Destination Guide: Berlin!

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Mattg

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As you will be aware if you've been following my trip report, I have recently moved to Berlin, Germany. I thought that I would put together a mini-guide here covering all the things I would recommend to see and do around the city, as well as other general tips and interesting things I've discovered.

If you're planning a trip to Berlin, I hope this will give you some good ideas, and if you're not already planning to visit, I hope this might inspire you to come and see the best city in the world! :)

I want this guide to be interactive, so if you have any questions please feel free to ask. Also, if you think I've missed something, feel free to add your own suggestions.

I'll update this thread progressively over the next few weeks.
 

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Sightseeing: The main attractions
These are some of the must-see sights in the city.

Brandenburger Tor/Brandenburg Gate
Arguably the most famous landmark in Germany.

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How to get there: S1, S2, S25 or U55 - Brandenburger Tor

Reichstag building

Currently the place where the German parliament sits, although the building was largely disused from 1933 to 1999. You can actually go inside the glass dome atop the Reichstag. Not only is it free, but you also get some good city views and get to look down on the German Bundestag (parliament). Note that you must register online beforehand, often up to a week in advance.

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How to get there: U55 - Bundestag, or a short walk from either the Brandenburg Gate or Hauptbahnhof (the main station).

Checkpoint Charlie

Unfortunately, Checkpoint Charlie has become little more than a tourist trap. It certainly has an interesting history, and indeed one of the defining moments of the Cold War occurred here, but those days are gone. Nowadays, the place is bustling with tourists (and pickpockets!) and everything there is fake - from the checkpoint itself in the middle of the street, to the US soldiers posing for photos, to the soviet military uniforms for sale. My advice would be to have a look, take some photos, then leave. And please don't get the stamp in your passport - an East German passport stamp from 2014 will invalidate your passport as East Germany no longer exists!

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How to get there: U6 - Kochstraße

Gendarmenmarkt

One of the most beautiful squares in Berlin, with two churches (a French and a German one) facing each other, as well as a spectacular concert hall.

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How to get there: U2, U6 - Stadtmitte

Alexanderplatz

A large square & transport hub surrounded by shops & eateries, where you'll often find street artists, live shows and men wearing red umbrellas, selling sausages in bread for €1.35.

How to get there: U2, U5, U8, S5, S7 - Alexanderplatz

Fernsehturm/TV Tower

Towering over Alexanderplatz is the famous TV tower. Built by the communist East German government for apparently no reason other than to assert their architectural prowess, it now serves as a television tower and overpriced lookout for tourists.

Museumsinsel/Museum Island

An island (surrounded on both sides by the Spree River) in the middle of town, home to some fantastic museums such as the Pergamon Museum, Altes Museum and Neues Museum. Also home to the Berliner Dom and Lust Garten. Just off the island are the equally good Historisches Museum and (on the other side) the DDR Museum.


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The Berliner Dom, with the TV Tower in the background

How to get there: S5, S7 - Hackescher Markt & a short walk
 
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Mattg

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Sightseeing: Museums
There are hundreds of museums in Berlin - some better than others - but most are very good. Here are a few I would recommend:

On/just off the museum island:
Pergamon Museum- probably the most famous and most highly regarded museum on Museum Island, this has a large collection of ancient artefacts from the Middle East, including the Pergamon Altar and Ishtar Gate.

Historisches Museum - this pink building just off the island covers pretty much everything that's ever happened in the history of Germany, and often has special exhibitions such as the one at the moment on World War I. This is my personal favourite museum on (ok, next to) the island.

DDR Museum - an interactive museum about life in the Deutsche Demokratische Republik, also known as East Germany, under communist rule.

Altes Museum - literally meaning "old museum", this is an architecturally stunning building housing Ancient Greek and Roman art.

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The Altes Museum - and the giant bowl out the front which wouldn't fit through the doors...


How to get to Museum Island: S5, S7 - Hackescher Markt & a short walk

Off the island:
Jüdisches (Jewish) Museum - another stunning building architecturally, this museum covers over a thousand years of German-Jewish history.

