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Berlin Travel Tips

4.0 stars

Insider advice for your Berlin vacation

Friedrichstrasse 2 stars
Friedrichstrasse is East Berlin’s big shopping street. The difference is most of what you see here has been built after the wall came down, making it ideal for a lot of the designer places. Although the Ku’damm has the reputation as being “the” shopping street of Berlin, from our experience in Berlin it appeared that Friedrichstrasse has taken over that title without a fight. Checkpoint Charlie is also on this street and several U-bahn (subway) stops awkwardly in the middle of the street. Unless you’re a major shop-a-holic, this street won’t be a major focus, but it’s hard to imagine a trip to Berlin where you don’t at least walk down some of this street just because of the intersection of Unter den Linden or the fact that it’s where the Checkpoint Charlie museum is located.


The Siegessäule (Victory Column) 2 stars
The Siegessäule (Victory Column) is a 227 foot tall granite, sandstone, and bronze column with a great view of mostly parkland. I love to go up towers in most major cities I go, but this isn’t the best view in town by any stretch of the imagination. I went up, my girlfriend did not. There is a museum section of the various monuments of Germany at the bottom of the column which is neat if you’ve been to most of the places, but probably just looks odd to the casual tourist. The hike up to the top is 285 steps, and although it’s not the best view in town (I’d give that to the Reichstag, personally), it is cool to go up there at least once for the sake of photos if nothing else.


New Berlin Pub Crawl - free vodka shots all night! 4 stars
When I first arrived in Berlin it was close to my birthday and since I hadn't made too many friends yet I decided to go on a pub crawl with my boyfriend and some of his friends. I didn't expect much more than a group of drunk 18 year olds acting like fools, but I really did enjoy myself!

It started at Silberfisch bar on Oranienburger Straße where they opened a keg of beer and let us drink our hearts out. Then they took us to 4 bars and one nightclub at the end. All of the bars had drink specials like 1 euro beers, 1 euro jagermeister shots or a free shot with any drink you bought and the guides handed out free vodka shots between all of the bars. The guides were really friendly and they took photos of us that later showed up on their website. (

The club at the end was massive. It had three dancefloors with a different genre of music on each - what music they play differs from night to night - and we got guest listed in.

If you're thinking of going on a pub crawl while in Berlin this one comes highly recommended! They even give you a map on how to get home (good idea!).


Classic Card 5 stars
The Classic Card in Berlin opens the doors to the world for opera and classical music for the longer-term budget traveler. If you are under 30, for a mere 15 euros you can get the best last minute tickets one hour before the start time at the Staatsoper, Philharmonie, Konzerthaus, Deutsche Oper, and the Komische Oper. With this card, you are able to get the best last minute tickets available for ballets, operas, and concerts for 8 to 10 euros. Unlike the line for student tickets, there is rarely a line to be waited in to purchase classic card tickets. I find this the best deal ever and one that can be worth getting even for someone that will only be in Berlin for one or two weeks but plans to go to more than two events.


The Berlin Döner kebab 3 stars
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At a local street art exhibition, an artist had covered the entire space of a wall in long rectangular sheets of tin foil only fastened to the wall at the top letting the bottom sway and flutter freely with the message written on top in German “Your love is like Döner without onion.” I’d have to say he captured the prevalence of the döner in Berlin as an integral part of life perfectly.
During a trip to Amsterdam, I encountered a döner kebab shop called The Berlin Döner. Its even known to most Germans that the döner kebab was actually invented in Berlin.
Most döners are eaten late at night when most other fast food outlets are closed and you’re either high or drunk and hungry between clubs or bars. It’s taken on the go as you spill, drip, and drop components of it as you walk to the tram, on the bus, and into the underground trains.
You can have your pick of pita, a wrap called durum or a Turkish pizza, all of which can be stuffed, wrapped and rolled with döner.
You also have a choice of three sauces amply applied of herb, garlic or chili.
Getting a döner at a shady or bad outlet can be hazardous to your stomach. Friends complaining of a bad döner experience are all too common even at places where you usually get good döner so beware. Biting into a bad döner can be one of the worst gastronomic experiences you could ever have to endure.
I used to have a superb döner outlet by my house but after subsequent visits I noticed the quality changing till I had the worst döner ever. Now, I only go the döner outlet under the canopy of the Edeka grocery store located at train station Hackescher Markt. The place has a high turnover because of its location and the Turkish pizza döner with salad is amazingly good for only €2.60.


