Germany´s capital is one of the World´s most attracting metropoles to tourists and foreigners who want to settle there. As a person who grew up in the South of Germany and who has lived many years in Berlin I can confirm that this city is special – all in all very different from the rest of my country. Even now, living a nomad life, I often go back to Berlin to enjoy its multicultural flair, its abundance of awesome food places, shops and bars, the lovely green areas where all Berliners love to hang out and its openness towards everyone – no matter how crazy you are 😉
Whenever you plan a trip to Berlin, you should not miss the following 5 Must-DOs, suggested from a „local non-Berliner“, because you can only call yourself a true Berliner if you are born there 😉
1. Berlin for foodies and artsies
There is no chance that you will not be overwhelmed by the city´s variety of restaurants, street food stands and artsy places. So where to start and where to end? Make your life easy and just go to Boxi on a Sunday morning.
Boxi is what we call our Boxhagener Platz – a meeting point for all kind of people and one of the most lovely neighborhoods in the city. Around Boxi you will find plenty of places where you can enjoy a proper Sunday brunch, followed by a stroll on the Boxi flea market. It takes place every Sunday morning and awaits you with an endless variety of clothes, kitchen utensils and even furniture. Of course the food stands are not missing – if you still feel hungry after your brunch go have a try.
If you go to Boxi on a Saturday morning, you will find a lovely weekly market offering everything from local organic products to all kinds of Turkish spreads, Italian sweets, Portuguese pastries, fresh pasta, beekeepers honey, homemade soaps, jam, tahini or date syrup, basically everything you can imagine and beyond that. There are many stands with beautiful handcrafted items. Kiezelfen is one of my favorite stands, selling handmade jewellery made out of Berlin´s flowers – a nice gift or souvenir for yourself.
Whenever you feel like having a coffee break, don’t miss the little coffee roastery Blaue Bohne at Seumestraße. It is a bit hidden in a small side street, but it has been the locals´ favorite coffee shop in the area, so you can trust them 🙂 For Berlin that is a general recommendation: stroll through the little back roads, because every corner has something different to offer. You can find the best food places and shops in these small streets, don’t get lost on the big main roads.
2. Berliners love water
The river bank of our Spree invites people to hang out and relax throughout the whole city. No matter if you go West or East, you will find an opportunity to cool down your feet in the water and enjoy a beer in the sunset – which is probably one of the locals´ favorite way to enjoy their after-work hours.
It´s up to you if you want to do that in one of our biggest parks, the Treptower Park, or in fancy Mitte, surrounded by the stunning fusion of old and futuristic buildings of our Regierungsviertel, or if you prefer the relaxed vibes around the Landwehrkanal, where most of the young and forever-young people meet to sit at the waterfront enjoying their beers and pizzas, kebabs, falafels or whatever kind of street food.
One of my favorite places around the canal are Maybachufer, Landwehrkanalufer and the famous bridge Admiralsbrücke, where people just sit on the street and play music – until the residents call the police to get rid of them. Well that´s Berlin…
3. Berlin got culture!
We do not only drink beer and hang out in parks, we also love culture! I would say, Berlin itself IS culture, but of course you can also go to specific cultural spots. There are plenty of museums you can choose from, we even got a whole island full of museums! For that, please go to Museumsinsel.
If you prefer something more artsy and less touristic, I recommend you to visit one of our Kiezkinos (small local cinemas). They don’t play the Hollywood Blockbusters, but a fine selection of international arthouse movies in original language with English subtitles, which you will not find in the big cinemas.
During winter time they are the best option to spend a cozy evening, because you will be sitting on these old and comfortable big seats and sofas with side tables – like back in the good old times. Order a glass of wine at the counter to make your experience perfect. My favorite local cinema is B-Ware Ladenkino close to Boxhagener Platz.
In summer times, specifically from May to September, Berlin awaits you with a numerous variety of open air cinemas. We call them Freiluftkino. You find them mainly in the big parks throughout the whole city. My favorite one is Freiluftkino Insel on the Insel der Jugend, a small cozy island in our lovely Treptower Park. Grab a drink and get comfy in the sun chairs. Don’t forget to bring a jacket if it gets chilly later in the night, because, well Berlin is not known for its tropical hot nights 😉
4. Immerse yourself in the Berlin Lifestyle
You are wondering why Berliners always walk around with beers in their hands? Well, that´s our lifestyle. We love walking and we love beer. So why not combine it?
If you are looking for the best route to walk and join the „Berliners pilgrimage“ so to say, you could try this:
Start at Admiralsbrücke, get a beer from a Späti (local shop) around there and walk along the canal towards Maybachufer. If you are feeling hungry you might drop in at Ammazza che Pizza, if not, keep going, there will be more food options on the way. After that pizza place you should start turning down south towards Reuterplatz. If you haven’t eaten yet – grab a falafel sandwich at Sahara Imbiss, but only if you are a peanut sauce lover 🙂
Keep walking down south to Reuterkiez and explore the area. Don’t forget to get another beer if yours is already empty (the local shops also have non-alcoholic beer and other fancy beverages!).
You can pay a visit to the park Hasenheide before heading further south to Schillerkiez. Once you got enough impressions of Schillerkiez, turn West to end up at Tempelhofer Feld for sunset. The former airport ground is one of our favorite leisure places in the city. It´s a vast field which offers plenty of space for walking, running, cycling, skateboarding, inline skating or simply relaxing in the grass. I have seen stunning sunsets there – make sure you´ll be on time!
5. Enjoy Berlin´s famous nightlife
Berlin is one of those cities which never sleeps. Take the last energy you have left from your crazy Berlin day and explore the city´s nightlife. You can start your night in of the bars, which you find in abundance in every Kiez (small neighborhood). If you like lively places, I can recommend Holzmarkt25, which is a big playground for adults facing the Spree river and awaiting you with different food options and – of course – beer and other drinks.
If you would rather go to a small and cozy bar, maybe our Speakeasy bars are a good option for you. They offer high quality drinks and a nice atmosphere where you don´t have to shout to each other, but can actually talk. My favorite is the Truffle Pig, a hidden gem with excellent cocktails. You find it inside of the bar Kauz & Kiebitz, but you need to be brave enough to push the fire alarm button in front of the toilets and go through a mirror! Have in mind that seats are limited.
If you still have energy left afterwards, you should check the clubs! Berlin is famous for its techno parties, but there are many alternative clubs for other music genres as well. It´s hard to recommend a club, but if I had to choose, Sysiphos and Berghain would be the favorites for techno and Gretchen for everything else. If you already feel tired, no problem at all! You can go to bed, which you can easily book via Tryvium, and then go clubbing on Saturday and Sunday morning 🙂 Maybe after that brunch at Boxi?