How to get there: U6, U2 - Hallesches Tor & a short walk, or Bus 248.

Topography of Terror - an excellent exhibition on the site of the former Gestapo & SS headquarters which looks at life (and unfortunately death for some) in naz_ Germany.

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The Topography of Terror is the grey building on the left.

How to get there: U2, S1, S2, S25 - Potsdamer Platz & a short walk


There are plenty of other good museums in Berlin; too many to list. One which I would avoid, however, is the Haus Am Checkpoint Charlie. I found this to be poorly set out, overcrowded and overpriced. The history is certainly interesting, but in my opinion this particular museum is little more than a tourist trap, just like the rest of Checkpoint Charlie.

Although this doesn't apply to the museums listed above, be aware that many museums close on Mondays.

If you are planning to visit a few museums, invest in a Museumspass. For €24 (€12 reduced price) this pass gives you access to 50 museums over 3 consecutive days, which I think is great value if you plan to use it.
 
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Mattg

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Sightseeing: Best views in Berlin
Probably the most popular place in Berlin to lookout over the city is the iconic Fernsehturm (TV Tower) on Alexanderplatz. But I personally wouldn't recommend it for a number of reasons:
1. Unless you go really early or late in the evening, you'll be waiting for up to several hours just to go up there.
2. Berlin doesn't really have a skyline so getting up that high is kind of pointless. The only thing in Berlin's skyline is the TV tower, so if you're inside it, you're kind of missing the point...
3. It's expensive at €13 each (€8.50 for children)

Instead, I would suggest either the Berliner Dom or the Siegessäule (Victory Column). You will save money and get just as good a view, but be warned that there are quite a few steps to get to the top of both. Note that if you have a museum pass, entry into the Dom is included, otherwise it's €7. To climb the Victory Column it will cost €3.

Another interesting place to see the city from could be the Hi-Flyer hot air balloon near Potsdamer Platz and the Finance Ministry building. This is a captive hot air balloon which goes 150m into the air. Tickets are around €20 for adults and there are discounts for children/students/families etc. I haven't personally done this so can't say whether I would recommend it.

How to get there:
TV Tower: U2, U5, U8, S5, S7 - Alexanderplatz
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Berliner Dom: S5, S7 - Hackescher Markt & a short walk
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Victory Column: S5, S7 - Bellevue or Tiergarten (the column is inside the Großer Tiergarten).
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Sightseeing: The Berlin Wall
Most of the Berlin Wall was knocked down in the years after the reunification of Germany, but three significant sections of the wall remain; the East Side Gallery, a section on Bernauer Straße and a section on Niederkirchnerstraße (near Potsdamer Platz).

East Side Gallery
As the Soviet's wall-building techniques became more sophisticated there were actually two walls, one on the west and one on the eastern side. These were separated by what was known as the "death strip", making it virtually impossible for East Berliners to escape. The East Side Gallery is the only remaining section of wall from the eastern side. Because West Berliners did not have to fear being shot if they approached the wall, much of the western side of the wall was covered in graffiti, messages of protest and art, but obviously on the eastern side this was not the case. After the reunification of Germany, the section of wall now known as the East Side Gallery was decorated by artists from the east and has remained like that since (plus the odd piece of graffiti saying "I was here in June 2014" etc. - and a chunk removed when they built the O2 Arena). The East Side Gallery is quite famous and worth checking out. Unfortunately some of the art is not that great, but there are a few standouts in my opinion which make up for that. It's just back from the River Spree on the eastern side, and runs conveniently between Ostbahnhof & Warschauer Straße S-Bahn stations.

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Bernauer Straße
On Bernauer Straße (Straße is German for street, by the way, and is often shortened as "Str." And the funny "ß" symbol is pronounced like a double S) you will find another remaining section of wall, as well as the Berlin Wall memorial, which can be seen both from ground level on the eastern side and from a tower across the road. (I'll talk more about the memorial later.)

