Berlin is a city of diversity: it is both glamorous and gritty, historic and modern. This cultural hotspot is a top destination for travellers, so we spoke to Flytographer Sarah for her local tips for things to eat, see and do in Berlin.
1. Street Food Markets
There are a number of these you can enjoy on summer evenings, including local favourite Bite Clu. The biggest street food market is hosted by Markthalle Neun, with everything from breakfast and sweet markets, to food from across the globe! If you’re looking for a market that can withstand the elements, check out the indoor/outdoor Berlin Village Market, which not only features amazing food trucks, but also live music and special events.
3. Vegetarian & Vegan
While Germany is known for its culinary expertise in sausages and cured meats, there is also a wonderful selection of vegetarian eateries in Berlin. My favourite spots include: Yellow Sunshine (burgers and fast food); Satyam (Indian); Michelberger Hotel (organic, seasonal bistro offerings – try the Hot Monkey drink); Ta’Cabrón Taquería (authentic Mexican); and Chén Chè (Vietnamese specialty and tea house). I cannot recommend Chén Chè’s blueberry cocktail enough, and the spring rolls made me feel like I had never really eaten proper spring rolls before that moment!
One of the loveliest plazas in the city, with cathedrals featuring both German and French architecture on either end and the opera house in the centre, it also houses one of the best Christmas Markets in December.
You can easily see many of the city’s most important monuments by foot, from the Brandenburg Gate to the Reichstag, stopping at the Holocaust Memorial and then through the Tiergarten towards the Victory Column. Consider a Context guided tour of this area to get the most out of your experience.
This lively quarter in Mitte is one of Berlin’s oldest neighbourhoods, and has many charming quirks worth visiting if you’re looking for something a little different. Start with the great shopping at Hackescher Markt, stroll through the graffiti-lined courtyard at Haus Schwarzenberg, stop at one of the many cute cafés, and then take in some of the contemporary galleries towards Auguststrasse.
4. Warschauer Strasse
The grittier side of Berlin can be observed in this area where the Oberbaum Bridge links the boroughs of Kreuzberg and Friedrichshain, formerly divided by the Berlin Wall. Along the river, The East Side Gallery has one of the few remaining pieces of the wall, with more than 100 historic paintings created just after reunification in 1990.
5. Museum Island
In the city centre, surrounded by the Spree River, this little island holds five spectacular museums within walking distance, as well as the magnificent Berliner Dom. The architecture and ambiance of the area make it a pleasure to visit on your way to one of the museums or to the excellent shopping in nearby Alexanderplatz or Hackescher Markt.
6. Explore More
If you have a little more time, a trip to Pfaueninsel (Peacock Island) is worth the trip. The short ferry ride brings you to an island of idyllic gardens, impressive architectural elements including a small castle and mini Greek temple, and of course, lots and lots of peacocks. Potsdam is only an hour away from the city centre by public transport, and great if you want a quiet change of pace. Visit the stunning Rococo Palace Sanssouci, the former summer home of Frederick the Great, with its well-kept grounds.
1. Visit the Berlin Wall
One of the most iconic and defining monuments of the city, the Berlin Wall features provocative and beautiful murals, and offers a chance to learn more about the city’s fascinating history.
2. Christmas Markets (December)
Every district has its own Weihnachtsmarkt, with at least 60 throughout the city. Visit the larger ones in Gendarmenmarkt, Alexanderplatz, and Tiergarten/Kurfürstendamm. Warm up with roasted chestnuts and Glühwein (mulled wine), and get your sweetie a Lebkuchen (gingerbread love cookie).
3. Botanical Gardens
One of the top botanical gardens in the world, the BGBM is located on 43 hectares with more than 20,000 plant varieties. The grounds are beautiful to explore from spring through fall, and in winter the greenhouses are warm enough to make the visit worthwhile.
4. Potsdamer Platz
In December, Potsdamer Platz is spectacularly decorated for the season, and often hosts premieres for major films. If you are visiting in the winter, it’s a lovely stop for an English-language film, and you can also check out the neighbouring Film Museum Deutsche Kinemathek.
5. Music Festivals
If you love music, you can’t go wrong in Berlin. There are tons of outdoor festivals and music venues in summer, but in winter you can also enjoy concerts from top artists, dancing and cabaret shows, and some of the best techno clubs in the world. Don’t forget to try one of Berlin’s signature drinks, ‘Club-Mate,’ to keep you dancing all night long!