Here are a few of my favorite things...
There is so much happening in Berlin, this is only a thimble full of knowledge. Slowly, so slowly, I am added full scale links and reviews for these favs. Look for "Our review" after the listing.
- Cemetary visit - Berlin's got lots of them, including the resting place of the Brothers Grimm. Our review
- Badeschiff - my favorite thing to do in the summer. A pool in a barge in the Spree + club. Our review
- Freiluftkino Hasenheide - outdoor theatre within the park. Extra points for getting propositioned.
- Mauerpark Floh Market - Popular flea market. There are smaller, more intimate markets, but I know I can find something I want here.There are bunches of markets. Choose one. Or many. Our pics
- Gendarmenmarkt - One of the prettiest Squares in Berlin, it is surrounded by the Konzerthaus and the French and German Cathedrals. Plus Fassbender & Rausch - fancy chocolate shop with chocolate sculptures - is just off the square.
- Dr. Pong - Too weird to be fake. Play ping pong like you never knew possible (bit of a teeny bopper crowd).
- English Theatre Berlin - Go for the intimate plays or volunteer to watch the performance for free.
- Sansoucci - summer palace of Frederick the Great in Potsdam. Here is the elegance lacking in most of Berlin.
- Kino Intimes - Old timey theatre in my favorite kiez (neighborhood) of Friedrichshain. Great laid-back brunch on Sunday.
- Reichstag - One of the most historically & politically significant places in Berlin. Have to schedule a tour, but worth it. Schedule your free visit here. Our review
- Berlin Botanical Garden - Note: horrible in the rain. BUT it is quite pretty, and the garden houses are all under cover and truly fascinating.
- Mauer Documentation Center - Skip Checkpoint Charlie & tacky exhibits downtown. See what the wall actually meant in news footage, simulated wall, and personal stories
- SpreePark - Abandoned Amusement park with a mysterious story about drugs and an escape to South America. We rode our bikes around & looked at it, but they have tours I am dying to go on.
- Hoppegarten Horse Racetrack - Classic West Berlin in that it is both kinda fabulous, and slowly decaying. Never did figure out the betting system, but I love just watching the ponies run.
- Topography of Terror - Redesigned free exhibit that extensively documents the horrors of Secret State Police and the SS on the grounds of the Reich Security Main Office.
- Hauptstadt Zoo - We love a good zoo & we are now proud annual members. Our review
- Tierpark - Traditionally the East Berlin Zoo, this animal park's wide expanses and vast array of animals may make it our favorite.
- Bärenzwinger (Bear Pit) - Bears are the symbol of Berlin and real live bears, , are kept in the center of the city.
- Künstlerhaus Bethanien - Former hospital, now gorgeous art space. Our pics
- Mosques - If you get the chance to visit a mosque while in Berlin - DO IT! There is a large & vibrant Turkish community in Berlin and the day of open mosques was a unique experience for us.
- Stolpersteine - Walking around the city is inevitable you will run across a reminder of Berlin's sobering history. These simple gold plaques laid into the ground, literally "tripping stones", are one of my favorite symbols. Great posts from Fiona & andberlin
- Berliner Unterwelten tour - Take a look at underground berlin. Tours range from abandoned U-Bahn stations to flaktower defense. Our review
- Fussball! - Whether you check out West Berlin's Hertha at Olympiastadion or East Berlin's Union, you should go, sing, drink. Our review
- Templehof - This former airport and site of the Berlin airlift is now a truly mind-blowing park. Something is going on here every weekend, and nothing beats riding your bike down a runway. A beautiful day in the park. Pics from Finding Berlin
- Bebelplatz - Yet another touching memorial to the loss that occurred during the reign of the Nazi party, conveniently located off of Unter Den Linden. This is the site of May
10, 1933 book burning by members of the SA, SS, Nazi students and
Hitler Youth groups. A memorial by Micha Ullman
consisting of a glass plate set into the cobbles, giving a view of
empty bookcases, commemorates the book burning. A plaque with a quote
Heinrich Heine is particularly moving,"Das war ein vorspiel nur wo man Bücher verbrennt, verbrennt man am Ende auch Menschen" "Where they burn books, they ultimately burn people").