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U8 - Bernauer Str. or S1, S2, S25 - Nordbahnhof

I'll take this opportunity to point out the small exhibition about ghost stations inside the concourse of Nordbahnhof S-Bahn station. Ghost stations existed while the wall was up where train lines predominantly used for services in West Berlin ran underneath parts of East Berlin. The stations in East Berlin became ghost stations. Entrances were hidden and trains didn't stop. If you happen to be passing through Nordbahnhof, check out the information panels on the walls.

Niederkirchnerstraße
The final and largest remaining piece of wall from the western side is on Niederkirchnerstraße, at the site of the Topography of Terror exhibition. A car actually crashed into and damaged a small section of the wall a while ago, so the wall is now protected by a fence, which I find somewhat amusing.

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S1, S2, S25, U2 - Potsdamer Platz
 
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Sightseeing: Memorials
Considering Berlin's turbulent past, it's hardly surprising that there are so many memorials. I think it's great that Germany acknowledges its history, even if it isn't pretty. Here are some of the main ones:

Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe (Holocaust Memorial)
How do you commemorate the lives of 6 million Jews, murdered by the naz_s in the Second World War?

Designed by Peter Eisenman, the Holocaust Memorial is a large square right in the middle of Berlin covered in grey blocks of various heights - 2711 to be exact. Why 2711? And why was the memorial designed the way it was? Eisenman won't answer that, because he wants everyone who visits the memorial to experience it with a blank canvas and have their own unique experience. This memorial is definitely a must-see, and if you have time you can also visit the information centre underneath the memorial.

There are barely any signs around the memorial so unfortunately many people don't seem to realise what it is and treat it like a giant public playground, running around or jumping from block to block. There is usually someone there to yell at these people but it can be hard to keep up sometimes.

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Nearby in the Tiergarten, near the Brandenburg Gate, you will also find memorials to the murdered homosexuals and Sinti & Roma people (gypsies). Not much further along the Straße des 17. Juni (Street of the 17th of June) is the Soviet War Memorial - built right in the middle of where Hitler planned to build Germania.

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Roma and Sinti memorial

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Soviet War Memorial

To get to any of these memorials: S1, S2, S25, U55 - Brandenburger Tor

Berlin Wall Memorial
The Berlin Wall Memorial, as I mentioned in a previous post is on Bernauer Straße with one of the remaining sections of wall. When you view the memorial on the ground, from the eastern side, you can only see it through a small crack in the wall. I think the idea is that you can see the other side, but can't get there.

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You can also view the memorial from a tower across the road. And while you're there, have a look at the information centre across the road from Nordbahnhof where you can watch a short film about the wall.

S1, S2, S25 - Nordbahnhof

Although most of the wall was demolished years ago, you can still see where the wall once was as you wander around the city. Look for the double cobblestone line marking the location of the wall. If the writing is the correct way up, then you are on the west side.
 
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Mattg

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Sightseeing: Memorials (continued)

House of the Wannsee Conference
The building in Wannsee (around 25 minutes outside of Berlin) where the naz_s met in 1942 to decide upon the "final solution" is now a museum and memorial site. It's located in a quiet neighbourhood in Wannsee, so to think that something so evil could have happened there was a bit creepy. I did one of the free hourly guided tours of the house, but be aware that these are only offered in German. The exhibits and documents however are translated into English.

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The room where the conference took place

S1, S7 - Wannsee, then catch Bus 114 to the house (this runs every 20 minutes in a circuit).

Gleis 17, Grunewald
A little outside of the city, Gleis 17 (track number 17) is where the Jews were rounded up and put on trains bound for the east during the war. The memorial here is part of Grunewald S-Bahn station and was put there by Deutsche Bahn in the 1990s. Interestingly, there was no-one else around when I visited. The silence was almost eerie. The memorial is clearly signposted as "Gleis 17" within Grunewald S-Bahn station. If going to Wannsee (or Potsdam) on the S7, why not stop here for a few minutes to have a look at the memorial.

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S7 - Grunewald

Book burning memorial
This memorial is actually underneath the ground on Bebelplatz outside the Humboldt University, where naz_ book burnings took place in 1933.

