Berlin is one of my favourite cities globally and always a wonderful time. It’s cheap, young, hip, and full of energy. I spent a few days in Berlin in 2014 and I fell in love with the city. In July 2015 I was able to spend and entire month exploring the city. Below are my recommendations of places to visit, eat, and drink:
For things to see:
I recommend the Deutsches Historisches Museum. It’s good and you’re able to get a student discount, if you show a valid student card. I spent about three hours (2 hours on 1750-1918; another hour on the 20th century) I would have spent more, but I was already running late.
Schloß Charlottenburg was pretty. The gardens are free, but the interior is paid. It’s an audio tour that takes about 2 hours. When I visited in Feb. 2014 it was nice. I think that’s a good investment. The Schloß shop is really good for nifty Prussian things. It’s a little overpriced (obviously), but it’s hard to find the objects they sell elsewhere.
The Jewish Museum was a mixed bag for me. The first half, the architectural representation of a broken star of David (done by the same architect who did the ROM crystals in Toronto), was really well done. Less was way more in that half – the Holocaust Tower was particularly moving; it’s a large unlit cement void used to symbolize the gas chambers. The rest of their permanent exhibit is good, a lot of stuff, but it’s very tiring. We spent 2 hours in the other half (permanent exhibit) and we didn’t see it all the way through. Again, I think it’s worth it, but you may leave early or start skimming the second half of the permanent exhibit.
I did the Checkpoint Charlie museum in 2006 so I don’t remember it in great detail. My friend, went in July 2015. She said it was good in spite of the tourists.
The Topography of Terror on Niederkirchner Str. was good (and free!) I would recommend that. I went in 2006 and 2015. From there it’s walking distance to Brandenburger Tor and the Reichstag in one direction, Potsdamerplatz in the other. A good area for just wandering and seeing the city.
I haven’t been, nor do I plan on in the near future going to Museum Insel (Museum Island). There’s a bazillion museums and they’re all massive. I feel like it’s a time sink, but most people say it’s worth it; take it or leave it.
Tempehofer Feld (Tempelhof Field—an old airport) is amazing. Just grab a few beers and maybe a bike and ride around the tarmac. Plus it’s free! My adventures at Tempelhof have always been the highlights of my visits to Berlin. You can check out a video from my trip in 2016 here.
Just south of Friedrichstr. station is Dussmann das KulturKaufhaus – a 4 storey bookstore. A good place to kill some time, but some books—they even have LPs for sale!
In front of Humbolt University’s main building on Unter den Linden (across from Bebelplatz), there are always used book sales. You can get some good deals there for book and records. They are there every season and almost every weather.
The Flohmarkt(en) (Fleamarkets) are dope! The one at Rathaus Schöneberg (Saturdays) was good, but the one at Mauerpark (every Sunday) was much much larger. At Mauerpark you can lose the most of your day. At Mauerpark, they also have handicrafts and artisanal things, not just old stuff. I would highly recommend going.
I was pretty disappointed with Potsdam. I think that if I didn’t go alone, I would have spent more time. It’s in the C zone so you’ll have to pay more to get there.
Places to drink/eat:
“Ä” (Weserstraße 40) is by far my favourite bar in Berlin, without question. It has a special place in my heart. It’s in Neukölln so it’s a very hipster place. Beers run you ca. 2.50€ for Tegernseer (the best bang for your [Euro] there). It gets pretty packed in the evenings. The smoking area is way cooler than the non-smoking area.
“Morgenrot Café” (Kastanienallee 85) is also very good, mostly locals. Beers run you ca. 1.85€. When I was there in 2015, I wasn’t too keen on it. When I was back last month, it really grew on me. It’s really cheap and very friendly people. I would recommend.
“Vor Wien Cafe & Bar” (Skalitzer Str. 41) This place is really nice. It’s also around 2.50/3€ for a pint. It’s also a very hip place. Also a smoking establishment. The crowd is in their early to mid 20s and very chill. If I knew of this place earlier, I would have visited it more.
“Clash” (Gneisenaustraße 2A) is a very good local bar. It’s very punk-y and beers run you around 2/3€. It’s full of local Berliners in their early 20s. A really really hip place. I would recommend. You have to enter the courtyard and then turn left. You’ll see it on google maps.
“Prater Biergarten” (Kastanienallee 7) is a typical Biergarten with a mix of locals and tourists. Usually 3€ per beer. It’s okay. It’s outside which is nice, but a bit pricey.
“Fuchsbau” On Kottbusser Damm on the south side of the canal is good too. Usually a bit more packed and the same price as other Kreuzberg/Neukolln pubs. One major downside is that everyone smokes in there so it can be like walking into a wildfire.
“Il Casolare” (Grimmstraße 30) has the best pizza I’ve ever eaten. It’s about 12” in diameter super thin crust, all fresh and made to order. Most pizzas run you about 8.50€. expensive, but worth it for the sit down. It gets busy around 8pm so the earlier the better.
This place is a must!!: “Mustafa’s Gemuze Kebap” (Mehringdamm 32) is special. It’s definitely the best Döner/Dürum I’ve had ever and cheap 3.50/4.30€, respectively. It is, however, a very performative experience. The line is usually between 1-2 hours. (The shortest I had was at 1am when it was only 30 min – the longest was right after the Pride parade and that took just shy of 2 hours). Yes it’s a long line, yes the difference between these Döner/Dürum and others isn’t very large, but it’s a fun time. When we went we just grabbed beers form the Spätkauf and drank in line—drinking in public is normalized in Berlin. I would recommend going to Mustafas, just bring a friend and a few beers and it’ll be fun waiting and standing for the delicious delicious food. This is a must.
Places to Stay:
My friend stayed at “Check-In Hostel”, which is situated downtown. This was a good price (I can’t exactly recall) and the location was good. They recommended it.
I stayed in 2014 at “Grand Hostel Berlin” This was before they really took off in popularity, so now they’re more pricey, but also a very very nice hostel and in a good location—not as central geographically, but close to two main uBahn lines.