Berlin travel tips
Berlin, the capital of Germany, is one of the most exciting cities in Europe and it’s featured in our best cities to visit in Europe post. It’s my personal favourite European travel destination Berlin’s got everything: fascinating museums, lots of tasty food, interesting locals and of course, the legacy of a truly up and down history. I’ve collated the best things to do in Berlin, written by members of the Europe a la Carte blogging team to help you plan your trip to the German capital.
Best museums in Berlin
Museum lovers will be in their element in Berlin. Highly recommended is the Pergamon Museum, one of the best Berlin museums on the Museuminsel (Museum Island). Less well-known but equally inspiring, is the Käthe Kollwitz Museum. We'd also suggest visiting the Jewish Museum and the Anne Frank Museum. Personally, I’d say the Jewish Museum is the best museum in Berlin, and well worth at least an afternoon.
Best street art in Berlin
Traveling through Berlin, the East Side Gallery is usually included as an interesting historical, and artistic, European travel tip. And with good reason, this 1,300 metres stretch of the Berlin Wall was adorned with street art masterpieces shortly after reunification.
Best views in Berlin
Berlin certainly got a big boost from German reunification and one of my favourite results there is the new dome on top of the German parliament, the Reichstag Dome. This glass dome literally sits on top of the parliament building (yes, above the politicians!) and not only is it an architectural marvel in itself, you can also get some gorgeous views over Berlin. There is currently no charge to go up to the dome and to walk up its spiral pathway to the top of Berlin. If you go in summer, there are often some long queues – I’ve always managed to get there early in the day although in August, even an 8.30am arrival will see you waiting for a while – but it’s worth it. The Reichstag Dome is open from eight until midnight although the last admission is at 10.00pm.
Best shopping in Berlin
Berlin’s a great place to shop, and the Ku’damm or Kurfürstendamm is definitely the hotspot. Found in the heart of West Berlin, the area is the major shopping district in the City, if you like the big names. There are plenty of high street chains that you’ll find in every European capital as well as department stores that have all the top brands
We'd also recommend a visit to the Art Nouveau style Hackesche Höfe complex consisting of eight interlinked courtyards.
Best free attractions in Berlin
Berlin doesn't have to be an expensive city break. We've detailed some money-saving tips for those visiting the city on a budget. Some free attractions include the Berlin Cathedral, a walk under the Brandenburg Gate, the Monument to the Murdered Jews of Europe, Potsdamer Platz, the gardens at Sanssouci Palace among many others.
Best food in Berlin
No visit to Berlin would be complete without eating at least one traditional, Turkish döner. While the döner may not be native to German culture, it has become a popular food option in Berlin. With a high population of Turkish people living in the city, Turkish food and culture has become an important part of Berlin culture. To fully experience Berlin would require dabbling a bit into the Turkish influence.
Döner stands line the streets of Berlin and are often the inexpensive lunch option for Berliners. Döner stands are also open later than most restaurants so they are often a dining choice for clubbers or those staying out late.
Döners will typically cost anywhere between two to five Euros — depending on the kind you order. The sandwich is typically served with lamb meat, but be aware that you can order a vegetarian or chicken döner as well. A salad made of chopped lettuce, cabbage, onions and cucumber is then added to the meat in thick flatbread. And your choice of sauce will top the salad. Most stands will typically have a hot sauce, herb sauce, curry sauce and garlic sauce to choose from. My advice? Always order the “Hausegemacht Soße” – the homemade sauce that is unique to each döner stand.
Also, word to the wise: plan on making a huge mess while eating your döner. It is difficult to eat one without getting it everywhere!
While there may be many döner stands to choose from in Berlin, not all of them will give you a quality or worthwhile döner experience. When I lived in Berlin, I had my fair share of good döners and bad döners. And eating a bad döner is enough to ruin the experience for you forever. It became my goal to discover the best döner finds in Berlin before I finished my study abroad. The following are my top three favorite finds:
- Yorckstrasse Döner: Take the S-bahn to the Yorckstrasse S-bahn station. The döner stand is located just outside of the station. Exit anywhere and once you’re on the street, you’ll find the döner stand. This is my all-time favorite döner. Be sure to ask for the “Hausegemacht Soße” because you won’t want to miss out!
- Charlottenburg Döner: Take the U-bahn (U2 line) to Sophie-Charlotte Platz. Exit the station on Bismarckstrasse and walk a few steps until you reach SchlossStrasse. Take a left on the street and walk past the small park. On the corner you’ll see a döner station. This döner is delightful and inexpensive!
- Shark Döner: Take the S-bahn to Hackescher Markt. After exiting the station, look for a gigantic Starbucks. Shark Döner is located right across the street from the Starbucks. Hackescher Markt is a thriving area in Berlin and Shark Döner is located right in the middle of the hustle and bustle.
Best transport in Berlin
To get a quick overview of where many of the main Berlin attractions are, we recommend a rickshaw ride. They are easy to spot in the main tourist areas. The first time I was in Berlin I spotted a rickshaws at the end of Unter Den Linden, the boulevard that runs down to the Brandenburg gate. Rather than just take us down to the Brandenburg gate, the rickshaw guides suggested that for a little more, they take us on a round trip of some of the beautiful old buildings and important sites on the way. The cost was around €18 for each rickshaw, and the tour which lasted about 45 minutes was really enjoyable, with the guide explaining each of the sights and at some places leaving us time to get out and wander around for a few minutes.
Best day trips from Berlin
If you want to escape the city, head to Sanssouci Palace, which is easy to find and accessible by public transportation from Berlin. Sanssouci, much like Austria’s Schönbrunn considered the Viennese Versailles, is sometimes referred to as the German Versailles. The palace was built in the Rococo style and used as a summer get-away for Frederick the Great. Today, Sanssouci Palace tends to be crawling with tourists and is over-priced. My Europe travel tips is that the expansive gardens are completely free and big enough to get lost in and forget about the crowds. Depending on the time of year, you can wander down the stairs along the vineyards.
Where to stay in Berlin
Use our Berlin deal finder to hotel and flight packages, perfect for a 2 or 3-night break in Berlin.
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