Fiona Alfait recommends 10 of Berlin’s best sights, sounds and eats
I found myself spending 86 hours in Berlin on a weekend getaway, which perhaps may have been 24 hours too many, given that neither was I an avid grunge and house music fiend, nor was I a fan of the freezing cold that comes with winter. However, now I’ve been, it is clear that there is much more to Berlin than it’s party scene – if you look close enough, you will see that Berlin is an amazing city for its history, food, art, and, of course, beer.
1. Brandenburg Gate (Pariser Platz, 10117)
I know I just said that Berlin isn’t the sort of city in which you can mindlessly amble to take in the beautiful architecture. That being said, there are some exceptions to this rule, and one of them is the Brandenburg Gate in Potsdamer Platz. No trip to Berlin would be complete without a visit and photo op here.
2. Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe (Cora-Berliner-Straße 1, 10117)
Between world war two and the cold war, it’s hard to visit Berlin without being confronted with history at every turn. Though it will be far from the happiest moment of your trip, the time spent visiting the Holocaust Memorial will be a memorable one. The monument is around the corner from the Brandenburg Gate, and the museum is below. Museums are usually closed on Mondays in Berlin, so do check and plan accordingly.
3. East Side Gallery (Mühlenstraße, 10243)
Welcome to street art central, where graffiti is legal and celebrated. When planning my trip to Berlin, the only thing I really knew about and needed to see was the Berlin Wall. Parts of the Wall are scattered around the city, but I would recommend going to the East Side Gallery first. It’s an uninterrupted stretch of the Wall a mile long, and the most famous and quintessential art pieces are located here. Come with your camera ready!
4. Trabi World Berlin (Zimmerstraße 97, 10117)
Looking for an atypical way to see the city? Give the tours led by Trabi World, such as the Trabi Safari, a go! You get to zip around the city in these little cars following a radio-led tour. It is a bit of a splurge, but is quite the worthwhile investment if the cost is split between four. Plus, the looks on people’s faces when a brigade of Trabi cars whizz past are quite priceless.
5. Tube Station (Friedrichstraße 180-184, 10117)
This is a unique Berlin club – we went on a night when they were playing only R&B and hip-hop. Tube Station is located right by Checkpoint Charlie too, so you can do a bit of sightseeing afterwards, even while drunk!
Traveller’s tip: Berlin is known for its artsy grunge clubs, though I did not try them out. Pub crawls are recommended, though the final destination is almost always awful. People usually don’t hit the clubs till extremely late in Berlin (read: 2am) so it gives you something to do before then! Be prepared though, since people tend to go crazy and stay out till outrageously late – our fellow hostel guest went out partying on Friday and didn’t return till Monday morning. And it is supposed to be quite typical!
6. Reichstag Dome (Platz der Republik 1, 11011)
This was one of my favorite sights in Berlin. The Reichstag is pretty much their version of Parliament. Visiting the Reichstag Dome is free, though you have to make an appointment and thoroughly identify yourself and all the members of your party ahead of time. Once your background check is cleared, you are free to visit at your appointed time! You can grab a free headset that talks about all of the sights on the skyline as you walk around the glass dome – a really great way of getting to know the city.
7. Curry 36 (Mehringdamm 36, 10961 Berlin Kreuzberg)
To be honest, when our hostel owner recommended we try currywurst, I was unbelievably confused and disturbed. I pictured just curry on a hot dog, but couldn’t have been any more wrong. Berliners LOVE their currywurst. The stands are everywhere, but apparently this is one of the best in the city. I believe it, as we came back from the club at 4am but still had to wait 20 minutes for it. The wait was worth it. And it was cheap!!
8. Chipps (Jägerstraße 35, 10117)
This was our favourite breakfast in Berlin. Everything is fantastic, from the French toast to the Eggs Benedict to the omelettes. The avocado toast looked amazing too. They also serve complimentary bread at breakfast that was so very yummy. The staff also speak fluent English and can provide you with English menus if requested – a major plus point!
9. Amici Amici (Mehringdamm 40, 10961)
This was yet another recommendation from the front desk of our hostel that was spot on. At Amici Amici, I had some of the best Italian food in my life, and that is coming from someone who is 100% Italian. The first time we went, I had the spaghetti and meatball special, and the second time I had a simple pasta pomodoro. I’d highly recommend both. My friends were craving penne a la vodka, which wasn’t on the menu, but the staff specially made it for them both times. Their bread is warm and delicious, and free as well (another major plus).
10. Solar (Stresemannstraße 76, 10963)
Most people go to the TV Tower for an incredible view of Berlin. A well kept secret would be Solar… so well kept that our taxi driver assumed that we were crazy to request to be dropped off in a parking lot along a side street. Simply walk towards the unassuming building at the back of the parking lot, tell the man at the door you are headed to Solar, and take one very long elevator ride to the top of the building. We had the dessert tapas and, as you can see, nobody could keep their hands off them even for a photo. The floor above is a sleek bar lined in floor to ceiling glass windows. The restaurant and drinks are pretty pricy, but if you are in the mood to splurge, this is a must-visit.
P.S. If you’re looking for a place to stay, I highly recommend the Grand Hostel Berlin at Tempelhofer Ufer 14, 10963! It is honestly nicer than a cheap hotel, and the front desk couldn’t have been more helpful with directions and recommendations!