping—no more than 10% for GOOD service.
3. Don't fear—mostly everything is in German and it's ok. Remember that Google offers a handy tool which will translate any website you view into your desired language. Carry a map with you, laugh if you get lost, keep asking around until you find someone that speaks English and remember: the worst thing that can ever happen is you have to take a cab back!
Now go explore!
What to do?
From art exhibitions to opera, from classical ballet to dirty grungy night club parties. No matter what your interests are you will find great options to entertain yourself and experience what the city has to offer.
I Heart Berlin is one of my favorite blogs for cool events and happenings.
Although pretty spread out, Berlin has an excellent public transit system. No matter where you decide to stay odds are that you will be able to easily and safely commute throughout the city. There are a few neighborhoods that are the liveliest, so I highly recommend you stay in one of the following (or close by as it's probably where you will spend most of your time!).
I tend to spend the most time in:
Mitte, Prenzlauer-Berg, Kreuzberg, Friedrichshain and Neukölln.
From the east
to the west
Tours and Exhibitions
The Boros Art Collection
The 'Sammlung Boros' is a private art collection housed in a very impressive bunker and which has been opened to the public. Entrance is permitted only by reserving a tour in advance, and it's often booked solid for weeks or even months for weekend tours. Currently, the guided tour covers 130 pieces of both established and emerging contemporary artists, mostly visual and sound installations as well as some photography. Both the art and the building (and it's history) make it my #1 recommendation in this category.
I've been on a few different walking tours. My favorites:
The Alternative City Tour - "Stranded behind the Iron Curtain for nearly 40 years, West Berlin developed its own, unique identity and became a magnet for non-conformists in search of an alternative lifestyle. Sub-cultures, squats, and graffiti art became part of Berlin’s distinct style, and with the fall of the Berlin Wall the scene didn’t disappear, it simply moved east.
Explore the gritty, grungy, underground of the city that Berliners love! Witness the clash between corporate expansion & counter-culture."
Free City Tour - by the same company, a great short tour which covers an overall history of Berlin
This bus line covers most tourist attractions.
The 100 bus line
Food & Drinks:
Many would argue that Curry Wurst and Döner are Berlin's not-to-be missed treats, and although they are partially right, for the most part they are greasy and unhealthy (aka fast food). To eat a traditional and delicious Berlin dish head to Zum Nußbaum, one of Berlin's oldest pubs and restaurants, located in the Nicholas Quarter (Nikolaiviertel).
Zum Nußbaum, Am Nußbaum 3, 10178 Berlin.
Arrive early and take a stroll around Nikolaiviertel, this charming medieval sector originally built in the 1200's. It's a great spot to get a historic glimpse of Berlin and is walking distance from Museum Island and the Dom Cathedral, sightseeing highlights you must visit during your stay in this city. A few other nice German restaurants can be found in that same area.
Berlin has the largest Turkish population outside of Turkey, many of whom are families that migrated when the city needed guest workers to help rebuild the city. Turkish food is big here and it's absolutely delicious. My favorite spot is Adana Grillhaus [Kreuzberg]. I've never ordered anything I didn't like here, but highly recommend the eggplant with yoghurt for a starter and the grilled Dorado as a main dish. Manteuffelstraße 86, 10997 Berlin.
Other recommended restaurants
Umami - Vietnamese in Prenzlauer Berg
House of Small Wonder — French and Japanese lunch and brunch, Mitte
Lokal - Locally sourced foods/amazing cuisine/$$$ in Mitte
Monsieur Vuong - Vietnamese in Mitte
Cocolo Ramen - Japanese Ramen in Kreuzberg
Anaveda - healthy Ayurveda-inspired meals. Lunch only, in Kreuzberg.
Street Food / Markets
Markthalle Neun (Thursday evenings and Sunday Mornings)
Maybachufer Turkish Market
Das Hotel [Kreuzberg] - Great vibe, this little bar is always crowded and lively. Many of their well-prepared drinks are garnished with fresh herbs or fruits and the bar tenders are always attentive and polite. Check their website for their live music schedule which starts around 23:00 most weekends in the basement.
Das Hotel, Mariannenstraße 26a,
Schwarze Traube [Kreuzberg] - My favorite bar in Berlin. Tiny, fancy and decorated in decadent black and gold vintage furniture. This place is so classy, and teeny tiny- no more than 25 people can sit at a time!. For a most relaxing experience head here mid-week with a loved companion and allow the bartender to recommend you an elixir prepared exactly they way your soul desires. Schwarze Traube, Wrangelstraße 24, 10997 Berlin.
Mein Haus am See
Club der Visionaire (mostly outdoors)
Nightlife / Clubs
Berghain (very strict door policy)
Sisyphos (Opens every other weekend)
Places to Relax (SPA's)
Weinmeisterstraße U8-bahn area