City guidebooks are great. Pick one up and you hold the key to experiencing the sights and sounds of an amazing place in the palm of your hand. However, after your 3rd art gallery, 4th visit to that “food to die for” restaurant and 100th tourist attraction, you tend to get the sense that you’re following the crowd and treading a path that has already been well worn. We thought it was about time you ditched the guidebook and went ‘off road’ deep into the eccentric and exhilarating European capital that is Berlin.
We’ve teamed up with fellow Berlin-based and travel bloggers to pool our knowledge of our favourite city to give you the inside track on where Berliners eat, party and hang out, as well as some quick money saving tips.
A big thank you to Rae from www.lovefromberlin.net, Dave and Deb from www.theplanetd.com and Kelly and Sophia from www.collidoscopeberlin.com for their expert insights into things to do in Berlin this Autumn!
25. Get Familiar with Berlin’s Street Side
When it comes to Berlin’s past we are well aware of its involvement in European history. But what’s going on in Berlin today? To truly get an understanding of the emergence of the city’s uber-cool lifestyle is immerse yourself in the city’s present happenings.
Hopping on a street art tour offers visitors an authentic look into Berlin’s squats and eccentric culture, while giving you an overall understanding of why Berlin oozes with edginess.
Who: Original Alternative Berlin tours do a smashing job when it comes to showing you around town, you can check out their full tour info on their website.
24. Absorb Berlin’s Autumnal Beauty from Viktoria Park
One of the most fulfilling things to do in Berlin is climbing to the top of Viktoria Park in the borough of Kreuzberg. Don’t worry, the ascent is short and the sights are sweet. See the most well-known Berlin sights; the Reichstag and Tiergarten to the West and the TV tower to the East.
Don’t forget to take a stroll around the surrounding neighbourhood. Head down to Mehringdamm Strasse for cosy bars, and Berlin’s most famous street food joints: Curry 36, known for its currywurst and Mustafa’s kebab, loved among citizens of the city.
Where: Kreuzbergstraße 15, 10965, Kreuzberg.
Public Transport: Monumentenstraße, Bus; 140/U-6 to Platz de Luftbrüke and walk 10 mins.
23. Discover the Real Berlin at FHXB (Friedrichshain-Kreuzberg) Museum
Berlin is a city of distinct neighbourhoods, and so I always recommend a visit to the FHXB (Friedrichshain-Kreuzberg) Museum right near Kreuzberg’s iconic Merkezi sign at Kottbusser Tor.
The exhibits tell the story of Berlin’s multiculturalism in interactive ways, e.g. model housing blocks you can touch or audio walks across a virtual city. – Kelly and Sophia from www.collidoscopeberlin.com
Where: Adalbertstraße 95 a, 10999, Kreuzberg.
Public transport: U-8/U-1 to Kottbusser Tor and walk 2 mins.
22. Tour the Abandoned Spree Park
What’s a trip to Berlin without exploring an abandoned place, eh? Spree Park has gained notable interest over the past decade for its horrible-chic allure.
@thefashionturtle/ Via. Instagram
But go beyond taking photos of old dinosaur structures and broken theme park rides. Venturing through this eerie fairground offers you a further insight into Berlin’s modern history and how the city’s people were divided and how they have developed.
Where: Kiehnwerderallee 1-3, 12437, Treptow.
Public transport: S Plänterwald and walk 20 minutes.
21. Get a taste of East Berlin in Primitiv
Yes, sightseeing is essential when it comes to stringing together an itinerary of things to do in Berlin. But what about the nightlife? Believe it or not, in Berlin, there’s a way to incorporate nighttime shenanigans and cultural learnings. Primitiv Bar in the borough of Friedrichshain the perfect spot to do so.
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Dive under the red curtain and get a feel for soviet glam in a rather vibrant bar. Inside you’ll find old DDR furnishings, authentic Russian decor and a delightful selection of draft beers.
Where: 28 Simon-Dach-Straße, 10245 ,Friedrichshain.
Public Transport: Grünberger Straße, bus; 240 or N40/ U-5 to Samariterstrasse and walk 15 mins.
20.Tuck into Brunch at Roamers
Ah, Roamers. This petite brunch spot has the ability to light up any Berliner come the dawn of day. Their soul-fulfilling coffee, Americana decor and sensational food (served on baking trays obviously) is enough to cause anyones eyes to light up.
But ye be warned. This spot is very popular with the locals, so if you plan on going don’t be too hungry as you may have to wait an hour for your brekkie. And do make room for cake, and if you don’t, have it take away!
Where: Pannierstraße 64, 12043, Neukölln.
