berlin city guide


Illustration by Julia Rothman

Today’s Berlin guide comes from Nadja Lavin. Nadja, a native of Germany, moved to the US two years ago and started working in screenprinting. She graciously showcased her home in a Sneak Peek this past March, and today she shares a wonderful guide to Berlin. Nadja includes a variety of restaurants, galleries and fun markets around the area, as well as shops for finding art supplies, should you become inspired! Thanks Nadja for this marvelous guide! — Stephanie

CLICK HERE for the full guide after the jump!

Berlin, mon amour. I lived in Berlin for 15 years and I loved it. I first came as a student of architecture in 1994. I must admit, it wasn’t love at first sight. Coming from Munich in the south of Germany, I was used to a somewhat prettier, cleaner and more organized and functioning city. When I arrived in Berlin, much of what is there today didn’t exist. The now well-populated Neue Schoenhauserstr. only had a grocery store and a club with metal bunk beds where kids sniffed glue. Mulackstr. didn’t exist — there where three houses on that street and if you crawled through a fence and went into the basement of a boarded-up house, you could get a beer for 1 DM in a sweat-dripping basement where the air was thick with smoke. The Tresor still existed (Berlin’s famous techno club) but there was not a single place in Berlin where you could get coffee to go! Much has changed since then and is still changing. Each time I think that every part of the city has been gentrified and maxed out, a new bar pops up in some remote corner or a new gallery opens in a hidden courtyard where you least expect it. Berlin is one of the most entrepreneurial places I know and yet most things people do here aren’t for money. I know restaurants where you leave money in a jar after dinner and a flea market you can visit with 5 bucks and come home with a bag full of treasure. Here, people do things because they they are worthwhile and fun, rather than what they stand to gain from them. This state of innocence is of course maintained by a vastly under-priced real estate market (compared to other major cities like London, Paris and New York). One of my favorite projects at the moment featuring the spirit of today’s Berlin is Freunde von Freunden. Looking at the people (and many are friends or friends of friends) and places featured, I must say that, then again, not too much has changed. I’m still in love.

Note: Some streets in former East Berlin are numbered continuously, like a wrap-around. So f.e. nr. 8 will be opposite nr. 325. ALL shops are closed on Sundays and most museums are closed on Mondays.

Markets

I’m a big fan of flea markets, so I am putting them first ;) On Sundays in Germany, ALL stores are closed. The thing to do is go to the flea market, visit a museum (many are free on Sundays ) or enjoy a movie matinee and afterward, a lengthy breakfast. The lengthy breakfast is somewhat of a Berlin specialty and most cafes serve it all day on the weekend.

Arkona Platz/Mitte — Sundays from 10am to 5pm. I like this one best because there are plenty of little cafes around the market and a good mix of professional sellers and people just clearing out their basements. If you want to sell, you need to book a table a week in advance. Contact Herr Mueller 0171/7101662.

Mauerpark/Mitte Bernauer — Str. 63–64, right next to the park. This felamarket is walking distance from Arkona Platz. Its less cozy and a bit more “junk.” But it’s cheaper and you can walk around Mauerpark afterwards. For bookings contact: Herr Lüdicke, Herr Herting, Tel.: 0176/29 25 00 21, Sunday 7am to 5pm.

Rathaus Schoeneberg/Schoeneberg — This one is a classic West-Berlin fleamarket. Right outside the famous Rathaus, Rathaus Schoeneberg is where John F. Kennedy gave his “Ich bin ein Berliner” speech in 1963.  It’s not a “hip” one, but well worth it. Mostly if you are into housewares, porcelain, etc.

Staßes des 17. Juni/Charlottenburg — This felamarket is huge. It’s also incredibly crowded. Most sellers are professionals and you can get anything from art deco vases and furniture to chandeliers. You can see a lot of “old Berlin.” Furniture, collectables etc. Saturday and Sunday 10am to 5pm.

Foodmarkets

Every “kiez” (neighbourhood) has their own fresh food market. Usually they are located on the little church squares. You can get very cheap fresh products here and the winterfeldmarkt is great for flowers and meats.

