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Berlin is the capital city of Germany and one of the 16 states (Länder) of the Federal Republic of Germany. Berlin is the largest city in Germany and has a population of 4.5 million within its metropolitan area and 3.4 million from over 190 countries within the city limits. Berlin is best known for its historical associations as the German capital, internationalism and tolerance, lively nightlife, its many cafés, clubs, and bars, street art, and numerous museums, palaces, and other sites of historic interest. Berlin's architecture is quite varied. Although badly damaged in the final years of World War II and broken apart during the Cold War, Berlin has reconstructed itself greatly, especially with the reunification push after the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989. It is now possible to see representatives of many different historic periods in a short time within the city centre, from a few surviving medieval buildings near Alexanderplatz, to the ultra modern glass and steel structures at Potsdamer Platz. Because of its tumultuous history, Berlin remains a city with many distinctive neighbourhoods. (less...) (more...)
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Points of Interest in Berlin
Berlin has a vast array of museums. By far most of them are covered in the Mitte district guide, which, among others, covers the Museumsinsel (an island on the Spree covered with historic museums) and the Kulturforum (a collection of contemporary cultural institutions). You will also find a good deal of museums in the West and South of the city, but it is fair to say there are larger or smaller museums in almost every district. There are museums covering everything, from art through Berlin's and Germany's history to various branches of technology and science.
Most museums charge admission for people 18 years of age or older - usually €6 to €14. Discounts (usually 50%) are available for students and disabled people with identification. Children and young people can often come in free, but do check the age restrictions in particular museums. A nice offer for museum addicts is the three day Museums Pass for €24 (concessions: €12), which grants entrance to all the regular exhibitions of the approximately 55 state-run museums and public foundations.
Most museums are closed on Mondays - notable exceptions include the Pergamon Museum, the Neues Museum and the Deutsches Historisches Museum, which are open daily. Museumsportal Berlin, a collective web initiative, offers easy access to information on all museums, memorials, castles and collections and on current and upcoming exhibitions.
Remains of the Berlin Wall
While the Berlin Wall has long been dismantled and much of the grounds it occupied completely redeveloped, you can still find parts of the wall preserved around Berlin. This does not refer to very small pieces of the Wall sold by the East German government immediately after its dismantling, which can be found in various cafes, restaurants and hotels not only in Berlin, but to actual preserved fragments of the Wall still standing in their original locations.
The most often visited is the Checkpoint Charlie. at the southern border of Mitte and Kreuzberg, which is a recreated legendary border crossing within the Friedrichstraße. You cannot see the actual wall there, but this iconic (and extremely touristy) point is on almost every visitor's list. Further east from there, you can find a piece of the wall lining up the Niederkirchnerstraße next to the Topography of Terror. museum in Mitte. Another popular site is the East Side Gallery. along the Spree in Friedrichshain, a very long stretch of preserved Wall with colorful graffiti. All of the aforementioned fragments were altered and are now tourist attractions rather than actual historic monuments - if you want a truly preserved section of the Wall, head over to the northern border of Mitte and Gesundbrunnen and visit the Berlin Wall Memorial., with a complete section of the wall in all its gloom.
Private art galleries
As Berlin is a city of art, it is quite easy to find an art gallery on your way. They provide a nice opportunity to have a look at modern artists' work in a not-so-crowded environment for free. Some gallery streets with more than about a dozen galleries are Auguststraße, Linienstraße, Torstraße, Brunnenstraße (all Mitte, north of S-Bahn station Oranienburger Straße), Zimmerstraße (Kreuzberg, U-Bahn station Kochstraße) and Fasanenstraße (Charlottenburg). You can find a list of all the exhibitions and gallery openings as well as a map on Berlin Art Grid. A directory listing of all Berlin's art galleries can be found on The Art of Berlin: Complete Berlin Art Gallery Directory.
Landmarks with observation decks
Berlin has its fair share of tall buildings and, as the city is quite expansive and does not have one single centre where all tall buildings are located, you can enjoy a nice view from most of them, even ones that are not exceedingly tall by global standards.
Below is an overview of some of the most popular openly-accessible observation decks.
- Fernsehturm (TV Tower) (Alexanderplatz). Germany's tallest construction: 368 m high. Observation deck 204 meters above ground.
- Reichstag (Platz der Republik, Spreebogen / Regierungsviertel). The German Parliament building with a spectacular glass dome, which offers a great view of Berlin.
- Kollhoff Tower (Potsdamer Platz). The fastest elevator in Europe takes you approximately 101 meters high. Viewing platform: €5.50.