- Memorial for Murdered Jews of Europe - This unusual memorial of stoic cement blocks evokes a deep response, whether you hate it or love it. After people claimed it was too impersonal a small museum was placed beneath it (Beware there is a security check so no pens knives etc.) This is one of my favorite spots in the city and I believe it should be treated with reverence, so please no jumping from stone to stone or drinking. (Interesting side note - the city debated whether to put anti-graffiti cover on the memorial, and eventually did. It turns out the company that supplied the chemical, Degussa, had a subsidiary company, Degesch, that had produced the Zyklon B gas used to poison people in the gas chambers.
- Gärten der Welt - Lovely park and gardens out in Marzahn Our review
- Berlin's Technological Museum - Massive museum with lanes, trains, automobiles and more. Our pics
- Madenautomat - We haven't been here yet, but Digital Cosmonaut posted about this maggot
vending Machinein Wedding. I love our kiez.
- Zitadelle & Spandau - As a whole, this area doesn't get a lot of love for there is a for realsies fortress out here! Our review
- Kunsthaus Tacheles - Art collective that is facing it's final days. Built as a department store in the Jewish quarter, served as a Nazi prison, partially demolished, and now occupied by art. CLOSED
Outside of the city
- Wandlitz - Small town accessible by a BVG C Ticket, it has a great lake. Good day trip option. Our pics
- Spreewald - This forest area just outside Berlin has hiking, camping and boating opportunities galore. We tried our hand at canoeing in Lubbenau and had an amazing time. Plus - they are known for their pickles. Our review
- Sachsenhausen - Concentration Camp just outside of the city. (not exactly my favorite, but a must see. )
- Hohenschonhausen - A former Stasi prison, it was unmarked on maps. It is now open for tours in English & German. Our review
- Dresden - Not quite a day trip as you should really stay at least one night, Dresden truly deserves a visit. Most noted for its Weihnachtsmarkt (Christmas market) which is the oldest in Germany, we also loved our summer trip. Our review of Dresden in Winter and Dresden in Summer.
- EuropaPark - The 2nd largest theme park in Europe is actually located in SW Germany. Rollercoaaaaaaasssssssssssssttttttttttterrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrs! Our review
- Werder an der Havel - Located just outside of Berlin, you can get to this charming town with just a C ticket extension! Surrounded by water, this epicenter of fruit wine also holds the madness of Baumblütenfest in the spring.
- Alt-Lübars - This town is less than 30 min from the middle of Berlin, but it feels like an entirely different world. This is beautiful countryside - and yet it too was once encapsulated by the Berlin wall. An added bonus is the many stables in the area with the opportunity to take lessons or go for a ride. Our pictures
FestivalsThere needs to be a subsection of "DO" for festivals. There are so many happenings in Berlin, but festivals are a marvel at pulling people from every section of the city.
- Erster Mai (1st of May) - Labor Day is well represented in such a liberal city as Berlin. In an effort to turn the annual riots into something positive, there is now My Fest (clever pun, eh?). It shuts down 16 city blocks in Kreuzberg, tons of live bands, and a wealth of food and friends. Walpurgisnacht is tied in with the holiday and is celebrated the night before, a time of bonfires, witchery, and spookiness. Our review
- Baumblütenfest - Located just 40 min from the city, this festival of blossoms and fruit wine has a bit of a bad reputation for boozy teenagers. What I didn't expect was the absolute beauty of the town and it's offerings.
- Mannertag - Also known as Ascension Day or Christi Himmelfahrt, Ian has (surprise) taken to this holiday with gusto. A Father's Day of sorts, single men have also laid claim to it as a day to gallivant around the city, drinking and eating everything in sight. The video
- Karneval der Kulturen (late May) - The Carnival of Cultures in Kreuzberg presents the cultural and ethnic diversity of Berlin. This means a parade, fierce costumes, and supreme food choices like grilled plantains, real curries, and real hot spices. Our review
- Christopher Street Day Parade (mid-June) - aka Pride parade and events. This is one of my favorites for it's chaotic, colorful, and full-out love fest style. Our review
- Hafenfest (July) - Our fiends live in Tegel, really the only way hear about this festival harking to viking times. It has a carnaval feel with performances & food galore, finishing with a fabulous firework show. Our pics
- Internationales Berliner Bierfestival (August) - Located on grandiose Frankfurter Allee in Freidrichshain, this epic beer mile displays global beers, neatly divided into countries and regions. Walk the mile getting increasingly cheerier and pick up amazing steins and glasses for a pfand (deposit). It is a rowdy, not trendy, crowd, but a taste of a different side of Berlin.