Organic Food Market/Prenzlauerberg — Kollwitzplatz. Thursday 12 to 7pm.

Winterfeldmarkt/Schoeneberg — Winterfeldplatz. Wednesday 8 to 2pm. Saturday 8 to 4pm.

Art

Berlin is full of art. New galleries are constantly showing up; established ones move to new locations or old museums reopen after lengthy renovations.

The famous artfair Artforum takes place each year in October (this year, October 7–10). The first day is usually for professionals but then it opens to the public.

In April/March there is usually one weekend called “the gallery weekend.” Around 40 galleries are open all weekend well into the evening and there are many parties and events all over the city. Berlin also has fantastic museums and private collections.

Also, great is the Film Festival. The weather is traditionally awful (February 10–20, 2011), but there are amazing films to see all over the city.

Galleries

Best to go to for the latest info on upcoming shows and special events.

I like Carlier–Gebauer, Contemporary Fine Arts, Eigen + Art, Klosterfelde, Johann Koenig, Wohnmaschine, Galerie Neu, Neugerriemschneider, Giti Nourbakhsch, Sprueth Magers and Galerie Fuer Moderne Fotografie best. But there are many, many more.

Museums/Institutions

Hamburger Bahnhof/Mitte — Great modern art collection. They have everything fom Warhol to Beuys and some years ago the collection flick was added. They have a wonderful bookshop a great bargain section. Invalidenstr. 50/51, 10557 Berlin; T: +49 (0)30 39 78 34 11; Tue–Fri: 10am–6pm, Sat: 11am–8pm, Sun: 11am–6pm

KV/Mitte — This institution is one of the “first hour.” Located in a charming backyard in the heart of Berlin Mitte, this cutting-edge institution is well known for its controversial shows as well as the basement after-parties. Auguststr. 69, 10117 Berlin; T: +49 (0)30 243 45 90; Tue-Sat: 12am–7pm, Thu: 12am–9pm

Sammlung Boros/Mitte — Also known as “kunstbunker.” This place is amazing. In a former actual bunker from World War II, Christian Boros and his wife Karen show their collection of contemporary art. You will not only see a fascinating space but also beautiful works by Olafur Eliass among many others. YOU MUST book your visit way in advance. They only do guided tours and only on Saturday and Sunday. Bunker, Reinhardtstr. 20, 10117 Berlin; T: Tel. +49 (0)30 27 59 40 65

Sammlung Hoffmann/Mitte — A very special collection in the private home of Erika and Rolf Hoffman. This visit must also be booked in advance and the collection is open to the public on Saturdays between 11 am and 4pm. Sammlung Hoffmann
Sophie-Gips-Höfe, Aufgang C
Sophienstraße 21
10178 Berlin-Mitte; Telefon: 030 28 49 91 20
Email: info@sammlung-hoffmann.de

Kuenstlerhaus Bethanien/Kreuzberg — This institution is a project workshop that hosts events and exhibits. You can apply for residencies and more. A thriving, energetic community slightly outside the commercial artmarket. Kottbusser Straße 10/Kohlfurter Str. 41–43

Neue National Galerie/Tiergarten — Located in a magnificent Mies van der Rohe building, this museum hosts many changing exhibits. The permanent collection is put together with works from Expressionism, Dada, Bauhaus and Surrealismus. Much of the collection was lost during the Third Reich. Potsdamer Str. 50, 10785 Berlin; T: +49 (0)30 266 26 51, Website, Map; Tue, Wed, Fri: 10am–6pm, Thu: 10am–10pm, Sat, Sun: 11am–6pm

Museumsinsel/Mitte — Here you find some of Berlin’s finest treasures. The Bode-Museum with a wonderful sculpture collection, the famous Pergamon Museum, home of the renowned Pergamon alter and many more. The Museumsinsel is quite literally an island in the Spree river. You can spend a day exploring the different museums and be sure to step across the river to Walter Koenig Buchhandlung (burgstr.27) to browse their extensive range of artbooks.

Supplies/Curiosities

Berlin is inspiring. After a day of walking around and taking it all in, you want to get started on some of your own ideas. Here are some of the stores more unique to Berlin.

C. Adolph/Charlottenburg — A hardware store. So simple. Here you find delicious white enameled hooks, enameled oldschool buckets, nails, screws and all hidden away in neat little drawers filling the entire wall. Savignyplatz 3; 10623 Berlin (Charlottenburg); Telefon: (030) 313 80 45

Manufaktum/Charlottenburg — This store is not a real Berliner but has wonderful old-world products. My favorite is the Savon Rotatif. Hardenbergstraße 4-5; Tel.: (0 30)  24 03 38 44; Mon-Fri., 10:00 bis 20:00 Uhr, Saturday 10:00 bis 18:00 Uhr

Knopfpaul/Kreuzberg — Buttons buttons buttons. You will love this quirky original shop! Tue & Fri. 9°°- 18°°/Wed & Thur. 14°°- 18°° Uhr; Zossener Str. 10; Fax.: 030 694 15 00
Tel.: 030 692 1212

Frau Tulpe/Mitte — Fabrics for any project you might envision. Also this lovely store offers sewing classes at very reasonable prices. Veteranenstr. 19 Tel: 030 – 44 32 78 65; Monday – Friday, 10 – 20 Uhr; Saturday 12 – 18 Uhr.

Hueco/Charlottenburg — This is a wholesale type of place tucked away in an industrial area on the third floor. The staff is very helpful and friendly if you know what you want. They have a wonderful collection of fabrics well-organized by materials and type. Best I have ever seen. Lise-Meitner-Str. 7-9; Tel.: ++49 (0)30/ 344 90 43-44; Mo. – Fr. 8.30-17.00 Uhr; Do. 8.30 – 19.00 Uhr; ONLY open 1st Saturday of the month; 09.30-14.00 Uhr

Restaurants

There are many, many places to choose from. This list is very personal and only represents a small selection of places mostly around Mitte.

Mädchenitaliener/mitte — Alte schönhauserstr. 12; Tel.030 – 40041787; Open mo – sat 12 – open end; Sun 5pm – open end.

Great and cheap Italian place. 10€-15€ for main course. Good house wines, outside seating. You need to make reservations unless you come early and sit outside. Great atmosphere, run by the wonderful couple Silke and Michael who’s wedding picture adorns the main room.

Bandol/Mitte — Torstr. 167; 030 / 67302051; Open 6pm – 11pm.

Very good tiny French restaurant. They have six tables or so. The food is delicious. Be sure to make a reservation.

Beth Café/Mitte — Tucholskystraße 40; 49302813135; Sun-Thu, 12:00-21:00; Fri-Sat, closed.

Set in a quiet backyard in the Jewish Community Center. Good food and a very special place within the hustle and bustle of trendy Mitte.

Bixel/Mitte — This cute place just opened. A great spot to take a breath, have a hot potato with all kinds of yummy add-ons to choose from. Then throw yourself into the boutiques on Mulackstr. Mulackstrasse 3; Mon-Sat, 11:30-22:00

Barcellos Salon Sucre/Kreuzberg — To-DIE-for pastries. And while you wait you can get a haircut from the patisserieurs wife. They are such a cool couple and the tarts and little yum yums are all delicious. Görlitzerstrasse 32a; +49306122713; Bakery: Thu-Sun, 10:00-18:00 Hair Salon: Wed-Sat: 10:00-18:00

Nolas/Mitte — This place is in the middle of Weinbergspark. A small park at the bottom of Kastanienallee. If you feel like sitting in the sun and pretending you are out in the country and tiergarten feels too far away, then this is where you want to go. Veteranenstraße 9; +4903044040766; Daily, 10:00-1:00

Chi Sing/Mitte — Carefully decorated with superb Vietnamese food. Very original recipes and delicious drink. Rosenthaler Str. 62; +49 30 2008 9284; Mo – Sun 12am – 12pm

Kuchi/Mitte — Japanese place on gipsstr.3; 030-28386622

Very good sushi place. Next door is a nice Japanese soup place for colder days — the perfect comfort food. They have a lovely little courtyard. You can walk in during the week, on weekends reservations recommended.

Clärchens Ballhaus/Mitte — Auguststr. 24.

This is FUN. They have dance classes and dancing every night (10pm–open end). There is great pizza and traditional German food. The interior is very retro style. They also have a charming garden that’s open until 11pm in the summer. It gets crowded on nice evenings but if you get there before 8pm you should be okay.

Weinerei/Mitte — Zionskirchstr.40

This is a unique place where there is a menu (vegetarian or not) and you pay as much as you want! The food is good and they have a great selection of wines.

Paris Bar/Charlottenburg — Kantstr. 152

A real West Berlin classic. Artists and filmpeople used to hang out here in the old days. The walls are tightly packed with artwork and pictures of former customers. Famously rude and hectic service with overpriced mediocre food. But people love it and it is always booked during the film festival and other events. Main courses around 25€-35€.

Freischwimmer/Kreuzberg — Vor dem Schlesischen Tor 2a

This is a very “Kreuzberg” place. It’s on a tiny canal that crosses Schlesische Str. You walk past a small gas station and then down some steps to your right. There are many different raffts with tables on them and on a nice summer evening you might have to fight for a seat. Also during the daytime on the weekend. They have deckchairs and you can spend hours there. Service is usually a bit overwhelmed so bring some time. Cheap and a true Berlin of the first hour place.

Badeschiff/Kreuzberg — Fun in the sun. A floating pool on the Spree. It’s good to get here early for some relaxing on the deck and a swim in the pool. Gets very crowded on warm days. Look out for their evening program. Open air movies and a fun mix of people.

Shops

The shops in this section are all in the same little area of Berlin Mitte. You could probably do them all in a day or two. Don’t forget that most don’t open until noon, close early on Saturdays and are CLOSED ON SUNDAYS, as are all shops in Germany!

Stue/Mitte — Torstr.70

Specialized in Scandinavian design and furnitures. They have beautiful things; lovely ceramics as well as lamps, sofas and more. Occasionally they carry London-based Vonsonos fashion as well as acessoires by Hamburg design team Fluo. This is a shop I couldn’t live without. Mo-sat 2pm-7pm

Wolfen/Mitte— August str 41; Mo-Fri 12 – 7pm; Sa 12 – 6pm

Small shop by local designer Jaqueline Huste. Exceptional knitwear. Very straight shapes, no frills, with a vintage feel. Autum color palette with the occasional petrol. Also, she carries a selection of well-tailored shirts and pants for men as well as women.

Petite Boutique/Mitte — Auguststr. 26a; Mo-Fri 12 –6pm; Sa 12 –4pm

Beautiful shop for childrens clothing and gifts. The owner Ines Colmorgen has a very distinctive style. Her love for detail and arrangement of everything in her shop is exceptional. She has a great selection of toys and clothes, as well as vintage furniture. Lamps, etc.

Oona/Mitte — Auguststr. 26

Beautiful, artistic jewelry. This is for true fans and collectors. If you start talking to the girls there they will start pulling out all these drawers with hidden treasures . . . you can easily spend an hour here. It’s wonderful.

Konk/Mitte — Kleine Hamburger str.15; Mo-Fri 12-8pm; Sa 12-6pm

Also a shop with incredible details. The interior is beautiful and they carry amazing clothes mostly from Berlin-based designers.

Andreas Murkudis — Münzstr. 21

Go into the backyard and walk all the way through for the men’s section or make a right after being halfway through for the women’s clothing. High-end design mixed with a collection of furnitures, home assessoires and jewelry by international designers with a focus on German designers.

A.P.C./Mitte — Mulackstr. 35; Mo-Fri 12 – 8pm; Sa 12-6pm

They have all the goodies from this French label. Jeans, cashmere, scented candles, music, etc.

Lamu/Mitte — Mulackstr. 38; Mo-Sat 12-6pm

WONDERFUL. Eclectic collection brought home from travels, vintage pieces, books and art. This is a fantastic store and I must warn you — you will want to have it all!

