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.
- East Side Gallery - Whether you are just enjoying the wall art or watching David Hasslehoff lead a protest (really) - go see the longest remaining section of the Berlin Wall.
Siegessäule - Crudely referred to as the "Chick on a Stick", lady victory is prominently located in the Tiergarten in sight of the Brandenburger Tor. It has also been adopted as a gay symbol in the city. Our review
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. Our review
- Sansoucci - summer palace of Frederick the Great in Potsdam. Here is the elegance sometimes lacking in most of Berlin. Our pics
- 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. Our review
- Mauer Documentation Center - Skip Checkpoint Charlie & tacky exhibits downtown. See what the wall actually meant in news footage, simulated wall, and personal stories. Also check out the area around here, from Bernauer Straße Ubahn to the center. This former "death strip" has been left mostly empty - until recently. An evolving memorial commemorates the wall and the churches and neighborhood buildings that were destroyed to make way for it. Bernauer Straße also has a great view of the Fernsehturm and is the site of the famous photograph of the East German soldier jumping the barbed wire fence to the West.
- 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 & this zoo in the west is pleasant (although we prefer the next listing in the east). Our review
- Tierpark - The East Berlin Zoo offers wide expanses and a vast array of animals may make it our favorite.
- Bärenzwinger (Bear Pit) - Bears are the symbol of Berlin and real live bears kept in the center of the city. Our Review
- 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 vibrant Turkish community in Berlin and the day of open mosques (held on Day of German Unity) was a unique experience for us. Our review
- 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. More 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 from 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 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
- Volkspark Humboldthain - Granted, we love this park because it is close to our house, but also because it is the site of an infamous Männertag, holds the Flakturm, and has a great public pool. Our pics of Humboldthain Pool. In the winter, find the perfect sledding hill in Berlin!
- Go to a club - Berlin is the clubbing capitol of Germany/Europe/the World depending on who you ask and many people come to the city just for that. We've been at house parties to the late morning hours and spent full nights talking and dancing with friends, but we've gone light on the club front. You go - you can have our spot. Our friend Kyla offers an extremely helpful how-to on getting into the Berlin club of your choice.
- 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 but I keep hoping it'll come back
- Softball - Originally a diplomatic league, this is now a hodge podge of all nationalities and ages. Our review
- Literaturforum im Brecht-Haus - The site of readings and literary meet-ups in German language. Ian's review
- Visit the Tierheim - The animal shelter in Berlin is located a bit outside of the city, but is quite a unique site all on it's own. It is comprised of 16 hectares (one of the largest animal shelters in Europe) and was even the site of parts of the film Aeon Flux .Volunteer, take a stroll and adopt! Our review
ItinerariesWhere to take:
- Your Newbie in Berlin who wants to Eat Cheap
- Your Street Food Fanatics/Serious Foodies
- 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 or Ride the UBlau
- Your American Sports fan: German Bowl & Salamas (American football) and Softball in Berlin
- Your animal-crazed friends
Outside of the city
- Tropical Island - A giant indoor water park that manages to be both cheesy and wonderful. Be careful about being nickle-and-dimed into poverty, but there are frequent coupons and discounts. About an hour from Alex. Our review
- 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
- Stettin/Szczecin, Poland - Just a Schönes-Wochenende-Ticket ticket (currently 30ish euros for 5 people to ride all day) away, this port town offers low low prices and delish Polish food (although to be honest - we haven;t totally figured it out). Our review
- Königs Wusterhausen - Deep to the SE of Berlin, we went down here to visit a friend's garden house but there is also a water park for small children and nature abounds. Our review
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 carnival feel with performances & food galore, finishing with a fabulous firework show. Our review
- 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. Our review
- Berlin Braufest (September) - Craft beer festival where they offer a variety of local beers - even IPAs (swoon)! Our review
- 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
- Day of German Unity / Tag der Deutschen Einheit (October 3rd) - The day the country re-united is a holiday each year with celebrations around the country including the mandatory Ferris Wheel. In addition, it is a day of open mosques in Berlin. Our review
- Oktoberfest - Whether you are celebrating the real deal in Munich, stateside, or a transplanted fest in Berlin, Oktoberfest has proven it can destroy us anywhere. Pics of beer fests in Berlin.