U2 - Hausvogteiplatz or U6 - Französische Str.

Berlin Airlift Memorial
Not far from the former Tempelhof Airport at the Platz der Luftbrücke (which translates to "Place of the Airlift") is the Airlift Memorial to those who lost their lives during the Berlin Airlift in 1948-49.

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U6 - Platz der Luftbrücke

Memorial to the 17th of June Uprising
On the 17th of June 1953, East German workers staged a protest outside the then East German government "House of ministries" (formerly Luftwaffe HQ, today the almost as evil German tax office). They striked and demanded the government stop increasing production quotas, as well as things like freedom. The government reacted by firing at the crowd, killing some of the protestors. There is a photo from that day installed onto the ground outside the House of Ministries, which stands in stark contrast to the mural on the wall commissioned by the East German government, which shows the communist ideal. There are also information panels.

U2 - Mohrenstr.

Neue Wache (New Guardhouse)
The Neue Wache is now a memorial to victims of war and tyranny (generally). There is a round hole in the roof, where underneath lies a sculpture by artist Käthe Kollwitz.

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A330

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This is a really useful guide Mattg! I managed to get to most of these sights when I've visited Berlin and agree with must of what you say.

I found the Fernsehturm a complete waste of time but if you have kids then I guess it would be something kids like. Siegessäule was much better, and even the Reichstag offers good views.

Sachsenhausen in Oranienburg (about 1 hour on the S bahn from Friedrichstrasse) is very sobering and well worth a visit if you have time.

Another would be the Stasi Museum in Lichtenberg. Whereas the DDR Museum is presented in a fun way, the Stasi Museum shows the great lengths the Stasi went to to monitor the East German public.
 

Mattg

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This is a really useful guide Mattg! I managed to get to most of these sights when I've visited Berlin and agree with must of what you say.

I found the Fernsehturm a complete waste of time but if you have kids then I guess it would be something kids like. Siegessäule was much better, and even the Reichstag offers good views.

Sachsenhausen in Oranienburg (about 1 hour on the S bahn from Friedrichstrasse) is very sobering and well worth a visit if you have time.

Another would be the Stasi Museum in Lichtenberg. Whereas the DDR Museum is presented in a fun way, the Stasi Museum shows the great lengths the Stasi went to to monitor the East German public.

I would agree with pretty much all of that. I actually wasn't aware that there was a Stasi Museum in Lichtenberg - will have to check that one out sometime soon.


I visited the Sachsenhausen Concentration Camp memorial in Oranienburg earlier in the week and would agree that it is worth a visit. About an hour outside of Berlin, this was another of the earlier camps built by the naz_s and over 100,000 people were murdered there between 1936 and 1945. Later it was used by the Soviets. I know, this doesn't sound pleasant, and it's not, but I think everyone should experience a concentration camp once in their lives to ensure the victims who suffered here are not forgotten, and to ensure that this can never happen again.

Although perhaps not quite up there with the likes of Dachau and Auschwitz in my opinion, it's still quite confronting and moving, and if you've never been to a concentration camp then it's worth a visit.

Note that while the camp is open 7 days, most of the exhibitions are closed on Mondays.

As mentioned, to get there take the S1 to Oranienburg, followed by a 15-20 minute walk. Note that Oranienburg is in fare zone C.

I have been trying to post some pictures from Sachsenhausen but I am having some technical issues and for some reason I am currently unable to post any photos. I'll be able to continue posting in this thread once this issue is resolved...
 

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My problem with posting pictures seems to have been fixed.

Here's some of my photos from Sachsenhausen:

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And the memorial at the site of the gas chambers and crematorium.
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By now you might be thinking that Berlin's just a dump which is full of memorials and depressing sights, but I promise that it's so, so much more than that! As the mayor of Berlin famously said, Berlin is "arm aber sexy", meaning poor but sexy. And it's so true - the city is flat broke and has little industry other than tourism (although this is changing), but it really is a very cool place, not just for lovers of history but there's really something for everyone.

