Be it art, culture, food, or history — Berlin is hard to miss as a tourist destination when in Europe.
While there are a plethora of things that make Berlin the uber-hip capital city that it is, here are a few things to get started.
Berlin is a Culinary Paradise
I genuinely feel that food forms an integral part of the culture, and you can explore a city or a country through its food. Food options in Berlin mirror just how multi-cultural German’s capital city is.
While restaurants can be quite pricey, there are plenty of food trucks and markets selling food at a reasonable price. And of course, don’t forget to sample the crowd favorite – Döner kebab!
Fun fact: Berlin has more kebab shops than Istanbul . Döner kebab – as known in Germany, was invented in Berlin. Mehmet Aygün supposedly sold the first one in March 1971 in his Hasir restaurant.
Also, here’s a food guide to Berlin if you’d like to delight your appetite.
Berlin is Overflowing with Art
It’s hard to miss Berlin’s affinity for art. You can see it in the museums, galleries, or contemporary design hotels, buildings, or even graffiti – it’s just everywhere.
Pro Tip: If there’s only one gallery that you can visit, then let it be the East Side Gallery. This stretch of the Berlin wall still standing is the most extended open-air gallery in the world (At 1316 meters). It features works from 106 artists from 21 countries.
Find a list of art museums in Berlin here.
No Speed Limit Autobahn
It may be difficult for outsiders to understand the rules and regulations of the Autobahn since Autobahn carries its own mystique along with it. Outside the city limits, Autobahn is like a race fanatics daydream with “suggested” speed limits. This means you can drive as fast as you can in these areas – that’s quite thrilling and exciting in itself. Read more about driving in the Autobahn here.
Berlin’s Beer Culture
Germany has been masterfully crafting beer for over a millennia, so it should come as no surprise of Berlin’s unique beer culture. Even if you’re not the one looking for signs, it’s hard to miss Berliner Weisse — the most famous Berlin beer — you see it pretty much everywhere!
I feel one of the typical conundrums of Berlin, and for that matter, Germany is probably to choose a beer from the mountain of options available. So here’s a list to make it a little easier for you. Cheers or “prost” as the Germans would call it!
Berlin’s Vibrant Markets
There are dozens of markets in Berlin with vendors selling some cool stuff.
I went to Hackescher Market and loved the vibe there. It’s a shopping hotspot for younger designer labels – you are bound to find unusual clothes, fancy accessories, or outrageous shoes here. It’s a great place to shop for quirky souvenirs as well.
If you are visiting Berlin during December time, don’t forget to visit the Christmas markets in and around Berlin. They are spectacular and every bit worth it.
Find more markets in Berlin here.
Helpful Tips for First Time Visitors to Berlin
Berlin Welcome Card
If you’re staying in Berlin for two days or a week, Berlin Welcome Card has got you covered. It includes a travel ticket for public transportation (buses, and rail) and a Berlin Welcome Card Guide. It also offers discounts on 200 attractions – so it comes quite handy if you are sightseeing in the city as well. Read more and buy Berlin Welcome Card here from Berlin Tourism’s official website.
Join a free Walking Tour
The best you can do to get acquainted when you are in a European city is to signup for a free walking tour. There are plenty of free walking tours in the city – New Europe Tours organizes one of the popular ones. While it’s not exactly free, as the name suggests, it only means that you are free to donate as much as you like at the end of the 3-hour walking tour.
Once you get an overall idea of the city, you can go on specific war, graffiti, food tours, or pub crawls. There’s a Berlin underground tour that you might want to check out. Find an extensive list here.
Memorial of the Murdered Jews
While you can find plenty of things to do in Berlin here, I wanted to mention this monument especially. The Memorial of the Murdered Jews in Berlin built in honor of the six million Jews killed in Germany during World War II.
While it’s a profoundly tragic event, I’ve seen many people posing for pictures jumping on the structures and acting merry here. Well, that’s just outright rude and disrespectful if you ask me. And this isn’t the place to show off your impressive theatrics either. So, don’t act like a dumb tourist and try to be a responsible one instead.
Check out this post on how an artist photoshopped pictures to include the Jewish victims may give you a better context.
Day Trips from Berlin
Lübbenau or Spreewald may not be the most popular day trip option from Berlin but the most picturesque. My host in Berlin suggested me to visit this place in Berlin, and it got me hooked. Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to visit Spreewald this time; I’ll make sure I visit it next time around. Here’s an extensive guide if you decide to take up my suggestion and visit this idyllic little town.
Also, find more day trips from Berlin here.
Watch Berlin Based Movies
If you like to watch movies, then check out “Goodbye, Lenin!” and “Lives of Others” as it can give you some insight into Berlin. Few cities in Germany have had a history as tumultuous as Berlin’s in World War II. So, do watch the series World War II in color if you have the time. You can find more movie recommendations here.
Read Berlin Based Books
If you are more of a bibliophile, then add these books to your reading list – Heros like Us by Thomas Brussig (1995), and Goodbye to Berlin by Christopher Isherwood (1939). You can find more book recommendations here.
Listen to Podcasts on Berlin
For those who’d want to listen to podcasts, there’s plenty of that as well. I usually use Google Podcasts for listening to podcasts, and I found quite a few Cold War, Berlin Wall related podcasts. Most notably, The Berlin Wall – Frederick Taylor episode under Cold War Conversations, and Berlin Briefing. If you are planning to stay in Berlin for longer, then probably check out this list, which has recommendations on food, music, politics, to get into the fabric of the city.
If you are looking for a place to stay in Berlin, I’ve got you covered!
I hope this gave you a good insight into visiting this baller of a city. If you have any questions, let me know in the comments below!