Rarely do you get two cities in one, but despite the age-old cliché, that’s just what Berlin is. Along the famous Berlin Wall you’ll find a city unified but still very much diverse, with people from all over the world drawn to it’s rich culture and exciting way of life. It’s not hard to see why the city is now home to 4.4 million people from over 190 countries, with visitors to Berlin often so mesmerised by the famous sights, cuisine, nightlife, shopping, art and music, they resolve never to leave.
Berlin’s attractions are abundant and the city’s compact nature make it’s main places of interest viewable in just a few quick U-Bahn stops. Historic war monuments like the Brandenburg Gate, Reichstag Building, Checkpoint Charlie and off course the Berlin Wall (quite literally) litter the city. Located close to the famous Potsdamer Platz you’ll also find a cluster of cultural buildings and museums including Gemäldegalerie, which houses one of the finest collection of paintings from the 13th or 18th century. If you’re lucky enough to catch Berlin on a sunny day, the Soviet design of the Berlin TV Tower provides the best and highest point to view the Berlin skyline.
Berliners are almost infamous for their penchant for a good time (especially during October). After dark head to East Berlin, namely Prenzlauer Berg, where you’ll find Berlin’s colourful youth spilling out of restaurants and art galleries and into one of the city’s countless new bars. One haunt that will never go out of fashion is Konnopke's Imbiß. Located under Prenzlaurberg’s U-Bahn station, you’ll quickly realise why there’s always a queue at Berlin’s traditional home of currywurst. The curried sausages are served here with dollops of spicy sauce and might just be the highlight of your trip.
Where to Stay
Long after the wall has fallen, Berlin accommodation options are still somewhat divided. East Berlin caters more to the youth and backpacker market looking to take advantage of Berlin nightlife, with an increasing number of hostels and lower budget options located at Prenzlauer Berg. To the West, Charlottenburg and Wilmersdorf is perhaps the most affluent part of town and is home to numerous Art Nouveau townhouses and a burgeoning boutique hotel market. Many of the major chain hotels cluster around the busy commercial district of Potsdamer Platz, while multicultural Kreuzberg is also great place to stay, with good midrange options and close proximity to Berlin’s alternative bars and cool cafes.
If you can imagine it, you’ll find it in Berlin. Berlin’s shopping landscape is as diverse as the city’s history and within it you’ll easily fill more than a few shopping bags with a range of luxury, boutique, mainstream and vintage goods. If elegant French fashion is what you’re looking for, let Friedrichstraße be your first stop, alternatively, Tauenzienstraße is home to famous international labels like H&M, Benetton and Zara. For a more uniquely Berlin shopping experience, take a stroll along both Alte and Neue Schönhauser Straße in Mitte district. Here amongst the hip restaurants and bars you’ll find many of Berlin’s young and up and coming designers, making it a great place to find something truly unique.
Berlin Like a Local
Sharing a passion for food, fashion, bargain hunting, the outdoors and recycling, makes markets the epitome of all things Berlin. Nestled against the Berlin Wall, a visit to Flohmarkt am Mauerpark, the mother of all Berlin markets, is perhaps the quintessential Berlin experience. Here you’ll find cardboard boxes overflowing with enough goods to rummage through for hours, or at least for long enough until you catch smell of sauerkraut steaming through from the food court. With enough Berlin fare in your belly, stick around until the afternoon for the public karaoke session at the park’s amphitheatre. Not only is Flohmarkt am Mauerpark a great place for shopping, it’s also one of Berlin’s best people watching locations.