Leisure in Berlin 5 stars
In order to have a good time in Berlin you must balance your schedule, not only with museums but also with night activities like going to watch a movie, or to a bar or even to a play (most of them are in German) The best way to find out what is going on in the city is to buy a guide. The one that we used is called Tipp and was great, I think it only comes out every Wednesday but I guess also the newspaper “Berliner Morgenpost” also has some information about the things that are happening in the city. Some of the bars we visited had great music like the unction Bar. I really recommend it.


Berlin City centre 5 stars
We went there just a couple of weeks ago, after our trip to Transylvania. What I liked the most about Berlin is the city centre which of course is full of stores as most German cities, the first church in Berlin (Nikolaikirche) which still remains untouched. Most historical buildings are concentrated in this zone of the city centre.
Downtown is also full o museums, the one that I liked the most is the Pergamonmuseum which is named after the grate shrine of Zeus. I loved the art in exhibit especially the Roman collection. I really recommend you to go and take a look.


Free Museums after 6 on Thurs 4 stars
Museums are free on Thursdays after 6 pm. Museums stay open until 10 on this day, so you will have a whole 4 hours of time to enjoy some of the best museums in Germany. The savings is significant as most Museums run 10 euros for adult prices and 5 euros for students. Remember, however, you won’t get into all museums for free, its only nationally funded museums, like the national german art gallery, or the history museum. Museums like Check Point Charley won’t be free. Of these Museums I would recommend the Hamburger Bahnhof Museums which offers some interesting modern art from around the world. It was also a former train station so the way they turned an old train station into a museum is also interesting.


Alexander Platz Oktoberfest 5 stars
Every year all around German Oktoberfest is celebrated. This is no exception in Berlin. Right in Alexander Platz next to the large Fernsehr Turm (Tv Tower), Lowenbrau beer opens up a large beer tent. The first day of the opening is only for invited guests, but come any day after the opening and the tent is open for everyone. Here you can get whole liters of Lowenbrau beer for just slightly more than 7 euros per glass. My favorite thing right outside the tent is a robotic lion that mechanical looks like its drinking a beer and roars as it does. This is a great way to celebrate Oktoberfest if you are in Berlin and don’t have a chance to travel down to Munich.


Alexa Shopping Mall 5 stars
The opening of the new Alexa mall in Berlin located in Alexander Platz had German lining up to take advantage of spectacular sales. These included Dvds for 5 euros, phones for 5 euros and even dvd players for 22 euros.
The 290-million-euro (400-million-dollar) Alexa shopping centre is the 56th mall to open in Berlin, which promotes itself as the 'poor but sexy' city.
All together the mall offers around 175 stores, including the the usual range of retail stores as well as extensive leisure and entertainment facilities. This mall doesn’t have its own cinema but instead there is already a movie theater close by called Cubix.

Now that the commotion has died down, the Alexa mall in Berlin at Alexander Platz is one of the best new malls in Berlin. It has three levels of great shopping stores. These include Mango, Esprit, H and M, and even S Oliver. They also installed a large bookstore that covers three levels. In the bookstore you’ll find a really great selection of English books, probably the best collection I’ve seen so far in Berlin. Though the prices don’t matter because the price of every book in Germany is exactly the same.

My favorite store in the mall has to be Media Markt. This store has multiple levels of the top electronics in Germany. If you are looking for a DVD with English audio tracks, most of their DVDs are in both English and German.

Besides for shopping the new Alexa mall in Berlin has a large food court on the top floor. Here you can choose from McDonalds, Chinese, or even more traditional German food. The food is also very reasonably prices, the same price as most fast food places in Germany.

One thing I enjoyed about this mall is the superb layout inside. It’s clean and very well architecturally developed. The walking area is just large enough to avoid getting large crowds of people. They have plenty of bank ATMS here in the case that you need money, you won’t be hard pressed to find one.

In most shopping stores in Berlin you will be required to pay for the toilet. Rather in Alexa, all of the bathroom where in great condition and bathroom attendants didn’t expect you to leave a tip like most restroom in Germany. This might be one of the first mall where the bathrooms get paid a decent salary in Germany.