- Siegessäule, Am großen Stern (Tiergarten). An old (1865-1873), 66.9 m high monument. Unfortunately there is no elevator, so be prepared for 285 steps.
- Funkturm (Radio Tower) (Westend). 150 m high lattice tower with open-air observation deck 124 m above ground.
Berlin has two zoos and an aquarium. The Berlin Zoo in the west is the historic zoo that has been a listed company since its foundation. It's an oasis in the city and very popular with families and schools.
- Berlin Zoo. The largest range of species in the world. The zoo lies directly in the heart of the City West (opposite Bahnhof Zoo at Hardenbergplatz) and is especially famous for its pandas and Knut, the polar bear cub born in captivity in late 2006 -but has since died in March 2011. The Elephant Gate (Budapester Straße) is the second entrance next to the Aquarium and a traditional photo stop for most visitors because of the architecture.
- Aquarium. Part of the Berlin Zoo, located at Budapester Straße in an historic building. Still the largest aquarium in Germany and a host to an amazing variety of fish, crocodiles etc. One of the best places on a rainy day with children.
- Tierpark Berlin. Located in Friedrichsfelde, the Tierpark is more spacious than the historic Berlin Zoo and has been open for some 50 years. The compound also comprises a small château with its adjacent park.
The foundation of Berlin was very multicultural. The surrounding area was populated by Germanic Swabian and Burgundian tribes, as well as Slavic Wends in pre-Christian times, and the Wends have stuck around. Their modern descendants are the Sorbian Slavic-language minority, who live in villages southeast of Berlin near the Spree River.
In the beginning of the 13th century, two towns (Berlin and Cölln) developed on each side of the river Spree (today the Nikolaiviertel and the quarter next to it beyond the river). As the population grew, the towns merged and Berlin became a center for commerce and agriculture. This area stayed small (about 10,000 inhabitants) up to the late 17th century, because of the Thirty Years' War in the beginning of the 17th century, which led to death of about half of the population.
Since the late 17th century, when large numbers of French Huguenots fled religious persecution, Berlin has welcomed religious, economic and other asylum seekers. In 1701, Berlin became the capital of Prussia, and in 1710, Berlin and surrounding former autonomous cities were merged to a bigger Berlin.
In 1871, Berlin became the capital of the new founded German Reich, and a few years later, it became a city with more than one million inhabitants because of the immensely growing industry.
Shortly after the First World War, in 1920, the last of the annexations of surrounding cities of Berlin led to the foundation of the Berlin as we know it now. After the coming into power of the National Socialists, Berlin became the capital of the so-called Third Reich and the domicile and office of Hitler. (The triumph of Hitler and his companions started in the south of Germany, though.)
World War II led to destruction of most of central Berlin. Thus, many of the buildings which we see nowadays were reconstructed or planned and built after the war, leading to a very fragmented cityscape in most parts of the inner town. Berlin was divided into four sectors (West Berlin into the French, American and British sectors, while East Berlin belonged to the USSR). In 1949 the GDR was founded with East Berlin as its capital - West Berlin belonged to West Germany (with Bonn as the capital) and was an exclave (political island) in East Germany. Because of the growing tensions between West Germany and the GDR, the latter built a wall between the countries and around West Berlin, so the division was complete.
In 1989 the German revolution took place – subsequently leading to the fall of the Berlin Wall – and in 1990 West and East Germany were merged officially together with Berlin becoming the capital of reunified Germany.
After World War II and the building of the wall, large numbers of immigrants from Turkey were invited to West Berlin to work in the growing industry sector; in East Berlin the jobs were done mostly by Vietnamese immigrants. In addition, people from other communist countries, including the former Yugoslavia, not to mention Soviet soldiers who refused to return home, have helped to make Berlin more multicultural than ever.
Berlin is also a youth-oriented city. Before German unification, West Berliners were exempt from the West German civil/military service requirement. Social activists, pacifists and anarchists of all moved to Berlin for that reason alone. Musicians and artists were given state subsidies. It was easy to stay out all night thanks to liberal bar licensing laws, and staying at university for years without ever getting a degree was a great way to kill time. In contrast with most of Germany, Prenzlauer Berg is said to have the highest per-capita birth rate in Europe (though in fact it just seems so because of the high percentage of young women in the district).
After the fall of the wall, Berlin - especially the former East - has evolved into a cultural mecca. Artists and other creative souls flocked to the city in swarms after reunification, primarily due to the extremely low cost of living in the East. Despite the increased prices and gentrification that has resulted, Berlin has become a center for art, design, multimedia, electronic music, and fashion among other things. The particularly high number of students and young people in the city has only helped this cause. Just stroll down a street in Prenzlauer Berg, Friedrichshain, or Mitte to get a glimpse of the new East Berlin.
