Explore the Best of Berlin With This Ultimate Travel Guide
When it comes to Germany's largest city, Berlin is nothing short of an overflowing treasure trove. Oozing with creative energy, diverse culture, monumental history, and eccentric beauty, this pocket of Europe has undergone quite the transformation in recent decades, making it quite an irresistible destination. In fact, because of its design-centric focus, some have even dubbed this city as "the New Brooklyn." Whether or not that's the case, there's one thing for certain: its popularity keeps on growing.
So if you're seeking to indulge in your own Berlin experience, you're in luck, as we've got your itinerary covered. Tackling everything from accommodations to eateries and activities, your ultimate travel guide awaits!
First Things First: Tackling Where to Stay!
When it comes to deciding where you'll rest your head at night, I highly recommend this unique warehouse-like flat. My husband and I stayed in this cozy residence while visiting the city, and I'll admit, we didn't want to leave. As it happens, there were several mornings over the course of our stay in which we fantasized about what it'd be like to live in Berlin. Maybe one day, right?
Yes, with its huge windows and high ceilings, this spacious apartment constantly feels bright and airy. Plus, it's in a great location within the city, too, as it's just a short walk from public transportation and right around the corner from several local markets and grocery stores. And at $66 per night, you couldn't ask for a better deal!
Next Up: Tackling Where to Eat!
In Berlin, you'll quickly realize there is no shortage of tasty eateries. But let's start with breakfast, shall we?
If you're craving mouth-watering homemade pastries in a quaint English-style setting, make your way over to Katie's Blue Cat. This bakery specializes in sweet treats and finely prepared coffee. I mean, just look at that sticky bun. How can your jaw not drop at that thing? Plus, there's a delicious mix of freshly squeezed juices, too!
Another decadent breakfast option is the modern cafe and restaurant known as Aunt Benny. Here you will find a cheery staff serving classic American comfort food and excellent coffee. Trust me, you won't leave hungry!
For a quick — yet just as yummy — bite to eat, check out Books and Bagels. It is here that your bagel dreams will come true, as these doughy circles are delicious! The best part? They're delivered with a generous heaping of homemade cream cheese!
While the entire store is cozy, I recommend heading straight to the computer-free room. With "face-to-face interaction with real human beings, real paperbacks, and real fine bagels," a refreshing morning awaits!
Meat-lovers, listen up, as this one is for you! If you're desperately yearning for uniquely flavored burgers piled high with tasty toppings, make your way over to Shiso Burger.
Located in the trendy Mitte neighborhood, this delicious eatery takes burgers to a whole new level with its Asian-fusion twist. With home-baked buns, potato twists (its version of fries!), and fun sides, this place is a total winner. It even has a vegetarian option, which is just as divine!
Not too far from Shiso Burger, you'll find District Mot, another must try when it comes to food. Serving authentic Saigon street food, this restaurant offers fun, quirky interior vibes and is designed to look like a street market.
The food won't disappoint, either. Just one bite and you'll instantly feel transported to Southeast Asia. Even writing this makes me want to teleport myself to this place now!
But don't worry, if you're craving an authentic bratwurst or currywurst, there are plenty of street stands peppered throughout the city!
Tackling What to Do, See, and Explore!
While Berlin is home to numerous awesome neighborhoods, one of the liveliest districts is Mitte. Translating to "middle," Mitte is indeed the city's life force, not to mention it also contains the historical heart of Berlin.
From historical landmarks and museums to stunning architecture and galleries, this part of the city houses a vast majority of the must-see sights and things to do when visiting and is most likely where you'll spend a huge chunk of time exploring.
If you love a unique curation of interesting, independent magazines, definitely check out Do You Read Me?. This cozy shop houses magazines from all over the world and also has an amazing selection of art books.
Don't forget to keep your eyes peeled while wandering and roaming, as some of the best shops are tucked away off the bustling streets. Case in point with VooStore, pictured above. While I was in the midst of confusion walking past the entrance several times as I searched for the store, I will admit it's the alleyway location that makes this boutique so charming!