Public transport: U-8/U-7 to Hermannplatz and walk 5 minutes.
19. Take a Saturday stroll through the Farmer’s Market in Boxhagener Platz
The Farmers market in Boxhagener Platz takes place every Saturday and is a wonderful way to support local farmers, co-ops, food artisans, and other small businesses. For us locals, it’s a great place to buy high-quality food like fresh pasta and organic produce for the week as well as fresh flowers for the home.
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“If you are only visiting, the market is definitely still worth visiting, as there are plenty of stands selling food to eat right there on the spot as well as non-perishables like spices and other canned goods that you can bring home to enjoy or give as gifts.” – Rae, www.lovefromberlin.net When: Saturday and Sunday, 9:00-15:30.
Where: Boxhagener Platz, 10245, Friedrichshain.
Public Transport: Grünberger Straße, Bus; 240 or N40/ U-5 to Samariterstrasse and walk 10 mins.
18. Party in Deepest Wedding at Heideglühen
Forget Berghain. There are dozens of other incredible clubs dotted around the city, such as Heideglühen. A custom-built wonderland, made of old shipping containers, across two floors.
The atmosphere can only be compared to that of a festival, with a hedonistic dance floor space playing a mix of house and techno, with an open log fire burning in the smoking area. Perfect for those chilly nights!
@diana.berlin/ Via. Instagram
If there’s one thing you should learn about the party-goers of Berlin, it’s that they’ll travel far and wide to find the best parties and coolest venues. As you walk towards this amazing venue the buzz of the city fades into the background, but don’t lose faith!
A few more steps and your excitement will build as you start to hear the familiar sound of a party drifting towards you. Your reward is one of the best-kept secrets of Berlin’s party scene.
When: Usually Fridays, every other week.
Where: Corner of Beusselstr./Seestr, 13353, Wedding.
S-Bahn Stop: S41/S42 to Beusselstraße.
17. Eat like an Italian at Caligari
Berlin is a city of diversity, and so, no matter what you’re in the mood for Berlin has it! When it comes to Italian food, we asked some Berlin experts!
“I currently live in Schillerkiez, a bustling neighbourhood in the Neukölln district. Just across from my apartment is the Italian neighbourhood joint Caligari, my favourite for its charm and always al dente pasta.
@bjorn_werner/ Via. Instagram
The owner, a native of Lecce in the Puglia region, works every night to provide his guests with delicious and affordable comfort food in what feels like a candle-lit living room. Each meal also ends with some high-quality grappa. Gratis!” – Kelly and Sophia from www.collidoscopeberlin.com When: Everyday 6-11pm.
When: Everyday 6-11pm.
Where: Kienitzer Str. 110, 12049 Berlin.
16. Watch a Film at a Boutique Yorck Cinema
Berlin is a cold place come autumn, but this need not be a problem. Finding a warm cosy spot to settle down for an evening’s entertainment is often the best remedy. There’s no better way to do so than by heading to the nearest Yorck cinema and settling down into a plush reclining chair with a beer (or a glass of wine) and some salted popcorn.
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These cinemas exude a charm that just can’t be found in the big chains and host films that are a welcome departure from the latest big blockbuster. Yorck offers a choice of Berlin-based ‘Kinos’ dotted around the city, showing the latest films and documentaries in English.
Just look out for the abbreviation ‘OMU’ (Original mit Untertitel) in the film listings. A perfect way to start your evening or spend a lazy Sunday with friends.
Where: Dotted around most districts.
15. Wander Round the Marheinekeplatz Flea Market & Cosy Up in a Coffee Shop on Bergmannstraße
Flea markets (‘Flohmärkte”) in Berlin are brilliant. Avoid the crowds and tourists who flock to Mauerpark by heading to leafy Marheinekeplatz.
Whether you’re planning to strike a deal on your dream lamp (we all have dream lamps don’t we?), or (as is more often the case) to wander around in a hungover daze on a Sunday morning wondering where the nearest coffee can be found, the picturesque square and the surrounding coffee shops are more than enough to satisfy your craving for bargains and caffeine.
@guisasan/ Via. Instagram
Hop off the U-Bahn at either Mehringdamm or Gneisenaustraße and head south to Bergmannstraße. Wander down this tree-lined street and take your pick from the many tempting coffee shops that line the route towards the flea market.
Once you’re suitably awake, dive into the market for your fill of bargains, books and art.
When: Saturdays & Sundays from 10:00 a.m.-4:00 p.m.
Where: Marheinekeplatz, 10961, Kreuzberg.
