A raw, vibrant, and cheaper (compared to any other European capital) place, Berlin is truly a unique city. What was once home to heinous acts of inhumanity and war has now transformed into a colorful city filled with retro culture waiting to be explored.
Visiting tourists know of all the places written in the guide books, but a worldwide local knows how to best experience the city. This is an insider’s guide to some of Berlin’s fun and beautiful spots.
Berlin is a city filled with political history, different cultures, and delicious foods. Exploring it can be a daunting experience, especially for a visitor, but this guide will help you make the most out of your stay.
Getting Around in Berlin
Berlin has an excellent transport network, making getting around the city extremely easy. The U Bahn (underground railway) and S Bahn (rapid city railway) systems are straightforward. The trains come regularly to most Berlin stations, arriving every few minutes even during peak hours. You can also use trams or buses to get around easily from any of the Berlin hotels. Google maps is a great tool to help you move around without getting lost.
Worldwide Local Tip: Get a Berlin Welcome Card; it grants you discounts for many attractions in the city and also covers your public transport for the duration of your trip. This is the easiest way to explore many of the best things to do in Berlin. Always make sure to validate your ticket at any of the validation points on the platforms or the buses to avoid paying a fine (60 Euros).
History and Architecture
Mitte District is the heart of Berlin, where you will find most of the popular attractions. This includes the Reichstag building, which houses the Imperial Diet (highest representative assembly) of the German empire, the Berliner Dom (Berlin’s largest protestant church), Berlin’s most iconic building (Museum Island), and many other sites.
Worldwide Local Tip: The summer months of May to September attract the largest crowds of tourists, especially around the time of the Berlin marathon in September. The best time to visit is during winter when you can find great deals on flights and off-season prices for accommodation. As an added bonus, this also when there aren’t as many visitors.
Enjoy the Outdoors: Parks, Shopping, and More
Berlin has many beautiful parks, but Mauerpark is one that you should definitely visit. What was once a militarized area that divided the east and west side of the Berlin wall has now been transformed to be the social, artistic, and cultural epicenter for Berlin. On Sundays, the park turns into a big flea market where you can find unique souvenirs made and sold by local artists. Other days of the week, you’ll find locals enjoying the beautiful Berlin weather, drinking and grilling until late into the night. It’s known for Bearpit Karaoke, where people gather in the amphitheater to watch others bravely sing their hearts out.
Berlin has a vibrant art scene with fantastic street art dotted all over the city. Some of the areas include Kreuzberg, Lake Tegel Art Park, Urban Spree Area, East Side Gallery, around Moritzplatz, and Urban Nation.
Worldwide Local Tip: Book a street-art bike tour to learn where to find the best art, along with some insight into the people behind the art and the motivations for their work. You can also try your own street-art, using canvas.
The Best of Berlin Cuisine
The food culture in Berlin is influenced by its diverse population, and there are some classic dishes that you should try when you visit. The currywurst, a sausage served with ketchup and a curry powder sauce, is the most popular fast-food snack in Berlin. It is so unique and popular the city even has a museum dedicated to the dish. Enjoy currywurst with some fries and a beer on the side. You can also find some amazing street food, like döner kebab.
Worldwide Local Tip: Berlin is home to some of the best chocolates in the world. Make a customized chocolate bar with ingredients of your choosing at Ritter Sports Café in under 40 minutes.
Essential Berlin: Beer
Beer is an essential part of German culture. Sample some of Berlin’s beer brands at Prater, a beer garden located in the center of the city that has over 600 seats. Enjoy a night out in Alexanderplatz as you rage in one of the beer hall parties and throw some back.
Enjoy Your Visit!
Berlin is a large city with many things to see and do. Explore the city as a worldwide local, and you’ll be certain to have a unique visit, leaving you with memories that will last a lifetime.