When Gemma Smyth visited Berlin she decided to take a new approach to trip planning by asking Rough Guides’ Facebook fans and Twitter followers for their recommendations. With three full days at her disposal she endeavoured to visit a mixture of well known tourist sites and hidden gems, some recommended, some found along the way and most accidentally discovered when in search of a good meal.
Museum of Things
Kreuzberg is home to Berlin’s artsy types, with street art, bookshops, cafés, and a definitively eclectic and liberal feel. Hidden away down the side of an apartment building just off Oranienstrasse you’ll find The Museum of Things. The museum displays a range of everyday objects from telephones to Casio watches, “documenting modern everyday life characterized by commodity culture”. If you are interested in design or art history then this is one for you. If this doesn’t sound like your bag then take a wonder down Orainienstrasse anyway and pop into NGBK bookshop and exhibition space.
Wühlischstrasse is choc-a-bloc with shops and restaurants. Pizza Dach is small, cosy, colourful and serves a pretty hearty pizza for a very reasonable price (with two pizzas and drinks costing under €20). The music at Pizza Dach is less background and more really loud Europop, so this is the sort of restaurant you should visit for a quick bite before moving on to a bar, rather than for a romantic meal.
New Berlin Tours
We’ve mentioned New Berlin Tours before on Rough Guides but they deserve another mention. I took both the free tour and the trip to Sachsenhausen concentration camp. The tour guides bring the city and its stories to life with little known facts and anecdotes, as well as talking about what it was that drew them to Berlin; Lewis was the guide for my free tour, five years or so ago he came to Berlin for a two day trip and loved it so much he never left. Obviously the tour of Sachsenhausen wasn’t exactly fun – it was a ‘work camp’ where thousands of people that the Nazis considered racially or biologically inferior were imprisoned and killed – but it served as an essential and poignant reminder of these horrific atrocities committed during the Second World War. I’d highly recommend both of these tours if you want to learn more about the history of Berlin and the era of The Third Reich.
As well as being architecturally impressive, the history of Brandenberg Gate tells the story of the city from Napoleon’s defeat of the Prussian Army in 1806, to the fall of the Berlin wall in 1989. It’s definitely a tourist attraction (Starbucks and Dunkin Donuts are never far away) but don’t let that stop you.
Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe
In the centre of Berlin, right next to Brandenberg Gate, sits the Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe (often referred to as ‘the holocaust memorial’). Designed by Architect Peter Eisenman this memorial remembers the six million Jewish victims of the holocaust. This is not your typical memorial, you can walk through it and experience it in a way that is completely unique to you. Each time I have walked through the towering, disorientating sculptures I have felt slightly different. A trip to the Information Centre which lies directly below the memorial is well worth it; especially the Room of Dimensions which displays quotes and memoirs from Jewish people persecuted during the holocaust. A sobering experience.
If you’re looking to splash out a little on a nice breakfast then look no further than Café Einstein, a classy café that is famous for its coffee and serves great food (I recommend the fruit with yoghurt and honey).
Situated just off Unter Den Linden, Café Nö! is a haven away from the hustle and bustle of central Berlin, an intimate café experience with candles and a beautiful bar tucked away to the right of the entrance. I ordered a mezzé style platter for two and what I got was enough for four: Salami, homemade sausage, olives, garlic bread, bruschetta and lots more!
There’s a couple of Vietbowl restaurants in Berlin but the one I went to was in the Freidrichshain area of Berlin, a tram ride away from the East Side Gallery. Vietbowl is one of the best Vietnamese restaurants I’ve ever eaten at, not only do they serve fantastic food for casual diners but two starters, two mains and drinks costs less than €20. When asked for your tips on social media, Slow Travel Berlin directed us to the Museum of Things on Facebook, and @SaschaNeth introduced us to Café Einstein. We couldn’t visit all the places you suggested, but here are all your best suggestions – visit some for yourself and let us know what you think: