One’s first thoughts of Berlin might be of its troubled past, of grim grey architecture and of humourless museums and of strictly punctual and highly organised people. These thoughts are wrong: based on stereotypes and not updated since the 60s – when few people travelled compared to nowadays!
There are two sides to Berlin: the tourist face, with beer fests, plenty of delicious sausages and lots of great sights to see, and the local face, which boasts a more low-key but vibrant vibe, the real Berlin, where Berliners go and eat and play and be seen. Experience Berlin from the point of view of a local by throwing away your trusty Berlin local guide, going off the beaten track and visiting out some of these favourite locations:
What not to miss in Berlin
Some touristy things are worth doing in Berlin: this includes trying the food and drink. German beer is, arguably, the best beer in the world, and must be sampled by way of proof! German sausages too, and many of the bread products are truly superb. Take a picnic basket to the lovely Tempelhofer Field, which, having been the site of an airport from 1920 to 2008, is once again a public park, complete with barbecue area, exercise track and enormous picnic area. For those less inclined to fun in the sun, Biergarten Prater has been open for over 150 years and has a deserved reputation as being one of the best watering holes for the locals.
Moving away from food and drink, there are some truly unique things to do in Berlin: no other country in the world has the Berlin Wall. This huge edifice, symbol of less tolerant times, still stands in some parts of the city, testament to the strides made towards unity and freedom – check out the Eastside Gallery for some poignant pieces of history.
For a glimpse of real Berlin life, the Flea Market at Mauerpark is a good example of what not to miss in Berlin. Every Sunday, Berliners from all walks of life descend on the marketplace, making sales and meeting friends. Some items are second-hand, with stall-holders trying to make space or downsize, but, as with all flea markets, there is always a bargain to be struck! For wonderfully fresh food, the Turkish Market is the place to be, offering a range of goods at rock bottom prices.
Going for a lengthy walk may not seem to be one of the unique things to do in Berlin, but once again, it is all location, location, location – the Tiergarten Ring Garden is a treasure by itself and must be visited just so you can say that you have been!
Berlin is now known for its tolerance. For a glimpse of alternative Berlin, check out the cocktail bars and trendy cafes. Close to the Tiergarten, you will find Café am Neuen See, a vibrant hangout, famed for its breakfast, its family friendly fare and the wonderful views of the water and the gardens.
So, if you want to experience Berlin like a native and are lacking in a Berlin local guide to unveil all the secrets for you, start with your accommodation, Hotel Berlin, Berlin. The hotel is based in the city centre and is ideal for seeing both the touristy and the local sides of the city.
Visit Berlin, but feel at home by finding your way around the city like a native! It is the only way to get the best of both worlds!