Some famous artists of the region and their best-known works include Lucas Cranach the Elder, Lucas Cranach the Younger, Johann Gottfried Schadow, Marlene Dietrich (The Blue Angel), Leni Riefenstahl (Triumph of the Will), Bertolt Brecht (Threepenny Opera), Käthe Kollwitz, Kurt Tucholsky, Thomas and Heinrich Mann, Walter Gropius, Paul Klee, Friedrich Wilhelm Murnau (Nosferatu), Fritz Lang (Metropolis), Volker Schlöndorff, Wim Wenders (Wings of Desire (German: Der Himmel über Berlin)), Blixa Bargeld/Einstürzende Neubauten, Christopher Isherwood, Gunter Grass (The Tin Drum), members of the Bauhaus architectural movement and many more.
Berlin has a temperate oceanic climate, meaning warms summers and cold winters. Nighttime temperatures typically fall below freezing in the winter, and snowfall is a regular occurrence, though the snow rarely accumulates for more than a few days. Summers are typically pleasant, with daytime temperatures typically in the low 20's, and nighttime temperatures staying above 10°C.
Go on a Tour of Berlin - the Mitte and surrounding districts are sufficiently compact to allow a number of excellent walking tours through its history-filled streets. You'll see amazing things you would otherwise miss. Details are usually available from the reception desks of hostels and hotels.
- Berlin Tour by public bus line 100 and 200. From S+U-station Zoologischer Garten to S+U-station Alexanderplatz. BVG-Ticket: €2.60 or dayticket: €6.70
- Ticket B City–Tours by architects in Berlin. Showing the city of Berlin on hand-picked architectural routes. Led by selected architects in German, English, French, Italian or Spanish. Anything is possible - tours from the water, on land or in a helicopter. They arrange your special tour on contemporary architecture in Berlin with many exclusive visits to the interiors of buildings and unforgettable experiences.
- Alternative Berlin. English tour starting at 11:00-13:00 each day at Alexander Platz TV tower in front of Starbucks coffee. This tour uses Berlin's transit system to cover a massive amount of territory and focuses on the underground sites and sounds of Berlin, including art & graffiti culture, technological wonders, and landmarks of rock & electronic music. The tour takes three and half hours. Free (but tipping is more or less standard - the tour guides don't receive any other salary and must pay the tour company for every person who comes on the tour).
- Berlin City Tours. Offers a wide range of sightseeing tours and excursions by foot, bike, bus and boat. They also offer a lot of interesting activities and private arrangements on request. They also offer tours and arrangements for cruise ship passengers arriving from Rostock/Warnemuende.
- The Berlin Experts. Offers daily in-depth walking tours of Berlin's architecture, history, and culture. All tours include some history as well as other tidbits of trivia not commonly known. Especially popular is the Deconstruction/Construction Tour which provides an offbeat perspective of contemporary Berlin. They also offer special tours for cruise ship passengers.
- Insider Tours. Offers daily tours in English, Hebrew, Italian and Spanish as well as private tours. Also offers day trips to Dresden, Potsdam and an excursion to the Sachsenhausen Concentration Camp Memorial Site. €9.
- Jewish Berlin. Offers a variety of specialised Jewish Heritage tours in Berlin and its vicinity. Site also includes information about Jewish life in Berlin.
- Vive Berlin Tours. A cooperative of experienced tour guides offers several walking tours, most notably free tours to the former concentration camp Sachsenhausen and a "Third Reich Tour" that cooperates with the 1936 Olympic Stadium.
- Stern und Kreisschiffahrt. By far the biggest boat company in Berlin. They offer tours on most lakes.
- Yachtcharter Werder. Offers the possibility of a long term stay on the waterways of Berlin and the surrounding federal state Brandenburg.
- Admission Free Berlin. Website giving a daily overview about free sights, parties and cultural events in Berlin.
- Berlin Greeter, e-mail: email@example.com. "Berlin Greeters" are volunteers who offer free walks through their Berlin districts. Individual face-to-face encounters between "real" Berliners and Berlin visitors are central for this project (six people maximum).
Pick up a copy of Exberliner, , the monthly English-language paper for Berlin to find out what's on, when and where. It provides high quality journalism and up-to-date listings. If you understand German, the activity planners for the city, zitty  and tip , are available at every kiosk. Be prepared to choose among a huge amount of options.
Berlin has many great parks which are very popular in the summer. Green Berlin operates some of them.