Public transport: U-7 to Mehringdamm or Gneisenaustraße.
14. Hang out at Urban Spree
If it’s Berlin’s nitty gritty side you’re looking for, Urban Spree is the place to be. An underground collaboration of street art, skateboarders and street food. The perfect place to explore Berlin’s edgier side.
@saralikesveganvibes/ Via. Instagram
“Urban Spree is an incredible space in Friedrichshain consisting of a warehouse that puts on events and exhibits artwork, an outdoor space with a bar and food for music and hanging out. This is one of my favourite places to start out the night on the weekend. It’s the perfect setting for grabbing a drink and chatting with friends.” – Rae, www.lovefromberlin.net
When: Everyday, check out events here.
Where: Revaler Str. 99, 10245, Friedrichshain.
Public transport:U-1 or 5/7/75 S-Bahn to Warschauer Straße.
13. Discover the graffiti around Raw Temple
Can get enough of Berlin’s street side? Head over to Raw Temple, located right beside Urban Spree for more gritty-chic surroundings.
@pecofactory/ Via. Instagram
“Something not to miss seeing in Berlin is the graffiti at the Raw Temple. This 100,000 square-foot abandoned warehouse district encourages street art attracting graffiti artists from around the world. Berlin has turned the vandalism of graffiti into a work of art and the city is filled with buildings commissioning artists to put up their best work for all to enjoy.” – Dave and Deb, www.ThePlanetD.com
Where: Revaler Str. 99, 10245, Friedrichshain.
Public transport: S-Bahn/U-Bahn Stop: U1 or 5/7/75 S-Bahn to Warschauer Straße.
12. Play a Round of Table Tennis at Dr. Pong
Beer + Communal Pingpong Table = New friends and a brilliant night out. Way back in 2004, Klaus Wowereit, the Mayor of Berlin famously remarked that Berlin was “poor, but sexy”. This mantra still rings true today, and nowhere more so than Dr. Pong.
@_amydrysdale/ Via. Instagram
Halfway down Eberswalderstraße, behind a grey metal door covered in graffiti, lies a room with a single table and possibly the best night out you will have for quite a while! The idea is simple: grab a ping-pong bat (€2 refundable) and a beer (non-refundable…) from the bar and get involved.
The floor around the table is worn into an oval, a tell-tale sign of the many games of ‘Around the World’ that have been played here. A competitive but fun atmosphere fills the air as you and your friends take on total strangers who, through the magic of ping-pong and beer, become your new best buddies and possibly your new drinking partners on your adventures around Berlin.
When: Every day (except Wednesdays), 7:00 p.m.-6:00 a.m.
Where: Eberswalder Straße 21, 10437, Prenzlauerberg.
U-Bahn Stop: U-2, Eberswalder Straße.
11. Step into Turkey at the Turkish Market on Maybach Ufer
Grab a taste of real-life Berlin and stroll down to the Turkish Market on Maybach Canal, Kreuzberg! One for the itinerary if you tired of the main Berlin sights, and want to more authentic places to see in Berlin.
@blondemomentstravel/ Via. Instagram
“The outdoor Turkish Market on the Maybach Canal is not only a great place to enjoy the vibrant culture it’s also a perfect place to pick up ready to eat Turkish delicacies and ingredients to create your own meal.”– Dave and Deb, www.ThePlanetD.com
When: Tuesday & Friday, 11:30 a.m.- 18:30 p.m.
Where: Maybachufer 21, 12047, Kreuzberg.
Public transport: U-8 to Schönleinstraße.
10. Browse the Platz des 9. November 1989 Open Air Gallery & Part of the Berlin Wall
It’s just after 8:00 p.m. on the 9th November 1989, and East German official Günter Schabowski has (somewhat mistakenly) just announced the removal of border controls between East and West Berlin. On hearing the news, thousands of East Germans start gathering at border crossings across the city demanding to be let through.
@soupflower/ Via. Instagram
Finally, after hours of confusion, the gates are opened and history is made. It is at Bornholmer Straße that these people first crossed over, making this quiet corner of Berlin a very significant one.
If you’ve been to the East Side Gallery before, and feel like getting a little off the beaten track with your next Berlin Wall trip, then this is the place.
Located a 5-minute tram ride from the bustle of Schönhauser Allee, the bridge over which the first East Germans crossed into the west remains largely unchanged. This means you can get a real sense of the events that happened here as you yourself make the walk from the former East into the West of Berlin.
Where: Bornholmer Straße 70, 10439.
Public Transport: Tram 50/M-10, Bornholmerstraße.