- Martinstag - (November 11th) Children in kitas all over town celebrate this holiday by parading around parks with paper lanterns. Our pictures
- 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 Imren Grill just beneath our house. Convenience is a virtue. Our review
- Berlin Bite Club & Markthalle IX - Trendy street food markets, these come packed with expats & locals and can cater to every palate. Our Review
- Tiergartenquelle - Favorite German restaurant in the city. Hands down. Our review
- Dolores - San Francisco Mission style burritos in hipster environment. Our review
- 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 If you are up in Wedding like us, try Ya Hala Chicken for a steal of a deal. Our review
- Volta - Again near our hood, Volta was getting all the hype as the burger joint to beat not long ago. More of a restaurant with a good burger than a burger place, it is still worth trying. Our review
- Zum Haxenwirt - Traditional German in charming environment. Schweinehaxe never looked so good.
- Burgermeister - Conveniently located beneath the U1 Schlesischer Tor, this burger joint used to be a public restroom. Our review
- 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. Our review
- Miss Saigon - Beautiful, inexpensive, delicious South Vietnamese food in Kruezberg. Beware the hordes that already know this place is a great spot to eat as it's small space fills up fast.
- Angry Chicken - Conveniently located next to the very popular Miss Saigon, this is a good runner up if the former is too busy or you prefer take-away. Korean style fried chicken, this place can bring the heat with fun names like "So so angry" chicken.
- 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. Our review
- Pizza - You can get a 2 euro rectangular slice almost anywhere, but I recommend XXL or Massaniello if you are feeling fancy. Lots of people love Il Ritrovo in Friedrichshain (easily noted by it's constantly filled interior), but I much prefer the other two's pies. 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
- The Bird - A much hyped American burger place, this place is an institution with actual drink deals for happy hour (none of that .50 off baloney) and a lot of attitude. I love the insistence on eating burgers with your hands, but am a bit meh about the burger itself. The napalm wings are legitimately spicy you've been warned. Our review
- Kochu Karu - A fusion Korean taco place - we weren't sure what we getting into. Turns out we were getting into Bibimbap. Hardcore. Our review
- Berlin Burger International - Maybe the best burger in Berlin with incredibly shitty service. Place is tiny so plan accordingly. Our review
- Anna Blueme - Prenzlauerberg brunch spot known for it's tiered brunch and great location. Our review
- Lost in Wedding - A trendy vegetarian pop-up in the nearby re-purposed swimming pool hall, Stattbad Wedding. (How Berlin right?) Our review
- Cô Cô - Sadly, not the best bahn mi we've ever had, but not bad for Berlin. Check out the great omeletts and salads. 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).
- Barcomi's Deli - How about a total change of pace & trade coffee for alcohol? This deli is known for it's bagels, but I am a big fan of the coffee as well. Our review
- 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)
- 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".
- The Diplomatic Wife has a very helpful post on A Guide to Flat-hunting in Berlin
- No Ordinary Household has a great series of So You Want to Move to Germany....
- Travelettes - Travel posts with some of the members living in Berlin & providing insider details
- The Circus's Walking tours
- 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
If you are interested in a little divided Berlin history, check out our friend's documentary,
A crash course of in beautiful Berlin from Luci's beautiful 1-minute video series at Moving Postcard :
|CSD (Gay Pride)|
Obama spoke at the Siegesaule while campaigning in 2008 & we were there!
The TV Tower is my favorite symbol of Berlin. Everywhere you turn, it's there.
Memorial to Murdered Jews of Europe
Far & away, one of our favorite things about the city for both it's beauty and utility
German Sporting Events
You have to go see the remaining section on the wall between Kruezberg and Friedrichshain.
Drive by video & visit by the Hoff