Berlin: The Low-Key Low Down
In Berlin, you can find something to suit every personality, every age group and every mood. Last week we brought you just a few of its facets – from the über-chilled to the architecture lover and the urban hipster – and here are some tips that would suit some of Berlin’s more low-key visitors.
For the market-rummager
Berliners love a flohmarkt (fleamarket) – they are scattered around the city, bursting with bric-a-bac, GDR nostalgia, crafts or fresh produce. At Christmas, Berlin glitters with the lights of over 50 Christmas markets, but there are plenty of markets for rummaging in all year round. Craft stalls jostle for space on Museum Island (Sat & Sun), selling art, furniture and books to browsers sated with bratwurst and other traditional German food that can be purchased nearby. For GDR nostalgia, head to Trödelmarkt Arkonaplatz (Sun) in the Mitte district. Trödelmarkt specialises in all things of the vintage variety, from records to rocking chairs.
For the Sunday-bruncher
Brunch is the meal des Tages in Berlin, with the promise of refillable plates luring many Berliners out of bed on a Saturday and Sunday morning. Simon Dach Straße, in the Freidrichshain area in the heart of Berlin, is lined with over 20 restaurants that spill out onto the pavement in the summer months. The nearby Sonntagstraße also boasts many options for open air brunching. Both streets liven up in the evenings when its funky and relaxed cocktail bars fill with Berlin’s most fashionable folk. Russian themed Pasternak on Knaackstraße is a favourite for lazy late breakfasts, with its ‘big breakfast’ equivalent (home-marinated salmon, fresh potato pancakes, minced herring with apple, scrambled eggs, curd pancakes, blini rolls with spinach, blini with curd…) served until 3pm.
For the conscientious walker
No trip to Berlin would be complete without a walking tour of the city’s history-laden streets. There are a number of free walking tours run by volunteers who are passionate about showing you the city through their eyes. Running for about three and a half hours, the most popular walking tours will lead you from the Brandenburg Gate and the Reichstag to the Holocaust Memorial and Checkpoint Charlie, explaining the role each sight has played in shaping Berlin’s history and giving you time to absorb their meaning. Your hotel will be able to advise you on which tour to take and where the collection points will be – remember to tip your guide at the end of your tour.