One of my favourite things to do in Berlin is to visit the Tempelhofer Freiheit, or Tempelhof Park. When Tempelhof Airport closed in 2008, the government wasn't sure what to do with all that vacant land... so instead of selling it off to private investors or doing something else to earn some money from it, they decided to leave the space as is and turn it into a massive public park, in the suburbs just to the south of Berlin.

Where else in the world can you ride a bike or rollerblade down a real airport runway? The park has become very popular with locals and tourists alike as a place to fly kites, ride bikes, go skateboarding or simply hang out for the afternoon and have a barbecue.

I would definitely recommend checking it out, but take a bicycle, rollerblades, scooter or skateboard because it really is that big. I once walked from one end to the other but it was a long walk with no shade and I wished I had taken a bike by the time I got to the other side. (It possibly didn't help that I'd already been walking for most of the day).

There was actually a referendum in Berlin last May, and 64.3% of Berliners voted to keep the space as a park, so thankfully the people have spoken and it will be here to stay!

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Around the other side of the old terminal building, the departure (Abflug) and arrival (Ankunft) signs are still there:
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How to get there:
U6 - Paradestr. or Tempelhof.
 

ermen

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Very nice... I was there 2 years ago and maybe saw half the things here....
Makes me want to go back!
 

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How to get around Berlin

Getting around the city is incredibly easy, thanks to Berlin's excellent public transport system. The network is made up of the S-Bahn (suburban trains), U-Bahn (subway), trams and buses, but they all use the same tickets.

S-Bahn
The S-Bahn or suburban trains generally do longer trips out into the suburbs, and are generally quicker than the U-Bahn. S-Bahn stations are easily identified by a white S in a green circle.

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U-Bahn
The U-Bahn (underground) trains are a horrible yellow colour, but will get you will you need to go and run very frequently. U-Bahn station signs are coloured blue and are easily visible from the street.

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Trams & Buses
Generally found in east Berlin, as it was the preferred method of transport by the East German government. To this day I still don't know the difference between a "Tram" and a "Metrotram". Buses are of course another way to get around, but the only time I've had to use one was to get to and from Tegel Airport.


Berlin uses a zonal fare system, with the network divided into fare zones A, B & C. Most places you will ever need to go to are within areas A & B, with some exceptions being Schönefeld Airport (SXF), Potsdam and Oranienburg (for Sachsenhausen), which are all in fare zone C.

For a single trip, you can buy an AB single ticket for €2.60 which is valid on all modes of transport for 2 hours. So, for example, you could take the TXL bus from Tegel Airport to Hauptbahnhof (main station), then continue your journey on the S-Bahn all on the one AB ticket.

You can also get day tickets for €6.70 (which I would almost always recommend as it's already paid for itself if you take 3 trains, for example), or 3 or 5 day tourist tickets, some which include things like discounted entry to museums & tourist attractions (e.g. the Welcome Card). If you're staying for a week, a 7 day VBB Umweltkarte (which translates to environment card) for €28.80 is definitely the best option. There are also special tickets for groups, e.g. you can get a group day ticket which is valid for up to 5 people travelling together for €16.20 - which is good value even if there are only 3 of you.

Important: Don't forget to validate your ticket by inserting it into one of the red or yellow boxes on the platform before you get on the train, or immediately after you get on trams or buses. Otherwise, your ticket is not valid! (If you have a day ticket, you only have to do this before the first trip - each ticket should only be validated once, after which time it will remain valid for the rest of the day, or whatever period of time the ticket is good for.)

You will notice that in Berlin, as with the rest of Germany, there are no ticket barriers at train stations. It's basically an honesty system - you are required to make sure you have a valid ticket, but in theory you could ride without a ticket if you really wanted. Ticket inspectors (who are usually in plain clothes) randomly patrol the trains and if you are caught without a valid ticket, your personal details will be recorded and you'll be issued with a €40 fine. I've gone for weeks without ever having my ticket checked, and then one day I had it checked 3 times on the same day, so I think it's better to play it safe. Yesterday I saw two people getting fined, and the ticket inspectors looked like the people you would least expect...

