Oh Berlin, Berlin. I am now embarrassed to say this city was not initially on my list of places to visit. It actually ended up on my itinerary more out of convenience than anything else. I had read the articles and reviews calling it young, hip and vibrant and yet I wasn’t completely sold, or maybe I just had a few other destinations much higher on my list. How that changed in the 4 days I spent there this past summer. The reviews were to be believed and those descriptions were right on point. It is of course hard to fit that makes Berlin special and exciting in just a few lines but here I’ll highlight a few of my favorites. My must, can’t miss, try if you can list. Here we go:
. EXPLORE STREET ART
filled splattered with street art would be more accurate. It’s almost everywhere you look which might make you think it doesn’t require attention. It’s the exact opposite. There’s so much to be seen, so many stories being told, so many details worth noting. After a while you’d be able to identify the unique style of some of the more popular street artists, you’ll even get to know some of the characters like Little Lucy who is so popular she has her own website. Mitte is an excellent neighborhood for graffiti (as well as shopping, people watching, etc.) but your focus should be the tattered-looking gateway to the courtyard at Rosenthaler Strasse 39.
2. COMPLETE THE BERLIN FOOD TOUR
When in a city as massive as Berlin, (it really is huge, be prepared for how much time you can spend going from East to West) I find that starting with a small tour, is great at getting your bearings and getting a quick taste to better identify where you’d like to return to for a proper linger. The Berlin Food Tour was that and more. Host Bastian takes you along hidden culinary gems, there’s sweet, salty, and even beer. There are small boutiques you wouldn’t know are hidden around the corner, with a healthy dose of more than just food and drink, from Street Art and Architecture, to History, to tiny fun facts that make you feel like an insider. Note: Berlin is filled with back alleys, restaurants and bars hidden behind unmarked doors and non-descript entryways. If you did was walk the main streets, you would be missing more than half of what makes Berlin so interesting.
3. VISIT THE MAUERPARK FLEA MARKET
This might be the only time you’d regret travelling with a small carry on when you get here, you might even decide to buy extra luggage when you get here. When you think flea market and everything that involves, finding amazing furniture, jewelry, clothing, people watching, even live music, you’ve got that here. I found so many things that would have worked amazing in my home, and then I had to remind myself that the brass table lamp just wouldn’t fit in my duffel. This flea market is big and deep, just when I thought I made it to the end, I looked over and there were just more rows and rows of vendors. This is where you go to find something unique to remind you of your time in Berlin. Can’t say it enough times, don’t miss this one!
4. STAY AT ACKSELHAUS
There are plenty of fine places to stay in Berlin at every price point, but if you’re looking to stay somewhere a little special and more memorable than the rest, then I have to recommend AckselHaus. Much less a hotel and much more of a home away from home, your own apartment in Prenzlauer Berg, the increasingly popular neighbor in East Berlin. Each apartment is unique and has it’s own theme. From personal experience, I would recommend the bright and colorful Picasso Room; you can tell a lot of thought went into the space. When you’re not in your room, there’s a beautiful patio and garden and the amazing free breakfast spread would have you happy and ready for a full day of walking. The icing on the cake has to be the really warm and helpful staff.
5. THE BERLIN WALL
No visit to Berlin would be complete without a visit to the Wall. Only little more than .5km of the Berlin Wall still stands which you can walk along. The Memorial of the Berlin Wall at Bernauer Strasse is a great stop to learn everything about the history of the wall. There was so much I did not know or fully understand prior to that visit and I’m so much better for it. A very important and essential experience in Berlin.