Blau/Mitte — Mulackstr.23; Tue–Sat 2pm-6pm

Second season. Isabel Marant, Tsumori Chisato, Wolfen, Eley Kishimoto and others.

SchwarzHogerzeil/Mitte — Mulackstr.28; Mo-Fr 12-7pm; Sa 12-6pm

Labels like Isabel Marant, Zucca, Cacharel, etc. Great brands and inspiring selection. They have nice shoes too!

Lalaberlin/Mitte — Mulackstr. 7

Berlin-based label. Lala started out doing knitwear and has added more and more to her collection. Great colors, fun scarves and modern take on knitwear.

OK Versand/Mitte — Alte Schönhauser Straße 36/37; Tel :030.24638746

This little shop is possibly the last bastion on Alte Schoenhauserstr. Left from the first round. They have things from all over the world, including plastic woven bags and bowls made from tires and paper scraps. If you are looking for a little treat or a gift, this is a good place to find it.

mary

I’m dying for a Barcelona city guide—is there one in the works, by chance?

sewing aeon

Incredible, how much Berlin has to offer even after 22 years of living in this city! It seems to be impossible to know every exciting place here :D
There are some places I´ve never been to but I might visit sooner or later.
Thank you for this guide ;)

Lauren

Perfect! I’m off to Berlin next month and this article made me look forward to my trip all the more!

corinne

Great ! just a coffe break I spoke with my friend whose daughter is going for 6 months to Berlin ! Merci !!

Kristina

I LOVE BERLIN

There is a tandoori bakery called Tandur Lasan that sells only flatbread at Kottbusser Damm 6, which just happens to be up the street (about 100 feet) from the Maybachufer market which is on Tuesdays and Fridays from like 10 or 11am til the afternoon. There is a lot of food here, non-Western (some African, lots of Turkish, Greek), fresh produce. But what I -LOVE- about this place is that it’s where the women go to buy fabric for sewing. There are no fancy prints, but if you’re looking for monochrome fabric (like I use for styling food pics), you can find it for under 4 euro/yard (the exact same fabric sells for 5-6x that in Italy).

Can I just add that even though it’s very heavy, Le Creuset is really cheap in Germany. I missed out on buying one there because I thought I’d find it for less in France, but I was OOOH SO WRONG!!!

For food, we loved Konnopke Imbiss (wurst!) at the Eberswalder Strasse U-bahn station (underneath), at the end of Kastanienallee. The lines can get very long! That whole area is nice.

There is a gold and silversmith named Katja Morkel who has a shop on Choriner Str 41 (off Kastanienallee) http://www.morkel.de who also offers workshops. I really loved some of her spoons and things.

Laura

I.
Love.
Behr-leen.*

It’s one fascinating place! Everyone should go there at least once!!

*misspelled for pronunciation

Angie Burr

Fantastic! Any accommodation recommendations?
I’m living in Denmark and I’ve always wanted to go. AND I miss long breakfasts! Hmm… maybe it would be fun for the holidays? thank you! *a

Maria Valdivieso-Pakozdi

Thank you for such a wonderful guide . I spent 2 summers (3 months each) in Berlin and I love it so much… This brought happy tears full of memories to my eyes!

Emmeline

Tip: If you’re going to berlin, make sure you get a bratwurst (braughtvurst) from a street vender there… German’s meat is always so fresh, and it’s cheap delicious (and very authentic!) food that is a must if you want to experience true Berlin.

Giselle

I can’t think of Berlin without a flood of emotion even though it’s been over 10 years since I was last there. This guide is making my heart pound!

Kris

I loooove Berlin! My fave city! I dated a Berliner for a while and spent much time there. And I have to say one of the best things to do is go on one of those walking tours — There are a lot of really special historical spots that aren’t really so much to look at, but have crazy history behind them! It really helped my understanding of the city (and 20th century history!). There are many, but I can recommend one called Brewers Berlin (it’s the one I did).. it’s a smaller operation run by an eccentric retired British intelligence officer who was stationed in Berlin from the 80’s on. Our guide was great.. funny.. informed… passionate.. That’s my tip!