And you can pretty much expect to see a busker on the train at some point during your time in Berlin, and they always seem to be playing the same song... (Any ideas what song? I'll give you a hint: it describes almost perfectly how I feel towards people that come onto the train and blast music into my face when I'm feeling tired or cranky...)


Bikes
Bikes are another great way to get around Berlin. Although a little spread out, the city is quite flat and very bike-friendly. There are bike paths everywhere. There are plenty of bike rental places around, most charging €10-15 per day.

Taxis
I've personally never had to use one, but there are plenty of taxis in Berlin, all of which are a different horrible shade of yellow (a kind of cream colour) and most of which are Mercedes-Benz.


Getting to/from the airport:
From Tegel Airport (TXL): Catch the TXL bus to Hauptbahnhof or Alexanderplatz, and continue your journey from there using the S-Bahn or U-Bahn. The bus journey takes 15-20 minutes and costs €2.60 (an AB ticket).

From Schönefeld Airport (SXF): If going to the city centre, this quickest way is to take a regional train (7, 14 or 19) to Hauptbahnhof, and continue your journey from there using the S-Bahn or U-Bahn. The journey to Hauptbahnhof takes approx. 30 minutes. If you are going to the Eastern districts of Friedrichshain or Lichtenberg, take the S9 in the direction of Pankow and change at Ostkreuz for the S-Bahn or Frankfurter Allee for the U5. There is also a bus to Rudow, the last station on the U7. The cost is €3.20 (an ABC ticket).

From Brandenburg Airport (BER): Wait another 1-20 years, then the airport might finally open! (This was meant to open in 2012...)
 

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Matt a really good resource.
Congratulations and thank you.
Fortunately we visited Berlin when I was still pretty good at walking!So this brings back a lot of memories.
 

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Hay Matt, Thanks for Putting together a fantastic guide to Berlin.
Having been to Berlin myself a few years ago, you certainly have made me aware of many of the places I missed visiting & you have made me seriously consider venturing to Berlin on my next trip to Europe.

Any news on when the new Brandenburg Airport will finally open?
 

Mattg

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Hay Matt, Thanks for Putting together a fantastic guide to Berlin.
Having been to Berlin myself a few years ago, you certainly have made me aware of many of the places I missed visiting & you have made me seriously consider venturing to Berlin on my next trip to Europe.

Any news on when the new Brandenburg Airport will finally open?

You should definitely go back!

In terms of the Brandenburg Airport, your guess is as good as mine. Originally planned to open in 2010, the official opening date has now been pushed back so many times that there is no longer a planned opening date. Current estimates say it will open in late 2016, but I personally doubt it would be before 2018.

I have a friend who works for Lufthansa, who said that he'd seen the current state of the airport and it was so badly designed that there were things like escalators which finished half a metre before they actually reached the next level, so they had to put in stairs at the top of the escalators.

As with most construction projects in Berlin, it's blown out way over budget and hasn't been completed on time. Who said Germans were always efficient?
 

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Shopping
For me, shopping is something that has to be done when there is no more food in the cupboard, rather than a hobby. So I probably wouldn't rely on myself for advice when it comes to shopping. But here goes anyway...

The most famous and popular shopping strip in Berlin is the Kurfürstendamm, or Ku'damm for short. This seems to be where all the tourists go to buy expensive shoes/handbags and the like, but from what I've heard it's mostly just a big street of chain stores which you can find almost anywhere, much like the Champs Élysée has become in Paris.

Shop at the Ku'damm if you like, but I would personally recommend shopping at a Sunday flea market (Flohmarkt) like the one at Mauer Park on Bernauer Straße. It might not be as up-market as a large department store, but you will find just about anything you could imagine - handmade clothes, jewellery, vinyl records, postcards, art, bicycle parts, furniture, toys, you name it! This flea market is filled with local sellers selling a variety of goodies, and the atmosphere is pretty good too with live music etc. This morning there was a rock band from Sydney playing. Besides shopping, a popular past time at the Mauerpark is the Sunday afternoon karaoke - anyone can go along and embarrass themself, or watch other people embarrassing themselves. That's always a lot of fun! At this particular flea market you'll also find a wide variety of delicious multicultural foods. My personal favourite is something German called Schweinebraten mit Sauerkraut im Brötchen (roast pork with sour cabbage in a bread roll). The stall which sells that also makes a pretty good apple strudel.

