6 Reasons To Visit Berlin
Berlin is a city that’s full of surprises – from underground Russian-themed bars that are home to Mexican walking fish, to quirky Sunday flea markets with musicians in Lederhosen! Here are six reasons to visit Germany’s bustling capital.
1) INCREDIBLE FOOD
Tender grilled pork, crispy potato pancakes with apple sauce, sweet raspberry cheesecake – Berlin is a food lover’s paradise. Be sure to sample as many of the following as possible:
Wurst – if you come to Berlin (and you’re not a vegetarian), it would be a sin not to sample the legendary wurst! Whether it’s bockwurst (boiled sausage with ground pork and veal), bratwurst (grilled or fried pork/beef sausage), weisswurst (sausage with veal and bacon), knackwurst (pork mince sausage with garlic), leberwurst (pork liver sausage) or the legendary currywurst (sausage with a curry ketchup style sauce) – you’ll soon get a taste for it! Be sure to try to a currywurst at one of the famous Curry 36 street stands.
Gans (goose) – This dish rarely appears on menus outside of the Autumn/Winter months but if you manage to find it, order it immediately! Germany is famous for its tender roast goose, cooked to perfection with a crispy skin and accompanied by chestnuts, red cabbage and potato dumplings.
Kartoffelpuffer (german potato pancakes with apple sauce) – these deep fried morsels of deliciousness perfectly combine the savoury flavours potato and onion with a sweet apple accompaniment, a popular street food as well as a side dish.
Eisbein/Schweinshaxe (pork knuckle) – This huge grilled pork hock is traditionally served with potatoes and sauerkraut. It’s extremely filling and if cooked to perfection, the tender meat will fall off the bone and melt in your mouth.
Wienerschnitzel (breaded veal escalope) – A veal steak is dipped in egg, flour and breadcrumbs, then fried in oil until it reaches a golden brown colour. Traditionally served with a lemon wedge and boiled potatoes.
Don’t forget the cake – Germany is famous for its huge variety of cakes! Go into a traditional Berlin cake shop and look out for Pfannkuchen (Berlin’s famous doughnuts), leberkuchen (gingerbread), himbeertorte (raspberry cake) and of course the classic Apfelstrudel.
2) ARCHITECTURAL MASTERPIECES
Berlin has been damaged and divided throughout history, but since the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989, it now stands as a place of unity and new beginnings. If you explore Berlin, you will find a huge variety of different architectural styles from the magnificent baroque Berliner Dom (Berlin Cathedral) to the tallest building in Berlin; the Fernsehturm (TV Tower) in Alexanderplatz. Go to the top of the TV Tower for magnificent views of the Berlin skyline from the observation deck.
One of the most iconic landmarks in Berlin is The Brandenburg Gate (Brandenburger Tor) which has always been the setting for important historical events and acts as a symbol of peace.
Whilst you’re at The Brandenburg Gate, take a moment to pay your respects at the nearby Holocaust Memorial, which acts as a poignant reminder of all the Jewish people who tragically lost their lives during the war.
Schloss Charlottenburg is the only remaining royal residence is Berlin and you can visit for a guided tour or a luxurious evening dinner and concert performance.
3) WEIRD AND WONDERFUL NIGHTLIFE
Whether it’s traditional bierkellers, swanky sky lounges or underground jazz bars – the great thing about Berlin is that its eclectic nightlife scene caters for all.
CCCP Bar is a Russian bar with a difference. Walk down the winding staircase and no you’re not dreaming, that is indeed a stuffed badger right in front of you, on top of a fish tank that’s home to Mexican walking fish. CCCP Bar is a weird place but that’s all part of the attraction! There’s Soviet music, a red disco ball, dark red lighting and a variety of paintings of famous Russians hanging on the walls.
Hofbräuhaus Berlin is a huge traditional Bavarian beer house that can seat up to 1600 people. It’s based in the famous Munich brewery and staff are dressed in lederhosen and dirndl (alpine-inspired dress)! This is the place to come and get the real deal German feel – long wooden tables, tall ceilings, a live brass band, dancing, huge beer tankards…and a lot of fun!
If you’ve ever been a fan of David Hasselhoff, make the effort to come to Circus Hostel, which has a shrine to “The Hoff” surrounded by candles and postcards with Hoff-facts – absolutely Hofftastic!
For live jazz, check out B-Flat Club which offers live music from Monday to Saturday and attracts some big names in the jazz world.
Solar Bar will surprise you – firstly because of it’s bizarre location. Walk through a carpark behind a garage to find a glass lift on the outside of a multi-storey building. Jump inside and you’ll whizz up to an incredible rooftop bar on the 16th floor with a DJ, leather chairs suspended from the ceiling and incredible views of the Berlin skyline.
4) SHOPAHOLIC’S PARADISE
To see the biggest department store in continental Europe, head to KaDeWe. It is home to 60,000 square metres of luxurious goods, so be prepared to spend a full day exploring. The nearby Kurfürstendamm is a 5km shopping boulevard full of boutiques, luxury department stores as well as bargain high street shops too. Alexanderplatz is another great area for a shopping spree, and home to the popular Galeria Kaufhof department store.
Be sure to visit the markets in Berlin, especially Mauerpark Sunday Flea market which has live music, food stands, local designers, vintage clothing, goods made from recycled cans, handmade jewellery, old cameras, bric-a-brac and much more.
5) VIBRANT ART SCENE
Art is everywhere in Berlin – the city acts as a blank canvas for contemporary creative movements and statements of self-expression. From the street murals, to alternative underground graffiti to a wealth of different galleries and performance spaces.
For beautiful street art, take a stroll around Alexanderplatz and who knows what masterpiece might be created right in front of your eyes?
Art Centre Berlin is Berlin’s largest gallery which hosts international art work over six floors and is constantly showcasing new artists. After the Butcher is a very unique place – a former butcher shop and smoke house that has been transformed into an art gallery with exhibitions about contemporary and social issues.
Berlin is one of the most colourful cities in Europe – especially when it comes to graffiti. Go to East Side Gallery which is the largest open air gallery in the world, with over 1km of art work from artists all over the world on a section of the Berlin Wall.
6) MAGICAL CHRISTMAS CELEBRATIONS
If there’s a time of year that the city comes alive – it’s Christmas. Plan a trip between late-November and mid-December to see over fifty individual markets all over the city – from an Environmentally friendly market with one-of-a-kind handmade goods to a Scandinavian market at the Culture Brewery with heated capes and glühwein. There’s also the Winter World at Postdamer Platz with ice skating and tobogganing, and the luxurious Gendarmenmarkt Christmas market with food cooked by Berlin’s best chefs. The smell of gingerbread and cinnamon fills the air as you walk through the twinkling lights of hundreds of market stalls selling food, local handicrafts, clothing, decorations and Berlin mementos – it really is the perfect winter wonderland.
So there you have it – six great reasons to visit Berlin. This thriving metropolis is constantly reinventing itself and is a great place to explore at any time of the year, so grab your bratwurst, raise your tankard of Berliner Bier and get ready to shout out your loudest “Prost!”