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A Beginner’s Guide To Berlin


Billy Connolly once said, “there’s no such thing as a bad time to visit Berlin, just bring the right clothing…” For Dan and Audrey from Uncornered Market, Berlin “has always felt like a place in flux, in full evolution, always trying to figure itself out, reinventing along the way” and draws them back summer after summer. Paul Sullivan from The Telegraph agrees, that “summer is by far the best season to visit Berlin.” He says that “Berlin has busied itself with becoming one of the most stimulating creative and cultural centres in Europe” with something for everyone from the mad clubber to the history buff and now even families are being drawn in by the wealth of green spaces at parks like the Tiergarten and the Volkspark Friedrichshain.

Getting around

Of course you can see Berlin using the excellent public transport system of combined underground, rail and buses, but most sources confirm that bicycle is one of the best way to see Berlin. Sullivan believes that “Berlin is a bit of a cyclist’s dream in that it’s largely flat with lots of dedicated cycle paths and plenty of green areas and rivers to glide along” and in the summer is definitely a fine way to explore the city.

Dan and Audrey agree – their “number one suggestion to anyone coming to Berlin: rent a bike.”

Practical advice

If you’re looking to save a little money, the Lonely Planet suggest looking for short term apartment accommodation in the cheaper areas of Neukölln, Wilmersdorf and Wedding and recommend Circus Hostel and East Seven Berlin for hostel stays. They also say that the Turkish food in Berlin is not only excellent quality and delicious, but super cheap to boot, their favourite being “Mustafas Gemuse where a delicious grilled veg kebab will set you back around €3.” For cheap groceries and beer try Aldo, Netto and Lidl.

When it comes to currency, Will Thomas from currency card provider Tuxedo Money Solutions points travellers in the direction of prepaid travel cards. He says, “prepaid cards are by far the best way to manage your money when you’re abroad. Simply load it up with euros and you’ll get a good rate of exchange plus the convenience of using your prepaid just like a credit or debit card without the hassle of hidden fees.”

Meet the neighbours

Checkpoint Charlie in Berlin

A bit like the arrondissements of Paris, each neighbourhood in Berlin possesses it’s own character and feel. Mitte for example is famous as the previous home of Check Point Charlie, but since the fall of the wall, is known for its galleries and cutting-edge vibe, where Kreuzkolln attracts hipsters from far and wide. Dan and Audrey favour Kreuzberg, which used to be a Turkish neighbourhood, and “full of great food, vegetable stalls, independently-run shops, street art and people.”

Prenzlauerberg is recommended for its bounty of cafes, vintage shops and hipster mums and prams but go on Sunday for the Mauerpark flea market.

Must-see Berlin sites

According to you should start your first day in Berlin by experiencing the view from top of the TV Tower but Lonely Planet believe the view from roof-top terrace of the Reichstag offers spectacular views. First timers to Berlin should take a quick look at World Time Clock and walk inside the Berliner Dom Cathedral and your experience won’t be complete until you wander down Unter de Linden boulevard before resting in Berlin’s most beautiful square Gendermenmarkt.

The Tiergarten is Berlin’s most famous park and the city’s largest, and houses countless paths, tea houses and gardens. Of course the city’s famous Brandenberg Gates are essential for a not-to-be-missed photo opportunity with the winged goddess of victory and her chariot. And for those with an interest in modern history, you must visit the Soviet War Memorial on the northern edge of the Tiergarten and the biggest Soviet War Memorial outside of Russia in Treptower Park.

Walk the walk

Undoubtedly the best way to see any city is to walk. Walking lets you see all the details, in your own time, and allows you to get lost down meandering paths and endless streets. Lonely Planet recommend “Brewer’s Berlin Express Tours or New Berlin, both offering walking tours where walkers just tip what they like.” Or you can pay a few more euros and experience English walking tours of Berlin with Original Berlin Walks and Insider Tour walks.

Bratwurst in Berlin

Berlin is rather well known for being a multi-cultural mixing pot of cuisines. Far from offering only sausage and sauerkraut, Berlin is home to an abundance of creative ethnic eateries and restaurants serving up everything from Lebanese, Chinese to Spanish and Japanese. Dan and Audrey suggest that gourmands can use “food, and your search for it, to aid your exploration of Berlin’s collection of neighbourhoods, ” stopping at art galleries and shops along the way.

About the author

Sarah Thompson is a lifestyle writer from London with a penchant for travel.

About kobi klaf

1 Comment

  1. Sunny

    January 16, 2014 at 3:17 am

    This article is very informative. I could notice that there were lots of researches on Berlin involved to write this article. I found this article very useful! Do you have any recommendation for pubs in Berlin, though?