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It's true by the way, 10 beers here would have cost less than that bag... from memory the bag was €6, while the other day I bought a 6 pack of beer at the supermarket for €2 (plus a small deposit for the bottles).

Mauerpark is one of the biggest flea markets, but there are other smaller Sunday flea markets in parks all around the city.

If you buy something from a flea market, it will say "Berlin" a hell of a lot more than a mass-produced good from H&M, without being overly touristy!

One thing you probably won't find at a flea market though is Ampelmann (Berlin's famous traffic light man). If you want Ampelmann merchandise, go to one of the six over-priced Amplemann stores in Berlin, where you can get all things Ampelmann, from shirts, to alarm clocks, to iPhone cases. But be warned, it's extremely touristy...

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How to get to...
Ku'damm: U1/U9 - Kurfürstendamm; U1 - Uhlandstraße; U7 - Adenauerplatz
Mauerpark: U2 - Eberswalder Str. or U8 - Bernauer Str.
Ampelmann shops: There are 6 in Berlin, but the original is in the Hackesche Höfe, near Hackescher Markt S-Bahn station. Other locations include Gendarmenmarkt & Kurfürstendamm.
 

Mattg

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Bars, Cafés & Restaurants
There are so many bars, cafes and restaurants in Berlin, that if I went to a new one every day, I probably would have died before I could get to all of them. Here are some good ones that I know of, but with that in mind this is by no means an exhaustive or comprehensive list!

Bars
You will find bars pretty much everywhere, but I personally like Oranienburger Straße, a street full of bars and restaurants, and the districts of Kreuzberg & Friedrichshain, both of which are quite trendy.

Every bar is a bit different and you will find a great variety in Berlin. Some are in the basements of buildings, some play the most random music you'll ever hear, and some are simply cheap places to get drunk. I found a bar last week in Kreuzberg called Bären-Eck selling pints of (good) beer on tap for just€1.25. (Ok, as a bar it wasn't that great, but everything was so cheap!)

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The Madame Claude Bar in Kreuzberg is famous because it's an upside down bar, in the sense that there is furniture stuck to the ceiling. Another place which is a bit different and definitely not as touristy is the Yaam beach bar by the Spree. It has a Caribbean theme and plenty of good, cheap food and beer. For example, you can get a plate of tasty chicken curry with rice for €3.

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Yaam beach bar as seen from the river (sorry, you can't really see the bar from here)

There are also many microbreweries in Berlin. Hops & Barley is one of those - just two minutes from where I live, it's actually listed by Time Out & Lonely Planet as one of the top bars in Berlin (and I would have to agree, the beer is pretty good).

How to get to...
Oranienburger Straße: that's easy there's an S-Bahn station named after it. S1, S2, S25 - Oranienburger Str.
Kreuzberg: Kreuzberg is a large district but some of the best night spots are around Mehringdamm (U6, U7), Görlitzer Bahnhof (U1) or Boddinstraße (U8).
Friedrichshain: S5, S7, S75, U1 - Warschauer Str.
Bären-Eck: U8 - Boddinstr.
Madame Claude: U1 - Schlesisches Tor & a short walk
Yaam beach bar: S5, S7, S75 - Ostbahnhof
Hops & Barley: S5, S7, S75, U1 - Warschauer Str. then walk or take tram M13 three stops in the direction of Wedding.

Cafés


Unlike in most of Europe, it's not that difficult to find good coffee in Berlin if you know where to look. A good start would be to avoid chains like Starbucks, Coffee Fellows and McDonalds! Some of the best places even roast their own beans on the premises. A few recommendations of mine are Ende Der Welt, Barn, Oslo Kaffee, Bonanza and Silo. Again, this is not an exhaustive list! (By the way, most cafes have free high-speed wifi and some don't mind if you sit there for hours using it.)