Joanne

I am planning a trip to Berlin and wondering what is the best time of year to visit.
Thanks!

Jane

I love that you included Bixels – it’s my fav place and I just live round the corner ;)

elle

Thanks so much for the great tips! I’m going to Berlin next month for my birthday, so this post was hugely helpful!!

Clare

Oh, I adore Berlin too! When I am a wealthy woman I’m going to summer in Berlin and winter in San Francisco… When we were there we stayed in Prenzlauerberg, and adored it. A little skeezy still, but certainly tolerable. There is nothing more startling and entrancing (for a meat-aversive Australian) to see at an all-day breakfast buffet than a beautifully stunning, edgily dressed lady loading up her plate with fleischsalat. Damn that stuff takes getting used to!

Sarah

The old Berlin guide you posted last year had so many more details and listings. It has been my Bible since I moved here in April. Is it still available online too? Maybe include a link? Thanks for the new places though!

Josefine

yay! a new guide for my oh so loved hometown! I love all the restaurants and will try them.
Even living here for 25years now doesn’t help to know everything.. there is always something new, even if you visit a place every week.. We discovered karaoke in the “Mauerpark” last sunday! It was a blast.
@ Joanne: I would recommend visiting Berlin in march/april-june or aug-october, summer can be super hot or super rainy.. but spring and autumm is always nice :)

Tipsy Crafts

a good guide for visitors, for locals nothing new…

but for a crafty visitor, the best tip would really just be to walk through kastanienallee, bergmannstraße and boxhagener straße and discover all the little shops on and around them. you might need a day for each neighbourhood. three personal tipps for nighttime: scotch&sofa, käptn müller and kuschlowski. but there is soooooo much to pick from… just move here.

grace

tipsy

these guides are definitely meant for visitors- i’d assume most locals would have these places covered ;)

grace

leah

this is a great guide, but very prenzlauer/mitte centric.

for so so much more in new and upcoming craft and design, take some strolls off the beaten track in kreuzberg, neukölln and friedrichshain.

also, pop into La Bastellerie (lausitzer str. 13) for some great vintage supplies, take a workshop, or check out their new gallery, The Wunderkabinet! ;) http://labastellerie.com

nadja

thanks for the nice feed back! this guide is indeed mitte centric. its the area i know best. rebeccas guide from last year is very strong on kreuzberg, so i decided to make mine focused on mitte and art. basically i was thinking : ” if my best friend went to berlin where would i send her?” so no claim to be complete. – but as i see people are adding their favorite spots, so thats great! maybe we just do an open online cityguide next where people can keep adding… wikepedia for cities… anyone?

Daniel Troman

Great addition! The problem with Berlin is that it feels like so many guides have to concentrate on one special “kiez”, and unfortunately it’s usually either Mitte or Kreuzberg nowadays. I just discovered quite a nice restaurant blog, concentrating on restaurants off the beaten track that I haven’t seen on any other blog. It would probably be a nice addition: http://www.footprintsinberlin.blogspot.com

hana waxman

Where should I stay, I am coming with my family this summer and we are looking for a great, resonably priced, simple, good location for walking place to stay????
Please help.
thanks

Maya

Wow I’m about to go visit Berlin for 2 weeks soon and this article is exactly what I need now! Your blog saves me time and time again! :)

Angela

Love the guide especially the touch on do it yourself design at home. You never see that in other articles and it is inspiring

Alice

This is amazing but where’s the old guide to Berlin??? I need them both! Is there a hidden archive somewhere where I can get hold of it? It was invaluable last time I went…

Elisabeth

If you like small shops with lots of funny things, there is a little one called o3-Berlin http://www.o3-berlin.de/ – They got two designers working there. And if you wanna be creative: fabrics, buttons and lots of other things!

Karen

I lived in Berlin for 3 years, went away for a year, and now I’m back on holiday. I love this city more than any place on earth, and I like mapping the ways my own perceptions of the place has changed over the years. This little art project reflects a lot of my views toward this magical place: http://www.smart-urban-stage.com/blog/post/berlin-copenhagen/ Don’t miss out on Tempelhofer Park!!!

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