11 Habits You Can't Help Picking Up If You Live in Berlin

Girl rides past Berlin Reichstag
Girl rides past Berlin Reichstag | © canadastock/Shutterstock
Alice Dundon

Berlin is a mecca of multiculturalism – art, fashion, music and diversity reign among the city’s subcultures. However, there are certain things that set its residents apart. These are 11 habits you can’t help picking up if you live in Berlin.

The city’s Pfandsystem will have you collecting, keeping and recycling bottles

Many foreigners who move to Berlin are often bewildered by Germany’s complicated recycling system, but with the highest recycling rates in Europe, they are clearly doing something right. After locals have been living in the city for a while, they will start to see this system’s benefits also go beyond helping out the environment, offering a small financial incentive too. At every supermarket, there is a space-age looking machine where locals, or in-the-know tourists, can return their empty beer and plastic bottles and get a small payoff, usually just enough to buy another beer.

Germany’s pfand machines in supermarkets

Riding the U-Bahn without a ticket

U-Bahn to Alexanderplatz Berlin

Saying ‘Genau’

Berlin is a multicultural city, with over 500,000 foreign residents calling the city home. For most mastering the art of German is a difficult and slow process, however, there is one word every foreigner in Berlin loves to add to their everyday vernacular, and this is ‘Genau’, which literally means ‘exactly’. Maybe it’s the nature of the German language that the word comes up and gets stuck in our head, or maybe we just hear other foreigners saying to all the time. Either way, Genau always sticks and is a pretty common response, sentence starter and end for those still trying to wrap their head around German.

Drinking beer as soon as you finish work

Finishing off a long day at work with a beer is so engraved into Berliners’ way of life that they even have a word for it, ‘Feierabendbier’. The word aptly describes most Germans’ activity of choice after work, which is to meet some friends for a beer, or pick one up from a Späti to enjoy during your train ride home.

Friends enjoying beer

Not caring if you go to the supermarket in your pyjamas

When it comes to fashion, Berliners are a laid-back bunch. Many of the city’s top designers will attest that self-expression and feeling comfortable are the centre of Berlin’s iconic sense of style. With this in mind, it’s common to stop caring what other people think of your style. So if you need some milk for your morning coffee, you won’t even think twice about running to the store in your pyjamas.

Riding a bike, even during freezing winters

Getting around on two wheels is the preferred method of travel in Berlin, with the city’s citizens riding an average of 5.3 times per week. During the warmers months, when the sun is shining and the U-Bahn is sweaty, most Berliners will opt to cycle over braving the underground. For the true bike-lovers, the dropping temperatures don’t see them swapping their cycle for a train and many brave the sub-zero ride until the streets become too snowy or dangerous.

Cycling in Berlin

Following your creative pursuits (even amateur ones)

Berlin has a well-established reputation as a city for artists. The city’s cheap rents and affordable lifestyle have attracted artists for decades and this creative energy has become part of Berlin’s atmosphere. It’s common to meet a DJ/barista or a startup founder/photographer, the city’s creative energy is infectious, rubbing off on its locals and urging them to follow their artistic pursuits, even amateur ones.

Dancing until the early hours of the morning

It’s no secret that Berlin has some of the wildest and best nightlife in Europe. So, even if you don’t like clubbing or techno, it’s likely you will have at least one wild night out in Germany’s capital, dancing until the sun rises.

People dancing in a Berlin nightclub

Wearing black

Referred to as the ‘Berlin Uniform’, it’s undeniable that the city’s residents have a love affair with the colour black. While they also wear a plethora of other colour palettes, the edgy draw of the locals favourite shade can be seen on Berliners all year round.

Girl in all black

Enjoying a döner after a night of dancing

Roughly 950 döner kebabs are eaten in Berlin every day, and the city’s favourite junk-food treat is best enjoyed after a night of dancing. Nothing caps of a party evening quite like a visit to your local kebab shop and the deliciously filling treat of a döner kebab.

Late night snack

Eating ice cream as soon as warm weather hits

Germans love ice cream, it’s their dessert of choice as soon as the warm weather hits and such a popular treat that it’s a nationwide $2.7 billion market. There’s no better sign that summer is coming than watching locals line up to enjoy this sweet treat as soon as the first sign of sun returns.

landscape with balloons floating in the air


Connect with like-minded people on our premium trips curated by local insiders and with care for the world

Since you are here, we would like to share our vision for the future of travel - and the direction Culture Trip is moving in.

Culture Trip launched in 2011 with a simple yet passionate mission: to inspire people to go beyond their boundaries and experience what makes a place, its people and its culture special and meaningful — and this is still in our DNA today. We are proud that, for more than a decade, millions like you have trusted our award-winning recommendations by people who deeply understand what makes certain places and communities so special.

Increasingly we believe the world needs more meaningful, real-life connections between curious travellers keen to explore the world in a more responsible way. That is why we have intensively curated a collection of premium small-group trips as an invitation to meet and connect with new, like-minded people for once-in-a-lifetime experiences in three categories: Culture Trips, Rail Trips and Private Trips. Our Trips are suitable for both solo travelers, couples and friends who want to explore the world together.

Culture Trips are deeply immersive 5 to 16 days itineraries, that combine authentic local experiences, exciting activities and 4-5* accommodation to look forward to at the end of each day. Our Rail Trips are our most planet-friendly itineraries that invite you to take the scenic route, relax whilst getting under the skin of a destination. Our Private Trips are fully tailored itineraries, curated by our Travel Experts specifically for you, your friends or your family.

We know that many of you worry about the environmental impact of travel and are looking for ways of expanding horizons in ways that do minimal harm - and may even bring benefits. We are committed to go as far as possible in curating our trips with care for the planet. That is why all of our trips are flightless in destination, fully carbon offset - and we have ambitious plans to be net zero in the very near future.

Edit article