- Berlin Marathon (September) - One of the big 5 marathons (like NYC), this is also a spectator sport. Our review
- Pyronale (September) - An international fireworks festival that you can watch from Olympic Stadium, or for free on the hills surrounding the stadium. You can guess what we choose. Our review
- Thanksgiving (November) - Though clearly not a Berlin festival, we have made this American holiday into an all-inclusive dive bar happening. Our review
- Weihnachtsmarkt (December) -The best place for an American to be abroad for Christmas may very well be Germany. Surprising similarities and endearing new traditions can be discovered at the plethora of markets throughout the country. Berlin's markets are not particularly noted compared to Nürnberg, Dresden (Our Christmas Market review), etc., but I have some favorites. Our review and pics of the city Christmas 2012
- Silvester (Dec 31st - Jan 1st) - New Years is always a time of celebration but I didn't know "crazy" and "fireworks" worked so well together until I saw my first Berlin New Years. This celebration is madness. Whether you choose to celebrate in front of the Reichstag, on Unter den Linden, or on your friend's roof top - just go. Don't forget to watch "Dinner for one!" Our review 2011; Our review 2012
(We apparently only eat at various imbiss & cheap restaurants )
- Döner - eat a Döner. Preferably frequently. This uniquely Berlin mash-up of Berlin/Turkish food is perfection drunk food, and pretty good the rest of the time as well. Ranging from 1.50-3 euro, you can find this meal anywhere. We love the place just beneath our house. Convenience is a virtue.
- Tiergartenquelle - Favorite German restaurant in the city. Hands down. Our review
- Dolores - San Francisco Mission style burritos in hipster environment
- Santa Maria - Inventive Mexican fare with some serious spice level. YES! Plus - 1 euro taco Tuesdays & tequila shots Our review + 2 sister restaurants
- Rogacki - Deli with every delicacy under the sun (featured by Bourdain) Our review
- Hühner Haus - Best. Chicken. Ever. Get extra garlic and chili sauce. Newly opened sit down restaurant across from the stand. Our Review
- Berlin Burger International - Maybe the best burger in Berlin. Place is tiny.
- Burgermeister - Conveniently located beneath the U1 Schlesischer Tor, this burger joint used to be a public restroom.
- Anna Blueme - Prenzlauerberg brunch spot known for it's tiered brunch and great location. Our pics
- Zum Haxenwirt - Traditional German in charming environment. Schweinehaxe never looked so good.
- Restaurant Rissani - Watch them make fresh felafel of the Moroccan variety. We always go for a combo platter of halumi, hummus, tabbouleh, and of course -felafel. But be forewarned - no alcohol
- Miss Saigon - Beautiful, inexpensive, delicious South Vietnamese food in Kruezberg.
- CabSlam - Pop-up spot offers lovely service & American style Breakfast.
- Gorki Park - A little bit of Russian in Mitte. Our review
- Royal Elephant - on one of the prettiest streets in Prenzlauer Berg, with some spectacularly spicy Thai options. Plus - perfect location just off of Mauer Park.
- Nil - Sudanesischer Imbiss with several locations. A twist on felafel with a killer peanut sauce.
- Pizza - You can get a 2 euro rectangular slice almost anywhere, but I recommend XXL or Massaniello if you are feeling fancy. Our review
- Grilling! More and more parks don't allow you to grill, but if you can it's glorious. Or you can resort to your balcony like us.
- Sunday brunch almost anywhere - A standard buffet costs between 7-10 euro and offers everything from Mediterranean to Indian to good ole German roles. It is divine and my favorite way to spend a Sunday. Berlin Breakfast Blog has great listings (German)
- Hunt down Mexican food - One of the weaknesses of Berlin is it's lack of Mexican food. Trying to hunt down ingredients for a feast is an epic quest worth taking.
- Wilhelm Hoeck 1892 - The oldest bar in Berlin also convinced us to become Blutwurst (blood sausage) lovers. Our review
- Huburtslounge - Kooky cafe with a secret room. Look for the cabinet. Our review
- Brauhaus Südstern - Located off of Volkspark Hasenheide, this place has awesome German food and brews it's own beer. They take beer seriously, offering IPAs, take home beers, and tours.
- Privatbrauerei Am Rollberg - Brewery in Neukölln bringing back independent beer. Our review
- Eschenbrau - Hidden brewery in Wedding with great brews & Flamkuchen. Our local favorite.