How to get to...
Ende der Welt: U6 - Schwartzkopffstr. or a 10-15 minute walk from Hauptbahnhof.
Barn: U8 - Rosenthaler Platz or S1, S2, S25 - Oranienburgerstr.
Oslo Kaffee: S1, S2, S25 - Nordbahnhof or U6 - Naturkundemuseum
Bonanza: U2 - Eberswalderstr. (near Mauer Park)
Silo: S5, S7, S75, U1 - Warschauerstr.

Restaurants
As with cafes and bars, there are countless restaurants in Berlin, but one thing which isn't actually that common is German restaurants! Just like in Australia, Germans would rather eat something they don't usually get at home when they eat out. While touristy and possibly a bit expensive, one of your best bets for something traditionally German would be the Hofbräuhaus near Alexanderplatz. I could also recommend the 1840 Restaurant in Hackescher Markt and there are also a couple of decent German places here in Friedrichshain, if you can be bothered getting here - Spätzle & Knödel, and Schneeweiss, the latter being more upmarket than the other.

Otherwise, there are plenty of nice restaurants in Hackescher Markt, or for something a bit cheaper and informal, but still nice, go to Mehringdamm U-Bahn station (U6, U7) and from there wander down either Bergmannstraße or Geneisenaustraße.

Friedrichshain, where I live, is absolutely full of trendy bars, cafés and restaurants serving a vast array of different types of food. Just get a train to Warschauer Straße, then walk towards the north (past Kaiser's supermarket) and turn right at either Kopernikus Straße or Grünberger Straße. Don't worry about the homeless and/or drunk people hanging around the station, they won't do you any harm and they tend to just stick to that one spot...

I have a favourite burrito shop, called No Hablo Espanol, which makes awesome burritos on Kopernikusstraße in Friedrichshain.

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For something with little nutritional value but also little hassle or cost, buy a sausage in bread from one of the vendors wearing a red umbrella and grill around their waist. You'll often find these in Alexanderplatz and the going price is €1.35 - €1.50.

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Finally, there are two things you must try when in Berlin: currywurst, and a döner kebab. Currywurst is a Berlin speciality and is basically just sausages with a sauce made from tomato sauce and curry powder. You can get currywurst all over the city for €1-3, and if you're feeling hungry, get chips with mayonnaise on the side. (Some places offer a Menü - this means "meal" and generally includes chips and a drink.) A popular place to get currywurst is Curry 61 on Oranienburger Straße or Curry 36 on Mehringdamm, although it's available pretty much everywhere.

Doner kebabs can be found on pretty much every street corner, but Mustafa's Gemüse Kebab kiosk on Mehringdamm always seems to have a very long line, and with good reason - they are very good, and they even put deep fried vegetables into their kebabs. But be warned, on my last visit I waited in the queue for 35 minutes. If you can't be bothered waiting that long, you'll find other places selling kebabs which much shorter queues on pretty much every street corner in Berlin!

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How to get to...
Hofbräuhaus: S5, S7, U2, U5, U8 - Alexanderplatz
1840 Restaurant: S5, S7 - Hackescher Markt
Spätzle & Knödel and Schneeweiss: S5, S7, S75, U1 - Warschauer Str. (Spätzle & Knödel is very close to the Hops & Barley bar, so you may want to visit both together.)
No Hablo Espanol Burritos: S5, S7, S75, U1 - Warschauer Str.
Curry 61: S1, S2, S25 - Oranienburger Str.
Curry 36 & Mustafa's Gemüse Kebab: U6, U7 - Mehringdamm (they are very close to each other)
 

kevrosmith

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Fantastic report mattg. Very detailed and great information. If I were travelling to Berlin, this would definitely be book-marked as a handy reference. (Almost makes me want to jump on a plane, and get a "local's" perspective - well, you are a local now, aren't you?) ;) :cool:
 
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