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Congratulations, you’ve finally made it to Berlin, one of the most exciting, artistic, and weirdly wonderful cities in Europe. There is so much to do in Berlin every minute of the day, every day of the week, that trying to decipher what to include on a day-long itinerary might seem overwhelming. Never fear, we’ve put together a special to-do list of our favorite places in the city, for those coming to dip their toes in Germany’s creative capital.
Berlin’s quintessential snack
Berlin’s restaurant and food scene is as cosmopolitan as the people who live here. You don’t have to eat traditional German cuisine when you come to Berlin: it’s not what the city is famous for. However, a hit with both locals and tourists is the German Currywurst, made up of a sausage drenched in a special curry sauce that was “invented” in Berlin, and comes served with fries. This is cheap, quick and easily available, leaving you more time to explore the city.
Taste the flavors of the world in Berlin
The flavors of Africa and the Middle East have made their mark on the city. For breakfast or even lunch, try the hip Café Mugrabi for a slice of hummus heaven and modern Middle-Eastern flavors. Falafel is also considered a Berlin staple, and there are some mouth-watering deals at places like Sahara or Azaam, also widely spread throughout the city. While you’re exploring the major sites of Berlin’s historical center, pop into House of Small Wonder in Mitte for some magical décor and thoughtful food.
Stroll around Kreuzberg, the soul of the city
Grab a delicious coffee from one of the cute cafés in the neighborhood and head to the canal to bask among swans, willow trees and Berlin’s in-crowd. This is a typical Berlin scene to be savored and enjoyed, and is a certified activity in itself. You will also find a lot of the major mural and graffiti artworks in this borough, and true enthusiasts can check out one of these street art tours.
Absorb the history, art and culture of some of the world’s finest museums
If you’re going to see any of the museums in Berlin, the Stasi Museum is highly recommended for its in-depth portrayal of life in former East Berlin. A guided tour should take around two hours, and you’ll leave with a heightened understanding of how Berlin used to be, and how it became the city it is today. Museum Island is also worthy of a visit. Even if you don’t enter any of the five museums that make up this UNESCO World Heritage Site, the architecture and sense of time and culture embedded in the area can still be marveled at.
Bask in the epic green spaces and incredible monuments to the past
Besides finding a sense of vastness and natural cause in the city, going to these magical places are also completely free. Templehof is the old abandoned airport field, and a surreal sunset experience. Treptower Park is also an amazing green space complete with lush forests, a lake, and the powerful Soviet War Memorial.
For a true recollection of Berlin’s divided city, it’s recommended to go straight for the Berlin Wall Memorial to see the last remaining original part of the wall and read up on the history. If you happen to be in Berlin on a Sunday, combine this visit with a wander through Mauerpark, Berlin’s weekly quasi-festival, where you will get a taste for street food, the thriving busking scene and open-air karaoke.
Indulge in Berlin’s one-of-a-kind party experience
Twenty-four hours is the average equivalent time for being awake to hardcore partygoers in Berlin. While you shouldn’t give all your precious time to the hedonistic ways of the city, you should at least sample some of the city’s wild nightlife. As a hipster, you might want to visit Berghain, stand in the queue for a few hours, and then maybe or maybe not be granted entry into the techno temple. Either way, when your friends ask you to recount stories of a weekend in Berlin, at least you can say you were there. Maybe you are on a new voyage of sexual experimentation, and famed for its burlesque sex parties and fetish nights, Berlin is the perfect city to come and play, and KitKatClub is a solid recommendation. Let yourself go, you’ll be leaving in the morning anyway.
After a whirlwind trip of all-night clubbing and getting bounced from Berghain, taking in some of the old world’s most impressive historical and cultural centers and museums, you’re going to need to wind down. Vabali Spa offers the perfect place to relax before you flitter off to your next destination. It’s one of the most peaceful and tranquil retreats in the city and, as the name suggests, the atmosphere is a recreation of Bali, complete with a host of saunas, massage rooms and heated pools. Everybody walks around in white bath robes in a state of pure relaxed bliss, and it’s the best way to decompress after a non-stop tour of Berlin.
To see or not to see?
Big landmarks often correlate to precious time spent in long queues, the increased chance of falling victim to tourist traps and, in some cases, an overrated experience. Rather choose from one of these lesser-known, but equally rewarding attractions to see a different side of Berlin. Read our guides on 7 Epic Places in Berlin Even Locals Don’t Know About and The Ultimate Guide to Avoiding Berlin’s Tourist Traps.
Getting around Berlin
Unlike the rest of the world, Berlin uses a kind of “honesty” system when it comes to public transport. There is no gate or guard you need to go through to prove you’ve bought a ticket to ride the train, however, there are plain-clothes inspectors wandering around, and if you’re caught without a ticket you will have to pay a hefty fine. Rather contribute and avoid stress by paying the €2.70 fee to enjoy this useful and convenient service. In the warmer months, Berlin is best discovered by bicycle. You can rent one for as little at €8 from Rent a Bike 44 in Neukölln.