Historic, hip, and sometimes a little bit odd. That’s Berlin. Since living in Germany I’ve visited Berlin 3 times and each time was very different than the last. Because we live in “small town Nuremberg”, going to Berlin was like a visit to “the BIG CITY”. So many more restaurant options, so many new cocktail bars to try, and oh-so-many interesting shops to see!
Here are a few of my personal favorite bits of Berlin, but please feel free to share any of your own in the comments section below.
WHERE TO STAY
So i’ll admit, the 3rd time I visited Berlin I was lucky enough to travel with work and we all stayed at the Soho House Berlin. I think I am forever spoiled, because I have never stayed in such a hip, gorgeous hotel since!
SOHO HOUSE BERLIN (website) - $$$ - GORGEOUS hotel, with an amazing bar, pool, spa & gym. BUT, not only is it expensive, you must be a member to book a hotel room.
STEIGENBERGER HOTEL AM KANZIERAMT (website) - $$ - we stayed here during our first visit. Nice hotel directly next to the main train station which was very convenient!
MICHELBERGER HOTEL (website) - $$
MOXY BERLIN HUMBOLDTHAIN PARK (website) - $ - hip boutique style hotel close to the metro for easy access to all areas of Berlin. Directly next to Humboldthain Park, perfect for an early morning run before starting the day.
AIRBNB: (website) - $-$$$ - Always a great option to feel like a local!
WHAT TO DO
THE MUST SEE HISTORIC SPOTS:
The Brandenburg Gate
The Berlin Cathedral
The East Side Gallery
The Holocaust Memorial
OK, NOW THAT WE’VE COVERED THOSE - HERE ARE SOME ADDITIONAL ACTIVITIES THAT CAN BE DONE IN BERLIN:
Stuff your face at Markethalle Neun (website). If you have read any of my previous blog posts you know I have a serious LOVE for food markets. (Foodhallen in Amsterdam, Borough Market in London, or even the Sunday Street Food Market in Phuket Old Town, Thailand) It is something about having so many different local flavors all under one roof (where you can test and try as much as your stomach will allow!).
Get lost in the random finds of the flea markets. Antiques, mannequin heads, old war memorabilia - who knows what you will find! Check out this website which has a list of the flea markets and what days they are open.
Watch a Hertha BSC fütball / football / soccer game at Olympiastadion. The stadium was originally built for the 1936 Summer Olympics! The most memorable part of the game was honestly watching the fans. There was a section behind the goal which was completely synchronized with their movements and song. The singing & chants blasted throughout the stadium! It was absolutely mesmerizing. And lets be real, there is nothing more German than football + beer.
If you are visiting Berlin during the holidays, you must visit one of the Christmas Markets (website). Although Germany can be somewhat grey & dreary during the winter months, the one thing we always look forward to are the Christmas Markets. Holiday music, cute little Christmas stalls, and lets be real… the ‘glü’ that holds it all together: Glüwein. (aka a warming drink of red wine & spices)
WHAT TO EAT
I am personally not a fan of German food (a bit too heavy for my liking). But if its your first time in Germany and are craving German food, here are some local favorites:
Currywurst mit pommes - (currywurst with french fries). I have lived in Germany since 2015 and I have still not tried currywurst (and i’m ok with that!) To me, it basically looks like cut up hot dogs covered in a curry/ketchup sauce, am I wrong?
Käsespätzle - (aka noodles covered in cheese). Delicious & warming on a cold day, but you feel like a big block of cheese after eating it!
Any type of sausage.
Wiener Schnitzel - Technically from Vienna, but a favorite in Germany.
Eisbein (Pork Knuckle) - A huge chunk of meat, usually served with a side sauerkraut and a kloß (big potato dumpling). Don’t order this if you have a long night ahead of you, because all you’ll want to do after eating this is pass out because its so heavy.
Beer - Germany is famed for their beer, but they go for a ‘less is more’ approach. Due to the Reinheitsgebot, “German Beer Purity Law”, water, hops & malt are the only ingredients allowed. (no pumpkin beers found here!). But they do have ways getting around this law, like adding ingredients after! Lemonade (or sparkling lemon soda) + beer = a Radler. (very refreshing on a summers day)
Pretzels - Germans live off of pretzels. And since becoming a mom, I’ve noticed it even more as pretzels are the go-to food for all German kids.
Berliner Pfannkuche - basically a jelly filled donut!
If you couldn’t tell from my comments above, I am not a lover of German food, therefore I am not an expert on German Restaurants. Here are some of our favorite non-German Restaurants
Katz Orange (website) - $$ - An “International Menu with Seasonal Produce”. We weren’t able to make a reservation, so we took a chance and showed up hoping to get a seat at the bar. It ended up being even better than a table! We had great conversations with the bartender with some curated-off-the-menu cocktails made just for us.
Other favorite restaurants:
Pauly Saal (website) - $$$ - Modern German Fine Dining
Dóttir - (website) - $$$ - Icelandic Cuisine
Grill Royal - (website) - $$$ - Steakhouse (where celebrities frequent)
Zenkichi - (website) - $$$ - Japanese Cuisine & Rare Sakes
Ganymed (website) - $$ - French Cuisine
To The Bone - (website) - $$ - Northern Italian Cuisine
Djimalaya (website) - $ - Israeli Food
And of course - any food market you can find. (as described earlier, Markthalle Neun is the best!)
Berlin is known for their crazy night clubs (for example, the famous Berghain). But cocktail bars are more our style:
Berlin seems to have endless amounts of hipster coffee spots. I don’t think I can ever stay on top of them all, but here are a few of our favs.
SPOTS TO STAY HEALTHY IN BERLIN
If you get tired (and full) of the beer, currywurst, pork & pretzels… here are a few spots to stay healthy.
ADIDAS RUNBASE BERLIN: (website) Daily runs around the city & yoga classes on site. (to help burn off that Käsespätzle).
ADIDAS RUNBASE LAB KITCHEN: (website): Smoothie bowls, paleo meals, spirulina smoothies? If only I could eat like this every day.