- Großer Tiergarten, Berlin's largest park. In the summer and on weekends you will see loads of families with their barbecues.
- Viktoriapark, (Kreuzberg). Superb panoramic views across south Berlin. National monument by Schinkel on top of it.
- Schlossgarten Charlottenburg (inside the Charlottenburg Palace). The green areas of the park is free, so you can go there to have a walk even if you are not interested in the palace. It covers a large area and you can get in from the entrance just near the "New Pavillon" (Neuer Pavillon a.k.a. Schinkelpavillon) placed on the right of Luisenplatz. Bus M45, 309: „Luisenplatz“ or „Klausenerplatz“, the nearest train station is Sophie-Charlotte Platz on the U2.
- Gärten der Welt (World's Garden). Open daily from 09:00-16:00, in April and October until 18:00, from May-Sep until 20:00. Inside you can find a large, well-established Chinese garden, a Korean garden, a small Bali's Garden/Glasshouse, an Oriental Garden with nice fountains and a cloister and a Japanese garden which is a project by the city partnership of Berlin and Tokyo. Best time for a visit is in spring or summer. To get there, take the S7 until "Marzahn" station and continue with bus 195 until Eisenacher Straße. Entrance is €3.
- Botanischer Garten und Botanisches Museum Berlin-Dahlem (Botanic Garden and Botanical Museum Berlin-Dahlem), Königin-Luise-Straße 6-8. Opening hours. Ticket: €6, reduced rate: €3, family day ticket: €12.
Lakes and Beaches
- Wannsee is called Berlin's "bath tub". The Strandbad Wannsee is the most famous bathing area for locals. Take the S-Bahn lines S1 or S7 to the station Nikolassee and follow the crowd!
- Müggelsee in the south east of Berlin is a popular swimming spot.
- Berlin Film Festival. The city's largest cultural event and an important fixture in the global film industry's calendar (up there with Cannes). 250,000 tickets sold, 400 different films screened and a host of associated parties and events every year. In contrast to e.g. Cannes, all screenings at the Berlinale are open to the public. Tickets are inexpensive and relatively easy to get for the "International Forum of Young Film" screenings and the "Berlinale Panorama" (movies which are not in the competition).
- Lange Nacht der Museen (Long Night of Museums), ☎ +49 30 90 26 99 444. A large cultural event in March (15th March 2014) and August (31st August 2013) with museums open until 2AM and extra events around the city. Price with unlimited use of the shuttle bus service and public transportation (BVG and S-Bahn): 18 €, concessions 12 €.
- Fête de la Musique (Worldwide Music Day). June 21 every year. All kinds of music around the city on this day coordinating with a similar day in several French cities.
- Open Air Gallery Oberbaumbrücke, Oberbaumbrücke between Kreuzberg and Friedrichshain (just under the bridge Oberbaum). Sunday 2th June and Sun 7th July 2013 at 10 to 22 h. Artists are selling their works, amateur tango dancers are giving public performances and you can contribute to a collaborative painting on a very long canvas spread on the street along the festival. free.
- Festival of lights. 10th until 19th October 2014. Famous buildings are illuminated in a special way free.
- Christopher Street Day in June 22, 2013. Germans gay pride. A well-known annual political demonstration for the rights of the gay culture organised in all major German cities. Even if you are indifferent about the issue, the Christopher Street Day is usually a worthwhile sight as many participants show up in wild costumes. · English Info
- Fuckparade. In August. The Fuckparade (Hateparade in the early days) started as an antiparade or demonstration against the commercialized Love Parade, and was first on the same date as the Love Parade but later the date was shifted. The Fuckparade is a political demonstration, with political speeches at the beginning and the end and the parade with music between. The general motto of the Fuckparade is "against the destruction of the club scene". The music is quite different than at the Love Parade: mostly independent/alternative/extreme electronic music.
- Hanf Parade. In August. The Hanfparade is the biggest European political demonstration for the legalization of hemp for use in agriculture and as a stimulant.
- Karneval. In late February or early March. As a lot of people in Berlin originally came from the southern or western area of Germany where Fasching, Fastnacht or Karneval is celebrated, a carnival parade was also established in Berlin. It grew bigger and bigger (about 500.000 to 1 million people watching), but the costumes and cars are rather boring and the people are not as dressed up as in the "original" big carnival parades (Cologne, Mainz, Düsseldorf). Since 2007 the traditional route across Kurfürstendamm was chosen. Note that people from Berlin themselves don't care a bit about Karneval; this is mostly an event for people coming from the regions of Germany that have a Karneval. In fact, most Berliners will be laughing at you if you mention that you went to Karneval, so beware that this is not a Berlin tradition, but a recent (post-1990) institution.