- Schwatzes Cafe - Serves a mean carrot cake & cocktails with surprisingly friendly service.
- Weinerei - Buffet and self-catered wine. Pay what you think the meal is worth (edit: no longer the case- must investigate)
- Löwenbräu - the full touristy German experience. Put on your tracht.
- Prater Biergarten - The original biergarten in Prenzlauer Berg. Get at least one Berliner Weisse. Pics from Chasing Heartbeats
- Salama's! Our smoky little NFL bar is the place where a lot of the magic has happened. It's here that we found some of our most endearing friends, Ian found a job, and we have something to do every Sunday of football season. Our review
- Frollein Langer - Neukölln hipsterdom at it's finest. There is seating in a bathtub. Usually not a good thing, but we'll overlook it here.
- Hops & Barley - Located in one of our favorite areas of Friedrichshain, this brewery is a labyrinth of rooms and the perfect place to drink some of the best beers in Berlin.
- Whisky Kabinett - We went here for a private tasting of whiskeys, whiskys, & bourbons. A wonderful way to spend an evening in increase your knowledge of fine drinking. Our review
- The street. Seriously. A beer in a park or by the river or just about anywhere is just one of the things that make this city special.
- Heinz Minki - Lovely beer garden with twinkling lights in Kreuzberg (haven't been since re-opening)
- Michelberger Hotel - This place is pretty hip and in a good location between Friedrichshain & Kreuzberg. Cool lounge area with "The Big Lebowski" playing in the halls. Rooms look small, but have modern and efficient furnishings.
- The Circus - Located in an area with lots of bars & restuarants and is well known as a fun accommodation.
- The Ostel - shows what it was like living in East Berlin.
- Pfefferberg - A hostel with a funky lounge area, bike rental, etc. May have private rooms as well.
Full Guide to Berlin on EasyExpat
- Transportation in Berlin
- Our personal accounts of struggling for visas: They Love Stamps, A Hate Letter to the Ausländerbehörde, The most Frustrating Waiting Room, & Officially Visa'd in Berlin (Travels of Adam has a great post: How to get a visa in Germany as an American )
- As much as we love this city, there are almost weekly pictures that qualify for WTF Germany
- ToyTown - comprehensive forum of expats in German. Ask almost anything and someone will have an answer.
- Moving Postcards - Luci puts together clever & thoughtful 1 minute movies of Berlin (as well as other lovely destinations). Use her site to get acquainted with the city and find all that makes it special.
- Slow Travel Berlin (including a realistic look at renting, myths, & their resources)
- The Circus's Walking tours
- Mädels with a Microphone - an English language podcast about the quirky and unexplored side of Berlin by local journalists Tam Eastley and Jennifer Collins. Read their post on EasyExpat about "How to make an Expat Podcast".
- Travelettes - Travel posts with some of the members living in Berlin & providing insider details
- oh berlin
- The Needle
- Guardian List of Top 10s
- Abandoned Berlin
- Good Food in Berlin
- Foodie in Berlin
- Berlin Food Stories
- The Local
- NPR Berlin Blog
- Berlin on a Platter
- Stil in Berlin
- Finding Berlin
- Mic Movement
- Journey to Berlin
- Taxi Gourmet: berlin-food-adventures
- Footprints in Berlin
- Grid Skipper Berlin
- I Heart Berlin
- Working Traveler's - Blogger’s Guide to Berlin
- Berlin Unlike
- Finding Berlin
- Berin Cheapo
- Extensive list of expats in Berlin, Germany, and out in the world
- Plus a never-ending list of things I would like to do in Berlin: To-Go in Berlin
ItinerariesWhere to take:
- Your Texan nephew in Berlin
- Your SAE Fraternity Brothers
- Your gay Father-in-Law in Berlin
- Your German Foreign Exchange student just back from a Year in Mexico City
- Your Classy Drinking Buddies
- Your Serious Drinking Buddies
- Sports fan: German Bowl (American football)
If you are interested in a little divided Berlin history, check out our friend's documentary,
A crash course of in beautiful Berlin:
Obama spoke at the Siegesaule while campaigning
The TV Tower is my favorite symbol of Berlin. Everywhere you turn, it's there.
Far & away, one of our favorite things about the city
German Sporting Events
You have to go see the remaining section on the wall between Kruezberg and Freidrichshain