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Travel

Berlin, Germany City Guide

by Sabrina Smelko

cityguide-BERLIN

As much as I’m embarrassed to admit it, traveling kind of stresses me out. It isn’t necessarily the travel itself I find overwhelming, but the planning and inevitable feeling that I have to “fit” everything in. As a homebody, I’m quite content staying at home and I find a sunny, warm day spent gardening — followed by a wonderful meal — quite relaxing on its own. But after reading through Ilenia’s guide to Berlin and gawking at her photos, I found myself at ease, checking my passport and daydreaming of a trip there.

Ilenia Martini was born and raised just outside of Rome, Italy. Growing up, her passion for photography was encouraged by her parents, and, after studying in London at Middlesex University, she moved to New York to further her career. But it wasn’t long before her European roots began to pull her back overseas. Just over a year ago, she made the leap again and now finds herself in beautiful Berlin where she works as an Art Director for Hem. Her guide is short, sweet and simple, and focuses on just enjoying, which is right up my alley. –Sabrina

I love living in Berlin, even though I never officially decided to move here — it all happened without a plan and I rolled with it quite happily! I arrived here from Brooklyn over a year ago, and I was instantly drawn to the creative energy surrounding the city. I settled in the Prenzlauer Berg almost immediately. The neighborhood is filled with stunning architecture, beautifully restored 1950s buildings, quiet little streets, adorable coffee shops and independent artisanal bodegas.

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Stay

I’m sure Berlin has plenty of amazing places to stay, but I personally love the 25Hours Hotel Bikini Berlin. It’s a design concept hotel located in Charlottenburg right next to the Berlin Zoo, entirely designed by German furniture designer Werner Aisslinger. It’s the perfect combination of city vibes and wilderness. Overall great atmosphere.

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And don’t forget to have breakfast at the Woodfire Bakery!

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Do

Walk around Mitte, the architecture is just too beautiful to miss! You can see Berlin from above at the TV Tower. A favorite historical walk is the Oberbaum Bridge that connects Friedrichshain and Kreuzberg, neighborhoods formerly divided by the wall. If it’s warm enough, go for a boat ride on the Spree — it’s quite fun; relax sipping wine and enjoy the views accompanied with some Berlin history. And if it’s summer, take a swim in one of the hundreds of beautiful Berlin lakes!

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Shop

Paper and Tea (Mitte): They literally have all the paper and tea goods you can imagine!

Silo Store (Prenzlauer Berg) is a small independent shop with select handcrafted goods made in Spain.

Do you read me (Mitte) is a small paradise for international magazine lovers and, oh, don’t get intimidated by the unfriendly-looking staff, it’s just appearance!

Schoemig Porzellan (Prenzlauer berg) is a Berlin-based independent ceramic artist. I love walking into the store, which is also the artist’s workshop. Her beautiful and minimal designs are impeccable.

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Drink

Westberlin (Kreuzberg) is a beautiful and bright coffee and media shop. The interiors are the perfect combination of minimal mid-century classic pieces with modern wood structures. Amazing coffee and atmosphere. It’s my daily go-to coffee place!

No Fire No Glory (Prenzlauer Berg) has an amazing space, great to sip coffee outdoors. Danish blends and friendly staff make for a pleasant treat, also nice for the days in which you need to work.

Bonanza Coffee (Prenzlauer Berg) is so small that you need to fight for a seat, but the coffee is really good. I’d say it’s a must for coffee lovers.

Silo Coffee (Friedrichshain) has wonderfully cozy interiors, a delicious brunch menu and international magazines for customers.

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Eat

Si An (Prenzlauer Berg) is a cozy Vietnamese restaurant. Their daily specials are always wonderful and a must-try is their Mango panna cotta.

Neni (Charlottenburg) is the restaurant in the 25Hours Hotel Bikini Berlin. A combination of culinary influences from Persia, Morocco, Turkey and Spain, where the concept is to try a “little bit of everything.” Great food and an astonishing view of Berlin.

Aunt Benny (Friedrichshain) is a cute coffee shop with a cozy atmosphere, perfect for brunch or sandwiches and I love all their gluten-free dessert options! Bring a book and enjoy their warm gluten-free apple crumble with ice cream, you’ll want to go back!

Salumeria Lamuri (Kreuzbers) is a quaint little Italian restaurant entirely decorated as a 1960s bistro from Milan. Homemade pasta dishes, salads and paninis.