- Karneval der Kulturen (Carnival of Cultures). In May or June (on Whit Sunday). The idea of the "Carnival of Cultures" is a parade of the various ethnic groups of the city showing traditional music, costumes and dances. Other more modern, alternative and political groups also participate. Similar events are also held in Hamburg and Frankfurt.
Theatre, opera, concerts, cinema
Berlin is arguably the live cultural centre of Germany:
- Deutsches Theater (German theatre), Schumannstraße 13a (U-Bahn Oranienburger Tor, Bus 147), ☎ +49 30-28441-221, 28441-225. Classical theater with impressive line up of actors and directors.
- Volksbühne am Rosa Luxemburg Platz (People's Theatre), Rosa-Luxemburg-Platz / Linienstraße 227, ☎ +49 30-240 65 777, e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. Sometimes controversial, modern theater.
- Schaubühne am Lehniner Platz. Modern theater.
- Theater am Kurfürstendamm. Popular theater with TV celebrities in modern plays.
- Berliner Ensemble (Theater am Schiffbauer Damm), Bertolt-Brecht-Platz 1, ☎ +49 30 284-08-155, e-mail: email@example.com. Contemporary theatre.
- English Theater Berlin. Theater that features all plays/music theatre in English
Musicals and shows
- Theater des Westens. An historic theatre in the former West Berlin, only musicals today. Till 2013: „Tanz der Vampire“
- Theater am Potsdamer Platz. Musicaltheater – Marlene-Dietrich-Platz 1
- Friedrichstadt-Palast. Berlin's biggest show with over 100 artists on the biggest theatre stage in the world.
- Komische Oper. Modern operas.
- Deutsche Oper. Classic opera house of West Berlin.
- Staatsoper Unter den Linden. '. The impressive building and royal history make the building alone worth a visit. Schiller Theater in Berlin-Charlottenburg.
- Neuköllner Oper. Voted several times best off-opera house and known for its modern and contemporary pieces. Mostly in German as usually relating to developments in Germany. Very creative and innovative.
- Berliner Philharmonie, Herbert-von-Karajan-Str. 1 (Bus 200, M41: Philharmonie, or Bus M48, M85, N2: Varian-Fry-Str.), ☎ +49 30 254 88 999, e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. The Berliner Philharmonie is a concert hall with 2,440 seats in Berlin-Tiergarten (constructed 1960–1963) and the home of the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra. It is one of the best in the world. Famous building and outstanding musicians make a reservation essential. Cheaper tickets are usually available 2–4 hr before the concert if not sold out.
- Kammermusiksaal (chamber-music hall) with 1,180 seats. Constructed 1984–1987. It is linked to the foyer of the Philharmonie.
- Konzerthaus Berlin, Gendarmenmarkt, ☎ bookings +49 30 2030 92 101, fax: +49 30 20 30 9 2249, e-mail: email@example.com.*
There are about a hundred cinemas in Berlin, although most of them are only showing movies dubbed in German, without subtitles. Listed below are some of the more important cinemas also showing movies in the original language (look for the OmU - "original with subtitles" - notation). Most movies which are dubbed into German are released a bit later in Germany. Tickets are normally €5-7. Monday to Wednesday are special cinema days with reduced admission.
- CineStar. The "CineStar Original" cinema located inside the Sony Center at the Potsdamer-Platz shows only movies in original version (e.g. in English, without subtitles).
- Babylon Kreuzberg. Also non-mainstream movies in this small cinema built in the 1950s.
- Central (near Hackesche Höfe). Repertory cinema located in an ex-squat.
- Kino Moviemento (between Kreuzberg and Neukölln). The oldest cinema deutschland (1907).
- Filmtheater Hackesche Höfe (4th floor of the Hackesche Höfe). Very broad range of movies.
- Kant Kino. One of the few old cinemas (founded 1912) left in Berlin's western city. Mostly non-mainstream European movies.
In Berlin, nearly all sports are on offer:
- The most popular sport is football, which is played all over the city. The Berlin FA  lists all the clubs.
- Basketball. Alba Berlin, known as The Albatross are consistently the best basketball team in Germany, and one of the best in Europe.
- Public swimming pools. Can be found around the city. Check out BBB for pool listings and opening times.
- Sailing, on one of the many lakes is also popular. You can find sailing clubs and most universities have ships as well.
- Golf. You can find golf clubs all around Berlin, although for non-members Motzen has one of the best.