You could probably spend your entire day in this mall like I did. They even have two kids stores, of which one is the Build a Bear Workshop. Here you can create your own animal. They have a large selection of Bears to choose from. First they start you off with a bear that has not been stuffed. Next they bring you to a stuffing station where they let you stuff your own stuffed animal. The next step is to choose the clothing on the bear. This however is one of the most expensive part, so I opted to just stick with the bear.


Restaurant Kürbis 5 stars
Ackerstr. 155. Best Austrian schnitzel in town – thin, crusty and it is being served with potato salad and cranberry sauce. Other Austrian dishes available – cosy atmosphere in the backyard. average prices.


Berlin Beer Festival 4 stars
This beer festival creates one of the biggest beer gardens in the world. Here there is beer from all over the world. The best thing is that you don’t have to pay to get in. Here I sampled beer from all parts of the world. Many different countries come together during this event to show off their best beers. The whole event itself is over one mile long. I enjoyed the South American Beer from countries like Columbia and Brazil.

During the event is also live music performed by all sorts of musical entertainers. A whole large variety of people were here, not only tourists, but people from all throughout Germany were here. When you get here buy the collector beer festival glass and you can fill up from the kegs at different beer stands and not have to worry about deposit. The cup itself is a great souvenir from the Berlin Beer festival.

The event takes place the first week of August every year.


The Sony Centre, Potsdamer Platz, Berlin 1 stars
Potsdamer Platz was the biggest building site in the world just ten years ago. Now it pierces the Berlin skyline with a number of high-rise creations. The Daimler-Chrysler building is a tall deep red affair, whilst the Mandala Hotel is almost an earth orange, with the Cinema that occupies its ground floor. However opposite these mini Canary Wharf style buildings, sits a semi-covered mass of glass called The Sony Centre. It is now the location for Berlinalle Film Festival, which is held every February and draws a number of Hollywood’s greatest and richest over to Europe. With the film museum located on the first floor, it is the also the perfect home for the I-Max, which screens both English Language and German movies.A number of restaurants and eateries adorn the covered square. By far and away the most impressive is Café Josty. The food, although over priced, and pretty mediocre is served by polite staff who stand in front of posters signed by George Lucas, Orlando Bloom, and many others. But one thing makes this place that little bit more special. When the plans were put together the Berlin council demanded that two rooms from the old building that had suffered great damage in World War Two, had to be saved. This would mean a complete re think with the road layouts, as well as buildings, so the planners decided to dig up the foundations, stick some wheels under them, and move the rooms, intact, 75 metres.This is where Café Josty comes in. The glass walled, modern looking premises actually houses one of these original rooms. A ballroom I believe. Beautiful stonework is housed within this clinical 21st century creation, work that we now take for granted with our buildings, and it is well worth the visit to see these two examples of architecture side by side.


The Neuer See - Tiergarten, Berlin 5 stars
Located deep inside Berlin’s central and vast parkland, the Tiergarten, is the emerald green expanse of water known as the Neuer See. The lake meanders its way around numerous small islands, which house a variety of wildlife. It is the perfect place for a summer’s day in the German capitol.

Rowing boats can be hired for a small fee, and the afternoon can be spent paddling past the families of ducks and swans that far out number the human population that descend on the park. The boats are big enough for four adults and two children to while away the hours under the sun and beautiful plant life.

Next to the mooring site for the boats is an outdoor café called Café am Neuen See, which serves delicious stone baked Pizza, wonderful salads, and a refreshing cold beer. The out door seating area for the café contains a number of six seat benches, and small tables over looking the lake, and the food is well priced. There is no table service, although there are a number of staff that clean the tables and are extremely polite. Food must be purchased from a canteen style area, which can get very busy at peak hours. This is the perfect location to enjoy the hustle and bustle of a capitol city’s park, whilst enjoying a game of cards, or conversation over a refreshing drink.

The lake is located very close to Berlin’s Zoo, and can be the best antidote to a day of animal magic. After visiting the Zoological Garden’s, a walk around the banks of the Neuer See provides a great way to watch both locals and tourists go about their business, sun bathing, picnicking or cycling around this paradisiacal location.


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