9. Take a Stroll Around Schlachtensee
Although Berlin is one the largest metropolis in Europe, you are never far from nature. When you feeling a little drained from Berlin’s eccentric energy, head 40 mins from Alexanderplatz to lake Schlachtensee.
@yammiesnoshery/ Via. Instagram
Throughout the summer this lake is covered in Berliners looking to escape the heat, but in Autumn, Schlachtensee becomes a haven of autumnal beauty. Wander through the technicolour spectrum of the surrounding trees, crunching leaves and chilling out. Definitely one of the best lesser known things to do in Berlin.
When: Ideal in the summer months, but stunning in Autumn.
Where: 2 minutes from the station, walk through the trees and you’re there.
Public Transport: S-Bahn Schlachtensee.
8. Grab a Falafel at Sahara, the Peanut Sauce Mecca
On the corner of Weserstraße and Reuterstraße, a 5-minute walk from U-Bahn Hermannstraße sits one of several Sahara restaurants: a tiny Sudanese falafel joint that puts others in the shade. Grabbing a quick bite to eat here should be on your list should you ever venture into the south of the city.
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Don’t plan on sitting down – this busy little outlet only seats 8 – instead grab one of their famous falafel wraps with peanut butter sauce, maybe even add some halloumi if you’re feeling adventurous. Head outside, take a seat and indulge in some serious people watching whilst your taste buds thank you for the amazing choice you’ve made.
When: Every day, 11:00 a.m.-1:00a.m.
Where: Reuterstraße. 56, 12047, Kreuzberg.
Public Transport: U-8 to Hermannstraße.
7. Tour the Berlin Wall
Typical you might say. Obviously checking out the wall up on your list as far as things to do in Berlin come. But what’s the best way to see the wall? Dave and Deb have this one covered.
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As a history buff, I feel that when visiting Berlin you should take a tour of the Berlin Wall. The reason I say a tour is because you can see and learn so much more if you have a guide. We met our guide and took the U-Bahn to The Wall stopping at the stations that were decommissioned while Berlin was divided in two. You could easily visit the Berlin Wall on your own, but you would miss so much.” – Dave and Deb, www.ThePlanetD.com
When: Every day, all day.
Where: East Side Gallery, Mühlenstraße, 10243 Berlin.
Public Transport: U1 to Warschauer Strasse or S5/S7/S75 to Berlin Ostbahnhof.
6. People-Watch While Sipping a G&T at Bistro-Bar Bateau Ivre
If it’s people watching you want, then people watching you shall get, and what better accompaniment to this most excellent of pastimes than a perfectly made G&T (awesome glass, strong but not too strong, limey but not too limey).
The people watching potential in Berlin is off the scale, hipsters strutting down the pavement in their latest flea market find, old ladies with wise eyes waiting patiently at bus stops, a man with an accordion breaking out into an impromptu busking session just because, the list goes on.
@vansougar/ Via. Instagram
The line of tables and chairs outside Bateau Ivre is the perfect place for this. Situated on Oranienstraße in the Heart of Kreuzberg the bar looks out over a bus stop and two clubs. Whilst this might not sound interesting, watching the pavement fill with an eclectic mix of people from all over the world over the course of 10 minutes is strangely fascinating.
The bus arrives, they’re off, and the cycle repeats. Order one of the previously mentioned G&Ts (other beverages available…) and soak up the sights and sounds of Berlin’s hip Kreuzberg neighbourhood.
When: Every day 9:00 a.m.-3:00 a.m.
Where: Oranienstr. 18.
Public Transport: U-Bahn Kottbusser Tor.
5. Try the Bánh Canh Hâp at Chay Village
With colder weather comes the need for warmer food. Berliners love nothing more than snuggling up with a bowl of pho. But when it comes to the best Vietnamese in town, blogger Rae knows her stuff!
@thirteen04/ Via. Instagram
“Chay Village is hands down one of the best vegan/vegetarian Vietnamese restaurants around. The food is incredibly delicious and healthy as well and even non-vegans/non-vegetarians are bound to find something they will enjoy.
My personal recommendation? The Bánh Canh Hâp: thick udon noodles with vegetables and tofu in a sweet soy sauce. They also have incredible shakes as well!” – Rae, www.lovefromberlin.net
When: Mon-Thur 11:30-22:00, Fri 11:30-23:00, Sa 15:00-23:00, Sun 14:00-22:00.
Where: Eisenacher Straße 40.
Public Transport: U-Bhf Eisenacher Straße (U7).
4. Check out Loophole for Art Exhibitions/Film Festivals/DJs
Located in a former brothel near the Rathaus Neukölln and nestled between sports bars and Turkish teahouses lies Loophole. This hidden gem is a Berlin-based event space showcasing all forms of art. From live bands and DJs to alternative film festivals and art exhibitions, this place ticks all the boxes.
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The bar prices here are great (even for über cheap Berlin), and the international mix of locals and long-weekenders gives the place an ‘anything can happen’ atmosphere, and that’s why you came to Berlin, right? Throw in a handpicked selection of Berlin DJs from the club’s bookers and you’re guaranteed to have yet another night to remember, without panicking about whether you look cool enough to get into Berghain or not!
When: Check their website for upcoming events.
Where: Boddinstr. 60.
Public Transport: U-7, Rathaus Neukölln.
3. Get a Room at Das Hotel; Basement Club, Ground Floor Bistro and Hotel in One
Looking for a place in Berlin where you can eat, sleep and go dancing without ever really leaving your front door? Then look no further than Das Hotel.
You’ll instantly feel at home as you step through the door into the beautifully rustic bistro where top quality kaffee und kuchen (err, coffee and cake) is served throughout the day, with no hint of the transformation that the evening will bring. As darkness slowly draws in, the venue switches from a lazy living room into a live lounge lit solely with candles.
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This romantically rustic atmosphere is then perfectly complimented with a selection of local jazz and soul musicians whilst the bar staff serve some of the highest quality cocktails Berlin has to offer.
The secrets of Das Hotel run even further however. Through an inconspicuous graffiti-covered door at the back of the bistro (Berlin seems to be full of these…) lies a staircase leading up to some of the most tastefully decorated accommodation you could wish for. Forget staying at a chain hotel and book yourself in for a long weekend here, you won’t regret it!
This place doesn’t take bookings online, you’ll have to email the owners yourself to arrange a stay, but believe me, it’s more than worth the extra effort.
Where: Mariannenstraße 26A, 10999, Kreuzberg.
Public transport: U-8 to Kottbuser Tor and walk 5 minutes.
2. Chill at Thai Park
Want to get a better idea of Berlin’s multiculturalism nature? Check out the daily Thai market which produces some of the best Thai food in the city.
@thirteen04/ Via. Instagram
To get an even better idea of the importance of individual neighbourhoods to communities here, visit the Thai Park of Wilmersdorf. A near-daily affair, the Thai women of Wilmersdorf-Charlottenburg convene on Preußenpark to sell freshly prepared food & drink.
It’s the perfect place to relax with a coffee and watch friends banter over the grinding of chilli.” – Kelly and Sophia from www.collidoscopeberlin.com
When: Saturday and Sunday 11 am – 10pm.
Where: Brandenburgische Str., 10707 Berlin.
Public Transport: U7 to Bahn Konstanzer Strasse
1. Take a Tour of Teufelsburg
From any high point in the city you’ll notice three white globes lying on top of a hill, encapsulated by a forest. Unbenounced to visitors, this is an abandoned NSA (National Security Agency) spy station used through the Cold War.
@uncannynormal/ Via. Instagram
The entire hill is man-made, built upon the rubble of 12 million cubic metres of war rubble, that’s approximately 400,000 bombed houses. Today the land is a breeding ground for street-artists and anarchists so if you want to take a tour you’re better off booking it online rather than showing up!
Where: Teufelsberg, 14055, Grunewald.
Public Transport: S7/S5 to S-Bahn Grunewald then walk.
Everything You Need to Know About Taking the U-Bahn
Public transport in Berlin is awesome, and also relatively simple. Here are some things you might find helpful when adventuring round this amazing city.
- U-Bahn and S-Bahn services run until around 1:00 a.m. on weekdays. Missed the last train? Fear not! Night buses run with the corresponding number of the U-Bahn route they follow. Bus stops are usually very close to the U-Bahn stop.
- All weekend partygoers also need not fear. The U-Bahn runs around every 15 minutes throughout the night (except the U4). The S-Bahn runs slightly less frequently but you shouldn’t be waiting longer than 20 minutes, whatever crazy hour you decide to head home.
- Most ticket machines can easily be changed into English and usually only require one touch of the touchscreen before you enter your money.
- DO plan ahead (at least a little). If you’re making more than 3 journeys in a day, it’s cheaper to get a ‘Tageskarte’ (Day Ticket) which is valid until 3am the next day, unless your trips are less than 3 stations, then you need a….
- ‘Kurzstrecke’ (Short Hop) ticket. At €1.60 these are just over half the price of a full ticket and are perfect if you don’t have far to go. They are also valid for 6 stops on the tram, bargain.