- Ice hockey. The Berlin Eisbären (Polar Bears) play this fast, exciting and very physical sport during the winter. The excitement is heightened by the singing and chanting of the crowds, who are fueled by the copious quantities of wurst and beer available.
- Floorball, is booming faster than ever before in the German capital. A sum of teams defines the cascade of the local floorball scene, whereas the decorated Bundesliga site of BAT Berlin probably embodies the most prominent one.
- American Football. After the closing of NFL Europe and the related end of Berlin Thunder (triple winner of the World Bowl), the Berlin Adler (Eagles  are Berlin´s No. 1 team playing in German Football League.
- Australian Football. The Berlin Crocodiles host regular matches in the summer.
Spas are very trendy.
- Day Spa. In Riverside Hotel next to the Friedrichstadtpalast.
- Club Oasis Fitness Centre & Spa, Grand Hyatt Berlin Hotel, Marlene-Dietrich-Platz 2, ☎ +49 30 2553 1234, e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Adlon Day Spa. One of the best spa's in town right next to the Brandenburg Gate in the Hotel Adlon
- Sana's Day Spa for Women (in Zehlendorf). Small spa offers privacy for women and daily fresh blended products.
A staple in Berlin is currywurst. It's a bratwurst covered in ketchup and curry powder. You can find them all over Berlin by street vendors. It's a must try when in Berlin. Two renowned Currywurst stands are "Konnopke's Imbiss" below Eberswalder Strasse U-Bahn station on line 2 and "Curry 36" opposite the Mehringdamm U-Bahn station in Kreuzberg (only two stops south of Checkpoint Charlie). Both of these offer far friendlier service than many of Berlin's more upmarket eateries.
Another famous thing to eat in Berlin is Döner,it is a flat bread,filled with Lamb or chicken meat and vegetables,you can get it at many Turkish stands.
Eating out in Berlin is incredibly inexpensive compared to any other Western European capital or other German cities. The city is multicultural and many cultures' cuisine is represented here somewhere, although it is often modified to suit German tastes. Vegetarians can eat quite well with a little bit of research and menu modification even if Berlin seems like a carnivore heaven with all the sausage stands. Many kebab restaurants have a good selection of roasted vegetables and salads. Falafels are also tasty and suitable for vegetarians.
All prices must include VAT by law. Only upmarket restaurants may ask for a further service surcharge. Note that it is best to ask if credit cards are accepted before you sit down—it's not that common to accept credit cards and cash is usually preferred. Most likely to be accepted are Visa and MasterCard; all other cards will only be accepted in some upmarket restaurants.
One of the main tourist areas for eating out is Hackescher Markt / Oranienburger Straße. This area has dramatically changed during the years: once full of squats and not-entirely-legal bars and restaurants, it had some real character. It is rapidly being developed and corporatized, and even the most famous squat - the former Jewish-owned proto-shopping mall "Tacheles" - has had a bit of a facelift. There are still some gems in the side streets, though, The "Assel" (Woodlouse) on Oranienburger Straße, furnished with DDR-era furniture, is still relatively authentic and worth a visit, especially on a warm summer night. Oranienburger Straße is also an area where prostitutes line up at night, but don't be put off by this. The area is actually very safe since several administrative and religious buildings are located here.
For cheap and good food (especially from Turkey and the Middle East) you should try Kreuzberg and Neukölln with their abundance of Indian, pizza and Döner Kebap restaurants. Prices start from €2 for a kebab or Turkish pizza (different from the original Italian recipe and ingredients). If you are looking for a quick meal you could try getting off at Görlitzer Bahnhof or Schlesisches Tor on the U1 line - the area is filled with inexpensive, quality restaurants.
Kastanienallee is a good choice too - but again not what it used to be since the developers moved in (much less exploited than Hackescher Markt, though). It's a popular area with artists and students and has a certain Bohemian charm. Try Imbiss W, at the corner of Zionskirchstraße and Kastanienallee, where they serve superb Indian fusion food, mostly vegetarian, at the hands of artist-chef Gordon W. Further. Up the street is the Prater Garten, Berlin's oldest beer garden and an excellent place in the summer.
Waiters and tipping
The custom in Germany is to tell the waiter how much you’re paying (including the tip) when you receive the bill — don’t leave the money on the table. If there is confusion with the tip, remember to ask for your change, Wechselgeld (money back).
Add a 5-10% tip (or round up to the next Euro) to the bill if you are satisfied with the service.
All restaurant information is in the corresponding borough articles of
- Kreuzberg & Friedrichshain – Young and independent student area with a big Turkish community in Kreuzberg.
- City West – Heart of West Berlin with good quality restaurants.
