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We both mostly agree on our perspectives of Berlin. The city is generally very interesting, as there is lots of history and it has a vibe like no other German city. While it’s not the type of city where we could see ourselves spending more than a few days, we definitely agree that you won’t regret taking a trip to the German capitol. As always, we have come back with some tips for accommodation, food, things to see and a number of other tips for visiting Berlin.
Tips & Tricks
What to Eat
What you need to eat when in Berlin is Döner! Why? Because it’s one of the best German dishes and has its origin in Berlin. The Döner plate comes from Turkey, but the actual Döner served in bread was invented in Berlin. Moreover, Berlin is most famous for its delicious vegetarian Döners and people come from all over the world to try one! You should, too. For the best experience, you definitely need to go to Mustafa’s Gemüse Kebab located in Kreuzberg.
Another restaurant we would love to recommend is Fatoush in Friedrichshain. It’s a Syrian restaurant that offers delicious and super healthy dishes. If you’ve never tried this type of food, you definitely need to! We paid around €18 for our two meals and drinks.
Other typical dishes to try in Berlin: Currywurst, Berliner and Eisbein!
As beer lovers, we obviously have a Berlin beer to recommend: Berliner Kindl. It’s a Pils and even though we don’t really like Pils, we thought this was actually pretty tasty. 😛
Where to Stay
Airbnb is more frequently becoming illegal in big cities such as Berlin. This is because the city doesn’t want hundreds or thousands of people to rent their apartments to non-residents; thus, reducing the available living space in Berlin for those who actually live and work there.
Consequently, we looked up several alternatives and found the best deal by still sticking to apartments rather than hotels. However, the apartments we found were built especially for tourists. We tried to find an apartment that was cheap yet centrally located at the same time. Doesn’t exist? Yes, it does!
We found Apartments am Brandenburger Tor and only paid €70 a night! Their apartments are located right next to the Brandenburg Gate and the Jewish Memorial, facing the most expensive hotel in Germany: the Adlon. How funny is that? Another cool fact about the apartments is that the apartment complex was built on top of Hitler’s bunker where he committed suicide. Maybe that’s the reason why it’s so cheap? If you stay there and have an encounter with Hitler’s ghost, please message us. 😀
Once you get to Berlin, moving from place to place is going to be pretty easy. However, there are a couple of things to look out for.
If you’re already in the city center (near all of the main attractions), then you can easily walk anywhere you want to go. Some of the sights are a bit further away from others, but the distances are still easily tackled on foot. Walking is always our preferred mode of transportation.
If you’re going a rather short distance that is just too far for you to walk, then you can either take a city bus or a tram. Both are cheap and convenient, but they stop frequently to pick up and drop off other passengers.
If you’re going long distances, e.g., from the Brandenburg Gate to Friedrichshain, then it’s not plausible to walk and the bus would take too long. In that case, you’re going to want to go for the metro. The metro typically runs every 5-10 minutes from just about anywhere in Berlin and connects you to most major districts. It is worth noting that the metro consists of an underground and an above ground system, as these connect the city in different areas. The underground is called the “U-Bahn”, while the above ground is called the “S-Bahn”.
Up-to-date information on Berlin public transportation prices, maps and schedules can be found here: Tickets, Fares & Route Maps
If you are in a group and planning on using a lot of public transport, then you should consider getting the Berlin-Brandenburg Regional Ticket, which allows you to use all modes of public transport as much as you want for as little as €6.60 per person. Our recommendation is to create an account online when buying your ticket and download the DB smartphone app, so you don’t accidentally lose the paper ticket.
Calling this one a scam might be slightly exaggerated, but it’s definitely a setup. We “fell into the trap” and were pretty angry about it. We’ll go into this in more detail in another article, but here are the basics:
Ticket prices for public transportation in Berlin are based on districts. The cheapest ticket price will apply for trips within a single district, whereas the prices increase when traveling between districts. This is pretty standard for large cities. However, Berlin has designed their districts to trap unsuspecting travelers (usually tourists) into accidentally purchasing the wrong ticket. They then bust the unsuspecting tourists for “riding illegally” and charge a hefty €60 fine per person, for which they demand payment on the spot.
How to Avoid the Trap
To avoid a situation like this, it is best to look very closely at the map of the districts and if you think you might be going into another district, then just pay the extra €0.70 to be on the safe side. Alternatively, you can find an employee who can help you buy the right ticket (although we even did this and supposedly still ended up with the wrong ticket).
Know Your Rights
If you find yourself in a situation where you’re getting a fine, then it’s important to know your rights. For starters, you do not have to pay the fine on the spot. Secondly, you have the right to appeal the fine (what we did). If you can show that you honestly did not intentionally ride with the wrong ticket, then you can get your fine massively reduced or excused entirely.
Things to See
Berlin is riddled with historical sites, museums and more interesting things to see. One of the nice things about Berlin is that most of the must-see sites are located within a few kilometers of each other, making it easy to walk from place to place. You may be well suited to get a metro ticket for one day, however, because it is a bit further to reach the Eastside Gallery. Otherwise, almost everything is easily reached along the Lindenstrasse. The following image gallery contains a few of our recommended sites.
Tip: Pan over the images in the gallery or click on them to reveal the name of the site.
When walking down the Lindenstrasse, you will have the opportunity to see things that many tourists miss; for example, the Neue Wache (pictured above) or the “Empty Library” located in the middle of the University square. This is one memorial that does not draw attention to itself, but it is quite important, as it houses empty bookshelves reserved for the roughly 20,000 texts that were destroyed in the Nazi book burning.
In addition to the above listed sites, we also highly recommend that you just walk around Friedrichshain and Kreuzberg to discover some nice little spots, cafes and restaurants.
- Berlin is a very busy city. If you want to actually experience the city without being run over by one million tourists, you need to get up early (6 am). This is because it starts to become very crowded at around 10 am. If you don’t want any people in your pictures, you need to be at the respective sight before 8 am. We did it and we loved it!
- Berlin is a very cheap city. However, there will be many restaurants/cafes in Mitte (central Berlin) that will charge you too much. Therefore, we highly recommend eating out in other central districts such as Friedrichshain or Kreuzberg (our favorites so far).
- Do pay for transportation, especially between airports and the city. There are many ticket inspectors who will charge you €60 for not having a ticket or for not having the right ticket. (Yes, we experienced that)
- It is possible to go see everything by foot, but it’s worth paying €7 for at least one day to comfortably explore other areas, as Berlin is spread pretty wide compared to other German cities.
- Museums might be boring for most people, but Berlin has an entire “island” of museums and they are pretty good. We especially like the DDR and the Jewish Museum.
- Eat as much Döner as you can 😀
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