Inside this eccentric shop, you'll find even more fun items, as it is packed to the brim with quirky notebooks and eclectic stationary.
And of course, what would a visit to a new city be without checking out the local flea markets? If you're a flea-market fanatic like me, you're in for a sweet surprise when it comes to Berlin. There are tons of them! If you don't have time to check them all out, though, I highly recommend stopping by the Flohmarkt Arkonaplatz.
Also known as The Original Berlin Flea Market, this market serves as a meeting point for hundreds of vendors — and thousands of visitors — every Saturday and Sunday. Come if you're searching for secondhand gems such as clothes, books, and collectibles. I wanted to buy so much of the furniture, although, as you would probably guess, none of it fit in my backpack.
But hey, if crowds aren't really your cup of tea, that's OK. There is a plethora of "street shops" that offer flea-market feels without the packs of people!
Along with the unpretentious charm and laid-back lifestyle, another reason I found myself so infatuated with Berlin was its overall vibe. It doesn't take long before realizing this city is full of passion and inspiration, and yet at the same time, it doesn't take things — or itself — too seriously.
For instance, you can sense the city's playfulness with all the adult playgrounds scattered throughout the streets. With its adult-size swing sets and jungle gyms, you can fully embrace your youthful spirit and let your kid-at-heart traits run wild and free.
Speaking of running wild and free, if you're seeking an extra-unique outdoor experience, head over to Tempelhof Airport Park. What once served as the largest and grandest airport in all of Germany is now Berlin's largest park!
Here, you'll find people partaking in all sorts of activities — roller-blading, biking, running across the old runaways, you name it. With 909 acres, this abandoned-airport-turned-park is even larger than New York's Central Park.
If you're interested in visiting some of the city's must-see attractions, the Brandenburg Gate (pictured above) is definitely worth checking out. This grand archway is one of the most iconic monuments in Berlin, not to mention quite breathtaking. However, it can be a major tourist magnet, so plan to visit early in order to avoid the masses of crowds.
Furthermore, the historic, glass-domed house of parliament known as Reichstag is always an incredible sight to see, although be aware that if you want to go to the top of the glass dome, you must purchase tickets ahead of time.
Another must-see historical sight is of course the remnants of the Berlin Wall. For 28 years, this stone wall — one of the most influential symbols of the Cold War — divided more than just a city. It divided the world. While little remains of this barrier today, what is still standing serves as a symbol of freedom and reunification.
For those seeking to visit the Berlin Wall, I highly recommend stopping at the East Side Gallery, a memorial which consists of murals and graffiti painted by international artists in 1990 and then again in 2009. This section stretches almost an entire mile and is the longest, best-preserved part of the wall.
To further experience some of Berlin's history, don't forget to visit the Oberbaum Bridge. Crossing over the Spree River, this double-deck bridge is considered one of the city's most iconic landmarks, as it links two former boroughs that are now one: Friedrichshain (in the former East Berlin) and Kreuzberg (in the former West). Today, this monumental bridge serves as another important symbol of the city's unity.
Don't forget to rediscover the beauty of vintage photography with Berlin's infamous photoautomat machines. In fact, did you know Berlin is home to approximately 25 outdoor "photoautomat" booths? Throughout the last few years, this city has truly become the pioneer for the worldwide revival of the analogue photo booth. So get your "say cheese" face ready, because you can find them all here.
When you think of Berlin, chances are refreshing pints of frothy beer come to mind. If so, be sure not to miss Prater, the city's oldest active biergarten. Located in the heart of Prenzlauer Berg, this seasonal, self-service outdoor area is the perfect place for locally brewed beers.
The atmosphere is fun and upbeat. The beer is delicious. And with over 600 seats under shady chestnut trees, there's plenty of space to sit and unwind!
While biergartens are certainly popular in Berlin, street bars are also a fun choice for a few drinks. Don't be surprised if you stumble upon some of these lively hangout areas nestled directly under ramps and bridges. My advice? Forgo your plans and have a pint yourself!
But at the end of the day, no matter how or what you decide to explore in this buzzing, metropolitan city, one thing is guaranteed: an unforgettable time!