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Comments

  • That´s all beautiful places.
    But i have to say: Berlin is more than that. I see this pictures and think “Berlin isn´t sooo clean.”
    The drink, eat, stay, shop … Tips are cool. But there is more than this things you can see in every other city.
    Rent a Airbnb flat. Live with the natives and explore the dirty Berlin. That is more fun. Go to Kreuzberg, Wedding, Neukölln. Let Mitte behind you. There are to many tourists.

    I hope you think my text is not to rude. I love to read your post. But there is a other Berlin you would maybe also love.

    Lovely greetings
    from Berlin. :-)

    • Dana

      It’s impossible to have one definitive guide to Berlin- it’s just too big of a city with too many sides. We try to tailor these guides to our particular audience with a slant toward the things we think people would like who share our aesthetic and are first-time visitors. I agree that it’s valuable to see the grittier side of cities, but I don’t always think that’s the best or easiest suggestion when we’re looking to give people an overview of their first quick visit.

      Grace

        • I agree with both Grace and Dana.

          First, Grace: it’s true – so many people “skip” Berlin because a. it’s not in the tourist-friendly, easily accessible West Deustchland (a good 7 hour train ride from many places), and b. you’re getting a whole other experience than what you would typically desire if you really just want “tourist” Germany (and “tourist” Germany is worht wanting at least once). These tips are appealing, and they are helpful for those who want a comfortable introduction to Berlin.

          But with Dana – get to the top of that Tower and you will still likely see exactly what meets East and West – grit. Berlin, in my opinion, is the cultural hub of Germany despite it’s far-off location. The grit you find in Berlin isn’t unappealing, but it also isn’t Wienerschnitzel und Lederhosen, either. Berlin, for better or worse, is an international gathering place of ideas and cultures, yet is still distinctively German; you really see the beauty of that when you get away from the tourism centers.

          I fully endorse seeing the sights when you are in Berlin. It’s such a historically rich city, a history that affects anyone in Western Europe or the U.S. today. You need to see the Reichstag, the WWII bullet holes in the Brandenburg Gate, the Holocaust museum, the TV Tower (a MUST!), Postdamer Platz, and the Cold War history. But get out of that, too – see the lakes, see the cultural zones, check out areas that the locals would have you spend time. And finally, have a Doener Kabab. It’s some of the best tourist food and will keep you full for hours of fascinating exploring. You won’t be disappointed in Berlin.

  • If you’re in Berlin make sure you stop by Burgermeister (address: Oberbaumstraße 8, 10997 Berlin) try one of their bacon burgers. THEY. ARE. AMAZING. Seriously, one of the best burgers I’ve ever had down here in Germany (and I’ve been living here for three years)

  • One of my favorite spots in Mitte is Zeit fur Brot (Time for Bread) – an amazing cafe with the most delicious pastry. We went there every morning we were in Mitte.

    There are also some amazing shops in Mitte like the shoe store & Other Stories, lots of lovely little shoe and jewelry boutiques all up and down Alte Schönhauser Str. and Torstraße and the amazing 2-story vintage at Made in Berlin

    We also spent a week in Kreuzberg which had a ton of amazing shopping I can’t even begin to describe!

  • I moved here a year ago from London and I love the suggestions! Mitte around Auguststrasse, Rosenthaler Platz and Linienstrasse is the part to go to and my favourite part, that’s not the touristy part! Kollwitzplatz in Prenzlauer Berg on a Saturday is great as there is a lovely food market, a loads of nice cafes. Neue Heimat is a great indoor food market in Friedrichshain and Neukolln is trendy but busy and messy, if you want clean and serene stick to Prenzlauerberg and eastern Mitte! But make sure you go to Teufelsberg the old American spy towers in the Grunwald Forest!

  • Oh and this is the best and loveliest place for Apple Strudel, also in Prenzlauer Berg (ww.meierei.net) ok I better go back to work now :)

  • Ahhh I love Berlin, I’ve been so many times but there are some great new places to try here…. thanks!

    I recommend the Bauhaus Archiv and The Museum of Things too, unmissable!

  • Hmm…. You could find the kind of cute, “mass-indie” type shops like the ones mentioned in this guide in any major city or online. Why would you go to Berlin to buy handmade goods from Spain? Do You Read Me? is a notable exception, and a great place to find obscure art magazines, German or otherwise.

    Agree with commenter above that the Bauhaus Archiv is worth visiting and probably of interest to this blog’s audience. Also the flea market at Mauerpark in Prenzlauer Berg was a fun way to spend a Sunday afternoon when I lived there a few years ago.

  • I am planning my trip next month, the information you gave is so much helpful to me for my city tour.
    At list now i know what are the places i shouldn’t miss
    thank you

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