- Mitte – Political and new center of East Berlin with upmarket restaurants.
- Schöneberg – City slickers and street cafe atmosphere.
- Prenzlauer Berg – Buzzing Prenzlberg and its lively student scene.
It is very common to go out for breakfast or brunch (long breakfast and lunch, all you can eat buffet, usually from 10:00-16:00, for €4 to €12 - sometimes including coffee, tea or juice). See the district pages of Berlin/City West#Breakfast & Berlin/East Central#Eat.
For more clubs, have a look at the district pages.
The club scene in Berlin is one of the biggest and most progressive in Europe. Even though there are some 200 clubs in the city, it's sometimes difficult to find the right club for you since the best ones are a bit off the beaten track and most bouncers will keep bigger tourist groups (especially males) out. Entrance is cheap compared to other big European cities, normally from 5 to €10 (usually no drink included).
The main clubbing districts are in the east: Mitte (especially north of Hackescher Markt and - a bit hidden - around Alexanderplatz), Friedrichshain-Kreuzberg (around Schlesisches Tor) and Prenzlauer Berg (around station Eberswalder Str.). Some mainstream clubs are located in Charlottenburg and at Potsdamer Platz. Electro and techno are still the biggest in Berlin, with lots of progressive DJs and live acts around. But there are also many clubs playing '60s beat, alternative rock and of course mainstream music. Clubbing days are Thursday, Friday and especially Saturday, but some clubs are open every day of the week. Partying in Berlin starts around midnight (weekends) and peaks around 2AM or 3AM in the normal clubs, a bit later in many electro/techno clubs. Berlin is famous for its long and decadent after hours, going on until Monday evening.
A good overview about whats going on close to the place you are staying is brought to you by joinjack.de. This website shows you parties directly on a map. Be sure to check Resident Advisor for the best parties before you go out.
Berliners love to drink cocktails, and it's a main socializing point for young people. Many people like to meet their friends in a cocktail bar before clubbing. Prenzlauer Berg (Around U-Bahnhof Eberswalder Str., Helmholtzplatz, Oderberger Straße & Kastanienallee), Kreuzberg (Bergmannstraße, Oranienstraße and the area around Görlitzer Park and U-Bahnhof Schlesisches Tor), Schöneberg (Goltzstraße, Nollendorfplatz, Motzstraße for gays), and Friedrichshain (Simon-Dach-Straße and around Boxhagener Platz) are the main areas.
At Warschauer Straße (which you can reach via S-Bahn and U-Bahn station Warschauer Straße) and more specifically Simon-Dach-Straße and around Boxhagener Platz you can find a wide variety of bars. It is common for locals to meet at Warschauer to go to a bar there. Also Ostkreuz (Eastcross) and Frankfurter Allee are very famous meeting points. Especially to visit the alternative ("underground-/left-szene") locations, like little bars of the alternative Szene, for instance the Fischladen on the Rigaer Straße, or in houseprojects (so called squats), like the Supamolly at Jessnerstreet (Traveplatz), the Scharni38 (Scharnweberstreet) and so on, or famous alternative clubs on the Revaler Straße, like the R.A.W. or the Lovelite on Simplonstraße.
There are lots of Irish bars all over the city, as there are in all European cities. If you like off-the-shelf Irish bars or watching football in English then you won't be disappointed, but in a city with new cool bars opening pretty much daily and a huge range from which to choose, you'll find that these cater mostly to the Irish construction workers and Germans attracted by Irish music, which is often played in them. The Irish pub in the Europa Center at Tauentzienstraße is famous. Located in the basement of a skyscraper, you will find a big Irish pub and a rowdy crowd on the weekend. It also claims to have the longest bar in all of Berlin!
There aren't as many illegal bars as there were in the '90s but bars open and close faster than you can keep up - check out the bar and cocktail guides in the bi-weekly magazines Tip or Zitty. For recommended bars, have a look at the district pages.
Brauhaus (brewpubs) brew and sell their own beer on the premises. There is usually a public viewing area onto the brewery. Try Gaffel Haus, Brauhaus Georgbraeu, Brauhaus Mitte, Brauhaus Spandau and Brauhaus Lemke.
Cafe Einstein is one particular example of a home grown coffee chain which has nice staff, great coffee and is fairly priced. In particular, the Einstein on Unter den Linden is as far from "junk coffee" as it's possible to be.
If you want to get some tap water, ask for "Leitungswasser" (if you just say "water" (Wasser), you will receive mineral water.) This is common if you drink coffee. They should not charge you for it but you should order another drink as well.
Due to federal liberalisation, shopping hours are theoretically unlimited on weekdays. Nevertheless, many of the smaller shops still close at 20:00. Most of the bigger stores and nearly all of the malls are open additionally until 9 or 10PM from Thursday to Saturday. Sunday opening is still limited to about a dozen weekends per year, although some supermarkets located at train stations (Hauptbahnhof, Bahnhof Zoologischer Garten (under the S-Bahn bridge), Friedrichstraße, Innsbrucker Platz (U4 in the underground) and Ostbahnhof) are open also on Sundays. Many bakeries and small food stores (called Spätkauf) are open late at night and on Sundays in busier neighborhoods (especially Prenzlauer Berg, Kreuzberg and Friedrichshain). Stores inside the Hauptbahnhof central station have long working hours (usually until about 22:00-23:00, also on Sundays.
The main shopping areas are:
- Ku'Damm and its extension, Tauentzienstraße remain the main shopping streets even now that the Wall has come down. KaDeWe (Kaufhaus Des Westens) at Wittenbergplatz is a must visit just for the vast food department on the 6th floor. It's reputedly the biggest department store in Continental Europe and still has an old world charm, with very helpful and friendly staff.
- Schloßstraße in Steglitz with the shopping center Schloss-Straßen-Center, Forum Steglitz, Karstadt, Boulevard Berlin, Naturkaufhaus and Das Schloss, between the subway stations U9 Walther-Schreiber-Platz and U9+S1 Rathaus Steglitz.
- Friedrichstraße is the upmarket shopping street in former East Berlin with Galeries Lafayette and the other Quartiers (204 to 207) as main areas to be impressed with wealthy shoppers.
The new great shopping center "Leipziger Platz 12 Mall of Berlin" is opening at April 2014 located 300 meters between Friedrichstraße and Leipziger Platz (U2 Potsdamer Platz or Mohrenstraße).
The renovated Galeria Kaufhof department store at Alexanderplatz is also worth a visit. The main shopping area for the alternative, but still wealthy crowd is north of Hackescher Markt, especially around the Hackesche Höfe. For some more affordable but still very fashionable shopping there is Prenzlauer Berg, Kreuzberg and Friedrichshain with a lot of young designers opening shops, but also lots of record stores and design shops. Constant change makes it hard to recommend a place, but the area around station Eberswalder Straße in Prenzlauer Berg, around Bergmannstraße and Oranienstraße in Kreuzberg and around Boxhagener Platz in Friedrichshain are always great when it comes to shopping.
For nice and trendy second-hand clothing and accessories visit Elementarteilchen - Second Hand für Frauen in the upcoming district Berlin-Wedding (Di-Sa 12-16, Amsterdamer Str. 4, Seestr. U6).
For cheap books, a nice choice is Jokers Restseller in Friedrichstraße 148, ☎+49 30 20 45 84 23) where there is a wide variety of secondhand books.
For souvenirs, have a look just in front of the Kaiser Wilhelm Gedächtniskirche; these shops sell almost the same items as others, but are cheaper, but not all the staff speaks English. You can also get cheap postcards there (from €0.30 while the average price for normal postcard is €0.50-0.80).
For collectible stamps go to Goethe Straße 2 (Ernst Reuter Platz, U2), where you can find a Philatelic Post Office from the Deutsche Post. They generally speak English.
For alternative souvenirs (design, fashion and small stuff from Berlin designers and artists), go to ausberlin  near Alexanderplatz; it's a bit hidden at the other side of Kaufhof at the Karl-Liebknecht-Straße.
You can find dozens of flea markets with different themes in Berlin (mostly on weekends), but worth checking out is the big one at Straße des 17. Juni:
- Straße des 17. Juni, (between Ernst-Reuter-Haus and S-Bahn: Tiergarten).
- Mauerpark, (next to Friedrich-Ludwig-Jahn Sportpark in Prenzlauer Berg. Use U-Bahn: Eberswalder Straße), on Sundays.
- Arkonaplatz, (close to Mauerpark). On Sundays, so it can be combined with a visit there.
Credit cards are becoming more common, but Germans still largely prefer cash, as well EC/Maestro cards. Most places in tourist zones will accept credit cards, but it is still a good idea to ask in advance if you intend to pay with one. Many restaurants require a minimum check amount, sometimes in excess of €30.
For Americans, Germany uses the chip-and-pin system so you may have trouble at places like unattended gas stations and automated ticket machines. Often, a cashier will be able to swipe the magnetic strip, but don't be surprised if someone refuses your credit card because it doesn't have a chip.
This article is based on Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike 3.0 Licensed text from the article Berlin on Wikivoyage.